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Love in the Army Chapter 5
Tom sat at home still reeling from the news that his unit was being disbanded. He called all his unit commanders to a meeting at the barracks for 11 am.
“Ladies and Gentlemen the reason I called you here today is to inform you about a conversation myself and Colonel Paul Dexter had last night with General Harris and General Smith. This is not good news, I am afraid. The powers that be, in their wisdom, have decided that the family liaison ops unit is not cost effective and, as a result, they intend to merge it with the military police. As you can imagine, I am gutted; not just for myself, but for each and every one of you guys and the guys that work under you” Tom said.
Major Nicholas Green said “they cannot be serious that will never work.”
“Unfortunately, the Army works in mysterious ways and it is us who have to put up with it” Tom said.
“So, what are we talking about job losses?” Alex asked.
“Yeah, they are talking about redundancies and moving people who are fit enough back into active service” tom replied.
“That is stupid,” Major Alice Newman said.
“Yeah I know that and you know that, but the powers that be only care about pounds shilling and pence. They reckon they could save a few million getting rid of this unit, which I doubt is right to be honest. I launching an appeal against this decision. You may have heard on the grapevine yesterday, that Colonel Brad Evans and Colonel Rhydian Thomas have both resigned. Well I can confirm this is true, and to be brutally honest with you all, if the unit appeal fails, I will be following behind those guys” Tom said.
“You know who heads up the Royal Military Police, Tom, don’t you?” Alex asked.
“Yes, I do. Sadly, none other than my old friend Major now Colonel Darren Thompson, which is another reason I will not join the new unit,” Tom said.
“I bet he is laughing as well. He hated the family liaison unit” Alex said.
“Yeah I, bet he is” Tom said.
“Well guys, that’s all I need to tell you, but please don’t forget to pass it on to your guys what’s happening,” Tom said.
One family, the family of James Mason, called the media and put out a statement.
“Our family has been through hell over the last few months, and in that time we have had the continued support of the team at the Family Liaison Operations unit. We have been told today that this unit is being merged into the military police, and will no longer operate in its current form. This is a disgrace. These men and women work tirelessly, behind the scenes, helping countless families through the terrible injuries and fatalities, and this is the way this government thanks them. What a disgrace and they should be ashamed of themselves”
Shaun’s mother, Alison, also made a statement.
“Our family lost our beautiful son and Brother Nicholas, and were given major support from the FLO unit. Without this unit, I don’t think we would have been able to move on with our lives. I was gobsmacked when my son Shaun. phoned me earlier today, to tell me the terrible news that the unit is being disbanded. What idiot at the MOD came up with that idea. The Royal Military Police are good people, but are not the people who need to deal with grieving and worried families? Major Mills, who was the officer assigned to my family, was with us whenever we needed him. I cannot see that happening when the police take over. I don’t think this is a good idea, and maybe it might save money, but what price do you put on injured soldiers?”
ANGRY Soldiers Families in MOD Fight
Tom read the story and was shocked to realise that the story had gone public.
Tom picked up another paper and saw its headline.
“HANDS OFF OUR Injured Soldiers”
Another paper said
MOD in cutbacks to disband Family Unit Soldiers families up in arms
The best one was on the front page of one of the tabloids “HOW DARE YOU!”
MOD has no respect for its dead soldiers and their injured soldiers, say two grieving families.
It had a picture of James Mason’s mum holding a photo of James and Alison Weston and holding a photo of Nicholas.
Tom was taken aback and knew this was not the end of the unit, going by the outcry.
Later that day, a Labour MP asked in the commons, what the MOD were going to do about this disgraceful decision.
The Defence Secretary stood up and said, “there will be a full and frank review into this decision, and I can assure you once that is complete, I will let the House know.”
The MP stood up and said, “a full and frank review, just typical of this government not listening to the people of the country. What the people want is this disgraceful decision reversed immediately.”
The Defence Secretary stood up again and said “as I just said, until the review has been carried out, I cannot and will not comment. And I certainly will not give in to the press, just because they want it changed.”
Another MP stood up and said, “well, Mr. Speaker, in all the years I have been a MP, I never heard such claptrap coming out of a Defence Secretary’s mouth. What you need to do is not wait for some review, but take personal responsibility for this, and sort today, not next month when you think the press have moved on. It is not the press you need to listen to, but the people in these stories who are telling you what they think of this plan.”
The Defence Secretary didn’t give a reply.
The Defence Secretary was bombarded by the press as he left Westminster. He arrived at the MOD shortly after and called in General Smith.
General Smith was told that he had looked at this decision, and that in hindsight it wasn’t a good idea, and therefore the Defence Secretary told him he was canceling the merger.
General Smith said, “well, that’s your decision, but we need to save money and we cannot afford the unit.”
Defence Secretary said, “well you will need to make cuts elsewhere because the family liaison unit stays.”
General Smith wasn’t happy, but accepted the decision.
Tom sat in his office when Todd buzzed/
“Yes Todd?” Tom replied.
“General Smith on line one, sir” Todd said.
“OK Todd thanks” Tom replied.
“Good afternoon Sir. What can I do for you?” Tom asked.
“Good afternoon, Tom. I have some news for you. The decision to merge the FLO and the military police has been axed. It looks like your tactics to contact the press worked. But Tom, I don’t think bringing the press into it was a good decision for you and your future in the army” General Smith replied.
“I have no idea what you are talking about. I believe the press leak came from one of the injured soldiers families at the hospital, after we informed them of the changes taking place” Tom said.
“Well, Tom we are still planning big changes at the unit, which will include you moving back into active service and appointing a stronger commanding officer, who follows Army procedures correctly” General Smith said.
“Well, ok sir, I accept those changes if it means the unit stays, but unfortunately I will not be remaining in the Army, sir. So I won’t be taking active service, sir” Tom said.
“OK, that’s your choice and I accept your resignation,” General Smith said.
“But one thing sir, I have been very happy serving my country. But recently, I, like several other officers, have felt that higher ranking officers have lost touch with the day to day job. It’s the injured soldiers, and those brave men and women who have lost their lives out in combat who I have had the biggest respect for. So you might think I haven’t been a strong commanding officer of this unit, but I can assure you I have given this unit and the Army my all, and believe me, over the years it has thrown me some bad shit. So, I thank you for the chance of commanding this unit and I wish my successor all the best whoever he or she may be” Tom said.
“Well, thank you for that speech, Tom. I wish you all the best for your future, whatever that may be” General Smith said.
“Thank you sir” Tom said as he put the phone down.
Tom buzzed Todd.
“Yeah Tom” Todd replied.
“Can you ask Alex to come in please?” Tom said.
“No problem” Todd replied.
“Hi Tom, what’s going on?” Alex enquired.
“Well, we won the battle but not the war mate” Tom said.
“What do you mean by that?” Alex asked.
“The unit survives but I will not be the commanding officer” Tom said.
“Oh, what are they serious?” Alex said.
“Well, they think I leaked the story mate, and I am running a weak command. So they wanted me back on active service, but I told them where to stick it mate. So I have resigned” Tom said.
“What, and they accepted?” Alex asked.
“Yes, General Smith accepted my resignation” Tom said.
“Well, that’s fucking crap mate. They have no idea how much of your life you have devoted to this unit” Alex said.
“That doesn’t really matter mate. The main thing is that this unit survives intact with a few changes, with the unit mergers etc. going on” Tom said.
“Well, whoever takes over will have big shoes to fill, mate. You are not just a commanding officer, but you are one of my best friends and I, for one, will miss you” Alex said.
“Yeah, I will miss each and every one of you when I go in three weeks” Tom said.
“Well I am off home mate. I have to prepare for a dinner party, and I need to fill Ben in on what has happened” Tom said.
Alex shook Tom’s hand and said “Tom, it has been a pleasure working with you.”
“Yes, Alex, and I thank you for making me listen to you all those years ago about becoming a FLO officer. if it wasn’t for you, I would have never joined this unit. I know we have had a few years of ups and downs, but through all of the shit we have had thrown at us, we have always stuck by each other.” Tom said.
“Yes, Todd?” Tom replied.
“General Harris on line 1 for you."
“Oh, ok” Tom replied.
“General Harris wants me on the phone,” Tom said, looking strangely at Alex.
“Oh, I leave you to it mate” Alex said.
Tom said, “stay there.”
Tom picked up the phone, “good afternoon, Sir. What can I do for you?”
“Tom, I have just had a conversation with General Smith and he told me you have resigned. Why?” General Harris asked.
“Well, to be honest Sir, I wasn’t happy that General Smith was blaming me for the press leak, sir. When I already know that it was two grieving families who leaked the story, sir” Tom said.
“Tom, you are a long standing officer with a fantastic record. I have no idea where General Smith got the idea it was you who leaked the story, but can I be honest with you? I am glad someone did because I wasn’t happy with that decision. I also want to tell you General Smith doesn’t have the final say as to who heads up which unit. So, Tom please reconsider your decision because I want you to stay on as the commanding officer at the new Family Support Unit, as it is now going to be known,” General Harris said.
“Oh, ok. Well in that case, yeah I will stay, Sir” Tom said smiling.
Alex smiled and put his thumb up.
“Well, that is good news. Oh, and we will be appointing two new Lieutenant colonels to take day to day command of eighteen units each. Any ideas?” General Harris said.
“Yeah. Major Mills, for one. The other Major Nicholas Green, sir. Two of best officers I have, sir” Tom said.
Alex smiled and whispered, “what’s going on?”
“OK well, you can appoint those two for us, Tom” General Harris said.
“OK sir, hope to speak to you soon” Tom said.
“Yes, Tom. You will be hearing from me, being as I have been appointed as your commanding officer,” General Harris replied.
“OK sir” Tom replied as he rang off.
“Oh, wow” Tom said.
“So, I take it you have withdrawn your resignation then” Alex said.
“Yup, too right. I am the commanding officer of the new Family Support Unit” Tom said.
“Oh, new name, very nice” Alex said.
“And you and Nick are my number two, each being in command of 18 units each. You will be promoted to Lieutenant Colonel” Tom said.
“Oh, wow. That is a surprise. Lisa will die when I tell her,” Alex said laughing.
“Yeah, I bet she will. I remember when I got my Colonel promotion. Ben went nuts,” tom said laughing.
Todd then buzzed, “yes Todd?”
"Major Green on line 2 Sir.”
“OK Todd. “
“Hi, Nick. I was just about to ring you” Tom said.
“Oh, why?” Nick asked.
“To give you some good news, for a change actually. The unit has been reprieved, and not only that, yourself and Alex are to be my number two’s. How does Lieutenant Colonel Green sound?” Tom said.
“Oh my god! My wife will go nuts,” Nick said laughing.
“I need you to come here tomorrow morning at 11. I will brief you and Alex what basically are your duties. OK?” Tom said.
“So, what did you want to speak to me about?” Tom said.
“Well, I heard a few rumblings when I was at the hospital earlier, that there had been a u turn by the government. I wasn’t sure if it was true or not,” Nick said.
“The only difference, mate, is the name Family Liaison Operations becomes Family Support unit” Tom said.
“Well, I’m sure we can live with that, Tom” Nick said.
“We certainly can. Anyway, Nick, I have to get going. I will speak to you tomorrow” Tom said.
“OK, Tom” Nick replied.
Tom arrived at his home a bit later to be met by a stressed Ben.
“Where the hell have you been?” Ben shouted.
Tom smiled and walked over and kissed Ben and said, “nice to see you too,” Tom said laughing.
Ben threw a tea towel at Tom and said, “you organise a dinner party, then don’t come home to help me get ready.”
Tom said “sorry darling, I did plan to, but I kept getting held up, and anyway it’s all sorted. The unit will survive intact and I am still in charge, even though I did resign.”
“What, you resigned?” Ben said.
“Yeah, General Smith was blaming me for the press leak, so I told him to stick it” Tom said.
“But I am confused. You said you were still in charge?” Ben said looking confused.
“Yeah, well General Harris persuaded me to retract my resignation” Tom said.
“Well, that's fantastic, You are the family liaison ops unit babes” Ben said.
“Well, actually, it’s the Family Support Unit now” Tom said.
“Oh, new name as well” Ben said.
“Yeah babes, let me get changed and I will give you a hand” Tom said.
Ben walked over and kissed Tom and said, “actually it’s all done, just the table to be laid and I need to feed Jon.”
“Yeah, where is he?”
“He is doing his homework upstairs, and plans to stay up there all night” Ben said.
“Oh, ok. Well give me his food and I will take it up” Tom said.
Ben handed Tom the tray and Tom carried it upstairs. Tom knocked on Jon’s bedroom door and walked in to see Jon doing his homework.
Jon smiled and said, “hi Dad.”
“Right son. Here is your dinner, and if you want anything, don’t be worried about coming down. OK, its only Tim and Alice and Daffyd and Brad coming for dinner, and they love to see you” Tom said.
“OK dad, I will” Jon said.
Tom jumped into the shower and then changed into a red shirt and black trousers and went downstairs. Ben saw him and said “hey, sexy.”
Tom laughed and said, “hey gorgeous.”
Ben walked over and kissed Tom, just as the doorbell went.
Tom walked over to the door to see Tim and Alice standing there. “Hi you two. Come on in.”
Tim said “slight problem, Tom. We didn’t want to leave Greg home alone. You know what teenage boys are like. He'd have had the place wrecked in no time.”
Alice laughed and said “we were thinking maybe he would be company for Jon.”
“That’s fine” Tom said.
Tim and Alice followed by a pissed off looking Greg came in.
Tom shouted, “Jon.”
Jon came out of his room and said “yes dad.”
“Greg wants to come up and join you is that ok?” Tom said.
“Sure, dad” Jon said.
Greg smiled and walked upstairs when Tom said “Greg have you had anything to eat?”
“Yeah, I am ok Tom, thanks” Greg replied.
Ben smiled and said “ok, now you two behave.”
The boys laughed and said “of course.”
Ben answered the door to see Brad and Daffyd standing there.
“Hi guys, come on in” Ben said.
Soon, the dinner party was in full swing.
Jon and Greg sat on Jon’s bed watching some crap on the TV. Greg was watching Jon as he moved over to get the remote to change the channel. Jon’s hand brushed Greg’s leg and Jon instantly said “sorry.”
Greg laughed and said “hey, don’t worry.”
Jon, however, did worry as he didn’t want to harm his new friendship with Greg and was worried that Greg might turn on him again. Greg, however, didn’t turn on him. Instead Greg put his hands on Jon’s shoulders and said “seriously, Jon, I don’t care.”
Jon looked up and went to say something, but Greg went in for a kiss. Greg kissed Jon passionately and started to run his hands over Jon’s body. Jon was in heaven, as he felt Greg run his hands under his t-shirt and up his silky smooth body. Greg pulled back and said, “Jon, ever since all that shit I did to you, I have always wanted to kiss you like that.”
Jon smiled and said “wow, Greg all you had to do was ask.”
Greg blushed and said “give us a kiss.”
Jon went in and kissed Greg and then said “god you are a great kisser.”
The lads sat watching TV while the dinner party was still going on downstairs. Greg started to feel tired and put his head down on Jon’s pillow. Jon put his arm round Greg and the two lovers drifted off to sleep.
Brad and Daffyd were the first to leave.
Tim and Alice were getting ready to leave and Ben said “I’ll go and tell Greg you are getting ready to go.”
“OK, thanks Ben” Alice said.
Ben walked upstairs and knocked on Jon’s door. He opened the door to see the two lads sleeping peacefully in each other’s arms. He noticed that they were holding each other’s hands and thought, oh shit.
Tim said “well I suppose I can pick Greg up from here in the morning, guys.”
“Yeah, that will be fine mate” Tom said.
Tim and Alice said their goodbyes and left.
Tom could tell Ben was not telling him something and said “ok spill.”
Ben laughed and said “come with me.” He led Tom upstairs and quietly opened Jon’s door and showed him.
Tom said “oh.”
Ben quietly closed the door and said “what are we going to do?”
Tom said “umm not sure.”
Jon and Greg came downstairs and saw Tom and Ben sitting in the kitchen eating breakfast.
“Morning, boys” Tom said.
“Morning Tom, Ben” Greg said sheepishly.
“Morning Dads” Jon said.
Tom decided that he needed to speak to the lads, so he said “now boys I need to speak to you about something.”
Jon looked at Greg and blushed.
Tom smiled and said, “now boys, no need to be embarrassed. And to be honest, this is something I should have spoken to the both of you about before now, as Ben and I have noticed how close you two have come recently.”
Ben smiled and said “what Tom is trying to say is that we have no problems with you having a relationship. But we need you to know that we are here for the both of you, if you need anything, whether that’s advice or just a hug. OK?”
Jon smiled and walked over and hugged Tom, and Greg walked over and hugged Ben, and said “my problem is that I am moving to god knows where, and I don’t want to leave him.”
Jon was crying and said “yeah, and I am going to miss you.”
Greg then walked over and took Jon into his arms and hugged him.
Tom realised they had a bigger problem and said “look Greg, you need to sit down with your mum and dad and tell them how you feel.”
“I know, but I don’t think they will understand. I doubt that they will be happy to have a gay son” Greg said.
“Oh, don’t be daft. Tim and Alice will support you through thick and thin, and you know that” Ben said.
Tom said “OK guys.”
Alex said “a big case sir 6 dead, 7 injured.”
“Oh hell, where did that happen?” tom enquired, knowing that the four units currently based here weren’t in combat at the moment.
“In Cyprus, this morning, personnel carrier and lorry collided” Helena replied.
“Oh hell, another day in the family support unit. So is there anything I can do to help?” Tom asked.
“No, I think we got most bases covered, sir” Alex replied.
“Well ok, if you need me you know where I am, Alex” Tom said.
“OK, Tom” Alex replied.
Tom went into his office and sat down and buzzed Todd, “yes, Tom?”
“Can you remind Alex we have a meeting at 11am please?”
“Sure, Tom “Todd replied.
Todd left Tom’s office and walked into the main office to see Alex just about to leave. Todd walked over and said, “excuse me, Alex Colonel Rees asked me to remind you of the meeting at 11am.”
“Shit, I had forgotten about that” Alex said.
Nick arrived a short time later.
“Morning, guys” Nick said.
“Good morning, lieutenant Colonel Green” Alex said smiling.
“Same to you, Lieutenant Colonel Mills” Nick said.
“So, what you think of these changes mate?” Alex said.
“Well, it sounds great to be honest. Tom oversees us and we oversee the other guys” Nick said.
“Yeah, it will be different, but I am looking forward to having the chance to run my own units” Alex said.
Alex and Nick were in the training room when Tom walked in, “morning lads.”
“Morning, sir” both men said.
“OK, guys let’s get this sorted out so Alex can get back to his case” Tom said.
Tom explained the men’s duties and set their units which they will head. Tom also told the men that Major Darren Tyler will take command of 4th company and Major Brad Harrison will head 8th company.
Tom also said, “now, there is going to be one change. That is that my office is going to be moving to Coninton barracks, which is going to be central HQ for the family support unit. Todd will also be moving over to there as well, but Alex you will be based here. You will be appointed your own administrative assistant, and Nick you will still based at your current base. You will also have an administrative assistant appointed. Both will be in place within the next few days.”
“Why are you moving to Coninton?” Alex asked.
“Well, to be honest mate, I don’t want you to think I am watching your every move. Ben has recently taken a job at a new hospital near to Coninton. At the moment, it is taking him three hours traveling to get to work, and another three to get home. So, a move of base for me closer to his work will work for us both. Jon will be going to six form college nearby” Tom said.
“Well, that sounds like you planned all this out” nick said.
“Not really, but with the current HQ barracks closing in six months, and this building being too small to become the operational HQ, Coninton was the best location, to be honest” Tom said.
“All we have to do now is to sell our house and find one near Coninton barracks, and we will be laughing” Tom said.
Alex smiled and said “how much you selling it for?”
“It’s on the market for £425 thousand, why?” Tom said.
“Well, Lisa and I were discussing last night that she is fed up with Army accommodations and she wants us to buy our own place” Alex said.
“Oh, that’s a fantastic idea” Tom said.
“Yeah, and I love your house with it's big garden. The kids would love that” Alex said.
A couple of days later
Tom and Ben had taken a day off, and with Jon, they were looking round a few houses near to Coninton barracks.
They had just finished looking at a totally unsuitable house. The three of them got back in the car and said, “No way” and drove off.
They were driving down a suburban street, when Ben spotted a large detached property which looked empty. Tom stopped the car and got out. He spotted an estate agents board, which had fallen down. He rang the agent and arranged for a viewing later that day.
Tom, Ben, and Jon loved the big old Victorian house and its grounds. The estate agent, a tall leggy blonde woman called Helena, told Tom that the house had been on the market for a while. They had had a lot of viewings, but no offers. It was on the market for £300 thousand, but she reckoned the vendor wanted rid, so an offer might just get it.
Tom had already sold his old house to Alex and Lisa Mills for £380 thousand, less than the asking price, but as they are good friends of his, he knocked something off.
Tom thanked Helena and said, “I will discuss this with my husband and get back to you, OK?”
“OK, Mr Rees” Helena said.
Tom got in the car, and both Ben and Jon said “yes, we want this house.”
Tom laughed and said “shush, we don’t want her to hear that. We might get ourselves a bargain.”
Tom and Ben discussed the offer they should make. Tom put in a cheeky offer of £245 thousand. He was surprised when Helena got back to him and said the vendor would accept £250thousand, but no less. Tom agreed to that.
A few weeks later
Tom’s office move was now complete. He was settling into his new surroundings at Coninton Barracks, a place Tom had visited a few times, but had never really been based here.
Tom and Ben were getting ready to move from their former home, near Cheedam Barracks. The house was starting to fill up with boxes, as they prepared to move out. They completed on their new house last week, and are due to complete with Alex and Lisa in a few days.
Todd was settling in to his new place of work, but preferred Coninton, as this was a newer barracks and has better facilities than they had at Cheedam.
Tom and Ben were up early, organising everything. The movers arrived shortly after 7am. Tom and Jon were going to the new house, and will organise the placing of the right stuff in the right rooms. Ben stayed at the old house, making sure the removers took everything they were taking.
Jon was missing Greg, who despite telling his parents he didn’t want to move to Scotland, as he would miss Jon. He went with, them as they wouldn’t take no for an answer.
Tim and Alice had settled into their new home well, but could see that Greg was depressed and felt lonely without his sidekick, Jon. He had also not settled into the local school’s sixth form as quick as they had hoped. In fact, he told them he was thinking of dropping out.
Alice was in the lounge of their new house when Greg came home.
“Hi, darling. How was your day?” Alice asked.
“Awful, to be honest. I hate that place” Greg replied.
“Come on love, it’s a new school. You will soon make friends” Alice said.
“No, I won’t. They are all idiots, and I will never settle in that dump,” Greg replied.
“Please, for our sake, try and settle down” Alice said.
“No, I hate that school and I hate this place. I will never settle. As soon as I am 18, I am off back to England” Greg said.
“Well, that’s your choice son, but you go and do your homework” Alice said.
“OK, mum” Greg said.
Tim arrived home shortly afterward and said, “is he is a better mood today?”
“No, darling. I am getting worried he might never settle here” Alice said.
“Yeah, he seems so unhappy, and I can’t think of any way we can sort this out” Tim said.
“I doubt if we will ever sort this one out, unless we ship him back to Cheedam. He will never be happy, to be honest” Alice said.
“Yeah, and that’s not going to happen anytime soon. I am loving my new job, and I am planning to stay here for the rest of my time” Tim said.
“Greg is so depressed and unhappy, I am worried he might do something stupid” Alice said.
“Well, we know he is missing his mates. He will be OK. He will soon make new friends, and forget about his old ones” Tim said.
“I don’t know about that. I seriously think that there is more to this than missing a few mates. I think maybe he was in love with someone down there and he is missing them” Alice said.
“Who, though I never really saw him with any particular girl. He always seemed to be with Jon, towards the end” Tim said.
“Oh shit. We've been stupid. Think about it. Since he bullied Jon, they have been inseparable. That’s why he is depressed. He is, oh fuck, he is in love with Jon” Alice said.
“Oh, fuck. We have broken his heart taking him away from his first love. Oh shit, we were so busy organising this move, we failed to see what was in front of our eyes” Tim said.
“Yeah think about it all he talked about was Jon this and Jon other for months and we didn’t realise” Alice said.
“I just thought of something. That last dinner party we went to with Tom and Ben, when Greg was asleep, I wonder now if Ben saw something that night and that was why he wouldn’t wake Greg” Tim said.
“What, you think they knew?” Alice said.
“I don’t know, but thinking about it, Greg was really down the next day. He tried to stop the move, but we ignored him” Tim said.
“I think we need to speak to our son” Alice said.
“Yeah, I think we do” Tim said.
“Greg, would you come down here a minute son” Tim called.
Greg walked downstairs and said, “what’s wrong?”.
“I am OK dad. I'm just missing my friends back home” Greg said.
“Well yes, son, but it’s not friends you are missing, is it?” Tim said.
Tim walked over and put his arm round Greg and said, “why the hell didn’t you say something, you silly boy.”
Greg looked at his dad and started to cry, and said “I miss him so much dad. He is the one. I know he is.”
“Yeah, and we have taken you away from him. But believe me son, we will sort something out. I promise” Tim said.
Alice was in tears, watching the father and son embrace and said “we certainly will.”
Greg went back upstairs to his room and Alice said, “now what?”
“Well, maybe a call to Tom and Ben might help” Tim said.
“Yeah, that might be a good idea” Alice said.
Ben was busy emptying the last of the boxes in the kitchen, when his mobile rang. Ben saw “Tim B” on the screen and hit answer. “Hi Tim. How are you mate?”
“Yeah, we are ok mate, but we are really worried about Greg. He isn’t settling in here at all” Tim said.
“Oh, I thought he was. He told Jon he was loving it up there” Ben said.
“Well, he must have lied mate, because he is totally depressed and we have realised why now, as well” Tim said.
“Oh, OK” Ben said.
“Why didn’t you tell us mate. We had no idea they were together” Tim said.
“Well, to be honest, we didn’t until that night of the dinner party. We spoke to the boys the next day, and Greg told us he was going to speak to you. So we left it at that” Ben said.
“So, how is Jon?” Tim said.
“To be honest, he is in pieces. But he is putting on a show. He has been busy with our move, so he hasn’t had much time to be depressed, but we are aware he is unhappy” Ben said.
A few weeks later
Over the course of the last few weeks, several conversations were had between Tim, Ben, and Tom. Tim and Alice decided that, in the best interest of Greg, it might be better for him to move in with Tom and Ben and, attend the same six form college as Jon. They set a few ground rules, though. The boys were to have separate rooms. Greg was also told that what Tom and Ben said to him, was law.
A happy Greg waved his parents off with tears in his eyes, & with a happy a Jon standing next to him.
Tom and Ben now had two teenage boys to look after, and knew even though they had set the ground rule about separate rooms, they would not be able to keep them from having sex. Tom and the Bonners had discussed that, and they all agreed that they would rather that they have safe sex, than to have them going somewhere where they might be hurt. Tom and Ben had bought Jon several packs of condoms and lubes, and had left them in his bedroom.
Jon arrived home from college with his boyfriend Greg. Ben and Tom were both still at work, and Jon led Greg into his room.
Jon started to kiss Greg and said, “I am so glad you are with me, mate.”
Greg laughed and said “I love you, Jon.”
Ben arrived home later, and he noticed that the house was quiet. He walked upstairs and looked into Jon’s room and saw the boys sleeping in Jon’s bed. Ben smiled and went back downstairs. Ben started to cook a meal, when the door went.
Ben walked over to the door and saw two police officers standing there.
“Yes, can I help you?” Ben asked.
“Good evening, Sir. I am pc Andrew Greening, and this is pc Craig Hills.”
“Are you Colonel Tom Rees?” Andrew asked.
Ben smiled and said, “no, I am not colonel tom Rees, but I am his husband. Is everything OK?”
Jon heard the door, and quickly dressed, and started to walk downstairs. He spotted the two policemen standing there, and ran downstairs and ran to Ben.
Ben held Jon.
“Well, there has been an accident this morning, sir and one of the young men injured, gave Tom as his next of kin,” Craig said.
“Umm, you mean Rhys, don’t you?” Ben asked.
“Yeah, Rhys Taylor” Andrew said.
“Oh shit, is he OK?” Ben asked.
“Well, he is in hospital undergoing treatment at the moment, but we need someone to look after his son, Matthew” Andrew said.
“Tom is in work at the barracks. I will phone him. Please come in” Ben said.
Jon was crying and said, “why does this always happen to me?”
“Now, come on Jon. He will be OK,” Ben said.
Greg appeared and saw Jon crying. He ran to his boyfriend, and hugged him and said “what’s happened?”
Ben said, “his uncle Rhys has been in a car crash.”
Ben picked up the phone and rang Tom’s office.
“Good afternoon, Colonel Rees Office” Todd replied.
“Hi, Todd. Is Tom there, mate? I need to speak to him urgently” Ben said.
“Umm, he is out of the office, but is in barracks somewhere. Let me put a call over the PA system, and I will get him to ring you back. OK?” Todd said.
“Thanks, Todd, Make sure you tell him its urgent. OK?”
“Will do” Todd said.
Tom was in the officers mess talking to Colonel Green, when over the PA system came, “Colonel Tom Rees, please contact extension 456.”
Tom walked over to the phone, and rang in the extension 456.
“Tom, can you ring home? It's urgent,t sir” Todd said.
“Oh, OK. Thanks Todd” Tom said.
Tom tapped in Ben’s mobile number.
“Hi, Babes. Thank god” Ben said.
“What’s going on, love? You sound upset. Is everything OK?” Tom said.
“Umm no. Tom. Its Rhys and Shaun. They have been in a road accident this morning. They need us, love” Ben said.
“Oh, fucking hell. I will be home ASAP. OK?” Tom said.
“OK darling. See you soon. I had two hot police officers here to tell me,” Ben said.
“OK, get a bag packed for me and I will get up there. Oh, and phone mum and dad for me. Tell them to get up there to help with Matt” Tom said.
“Yes, sir” Ben said.
“Love you,” Tom said.
“Love you too,” Ben said.
Tom walked back to his office and said, “Todd, get me Alex on phone, please.”
“No problem, Tom” Todd said.
“Lieutenant Colonel Mills Office,” Tony replied.
“Hi, Tony. It's Todd.Is Alex there? Tom wants to speak to him.”
“Yeah, I will put you through” Tony replied.
Tony buzzed into Alex, “yes, Tony” Alex replied.
“Tom on line 1 for you,” Tony said.
“OK, thanks Tony,” Alex replied.
“Hi, Alex. I am just putting you through to Tom” Todd said.
“OK, mate” Alex said.
Todd buzzed Tom, “Alex on line 2.”
“Hi Alex. I just thought I would let you know I am going to be out of town for a while. Rhys has been injured in a car crash, so I am going to take some well needed leave to be there for him,” Tom said.
“Oh shit. I hope he is OK, mate. No problems. I am sure Nick and I will keep the place going, mate. Have you told General Harris?” Alex said.
“Yeah, I just emailed him and told him a close family friend has been injured in a car crash, and I am taking some compassionate leave with immediate effect, and that you two were in command until I return,” Tom said.
“OK mate. Well, let me know when you know more, please mate” Alex said.
Tom left the office and headed home.
Tom arrived and pulled into his drive. Tom got out of the car and went in to see his upset looking son. He said, “come here.” Jon ran into Tom’s arms and sobbed.
“Hey, I thought I heard your voice,” Ben said.
“Hi, babes,” Tom said he lent in and gave Ben a kiss.
Ben said, “right, your mum and dad are on route to Rhys’s house. The police have already collected Matthew from the school.”
“OK. Well I will get to the hospital to see what I can do, love. Do you think I should take Jon with me?” Tom said.
“Yeah, I think he will want to go with you” Ben said.
Ben and Greg waved,as Tom and Jon left.
Tom and Jon arrived at the hospital around two hours later.
Tom walked into the main reception and asked, “excuse me, I am looking for two patients that were brought in this morning, Rhys Taylor and Shaun Taylor Weston?”
The woman tapped the names into the computer and said “OK sir Rhys Taylor is currently in surgery and Shaun Taylor Weston doesn’t come up sorry”
“Umm, maybe it's just under Shaun Weston?” Tom said.
Yes, we have a Shaun Weston. He is in ward 7, sir” the lady replied.
“Thank you” Tom said.
Tom and Jon headed towards ward 7, and saw an upset and worried looking Shaun sat in a bed.
Tom and Jon walked over, and Shaun said “thank god you are here.”
Tom hugged Shaun, trying not to hurt him and said “what happened?”
Shaun said, “we were on our way to work this morning, and going down the main road outside here, when some idiot jumped the red light and collided with us.”
“There is always one idiot” Tom said.
“I am worried about Rhys. They rushed him to surgery, and I haven’t heard anything since” Shaun said.
“Hey, don’t worry. I will go and ask someone” Tom said.
Tom walked over to the nurse station and asked the charge nurse, “excuse me.”
“Yes sir, can I help you?” Sister Karen green asked.
“Yes, I am wondering what’s happening to Rhys Taylor. I was told he was in surgery and was wondering when we can have some news, as Shaun is getting restless” Tom said.
“I’m sorry, sir but Rhys Taylor won’t be on this ward. I am not sure what’s going on at the moment, and my main concern at this moment is my patients in this ward” Karen replied.
“OK, well can you please find someone who does know what is going on round here please?” Tom said.
“Oh, is Gavin Brooks on duty today?” Tom said
Karen’s face dropped and said, “I have no idea, sir,”
Tom walked away fuming, and walked out of the ward and went back to the main reception. He asked for Gavin to be paged.
Gavin Brooks is the senior nurse manager at the hospital, and over the years he has become a good friend of Toms.
Gavin walked into reception and said, “hi, Tom. What can I do for you?”
“Well mate, sorry I had to call you but I have a problem. I take it you have heard about Charge Nurse Rhys Taylor and Staff Nurse Shaun Weston’s car accident this morning?” Tom said.
“Yeah, it all over the hospital mate, and I have to sort the rota changes out. Why?” Gavin replied.
“Well, Shaun is in ward 7 and I asked the charge nurse there to find out what’s happening with Rhys. Her attitude was disgusting. Basically she told me to go away” Tom said.
“She did? Well, that’s the final time. She has been warned before about her attitude ” Gavin said.
Tom arrived back at the ward to see Karen being taken into her office by Gavin.
Staff nurse Pauline Welch came over and said, “Colonel Rees, Rhys has just come out of surgery on his broken leg. He will be in ward 3. The doctor will be here soon to speak to you and Shaun.”
“OK, thank you” Tom said.
Tom walked back to Shaun, who was talking to Jon.
“Right. Well, eventually after getting Gavin Brooks down, I get some answers. Rhys is out of surgery and he will be in ward 3” Tom said.
“Oh, he will love that” Shaun said.
Jon laughed and said, “well, he will be able to boss the nurse around as usual.”
“Why did you have to get Gavin down?” Shaun asked.
“Because the bitch charge nurse from hell out there wouldn’t do jack shit,” Tom said.
“She is always the same. I hate her. I had to work on this ward for a little while, and I nearly quit” Shaun said.
A doctor came in, walked over to Shaun and closed the curtains, and said “OK, Shaun. Rhys is out of surgery and is in no danger. We are making arrangements to get you transferred to ward 3, so you can be with him. I have no idea how you ended in this ward, to be honest. It is a hospital administrative error,” Dr James said.
“Thank you, Toby” Shaun replied.
“You are welcome,” Dr James replied.
Tom said, “can I see Rhys?”
“Of course you can, Colonel Rees” Toby said.
“Please call me Tom” Tom said.
“OK, Rhys was asking for you, actually” Toby said.
“I will go and see him now,” Tom said.
“Jon, you coming or you going keep Uncle Shaun company?” Tom asked.
“Nope, I am coming” Jon said.
Tom said, “right, Shaun I guess we will see you when you move, mate.”
“Yeah, I can’t wait to see Rhys” Shaun said.
Jon and Tom headed over to ward 3, and went in to see Rhys lying there, looking really pissed off.
Jon ran over and said “hey, Uncle Rhys.”
Rhys smiled and said “hey, scamp.”
Tom walked over and said “hi you, good to see you” hugging Rhys.
Lucy and Dan arrived at the hospital with Matthew, later that day. Ben and Greg also arrived, and both Rhys and Shaun were taken aback at the way the family gathered round to help them. Shaun’s mother and brother also arrived.
Tom and Ben and the boys returned home later that week. Tom also returned to work. The Family Support Unit was slowly getting back to normal with the different types of problems coming in daily. The unit at Coninton is headed by Major Lucy Timpson. She has three other staff working under her. She heads two units, at the moment, as 7th company’s commanding officer has been suspended, pending disciplinary action. Major Andrew Newlyn has always been a hot head, but Tom always managed to calm him down. He had a huge blow out on Nick, and threatened him, which has resulted in his suspension.
Tom was reading the file, and as the commanding officer of the unit, he has to head the Court Marshal. Tom hated Court Marshals, but has been to quite a few over his years in the Army. This was only the second he had to do as a commanding officer.The last time involved a young private, who got drunk and failed to show up for duty the next day. But this case was a bit more complicated, and he knew it could result in Andrew being dishonourably discharged from the Army.
Two weeks later
Tom arrived at Coninton barracks, and walked into the guard room, where the Court Marshal was being held.
Tom would head the Court Marshal, and with him will be Lieutenant Colonel Alex Mills and Colonel Paul Dexter.
Andrew arrived at the barracks with his legal team, hoping that he would walk away with his job intact.
The Court Marshal got underway, and Nick gave his version of events that took place at Coninton Barracks. Tom and Alex both took notes. Andrew gave his side of the event and Tom listened intently.
A couple of hours of legal arguments, and statements and character witness statements followed, and Tom finally called an end to the proceedings. Alex, Paul, and himself left to decide their verdict.
Tom and the guys walked back in and Tom said, “Andrew, what took place at Coninton Barracks, on the day in question, was unacceptable behaviour from a unit commander. I expect better from a commanding officer of long service like yourself. The panel and I have talked long and hard about our verdict, and we find you guilty of the charges brought before us today. The Family Support Unit needs people who are compassionate, and don’t go off the handle when something isn’t going their way. Even though no violence actually took place, we feel that the threats you made was bad enough to make us come to our decision today. Andrew, you will be demoted to sergeant, with immediate effect, and you will be transferred to 4th company, where you will work under Major Darren Tyler, and I will be checking in with Darren to make sure you have changed your ways, because if you don’t, I will have no choice but to transfer you out of the Family Support Unit”.
Andrew looked up and said, “thank you, Sir.”
Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Green went to see Tom later that day.
“Hi, Nick” Tom said.
“Afternoon, Tom” nick replied.
“I guess you have heard the verdict, mate?” Tom said.
“Yeah, I am a bit surprised he is still in the unit though” Nick said.
“Well, he has been relieved of his command, and he has been demoted. So he will have to conform, or he will be shipped out” Tom said.
“Yeah, and Darren is a strong commanding officer, so he might sort him out” Nick said.
“Yeah, now we need to find a new unit commander for 7th company” Tom said.
“Well, Sergeant Philip Trent has done his officer training, so he would be ideal, and I am sure he would be great at the job” Nick said.
“That’s right. He was due to take up a command when he was injured. And when he joined us, he was a sergeant” Tom said.
“That would also fit with Andrew taking over the Sergeant role at 4th company,” Nick said.
“Yeah, that’s true. Right, I will go to Cheedam and speak to Philip,” Tom said.
“Shouldn’t that be Alex’s job though?” Nick said.
“Yeah, I suppose it should be, so I will go and speak to Alex, and let him brief Philip” Tom said.
Tom left Coninton barracks and drove the three hours to his old base at Cheedam. The guard saluted as he pulled up to the gate.
Tom pulled up outside his old offices, and walked in to see Philip and Andrew. Both there working the men and they stood.at attention. “At ease, gentlemen” Tom said.
“Is Alex in?” Tom asked.
“Yes sir, he is in his office” Philip replied.
“Thank you” Tom said.r
Come in” Alex shouted.
“Hi Tom, welcome back to Cheedam” Alex said.
Tom smiled and said, “yeah, the old place hasn’t changed much.”
“The reason I am here is that I had a meeting with Nick earlier, and we went through all the current officers who have officer training. And only one came out of the files” Tom said.
“Oh, who?” Alex said.
“Philip Trent” Tom said.
“What, you want to steal Philip?” Alex said.
“Well, actually not steal. He will be promoted, and will take 7th company command. But that is your responsibility to inform Philip, mate” Tom said.
“OK, no time like the present,” Alex said.
Alex walked out of the door and called out, “Philip, can you come here a minute, please.”
Philip walked in and said, “you wanted to see me sir?”
“Philip, as you’re obviously aware, we have a vacancy at 7th unit for unit commander” Alex said.
“Well, yeah, being as Andrew is now here sir,” Philip said.
“Well, Colonel Rees and Lt Colonel Green have been going through the files, looking for a suitable replacement. You have come out as the only current officer who has completed officer training” Alex said.
“Oh, wow. Really?” Philip said.
“So, Sergeant Trent, all your hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed. And as a result, I want to offer you the chance to take the command of 7th company, and of course, you will be promoted to Major, with immediate effect” Tom said.
Philip smiled and said, “of course I would love to have the chance, sir. I am so happy you think I can do this job.”
A few days later
Newly promoted, Major Philip Trent was settling in well at 7th company. Andrew has put his head down and carried on working hard at 4th company. Darren was really happy with his work. Unbeknown to everyone, Andrew’s happiness was a front, and deep down, he was depressed and was seething at his demotion.
Andrew hadn’t arrived at the barracks, and Major Darren Tyler was worried. Darren went and knocked on Andrew’s door.
Alex said, “well, why don’t you give him a call and see if there is a problem. You know, since his demotion, he has been working really hard.”
Darren tried to ring his house phone, but it was just ringing and ringing, and his mobile was going through to voicemail. Darren left the barracks and went over to the living quarters, where Andrew lived. Darren knocked on the door, but didn’t get an answer. He was just about to go, when he tried the door and it opened. Darren shouted “Andrew,” but didn’t get an answer. Darren walked in and saw Andrew’s lifeless body sitting in a chair. Darren ran over and tried to find a pulse, but failed. Darren called an ambulance.
Andrew was declared dead a short time later. Darren was upset and spotted a letter. Andrew opened it and it said:
“I feel I left my family down when I did what I did that day at Coninton barracks, and I just couldn’t go on. I have tried, but I just can’t. I am sorry. Please send my apologies to Lt Col Green, and all the people at Family Support Unit”
Darren phoned Alex.
Alex was really upset, and immediately called Tom.
Tom was gutted, and immediately arrived at Cheedam, and went into the office. You could feel the cold atmosphere as soon as you walked in. Tom walked over to Alex and said, “I still can’t believe it. He seemed to have accepted it and settled in well.”
“I know. He was a bloody good actor” Darren said.
“Well guys, you know we have to carry on, but I think it might be a good idea if you guys take the rest of the day off and let 5th company deal with anything urgent” Tom said.
“Yeah, you are right Tom” Alex said.
News of Andrews’s death was soon all around the Family Support Unit. His family was informed by Tom. They requested a full military honours funeral, which Tom agreed to.
Tom felt he had let Andrew down, and that he should have checked up on him more. Alex was also feeling the same, but knew that Tom was taking this hard. Tom always had respect for all his men and women from a private up to a Lt Colonel.
The funeral took place a few days later, and the men and woman from 4th company 5th company and 7th company attended, and both Lt Colonels Mills and Green and Colonel Tom Rees attended. Tom was surprised when General Harris also turned up. The Family Support Unit carried out their duties, on the day, to the usual high standard.
Tom still felt he had let Andrew down, but he made a decision that he wanted to set up a separate unit within the Family Support Unit, to support the officers of the FSU.
Rhys was now back in work after a few months off, recovering from the terrible injuries he had suffered. The man driving the other car was arrested and charged with dangerous driving. He pleaded not guilty, but was found guilty, and was sent down for a year and banned from driving for two years.