Author's Note: Yes, Soap is a woman in this story. There is absolutely nothing in the context of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare that indicates Soap can't be female. The character has no voice, we never see their face, and they aren't even given a first name; just a nickname. The only indication is a single line of dialogue spoken by Pryce, who hadn't even met Soap at that point and there are a variety of possible explanations for why he referred to the character as a "he" even if she is female. It could have been something as simple as a miscommunication that occurred when he was informed she was coming.
Her eyes snapped open, almost on instinct.
That was the name she had gone by her whole life. Nobody even bothered to ask for her first name. Even she couldn't remember where the nickname came from. She took a moment to examine her surroundings. She was sitting in a shower, crouched down on the ground, her arms wrapped around her knees. The hot water ran along her body, though she barely seemed to notice.
It had been a week since "Soap" MacTavish had experienced her first major action with the S.A.S. under Captain Pryce. That last week had been a rough period. They had a mission to track down a ruthless terrorist, one who had been at large for some time. They were trapped in Russia for a time, and found themselves the only hope for averting a missile crisis. Several of her comrades had been killed in action, and many others were wounded, herself included. She survived, with only a few minor injuries, but she was one of few. Gaz and Pryce had managed to get out alive, though Pryce was still recovering from his injuries. Only a few others in the S.A.S. remained. On top of that, the news of the U.S. marines killed trying to catch Al-Asad had hit everyone hard, and then she got the letter.
Soap had been trained of course. She knew how to look after herself, and that she would have to be ready to kill when she had to. She had killed her share of men, possibly also women; many of them were masked and it was hard to tell. Pryce had accepted her as part of the team, and yet still she failed to appreciate it. oap had even brought the violent conflict to an end when Pryce threw her his pistol. Fortunately for them, Zakhaev had made the foolish mistake of appearing in person to finish them off. In her dazed state Soap had managed to take Pryce's gun and shoot the man who had caused them so much trouble.
And yet, here she was, frightened and confused. Her mind kept wandering back to those tense moments in the heat of combat. She could vividly recall those terrifying moments when she had to plant C4 on the enemy tanks. She could see the danger approaching. She had to do it knowing that she could easily get run over or shot at. Even when the charges were planted, Soap never knew for sure if she'd make it far enough to detonate the C4. She also remembered the last time she saw Pryce. He had been lit on fire, and was desperately flailing around. He managed to put himself out but by that point it was hard to tell in her dazed state if he was even still alive. She knew she would be taking risks. If she was not prepared to put her own life on the line when duty called, she would never have joined the team, but no amount of training could have prepared her for what she was feeling now.
"Soap? Are you still in there?"
It only took a moment for Soap to recognize the distinct voice of Gaz. Reluctantly, Soap climbed to her feet, and turn off the showerhead, hoping that Pryce would have a new mission to keep her occupied. She wrapped a towel around her waist as she approached the door and opened it.
"Soap," Gaz said. "You've been in there for two hours!"
Soap remained quiet. She never was much of a talker.
"We're doing another drill on the cargo ship," Gaz said. "Get your gear on and let's get moving."
Gaz took a moment to look at her. "Are you alright, mate?"
Soap nodded. "Yeah," she mumbled. "I'm fine."
"Good," Gaz replied. "Get your gear on and come down."
Soap smiled. Gaz closed the door, and Soap began to put on her blue shirt, bulletproof vest, and grey pants.
The boat was essentially the one area she had still managed to excel in. She had spent little time interacting with the men in the unit. There had not yet been a mission for the squad to take part in either. The exercise on the boat was in most respects the only distraction she had now. It was pretty straight forward, and served as a practice for the types of missions that S.A.S. often got. Each member of the team would take turns going through it. First they'd climb onto a raised platform and slide down a rope onto a model of a boat, then they'd work their way through making sure to take out every enemy on board as fast as possible before finishing.
Once again, Soap excelled at this activity, one that she had practiced several times since she first arrived. She climbed up the ladder, grabbed the rope and immediately slid down. Once on deck, she immediately began firing on the two cutouts behind the cabin window. Within a few seconds she was charging into the boat, taking out the man at the bottom of the stairs. Tossing a flashbang she managed to take out two more targets. In less than a minute, she'd sprinted to the finish.
"Not bad," Gaz remarked. Soap ignored his compliment. Instead, she moved toward the door of the warehouse, and leaned forward against it. Gaz turned toward her and approached.
"Are you sure you're alright, Soap?" Gaz asked. He approached slowly. She nodded.
"Do you want to talk about it?"
Soap shook her head.
"Look," Gaz said. "I know how you're feeling. You'd never been on a mission before, and it messes up your head. I get it."
Soap remained quiet. Gaz turned back toward the boat. Soap reached into her pocket and pulled out a folded letter. She opened it and started to read it. Slowly she stepped outside and leaned against the external wall. The letter was an official military notice from the United States Marine Corps that she had received after returning from Russia, notifying her of the death of her cousin, Sgt. Paul Jackson. He was a Marine, and had been sent on the mission to capture Al-Asad which ended in tragedy. According to the report, the evacuation of an area believed to be in danger of a nuclear strike had been delayed when a Cobra was shot down. The last reports from his unit stated that they were going to attempt a rescue, but in the end his Chinook helicopter failed to get to a safe distance before the explosives were detonated. No survivors were found.
All this had happened while Soap was still stranded in Russia. She had heard of what happened to the Marines, as did everyone else but it was only when she returned that she learned specifically of her cousin's death. To make matters worse, she had also missed the funeral, which had happened shortly before her return. In the military, especially an elite squad like this one, it was not unexpected to lose friends on the battlefield. She had seen several of the men die in front of her, and not all of them were deaths she could have prevented. That much was little surprise, though she was still trying to cope with the feelings that came with it. The real turmoil was losing a close relative in another part of the world, one whose death could have been prevented if the Marines had just listened to Pryce.
Carefully folding the letter back into her pocket, Soap turned back toward the building and stared inside. One of the men was going through the boat now. She turned and began to walk away. As usual, she remained quiet, the others barely seemed to notice she was gone. Then again, with Pryce still in the hospital for an uncertain amount of time, and nobody knowing for sure if he would return to service, there was little structure to the unit. In the few days they had been together, Soap had come to respect Pryce. She had even started to look up to him as a mentor. Now Gaz was struggling to keep everyone organized until either Pryce returned or a new commander was assigned.
Soap began to wander. She found herself approaching a truck and sitting down next to it. She wrapped her arms around her legs.
She looked up, almost immediately recognizing the distinct British accent. It was Pryce. He was sitting in a wheelchair, Soap stared in confusion. "What are you doing here?"
"I just came by to see how my men were doing," Pryce replied. "The Doctors say it'll probably be another few months before I can even consider taking charge here again. That's a load of bullocks. I've lead missions in worse shape than this, but I was able to pull a few strings to visit."
"The others are all practicing on the cargo ship," Soap explained. Pryce could not help but look at her.
"Are you okay?"
Soap remained quiet.
"I know what you're feeling," Pryce said. "It's perfectly normal."
"What do you mean?" Soap asked, her voice barely audible.
"You did good out there," Pryce replied. "You did your best and you saved the world from a very bad man, but combat has a way of affecting everyone. When I experienced my first action I felt exactly the same as you do now. I was scared and confused, not sure if I could take any more of this chaos."
Soap began to stand up.
"You're a good soldier, Soap."
She reached into her pocket, pulled out the letter and handed it to Pryce. "This came in just before we got back."
Pryce unfolded the letter, and read it quickly. He then folded it again and handed it back to her. "I can see why this would be painful for you," he said.
"How do you deal with it?"
Pryce stared at Soap for a moment.
"I don't," he replied. "I'm just used to it."
Soap watched as Pryce began to turn his wheelchair toward the warehouse. She stood, still confused but thinking about what her Captain had said.