Isn't it odd how some stories come into being? Both of these (and another that is as-yet unfinished because it has issues) stem from a single incident. Five years ago, I unexpectedly ran into a guy who I had had a thing for ten years earlier. We had gone on one quasi-date -- it was never an actual relationship. But I had spent a whole summer writing poetry about this guy (the summer before I met Cowboy, I might add), and even wrote a completely unrelated Combat! story (here) as a result of the guy eventually dating someone else. Then I saw him one night at Walmart, and I'm not sure he even recognized me (it'd been ten years, after all), but it was just the weirdest thing, to me.
I went home and started writing a fanfic story in which Sergeant Saunders ran into a nurse he'd once been in a relationship with, years before. And then I wrote the story of how he met that nurse in the first place, a story I decided to use to explain why Saunders behaves a lot differently in the first few episodes than in the later ones.
This is something we fans have discussed over and over: why is Saunders kind of jokey and light-hearted at the beginning of the series, but later on, he's as serious as possible. My own theory has always been that the change really happens during an episode called "Far from the Brave." Saunders spends the whole episode grieving over a guy from his squad named Grady Long. It's an amazing and powerful episode, and you can watch it on YouTube here. The thing is, Grady Long was not a series regular. He's only in that one episode, only for about 3 minutes, and has zero dialog. We don't even know who played him -- he's totally uncredited. Not a lot to work with there, for a fanfic writer, or so you'd think.
And yet, eight years ago, my friend Deb Koren and I co-wrote a whole story involving Grady Long. We watched "Far from the Brave" over and over, finding clues about how the other characters might have related to him, and what kind of person he must have been. Our story, "Fools of Fortune" (here) is one of my absolute favorites.
Ever since then, I've been tinkering with the idea of writing a story about how Saunders and Grady Long met. I started two stories, but abandoned them because they felt wrong. However, when writing all these stories about how Saunders grew and changed, I realized Grady Long's story belonged with them. And so I wrote the first draft of this story. That was four years ago, after I'd finished the story of how Saunders and the nurse met, which became "The Better Part of Valor" (here). That first story idea, of them meeting again after a long time, is still languishing unfinished. One of these days, maybe I'll fix it up, now that this one is done.
|Saunders at Grady's grave.|