Supernatural isn't mine.

Fic number three in the crazy week o' fic, and also number two in the Unauthorised Biography series. Many thanks to Silwyna, JazzyIrish, Nana56, MistyEyes, Luxorien, mtee1958, rozzy07, Harrigan and BeanButterfly for their reviews on the first one, and to everyone who's been reading and reviewing my output in general these week. So, you guys sick of me yet? ;)

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Missing the War

All is quiet, his tired eyes
See figures jotted down
And clothes all strewn around the bedroom floor.

Now nothing's adding up and nothing's making sense.
She's sleeping like a baby,
She doesn't know he wasn't meant for this.

I'm missing the war,
I'm missing the war all night,
Missing the war,
I'm missing the war.

The thing John remembered most about it was the heat. Days spent lying in the dirt, slogging through swamps, and the sweat dripping in his eyes, no way it could do its job and cool his skin by evaporating because the air was so full of moisture it was like walking under water. In later years, when life took him far from Kansas, he would catch echoes of that heat in Florida, in Georgia and Louisiana, and he would crank up the A/C in the car and try not to remember, but in 1978, when all he had experienced of life was the Midwest and Indochina, the memory of the heat was like a weight that pressed down late at night, until even the sleeping warmth of Mary's body became too much for him, even the brush of her skin against his burned.

He had a life, though, now. Had a wife and a good job, was his own boss, even, and here was life the way it was meant to be lived, a white-painted house, neighbours who know your name, respect and respectability. There was no more need to crawl through filth, to watch for the slightest movement that might signal death for himself or his unit, to hear the rumble of gunfire close and distant, smell the stench of charred flesh. Those things were behind him, and he was happy, how could he not be?

And then, and then, there were times when he would look up from a car he was working on and see his life stretching ahead of him with no aim, nothing but just more life. It was good life, sure, but the sheer amount of it made John feel lost, and there was no-one to tell him the objective any more, the only objective was to live, and there was nothing noble in that, nothing John could salvage to make himself feel like there was purpose.

One of John's old buddies lived a few towns over, and they met up for beers whenever they could. Markham, his name was, John as well, not that they ever called each other by their first names (too confusing, John thought, but what he meant was we're not civilians, not really). They talked about old times and new ones; Markham had a girl, Josephine, and a kid, too, even a goddamn dog, a perfect life, just like John's. They would sit on his front porch on warm nights and shoot the breeze about old friends and places they'd been, but they never talked about the heat, they never talked about the way the steam would rise from the broad waxy leaves of the jungle trees.

Markham wasn't John's only friend; hell, John had a whole parcel of them back in Lawrence, guys with nine-to-five jobs and wives who wore light floral dresses in summer and had no hardness to their faces. But when Markham leaned back and stretched out his long legs one night in April and said sometimes I think life was easier, then, John forgot the whistling noise that napalm makes as it falls through the air, forgot the way it feels to kill another human being who's standing so close that you can see the light go out in their eyes, and remembered the relief of knowing why, maybe not the why of everything (because Christ knew, nobody seemed to be able to figure that one out even now), but the why of right here and right now, of getting through the day, of doing what you were ordered to save your own life and your unit's. He remembered, and he thought maybe he agreed.

Mary didn't understand, but how could she? She was like a ray of light in the stormy sky of John's world: perfect, beautiful, but so far above everything that she couldn't even see what she was illuminating, too bright to see the darkness that surrounded her. John clung to her like a drowning man, but she didn't see why he needed to hold fast, couldn't see the cracks that ran through the picket fence and the Sunday pot-lucks and paying the neighbourhood kids fifty cents to wash the car. Sometimes he held so tight that she pushed him away, and sometimes he found himself screaming at her for no reason other than that she represented this, that she was its blameless avatar, that she knew how to be the person she was and she made it look like it wasn't even difficult.

And Markham would cluck and sigh and get John another beer and say she doesn't understand, even though John had barely said a word about it, and John would think no, she doesn't, and he couldn't help but be glad, because if she did understand then she would be stained, like he was, like Markham was, and he didn't want that for her, he needed her to be blemish-free so that she could keep him from sinking without a trace.

In May, almost June, when it was so unseasonably hot that John thought he might suffocate (but it was dry heat), and gunfire had been ringing in his ears for days, Mary bit her lip and said I'm pregnant, and there was apprehension in her eyes.

And when John laid his hand on her belly and imagined that in there was a child, something he and Mary had created together, he felt his life stretching out before him and he thought maybe I can do this.

Missing the War

All is quiet, his tired eyes
See figures jotted down
And clothes all strewn around the bedroom floor.


Now nothing's adding up and nothing's making sense.
She's sleeping like a baby,
She doesn't know he wasn't meant for this.

I'm missing the war,
I'm missing the war all night,
Missing the war,
I'm missing the war.

He drove home again, pissed and beaten.
It's really no big deal,
It happens all the time,
It's no big deal.

I'm missing the war,
I'm missing the war all night,
Missing the war,
I'm missing the war
Till beads of sunlight hit me in the morning.

So much time so little to say.

Time may fly and dreams may die,
The shaking voice that tells him go
Still thinks he might, he knows he won't.

I'm missing the war,
I'm missing the war all night,
Missing the war,
I'm missing the war.

--Ben Folds Five, Whatever and Ever Amen.