A/N: So, I was rereading Never War recently, and the paragraph where Gunny talks about how he couldn't fire a gun during WWI (or, The Great War as it was called back then) really struck me. Gunny seems cool with it now, but when he was actually in the war, I'm sure it wasn't so easy to deal with . . .

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He pretended it was a joke. He laughed right along with the others, whenever the subject was brought up. He cooked the food and cleaned the pots without complaint, taking the others' teasings and calling him by the nickname in strides.

But it still hurt.

What was so difficult about it, really? It was just a simple movement. A simple flick of the finger. You lifted, you aimed, you fired. One, two, three. Easy as that.

So why was it so difficult for him?

Why couldn't he fire the damn gun?

"Nothin' to it," the lieutenant had told them, as he paced up and down the line of new war recruits. "Jest aim an' shoot. 'S'all there is to it."

That was all there was to it. It was nothing complicated. No more complicated than anything else he had done before in his life. In fact, it was much simpler than most of the things that life had dealt him thus far. But he still couldn't. He couldn't bring himself to pull the trigger.

Because it was more than just firing off a gun. It was more than just snapping your finger over the trigger , it was more than just aiming and shooting, it was more than just one-two-three.

It was firing a bullet. It was ending a life.

And sure, the other side was the enemy, but it was still a lot of responsibility to finish their days of breathing. Who was he to decide who deserved to live and who deserved to die, anyway?

Even when it was just a dummy in from of him (which was the closest that they'd ever put him to taking part in battles), he couldn't bring himself to shoot. The others would holler at him, they would shout, jeer, laugh, goad, encourage. Nothing worked.

He wished he could bring himself to. He really did. Once or twice he felt his finger twitch marginally, tightening on the trigger. But it never moved any more than that.

He'd always thought himself a strong person. One who could face whatever sort of problems came his way. Being colored, he'd had to deal with a fair bit of trouble throughout his life. All that he had been able to handle, so he'd thought he could tackle playing a small part in the war too.

On the battlefield, that's when the true strength of a man is tested, was what the general of his troop had said. So if he couldn't even make it to the battlefield, what did that say about his strength? That it was around the negative numbers, probably. That it was nonexistent.

He didn't know when precisely the nickname Gunny had appeared. It was first yelled at him that day during training, while trying to shoot at the dummies. But it wasn't until they officially demoted him from solider and handed him the food to cook that he remembered being called by that name regularly. It wasn't until then that it stuck.

He pretended it was a joke. He laughed right along with the others, whenever the subject was brought up. He cooked the food and cleaned the pots without complaint, taking the others' teasings and calling him by the nickname in strides.

But it still hurt.

-Fin