This is my second ever fan-fic please be nice, LOL
And cos it were written for Sean Bean fans in mind, there are about 11 Sean Bean film titles hidden in the dialogue. The trick is finding 'em, LOL...
"Come on then!" he roared. The officer advanced on him. He drew his right arm back and smashed him across the face. The officer fell to the ground, rolling and getting to his feet. He whipped round, advancing on Sharpe quickly.
Sharpe waited, ducked under the man's quick haymaker. He slammed him in the stomach with his right, straightening and driving his left fist into the man's head. The man reeled and fell again, falling to the dirt. He lay there for a second, before rolling back to his feet. Sharpe stood back one, waiting. The man staggered, putting a hand out to the tree. He felt his lip gingerly, wiping blood from his mouth delicately, looking back at Sharpe.
"Here!" someone hissed, and Sharpe recognised the voice as that of Harris. He didn't turn to look at the few Chosen Men, running up the path that wound up the slight hill, arranging themselves at the tree line to watch. He watched the officer straighten and throw himself at Sharpe again.
He grabbed him and they pushed and shoved. The officer dug his heels into the hard dirt and freed a hand, ramming it into Sharpe's face. He was pushed off and staggered. The man saw his chance and grabbed his green tunic, hitting him in the face again and again. He drew his hand back for a third strike. Sharpe rammed his left elbow up to break his grip. He grabbed the man's shirt and fetched him a terrific crack on his head with his own.
The Chosen Men let out a cheer as the man fell backwards, landing in the dirt hard. He climbed to his feet, watching Sharpe undo the last few shiny buttons on his tunic and rip it off, enraged. He threw it behind him and then pulled the braces from his shoulders, pulling his shirt free. He dragged it off over his head, wiping his face with it quickly before throwing it after his tunic.
The officer removed his shirt with dignity, taking his time to get his breath back. Sharpe watched him, his emerald eyes blazing, waiting. He stole a glance and saw there were five Chosen Men, including Harper, squatting at the tree line, squeezing the barrels of their unloaded rifles in nervous excitement.
The man swallowed and sniffed, wiping his nose again before advancing more slowly. Harris grinned, wondering just how he'd relate this epic tale to his Spanish girl later. The two men drove at each other, thumping and pushing, and Harris shook his head in appreciation. He realised the reasonable, level-headed almost-gentleman who had been his Major had been replaced by some kind of enraged tiger with more base instincts. Like winning. Like pounding seven shades of shit out of anyone who wanted to belittle him and his command. Like proving he could do it in a sweaty, intrinsic, heat of the moment way. He nudged Harper, who looked back at him, and they grinned, turning back to watch the fighting, as two or three red-coated South Essex privates stole up the hill to see what the noise was about.
"Go on, sir!" Harper shouted, then turned and nodded to the three men who sank to the ground and watched, open-mouthed.
The South Essex officer was more precise, there was no doubt. But as the two men battled it out, it became obvious that the Major had the advantage. This Lieutenant White was a good sportsman, but the Major didn't care for sport. White pinned him down; Sharpe headbutted. White threw a haymaker; Sharpe ducked and kicked at his knee. The rangy South Essex White was becoming more and more enraged, but it seemed the Major was already there and enjoying it.
"Come on, sir!" Robinson chimed in.
"Stick it to him!" Brown shouted, grinning madly.
Time was not on their sides. If White was starting to look short of breath and sweaty, Sharpe was positively running with it, panting for his life.
Time was deciding it all. The dirty, under-handed, cheating bar-room-brawl winner that Sharpe was, it wouldn't matter if he couldn't finish it quickly. The Spanish heat and the long days spent marching with nothing but soup and rabbit were taking their toll, and he knew it.
"Go on, sir!" Harper shouted.
"Have him!" shouted Brown. Sharpe spat blood, watching White stagger and turn to him again.
"Bugger this," he snapped, ramming his boot up into White as hard as he could. White collapsed forward and Sharpe drew his fist back to blind-side him. He hesitated, assessed the situation, and then simply put his hands to his shoulders and pushed White over sideways. The officer fell to the ground and just tried to breathe. The men let out a roar of triumph, laughing and pushing at each other in delight. Harper got to his feet, crossing quickly to Sharpe's tunic and shirt, bending and retrieving them quickly. He turned to Sharpe, grinning inanely.
"Oh well done, sir," he said proudly. Sharpe spared him a glance, panting his breath back, before walking over to White, who was still face-down and moaning into the dirt. He put his boot to his shoulder and rolled him over, onto his back.
"And don't you ever stand there and disobey an order I give you again, you disrespectful bastard," he breathed. White just looked up at him.
"Sir," he managed, swallowing. Sharpe removed his boot and stepped back, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. He sniffed, ran a hand through his hair to get it from his face, and looked over at the green and red-jacketed men, still laughing and shaking hands.
"And you lot, clear off!" he called angrily. "And not a word o' this to anyone!" The riflemen jumped to their feet, tossing off cheeky parodies of salutes before hefting rifles, hurrying to the path. The red-coated South Essex lads jumped up and followed quickly, their muskets pointing at the sky. As they disappeared down the path back to camp, Harper walked over to Sharpe.
"You'll be wanting some water, so you will," he said cheerfully, still grinning. "You should have shaved this morning, sir, that's going to be sore for a wee while yet, and no mistake," he said, looking Sharpe's face over and spying the cuts and bruises.
"Balls to shaving, get that man up and dressed. Then get him back to camp," he said curtly.
"Oh yes sir," Harper said, grinning, handing him his tunic and shirt before turning to the officer. He walked over and crouched. "Now then Lieutenant, can I help ye with anything?" he asked politely.
"Edward!" she gasped, watching her husband walk into the officer's mess with a bruised and bloodied face. He nodded with as much dignity as possible to the servant, then cut a very quick path to their table. She waited until he had sat before leaning across the table and staring at his cut, injured face. "What on Earth happened?" she hissed quietly, aware others could hear them from their tables.
"Major Sharpe," he said carefully, controlling his volume. "He had me fight him to prove he's in charge," he bit out.
"How dare he!" she hissed, careful not to broadcast it across the local tables. "You? In a bare-knuckle fight like some common private? What was it all about?" she dared. Her husband, Lieutenant Edward White, leaned across the table and put his hands on top of hers gently.
"I made a grave error, my dear. He is a Major, for all a jumped-up commoner can be. He gave me an order, and I, in my idiocy, refused it." He sighed. "Oh dear, this soldiering really is more complicated than I thought. If he should communicate to Horse Guards that I disobeyed him…" He shrugged helplessly. "Sometimes I wonder if I really should bother with all this soldiering," he said quietly. "It wouldn't be a bad thing if I sold my commission and got on with the old business with Father," he added. She squeezed his hand angrily, then checked herself.
"But you're a good soldier, Edward," she said kindly. And if you weren't a soldier I wouldn't be in line for the private clubs in London, she added to herself. "You bought your commission, but didn't everyone? And anyway, you've fought in some big battles, and Colonel Lawford likes you," she pointed out. "If you have the ear of the Colonel, you won't stay a Lieutenant for long. And even if he doesn't promote you, you can always buy your Captaincy. We have money, after all," she said. He looked at her sadly.
"You have money, my dear. I have a failing business, an ailing father, and no military prospects once word gets out Major Sharpe dislikes me. People may not like him but they tend to respect his decisions insofar as ranks go," he said miserably.
"But you were so close to Captain," she said desperately. And I so close to finally getting into the ladies' circle at Horse Guards… "Isn't there something we could do about it?" she asked amiably. He looked back at her, as the waiter appeared with a fresh bottle of wine. She looked at it, nodded imperiously, and the waiter proceeded to pour it for them. They waited, White looking at his wife the whole time, studying her crafty expression.
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"Well… Could he amenable to money, perhaps?" she asked. He smiled slightly.
"You've never… You've never met, Major Sharpe, have you?" he asked, amused. She looked at him.
"What does that mean?" she asked quickly, and he shook his head.
"My dear, I judge him to be impervious to just about any bribe you could offer him," he said, thinking of the small fortune in French gold it was rumoured the Major hoarded somewhere.
"Any bribe?" she asked innocently.
"Good God man, what happened to you?" Lawford asked as Sharpe walked into his tent, shako under his arm.
"Small disagreement, Colonel, sir," he allowed, knowing his eye was purple and his face scratched. Lawford frowned.
"Not drinking, I hope," he said, casting a disapproving eye over Sharpe's uniform. "And get that damned horse-blanket of yours washed, Major," he said testily. "Anyone would think you were a Sergeant, looking like that."
"Yes sir," Sharpe said, nodding curtly. Lawford let himself smile, then just shook his head.
"Damn it all, Richard, sit down," he said easily, and Sharpe let himself relax. He took the chair in front of him, settling himself in it slowly. Lawford noticed, and waved to his clerk to leave the tent. He waited until the tent flaps had swished closed. "So what actually happened then? Between you and me?" he asked curiously. Sharpe looked at him.
"That Lieutenant White," he admitted. Lawford eyed him.
"Hmm. I rather suspected he wouldn't… take to you, Richard. What did he do?" he asked quietly. Sharpe considered the question, wetting his lips slowly.
"Told the men I weren't supposed to be here."
"Oh, well, you see –"
"Tried to reassign the Chosen Men to opposite sides of the march," Sharpe continued pointedly.
"What? Split your command while –"
"Then I told him to report to you and get his orders. He refused. I made it an order. He refused," he said coldly. Lawford sat back, agog.
"Well blast his eyes! I hope you gave him a good dressing down, Richard?" he said hotly.
"Absolutely," he said easily, sitting back in the chair. "Bit sore mind, but now he's clear on a few things," he nodded. Lawford grinned, slapping the table.
"I'm sure he is, Richard, I'm sure he is." He grinned at the Major, then shook his head. "You know, having you here is a breath of fresh air, Richard. I do so get tired of so many…"
"Pompous little pricks?" Sharpe offered innocently.
"Just so, Richard, just so," Lawford grinned. "Anyway, won't be our burden much longer. We've had our marching orders from Nosy himself. Tomorrow morning we're heading for the village of País del Té," he said smartly. Sharpe nodded.
"Very good, sir. Might take the men's minds off a few things," he said.
"Like?" Lawford asked, surprised. "I didn't think they worried about the war effort, on the whole," he admitted.
"Like girls," Sharpe grinned, standing.
"Oh yes. I see," Lawford shrugged. "Well, boys will be boys," he allowed. "Go on then, find yourself a girl – but see you're up in time to march at the front, all washed and shaved, Richard," he said pointedly. Sharpe nodded.
"Of course not, Bill," he smiled, nodding respectfully and leaving the tent slowly. Lawford watched him go, then shook his head, looking back down at his paperwork.
He walked back toward his own tent, the darkness just about down and the fires lit. He smelt the soup boiling, the dirty, unwashed men, but most importantly, the tea brewing. He headed in the direction of his tent and came upon a small gathering of men, round the tea urn, watching it as if it held the secrets of the ancients.
"Well?" he asked loudly, and Harper jumped slightly. He turned and looked over his shoulder at him.
"Oh, there you are, sir," he said pleasantly, then looked at Robinson. "Fetch me that," he said, and Robinson looked where he was nodding. He picked up a clean tin cup and handed it to Harper, who picked up the tea urn and poured a little out slowly. He stood and turned to Sharpe. "Here you are then sir, try that on for size," he said proudly. Sharpe eyed him before taking it and looking in.
"What's in it?" he asked, looking up at the small circle. Brown and Robinson exchanged a glance.
"Tea, sir. New leaves from one of Ramona's friends, sir," Harper said politely. Sharpe looked at the rest of them.
"Where's yours?" he asked curiously. Harper looked back at the two men before back at the Major slowly.
"We've been drinking it all evening, sir. We saved you this, though," he said eagerly. Sharpe sniffed the rim of the cup.
"Smells a bit funny," he said gingerly.
"It's been on the boil all the time you were talking to the Colonel, so it has," he said smoothly. "Very good stuff, sir. The Spaniards' national treasure, sir." Sharpe let his face clear and just shrugged, tipping it back and emptying the cup. He thought about it, running his tongue over his upper lip.
"Not bad, that," he said approvingly, handing the cup back to Harper. Harper grinned, turning to look at the two riflemen. They looked at their feet. "Get us another, will you Pat?" he asked, sitting down next to Robinson. Ramona walked over, carrying a sleepy little Patrick. She sat next to Sharpe carefully, looking at him. "Evening," he said, then looked down at Patrick. He was safely wrapped in a warm blanket, dozing happily.
"You fight all the time," she tutted at him. "One day you will lose," she pointed out. He chuckled.
"Never," he said, taking the now full cup from Harper.
"You think about the fighting," she said sternly. "It is dangerous."
"One day you will die fighting. Is that not the same as losing?" she asked hotly. He looked at her.
"Not if I've won. Then it dunt matter if I die afterwards," he shrugged, grinning. She just shook her head. A Spanish voice called out and she looked up.
"Oh, troubles," she hissed, hearing the other girl's voice repeat whatever it was she was calling to her. Ramona stood, looking around. "Here, you make yourself useful," she said to Sharpe, handing him her bundle of Patrick.
"Hey now, wait a minute –" But it was too late, Ramona had already let go and unless he wanted the small boy to sprawl in the dirt, he had to take the weight. Harper eyed him but then smiled suddenly, seeing the Major's discomfort. He held the little boy under his arms securely, letting him dangle in front of him. "Well – look, where - . Oh bugger," he hissed, and caught a stinging slap to the back of his head.
"No soldier words in front of my boy!" Ramona said sternly. He just looked at her, not sure how to try and assert himself. Or if it would be wise to. Ramona gave him one final, commanding look before picking up her skirts and turning, racing off across the camp.
Little Patrick yawned and opened his eyes, wondering why his source of heat had left him. He blinked and found Major Sharpe staring back at him, half in curiosity, half in embarrassment. "Alright, little man?" he said with false cheer, trying to twist his face into what he hoped was a pleasant smile. Little Patrick just stared, entranced by the uncomfortable-looking man watching him. Harper walked over and sat, and Sharpe looked at him. "Here, I think this belongs to you," he said, handing him over. Brown and Robinson grinned at each other as Harper took the small lad and sat him on his knee securely.
"There now, aren't you the handsome little fella?" he said delightedly.
"Must get that from his mother," Sharpe muttered, reaching for his cup of tea again. Brown nudged Robinson and gestured at Sharpe with his head. Robinson winked. Sharpe sipped at the tea, then thought about it. "What did you say was in this?" he asked curiously, yawning. Harper looked at him.
"Spanish tea, sir. Very good for the blood, so it is," he said innocently. Sharpe sniffed at that comment and drained the cup. He put it down and then rubbed his hands over his face.
"Well then, you make sure these two don't cause trouble wi' the girls. I'm going to get this flea-ridden thing washed," he said, unbuttoning his tunic as he stood. Harper grinned.
"Right you are, sir," he said, bouncing a now fully awake little Patrick on his knee. The boy giggled and clutched at his father's buttons, making the three riflemen smile.
"Night lads," Sharpe said, walking away from the fire and toward his own tent. He yawned.
"Shouldn't have given him a whole cup, sir," Brown said quietly. "Harris only had a half, and look what happened to him," he said. Harper chuckled at little Patrick.
"Oh nonsense. Mister Sharpe's got the constitution of a Ballinderry heifer, so he has. He'll be up and around no trouble tomorrow morning," he said delightedly. "Won't he Patrick? Oh yes he will, so he will," he cooed at him proudly.