The Green Room
(2010) No infringement upon the rightful owners of "Combat!" and the characters thereof, is intended. Any resemblance between real people and the characters in this story is purely coincidental and no insult is intended. This piece of fan fiction is for enjoyment only, and in no way will the author gain monetary profit from its existence.
by White Queen
For a moment, no one could think of anything to say. Saunders, Kirby, and Doc stood still and stared, first at Lt. Hanley lying on the Green Room's floor, then at the glowering Aldo Ray. With one swift jab, he'd laid the officer out for the count.
Sgt. Saunders moved first. In one graceful, fluid, almost preternatural movement, he grabbed his Thompson from its spot in the gun rack and aimed it at Aldo, who was still vibrating with rage. "Stockade. Now." Saunders spoke quietly, but his words hit the air like spent casings bouncing off concrete. Or cement, depending on who's writing.
As Doc knelt beside Hanley, the front door opened. In walked Dana Andrews, clad in a trench coat and fedora despite the warm spring day outside. He pulled a notepad from his pocket and said, "All right, what happened here?"
Kirby spoke up. "Aldo here walked in and decked the lieutenant."
Dana scribbled in his notepad. "Uh-huh. Why."
Saunders said, "That's a good question." He tilted his head to one side and gave Aldo one of his Keen Stares.
Aldo said, "He's gone too far."
Dana shoved his fedora back on his head with his thumb. "What do you mean?"
"That's all I'm saying. Except I'll do it again if he gives me the chance."
"I see." Dana snapped his notebook closed and tucked it into the inner pocket of his suit coat. He left without another word.
"Let's go." Saunders motioned toward the door to the stockade, and Aldo walked on ahead of him without protest. They disappeared down the corridor for a minute, a metal door clanged shut somewhere off-screen, and then Saunders returned alone. "How is he, Doc?" he asked.
"He'll be fine. Probably have one whopper of a headache, though." Doc scratched his head. "Where'd Dana come from so fast? And where'd he run off to?"
Kirby said, "Must've had somewhere else he had to be."
Meanwhile, in the Green Crypt, Angel, Spike, and Gunn appeared to be doing some impromptu spring cleaning. They had all their furniture shoved into the middle of their main room. While Angel crawled around on his hands and knees searching under the edges of the carpet, Spike busied himself opening every drawer in the big desk and rifling through its contents. Gunn was methodically removing every book from their two bookcases and shaking out the pages. Billy Nelson was in the kitchenette looking through the cupboards.
Dana Andrews entered. "Lose something?" he asked. He'd ditched his coat and fedora somewhere, but still had the notebook.
Angel looked up from behind the worn leather sofa. "How'd you guess?"
Dana leeeeeeaned on the desk and said, "A good detective never guesses."
Spike snorted. "You're a detective now?"
Dana ignored that. "Any suspects?"
Gunn said, "Yeah, a nosy actor with too many questions."
Dana scribbled that down, then said, "I take it you don't believe this was a burglary."
Angel stood up. "Let's just say we're hoping it's an April Fools joke. Because if it isn't..."
"Don't even think that!" Spike slammed a drawer shut.
"What're you doing here, Nelson?" Dana asked.
"Helping." Billy pulled a stack of plates from a cupboard and carefully looked at the bottom of each one.
Dana headed for the door. "If I get any leads, I'll let you know." He closed the door loudly behind himself.
"Hey, he left without asking what it was we lost," Spike said.
Gunn shrugged and opened another book. "Must be in a hurry."
Meanwhile, in the middle of the Green Desert, under a canvas canopy, Joel McCrea and Rudolph Valentino sat cross-legged on opposite sides of a chess board. Littlejohn and Caje sat on the sand nearby, watching. Joel moved a bishop and said, "Check."
Rudy frowned and leaned his head on one slender hand. His sheik costume seemed at odds with Joel, Caje, and Littlejohn's dusty cowboy clothes, but no one seemed to mind. It didn't match his elegant Italian accent either. "Not again," he sighed.
Just then, Dana Andrews rode up on a sleek cavalry horse. He'd swapped his suit for a cavalry uniform and cute little mustache. He made a sliding dismount into the sand, whipped out his notebook and demanded, "What are these two men doing out of uniform?"
Joel squinted up at him. "What're you doing in one?"
Dana wrote that down, then said, "There's trouble at the Green Fort."
Rudy looked up from the chess board. "What kind of segue is that?"
Dana eyed Rudy. "Why are you here, anyway? You've never been in a story."
Rudy smiled. "I have too, and you know it. Cousin."
"That was an oblique reference, not a real role," Dana protested. "I don't see Farley or Hugh camped out here."
Caje laughed. "We all know why Rudy's here," he said. "White Queen keeps him around for... inspiration. Nothing wrong with that, is there?"
"Why are you here, Andrews?" Littlejohn asked.
"Just figuring a few things out." Dana swung back up on his horse and galloped away.
Littlejohn shook his head. "That guy can't stay put sometimes," he observed.
Joel McCrea looked at the chess board, heaved a sigh of regret, and stood up. "I suppose I should go see what it's all about."
The others rose too. "I'll come along," Rudy offered. He disappeared behind his tent, then returned mounted on a lively horse and brandishing a sword. Joel, Caje, and Littlejohn mounted up too, and they all rode off toward the Green Fort.
Meanwhile, within the wooden walls of the Green Fort, pandemonium reigned.
L.Q. Jones and Steve McQueen were rollickingly drunk and singing "My Darling Clementine" at the tops of their voices while attempting to march around the inside perimeter of the walls. Neither of them could keep step with the other, and occasionally one or the other would lurch sideways and nearly fall over.
Sgt. Avery and James 'Sawyer' Ford were practicing their quick-draw and slow-drawl skills in the center of the courtyard. They took turns drawing their pistols, then saying some kind of down-home phrase like "slow as the molasses in January." Over and over and over. Sometimes Avery took a quick time-out to spit.
And on the catwalk along the top of the battlements, Wolverine was sharpening his claws by making the tops of the stockade logs pointier. Splinters and shavings showered down on both sides.
Dana Andrews rode bravely into the chaos. He dismounted at the hitching post and was just looping his reins around it when William Holden galloped in surrounded by a cloud of dust. Holden, also in his cavalry uniform, dismounted.
The dust took its own sweet time settling, and when they could breathe again, Andrews said, "Where've you been?"
"Your yacht, looking for you."
The others ceased their shenanigans and gathered around the pair. "Well?" Sawyer demanded. "Did you find them?"
Holden shook his head. "Looked everywhere."
Dana said, "If only Aldo hadn't gone off half-cocked and slugged Hanley, we'd have them back by now."
"How?" demanded Avery. "I still say tell Saunders what's going on. He'd clean this mess up in a hurry."
Joel McCrea, Rudolph Valentino, Caje, and Littlejohn arrived then, bringing their own cloud of dust. Rudy coughed and muttered something about White Queen and her new fixation on dust.
"What's going on here?" McCrea demanded, striding into the midst of the others. "I thought Meeker was in charge today."
"That's just the trouble," Holden said. "We left that joker in charge without realizing what day it is. He and Hanley cooked up one humdinger of a joke -- they stole all the plots the authors have on the back burners."
"Hanley?" Caje and Littlejohn said together.
"I never would have suspected him either," said Dana.
McCrea nodded slowly. "But they'll probably bring them back tomorrow," he pointed out.
"Meanwhile, what're we supposed to do?" said Avery. "Look what happens when we're left to our own devices." He pointed to Steve and L.Q., who had collapsed in a giggling heap and were trying to outdo each other with colorful new verses to "Roll Me Over in the Clover."
Just then, Bobby Darin strolled out of the bunkhouse, stretched, yawned, and smiled a sunny smile at the world. "What's the matter, fellas?" he called to the others. He pulled a sheaf of papers from behind his back and said, "You wouldn't happen to be looking for these, would you?"
Holden stomped toward him. "So you're in on it too, eh?"
Bobby smiled. "Nope. But I owed White Queen a favor, and Hanley owed me one, and...."
Dana pulled out his notebook, consulted it, then mounted up and rode away.
Wolverine raised an eyebrow and watched him ride away. "Now where's he going?"