"Face! Have you seen BA this morning?"
"He left real early, Hannibal. Just like yesterday, and the day before, and the day before..."
"Okay, okay, I get the picture. Know where he's been going? I checked with the guys in the motor pool and they said he hasn't shown up at all this week."
"No idea, Hannibal. Sorry."
Hannibal sighed and left the tent. He wasn't worried about BA, but it wasn't like him to just take off like that. He knew they could be called up at any time. But BA had been acting strangely since that last firefight. None of them had felt good about it afterwards, way too many casualties, but BA seemed to really take it hard.
Hannibal wandered up toward the mess test. There weren't too many people up yet, as the dawn was barely showing in the east, and most of the camp had been out on late patrols. He shook his head. The VC were getting way too heavy in this area, and he expected the brass to call for a pullback any day now. Two weeks ago this area was so important; now it was just another piece of jungle. He'd never figure it out.
He was about to step into the mess when he spotted his wayward sergeant moving toward the aid station. Hannibal frowned. BA was surrounded by a gaggle of nurses; had it been Face, he wouldn't have given it a second thought, but BA was usually bashful around the women.
Curiosity got the better of him and he turned to follow the little group. He didn't call to BA; somehow he got the feeling BA wouldn't like that. So, even when he reached the aid station, he waited a moment before stepping inside.
The tent, though large, was crowded with cots, equipment and personnel. Hannibal looked around and finally saw BA seated next to one of the cots. The man on it had both arms wrapped in heavy gauze, as well as a good share of his chest. BA was carefully feeding him breakfast, and though Hannibal couldn't hear him, he could see BA was talking as he worked. In fact, it looked like BA was actually joking with the man. Occasionally Hannibal could see both men grinning.
Hannibal stepped back and stood for a moment beside the tent, frowning. Then he smiled and pulled a cigar.
"Good morning, Sir." A corporal stopped and handed him the daily report.
Hannibal grinned back at him. "No, kid, it's a grand morning..."