(also thanks to elethe
: An allegory in pieces. You know how it ends.Spoilers
: Various for season one; particularly The Brotherhood
: Character death in later chapters.Pieces: 1/6
Remember the SilenceI guess I knew it all along
Adam Stackhouse and his colleagues had been on McMurdo, tucked away in the depths of the Antarctic, for eight months already and it had been the most boring goddamn year of his life, so far. Each day that passed, nothing changed. The landscape was identical, the weather was identical; every day they covered the base security, and every day no one came. Not even a penguin. There was nothing to do on duty, nothing to do on downtime. People were always whispering that that sort of environment could send a guy crazy; personally, Adam doubted that half the marines on the base had enough mental capacity for insanity and suspected the rest of them had already reached it.
Initially, his squad had been drafted in just to cover security for a six-month stint, and had been scheduled to ship out back home for a break before they were drafted back across to the Middle East or some such pit. But then things started getting strangely busy around McMurdo – they were working frantically on some TSBS (Top Secret Bull-Shit) fifty miles out, and people were coming through the main research base all the time.
It was extremely screwed up that the highlight of any marine’s week was acting as base ‘customs’ and getting to rummage through people’s possessions for an hour; but when there was nothing else on offer, you took what amusement you could get.
The situation was pretty much the same in the mess hall.
“Aw, great,” Jones groaned as they queued for whatever was masquerading as food that night, reluctantly holding out his tray to have a spoonful of gunk slopped onto it, “It’s not-beef hash again
. Hey – hey, Gourmet, you want a cook book for Christmas?”
“It’s change-over day,” Stackhouse muttered, grimacing at the splattering sound it made on his tray, “You know it’s always
left-overs on change-over day.”
“Can’t have the newbies getting too comfortable, Jonesy, they might wanna stick around,” Walters added, turning to the bored-looking cook and gesturing to his tray for more.
“Sure; and the moment they say that, they’re gonna stick’em back on that plane, send ‘em all straight back to some nice white room and give ‘em a new jacket.”
Walters laughed and nudged Adam in the back, “Hey, Stack, you think they’ll bring us some chicks this time?”
Adam really hoped not.
They moved over to their usual table, sitting down for the daily bitch about military food. When you spent your whole life with a small group of people, and never went anywhere that wasn't regulation concrete-grey or freeze-your-balls-off white for that long, there wasn't whole lot of new conversation to be had. He was just scooping his first forkful of sodden packet-mash into is mouth when the double doors swung open, a part-delighted, part-mocking whoop went up, and half the room started singing 'Welcome to the Jungle'.
Adam was half-way into a thought that this was the behaviour that substantiated his belief that everyone else had cracked up, when the whole room seemed to have been taken over by just… Oh
A guy had walked in, one of the change-over boys; Adam wasn't even sure what was happening for a second – he seemed disproportionately close, like waking up staring at minutely patterned wall-paper – and their eyes had locked and they weren't looking away and now he was smiling across at him, although Adam wasn't sure how he knew that because all he could see were the huge, hazel-green eyes and –
"HAAAA! Aww, Stacky, you want a bib? Here, let me tie this around your neck, shall I?"
The jab in the cheek would have been enough to snap him back to reality, but a huge, stupid marine grappling at him also worked reasonably effectively.
, Jones!" he growled, wiping at his face in embarrassment. The new guy was still watching, a tentative smile twisting at the corner or his mouth. Adam scowled at his plate and tried to ignore both the fact that he was blushing and the fact that the new guy was still
looking at him – looking at him a whole lot like he knew
"So what got your
tongue, Stack? Did they actually bring us some chicks?" Walters was virtually out of his seat to check, an on-going commentary spilling from his smart-ass Chicago drawl. "Huge black dude, woah – arms as big as Jonesy's head; oh – and is that a chick in drag?"
Jones turned around to stare. "Naw, but he looks about twelve years old. Must be on work-experience," he said, turning back around and laughing at his own joke.
"Aw, look at Stack, he looks so disappointed! Maybe they'll send us one of those hot little scientists over soon, huh?"
Adam prodded at his food and cast his 'comrades' a spiteful glare. They continued to laugh in his face until a shadow fell across the table, and a warm, slow voice said, "Hey."Oh, you've got to be kidding.
"D'you guys mind if I sit here?"
And there he was. Standing beside them, tray in hand, eyes like wagon wheels. Adam wanted to say no, go sit with your own squad, leave me alone, 'cause I can see what you're doing and I'm not buying it.
Instead, he silently shifted along the bench and made room for him to sit.
"Nah, kid, park it, c'mon."
"You got a name?" Walters asked, reaching across the table and almost sticking his arm in Adam's plate. He shoved it out of the way impatiently and Walters clipped at him before moving back to shake the new guy's hand.
"Uh, James Markham; Sergeant." He patted a set of very new-looking epaulettes, and grinned.
"Thanks. Wasn't really expecting them…"
"So, Jim – "
"Oh, uh, no – um… call me Jamie; Jimmy's my stepdad and James is sort of formal-only."
"Whatever. Jamie; my name's Walters, this is Jonesy – and happy face here is Stackhouse. Isn't that right, Stack?"
Adam just gave him another Look and nodded at the new guy, whose proximity was making him jittery and tying bows in his insides. He forced himself to concentrate on his food – or at least look like he was – and just listened to the others.
"Where you from, Jamie
"Wichita. Well… sorta. A way outside, really."
"So, what brings you into the icebox? Most guys down here got busted, but I figure with stripes that new you ain't exactly in the black book, yet."
"Oh, I volunteered," Markham declared, nonchalantly digging into his corned beef hash.
Immediately, Jones was on his feet, yelling, "Okay, boys, take this one home and give him his voucher for the white jacket! We got a volunteer
The younger marine laughed a little and explained, "They were looking for a few engineers, so I said I'd come down…"
"You're an engineer
He was blushing, now, and not looking anyone in the eye, "Well, they wanted me to finish college and I grew up with farm machinery, so... I'm still a marine
, just… They needed some down here 'cause the experts were getting sick of you guys breaking stuff. So… I volunteered."
Finally, Adam found something to say, and gazed at the marine beside him in disbelief, "You're kidding, right?" And there were those damn eyes again – and hello
, eyelashes like a fucking snuffleupagus.
"No, sir. I guess I just didn't wanna get blown up right after getting my new stripes." He grinned and caught his eye again, and the only thing stopping Adam from smiling back was the fact he felt like he'd swallowed a mine.
"So, I guess we're not on duty tonight…?" Markham said, as they walked out of the dining hall toward the barrack block.
not," Adam muttered, his whole left side suffering pins and needles as Jamie walked along beside him, close enough that their arms brushed when they moved.
"Depends what squad they've assigned you to."
"Oh – Green."
"Then no, you're not," he told him, the realisation that Markham was to be part of their own small squad making his stomach flutter embarrassingly. He wasn't twelve any more, for God's sake.
"So what do you guys do around here on downtime?"
"Oh, the usual… S.F.A."
"There ain't a whole lot to
do down here," Walters explained, holding open the door to the rec room, "You either play in the pool tournament, or you sit on the couch yelling at everyone to shut the fuck up so you can watch a movie you've already seen six hundred times and actually kinda hate."
"And that's why you're dumb for wanting to come down here, kid. All the chicks are fifty miles out, so you can't even get at them…"
Jamie looked at Adam for confirmation, his round eyes even wider.
"You mean y'all lied
to me? There ain't no fun and games?"
"What did you think
there would be to do in the South Pole?"
Adam's question was intended to keep the younger marine at arm's length, mocking him slightly and trying to seem less approachable. Instead, Jamie looked at him searchingly for a moment, then actually grinned broadly, all dimples and eyelashes.
"Um… make snowmen?"
Adam stared at him in disbelief and he stared back, and it took a moment for Adam to register that they were standing in the door way gazing at each other.
Instead of walking into the rec room, Adam gave a small huff and turned back down the hall. He needed to get away from this uncomfortable turn of events before he went as crazy as everyone else. Markham's arrival had thrown him completely for a loop – a loop he'd kept as far from as he could, for the past several years – and which he'd forgotten exactly how to deal with. All he wanted to do at that moment, was to hide his head under a pillow for a few hours.
"Where're y'going?" Markham called after him, sounding mildly disappointed.
"To figure out how long it takes to suffocate yourself."
He was eighteen years old. An eager young man, standing in the front row of a squad of new recruits, drill sergeant laying down the law to them in clipped, domineering tones. He watched, carefully, as two marines walked across the edge of the parade ground, one looking over at the newly formed squad as he went. The marine smiled, Adam's chest contracted and blood rushed to his face. It was a bad way to start a career that didn't allow for even a hypothetical inclination towards one's own gender. Developing a crush on the first day was almost the worst thing that could happen.
He knew – he'd always known – that girls weren't his thing; but the life he chose for himself didn't allow for the alternative, so he convinced himself to do without and pursue his childhood aspirations regardless. The fewer people he had to care about him the better, anyway. He'd signed up as soon as he was old enough that his parents couldn't prevent him. His father had never forgiven him; they hadn't spoken civilly since Adam was twenty-one.
Two weeks after he signed up, one of the squad in another barrack had his rifle sprayed pink and was subjected to what the others called a 'blanket party', which left him in the infirmary for three days. In his sleep, he had murmured 'Casey' and his room mates had assumed it referred to another marine in his squad. In fact, it had been his fiancée.
Adam's only thought had been, "Thank God I wasn't there." He could never have stood by to watch it happen, but he couldn't have risked defending a 'queer' and raising suspicion against himself. It was a dreadful moral dilemma that he didn't want to face. All he had ever wanted to be was a marine, if they threw him out, what would he do with his life?
Instead, he had brought him a book to read and eventually they became best buddies. He was best man at the wedding. He was a pall bearer when he was killed in action six months later. When Casey gave birth to their baby, she named him Adam.
Neither of them ever knew.
It went on for weeks, but no one seemed to notice anything strange; everywhere that Stackhouse went, Markham was sure to follow. Anything the security team were asked to do, somehow Markham was on Adam's working party. On downtime, every video they re-watched, every game of pool they played, there was Markham and the puppy-eyes (within hours Walters have given him the nickname 'Toto'), watching and smiling and being completely unassuming.
The thing was, Adam was growing used to him. Sometime in the first week, he'd figured out that underneath the eyelashes and country-mouse-in-the-big-city naïveté there was a reasonably intelligent guy who learned quickly, had an unhealthy capability for tolerating anything the kitchen staff put in front of them and an irrational and all-pervading positivity that rubbed off on just about everyone. Half the time, the whole country-boy act was put on for their amusement; the rest of the time, it was just kind of endearing. He played a game with Jonesy, sometimes, where they'd pick something a 'city-slicker' could do that a 'hick' couldn't, and vice-versa. The one about artificially inseminating a cow put them all off diary products for a week, and Markham played up to it at every opportunity ('Hey, Jones? Want some moooo-re milk? Are you done with that slice of roast beef? Y'know – my sister, Joni, had a sort of pet cow when we were kids… She called it Clarabel. She was a really lovely animal, actually. Barbecued just right…').
Honestly: Adam really liked having him around.
They were sitting in the rec room, late on a Thursday evening after all but three of them had gone to bed when things really began to get difficult. Jamie was sitting cross-legged on the floor by Adam's feet, playing noughts and crosses by himself; Jones had already made another dog reference, which Smith picked up on and turned filthy. In time, the game degenerated to random doodling and a blue-biroed scene gradually began to depict a small, boggle-eyed dog in a series of ungainly situations. It was stupid, childish artwork, and after ten minutes of pretending not to watch, Adam gave up ignoring him and asked, "Markham, exactly how old are you?"
"Bored and three quarters."
Adam snorted at him, and kicked him lightly with his boot. "Y' don't say?"
"Nearly twenty-seven," Jamie amended, petulantly.
"If you're so bored, why don't you go to bed?"
Jamie looked up at him, trying not to smile, "Is that an offer, Sergeant?"
Walters looked up in disbelief. "Well, kids, I'm gonna turn in. Don't get into too much trouble after I'm gone, I don't want to have to write home to your parents."
"Night, Joe," Jamie said, a little too eagerly, waving him off. As soon as he was gone, he climbed up on the couch beside Adam, sitting sideways and looking at him curiously.
"You're staring at me."
"You're always so serious."
"You're always so over-familiar."
"Does it bother you?"
"You're going to get yourself a reputation."
Jamie smiled and turned a little red, "You didn't answer my question."
Finding himself backed into a corner, Adam scowled to himself, not wanting to get into a conversation he couldn't rescue, and didn't answer.
"You going to start rumours, Stack?"
"Why would I do that? Walters is probably doing it for us right now. And so, I'm going to bed before anything dangerous can be said that I can't fix." He pulled himself to his feet and turned to walk away, but Markham grabbed at his wrist forcing him to stop. His whole arm burned.
"What if he does?"
"Then I'm probably as screwed as you are."
"Stack – I'm not – "
"Good for you. Go back to your barracks." He walked out before the younger marine could say anything more. Things, in his opinion, were not going well; mostly because it had been such an effort to leave at all.
Briefly, Adam tried to avoid him – and difficult situations – altogether, but four and a half weeks after the change over, he and Markham were scheduled for guard duty out at the tiny sentry point beyond the airstrip. They trudged across the compacted ice and snow and settled into the tiny six-foot square shelter. Nights were long and the cramped conditions were uncomfortable at the best of times, but after a couple of hours of the first fresh conversation Adam had seen in the past four months, it didn't seem to matter, any more. After four or five, they'd lulled into a comfortable, drawn-out phase of occasional, irreverent comments, their chairs side by side, but facing in opposite directions, to cover all four directions visible through the wall-to-wall Perspex three feet from the ground; idle chatter, comfortable silence.
He'd thought that by walking out of the rec room a week ago he had put pause on Markham's less than subtle behaviour, convinced him that he wasn't interested, even if he couldn't prove – falsely – that he wasn't at least inclined
towards it. But they were alone, now, half a mile from the nearest person and bonded by the invigorated camaraderie of deep conversation and commiserating over each other's losses in the field. Things were different. He no longer saw Jamie as the pure-hearted little puppy he presented to them most of the time. He saw a deceptively resilient young man who had seen a lot more than his mild, accommodating nature betrayed. It seemed less that he was still a child at heart, than he made himself hold on to that part of him that hadn't been corrupted by the sort of death and destruction they all saw in the line of duty. When Adam asked him why he had even joined the military, the younger marine had smiled a little ironically and said, "Don't get me wrong, I love my family, but I just needed to do something a million miles from running a farm just to keep it going for the next generation. Wouldn't even have been my own kids…"
Adam supposed he had achieved that goal, one way or another.
His gut clenched agonisingly when Markham sighed sympathetically and rested an affectionate hand on Adam's shoulder as he retold a story – a friend he'd seen step on a mine, being hit in the face by a dismembered arm – and began rubbing gently. He didn't stop him. He couldn't – he could hardly breathe without choking. The warmth radiating from the other marine was almost suffocating and although he'd known, instinctively, from the moment he had laid eyes on him, he daren't risk so much as a squeeze of his wrist in return. It was totally improper and, potentially, vocational suicide (never mind a prison term). He knew when he joined the marines that it meant giving up any sort of emotional attachments. He'd accepted it, got on with it and managed perfectly well for the past ten and a half years. He couldn't just screw up now.
Markham was looking at him again; the same look from the rec room, intense and open. Searching, but knowing. Tentatively, the hand resting on his shoulder slid down to settle on the arm folded across his lap.
"Y'okay? You've gone quiet…"
Adam looked away, trying to clear his throat before he choked on his paranoia. Please, stop. Please, please take your hand away from there
. He tried to ignore the weight on his arm, but it only drew his attention to it more. His skin prickled beneath the fabric, and his pulse began to race, trying to force blood in two directions at once.
Markham tilted his head and began to withdraw the hand, carefully. "Would you 'rather not know'?" His voice was measured; almost but not quite neutral.
This was the most ridiculous conversation Adam had had in months, and that was really saying something at McMurdo. He gave a tiny, ironic laugh and said, "It's a little late for that. You have all the subtlety of a scud
, Sgt. Markham! The way you've been acting the past couple of weeks, I'm surprised the whole base doesn't know. I thought the whole place
was going to figure you out just for staring like that in the mess hall. And if they had, that would have been it
for you. They would have sent you home on the return flight and given you your marching orders right there. Things don't change down here just because it's cold…"
He realized, as he finally found a chance to release all the pent up worry he had felt on Markham's behalf – tried to make him appreciate the gravity of what he was doing – that he'd partly grown afraid that command would figure out and really take him away. Especially since their conversation that night. It turned out they had a lot more in common than he'd realised.
"You didn't look away, either," Jamie reminded him, eventually.
"You are just so lucky
you picked on someone who isn't about to report you. They could court-martial you just for starting this conversation!"
"It wasn't luck, it was just that I knew you wouldn't."
"Then why aren't you pushing me away?"
And he wasn't. Even though it was an obvious cue to do it if he intended to, he just averted his eyes to look at the edge of the gloved hand on his face and allowed it to linger. Then there was breath on his cheek and he closed his eyes for a moment, lips tingling as he tried to push away the surreal, 'I'm-not-really-here-and-this-is-a-dream'
feeling welling in his chest. But when he re-opened them, he couldn't help but look back, catching his eyes and finding himself fixating on them through the dark. He was so transfixed that when a second hand gently settled on his face, all he could do was blink and wait for lips to follow.
As he pulled away and smiled down at him, suddenly shy, Jamie murmured, "I won't tell if you won't."
Creeping around McMurdo, trying to find some time alone to figure out what they were doing was even harder than Adam would have anticipated. Every time they thought they'd found a way, something would happen to screw it up. Three nights in a row they had stayed in the rec room waiting for everyone to head off to their barracks under the pretence of wanting to watch a movie without the crashes and cheers of the on-going pool tournament. Each night, Jones and Walters had chosen to stick around and watch it with them, ensuring both Adam and Jamie were actually
obliged to as well. By the fourth night, when they were due to stand sentry on the West Point, Jamie was so tired Adam allowed him to curl up against him on their chairs and rest for a couple of hours. It felt comfortable, even satisfying, to be wrapped up together like this and the longer he stayed like it, the more he regretted that they would eventually need to stop.
He squeezed his eyes closed and forced himself to swallow as he felt a tentative kiss on his neck, signifying the fact that Jamie had woken a little. With a deep breath he squeezed his arms around him tighter, awkwardly rubbing his cheek against hair, prickly from gel, and a soft fleece hat. His stomach was fluttering. He wondered if Jamie was feeling the same way, or if this was some irrational optimism borne of the fact that for the first time in a long time the reason he was so close to someone wasn't that he was dragging their battered body from a war ground.
Tenderly, he allowed himself to kiss Jamie's forehead, hoping that he would never need to do that for him, and was soothed a little when he felt a hand seek out his own. But then the other man was pulling himself out of the languid slouch and leaning up to kiss him. And he didn't protest. He let him push closer and press cold-chapped lips to his own as the grip on his hand was released and moved to the side of his face instead.
He had genuinely forgotten how much he missed this, but it was too dangerous to pursue, most of the time. The fear of being caught was more than enough deterrent. But it was a strange sort of relief that overwhelmed him as Jamie tucked his hand under the thick fleece material at the base of Adam's spine, rubbing soothing fingers across his skin. He had expected nerves or paranoia; perhaps some sort of arousal. Instead, it was the relief of finally being allowed to sit after a 60k march and the bone-aching sense that he had wasted a hell of lot on a career. His formative years – a whole decade and more – had been spent risking his life for a country which thought he should lead the life of a monk for the privilege. Until a few weeks ago, he had numbed it out so much he didn't even think about it any more. He was quite embarrassed that Jamie had managed to sweep so much of his self-discipline (delusion, maybe) under the carpet in just a few moments. An extremely attractive, likeable guy walks on to the base and develops an instant crush on him? He would have thought it too good to be true, if it didn't have the potential to wreck his entire life.
"Hm?" he murmured, pulling away and looking up at him uncertainly.
"What are we even doing, here?"
"I mean, seriously: why are you doing this?"
Jamie looked at him, his round hazel eyes hurt, "'Cause I thought…" he trailed off and started again. "'Cause I think you're hot, and you… seemed… Okay. No. I know
you like me, Adam. I'm the one who's confused, here. You don't need to fake the whole straight thing - I'm not one of them, I -
"That's not the point."
"But it is
– that's all that needs to matter."
"In case you didn't notice, we're in the Marines
. It's not all that matters. What matters is risking our asses like this. You may be okay with that but I'm – "
"Do you think I do this all the time, or something?"
Adam stared at him for a few moments, processing the idea. He looked away when he realised how much he hated the idea of anyone else being close to Jamie like this. He was already in deep enough to be jealous.
"I'll take that as affirmative," Jamie told him, obviously hurt and disappointed – and slightly resigned.
Adam wanted to pull him close again and take it back, make it better. "I don't…"
"You think I do this all the time and I'm just dicking around here until we're shipped, right?"
"You wouldn't be the first."
Jamie leaned back into his seat and wrapped his arms around himself, "Right." He stared off out of the window and didn't say anything for several minutes. "It's not what I'm doing, Adam."
"I know." And he did know. He'd known that much all along, but he couldn't just jeopardise the façade he'd spent the past ten years building for a couple of uncomfortable fucks in a storage cupboard. Or a sentry station. And the idea of anything more involved worried him; it made them both vulnerable.
"That's the number of people in any way connected to the armed forces that I have even kissed
. And one of those is you." He'd started to sound less hurt than frustrated. Adam had just started to feel guilty, and a little stupid.
"I'm not an idiot, and I'm not a touring Marine Corps slut."
"I didn't say you were."
"Then, d'you wanna try and trust me?"
Jamie looked at him through the darkness for a moment, then turned deliberately on his seat; "You could prove that."
"Yeah?" His heart was racing again and he started to wonder how likely a healthy young marine was to have a heart attack.
"You do it: you
, this time."
That was the moment that Adam realised that in the nicest possible way, Jamie Markham was one of the most devious people he'd ever met. He almost burst out laughing at the idea, but instead, he did as he was told; he leaned over and pulled him into a kiss. He felt a triumphant smile against his mouth, just before he was pushed back into his seat and he felt a hand fumbling to work its way beneath his several layers of thermal clothing. Protests about the cold died in his throat as he felt the hesitation of a glove being tugged off and the smooth, warm hand returned to work its way down from finding bare skin at his navel. Nakedness in these temperatures was just dangerous, but not everything required that…
He was just beginning to forget where they were when there was a sharp beep and a voice said, "Sgt. Stackhouse, this is base, please respond. Over."
They froze where they were, shocked for a moment at the sudden disturbance, before realising that there was no one actually near them and that they had only heard the radio. Breathing deeply and giving the other marine an alarmed look, Adam clicked on his radio to speak, trying not to sound hysterical.
"Base, this is Stackhouse. Is there a problem? Over."
"We were just going to ask the same thing. You're ten minutes late checking in, Sergeant."
Jamie clasped a hand over his mouth in a mime of 'Oops'. Adam frowned at him and replied, "Apologies, Corporal. Lost track of time…Over."
"Acknowledged, Sergeant. Please try to keep on schedule. We're receiving reports of expected blizzard conditions over the next twelve hours. You have two before you're due back here; if you're not back in two-fifteen we'll send out a search party. We don't want to go losing anyone. Base out."
For several long seconds after they stared at each other, equally horrified by the near-miss.
"Well," Jamie sighed eventually, shifting to snuggle back against him as he had done for the past few hours, "I guess that kinda killed the atmosphere."
Still feeling rather stunned, Adam gave a small, strained chuckle, and wrapped his arm around Jamie's shoulders trying to get comfortable. They still had a couple of hours.
Over the next few weeks, a task which was mostly loathed by the marines grew to be time they looked forward to. The discomfort of the sentry cabin and the deep chill of the Antarctic didn't exactly encourage physical intimacy, or the inclination to remove any of several layers of thermal clothing, though. After four weeks of almost thrice-weekly duties, after the other squad on rotation left, the most they had achieved were a few fumbled hand-jobs and a lot of snuggling.
One night, on the way back from the cabin, Adam was asked to report to the Colonel's office. He had been convinced that they had somehow pressed the speaker button on the radios and they had heard everything – which would not have been something they could have exactly passed off as a misunderstanding; there was only so far you could interpret the words, "The last guy I slept with was an old buddy from grade school I hadn't seen for fourteen years."
"Sgt. Stackhouse," the Colonel Mason had said, giving him an 'I'm going to give you bad news and try to make it sound good' smile, "Glad you could make it."
"I came as fast as I could, Sir." He winced inwardly at the choice of words.
"Not a problem, Sergeant, not a problem. Take a seat."
Adam sat down and waited for the bomb to drop.
"Sergeant, I've received a request from Col. Sumner to send him six of our men while six of his are returned home for leave and possible re-location."
"Well, Sergeant, you're my most senior non-commissioned officer, excluding Anderson, and I would like to give you the opportunity to select five more members for your squad and have your things ready to ship out by dinner tonight."
This was not what he had been expecting. Not even slightly. "Anyone, Sir?"
"Excluding First Sergeant Anderson, Corporal Holland and Corporal Reeves, anyone you feel is suitable."
"Sorry, Sir – may I ask what they should be suitable for, Sir?"
"Well, I don't need to tell you, Sergeant, that what is being undertaken at the base is of highest security. We need six reliable, capable marines to take part in one of the world's most significant and sensitive projects. I am not at liberty to reveal what this may be, but I can tell you that we are looking at one of the greatest scientific discoveries that will be made in your lifetime. Do you understand?"
"Good. Then I will expect you to report to me with a list of five names in twelve hours time. Dismissed."
Adam turned and left with his heart in his mouth. This was as close as it came to his first command, and he was allowed to take Jamie with him.