And so we're finally here. The end of the fic I've been working on since the beginning of June. *sighs* I never thought I'd get to this point, to be honest. :)
I'd like to dedicate this fic to UnaMariah1999—her constant reviews and positive feedback made this story what it is today. :)
Thanks so much also to , Guest, and Cruelest Sea for their kind reviews; KathyAnn5, Meg Manning, UnaMariah1999 and for their follows, and UnaMariah1999 for her favorite. I appreciate you all.
And now, without further ado, I'd like to present the final chapter of As I Recall.
Disclaimer: I don't own Rat Patrol. Wish I did, though...
As I Recall by boasamishipper
Another turning point, a fork stuck in the road
Time grabs you by the wrist, directs you where to go
So make the best of this test, and don't ask why
It's not a question, but a lesson learned in time
So take the photographs, and still frames in your mind
Hang it on a shelf in good health and good time
Tattoos and memories and dead skin on trial
For what it's worth it was worth all the while
It's something unpredictable, but in the end is right,
I hope you had the time of your life.
Green Day "Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)"
Previously on Rat Patrol
Moldea's eyes are wider than quarters. "Jesus," he says. "Remind me never to mess with you, Tully."
Moffitt immediately puts a hand on Tully's shoulder. "Hey. Hey!" he says, the second time more desperate. "Are you alright?"
Tully beams for what feels like the first time in a long time. "Never better, Doc," he replies, relief and elation etched clearly in every syllable. "I've honestly never been better."
The rest of the mission passes with relative ease, with all items checked off the to-do list. No one had suffered any serious wounds aside from bruises and scratches, Moldea had been rescued, some guns had been stolen...
And he had remembered everything.
Tully beams, just thinking about it. He's willing to bet that Troy, Moffitt, Hitch and Moldea think that he's lost all of his marbles, but he can't bring himself to care. As their jeeps fly up the dunes, scattering sand particles in their wake, all he wants to do is smile and reminisce.
It's such a good feeling to even be able to reminisce, one that he would never take for granted again. He could probably recite the details of his eighth birthday party blindfolded with a gun held to his head. With his memory back, he feels like a superhero, able to do anything.
Well, he corrects himself, maybe not everything.
The logic doesn't put a damper on his exuberence, not in the slightest.
Tully lets his mind wander back to those thirty seconds in the POW camp where Troy had been held at gunpoint, where their situation had truly seemed bleak.
What would have happened, he wonders, if his memory hadn't come back when it had? Without his newfound confidence, would Troy have gotten shot? Would Moffitt had taken the initiative and told the soldier to back down? What would've happened if it had been Hitch being held at gunpoint, or Moldea? Had God and the universe itself aligned the circumstances just so he could get his memories back?
Great. Now his head hurts again, thinking about the infinite possibilities. Might as well just be happy with it instead of pondering other ways it could've happened, he tells himself. It happened, finally, and that's what matters.
Troy keeps gazing over at him, looking concerned. He knows Hitch and Moffitt and Moldea are probably wondering what the hell had caused his complete change of attitude back in the POW camp, and it's literally killing him to not blurt out to the entire world that he has his memories back, that he knows who he is.
But all in due time, he thinks, a smile playing on his lips. All in due time.
And then, in another bright flash, the circumstances of him losing his memory come back to him.
"What're you going to do when this is all over?"
"Not sure. What about you?"
"I dunno about you, Sarge, but I'm thinking of goin' somewhere quiet for once."
And then there's a sound like a thousand thunderstorms all crashing together at once, and smoke is filling his nostrils as he's somehow thrown into the air. Out of the corner of his eyes, he sees Troy thrown backwards, away from the damage, but his head slams back down onto the console of the jeep, and all he can think of is that he's glad he wore his helmet before everything goes black.
Tully blanches, biting his lip as his smile disappears for the first time since the return of his memories. Yeah, he thinks wearily, maybe I should tell them all later. When we're away from any and all land mines, and back at base.
He tries to act nonchalant, but he flinches every time they go over a bump in the dunes, and doesn't relax once he sees the familiar fences and tents of their army base. Despite himself, Tully wants to start laughing at his friends' concerned expressions, knowing that they probably think there's something seriously wrong with him by now.
They pull up inside, both jeeps next to each other, and Moldea jumps out, letting out a content sigh. "Damn, never thought I'd say it, but it is great to be back here."
Tully agrees, feeling great now that he actually recognizes the place. He doesn't dare say it, though, and forces himself to wait, just a bit longer.
"Can you find your way to the colonel's tent, Corporal?" Moffitt asks. "One of us could show you—"
Moldea waves his hand dismissively. "That's not necessary, Sergeant Moffitt, really. I can find my way back...besides, I have really been looking forward to seeing my men again." He smiles fondly before holding his hand out to Tully. "It was really good to see you after all this time, Tully. Thanks for coming after me."
Grinning, Tully shakes Moldea's hand. "You too, Sean. Take care, alright?"
"You know me, Tully." Moldea snaps him a salute as he begins walking towards the colonel's tent, a small spring in his step.
"He'll be okay," Troy says quietly. For a moment, Tully had forgotten he was even there.
"I know, Sarge," Tully replies. "But if he gets caught again, we'll come after him, right?"
Hitch snorts. "Yeah, well, hopefully it won't come to that."
Troy sighs, getting out of the jeep. Tully, Hitch and Moffitt follow suit. "I may as well go with Moldea and tell the colonel what happened. I have a feeling that he'll be calling for one of us soon anyways."
"Alright." Tully nods. "But when you go in there, can you tell them that I got my memory back?"
He thinks it had taken divine intervention for all three of the men's jaws to drop at precisely the same time.
"You have them back?!"
"When did this happen?"
"How come you didn't tell us?"
"Hold it!" Troy holds up a hand, his eyes wider than quarters as he stares bemusedly at Tully. "Hold on. Tully, when did you get them back?"
"Not too long ago, actually." God, there is no feeling in the world to describe his joy right now. "I, uh, got it back right around when you were being held at gunpoint, Sarge. I was terrified, and...and then it all just came crashing back!" He pauses, trying to find a way to describe it better. "You know how there's that sayin' of how your life flashes before your eyes? It was kinda like that."
"So you remember, well, everything?" Hitch inquires, and when Tully nods, he presses on, "Even the five bucks you owe me?"
"Everything except that," Tully replies.
Hitch laughs, patting him on the shoulder. "Welcome back, Tully," he says, his tone genuine.
Moffitt looks astounded. "It must've been a trauma trigger that did it, no other explanation other than divine intervention..."
"I'm happy with believin' that it was divine intervention, Doc," Tully says.
Moffitt rolls his eyes affectionately. "It's good to have you back."
"Good to be back." Tully looks uncomfortable. "I—I know I was a bit of a...well, a bit of an asshole, when I lost my memory, and I'm really sorry for that and—"
"Hey." Troy puts a hand on his shoulder. "It's alright. Even when it would've been easier to just give up, you didn't. You kept pushing...and you saved my life, too." The sergeant tousles his hair, and Tully gives him a small smile despite himself. "Welcome back."
And as they walk back to their quarters, side by side, Tully can't help but think of how happy he is now that it's all back to normal.
Memory's a funny thing, he concedes. Even my most embarrassing moments, I know I can't live without 'em now. Every little thing matters. It makes us whole.
Tully truly knows that now, he is whole. His memories are back. He has friends again. He knows who he is.
He is Tully Michael Pettigrew, Private, member of the Long Range Desert Group, a Kentuckian, a former moonshine runner, a son, a brother, a soldier, a friend.
Despite the hiccups and setbacks over the last seven weeks, Tully knows that everything will be all right.
I need a minute. My god, this is the first multi-chapter story I've ever finished in my entire life.
...okay, I'm good. *sighs* wow. :)
Side note—This is not going to be my last jaunt into this fandom. I'm planning on writing two more Rat Patrol stories, along with a Hogan's Heroes/Rat Patrol crossover, so that should be fun, LOL.
But getting back on track—wow. Thank you all, for giving this fic such an awesome reception. I appreciate it so very much.
Until next time... *salutes* This has been Boasamishipper, signing out.