Belleau Wood Unhand Me Yankee

Today has been fairly quiet, the combat having died down for today.
Standing just outside a neatly fenced garden, talking to a french woman in
broken, heavily accented french, is Elizabeth, writing short notes down in a
small pad of paper. She gives a nod, and the woman offers the typical french
cheek kiss-kiss before turning to pick up her basket and head into the house.
Lizzie remains where she is, her pencil flying across the paper…

Barlow is tromping around the market square, idly. He's got some
downtime at the moment and doesn't seem sure how to spend it. They've gotten so
little, it's a novelty. He spies Elizabeth talking to the French woman,
smirking at the kissing. With a shrug, he tromps in her direction.

The lull in combat brings about an almost quiet tranquility to the
small town. The lack of incoming artillery and other nastiness allows the
soup kitchens to be brought up, serving hot chow to the weary Marines who,
until then, had survived merely on hard rations and canned meats. Private
Menoso stands in line, his battered messkit out and ready to recieve a hefty
helping of chow, one of the perks to having to lug the heavy BAR around
all day.

Marchand comes walking in from a farmhouse used as a billet for the
Marines. The man is moving in a steady and unhurried pace, shotgun over his
shoulder with a few grenades attached to the bandolier he wears with a belt. He
doesn't look particularly excited about being here, his expression
carrying a slight scowl as he passes some people speaking in French.

"Hey," Barlow calls to Elizabeth as he nears her. He doesn't seem to
care if he's interrupting her writing or not. "Hey. You're that picture lady,
right?"

Elizabeth shifts around, resting a hip against the fence she was
standing next to. She's back in her skirt, but the skirt is shorter than most
women would wear, halfway between her ankles and knees. It's easier to run in
if she must! Her boots are laced tightly up her ankles, and she continues
to sketch as she offers a faint, "Mm-hmm," to whomever asked the question.

Menoso grumbles idly as the line for hot chow seems to drag onwards.
Shuffling forward a few steps, he shrugs his right shoulder, adjusting
the weight of his BAR on it, muttering under his breath about poor
strap-quality.

Marchand walks further into the gathering of civilians and Marines and
the crates and barrels where vehicles both motorized and horse-drawn are
dumping off gear and provisions. Spotting one wagon with a large barrel of
water, near the chow line, he stops there to reach for the canteen behind him,
opening it to dip it in to fill. Seeing Menoso, the rough man offers
the fellow Marine a simple nod.

Barlow may not look familiar to the other Marines. He's one of the
replacements that've been brought in since the fighting turned into a
real slaughter. He moves to stand in front of Elizabeth, so his shadow falls
over her sketching. He looks her over, taking a good long look at her legs.
"Hey," he repeats again, a little louder. He wants her full attention.
"I heard you'd taken pictures of some of the guys. I thought…maybe you
might do one of me. Guys back home'd get a kick out of it." He's got a slight
accent. Not full Southern. Oklahoma, maybe. Or Texas.

Elizabeth inhales deeply, before she slowly lifts her head, lowering
the pad. It looks like she's making a sketch of the house and garden,
though without the full light, it's difficult now. Peering up at Barlow, she
seems to consider him for a long moment before, "I'm sorry. I don't have my
camera with me." IN other words. No.

Menoso finally gets to the front of the line, eagerly holding up his
messkit to be filled with some sort of dark, murky stew that appears to have
bits of some kind of meat floating in it. Shrugging it off, he moves out of the
line and wanders towards Marchand, spooning the chow into his mouth as he
nods a hasty greeting, slurping up a long piece of onion.

Marchand grunts over to Menoso, "Chow taste any better here than on the
ship over?" There's a pause as he scratches the back of his neck for a
moment, taking a swig from his canteen when he's done. The canteen gets placed
back in its position rear while the Marine looks around nonplussed, as if
attempting to show boredom. "Get a look at that…" nodding over
towards where Barlow's speaking with the seated woman.

Menoso shrugs idly, "A bit… gamey…." he says, coughing a little as
some of the stew goes down the wrong tube. Sputtering a bit, he stifles
himself by slurping up some of the broth. At Marchand's gesture, he turns to
glance at Elizabeth, blinking in surprise, nearly dropping his kit, "Woah,
where'd she come?" he gapes, "Wonder how much she charges…" he says in a
quiet snicker at Marchand.

It takes Barlow a second to grok Elizabeth. No? He squints down at her,
his ruddy face frowning. "Well, you can go get it," he points out to her
gruffly. There's a demanding note in his voice. "C'mon, sweetheart.
It's just one fuckin' picture. Not like you got any real work to do around
here."

"I beg your pardon?" Elizabeth's Aussie accent doesn't seem all that
warm when she directs it at Barlow, gaze icy. She has -never- looked at any
of them men here like that, not even when they tried to tell her what to
do. At least they were trying to look out for her well-being. "Unfortunately,
I need to save what film I have for important documentation as required
by the Ministry of Defense. Now, if you'll excuse me." She pushes her long
braid over her shoulder and, twisting, she attempts to slip past Barlow.

Marchand starts a deep laugh hearing Menoso's comment, leading him to
gag a bit and cough up some phlegm. The man turns aside to lean and spit it
down onto the dirt of the road. "Sounds like it's more than he can afford."
and chortles. "She's talking funny. Not a Frenchie from Paris." He turns to
Menoso. "Whaddya think? She English? Not a nurse, that's for sure."

Menoso frowns, "Awww, I heard them french girls were frisky…. she
seems a might chilly, must be from england… like them old hags we saw in
London…." he snickers, "Bet she works in the aid station changin
bedpans"

Barlow snorts a mocking, "Ministry of Defense" right back at Elizabeth.
He doesn't get out of her way. He doesn't do any overt to try and stop
her. He just stands. Right there. "Look, I've got good money to pay for it, if
that's what you're being so uppity about," he says, digging into his
pocket and holding out some crumpled bills at her.

Elizabeth sidesteps, rolling her eyes at Barlow. "No, but I don't
respond to demands," The Australian woman assures him, her chin lifting. "You
might consider learning a few manners, a nd see how far that gets you." That
said, she tosses her head and turns to head off, though she's still within
arms reach. For now.

Marchand leans to offer a clearly audible whisper back to Menoso. "No
ring." and gestures with his hand as if to indicate Elizabeth. "Maybe she's
ice cold and frozen, huh." and turns with a little grin forming. "And never
been thawed." and breaks into a rudish laugh.

Menoso tries his best to suppress a laugh, "All yours mac, I like'em
young an chipper.. not old an haggard" he chortles, spooning up the rest of
his chow before it goes cold, still watching Elizabeth though, eyeing her
like a good steak.

Barlow doesn't try and stop Elizabeth, though he does shoot a nasty
look after her and try and bump her with his shoulder as he strides away.
Not hard. He doesn't try to shove her. He just wants to show her he /could/
if he wanted to. "Uppity bitch," he mutters, face going even redder as he
tromps away. He stomps over to the chow line, muttering under his
breath and avoiding looking at the other Marines. She did a good job of
embarrassing him.

Elizabeth sighs softly, a hand lifting to rub at the bridge of her
nose, only to be bumped forward and almost stumble. She shoots a look at
Barlow's back before she slowly turns her attention towards where she feels eyes
on her…and she offers a surprisingly bright smile towards Menoso and
Marchand. She can't hear what they're saying, at least.

Marchand isn't exactly charming in appearance, though perhaps some
women might find attractiveness in a rogue. The Marine forces up a big toothy
smile of his own, teeth stained yellow that is, the freckles and
pockmarks on his face spreading out a bit. While smiling that way, the corner of
his lips work to quietly mutter to his fellow Marine Menoso. "Say something
smooth and she's all yours."

Menoso hesitates a bit as he's suddenly put on the spotlight. He gives
Marchand a bit of a 'Thanks buddy' sarcastic glare, quickly turning his
gaze on Elizabeth, "Errrr, wanna smoke?" he says slowly, hoping those words
work.

Elizabeth actually chuckles at the offer, shaking her head. The ice
that she'd shown to Barlow seems to be completely gone as she steps towards
the two marines. "Thank you, but no." She glances past them to the chow
line, and for a moment she considers the possible picture before shaking her
head and looking back at Menoso and Marchand. "First of your lot I've met
that wasn't a gentleman at heart."

<> Morning stand-to-arms! Soldiers are roused by their sergeant
to stand on the firing step, rifle loaded, bayonet fixed, ready to repulse
a morning attack.
<> It is now dawn.

Barlow has stomped his way over to the chow line and gotten himself
some hot chow. He downs in sullenly, glancing up to eye Elizabeth and her
interplay with Menoso and Marchand. Her sudden lack of ice surprises him, and
just makes him glare more.

Marchand snorts a chuckle hearing the comment Elizabeth speaks. "I'm
not any fancy-pants gentle-man, and never have been." and cackles a short
laugh. He looks over to Menoso a moment, seeing his expression before the shorter
Marine elbows the man as a nudge. "Ask a rat for where's the cat." and
snickers a little more before rubbing a finger behind his own ear. He
idly adds a glance over to see Barlow's arrival in the line.

Menoso smiles a bit, folding up his messkit and clipping it to his
belt, "Well, see, you just so happened to get the rotten apple… We're the
sweet, tasty apples…" he says with a wry grin, "What about rats?" he says to
Marchand, raising an eyebrow curiously.

Elizabeth arches an eyebrow at Marchand, before chuckling, "Perhaps,
but you also don't go about cursing at a lady and making demands before
introducing yourself, I'm sure." She follows his gaze over towards Barlow before
she gives her head a shake. Rats? Cats? The man's mad. She merely seconds
Menoso's curious look at the comment.

Barlow slurps his meal down quickly, still watching Elizabeth and
Menoso in that glowering way. He's out of earshot, so he can't make out all the
charming comments about him. Or the rats and cats stuff. But the
woman's chuckling makes his face scrunch in confusion. /He/ didn't get that
kind of reception.

Marchand grimaces a little as Menoso turns to ask him a question.
"Whaddya think. It ain't me that's purring." and smirks just a tiny bit before
turning to look back to Elizabeth. "You don't need an introduction from
me, Ma'am. The kind of fighting I do, you won't be seeing me around for
more than a week before the only woman's touch I get is a nurse's changing
dressings." The rough Marine gives the reporter a little nod. "I'm a
trench rat. A bulldog. A pug who hops into those fancy fortifications to get
up close and personal with the Kraut." His head lifts a bit after saying
that, chin out, in a roguish sort of pride.

Menoso laughs, "Don't forget mud cruncher or gravel agitator" he adds
to Marchand's lingo, "Yep, Infantry, we stick it in'em before they stick
it in us…." he says with a cheery grin, taking a cigar out of his pocket
and jamming it into his mouth, biting down on it hard.

Elizabeth gives a slight nod at that. "I have pictures of many men who
haven't come back from the trenches. Names Elizabeth…I'm a
photographer. Half the pictures are for the military, the other half go with the
stories my brother writes." She extends her hand out towards Marchand first,
clearly to finalize her introduction. "I've been tot he front, I know what you
boys are in for. I've been on the wrong end of a Kraut's bullet…and their
gas…"

Barlow finishes his stew with a slurp, without really tasting it. He's
too busy watching the photographer with the other Marines. And, apparently,
he just can't stay away. No sooner has he tossed his bowl aside than he's
tromping over in their direction again.

Marchand seems about to give a ruddy smile, but Elizabeth's mention of
gas causes it to quickly fade. More soberly, somberly, to Menoso as he
turns, "Infantry riflemen have it tough, but it's guys like me that see the
look in the Kraut's eyes as we make a kill." He slides the shotgun forward over
his shoulder by the strap, simply as a gesture. Back to Elizabeth.
"Picture-taker, then." and nods a bit. "Why your brother ever let you
come here I'll never know. He a writer, huh?" The man then frowns, shaking
his head to himself as he gives another look to Menoso. "I seen a writer go
out, earlier today. No gun, not even a pistol. They brought him back with
his left eye hanging out. He was an American. They say he went with a squad
right up to a machine gun nest." Marchand coughs and turns to spit down
upon the dirt.

Menoso rolls his eyes, "You'd think if people were that gung-ho they'd
just join up and at least have a rifle to defend themselves with" he says,
snorting a bit, leaning to the side and spitting out a wad of
cigar-chew, "What some people do for a story…"

Elizabeth shakes her head slowly before doing whta comes naturally. She
reaches a hand out to settle it on Marchand's shoulder lightly. It's
meant to be a reassuring, comforting gesture. "My brother didn't let me do
anything, I make my own choices. And…I have one bonus you boys
don't…the Krauts don't shoot women in the trenches, just like you boys don't
shoot theirs. Well..not unless they shoot at the Kraut's first, like I did."
So she's clearly not unarmed. "Women are nurses, really…but gas doesn't
get picky. I really do know what you go through." Her hand strays up to her
right shoulder, and she winces. "Almost didn't make it, and it's weeks
later and they're still not healed…"

Barlow interrupts Elizabeth's story with a gruff clearing of his
throat. He passes a skeptical eye between her, then Menoso and Marchand. As if
asking what their secret is for not getting iced out. "Look," he says. "I
think you and me got off on the wrong foot."

Marchand reacts perhaps differently than what Elizabeth might be used
to with her gesture. As her hand settles lightly on his shoulder, the
man's eyes narrow and he gives her an iron glare, frowning, with his muscles
growing tense. No words, though, and no movement other than his chest
lifting with a tighter breath. His glare remains fixed on her for the
moment. While giving that stare, he ignores the other two Marines.

Menoso glances between Beth and Marchand, not saying anything at the
moment, not wanting to interrupt this moment as the two appear to reconcile
their experiences.

Elizabeth doesn't need any further prompting to move her hand from
Marchand's shoulder. "My appologies. I meant no harm…" she murmurs
before she glances over her shoulder at Barlow. A deep breath, as if steadying
herself, and she gives a slight nod, her voice cooling.. "Hardly
surprising. I suggest using a simple 'g'day mate' the next time you want a favour."

"I just wanted a Goddamn picture," Barlow mutters under his breath. Low
enough that he might not have meant for Elizabeth to hear. But he's a
big guy, and it probably wasn't actually low enough to go unnoticed. He
gives Marchand a look, then switches his eyes back to Elizabeth. "What're you
up to now?" he asks, back to his standard loud drawl.

Marchand's eyes follow the woman's hand as it draws away, and his
breath is released as he seems to calm a bit. There's a swallow, the fellow now
looking a bit uncomfortable in general, and silently he offers
Elizabeth a simple nod, then nods to Menoso as he starts to step out from the line,
beginning to walk away.

Menoso sighs and shakes his head towards Barlow, "You never learn, do
ya?" he snorts, giving Marchand a similar nod in parting, smiling at
Elizabeth, rolling his eyes towards Barlow, "Like I said…"

"Everyone wants a picture. But it's not precisely easy to get supplies
up here." Lizbeth offers to Barlow before she turns her attention back to
Marchand and Menoso. "Did I do something wrong?" she asks quietly of
Menoso, clearly concerned…ad poor Barlow gets ignored.

"Obviously, sweetheart," Barlow growls at Elizabeth. His face has gone
red again. It sounds like he's more upset about the being ignored part than
anything having to do with Marchand. "You might wanna try minding your
own business. Not that anything going on here is the business of a skirt
like you." He looks down at her legs pointedly. And they aren't exactly bad
to look at.

Marchand has his back turned, but silently gives a slow little shake of
his head, once, as if to respond. The man, solitary, keeps walking down the
path a bit to where he turns and passes between two cottages, out of view.

Menoso turns to glare at Barlow, "Lay off Mac, she ain't done nothin
wrong" he says sternly, "If you'd've been a bit nicer you wouldn't get busted
like that, take a lesson an walk away before you dig your hole deeper"

Elizabeth has heard worse, and has learned through experiance that
ignoring the sly comments from te boys is the best defense she has. They bore of
it if she doesn't react, typically. "I'll see you around," she offers to
Menoso as she steps back and to the side. "I've proofs to go through." A
slight nod of her head, and se turns to head towards where her personal tent is
set up…

Barlow glares right back at Menoso, but he isn't too focused on the
other Marine right now. His main glare-target is still Elizabeth. His face
reddens again when she starts to just walk away. He's not letting her go that
easy. "Hey!" he barks, reaching out to try and grab her arm.

Menoso reaches out as Barlow tries to grab Barlow, "Man, leave her
alone, ain't worth it" he says firmly, "Just leave it be"

Thirty or fourty years later, and Elizabeth might have tried to talk
her way out of his grip. But as it is not the future, Elizabeth reacts
instinctively. She spins, her hand lifting, palm flat, aimed for the
general vacinity of Barlow's cheek. "Unhand me!" comes the sharp demand, though
the words are edged with…fear!? The woman who willingly goes into the
trenches is afraid as this man grabs her arm?

Barlow probably should have seen that slap coming but, as it is, he's
totally unprepared for it. Properly meek, mild girls don't do that sort
of thing, after all. He takes Elizabeth's slap full in the face. He reacts
instantly, flinging her arm free (roughly) and bringing a clenched fist
up. As if he might hit her back. He manages to stop himself from doing
that, but the look he gives her is downright murderous.

Alright, enough's enough. Menoso forcefully steps between Barlow and
Elizabeth, "Ok that's ENOUGH! Barlow! Back to your quarters… And you"
he says to Beth, "You best get back to your tent before things get out of
hand and the MP's get involved"

Elizabeth actually stumbles as she's flung back, before she pulls her
arm to her chest, rubbing at where Barlow had held it. She simply stares at
the man, shocked beyond speaking, for a long moment before she looks to
Menoso and gives a slight nod. She hesitates a moment before speaking quietly,
some of her earlier strength seeming to have disappeared. "Would you walk
me, Private, please?" The independant, modern woman seems to have shrunken
back slightly at the unexpected, unpleasant situation. None of the men here
have ever touched her other than the odd hug, or to try and protect her. And
none have disrespected her like Barlow just did.

Barlow glares at Menoso, and Elizabeth, but he seems to have had
enough. He shoulders roughly past Menoso and stomps off, mixing with the crowd
lulling in the market square.

Menoso snorts at Barlow, nodding towards Elizabeth, "Sure, i'll walk
you back…." he says, shouldering his BAR firmly, holding out a hand to
allow the woman to lead, falling into step next to her.

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