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Pencils In Cup (rworks)

Fuckin' A

A Maritime Men short
1100 words
Rated adult for salty language.



The day the DADT repeal goes into effect starts off like any other day for Eli Jones, though a quick glance at the Navy Times website shows that things aren't exactly business as usual: A minute after midnight, an Academy grad, Lt. Gary Ross, in full dress uniform, married his longtime partner.

Eli shakes his head, a little bemused that the repeal is front-page news, with sidebars and photos. Well, good for Gary and his husband, and good for the Navy Times, for covering it.

He wonders if it might be different if they were back home at Coronado. It's hard to get a sense for how the repeal's going over when they're parked three thousand miles away in a mangrove swamp on the west coast of Florida, a place only known by longitude and latitude because there's no civilization for miles. It's a perfect training spot, remote, with singularly unwelcoming terrain. What he knows for sure is that the alligators and storks don't give a shit whether he likes dick.

He doesn't expect the repeal will have much effect on him and Cooper. He could still get in hot water for fraternizing with a soldier under his command, as could Coop for fraternizing with a superior officer, and as far as he's concerned, it's still nobody's damn business but their own. So he's not planning on some big coming-out announcement, and he's reminded Cooper repeatedly since word came down about the repeal that loose lips sink ships. Cooper took that with his usual dignity, making "pfbpfbpfbfbfpbpbftfpnft" sounds at him for days afterward.

They did all the required training weeks ago. He handed off the details to A.J. Lipton, who never met a rule he didn't like, and A.J. walked them through it with his usual pedantic precision. Nobody could say they hadn't been briefed. Every "I" had been dotted and every "T" crossed.

The platoon's still sleeping off last night's exercise, his team in one tent, Cooper's in another, so he's alone as he heads for the makeshift command tent. They've got beat-up folding chairs and a six-foot table that looks like raccoons have been chewing on it, but their comms work, and more importantly, Chief Laird somehow procured a decent coffee maker. Eli starts the first pot of the morning and fires up his laptop, checking for new orders from Bailey Sugar, the training's ops officer, back at base. Something white catches his eye, and he looks up to see a piece of paper thumbtacked to one of the file boxes they're using in lieu of a filing cabinet.

It's the official notice of the repeal, dated today. "FUCKIN' A" is scribbled across the top in black Sharpie in Ace O'Reilly's recognizable chicken-scratch scrawl. Where Ace got his hands on the notice is a mystery, but the man's resourceful, Eli will give him that.

A ping from his computer tells him he's got a new e-mail, so he pulls up the message. It's the same notice, this time from Sugar, with “Post to all team members” in the subject line. The message has an attachment, and Eli opens that to find a Word document with the Navy fraternization policy bolded, italicized, and highlighted in pink. Nice. Very subtle, Sugar, he thinks.

He tries not to take it personally, but it’s hard not to wonder if Sugar knows. While he's checking, again, for orders, his guys start wandering in, looking pretty sharp considering they're running on three hours of sleep. Ace winks at him as he heads for the coffee, jockeying for position with Mickey Chavez, who's been known, when desperate, to suck the grounds through the filter. Chavez manages to grab two mugs and brings one over to Eli.

"Thanks," Eli says.

Chavez grins. "No problem." Then he raises one eyebrow and gives Eli a surreptitious thumbs-up, shielding it from the others with his torso. Eli narrows his eyes and glares at him, and Chavez backs off, still grinning. A.J. and Lydecker straggle in next, followed by Horse, with Chief Laird bringing up the rear. They all look at Eli like he forgot to wash the camo paint off his face, inspecting him way more closely than he's comfortable with.

Okay, so maybe he and Cooper haven't been as all-fired sneaky about this as they thought.

Horse starts making breakfast while Lydecker brews another pot of coffee, and for a few minutes, things seem pretty normal. The orders finally come through, and Eli starts making notes as Cooper's crew ambles in, yawning and scratching. They're not as overt, no winking or thumbs-ups, but their regard's still enough to make Eli squirm.

The tent goes quiet when Cooper steps in. He looks around for a minute before barking, "There damn well better be coffee in that pot, Chavez, or your ass is mine."

Eli hears someone mutter, "Oh, right. I don't think it's Chavez's ass he's—"

"Listen up," Eli says, before it gets any worse, ignoring the quickly smothered grin on Cooper's face. "Today we're tracking down a weather beacon placed deep in the mangroves. Cooper, you'll be off shore, tracking our progress from the Zodiac. We're going full wetsuits and equipment, so carb up. Any questions?"

A.J. clears his throat. "Just a reminder, in case anyone's forgotten the date: as of today, 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is no longer in effect."

There's a "woo-hoo" from the back that sounds like it came from Horse; otherwise, the whole team seems to have assembled for the express purpose of staring at Eli expectantly.

Eli gives a small nod. "All right, if that's all, we'll meet back up at 0900 hours and get started. Live ammo; there might be 'gators."

He makes a point of straightening up his "desk," the west end of the chewed-on table, studiously ignoring his men. They'll settle down. He'll keep them so busy they'll be begging for chow and sleep, not necessarily in that order, and the weirdness will pass. He glances up as Cooper passes him with a plateful of powdered eggs and what look like half-baked hash browns. Cooper's still chewing when he says, "Want some?"

The men snicker behind him, and Eli sighs. They're America’s most elite fighting force, but honest to God, half the time they act like they're twelve.

Yeah, he wants some. And all his men seem to know it. Maybe he and Cooper didn't talk about it, and none of these men would ever have asked, but that doesn’t mean nobody noticed.

He follows Cooper out of the tent and finds him down by the water, standing on one of the big arching mangrove roots. Cooper offers him a forkful of potatoes, and Eli leans over and takes it.

"It's a good day," Cooper says, his whole face lit up.

Eli smiles back him. "Fuckin' A."

Comments

Thank you for the shortie! I do miss your boys and I hope this is the beginning of book 3 in this universe.

Best,
Mickie
Glad you liked it, Mickie! No plans (beyond little kernels in my brain!) for another book, but Justin Bieber and I never say never. :)
Love, love, love, luvvvved it.
I could so see Eli acting this way, and Cooper.
He says nothing and still gets his point across.
Thank you! :)
Awesome, Janey! Just what I needed today. Thanks for sharing it.
*hugs* Thanks for saying so, Libby!
Love it. Please say this will be extended to a short/medium/long story. I miss them so much.
That's very sweet! I do hope to tell more Eli & Cooper stories, but there's nothing else on the burner at the moment.
I loved it, thanks for sharing! :)
Thank you, Clare! :)