|Things of Note
Author: Schm0use PM
'Then, there was time they found out Sarge could knit a damn nice sweater. Don't ask them how the topic had come up.' You can't fight a four man war without getting to know the people you're fighting with. Friendship/Humor/Drama.Rated: Fiction T - English - Friendship - Words: 4,064 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 8 - Published: 05-19-11 - Status: Complete - id: 7005082
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I wish there were more B-Company fics. These guys are great characters. This was supposed to be mainly funny, then shiz got real, but I tried to keep it light, mostly :) A lot of the info in the little stories between the four of them was taken from side conversations they have throughout the game. There are tons and tons of amusing YouTube clips out there!
Also, I'm getting so annoyed that is suddenly rejecting asterisks. Arrrgh.
Things of Note
"The things you learn about a guy."
Well, if there was one thing Preston had learned about Sweetwater, it was that he said that a lot.
In fact, Preston was pretty sure Sweetwater had said those exact same words when he'd found out about the activities that had landed Preston in Bad Company in the first place.
"You stole a what?" Haggard asked, mouth open. "A helicopter?"
"Not stole." Preston said. "Technically… it was more of a test flight. It didn't go so well."
"And here we all thought you were such a good kid." Sweets said. He sounded marginally impressed.
"If you all thought that, how did you figure I ended up here with you guys?"
"Hey now, Marlowe." Sarge cut in, pointing indignantly at Preston with the knife he was using to clean an orange. "Don't lump me in with the two of them."
"I guess we just figured it was bad luck or a misunderstandin'." Haggard shrugged.
"The things you learn about a guy…" Sweets had concluded, shaking his head.
Then, the time they found out Sarge could knit a damn nice sweater. Don't ask them how the topic had come up.
"That's real handy, sarge." Sweets said, chuckling to himself.
"Shut up." Sarge smacked him in the back of the head. "My grandmother always wanted me to learn. I'm not gonna say no to a dying woman."
"The things you learn about a guy." Sweets snorted, while Haggard laughed himself sick behind them.
Preston forced himself to keep a straight face. "Hey, can you knit me one with little reindeer on it for all those cold Russian nights?"
"Keep talking and you won't have to worry about seeing tomorrow night." Sarge grumbled. "Besides. I never was any good with patterns. Only ever managed solid colors."
"Aw, that's alright." Haggard said, wiping away a tear. "I understand it's a common problem for many."
And there was, of course, the time it had been revealed Haggard could give a damn good foot massage.
They had a little bit of downtime at a base in Japan. Feeling the familiar onset of boredom and considering the last time he attempted to do something about it, Preston decided a good plan would be to find Haggard and Sweetwater. At least then there'd be three of them to blame if anything got out of hand.
He knocked on the door of the room the other two shared (Preston roomed with Sarge, as general consensus was he was the only one likely to escape a living situation with their commanding officer in one piece).
"C'min!" Haggard shouted.
"Wait—" Sweets protested, "I don't want him to see me like this—"
Preston pushed open the door and stopped dead in the doorway.
"…What the hell are you doing?"
Haggard sighed heavily and continued massaging Sweetwater's feet. "Princess here injured his foot."
"You rolled over it with an LUV!" Sweets said, voice pained. He looked imploringly at Preston, who took a seat on the opposite bed, amused. "I'm lucky I'm not dead, Pres!"
"And lucky Hags gives good foot massages." Preston said, grinning. Apparently, he wasn't the only one who was bored.
"He's surprisingly adept." Sweetwater admitted. "The things you learn about a guy, huh?"
"It's a very precise art." Haggard said.
"Ouch! Dammit, Haggard! I have a very delicate peroneal nerve, you know!"
"Quit yer bitchin', I ain't near your peripheral whatsit."
"Hey, kids," Sarge poked his head in the doorway, saw Sweetwater and Hags, and forgot to finish his sentence. "Alright, you know what, I'm not even gonna ask. Preston, something funny to you?"
Preston shook his head, laughing, feeling his boredom ease somewhat. Sure, he was still stuck at the base for who knew how long. But at least he was stuck with these guys.
They even managed to turn the phrase back around on Sweetwater himself, once or twice.
It was no secret among the squad that Sweetwater would start singing at the drop of a hat. Hell, he wasn't even half bad. No, the problem wasn't with the singing itself, but rather, Sweets's choice in music.
They were alone, hiking down a long stretch of mountain road in Bulgaria. In hostile territory, as it were, but there was no one for miles around. Boots crunching in snow, otherwise quiet as the grave.
Sweetwater started humming absentmindedly. No one paid it much attention, until…
"Sweets? What is that?" Preston asked, still scanning the snowy expanse of trees around him, more out of habit than necessity.
"That song you're singing."
Sweetwater hesitated for a fraction of a second. "Uh… you know, I don't know. I don't remember."
"Yeah?" Preston glanced at him. "Sounded familiar."
"Come to think of it, I have heard that tune before." Haggard chimed in. "Yeah…"
"Didn't sound familiar to me." Sarge said. "Is this really important?"
"No, no, now it's gonna bother me 'til I figure it out." Haggard said. "It's a real weird song, I remember that much…"
Sweetwater huffed. "I honestly have no idea—"
"Something like da da dadada-ah…"
"I got it." Preston said, a flash of recognition hitting him. "You were just singing 'Bad Romance', weren't you?"
Haggard snapped his fingers. "That's it! That Lady Googoo—"
"Gaga." Preston corrected.
"—Lady Gogo song." Haggard finished. "You listen to that stuff?"
"What the hell is a gaga?" Sarge asked, sounding lost.
"I have no idea what you're talking about." Sweetwater said haughtily. Preston and Haggard exchanged significant glances.
"Well," Preston said, "You know what they say."
"The things you learn about a guy." Haggard added, grinning.
"Oh, shut up." Sweetwater said, and pushed him headfirst into a snowdrift.
Looking back on it, he'd give anything to hear one of Sweet's songs right about then. He'd even take Haggard, and even on his good days, a dying cat sounded better than Hags did in the shower.
But he wasn't sure he'd be seeing Sweetwater or Hags or Sarge again.
Their mission had gone bad. Really bad. Their Black Hawk had been shot down behind enemy lines—the recon mission had turned out to be a trap, set specifically for the infamous Bad Company that all of Russia wanted dead for the trouble they had caused. They'd parachuted down, been split up. Preston had no idea where the others had landed, or if they'd gotten away. As for him…
His guard smashed him across the face again, almost toppling the chair he was tied to. He barked out something in Russian—nothing that Preston understood, not that he would answer if he did. Instead, he settled for his best pissed off glare.
In the past, at least all of them had escaped capture before, even when they were split up. That time with Flynn had been different—they'd been right there outside the compound, had rescued him in under two hours.
It had been days, and no one had come for him. He wasn't sure if they would.
The guard yelled something again, shoved him, and Preston's normally calm temper flared.
"You know I don't speak Russian, right?" He yelled. "Genius."
The big man raised his hand to strike again.
"Stop." A voice said. Preston snapped his head right to see a man entering the room. He recognized him instantly, felt his blood run cold, but didn't show it.
"You know me." The man said, only a slight hint of an accent to his voice. Yes, he knew Dragomir. One of the spearheads of the Russian war front, a top priority for the United States military. B-company had been on his ass for months. And now here he was.
"Why aren't I dead yet?" Preston asked. "What do you want with me?"
"What my friend here—" Dragomir indicated the guard, "—has been trying to unsuccessfully convey for the past few hours to you." He bent down to look Preston in the eye. "Where are your friends?"
So his squad mates were still safe. He barely managed to keep from letting out a sigh of relief. Instead, he returned Dragomir's stare with one of his own.
Dragomir's lip curled. "You do not want to tell me? Fine. It's your funeral, boy. And it will be a slow and painful one."
He turned on his heel and left without another word. With a loud rip, the guard tore a piece of duct tape off a roll and plastered it over Preston's mouth. Then he followed Dragomir, barely glancing at the battered army private in the chair.
As soon as they were gone, Preston dropped his head, defeated. He wouldn't tell them where the rendezvous point was—it was likely the squad had since moved on, anyway. They would be stupid to rescue him.
Truthfully, he wasn't sure whether he wanted them to try or not. Because yeah, he'd learned a lot about his squad mates. But he'd also learned some things about himself, too.
He'd learned he'd rather die for them than the other way around.
They didn't get much time to talk after rescuing Preston from Las Montanas. They hauled him, still shivering, into the helicopter, Aguire took the data box from him, and from there on out it was mostly about how the hell to stop Kirilenko. They weren't going to get any downtime between the Andes and Atacama desert—they were flying straight there, only stopping to drop off Aguire and restock on ammo.
But there was one brief moment. Sweetwater and Haggard were both out for the count, trying to catch up on a few moments of sleep they all badly needed. Preston, wishing he could do the same, tried to find a more comfortable position and spotted Sarge out of the corner of his eye, staring out the door of the helicopter.
His C.O. turned to look at him. "What's up?"
Sarge shook his head. "Not tired." He frowned. "Preston, are you alright?"
Preston shrugged. "Yeah, sure. Why wouldn't I be?"
"Being stranded at the top of a mountain in Russian territory just rolls right off your back, huh?" Sarge grinned at him.
"Well, I'm alive, I guess." Preston said, self-conscious now. "And it was only the middle of the mountain, really… and there weren't that many Russians around…"
Sarge gave one of his rare laughs, stifling it quickly when Sweetwater snored once and turned over. "You're a tough kid."
"Nah, not compared to old Sweets over here."
This made them both laugh.
"No, seriously." Sarge said. "All three of you. You've lasted a long time. A long time." He sounded suddenly wistful, sad. Preston hesitated before saying,
"Sorry we keep getting your retirement delayed."
"Ah, hell." Sarge sighed. "I'm sure as shit not leaving you three out here by yourselves. Haggard would blow you all up within a day."
"You're a real gentleman, Sarge."
Sarge smiled at him, and Preston was struck, not for the first time, by how much they'd all come to rely on the man being there to watch their backs.
"I've lost a lot of guys since I joined B-Company." Sarge said. "Used to blame myself, then I realized it wasn't my fault—that's why they put you in here to begin with. But you three, you're not like that."
He went back to staring out of the door. "I'm not losing any of you on my watch."
It was these things that Preston learned about the others that made him re-think his reasons for fighting in this war.
Not getting any downtime seemed to be the story of their lives, because literally five minutes after they destroyed the scalar weapon, they were getting shipped off to Alaska—Port Valdez—to stop the incoming Russian invasion. And it turned out to be a long, hard slog.
There was less joking between the four of them now, more focus on the mission at hand, trying hard not to relive the last battle in their heads. All the hundreds of times one of them could have ended up dead if not for each other; Sweetwater putting a bullet through the head of a commando Preston hadn't even heard sneaking up behind him, Haggard tackling Sarge clear of a collapsing building… a split second away from it all being over during any of those encounters.
They spent one of their worst nights yet near Copperville, stuck in a tiny house, a shack by all accounts, on the river. They'd gotten trapped when enemy reinforcements had moved in, without being aware of their position.
"We have two options." Sarge had told them grimly in the darkened house—they hadn't dared light a flare. "We try and fight our way out, and probably die. Or we try and last the night in here."
"And probably die." Preston said, teeth chattering.
"True." Sarge agreed. "But it's slightly less likely."
"Oh, come on!" Hags said. "We can take 'em!"
"I know we've face bad odds in the past," Sweetwater said, shaking his head, "But we're outnumbered at least thirty to one out there. I for one advocate staying here, provided they don't tear this place down to use as firewood."
"We can try and make it out once they've settled down." Preston added. "It'll be risky, but maybe combining our options is the best bet."
"Alright." Sarge nodded. "Let's rest up. Two hour watches, just in case anyone decides to check this place out. Me and Sweets'll take first shift."
No one actually did get any rest, naturally. Preston and Haggard slept back to back, and he knew Haggard was awake because he could hear the Texan praying. He'd never actually heard him do that, although he knew that Haggard, despite his affinity for blowing people up and laughing at how far the various body parts launched, was somewhat religious.
"…and please, lord, take care of my mom." Haggard gave a shivery sigh. None of them had been able to stop shaking from the cold. "She works real hard, and I know she still thinks it's not enough. And for Jessica and Marie, in case anythin' happens to me… they already lost their daddy, and I know I said I'd always be there for 'em, as their brother, but sometimes I worry I might not be able to help it, what with the war and all."
He paused, considering what else to include. "Oh, and for my truck."
Preston couldn't help it—he snorted. Haggard elbowed him.
"See, knew you were listenin'. That's not polite, you know."
"Sorry." Preston elbowed him back, and regretted it immediately. It hurt to move his arm, his muscles were so frozen. "How could you know I was listening, anyway?"
"I can identify people's thoughts by their breathing patterns." Haggard said, sounding not un-proud. Preston didn't question it. It was Hags, after all. "There anybody you want me to pray for?"
Not being religious, this caught Preston off guard. Eventually, he said the only person he could think of. Why not? If he died tonight, it wouldn't matter either way. "My brother."
Hags nodded. "Already did, Pres."
"You know, Haggard," Sweetwater chimed in, and Preston almost rolled his eyes, hoping the last thing they did in life wouldn't be to get involved in a religious debate, "The best thing to do for your family in this situation would be to get back to them. If you die, no amount of prayer is gonna do them much good."
Haggard didn't respond at first, and Preston prepared himself for the outburst. But finally Haggard just said,
"You know, Sweets? I reckon you're right. About gettin' back."
"Damn straight." Sarge said.
They survived that night.
One memory lead to another. Driving away in a stolen truck full of stolen gold, they couldn't help but fantasize about what they were going to do now they had all the money they could ever want.
"All I'm saying is," Haggard insisted, "Wouldn't it be kind of cool to own a wild jungle cat?"
"I think if it were wild, Haggard, you'd have a series of problems on your hands." Sweetwater said. "Who ate the maid, why is the butler missing a leg… these sorts of questions may arise."
"It is hard to find good help these days." Sarge added, trying and failing miserably to sound posh.
"You sure about going back to grad school, Sweets?" Preston asked. "Don't think it'll be too boring for you now?"
"Are you kidding?" Sweetwater said. "College was the only place I've ever felt accepted. It is the only place I will be given a chance to showcase my true talents."
"Hey, wait just a second." Haggard frowned. "Are you tryin' to say you don't feel accepted here?"
"In the army?" Sweets raised a skeptical eyebrow. "Are you kidding me?"
"No, I mean, here. What about with us?"
Preston glanced at Sarge, who returned his look. Haggard actually sounded slightly hurt.
"Oh." Sweetwater considered this. "Well, I guess that's different. After all, we're not technically a part of the army anymore, are we?"
"You speak the truth." Haggard nodded.
"Alright, then, I guess I feel pretty accepted with you guys." Sweets held up a finger. "That is, when I'm not being told I talk too much."
"Well, you do." Sarge said flatly.
"And when Haggard's not saying I have a—"
"Freakish alien brain?" Haggard finished.
"Yes." Sweets nodded. "That too."
"Ah, hell, Sweets." Haggard slung an arm around Sweetwater's shoulders. "We accept ya, no matter how many glaringly obvious flaws you've got."
"You really know how to boost a guy's ego, Haggard."
"Sure thing." Haggard grinned. "You're family."
Sweetwater blinked, and looked, for a second, genuinely touched. Then he shook his head. "All the same, Haggard, it'd be nice to be accepted and not shot at."
It took a long time to locate the nearest airport from Sadiz, but eventually, they found themselves with four different plane tickets and only about an hour left before Bad Company disbanded for good (or so they thought).
On his way back from the restroom, Preston spotted Sweetwater by one of the windows looking out onto the different planes. He came up to stand next to him and nudged Sweets's shoulder with his own. "What's on your mind?"
Sweetwater shook his head. "You know, you guys are the closest thing to family I've ever had?"
"Us?" Preston had no idea how to respond to that. "Jeez, you can't have too many happy family memories."
"No, not really." Sweets shrugged, grinned. "Doesn't mean you all don't make a good family, though."
"I'm touched." Preston said.
"Screw you." Sweetwater said, with no real trace of malice. "Hey, don't be a stranger, you know?" He looked around as a flight was called over the intercom. "I think that's me."
"Don't worry." Preston said, waving goodbye. "I have this weird feeling we'll be seeing each other again soon."
A year later, they were tracking Kirilenko through a snowy Russian forest.
Preston shifted restlessly against his bonds. His wrists were chaffed raw, probably bleeding. He didn't know—didn't really care. It couldn't be long now. It had to be obvious to Dragomir that he was just a waste of their time.
The door of the dank warehouse creaked open, and he steeled himself. Was this the moment? He couldn't see who it was—the cells were set up in such a way that none of the prisoners could see the door.
"I don't see him. Anybody see him?" A voice whispered. Preston opened his eyes a fraction of an inch. Whoever was speaking didn't sound Russian.
"Marlowe!" Someone else whispered. Loudly. "Pres!"
Preston sat up straighter. That was a Texan drawl for sure. Someone was shushing the others.
"Are you crazy? They'll hear you!"
"Well, I don't rightly care at the moment, Sarge."
It was useless to try and call out—the duct tape was too tight. At most, he could make a couple muffled gurgles. Desperately, he rocked his chair, trying to slam the legs into the floor. He ended up overbalancing and knocking himself over.
"D'you hear that?"
Running footsteps. Preston lay on the floor, inhaling deeply. Not one of his better ideas. He suspected he may have had a broken arm longer than he'd realized.
And then, hands were pulling him upright. He heard the schick of a pocketknife, felt the rope around his hands being sawed at. Someone—probably Haggard—put a little too much weight on his bad arm, and Preston struggled reflexively, kicking out, yelling through the duct tape.
"Shit, sorry, Preston." Haggard said, letting go of him. To the others he announced, "He's got a broken… something. There are things broken, but I don't know what so… don't touch him."
The ropes fell away and Preston used his good arm to rip the tape off his mouth. "Ow, shit!"
"There's our boy!" Sweets said, relief all over his face. "Oooh, I dunno that that was such a good idea, Pres. That's gonna take a lot of chapstick."
"Only you would suggest chapstick at a time like this." Haggard said scathingly.
"What the hell are you people doing here?" Preston hissed.
"Well, we could leave if you'd prefer." Sarge told him. "Hags, get away from him, his shoulder's dislocated." Their commanding officer gave him a look. "You're not gonna be much good to us with that arm, Marlowe."
"Are you asking for my permission?"
"No." Sarge moved fast, one hand on his shoulder, the other on his bicep. "This is gonna hurt like a bitch, though."
"Wait, you've done this before, right—" Preston started to say, at the same moment Sarge popped his shoulder back in its socket. Preston doubled over, trying not to scream.
"Once." Sarge said. He pulled Preston to his feet. "Now, we gotta get the hell out of here or this whole damn rescue is gonna end up being for nothing. You ready to move?"
"Never been so ready in my life."
Haggard unslung a bag from his shoulder, pulling an XM8 rifle out of it. He passed it to Preston, who took it, turning it over. He looked down the sights, testing the strength of his bad arm—it hurt like hell. But his aim was steady. Slowly, he lowered the weapon.
"Preston?" Sweets said.
"Guys." Preston shook his head. "I… why did you come back?"
"Why wouldn't we?" Hags asked.
"Well, you usually just leave me after we all get split up." Preston pointed out dryly.
"Intel told us you'd been captured." Sarge said. "I'm not gonna leave one of my men."
From the looks on Hag's and Sweets's faces, neither were they. Preston nodded, and thought, the things you learn.
"Can we save the waterworks for later?" Hags asked abruptly. "Because I'm pretty sure we're about to be in some serious shit."
"Right." Preston said. He checked the magazine on his rifle, snapping it back into place. "Let's get the fuck out of here."