[ i get stuck with 'the friend' ]

by lt. mac

The statuesque tanned brunette studied her reflection in the bathroom mirror as she twisted her hair into different styles.

"C'mon, Peggy, he said he'd bring a friend along. He's a lieutenant too. . ." she called out.

"Yeah, right. Michelle, you *always* get the hunk and I get stuck with ‘the friend' and he usually ends up as ugly as the back end of a bus." came Peggy's voice from the other room.

"That's not true." disagreed Michelle around a mouthful of bobby pins.

"Yes it is." pouted Peggy coming to lean in the door frame and watch her pretty friend fuss.

"Tell you what, you can have the good looking one, this time." bargained Michelle looking around at the redhead in the doorway.

"Right. . ." she groaned not believing her for a minute.

"No, honest, I won't make a move until you've decided which one you want."

"Isn't this Lieutenant McKay expecting ‘you' to be his date?" asked Peggy, doubtful.

"Honey, when he sees you it's going to be, Michelle who?" she smiled at her shy friend.

"*I* get the good looking one??"

"Absolutely!" Michelle nodded with finality. She wanted her friend to have fun tonight since they were leaving Saigon in the morning. She'd deal with ‘the friend' that looked like the back end of a bus when she had to.

Johnny, a towel wrapped around his lean waist, stood in front of the mirror in his and Myron's quarters carefully working his razor through the shaving cream on his chin.

"She's a babe, Myron."

"No, the one you set this double-date up with is the babe, McKay. I'm gonna get stuck with . . . ‘the friend'. The ugly one."

"C'mon, man. A round-eyed woman!"

"My luck she's only got one." grumbled Goldman sprawled on his bunk, face covered with a dog-eared pocket book.

"Alright, you can *have* Michelle. *I'll* take ‘the friend'," he said as he wiped away the last of the shaving cream, "besides, with Anderson off on R'n'R for a few days, you're just going to lie around here and play with yourself." grinned McKay knowing that sort of innuendo would get a rise (no pun intended) out of his best buddy.

Pulling the book off his face as he sat up, Goldman shot Johnny an insulted glare, "McKay! You're such a . . ."

"Admit it, Myron. Dinner with a white chick, missing an eye or not, would be a nice change from smelly grunts and c-rats..." persisted McKay.

Goldman slid him a sideways look and McKay beamed him his best smile. Goldman just shook his head and crawled off the bed.

"Give me 15 minutes." he said reluctantly.

"Alriiiiiight!" said Johnny happily as Goldman grabbed his kit and sauntered out the door to the showers.

Johnny gunned the motor as soon as the guard raised the gate and their jeep shot out of Camp Barnett, the two Lieutenants were looking all spit-shined and polished in their dress uniforms.

"Okay, so, like what's going to be our signal?" asked Johnny as he glanced at Goldman.

"Our signal?"

"Yeah, y'know, like in College, you told your buddy you were ready to move in and score by giving him a - *signal*."

"Oh. A *signal*." Goldman just shook his head.

McKay ignored him and continued formulating their plans, "Okay, I'll say something like, I don't know . . um, how about; ‘Myron, why don't you show ‘Cyclops' your dog tags.'?"

"My ‘dog tags'?" laughed Myron in disbelief.

"Okay, okay. I'll just take my girl for a walk. And you - *DO NOT* agree to come along."

"Why would I?"

"Cause everybody knows that chicks travel in packs or pairs. Where have you been, man? They're going to want to stick together." Johnny shot Goldman a questioning look.

"Divide and conquer, huh?" said Myron sarcastically.

"Exactly!" nodded McKay, relieved to see Goldman was finally catching on, missing the dig completely.

"Peggy . . . what's the signal going to be?"

"Oh, c'mon, Michelle . . ."

"I'll let my hair down, okay?"

"Michelle . . ."

"And you, you . . . I know! Take off your glasses and clean them, okay?" continued Michelle plowing ahead ignoring the other woman's hesitation.

Peggy shrugged, uncertain, doubting the plan, "I don't know, Michelle, I don't think I want . . ."

"No! Peggy. You are *not* jumping ship on me now!" Michelle turned on her friend, frustrated, "Just come to dinner. It's not a date, okay." she continued, trying anything to keep her friend from bolting.

"Well . . ."

"It's settled then. Good. We'll have a great dinner with a couple of American G.I.'s and that's all. You'll see, we'll have a great time."

"We can't stay out too late. The plane leaves for Pleiku first thing in the morning."

"Donut Dollies to the rescue, m'ame." joked Michelle giving her a little salute, "but that's tomorrow. Tonight, we're going to have a couple of steaks and a couple of laughs with a couple of home sick boonie rats. Right?"

"Okay." agreed Peggy finally smiling at her enthusiastic friend.

"Good. Let's go. We're meeting them in the lobby of L'hotel Triomphe."

"Isn't that where the restaurant's up on the roof?"

"uh-huh." smiled Michelle.

"Well, I guess I could sit through dinner with a fella that looks like the back end of a bus if it's up there." grinned Peggy feeling a little better about their dinner ‘dates'.

"Especially if *the bus* is paying!" laughed Michelle as the two left for L'hotel Triomphe.

"By the way, where exactly are we meeting our ‘dates'?" asked Myron grabbing for the dash as Johnny swerved around a pothole.

"I told Michelle we'd meet them at L'hotel Triomphe." Johnny snapped a glance at Myron to see his reaction, saw a smile beginning to spread.

"L'hotel Triomphe . . .You *really* want this one, don't you?" Goldman finally said looking over at Johnny to see him smiling brightly.

"She's a doll, Goldman."

"Yeah. . . And *I* get her." said Goldman smugly reminding Johnny of his bribe to get him to come with him on this ‘date'.

"Well . . . I . . ." worry wrinkled his brow.

"Relax, McKay. You can have your *doll*. I'll find a way to keep ‘Cyclops' entertained. It's a good thing the food there is good."

"I owe y'one, man!"

"Yeah, yeah."

"I don't know if I should have worn this blouse with this skirt." fretted Michelle catching a glimpse of herself in a lobby mirror.

"You look fine. You always look fine."

"Is there anything stuck in my teeth?" asked Michelle flashing an exaggerated smile in Peggy's direction.

"No, For heaven sake." said Peggy starting to question her own choice of a simple summer dress.

"We're going to get caught in this." predicted Myron looking up into the churning sky.

"Relax, will ya. It's just the next block, we're almost there."

Goldman looked at Johnny ready to fling a wisecrack at him but realized that it wasn't worth it as his predicted rain began.

"Shiiiit!" hissed McKay as the drops began to hit. He hunched in his seat as the skies opened up, "I know. I know, Goldman, spare me the ‘I told you so', okay." snapped McKay as he geared down and they pulled up in front of the hotel.
The two G.I.'s hopped out and hustled into the lobby dripping all over the carpet.

Michelle saw the two stumble into the lobby first, recognizing Johnny right away. She took in the slender man beside him only briefly before being drawn back into that McKay smile again.

Johnny scanned the lobby and spotted Michelle at the same time and flashed her his best ‘courtin' smile. His eyes flitted for a moment to the redhead at her side then dismissed her as he dragged his attention back to the stunning brunette.

Myron saw the two women immediately. His mouth went dry as he gave the brunette the once over, a couple of times. Wow! He tore his eyes away from her and studied the redhead standing at her side who was busy cleaning her glasses on the hem of her dress. What a relief, two eyes. Maybe he could ignore the fact that she was wearing glasses.

Michelle's pointy elbow poked into her ribs and Peggy looked up with a start. She squinted across the lobby before slipping her glasses on. The two American soldiers stood dripping on the lobby carpet. Wow! the tall one sure was a looker . . . and damn it, totally into Michelle. She was gonna get ‘the friend' she just knew it. She looked at the slender young man standing beside the one that was obviously Michelle's Johnny McKay. Hey, he's alright. They're making the backs of buses much better looking these days. Maybe she could ignore the fact that he was looking a lot like a drowned rat.

Johnny moved across the lobby with Goldman in tow.

"Hello, beautiful." purred McKay taking Michelle's hand in his.

"Oh, Johnny." she giggled excitedly as he raised it to his lips and nibbled at her soft knuckles.

Myron and Peggy stood awkwardly in silence as the other two cooed at one another.

"And who is this lovely creature?" Johnny asked, playing the Casanova.

"Oh, sorry... Johnny, this is my friend Peggy, Peggy Warner." said Michelle introducing her friend.

"Nice to meet you Peggy. Lady's I'd like you to meet my best friend, Lieutenant Myron Goldman."

"Hello." smiled Michelle ‘Myron?' she thought holding the flirting smile a moment longer.

"M'ame." answered Myron nervously, and immediately regretting calling her m'ame. Hell, she was probably younger than him.

"Hi." said Peggy holding out a fine boned, freckled hand.

Myron looked into the deep green eyes behind the glasses and his heart was suddenly thumping against his ribs.

"Nice to meet you . . . Peggy." he took her hand in his, felt the nervous tremor in it. He squeezed it gently to reassure her and was rewarded with a timid smile that was sending his heart racing. ‘Both' eyes were beautiful. He swallowed hard and reluctantly released her hand.
Peggy's breath nearly caught in her throat as she looked up into the penetrating brown eyes that were studying her. She stared as a shy smile crept slowly over his beautiful mouth.

"Well, ladies, we apologize for the wet look. Got caught in the down pour, but it sure isn't going to dampen our *ahem* appetites. . . . Shall we head up to the restaurant?" asked McKay, taking charge of the little quartet, breaking the spell.

"That would be wonderful." agreed Michelle, lost in his eyes as the two headed for the elevator, not waiting or really caring what Peggy or Myron wanted to do.

Myron offered Peggy his arm, and they followed the others into the elevator. As he ushered her into the car ahead of him, Myron breathed in deeply, taking in the heady aroma of her freshly shampooed hair, of her delicately perfumed skin. Heaven.

They rode in silence as the rickety little car rattled and shook its way to the top floor of the hotel. The cage door squeaked open as a restaurant attendant opened the outer door.
From there he lead them to the foot of a staircase that lead up to the roof top dining area.

"Enjoy your eating." he managed in his thick Vietnamese accent.

The roof top was nearly deserted. Only a few of the tables under the roof's protective canopy were occupied. The four Americans found one and settled in. Johnny sat with Michelle to his left and Peggy to his right and Myron across from him. A waiter floated up to the table with wine list and menus.

A couple of hours later . . .

"Ahhhh, *that* was good." said Johnny, leaning back and rubbing at his flat belly, looking down at his cleaned plate.

"It sure beats Army chow." agreed Myron, pushing his plate away, resting an elbow on the table.

"It looks like the rain has stopped. I don't know about you but it looks like a great night for a walk . . ." Johnny smiled intensely at Michelle.

"Oh, I think that would be wonderful . . ." sighed Michelle.

Myron watched as she reached up and with a few pokes, had her luxurious brunette hair tumbling out of it's restraints. Very nice, he thought. He looked at Peggy when Michelle gave her a quick glance and watched her blushing deeply and biting back a smile as she did a thorough job of cleaning her glasses.

With realization, he dropped his eyes to his plate, ‘the female version of *the signal*', he thought. Biting back a smile himself.

"I'm going to finish my brandy, if no one minds." said Peggy finally breaking the silence as she slipped her glasses back on.

Myron looked up at her and smiled warmly, "Uh, yeah, me too. You two go on."

"You sure?" asked Johnny, ignoring his own rules.

Myron gave him a ‘this-is-what-*you*-wanted' look then turned to Peggy, treating her to one of his relaxed smiles, "Yeah, we're sure."

"We could . . ." Johnny started.

"Have a nice walk, McKay." said Goldman dismissing the other officer.

Johnny ushered Michelle into the elevator sliding one hand possessively around her curvy waist as the other pulled the cage door shut behind him. She turned into his arms as the elevator began its wobbly decent.

"So, where's this walk taking us?" asked Johnny, brushing his lips against her parted mouth.

"My hotel room, of course." she answered, flicking her tongue seductively at his mouth.

"Let's take a cab." he murmured before their kiss halted further conversation.

Myron and Peggy sat in a long silence after the others left. Neither sure what to say. Neither wanting to come off sounding stupid.

Um", so how long have you been ‘in country'?" asked Peggy finally finding safe territory.

"Too long, I think, if I'm making friends like McKay." he said, a lop-sided smile playing at the corner of his mouth.

His heart thudded excitedly in his chest as her throaty laugh washed over him. He found himself taking in silly little details about her as he sat looking at her.
Her smile was a little crooked, cute. There was a splattering of freckles across her nose that was driving him crazy. He wanted to find out just how much more of her was freckled.
He took in her hair, a warm coppery silk in the lantern lights and that its tumble of curls was being held in place by a few strategically placed pins. He practically ached to reach out and free them and feel the riotous coils spring and curl around his fingers.
He settled for now, instead to admire the smooth pale line of her throat. His eyes devoured her. And she doesn't have a clue just how beautiful she is, he thought.
Peggy took up her brandy snifter to keep her hands from fidgeting as she felt his intense gaze on her.
She stared at the brandy not really seeing it, stole a glance at the handsome face peering at her. He was studying her with those eyes. God! Those eyes! Chocolate brown? No, that didn't describe the depth or power in them, it was more dramatic than that. Burning coals? No! Damn it, a romance writer would know how to describe them. Smoldering, that's a start, she thought, her mouth lifting into a little smile.
Did he know just how beautiful he was? she thought, her eyes traveling down the straight nose to that mouth. Dropped her gaze to the triangle of tanned throat, felt a flutter deep inside imagining the chest beneath the tailored shirt.
She snatched in a deep breath and looked away, blushing, getting carried away with the inventory.

Myron leaned in, stopped. Peggy set down her glass, not trusting her grip as Myron leaned in closer, gently took her chin in his hand and kissed her. His mouth hovering a moment over hers, as if waiting for an invitation. Her lips parted slightly in anticipation of the contact and he pressed his mouth to hers, keeping it very gentlemanly. He held it a moment before pulling away.
She felt his mouth press gently against hers and closed her eyes in awe. His velvety strength against her mouth. She could feel his restraint. His respect. He was not assuming anything beyond this.

McKay hailed a cab and the two tumbled into the backseat eager to pick up the courting dance where they'd left off.
Johnny kissed her deeply as he slid his hand up her thigh. His fingers snuck in beneath the fabric of her skirt, kept climbing and stopped as their tips brushed her panties.

"Michelle." he sighed as she curved herself against him.

Michelle wrapped her arms tighter around his neck, feeling him hard against her thigh, loving the feeling of his hands on her skin.

"Three dollar fifty." the cabbie's third request finally filtered through and his two flushed passengers came up for air.

"Sorry." mumbled Johnny, pressing a fistful of MPC's at the driver as he and Michelle climbed out.

"Thanks, G.I.!!" beamed the driver as he scooped up the equivalent of 2 months pay. Horny American Bastard, he thought.

"How long you been here with the Red Cross?" Myron asked the first thing that came to his mind, leaning back giving them both room to breath again.

"Almost 7 months," she answered feeling inadequate.

"It's so hard sometimes," she continued, "I love the guys, they're great. They're all so generous. It's just . . ." she stopped, stared down at her hands.

Myron had a pretty good idea what she was going to say, but he waited for her to put it in her own words.

"They're all . . . so young. Most of them are the same age as my kid brother. He got his draft notice two weeks ago," she looked at him finally, "none of you belong here, Myron."

"Yeah, well we are and we really appreciate the work you're doing. The guys are ‘up' for days after one of your birds drops in. We may not belong here, but you make it a little easier to take."

"I'm sorry, you didn't come to dinner for that." she said making an effort to pull herself out of the sudden funk.

"I almost didn't come." grinned Goldman.

Peggy looked at him wide-eyed then smirked and turned a sideways glance at him, "Neither did I."

"Let me guess, you got the; ‘I said I'd bring a friend' guilt trip too, huh?" He chuckled.

She could only laugh and nod in agreement.

"Uh, saw the signal, by the way." he continued, looking at her through his lashes.

"Oh No! Were we ‘that' obvious?!" she cried before bursting into laughter and turning bright red.

"Not as obvious as we would have been. McKay was going to tell me to show you my dog tags." laughed Goldman at the stupidity of it.

"Oh, God!" Peggy laughed harder.

He loved her laugh. Made you want to laugh.

"What do you say we go for a walk." he said and started laughing remembering that that was Johnny's ‘signal.

"I think that's a great idea." agreed Peggy dropping her napkin on the table and reaching for her hand bag.

Myron got up and smiled feeling her small, soft hand slip into his.

A trail of discarded clothing lead directly to the queen size bed. Michelle and Johnny lay together in a tangle of sheets. Johnny, propped on one elbow, leaned over her, kissing all the smooth exposed flesh his mouth could find. Michelle lay beneath his touch, lost in the sensations he was sending through her body with those talented hands, lips and, oh, yes, that tongue.
She welcomed him willingly as he moved between her parting thighs. Ran her fingers down the length of his back to cup his firm buttocks.

Myron and Peggy strolled hand in hand along the sidewalk enjoying the clean smell in the air the rain had brought with it. Lights blinking over businesses lay in warped reflections in puddles. Myron released Peggy's hand and slid his arm around her waist, drawing her closer, hips brushing as they walked.
She stole a sideways glance at her handsome date and smiled. *I* got the good looking one, she thought.
Feeling her gaze on him, Myron looked down into her smiling face. Before he could talk himself out of it he stopped, bent and nearly kissed the breath out of her, oblivious to the people who suddenly had to swerve around them to avoid walking into them.

"I don't want to sound cliche, but God, you're beautiful." he managed a little rattled and breathless.

Peggy bowed her head shyly, still feeling the passion of his kiss on her lips.

"Cliché accepted. If I can use it in return." she managed finally looking into the magnificent eyes that were watching her. She smiled seeing the surprise in them. Had no one ever told him that before?

He wasn't sure what to say, so he opted for silence as he got them walking again. Watched distant lightening light up the sky, heard the thunder roll toward them.

"When are you leaving Saigon?" he asked after a while.

"Tomorrow morning. Pleiku." she said sadly, suddenly realizing that she didn't want to.

"I see." he sounded defeated.

"Myron . . ." she started.

"Maybe you'll get assigned to the Saigon area again, soon." he failed miserably at sounding optimistic.

"Myron, let's go back." she suggested.

"Want to get rid of me already?" he tried kidding, panicking a little at the thought.

"No. . . Maybe . . ." she looked away, shyly, biting at her lip.

"What?" He stopped and turned to her.

She looked at the handsome face, reached up and caressed the smooth tanned cheek, trailed a finger tip over his lips. Saw her want reflected in his eyes.

"Maybe we could . . . get a room for the night?" her eyes dropped to the triangle of his throat, as she pulled her hand away.

He caught up her departing hand and pressed it's palm against his lips then clutched it to his chest.

"Peggy, I couldn't ask you to do that." whispered Myron head bent close to hers.

"No . . ," she looked up into his face, studied it, "I'm asking you." she tilted her face up to his, inviting his mouth down onto hers. They both thought the flashes of lightening were from the kiss. They didn't notice the thunder's rumbled warning overhead. His arms came around her and pulled her tightly against the length of him. She wrapped her arms around his neck, as the kiss deepened.

A jeep carrying 4 MP's roared by honking encouragement and hurling cat calls at them. The two broke the kiss laughing at the attention.

"I guess that's a yes, then?" she said a little breathlessly, smiling up at him.

Myron's yes was drowned out by a deafening clap of thunder and the skies opened up. Drenching them to the skin in seconds.

With clothes clinging to them the two made their way back to L'Hotel Triomphe.

Michelle lay curled up in Johnny's arms.

"It's okay, sugar. You're safe with me." he murmured sweetly, tightening his arms around her.

"I've been afraid of storms since I was a little kid." she confessed, face nuzzled against his neck. She felt safer in his arms than she'd ever felt before.

"Well, I'm here now so you've got nothing to worry about."

A brilliant flash of lightening lit up their darkened room followed by a window rattling clap of thunder. With a terrified squeal, Michelle pressed herself closer to his naked body.

"It's okay. I'm here, I'm here." he crooned feeling his self control slipping away as her naked body pressed and moved against his.

They lay together listening to the pelting rain, neither speaking. It seemed that the worse of the storm was over and calmed, Michelle began moving her hand along his chest, tracing the contours of his defined abs. Nails trailing around his navel.

"Make love to me." she sighed as she slid her thigh up between his legs. Lowered her mouth to his chest, licking slowly at a nipple.

"Lord, try and stop me." he groaned as he pressed her back into the mattress.

Giggling like a couple of school kids, a ‘Mr. and Mrs. Myron and Peggy Goldman' were given the honeymoon suite and a complimentary bottle of champaign.

The tiny Vietnamese bellhop excitedly showed them to the hotel room. He unlocked the door and handed ‘Mr. Goldman' the key, and ‘Mrs. Goldman' the champagne, smiling happily at the ‘newly weds'.

"Allow me ‘Mrs. Goldman'." said Myron scooping Peggy into his arms with panache and carrying her over the threshold. He kicked the door shut behind them. He stood a moment looking at the woman, whom he'd met only a few hours ago and now held in his arms. Her smiling eyes met his and he felt a surge of happiness he hadn't felt in a long time.

The room was draped in shadows, silent but for the rhythmic sound of their breathing. With the thin sheet drawn carelessly across their hips, Johnny and Michelle lay curled together in sated bliss, sleep creeping comfortably over them as the rain quietly ticked against the window.

Myron, enjoying the heat of her body against his, reluctantly put Peggy down. Brushed a dripping curl from her flushed cheek.

"We should get out of these wet things." she suggested finally looking at his shirt sticking to him.

"Oh, yeah . . ." and they were suddenly shy.

With great concentration, Myron began unbuttoning his shirt. Why was he so nervous, he thought. He peeked at Peggy through his downcast lashes and watched as she hesitantly reached up and took over for him. With this gesture, came a silent understanding. He let his arms drop to his sides as she pulled the shirt tails out and undid the remaining buttons. She worked the soaked shirt slowly over his shoulders. She peeled it down his arms until it bunched around his wrists, gave a final push and it dropped to the floor with a little wet plop and before she got too nervous, she awkwardly worked his clinging t-shirt off over his head. She ran her hands along his arms and over his chest,feeling his cool skin. He moved closer to her slowly running his hands up her hips, dragging the soggy fabric of her dress with them. He rested them on the gentle curve of her waist a moment, bent, and kissed her. Her mouth opened, her tongue eagerly inviting his in.
Myron continued lifting the clinging material further up her body until his thumbs were brushing against the lace of her brassiere. Peggy arched away from him, slowly raising her arms above her head.
The dress ended in a tiny pile at their feet as Myron looked down at her standing before him in bra and panties. His eyes took in the freckles across her shoulders, a scattered splash of them across her chest. Hands circling her waist, he brushed his lips against the gentle swell of her breast tasting her soft skin. Peggy ran her fingers through his spike crazy hair, down his neck, over his shoulders and chest and took to working at his belt buckle and trouser front.
Myron stood passively watching her slender fingers labour at the stiff leather strap of his regulation dress belt.
Smiled as he watched the tip of her tongue work at the corner of her mouth with the effort.
"Not from the Houdini family, are you?" he joked seeing she really couldn't work out the buckle, hands coming up to help.

"Wait, gimme a minute, I got it, I got it." she wrinkled her brow in concentration.

Myron laughed, fighting to keep his balance as she tugged repeatedly at his belt, guffawed when she gave a final successful yank, nearly pulling him off his feet. Now with rain soaked pants hanging dangerously from his narrow hips, he stood watching in awe as Peggy stepped out of her briefs and deftly reached behind her and released the clasp of her bra. With the two undergarments on the floor Peggy circled the bed, pulled down the covers and slipped in. Goose bumps of excitement running across his skin, Myron quickly peeled off the rest of his clothes and eased himself into bed beside her, gathering her into his arms, feeling her silky smoothness against him.

She ran her fingers through his damp hair as his hands slip up her back. With a nibbling kiss Myron pulled away to look down at her. He carefully slid her glasses from her nose and laid them on the night stand.

"I've been waiting to do this all night." he said reaching for her hair and working pins and barrettes free.

He tangled his fingers in the riotous copper curls of her hair, marveling at its rich colour, its heavenly softness. Peggy traced the curve of his smile as he admired the hair she so often thought was too wild, too bright.
He bent his head closer to hers as he drew his hand along her jaw, down her throat, cupped her breast, kneading, feeling her nipple harden beneath his touch. He darted his tongue across her lips teasing, inviting as he moved himself between her thighs.
She opened herself to him. Guided him with subtle movements. They moved in gentle unison. Wanted to please one another. Wanted this union to last forever.

When they finally slept, they lay in a tangle of limbs and sheets. Peggy's head lay on Myron's chest, copper curls cascading across his skin. The soothing beat of his heart in her ear. One leg draped comfortable across his thigh.

Looking a little rumpled the four stood at the departure gate at the Tan Son Nhut airport saying their good-byes. Michelle and Peggy's flight was boarding and their time together was quickly drawing to a close.

"I'll never forget you, Johnny." said Michelle, fighting back tears.

"Me either, princess. Try and get back to our neck of the woods if you can." he said, arms circling her waist.

He leaned his forehead against hers and gave her his best Johnny McKay smile. He *was* going to miss her, he thought.

"You take care of yourself. Be careful." whispered Peggy into Myron's ear as she threw her arms tightly around his neck.

"I will. I'm missing you already, Peg." he managed surprised at the power of his own emotions.

"Me too." and she started to cry.

"Don't do that." he begged, afraid he'd be joining her in a minute.

She pulled away from him wiping furiously at her eyes getting a hold of herself.

"Hey. . ," she said, her green eyes bright from tears, "next time I'm here, remember to show me your dog tags."

"As long as you clean your glasses first." he answered smiling warmly at her, seeing her bravely holding back any more tears.

"C'mon, Peggy, we've got to go. Last call for boarding. We gotta go." said Michelle taking Peggy by the arm.

"Alright." Peggy grabbed Myron's hand, held it tightly for a moment before turning and walking away with her friend to board the plane for Pleiku.

The two G.I.'s stood in silence watching the plane taxi and take off.

Myron sat behind the wheel. The two were silent as the jeep bounced and rattled along the road back to Camp Barnette. Johnny sat watching Myron a long time before speaking, could see the sadness settling in on the man. Johnny needed to do something to get Myron's mind back to the business of war or he'd be no good to anybody.
That cute little redhead had really gotten to him. Too bad they hadn't had more time together. They looked pretty good together and it looked like Goldman was really taken by this one. Johnny felt bad but he had to do something to shake him up a bit . . .

"So, Goldman, how'd you do last night? Get lucky . . ?"

Goldman slid him a glance.

"I sure was relieved to see she had two eyes, weren't you? Were the glasses a turn off?" he smiled seeing Myron stiffen at that comment.

"The only reason I'm asking is cause I feel responsible for your having a good time, I mean I dragged you along didn't I."

"I had a great time." came a monotone response.

"Huh . . . So. A redhead, huh?" he let that hang in the air between them. Watched Goldman beginning to prickle.

"You know what they say ‘bout redheads, dontcha?" he teased.

"Shut up, McKay!" barked Goldman.

"Okay, okay. Sorry." McKay smiled sadly to himself seeing he'd succeeded in pissing off his best friend.

Back to Barnett and back to the business of killing.

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