A/N: I just saw Jarhead last night and LOVED it. You should all go see it! And yes, like the fanfic/war movie whore I am, I actually wrote this little fic for it already. Hopefully the site will answer my request and start a proper Jarhead section.

No slash intended!


Clean

He cried without shame, and no one condemned him for it. They all knew he loved Troy, and he had no reason to hide his emotions around them. They knew each other better than anyone else, in many ways. They understood. Combat or no, soldiers were soldiers - and their bonds were always one-of-a-kind.

He had been glad to see Fergus again…. If only it had been for a better reason. He hadn't known what to think when Fergus had first told him the news. He hadn't cried until now - when Troy was right here, in front of him.

His friend looked clean - real clean. It wasn't right. Troy wasn't clean; he was a soldier. Swofford remembered him always as his right-hand man in the middle of a desert. The man had felt so at home - in the suck. And if they had been in 'Nam instead, or Europe, it wouldn't have mattered. Troy had loved the soldier's life, almost like Sykes.

They had kept in touch after going home - Swoff and Troy. Swoff had needed to make sure Troy was okay. It had seemed like it, though Swoff knew Troy would never have the same joy as he did when he was in the suck.

"I just keep thinkin' of Sykes, man," he had said to Swoff. "Doin' what he loves - livin' in the suck. That's where I should be."

Swofford had patted his knee. "You'll be okay," he had said. "And you'll always be a Marine."

Crying near Troy now, he remembered that night - when his friend had finally been branded. Pain had turned into ecstasy - a lot like losing your virginity. Troy had been so - complete, that night. Sure, it hurt like a bitch, but it had been worth it to him. So worth it. And when Swoff had held onto him, laid his head to Troy's, he had learned two things: what kind of man Troy was and how it felt to be that kind of man's friend.

He could have never made it through his war without Troy. No way in hell. And now his friend was clean and asleep, pissing him off and making him cry and breaking his heart.

"Hey, man." Fergus touched his shoulder precociously. Swoff turned to look at him, not bothering to wipe his eyes.

"He wanted you to have these," Fergus said, offering Swoff the dog tags… Troy's dog tags. His face creased in pain, and the tears fattened and flowed. He could barely make out Troy's name engraved on the metal; he squeezed the gift hard.

"Thanks," he said. Fergus patted his shoulder.

"You should have them. No use puttin' it back in the dirt."

He turned and left Swofford alone again, to think and mourn. Swoff opened up his hand again and looked at the tags, before slipping the chain around his neck.

"Damn you, Troy - you fuckin' jarhead."

He wiped his eyes and returned to the crowd.