He wandered to the window, looking out over the camp. Not that he could see much. A few tents, some grunts walking past. Dirt and dust.
He sighed and sat on the cot. He really done it this time. Everybody had fights, but not many got into it with officers. Didn't matter he was just a butter bar. An officer's an officer. Didn't matter he shouldn't'a said what he said. BA was supposed to take it and forget it. Like he was gonna do that. That's what almost got his daddy killed, just lettin things go, just takin it.
Not BA Baracus. No way.
So now he was on his way to another demotion. Probly worse. Court martial. Mama'd never get over that. Bad enough he had to tell her each time he lost a stripe. Well, it helped he always got 'em back again. Redeemed hisself.
Ain't no redeemin this, though.
He looked up - voices outside the hut. Now what? They already got his statement, not that it meant anything. All they had to do was open his record and anything he said was worthless. When he saw the LTC walk in, he knew it was gonna be bad. Another one looking for his first bird at BA's expense.
"Sir." He stood and saluted smartly, managing to glare at the MP at the same time.
"That's all, soldier. I'll call you when I'm done here."
"Sir..." The MP was startled. So was BA.
"It's okay, Lieutenant. I don't think the sergeant here has any reason to clobber me. Not yet, anyway."
Left alone, the two men looked each other over carefully. BA wasn't at all sure of this guy. He could swear there was a smile on his face. Well, he could take care of that in no short order. Who'd this guy think he was, anyway?
"Mind if I sit, Sergeant?"
BA shrugged, then dropped down on the cot. Didn't care if he had permission or not. This was his cell. The LTC waited a moment, chuckled and sat on the only chair.
"So, Sergeant Baracus. In a bit of trouble, I hear. Too bad. I've heard good things about you."
"What? I mean, beggin your pardon, sir, but..."
That chuckle again. "Let's just say I listen at different doors than most officers. And what I hear impresses me. Like you can strip and rebuild damn near any weapon faster than most people can pick it up. And you have quite some talent for engines. Of any kind. That true?"
"I do all right...sir."
"Hmm. Modesty, or not as good as your rep? So, why did you do it?"
"Why did you knock that looie on his ass?"
BA shifted on the cot. Hadn't this guy read the report?
"I'm waiting, Sergeant."
"He, uh...he said somethin I didn't like."
"I don't really wanna say...sir."
"Hmm. So he was right, it was unprovoked. Just a lousy attitude."
"No sir! I give him a chance to take it back."
"Take what back?"
BA stood, noting that the LTC hadn't even flinched. "He told me I was just like the rest, lazy and dumb."
BA felt the anger rising just thinking about it. "Just like the rest of the niggers around here. Sir."
"Okay." The LTC nodded, as if satisfied. "Well, I think we can take care of things, Sergeant. I know this guy. Better than he thinks I do. But I want something in exchange."
BA scowled. That figured.
"I want your promise that if that term comes up again, or any other trouble, you let me know - before you land the SOB on his ass."
"I don't let anyone talk to my men that way, Sergeant. But I want to be prepared with a good cover story before you end up in the brig again, understood?"
BA's jaw fell open. What was going on? He wasn't in this guy's unit.
"Okay, the paperwork and, uh, the other things will get straightened out this afternoon, so you'll have to cool your heels until then. My lieutenant will come and get you when it's done. Lieutenant Peck. Don't give him any trouble, either. Believe me, he's someone you want on your side. Especially if you need supplies."
"Uh, no, sir. No trouble."
"Oh, I'm Lt. Col. John Smith, by the way. Most of my men call me Hannibal." Smith stood, put his hand out and BA shook it automatically, still in shock at the turn of events.
Smith smiled and stepped to the door, whistling for the MP. Before stepping out, he turned back to BA.
"Remember, BA. I'm counting on you being as good, or better, than your reputation. Don't let me down."
Long after Smith had gone, BA sat on the cot, staring at his hands. Colonel John Hannibal Smith. "The" Colonel Smith.
Mama was gonna be so proud of him.
And so was Hannibal. He'd make sure of that.