Disclaimer and Notes: not mine, just for fun. Written for the ATSB Quick Pick Word of the Day challenge; the word was, you guessed it, "pride." Thanks to Junkfoodmonkey for the beta; any remaining errors are mine.
by Raine Wynd
The uniform smells, faintly, of the last time he had it dry-cleaned. He's not surprised when he tries it on and it doesn't fit; it's been years since he's had a reason to put it on. He was a younger man, then; younger and full of a swirl of emotions he doesn't like to dwell on now. As it is, he can feel his emotions rising up as he struggles to put it on and has to give up in disgust. He knows this means he'll have find where the hell he's put his medals and insignia; that he will have to make the run to the army surplus store on Santa Monica where the guy behind the counter will always watch him with that damned knowing look he can't stand; that he will have to rip the unit patches out only to resew them on the new uniform. He wishes, for a moment, he didn't have a reason to wear the damn uniform now. Even if the reason makes him wince at the effort involved, he knows he'll never trade this uniform for another one. No other piece of clothing, not even his BDU's, ever made him feel like this.
He remembers the first time he was issued the uniform. He remembers the pride he'd had the first time he'd worn it in front of someone who didn't know how the Army lied by telling the truth (just not all of it.) He remembers how their pride in him made the loss of his own innocence somehow better. Now, those memories are mixed with other images: war and death and hope and pain and betrayal and above all else, a kind of friendship he knew he wouldn't trade for anything in the world.
"You, too, BA?" Face asks as he steps into the room. "Mine's a little tight in the shoulders."
BA grins a moment, relieved to know he's not the only one, before he turns into the scowl he knows Face expects. "Ain't like we're gonna wear these in a parade," he growls. "Next time'll be our funerals."
Face shrugs. "Maybe not," he says. "Maybe they'll have a change of heart, find something that says we were just following orders. Come on; let's go before Hannibal wonders why we're taking so long."
"Every damned year it's something," BA gripes. "Can't leave Veteran's Day alone."
Face smiles. "Hey, at least it's not sneaking into the parade like last year. Tell you what, I'll buy you a beer when Hannibal's done with his review."
The familiar promise makes BA grin. "Deal, but better make it a milk. You know I don't drink."
Face chuckles. "Yeah, but after what Hannibal's got planned, you just might."
BA groans. "He on the jazz again?"
"When isn't he?" Face counters. "I'm telling you, BA, we need a counter plan. He's gonna get us arrested for sure this time."
BA shakes his head, but he follows his lieutenant out of the room to van to help plot a way out of potential trouble.