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"Shelton, Skipper wants t'see you over here a second." The soft-spoken sentence caught Snafu by surprise. Looking up from his card game with Burgie and De'Leau, he sees Hillbilly standing at the mouth of the mortar squad tent. His face has no indication of the reason, but it clearly isn't up for debate.

He throws his cards down on the box they are using for a table, ignoring the groans from De'Leau as he sees the discarded cards, and following Hillbilly out of the tent.

They walk through the small village of huts in relative silence, the anxiety building in Snafu's gut just a bit, until they reach Skipper's tent, which doubled as the command post for K/3/5.

Hillbilly gestures for him to go first and follows him through the door, shutting it behind himself. Ack Ack is standing over the command table, maps spread out, the odd cup of the usual shitty coffee pinning down corners. Snafu can see Hillbilly's beloved guitar sitting in the corner of the tent, leaning against the second bunk in the room. He snaps back to himself as the Skipper looks up from the maps. Hillbilly has joined him at the table and was standing just behind Ack Ack's elbow, his serious expression suddenly gone, replaced by a look of fond exasperation.

"Shelton," Skipper starts, clasping his hands in front of himself, the usual quiet confidence is gone, "there're some things we'd- I mean, I'd like to talk to you about."

The anxiety was back in Snafu's gut. He'd been found out, he knew it. He knew that meant a dishonorable discharge, no more money to send back to his Maman. The panic must have shown on his face, as Ack Ack's face suddenly mirrors it.

"God, how do I say this..." Ack Ack says. In the frozen moment of shared panic, Snafu's addled brain managed to string together, Don't think I've ever seen Ack Ack this ruffled.

"Oh Christ alive," Hillbilly mutters, eyes rolling near out of his head, "Snafu, you don't stop oglin' the new boots, I'll smack you back to the bayou myself."


Suddenly, Snafu put everything together. Their closeness, the second cot basically unused, the guitar leaned carefully on a crate to keep it safe from the rain and rats and crabs that run rampant on the island.

As the realization comes, all the tension runs out of Snafu's mind and body.

"Understood, sir," he says, saluting sarcastically. Hillbilly rolls his eyes at the antics and dismisses him, ignoring Ack Ack's light squawking.

As he turns and walks out of the tent, Snafu can hear Ack Ack say "I was trying to be discreet Eddie." Hillbilly's reply comes just as he is almost out of earshot, "You were dancing around it so much you'd think someone was playing music." Snafu smiles to himself, thinking, how did I miss that for so damn long?


A few weeks later, he can almost feel the disapproval radiating from Hillbilly when he sees Snafu sitting shirtless on the barrels talking shit as the new boots scrub out oil barrels, eyeing up the sweet southern belle with the copper hair so bright it doesn't even seem like it should be real.