AN: I always thought of doing a Jasper story, but never had an idea. Well, more like I didn't have the guts; I didn't want to fail in capturing his gloriousness. XD All right then, so… This is the result. Yeah. It's multi-chaptered (Oh no!). All I'm sure of is the title may change, and perhaps the rating—not because of future "hot" scenes with Alice but because I want to make it gruesome (It can't be all sunshine and flowers; this is Jasper-centric. LOL). I hope it's enjoyable! :D
The Lightening Strike
Quietly, the young man signaled his battalion to forward their advance, rifles at the ready as they moved through the shadows. Jasper's eyes slowly adjusted themselves to the darkness, silhouettes of men etched out from the faint silver light. Today was the 12th of April, and he was not entirely certain he was ready to fight the Union, was not entirely prepared for being the first to initiate the attack; Fort Sumter was heavily blockaded and he knew the Union will respond just as swiftly and deadly.
Still, he had a duty to his fellow Confederates, to the General Robert E. Lee. And he will follow through.
The sun mounted the hilltops, beams of yellow light hitting him in the face. Jasper blinked once, twice, then pushed out from the bushes and he, along with his men, rushed to Fort Sumter. A gunshot from the right was fired by one of the more experienced soldiers and Jasper followed suit. He hit one, two, three, four men—their tactics were proving beneficial, the Union fighters were unprepared for the assault. They fell lifeless, but he jumped over their bodies, trying to act nonchalantly. Still, in his gut, there seemed to be a ball of ice, making him feel sick. He had never killed anyone before… But he would have to ignore it until this was over. Jasper swept on, ducking behind a tree to avoid fire, and then shot his own in retaliation.
"We need to get the ones at the higher watch points, they can find us quicker," Jasper told another soldier, who nodded understandably, and quickly tried his aim at one foe in the watchtower. He went down, his cry echoing soundly. They both emerged from their hiding place, other Confederate soldiers running forward, some falling from the rain of gunshots. He glanced at one, a bullet wound in the leg bled profusely, but he was silenced when another went through his skull, silencing him at once, flesh dangling from the side. Jasper felt the nauseas, aware that some exploded on contact, containing glass, broken led, and shrapnel inside, doing more damage.
He dodged wobbly, his heart racing. He was trained for slaughtering his other country men, yet he felt as if he reverted back to training sessions, the blood rushing to his face, hot and cold, congealing from the loud, reverberating noises of gunfire, the smell of gunpowder and smoke, with the new scent of rank, foul bodies littering the ground. Jasper put his head between his knees, breathing shallow quick gasps, trying to steady the pumping of his nervous heart.
Jasper barely had time to register the gun upon him. He blocked it, the tip of the point close to his face. Pushing the other man back with all his might, he avoided the menacing steel tip, and hit the man's head with the butt of his own bayonet, a cracking sound accompanying it. The head was mashed in, and he paled, sweat on his brows and bile in his throat as he tried to recover. Now, however, there was an adrenaline flowing within him, making him alacritous, more alert and agile, and able to concentrate on killing the enemy but to also keep himself alive.
This is what I prepared myself for, he reminded himself, watching his own sword bayonet go through another American; yet there was an unfamiliar bitterness towards this man, for he was in Union uniform—and, though born in the same country, he felt as if he was foreign, so Jasper pushed the knife further, blood pouring from the mouth of the half-dead soldier. Jasper watched the body slump, his cerulean eyes narrowing grimly.
This was war.
Jasper now glanced towards the setting sun, turning the sky aflame, and red, orange and gold mingling together. He wished he could just sit and behold it, for his favorite part was when, at times, the top of the sun scathed the landscape's edge, and the sky actually held the colours of the rainbow, red closest to the sun, with violet and indigo becoming the sky, and the rest of the colours were in-between. He often relaxed gazing at it as a child…
Still, he could not, for he was fighting for his life. There was endless killing today, neither side predisposed to submission. This was the most difficult fort the Confederate States Army was attempting to conquer; the other three had been sieved, at the expense of young soldiers, along with some slaves, but it was a victory.
Jasper gripped his bayonet tighter and ran out again. A Union soldier rammed into him from a hiding place, his finger at the trigger. His mind reeling, Jasper grabbed a handful of dirt and threw it at the man's face, then gripped the musket promptly when the man shouted from the sudden blindness. Kicking the opponent's legs, Jasper reached for the knife in his boot, and slit the man's jugular, scarlet drops spurting onto his face. A few landed in his mouth; he spit in disgust.
Hearing a resounding shot, he felt a searing pain his side. Jasper whirled, ignoring the sting, and he shot at some of the Union soldiers. His hand on the wound, he escaped behind a tree, gasping and groaning as the side continued to bleed. There was no way to receive medical treatment yet, so all he was able to do…
Holding his breath, Jasper gingerly reached in, his fingers groping for the bullet. He hoped it was a normal one… Sweat dripped alongside his face, making the flaxen hair stick further with the dirt matted into it; panting he searched slowly. The numbness was excruciating, like he couldn't feel it but it presented itself by causing agony. He found it and tentatively removed the bullet. With each shallow gasp, Jasper felt his eyelids beginning to droop. Dragging himself to a safer distance, the young man leaned against a boulder.
"Over here!" he heard a shout.
"He's bleeding too much—we have to get him to the surgeon."
"There's no time," a new voice urgently spoke. "It will take too long. If we don't move now, we'll be dead along with him…"
Jasper's ears were pounding, and their voices suddenly became blurred, the forest too difficult to descry. His mind drifted, and his eyes saw only blackness. He heard the faint, familiar beat of his heart, before that too was quiet.
There was warmth enveloping his body, a tender softness skimming his temple. He smiles knowingly, and he peeks through one eye, seeing similar azure oculars, though they were shades lighter compared to his deep cobalt.
"Ready to get up?"
He shakes his head, though he knows he should do his share of the housework.
But his mother smiles and complies, brushing back the bangs. "You need them cut."
"I like it this way, mother."
She laughs daintily, ruffling his hair to make a point. The boy grins; his mother is so beautiful when she laughs. She's already pretty, he thinks admiringly, but seeing her happy is good. She has not been for a while; ever since problems in there finances started increasing. His father works hard to keep them well fed and healthy, however not everything was going accordingly.
He frowns a little. "Mother, I'll get up and help."
"No, no, young man," she replies in a firm yet gentle tone. "You are not getting out of bed until that fever passes. The farm can wait."
He was not aware, at first, of the heat in his body, but he felt nothing except chills coursing through him.
The next thing he saw was sunlight; the next thing he felt was a twinge in his side.
Opening his eyes, Jasper realizes he's not home, just in a tent for wounded soldiers. There was a compelling loneliness in him just then. Home... He had not seen it in so long. He wonders if it still looks the same, if his mother is thinking of him. Why would she? He had not thought of her since he joined the Army… It would be better if she spared herself the heartache of losing her only child to war. She always despised it.
Jasper turns his head slowly, making eye contact with the surgeon; Doctor Winchester was there through all the training sessions, because accidents did occasionally happen and the majors did not want to risk anything. He is a good-natured individual, as well as twenty-seven years his senior. This gave the man much experience in the field. Jasper could not think of any other man more adept for the occupation.
"You're quite fortunate that you were brought here. That wound of yours was not deep, but you would have bled to death out there."
He nodded, too exhausted for talk. He was glad that he was too unconscious through the procedure to recall it; he has seen and heard it, and it was not a pleasant experience even then.
"Well, you get some rest; we'll check on your wound again soon."
Jasper smiled at him gratefully, which Doctor Winchester returned, before he left the tent.
Shutting his eyes, Jasper waited for sleep to claim him. It was coming upon him quicker than usual. Faintly, two soldiers were conversing about Fort Sumter. The Union was still holding strong. Jasper sighed quietly and fell asleep, his thoughts bare from dreams.
He awoke to a shout.
The moon had now risen and he wondered who could be sending a message now.
"They have prevented us from taking siege of their fort," a man explained.
So the battle was lost?
Mutely, the young man sat up, then regretted the action when a sharp tear bolted through him. He cautiously lay back down. He did not expect the wound to be so hindering—it had not even pierced any vital organs but it feels it may as well have.
Jasper kept his mouth shut, listening to the men outside talk of new battle plans, other strategies.
"Mr. Whitlock, are you up?"
Recognizing Doctor Winchester's voice, he said, "Yes."
"It is good news to see that you are faring better. Now, just lie still and I'll check on your bandages and clean them."
"Thank you," Jasper murmurs, trying to remain still like stone.
Doctor Winchester carefully ministered the wound—he had sewn it to keep the blood from seeping further, but pus lined the creases, and could cause an infection in the already angry scar. Cleaning it, he said, "How old are you Mr. Whitlock?"
He seemed surprised. "You appear a bit older than you are. War has a way of doing that to men."
"Yesterday was my first time in actual combat, sir."
"Is that right?" Doctor Winchester inquires quirking a brow. "Maybe it's just how you look then. The men who brought you here were praising you as they began to leave."
Jasper tilted his head slightly to the left, perplexed.
"Indeed. They said you fought quite remarkably for one so new to battle."
He smiles, the compliment making him feel a little better. "It's just the training." He replies modestly.
"Nonsense, they said you have a talent for fighting."
"I suppose that is true…"
"Did you always want to be a soldier?"
Jasper nods, a sheepish grin spreading on his lips. "I always thought it was a noble honour to fight for one's country. Most of my friends also wanted to be soldiers."
"Even for one that does not make sense."
Jasper's head snaps at Doctor Winchester. "What do you mean?"
The doctor merely shrugs and pats the man on the shoulder. "Nothing; you should rest now, so the healing process will go by quicker. Otherwise, you're going to be in that cot a lot longer you would probably wish to be."
"Yes. Thank you, once more."
"You're quite welcome. It's why I chose this profession, to help save people. Some one will come by to give you supper."
Jasper gives him another kind smile, and then lies back down. But this time, his mind is too full to empty, and his famished stomach did not help him much either. Even if the food came, he was uncertain if he will actually eat. Yesterday he had went into battle for the first time and almost lost his life. That was what being a soldier was—risking your existence for the sake of the country, for the sake of people who would never know who you are—just remember that your corpse was among thousands of other bodies they did not pay attention to unless they were loved ones.
There was honour for serving your country, however—you just had to look deeper than the norm to find it.
But, for the first time since joining the army, since desiring to be a soldier in his youth, he pondered if this was really the life he sought.