Pairing/Characters: Merriell "Snafu" Shelton & R.V. Burgin
Fandom: The Pacific
Word Count: 900
Disclaimer: Don't own the characters, just my interpretations of them. Based on fictionalized representations, no disrespect is intended.
Teaser: In which Snafu gets lost in Australia and Burgie knows about cows.
Notes: Snafu & Burgie's bromance is one of my favorite bromances ever, and this quote from Bill Sloan's book about them as new replacements is the birth of this whole thing: "Other times, they'd catch a train and ride the forty miles past neat farms and quiet suburbs to crowded Flinders Street Station in the heart of downtown Melbourne ... Another friend and frequenter of the pubs was PFC Merriell Shelton, an excitable, small-statured youngster from south Louisiana who had arrived with the same group of replacements as Burgin. Shelton was a whiz at poker, but otherwise his primary talents involved getting confused, lost, in trouble, and generally fouled up."
By the time Burgin finds Snafu, he’s already made his way through acres of farmland and a suburb, and paid two civilians for their trouble in giving him a ride through the countryside. Snafu looks anything but as exhausted as Burgin feels, and he gets to his feet as soon as he sees Burgin, looking out of place in his wrinkled service uniform. There’s a tiny stick figure dug into the path cutting through the field, and Burgin stares at it, says, “I know you got lost.”
“Hell naw.” Snafu wipes a palm against his chest, slow and lazy. There’s a trail of mud left on his shirt. “I just got a little mistaken.”
Burgin stares at him. A cow moos morosely in the distance. “We’re in the middle of nowhere, Snafu.”
Snafu’s gaze fixes on a spot past him, and he reaches to dig a cigarette out of his pocket, placing it against his mouth with dirty fingertips. “I ain’t got my lighter,” he comments.
“I ain’t got one neither.” Burgin shakes his head, curses under his breath. “I only came out here to find you.”
Snafu’s eyes fix sharp on Burgin’s face. He pulls the cigarette from his mouth and says, big and incredulous, “Why?”
“Christ, Snafu. You walk ten feet out of that camp and you end up with your boots stuck in a tree and your shirt inside out.”
“I ain’t lost,” Snafu says, stubborn. He shifts the cigarette between his fingers, finally tapping it gently back into the pack and looking up at the sun. “It’s gonna get dark.”
“Come on,” Burgin says. “Unlike you, I remember where I left the road.”
He starts back the way he came, and after a few moments Snafu falls into step behind him. They walk in silence until they get past the fence, and then Snafu coughs heavy and says, “Thanks, Burgie.”
Burgin says, “I thought you weren’t lost.”
“I ain’t.” Snafu repeats. He stalls for a second, and then says, “Them cows here in Australia sure are mean.”
Burgin thinks back to home, how the last calf was a risky birth and how he held the cow’s head as she looked up with glassy, panicked eyes, and how their town vet hadn’t made it until after the calf was already standing on wobbly, miraculous legs. His dad had wiped his hands on his coveralls and said, proudly, that they bred good stock around here, ain’t nothing quite like these cows. “The ones back home are something else,” he says.
There’s no response from Snafu, and after a moment Burgin processes what he said. Turning back to stare at him, he replies, “What did you do, Snafu?”
Snafu gives him a slow shrug, hands shoved against his sides. “I jus’ tried to topple one over.”
Burgin stops in his tracks. At this, Snafu raises muddy hands in his direction and adds, “She stronger than she looks.”
Once Burgin starts laughing, he can’t stop. When he finally catches his breath, he says, “Goddamn, Snafu. That name of yours sure was the right thing.” He shakes his head and turns back on his heel. Snafu catches up to him, shoulder lazily bumping against his as they walk.
“I wasn’t lost,” Snafu says, when they’ve finally reached the road, a note of petulance in the statement. “I jus’ took a walk.”
“All right, Snafu,” Burgin says, trying to put on a serious tone. “Next time you take a walk, you take a buddy with you so you don’t end up getting in trouble with some poor cow again.”
Snafu makes a lazy, offensive gesture at him and says, “When you think they taking us off this place and sending us somewhere we’re supposed to be?”
Burgin holds out a hand to the automobile passing, watching as it slows down and the driver leans over to open the side door for them. “You Yanks need a lift?”
Burgin nods and readjusts his cap, tossing a “Thank you, sir,” to the driver and then folding his arms and looking at Snafu. “When we get the orders,” he says, finally. “Then.”
Snafu barks out a laugh and replies, “It ain’t even started yet and we already up to our dressed-up knees in bullshit.”
Burgin smiles. “Yeah, well, you joined the Marines.”
“I gotta find some way to keep putting money in my pocket.” Snafu climbs into the back of the car. “You jus’ as crazy, Burgie.”
Burgin doesn’t respond, just closes his door and listens to the driver as he talks about his nephew overseas and the news of the war in the local newspaper. Snafu is restless in the back, fidgeting with his cigarettes again, and Burgin feels a wave of agitation himself. When they step out a few blocks from the Flinders Street Station and Snafu instantly wanders toward the nearest open pub, he thinks of the driver’s stories, and hopes he’ll have more to bring home to his family than his comrade getting lost in Australia’s vast farmland.
“You’ thinkin’?” Snafu asks. He doesn’t wait for a reply, just continues, “I think I got just enough on me to gamble. A couple packets of cigarettes, ‘least.”
Burgin gives him a look. “You’re a piece of work, Snaf.”
Snafu just gives a slow shrug and adds one last afterthought, “I ain’t gettin’ lost, so you don’t need to find me.”
Burgin can’t help but laugh.