One of the middle-aged secretaries walked up to her co-worker's desk and leaned in close
to whisper, "Francine, you won't believe what I just found!"
"What?" Francine asked, keen for any bit of gossip.
"Well, you won't believe it, but I went into Sergeant Anderson's desk "
"You didn't!" Francine cut off Moira with a gasp.
"I did," Moira nodded, but added, "It was business, of course. How was I supposed to know what I would see? I'm still new."
"That's no excuse, dear," Francine scolded with a tsking noise. "What if you had seen something top secret?"
"Really, Francine," Moira said, rolling her eyes. "This is the Seneca Army Depot, the worst you're likely to find in Sergeant Anderson's desk is a fishing map for the lakes of New York State."
"Well, he does like his fish even if he never really catches any."
"Don't let him hear you say that. He got one a few years ago." Moira looked over at the smallish bass mounted on the wall. Everyone in the office knew that the lieutenant colonel had it stuffed and mounted just for the sergeant. Anyone who dared make a joke on the size of Zeke's fish would face his wrath. She lowered her voice and leaned in closer to her friend. "I found a bottle of liquor."
Francine promptly burst out laughing. "That's your big secret?"
"Yes," Moira hissed under her breath. "Poor Sergeant Anderson. I didn't know he was one of those kind of men " She then proceeded to act out the action of drinking followed by the sounds `glug glug'. "Maybe that's why he got divorced? Or at least Mrs. Shoemaker said that Sergeant Anderson was divorced. She saw the man's daughter visiting and it would be so shocking if he'd had her out of wedlock."
"Not so shocking, don't you remember your cousin?" Francine asked with a raised eyebrow. That promptly shut her friend up. "Really, Moira. When I got you this job, I didn't know you would be such a busybody. Sergeant Anderson is a good man, you know that. For all we know, he could be a widower."
"I suppose so " Moira said doubtfully. It was true. Her friend had gotten her the job on base as civilian support staff and she should be grateful.
"As for the bottle, was it the Bailey's Irish Cream or the Scotch?"
"I only saw the Bailey's Irish Cream." Moira felt deflated that her big secret wasn't such a secret after all.
"Well now, that has a perfectly innocent explanation," Francine said, patting her friend on the arm. "The colonel can get a little "
"Well, yes, but we don't like to say that," Francine shook her head. "Cranky, perhaps. But anyway, Colonel Goldman isn't a morning person, poor dear thing. He likes a little nip of something in his morning coffee. Sergeant Anderson says it calms him down and the sergeant always gets his coffee, so "
"So, he keeps it in his desk," Moira finished the sentence with a nod. She had seen Sergeant Anderson faithfully prepare the colonel's coffee every morning since she'd started. "Very practical, but what about the Scotch?"
"That's just when our colonel gets in a mood," Francine explained. "Won't happen very often that he'll have a drink Sergeant Anderson doesn't like it, but every once in a while there's an emergency."
"Like that time the demolition crew set off that bomb thingy too near his jeep?" Moira asked. Everyone in town knew about that famous `Goldman rant', as it was called. That particular incident was legend, especially since he'd even made one of the MPs weep.
"Shush," Francine said quietly. "We don't like to talk about that. His hearing has never quite been the same, poor boy."
"Well, he really isn't a boy, Francine," Moira tsked at her this time. "He's only, what, a few years younger than us?"
"He looks older than he is," Francine corrected. "He might be in shape but oh, the poor thing doesn't eat enough and those bags under his eyes "
"But at least he doesn't smoke anymore," Moira added. "Mrs. Shoemaker told me she used to see him buying entire cartons of Marlboros at the PX."
"Mrs. Shoemaker is an old clucker," Francine scowled lightly and then looked at the clock. "Oh hush up, Moira. It's just about two o'clock now. Sergeant Anderson will be coming in any second with the colonel's lunch."
"Isn't that nice of him to make sure the man eats?" Moira said admiringly. "He's far too thin. He needs a wife to fuss over him."
"Hush," Francine scolded her friend again. "Sergeant Anderson fusses over him far better than any wife could. Besides, what poor woman would put up with that temper?"
Before Moira could answer, Zeke Anderson walked into the room right on cue carrying a tray. The two older ladies chirped, "Good afternoon, Sergeant Anderson."
"Afternoon, ladies," Zeke greeted them and they both tittered unfailingly at his charm. "Fine day, isn't it?"
"Right as rain," Moira agreed, followed by Francine informing Zeke, "The colonel hasn't left his office all morning. We only heard him muttering at his paperwork a little bit."
"It's how he thinks," Zeke told them, followed by a smile. "Now why don't you lovely ladies take an early coffee?"
"What a good idea!" Moira agreed, knowing that sometimes the lieutenant colonel didn't always appreciate the sergeant's thoughtfulness and things could get a little loud. "Come along, Francine, I'll show you that new pattern."
Zeke waited until the ladies had exited the room, chatting on about yarn and the 'proper' knitting needles. He shook his head and smiled fondly, glad that he was the one who picked the office staff, preferring their chatter to the insipid company of girls barely out of their teens that staffed the other offices. He held the laden tray in one large hand and knocked on Myron's door. However, he didn't wait more than a split second before going inside, doing it more for protocol in case anyone was watching.
"I brought you lunch," Zeke said, noting that Myron was muttering to himself over a report about missing screws. Zeke smiled and repeated louder, "Sir, I brought you lunch." Myron would never admit that he was a tad bit hard of hearing now, even though Zeke thought at times it was selective hearing.
"I'm not hungry," Myron grumbled, not looking up from his files.
"Don't care," Zeke replied. He stared silently at Myron until Myron sighed heavily and closed the file on his desk. Zeke smiled at him and set the tray down.
"I'm not hungry," Myron repeated. "I ate breakfast."
"No, you didn't," Zeke corrected, being much more free knowing that there was no one in the office.
"I had toast," Myron sulked. He picked up a fork and pushed the food around on his plate. "Chicken nuggets again?"
"It was either that or meatloaf," Zeke shrugged. "You don't like meatloaf."
"I swear they make it with pork," Myron grumbled, then looked suspiciously at the chicken nugget dangling from his fork. "For all I know, this is pork."
"Stop complaining and eat it sir," Zeke sighed, remembering to add the title. "You know what happens if the ladies see me dragging leftovers out on that tray."
"They try and kill me by stuffing me to death," Myron complained, taking a bite of the nugget. "We still have those meatballs from Moira in the freezer."
"I'll make spaghetti tonight," Zeke decided. "Then you can return that woman's Tupperware before she sends out a hunting party."
"I can't believe you're talking about Tupperware," Myron grumbled, eating another nugget in one bite. "We're in the army."
"Not for much longer," Zeke reminded him.
"Shut up, Sergeant," Myron scowled at Zeke. When Zeke's smile just got bigger, he added. "Don't say it "
"Your twenty is coming up " Zeke said innocently. "Right after your fortieth birthday."
"Shut up," Myron snapped, taking out his aggression on some poor misguided french fries with his fork. "Just for that, you go track down our missing screws, Anderson."
"Are they loose, sir?" Zeke asked with a completely straight face.
"Are my screws loose?" Myron repeated back and then scowled even deeper a moment later. Myron handed Zeke a stack of papers and grinned evilly, "My screws may be loose, but they're your problem now. And they have to be from the specific lot shipped in from Arkansas."
"Yes, sir," Zeke answered, giving Myron a salute. He loved it when Myron was pissy. It was worth tracking down missing screws from Arkansas to see that cute little scowl on his face.
It was the end of the day and Zeke was just putting on his overcoat when Myron came out of his office. He looked tired, even though running this base was far less stressful than any other assignment they could have gotten. Myron was a competent lieutenant colonel who did a good job, but he had a temper. He liked things done his way and hated ignorance or ineptitude. After many transfers their superiors had finally settled them as a team into Seneca to ride out the last few years before Myron's twenty.
"Oh, Colonel we got a great new pattern we want to share with you!" Moira said as Myron passed by her desk.
Myron winced visibly and looked around the office to make sure no one else was there. "Moira, please " he said, lowering his voice.
"Oh please, sir," Francine cut in. "It's nothing to be embarrassed of. I just wish my husband would follow your example."
"Francine is so proud that she taught you to knit," Moira added. "She's always bragging to the other ladies. I just wish more men would take it up to quit smoking."
"And it's so good of you to donate those sweaters to that children's home "
"Don't forget the caps and mittens," Moira interrupted Francine. "So nice of you."
"He's just overflowing with charitable goodness," Zeke laughed. He'd moved forward to `rescue' Myron from the ladies. "He sends them off ta the kids at my ol' home."
"Oh, you'll be wanting to get home," Francine realized, looking at the clock. "Don't forget to wear that new cap the colonel made you "
"Oh yes, the lovely blue one," Moira agreed. "And the scarf, as well. It's cold out."
Zeke pulled out said scarf and wrapped it around his neck. He then quickly donned the matching blue cap that had replaced his regulation watch cap. "See, all taken care of," Zeke told them and then looked over to see Myron was also suited up. "We'll see both of you lovely ladies on Monday morning."
"Yeah," Myron agreed and then mumbled under his breath, "Leave a copy of that pattern on my desk."
"Yes, sir," Moira agreed readily and waved as the men walked out the door.
"Zeke, it's time to get a new truck," Myron complained as the old Ford chugged to a halt in the driveway.
"It's still runnin'," Zeke said and got out of the truck, leaving the doors unlocked and keys in the ignition.
"You have the gas tank duct-taped shut," Myron pointed out as he slammed the door.
"Don't matter," Zeke chuckled. "Like to save the money and send it to Katie."
"I know," Myron sighed. They were now on the porch and he stomped his boots on the mat. "I could always "
"No," Zeke cut him off. He didn't even have to say that Myron was NOT to buy him a new truck. It was an old argument when Myron wanted to buy him things.
"Fine," Myron said, opening the door. He would just end up buying himself a new truck and then do something stupid to it until Zeke couldn't take it anymore. By his estimate, Zeke would take it over by spring at the latest.
The strategy always worked. That's how he had gotten the farmhouse. When they were looking at property near Seneca, Zeke had fallen in love with the old farmhouse, but had turned it down, claiming it was out of his price range. Myron had phoned the real-estate agent that same day and put in an offer on it. Zeke ended up fixing up the property `for Myron' claiming it was for everyone's safety that Myron wasn't allowed near a hammer.
Zeke had stayed in the farmhouse under the pretence that he needed a place to live while he built his own cabin. Of course the cabin was located right on Myron's property and it was the only project Zeke never seemed to have time to finish. After all of their time at Seneca, Zeke had only managed to get a wooden frame up, instead concentrating all of his time on the farmhouse. He had a room of his own there, but he always stayed in Myron's bed.
Zeke tidied up after both himself and Myron at the doorway, hanging up their coats. Myron was getting fidgety and in years past that meant he would go after a cigarette.
"Myron, go on and sit down," Zeke said, only calling him Myron now that they were at home. When he saw Myron glare at him, he thought it was cute. Even after all these years, Myron hated being told what to do. Zeke usually had to resort to `suggestions'. "Why don't ya go work on that sweater while I get supper ready?"
"Fisherman's sweater," Myron corrected automatically. He was already moving toward the living room and settling into his favourite chair. "And it's for you."
"I'm sure it'll be nice `n' warm," Zeke agreed. His winter wardrobe now consisted almost exclusively of Myron's sweaters. He pulled out the frozen meatballs to thaw on the counter. They were both still in their uniforms, but Myron always needed a little time to wind down before they changed.
The only sound in the house was the radio playing country music that Zeke loved and Myron tolerated. Myron knitted maniacally away, concentrating on his project until Zeke tore him away for supper. It was only once they had changed into civilian clothes and were sitting at the table that Myron was relaxed enough for any decent conversation.
"I know you don't like to talk about it, but " Zeke started to talk midway between stuffing a meatball into his mouth.
"You're right, I don't." Myron glared at Zeke, knowing exactly what he was going to bring up.
"We have to talk about it," Zeke shook his head.
"I don't want to," Myron snapped. "There, we talked about it."
Myron was pushing the food around on his plate and without being asked, Zeke picked up the pepper and passed it to him. "We'll have the mortgage paid off by then. Won't hafta worry about that."
"I said I don't want to talk about it," Myron repeated, shaking a heavy amount of pepper onto his spaghetti. "But if we were to talk about it I might think about writing."
"You'd make a good writer," Zeke agreed with a smile. "And I got plenty of work around here. It'll take me years ta get it all fixed up. Just too bad that'll take me away from workin' on the cabin."
"Yeah, too bad " Myron agreed, smiling for the first time in hours.
After they were finished, Zeke went to clear away the dishes. He couldn't hide the slight wince of pain when he turned too quickly with the stack of dishes in his hands.
"Zeke " Myron said in a warning tone.
"What, Myron?" Zeke said, turning on the water.
"You went and lifted some of those damn boxes in the storage warehouse again, didn't you?" Myron accused. "I told you that's what the men are there for. It's their job."
"I just --" Zeke started to explain.
"Upstairs," Myron demanded. "Now."
"You haven't ordered me around like that in years, ya young buck," Zeke chuckled. He had turned off the water and was now moving towards Myron.
"Don't you dare try and seduce me now," Myron grumbled, stabbing his finger in the middle of Zeke's chest. "You have to be careful, or you'll throw your back out again."
Zeke unbuttoned Myron's top shirt button. "Suppose I might be more careful. Can think of better ways to throw my back out "
"Zeke " Myron smacked Zeke's shoulder and actually blushed a little. "I can barely look at the damn medic now. After you had to see him last time "
Zeke shut up Myron by kissing him for the first time since that morning. "Shush, Myron," he murmured when they broke apart.
Zeke took Myron's hand and led him to the master bedroom. He might have fixed up the place, but it was Myron who'd decorated it if you could call it decorating. Myron had at least insisted on painting the room blue, saying that he hated white walls after living in army housing for all those years. The furniture was well worn, but the mattress was new. Myron had bought it, saying Zeke needed a good mattress for his back.
Zeke undressed Myron without comment, kissing body parts as they were revealed. Even after all these years, Myron couldn't believe that Zeke seemed to worship his body. Zeke had kept his solid frame and muscles, while Myron struggled to keep middle-age love handles from setting in.
When Zeke started to undress himself, Myron slapped his hands away. He undressed Zeke and even went so far as to make sure Zeke's clothes landed on a chair, knowing Zeke had at least one more good day's wear out of them before he had to start their laundry. He then pushed Zeke onto the bed, making sure his lover settled onto his stomach. From old practise, he brought out the oil and warmed it in his hands before starting to massage Zeke's lower back. After ten minutes, Zeke groaned softly and Myron smiled. In reward for Zeke giving in and vocalizing his pleasure, Myron ran an oiled finger down the crack of Zeke's ass.
"You want this tonight?" Myron asked in a rough voice. He was hard from touching Zeke and knew his lover was as well.
Zeke's response was an affirmative grunt and he spread his legs in invitation. Myron prepared Zeke quickly, but with the intense thoroughness he applied to anything he loved.
"Goddamn it, LT," Zeke hissed. When it came down to it, he would revert back to the old nickname for Myron. "Hurry up."
"Pushy, Sergeant," Myron laughed, but he was already lining up to enter Zeke. "Remind me why I haul you all over the country with me?"
"Cause I'm a good fuck?" Zeke groaned as Myron thrust into him.
"N-No " Myron answered. Sweat was already gathering on his forehead as he pumped into Zeke, but also worked Zeke's cock with his free hand. "Because I love you."
"Damn straight," Zeke groaned and came into Myron's hand. A few seconds later, Myron came and collapsed onto Zeke's back.
Myron was kissing the back of Zeke's neck and licking away the sweat from his skin. "All these years they've been the best because of you," he told Zeke.
"Guess bein' a lifer ain't so bad," Zeke chuckled. "Or a lieutenant colonel both have their perks."
"I'm not a lifer," Myron denied. "It's only my twenty. My father warned me about your kind I told you that back in Tay Ninh."
"Oh yeah, what's my kind again?" Zeke asked affectionately.
"Damn lifers, " Myron said, lacing his fingers with Zeke's.
Somehow Zeke understood that Myron wasn't just talking about the army anymore.