[ storm warning ]

by lt dawn chaser

Special thanks to my betas who are also my supporters and friends: Doc, Mel and Snowy.

***I'm dedicating this one to Mel - for helping to make me so much a part of Notes and because I know you love Myron. ***

The night's darkness had settled in around the camp. Outside, the rain continued to pour down. Myron sat heavily on his cot, shedding some of his gear and piling it off to the side to deal with later. He had already set the M-16 down at the foot of the bed. He quietly finished getting the harness and ammo pouches off, before finally stripping off the holster and pistol.

The rain drummed against the fabric of the tent. It made everything feel damp and close. Myron hated the feeling, the almost suffocating thickness of the air and the soggy tent and the darkness of the night. Isolating him. Leaving him alone with his thoughts. He wasn't sure he was ready to deal with those just yet. Or the feelings that went with them.

He pulled a couple of c-rat cans out of his pockets and tossed them across the tent to a makeshift table. They rattled noisily, one landing on its rounded edge and then rolling lazily to the side of the table. Myron watched it fall.

He was all edges and angles from the debriefing in the CP bunker. Still struggling to sort himself out from Wallace's genuine concern. Still struggling with Anderson's sorrow and regret- with his uncharacteristic silence.

The young Lieutenant pushed himself off the bed and went over to his footlocker. After a few moments of digging around, he came up with a full bottle of whiskey. Detouring a few steps, he picked up the fallen c-rat and dumped it on the table before grabbing a plastic coffee mug. He folded himself back onto the cot; one leg tucked underneath the other that was bent at the knee. He rested one arm across that knee, holding the mug into which he now poured the whiskey.

He set the bottle aside with a clink, picking up a pack of cigarettes and shaking one out. A moment later, the smoke rose lazily in the damp thick air. He listened to the rain as it continued to come down. There were some voices in the distance, a light laughter and splash of boots in pooled water. Myron raised his head, listening. It took him a few moments, but he finally managed to attach the fading voices to Percell, Ruiz and Baker. Their easy good natures touched at the edges of his awareness before the sound of the rain swallowed up their banter.

Myron ducked his head and pulled a little more into himself.

He felt caught between two worlds.

He came to Ladybird, to Nam, with something to prove. To himself, to his father- he was no longer sure now. He never expected to come up against Anderson. This man with mischief in his eyes and wit and wry humor never figured into his plans. They didn't warn him about a lifer like Zeke Anderson in OCS. About a man who might see past all your anger and defenses and snotty words and still see something else.

Something worth taking a look at.

Something worth exploring.

Something his father had never taken the time to realize was there. Myron mentally shied away from that thought and took another sip of the bitter alcohol.

Being the officer, the Lieutenant, the platoon leader only added to the isolation. He was willing to accept that when he came here. Was prepared for it. He'd been alone for so long now, this wasn't going to be such a reach. He had plenty of practice keeping his emotions on a tight leash.

Who the hell was Anderson to try and change that?

When did this all change to begin with? When did he suddenly realize he wanted it too?

The camaraderie, the closeness of friends and friendships, the laughter and ease his men shared so openly with Anderson.

The loyalty.

The trust.

Myron took another gulp of the whiskey, closing his eyes. He was an officer. It was expected of him to... to what? He shook his head. To lead but not be a part? A part of what? The friendship, the closeness, the feeling of almost family?

Did he want that? And the pain that came with that? These kids got killed, almost daily. This despite Anderson's best efforts. There was a voice in him that warned him off, told him to not touch or be touched. That he could be burned.

And what had Anderson seen behind his carefully tended defenses? Defenses shored up with anger and defiance. His fear? His loneliness? His need to be a part of something that held warmth and friendship and loyalty and trust?

Myron reached over, tapped off the ashes to his cigarette before he resettled himself on the cot.

He realized he was still frightened. Frightened even more than before. He had allowed himself to realize that friendship and trust and loyalty being extended to him. Had allowed Anderson to ease him into it with not just himself, but the guys in Third Squad. Had allowed Zeke to find the man that was just Myron, and not Lt. Goldman, or L-T or Sir, or General Goldman's son.

Back at Chu-lai, Myron had taken another step in that building relationship. He had allowed himself to let his fragile trust in Anderson make the decision for him. To believe in Zeke, and to believe that Zeke knew what he was doing in regards to Decker.

It had come crashing down around him with the report of a single rifle shot.

Horn on the ground, panting and struggling to stay conscious, trembling under Myron's hands when he knelt by him. He could feel Roger's frantic thoughts and his panic and pain. All of it washed over Myron and left in its wake a feeling of despair.

Myron had allowed himself to get close to Roger, to trust in Zeke's faith in Decker, to let these men trust him that this wouldn't happen to begin with.

He had to step away. Had to move from everyone in order to sort himself out from Horn, and from the rest of Third Squad's concerns and despair. Had to try and understand what had just happened.

How he had let it happen.

Even with his back to him, Myron had sensed Anderson's uneasy approach. Myron, desperate to salvage himself from what was going on around him, started to reach for the one thing he knew he could hold on to. And when Zeke started to defend Decker, despite everything that had happened, Myron pushed the despair aside and let the anger take over.

"Oh God, what do you owe this man?!"

"I owe the man friendship- I owe the man loyalty. You know what that is."

"Yeah, I know what it is. It's something like trust, isn't it? Like when I trusted you to take on Decker. And just like Horn trusts me and all these other men trust me to make decisions! Well I screwed up and made the wrong one and now Horn's gonna pay for it!"

Anderson had looked away from him in that moment, unable to face Myron. Unable to face the hurt and fury in Myron's eyes.

The mug was empty. Myron stared at the bottom of it, trying not to tremble.

Everything. All of it gone. He had to become the Lieutenant, the officer, had to make Horn wait, had to try and salvage the mission. Had to pretend he was not being torn into little pieces over Horn and the fact that the man could die.

It was more than that though. Myron knew in that open moment of his fury and pain, Anderson had seen what had really been the problem. What had caused him to look away from Myron in shame and regret. It was no longer just a matter of the trust being damaged or destroyed between them. But of the trust that Myron had led himself to believe he could have with his men.

It felt like such an empty betrayal.

The rain was starting to taper off and Myron found himself looking out the entrance of his quarters at the empty blackness of the night. There was a part of him he so wanted to retreat to, to accept what had happened and to shut Anderson out completely. To just be the officer and pretend he didn't want to care. And it would be so easy to do that, because he had done it so much of his life already.

But Anderson's very real regret and sorrow burned at the edges of his awareness. Whispered against the back of his thoughts. And Myron found himself listening to it, and wondering.

Wondering if it was such a bad thing to realize that Zeke Anderson wasn't perfect.

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