Where the Fates Bear Us
A/N: This was originally called, "Quo Fata Ferunt" which means "where the Fates bear us," in Latin, but that didn't sound right, so I changed it around a little before putting it back up. R&R, please!
"By God, Colonel, by God, by God, by God, the boys are still advancing!"
Chamberlain almost laughed. "Well, you better go on and stop them!"
"Yes, sir, but they're on their way to Richmond, sir, Richmond!"
"Not today, they've done enough for today," Chamberlain answered, feeling pride flowing into his blood, just barely covering the aches and exhaustion of battle. Or maybe they were all running together in one stream. They had done it. They had held the hill.
"Lawrence!" called his brother, approaching with another man in tow. "I want you to meet this fellow from Alabama. Captain Hawkins, this is my brother, Colonel Chamberlain." The man at Thomas' side nodded once, face almost gray with exhaustion.
"Sir," Chamberlain responded.
"May I have some water?" the man asked, his voice rasping in his throat.
"Yes," Chamberlain answered. "Sure. Tom, get this man a canteen," he instructed.
"Yes, sir," Tom replied. "This way," he said to the captain, leading him off.
Chamberlain watched them a moment, then turned and headed across the hill, past the lines of Confederate prisoners being herded upwards. As he drew closer, his pace unconsciously quickened, despite the pain in his leg from the hit he had taken. He had been lucky, he knew. But Buster…
"Buster," he breathed, kneeling at the sergeant's side next to the two soldiers tending him. The older man's sleeve was soaked in blood and bandages were pressed onto his arm to staunch the flow. "How are you?"
"Twice," the sergeant grunted. "Would you believe, for the love o' Mary? Twice."
A moment passed in silence, neither man able to find words to speak next.
Kilrain looked up finally. "And how are ye, Colonel, darlin', this fine day?"
Chamberlain attempted to smile as Kilrain kept talking. "I got it in the armpit," he stated. "For th' love o' God, in th' bloody armpit." He winced in pain, breathing slightly heavier than normal.
Chamberlain looked to the man at Kilrain's left side. "How is he?" he asked, needing to know.
"It's an arm," the soldier answered quietly. Chamberlain's heart sank.
"Only an arm," the sergeant put in, trying to make light of the situation. "Ye gotta lose somethin'. Might as well be an arm. I can part with that easier than the other mechanics o' nature, and that's the truth," he stated wryly.
Chamberlain nodded slightly. Kilrain grimaced. "I could do with a nip right now," he murmured, looking off to the side.
"Well, I'll see what I can do," Chamberlain spoke, his voice constricted slightly.
"Oh, you do pretty good," the sergeant murmured, eyes closed. "Colonel. Colonel?"
Chamberlain reached out, gripping his friend's good hand. "I'm right here, Buster, I'm right here," he whispered reassuringly.
"The army was blessed," Kilrain said softly, shaking his head in amazement. Taking a breath, he said, "I want to tell ye- just in case-" he jerked his head at his shoulder. Chamberlain waited for him. "- that I never served-" he caught his breath and went on, looking into the colonel's eyes. "- I never served with a better man." He nodded once, and then his strength failed and he fell back against the ground, chest rising and falling slowly.
"Don't worry, sir," the other soldier whispered. "He'll make it. He's a tough old mick."
Chamberlain nodded, throat tight. Gripping Buster's hand once more, he stood and walked the rest of the way up the slope.