Disclaimer: I do not own any characters from Band of Brothers nor do I own anything from that series. I have merely borrowed characters and the general setting for the story.
P/L: Perconte and Luz get into a fight that only can be conquered through a disaster Mother Nature sends out.
Band of Brothers 10.26.03
Currahee Means HELP!
How could things have gotten this bad? Why did I allow myself to hate the only friend I have had for the past three years. All this anger has lead to one thing; something so terrible my mind cannot even come to terms with what has happened. But I must live with the choices I made.
And what did I do? Well, I was mad at my friend. This is what it all boils down to. There's little left to say now because all is lost. Nevermore; my friend lies dying next to me and there is nothing I can do to save him. And it is all my fault. It is all my fault.
II. Too Short Perconte
13 Hours Prior . . .
French woods along the Croix River
Spring of 1945
"You're too short," Second Lieutenant Rider told Perconte. The lieutenant gave Perconte a dissatisfied sniff, pushing past him.
A short silence prevailed as Perconte slowly turned to give the lieutenant a distasteful eye. Perconte sniffed under his breath, shifting his rifle across his shoulder, "That aint never stopped them before."
From there, Perconte made his way over to Sergeant Martin. Perconte had a good feeling that the sergeant wouldn't deny him of being able to take part in the patrol. After all, Sergeant Martin and he were good friends and both had a mutual understanding that they were each an important asset to the unit and mission.
Stopping just in front of the sergeant, Perconte greeted in a friendly manner, "Hey Martin, what say you let me join this little patrol today?"
"No," Martin was quick to answer.
Stunned, Perconte fell silent for a moment. Then he inquired slowly, "But why?"
Giving him a stern frown, Martin replied quickly, "You're tired, you haven't slept much, and you're too short."
"What?" Perconte scoffed. "Too short? Since when did height ever matter?"
"Just this one mission," Martin replied, patting him on the shoulder in a friendly manner, "You just can't come along."
Perconte couldn't believe what he was hearing. What could be so special about this mission that my height would be in question? "What are you going to be going on some mission where you need tall people to hit these tall Germans?"
Martin just stared at him.
"Please," Perconte begged. "You're the leader of this patrol. You gotta let me come! You know how valuable I am to this unit!"
"I know that," Martin nodded. He moved from Perconte, trying to hurry away from him as he muttered, "But I just can't let you come on this mission."
"I wish I knew why!" Perconte shouted after him. There is something deeper here than just my height. What makes them suddenly question my ability to produce well on a patrol? Have I done something so terribly wrong that they would do this to me? Surely I cannot be so valuable that they cannot risk losing me!
A zephyr blew by, easing not the hurt Perconte felt at being denied for taking part in the patrol. Perconte kicked up some snow as he turned away from Martin and wandered back to his foxhole, "But I know somebody who can tell me what's going on!"
III. Not So Good of a Friend
"Hey Luz!" Perconte called out to his friend as he jumped into the foxhole next to him.
"Hey Perconte!" Luz returned with a jovial smile.
"I've got a question for you," Perconte began.
"So have I."
"You go first," Perconte nodded.
Luz gave a small laugh, "Well, that is my question, what's on your mind?"
"Rat," Perconte chuckled shaking his head.
"No, seriously though, what's your question?" Luz inquired, trying to mask his playfulness with a grin of seriousness.
"Do you know anything about the patrol today?"
"Um, sort of," Luz replied, giving a forced smile.
"Sort of?" Perconte questioned. "Well, what do you know?"
"We have to go through the flooding creek," Luz related, giving a slow nod. "Something about scouting the eastern side of the Croix. There are some rumors spreading about Germans being over there or something of that sort. That's why we're going over there."
Silence fell over the two as Luz began checking his equipment.
Perconte studied his friend's actions closely. Something's up. And I have a feeling that I'm not going to like it. "You're going on the patrol aren't you?"
"Yeah," came Luz's quick and dry response.
Staring at his friend with concealed hurt, Perconte began slowly, "And you knew that they weren't letting me come along, didn't you?" There was a long, deep sigh from Luz. Perconte gave a slight scowl, "And you didn't even warn me."
"Hey, for what it's worth," Luz said, turning to his friend and giving him a frown of sympathy and sincerity, "I'm sorry."
"Yeah well," Perconte shook his head. "I had to find out from that jarhead of a lieutenant."
"Lieutenant Rider is a good man," Luz defended quietly.
"Yeah well you didn't hear his tone," Perconte insisted.
"He's still your superior."
"My superior?" Perconte laughed. What was he thinking? "I thought he was our superior Luz!"
"You still heard it through the Chain of Command," Luz responded lowly.
"I would have preferred to have heard it from you," Perconte responded in a hurt voice, shifting his angry glare from the dirt to Luz.
"Well I didn't know how to break it to you."
"You didn't even stand up for me! You didn't even fight my case!"
"You don't understand Perconte," Luz told him, setting down his ruck sack. "You just aren't capable of handling this patrol."
Perconte gave a scoff of disbelief. "Oh c'mon Luz you know me better than that! What can't I handle should be the determining factor here! Not whether or not I can handle what's being put in front of me."
"It's just too risky for someone of your height," Luz finished.
"What's wrong with my height?"
"Nothing," Luz smiled. "It's just that what we're facing today is extremely dangerous for short people."
"That's a load of nonsense Luz and you know it!" Perconte exclaimed. "I think it's just because you don't want me there! You'd rather have some replacement tailing your ass because he's had more sleep!"
"That's not it Perconte."
"A true friend would know to stick up for his buddies! A true friend would not leave the other one hanging! A real friend would know to help his buddy when he is in need of encouragement and support."
Perconte gave Luz a hard glare. Luz just stared at Perconte.
"I guess you're not as good of a friend as I thought you were," Perconte hissed, jumping to his feet.
"I guess not," Luz replied dryly. He did not like Perconte's tone. Maybe he had been right in asking Lieutenant Rider to not let Perconte join the mission so that he could get some much needed rest. If this was the result of sleep depravity, Luz was afraid to see Perconte mad.
Perconte crawled out of the foxhole and glared at Luz, remarking, "Never share a foxhole with someone braver than you."
"Sound words," Luz retorted smugly, giving Perconte a slight glare.
"Just do me a favor and never speak to me again you two-bit, back-stabbing liar," Perconte hissed.
"Consider it done!"
"Fine!" Perconte shouted. "Who needs you anyways!"
"Well I'm glad we both feel the same way about each other now," Luz replied smartly, giving a dark scowl at Perconte.
"Just, leave me alone!" Perconte exclaimed as he stormed away from Luz.
Luz watched Perconte disappear. He hoped that he would not have to see his former friend again.
Still curious about the opening scene? Just hold on and I'll get to that! You can see where this is all heading can't you?
IV. Le Croix
10 Hours Later . . .
For the next couple hours I tried to keep to myself. I found everything that I could possibly do to keep from thinking about the patrol; although, there wasn't much that I could do to keep from hearing about it. Most of all was the occasional visit from Luz. Those I hated most because each time he came to try and reason with me, I turned away from him or simply just pretended that he wasn't there.
Okay, so I admit that what I was doing wasn't nice. But neither was what he had done to me. Seriously, I thought he was my friend! Instead of helping me to take part on the patrol he just abandoned me! And to add on was the fact that he called me "short". What is with that anyways? I am NOT short! What could possibly be so important about this patrol that height was considered?
"Perconte! Perconte!" a voice shouted, distracting Perconte's thoughts.
"What?" Perconte asked in an annoyed voice.
It was Robinson, a new replacement. The kid was barely above the age of eighteen.
"There's been some trouble on the patrol!" the kid exclaimed, panting heavily.
"What?" Perconte gasped, surprised at the news.
Taking a deep breath of air, Robinson began again, "There's been some trouble on the patrol!"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Perconte waved his hand at Robinson in an annoyed manner, "I heard you the first time."
Robinson stared confusedly at Perconte, unsure of whether or not to ask why he had asked for a repeat.
"Are you going to tell me or am I going to have to guess?" Perconte demanded sternly.
"Well, we were crossing the river, you know," Robinson began relating the tale to Perconte. "And the river was really deep and scary."
"Well," Robinson nodded, "When we got there it was about two feet deep."
"That's not that deep," Perconte frowned. "How am I too short for that?"
"Too short?" Robinson questioned. "Luz told me that you weren't too short for the patrol; he said that you just needed your rest and he had to make up something in order for you to not participate in the patrol."
"You mean he lied to protect me?" Perconte questioned, surprised at what he had just heard.
The private nodded, "Yes he did; from what he told me."
"So what happened next?"
"Well," Robinson continued, "By the time we actually got to crossing the river it had risen a foot. And when Luz got trapped against the wire fence, the water was about four feet. Who knows what it's at now."
"Four feet," Perconte nodded. Then part of the phrase sunk into him and he stopped cold; his heart suddenly pounding at the thought. He quickly demanded, "What did you just say about Luz?"
"He's trapped," Robinson told him simply. "We can't get to him because we are one man too short!"
Perconte gave Robinson and indignant sniff.
Robinson quickly apologized, "Pardon the pun."
"I'm going," Perconte stated as a matter-of-fact.
"But you shouldn't because you need your rest."
"Look," Perconte hissed, grabbing Robinson by the collar of his jacket, "My friend is out there and he's in trouble."
"I thought you guys weren't friends," Robinson responded. "Now I'm confused!"
"Are you going to take me there or not?" Perconte demanded, releasing the private.
Perconte's eyes watched the roaring river. Debris of leaves, branches, and even small trees were apparent. The water was a tawny color from all the mud that the flooding had swept away. It was a treacherous situation. And when Perconte saw the situation Luz was in, his heart skipped a beat and a cry of distress almost slipped past his lips.
To his horror, Perconte saw that Luz was pinned against the chicken wire fence and was being pushed backwards into the horrible current by the force of the swift moving river. If the chicken wire fence gave way, Luz would be swept down the river and wind up in more danger than he was already. At the moment though, Perconte couldn't think of anything worse than Luz's current position.
"What happened?" Perconte demanded, stepping next to Sergeant Martin.
"Glad you could make it," Martin nodded. "I hope there was no offense by my comment that you were too short. Seriously though, the way this river has picked up, I was beginning to wonder if we had done the right thing by having you stay back at camp."
"What happened?" Perconte insisted, stepping next to the river. He saw Luz's look of exhaustion and despair. He shouted through the roaring river, "Hang on buddy! Don't lose hope!"
Luz looked in Perconte's direction. His look of bewilderment turned to a small smile as he recognized his friend standing on the bank. The presence of his friend seemingly forgetful of their fight, made Luz feel stronger. A new will had replaced Luz's hopelessness feeling and now Luz was prepared to fight with all his strength to get back to shore.
Martin continued, grabbing Perconte's coat and pulling him away from the water, "That's what happened you fool."
"He was our point and while trying to cross the river (then only two feet deep), the current pushed his feet out from under him and took him down river to where we are at now. We've tried throwing rope out to him and pulling him back but it was no use. We also tried wading out there to him but the current was so strong we risked being trapped as well. So now it comes to this…team rescue."
Martin continued, "All of us are going to walk out there together, be a bigger block for the water. We're going to grab Luz and get him out of there. The water is about four feet or so now. I don't know how much longer Luz will be able to take the coldness or the water height."
"We've got to save him," Perconte stated urgently, staring fearfully at his friend trapped out in the river.
"We will Perconte," Martin nodded, patting Perconte on the shoulder, "We will."
A couple minutes later after regrouping, Martin, Malarkey, Robinson, Perconte, and two other soldiers stepped lightly into the river.
The current was strong at fifteen miles per hour. All the soldiers kept their toes pointed upriver to keep from having their feet pushed out from under them. Now Perconte realized the seriousness of the situation and how something that seemed so silly, could be so deadly.
Just then there came a loud bang.
Perconte stumbled. He felt a strange burning sensation on the left side of his head. A warm liquid was trickling down his face. Still, it didn't bother Perconte as he stumbled forward, bent on rescuing his distressed friend.
Perconte heard Martin exclaim. For a second, Perconte blacked out. Seconds later Perconte opened his eyes. He looked around him. He was halfway between reaching Luz and the shore. Martin and the others had scrambled on shore, fearful of the sniper shot. Perconte figured that they had already shot the sniper by now.
Looking back out at the water, Perconte saw something that made his blood run cold. A fallen tree, two feet in width was rushing down the flowing river and in a matter of seconds, Perconte knew, Luz would be in more danger than before. Perconte wondered why he had not seen the tree earlier. Then he shook his head, knowing what must be done.
Perconte staggered forward, hoping to reach his friend before the tree did. But alas, the tree struck first and slammed into Luz's chest, crushing him against the wire fence. Luz gave a cry of pain.
An amazing fence that one is Perconte thought as he continued forward. He reached the log and tried pulling it away from his friend but the tree wouldn't budge. Perconte saw Luz hanging limply on the log, his head on his shoulders and his eyes closed.
Reaching out, Perconte grabbed his friend's shoulder and shook him, telling him urgently, "Hey buddy, stay awake!"
At that, Luz awakened. He lifted his head slightly and gazed wearily at his friend. He coughed, "Perconte?"
"Hang on buddy!" Perconte exclaimed, grabbing his hand.
Luz, coughing again, informed Perconte, "This tree has pinned me against the post here."
No wonder the fence hasn't gone yet.
The fence lurched, shoving the tree forward and driving Luz into the water.
Thinking quickly, Perconte tried pushing the fence over with his feet. He could feel the water's suction trying to pull him underneath the log. And then it happened.
The fence gave way, expelling its burden.
For a second Perconte lost his grip on Luz. His friend disappeared beneath the log as it rolled over the fence and began its travel down the river. After a brief heart pounding second Luz resurfaced. Quickly, Perconte grabbed onto his friend's coat collar and pulled him near.
By now the swift current had swept them down river three hundred or so feet. The water was frigid and wild. White caps broke over every boulder and tree that lay scattered across the river. Above in the sky, a fearful storm was brewing. Lightning skittered across the sky and a harsh wind blew. But this was not felt by Perconte nor Luz, who only knew of the terrifying ride that nature giving them.
Perconte held Luz close to his side, fighting against the current to keep both of them alive. The water was powerful, too powerful. All of Perconte's attempts to swim to shore were met with little victory and his efforts only wore the soldier out even more. Finally, Perconte relented to the power of nature and decided to just let nature run her course and hope for a better opportunity later.
The water quickened. There came a roar. Perconte was unaccustomed to the sound but he recognized it immediately.
"Waterfalls," Perconte gasped in despair.
Sure enough, ahead was a twelve foot high water fall. The muddy water careened over the lip and plummeted to a deep pool below; the only relief in the river. This was Mother Nature's way of giving the two soldiers a break from the river's torment.
Perconte clutched Luz, telling him, "Stay with me buddy. Stay with me. We'll get through this, you'll see!"
They neared the brink and then took the plunge.
V. So long old friend
Perconte grabbed the piece of driftwood and pulled with all his might. With a couple of pulls, Perconte felt sand beneath his boots. In another few short pulls, Perconte was on shore. He gently pulled his shivering friend on shore next to him. For a couple of moments, Perconte lay, clutching the tall grass, as he gasped for air. Fighting the river had been exhausting.
Next to him, Luz gave a moan of agony.
Perconte resumed his efforts and soon enough, both were completely out of the water. From there, Perconte immediately began assessing the injuries that had been inflicted on Luz, completely ignoring his own injuries.
A small cough escaped Luz's lips. Blood trickled out of the corner of his lips.
Perconte knew that that meant only one thing, internal damage. There was nothing Perconte could do. For all he knew, they had been swept many miles south of Easy Company and could be in German territory. Expecting help was not a feasible notion to think about.
The plummet over the water falls had taken its toll on both of the soldiers. Both were exhausted, cold, and sore. The internal injuries that had fallen on Luz were so severe, if help didn't arrive soon, Perconte knew his friend's life would be in peril.
Luz weakly lifted his hand and gripped Perconte's hand. Giving his friend a weak smile, Luz closed his eyes and gave a long, deep sigh.
"So long old friend
We'll meet again somewhere.
Though that this is the end,
Wherever you go I will be there."
Perconte gave Luz a gentle shake, hoping to keep his friend awake. The gentle action had no affect. Again Perconte tried to wake Luz, shaking him even more so. Still, the soldier lay unmoving. Perconte stared helplessly at his friend. There was little he could do except pray.
"I wish that I hadn't been mean to you.
I regret that we couldn't have seen better days.
I want you to know that there isn't anything that I wouldn't do.
To keep to you safe so we can share in our funny ways."
"Luz?" Perconte called out softly, shaking his friend. Still nothing.
"Farewell old friend.
Somewhere in time we'll meet again.
Say it cannot be so,
That you really have to go.
You were always there when I was down.
Never a time would you let me frown.
Please dear friend think not bad of me.
You were always the best friend you could be."
Lowering his head and closing his eyes, Perconte tried to accept the reality of the situation. His best friend had perished before him without any last words or even a goodbye. The memory of their friendship stung like poison and Perconte knew, nothing in his life would ever be the same again. Luz had passed away; he had slipped silently into the fading daylight and had found a new home in heaven.
"So long old friend.
We'll meet again somewhere.
Though that this is the end,
Wherever you go I will be there."
So this is where you walked in. You can see what can happen when you allow yourself to stay mad at a person, especially your best friend, for a period of time, even if it is really short. Things change; time is unpredictable. Don't let grudges hold you back from a life time of fun. You never know when all of your play could be taken away at the drop of a hat and your whole world turned upside down. Be genuine to your friends, even if you just have one friend. And if you get into a quarrel, don't stay mad for long. Don't do what I did; you'll pay the ultimate price for pride.
Perconte gazed sadly at his friend. A sharp pain was throbbing from within Perconte's throat as he thought about the quarrel that they had had. It was such a silly thing to be mad about. Perconte touched the Screaming Eagle emblem on Luz's shoulder. All he wanted to do was protect me from sickness. A tear slipped down Perconte's cheek. Luz, I am so sorry!
In frustration, Perconte looked to the heavens and screamed, "No!"
He heard voices urgently calling his name.
"Perconte…! Perconte…! Perconte…!"
"Thank God you're alive!" a voice breathed in relief.
Perconte tried opening his right eye but felt it painful to do so. He gave a short cry of discomfort as he realized that the bullet that had grazed him earlier was still very fresh and tender. Perconte tried to sit up. All around him seemed chaos. All he heard was voices, strange voices; almost dreamlike.
A hand gently pushed Perconte back against the ground.
Next to Perconte, to his right, was Doc Roe, the Easy Company medic.
Doc Roe smiled at Perconte, "You were out for a long time Perconte. Nine hours almost."
"I knew you'd survive."
Perconte turned his head to the left, trying to see the other person next to him. Perconte let out a gasp, "Luz?"
"Yeah, it's me old buddy," Luz smiled softly.
"How can this be?" Perconte questioned, completely astonished at seeing his friend sitting next to him. "I thought you were…" Perconte shook his head, thinking better of it.
Perconte gave Luz an apologetic frown, saying, "Listen, I didn't mean what I said back there, that you weren't a good friend and that I didn't want you to talk to me anymore. For what it's worth, I'm sorry." Perconte offered his hand to Luz, "Friends?"
Luz stared at Perconte for a second, as if debating what his friend had said. Then a knowing grin spread across Luz's face as he accepted Perconte's hand, replying, "Never stopped being friends Perconte." He laughed, "They say that you're not really good friends until you've had at least one good fight."
Now it was Perconte's turn to laugh.
"You had us worried back there," Luz smiled. "You took that bullet but you still came. And it wasn't until after we were all on shore that you collapsed and passed out."
"Really?" Perconte asked, surprised. "I don't even remember that. All I remember is getting winged and trying to get you out of the water."
"You were so still," Luz recalled quietly. "I thought maybe the bullet hadn't just grazed you and actually had struck you. I was scared because I thought that I had lost you."
Perconte gave a sigh. He told him, "I know why you didn't want me to go on the patrol. It wasn't because of my height; that was never really an issue to begin with. You were just trying to keep me off the patrol so that I could get some rest."
Luz gave a slow nod. He asked, "So did you get any rest?"
"Not while you were out on patrol," Perconte replied. He laughed, "I was so worried about you I didn't have time to take a nap."
"You can't get rid of me now can you?" Luz smiled.
"Nope," Perconte laughed. "Friends?"
"Forever and forever," Luz smiled.