Jamie’s sitting out in the sun, basking lazily and resting his cannon barrel against his back. He only lifts it a couple of degrees to peer sleepily at Stan, who’s rolling up casually.

"Hey, kid, havin' a nap?" he asks, sounding amused. James yawns with a lazy grumble of his engine, stretching his treads and wiggling a bit.

"Nah, just dozing. What's up, old man?" he teases.

"Ehh, I just wanted company," he says, chuckling away.

"Really? I'm surprised you're not off bugging Ernst."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"Nothin'," James says, a little cheeky. "I wanted to talk to you, though."

"Well, spit it out. No time like the present, and all." Stan comes up to rest beside him, and he turns his turret around, humming thoughtfully.

"You're... from just before the end of the second World War, aren't you, Stan?" he asks, looking over to the elder tank.

"1943, yup," he agrees. "I was deployed eastward--toward Africa."

"Oh shit," Jamie said, chuckling, and leaned back. "You squared off against Rommel?"

"Not by myself, naturally, but yeah. What a beast he was, too. I swear, my crew gave the biggest sigh of relief when he was pulled back to Europe."

"I bet," he says, and nudges the Sherman. "So, surely you knew about the whole anti-homosexual thing the military had going?"

"Lord almighty, did I. The stories I heard--especially that one about the office full of lesbians." He scoffed at that, and shoots James a look. "Times sure have changed since then, eh?"

"Oh, absolutely. And you have too, Stan. For the better. But, I'm curious--you overheard the twins and I talking about crushes the other day, and seemed to be listening pretty intently."

Stan blusters for a good thirty seconds.

"You noticed?!"

"Well, duh, I noticed. Little hard to miss you turning your turret around to hear better."

"Well, I-"

"Stan! Relax, old man! I just wanted to ask if you thought it fit you, or if you were just, y'know, curious."

"I mean..." He blusters a bit more, puffing and fidgeting on his treads for a while, like he can't find the words. "Well... there was this Lee I knew..." He sighs, slanting his turret off to the side. "She and I got on like fire to a barn. It was wonderful."

"Aww. What was her name?"

"June. Her name was June. We were deployed separately. She went further north, and-" his voice gives out then, and his engine wheezes faintly. "I saw her wreck, towed for scrap as we pushed up from the southern Sahara. I don't think I ever hurt so much as I did that day, Jamie. But... there was another tank--another Sherman, actually. Tobias. He saw me grieving, and I don't know if it was my heart hurting, or what, but I swear I got smitten so fast I almost gave myself whiplash."

"What was Tobias like?"

"Quick with a joke. Lighthearted. He was a crack shot and his loader--god, what a pair," he mused, sighing heavily. "I'll always miss June, with her gentle manner and sweet voice, but... Tobias helped me heal. The two of us retired together after the war, and I don't know if I was ever happier. But, we parted ways. He paired up with this Pershing, Laura I think was her name, and I got left behind. I know he was happy, but..."

"But it hurt," James finished, gently. "Yeah. And you're yearning for something to fill that hole, aren't you?"

"And Ernst does! Not--not like that, but-" he laughs, despite himself, and leans away on his treads. "Our rivalry is--it feels right, you know? Even if he's a rotten German, he's still great fun to tease."

"Better not let him hear you calling him that," Jamie pokes, and relaxes a bit. "You know, Stan... you've both got a lot of years behind you. The war's done and dusted. Maybe it's time you let that fond rivalry just be fondness."

"What're you saying, Jamie?"

"I'm saying, ask him out. You'd be cute together."


"I mean it! You're obviously open to romance from more than one of your 'options', right?"

"I... guess," Stan mutters, flustered.

"So ask him out! Maybe go for a drive. He's just recently had his drivetrain fixed, finally. He'd love to go out and admire the stars, or go rest together in a shower. He loves spotting rainbows." Stan could practically hear the wink in James' voice, and makes a funny noise.

"Awful forward, ain'tcha?"

"Please," Jamie scoffed. "Don't be absurd. Helga's told me she's tired of the google-eyes you make at each other."

"Ptcht! What business has she got snoopin' like that-?"

"Stan," he scolds, teasing. "Just go ask him already! You've already got the chemistry. C'mon, I thought you old tanks were supposed to be the bravest of the brave?"

"Young punks, I'll show you," Stan muttered, backing up and turning, huffing and puffing as he thundered off toward the garage to find Ernst.