Disclaimer: Based on the fictionalized characters in the HBO miniseries. Not intended as any reflection on the real people bearing these names.
Notes: Secret Santa gift for tryingt0be. I hope I got this right for you. Big thanks to lunasky for the beta.
Reviews are and make my day.
It's been a long fucking day. Doc Bryan has been performing examinations on Bravo Two's feet all afternoon and could strangle command for issuing orders that the men must not under any circumstance remove their combat boots. He laments that things might be different if roles were reversed and Colonel Ferrando was the one wearing latex gloves in hundred plus degree heat, slathering anti-fungal cream on skin that smells like rotten meat. Doc's seen a lot in his medical experience, but his stomach clenches involuntarily at the particularly heinous stench that wafts when Chaffin removes his boots.
"Jesus. When's the last time you took your boot off and gave your paw some air?"
"Come on, Doc, give it a rest. You know we can't. They ordered us to sleep in the damn things."
Doc shakes his head while sorting Chaffin out.
"Alright, just try and keep them dry with the baby powder if you'd like to keep a few layers of skin intact." Doc says, removing the medical gloves that have plastered themselves to his hands.
"Roger that, Doc." Chaffin squints in the distance. "One humanitarian ration for two blowjobs, that's the going rate in this part of the world."
There are two Beduin women draped in black, approaching the camp. Doc ignores the remark and zeroes in on the bundle the women are dragging. He can see tiny human fingers stained with red peeking out and he's immediately on his feet.
"Stiney!" He calls as he's Oscar Mike, "Give me a hand."
When he reaches the two women they are distraught, repeating the same phrase fervently in Arabic. He can't distinguish between the sweat on their faces and the tears. Doc briefly wonders how far they've dragged the bodies.
"Stop here." He says gently, fingertips grazing the younger woman's wrist where she is grasping the fabric bundle tightly. Her grip relaxes as the cloth falls to reveal the boy, blood staining his clothes across his abdomen.
"Hey, buddy. Can you hear me?" Glassy black eyes meet his own. "Good." Doc gently begins to prod around the site of the wounds. He shakes his head in disgust and curses under his breath, "You've got to be fucking kidding me."
Doc raises his voice. "Kid's been zipped with 556. Marines shot this kid. Fucking jackasses." He extracts a bullet fragment at the surface with his fingertips and it makes a tinny metallic sound when it hits the hard sand. "Trigger-happy motherfucker."
Stiney's voice interrupts his rage. "Doc, is there anything I can do?"
He's thankful for someone actually willing to do something, instead of standing around like they're watching the six o'clock news.
"Get me the battalion surgeon. We need to casevac this kid, or he's dead."
Feeling the sweat soaking through his bandana, Bryan turns his attention back to the boy whose eyes have widened in fear at the tone of his voice.
"You're a very brave kid." Doc says, in the most reassuring voice he can muster to the two older women. He hopes the message crosses the language barrier. "He's very strong, all right?"
Somewhere behind him, Doc can hear the Reporter ask why the women aren't angry. Meesh spins some bullshit about these being unavoidable casualties of war.
Doc narrows his eyes over his shoulder at Meesh; he can't help but be re-incensed. "Bullshit! We're fucking Recon Marines. Our whole fucking job is to observe, not make these kinds of mistakes. And we don't fucking shoot unarmed kids." He spits his disgust in the sand. Stafford says just loud enough for the gathered men to hear that Trombley is at fault, the others echo their agreement. Having not completed BRC and seeking constant approval from the Recon Marines, Trombley is an easy, if not guilty, target.
Bryan states his assessment to the battalion commander, "Priority one surgical pediatric, four bullet wounds to the abdomen. He's stable for now."
Lt. Fick has appeared to his right and there is a grim expression twisting his boyish features.
"Godfather's denied the request to casevac the boy."
He speaks softly, as though he personally regrets having to deliver the news.
This must be some sort of cosmic joke and Bryan will be damned if two boys are going to die on his watch, at their hands, when he can do something about it. He's equally blunt with Fick.
"Well, we need to casevac him, or he's dead."
Colbert's looming shadow engulfs Doc Bryan's crouched body and his usual stone calm face is marred with concern. Doc gets to his full height, so he can just make eye contact with him.
"Shot by that asshole, Trombley, Brad. He's been zipped by 556 from Trombley's SAW."
Brad winces and his eyes are pained.
"Don't put this on Trombley. I'm responsible."
Doc thinks Brad's a stand up guy, knows his shit, gives fuck all what people think about him and doesn't try to kiss anyone's ass, but right now he's the closest thing to Trombley and Doc wants to throttle him.
"Yeah? Well, you were one of the twenty other Marines who rolled by them and didn't shoot. So, why don't we bring Trombley here and let him see what he's done."
"I-it was my order." Brad pauses swallowing thickly. "What can I do here?"
Doc can see that Brad's eyes are wet and he looks away. There's something intrinsically wrong about the Iceman melting in front of him.
"Not a fucking thing apparently, Brad."
The battalion surgeon inspires Fick, ever the idealist, into a little mutiny to try save the boys' lives. Brad immediately moves to action next to him to lift the stretcher. Doc takes a cursory glance at Colbert who is staring ahead expressionless, the setting sun glinting upon tear tracks running through the caked dirt on his face.
Later that evening, Doc watches Brad seek out solitude instead of shut-eye on the outskirts of camp. Colbert digs his ass into a sandy hill and perches a basin of dirty water in his lap.
Rudy has wandered over offering face wash, which Brad has repeatedly declined.
"Rudy, no offense but there is no way your fruity ass Nivea For Men is coming anywhere near my face. I will not be schwacked by a band of Hajiis because I smell like fucking lavender."
"Roger that, Sergeant Colbert. Just trying to clean and hydrate you brother, before you scrub your skin raw." Rudy saunters past him as Doc makes his approach. "Hey Doc, I'll get that baby powder back to you once I've fixed up Pappy with some emollients."
"Thanks, Rude." Doc retrains his eyes on Colbert, whose face is now toned grey from the wet dirt.
"Brad," Doc says by way of greeting.
"Doc," Brad says without looking up. He's scrubbing his hands in the filthy basin, though he's already gotten off as much of the dirt as he can.
"How are you doing?"
"If you're looking for someone to put in the rubber tent, may I suggest Captain America?" Brad's words sound right, but the way he's meticulously scrubbing his hands over and over belies a different truth.
Doc crouches next to Brad and places a hand on his shoulder.
"There's no blood."
"Doc, what the fu-"
Doc interrupts him. "Don't pull that Iceman shit with me. I saw you Brad. Those Hajii kids today, it fucked you up." Brad doesn't say anything, he concentrates on trying to clean under his fingernails with the now charcoal-colored water. "So, you can pretend like you're fine. That your emotions turn to ice in your veins. But I promise you, if you don't deal with this now, no amount of scrubbing is ever going to get the blood off your hands."
"It was my order." Brad says softly resting his hands in the basin.
"It was the platoon's order. Godfather declared everyone hostile. Men, women, children, camels and dogs. You didn't do this, Trombley did and you're taking the bullet for him. Why?"
"He just a kid." Brad's eyes are hard, he starts scrubbing with the water again.
"He needs to learn the consequences of his actions. If you protect him from this, I guarantee it will happen again. To him this is just another casualty. Another nameless, faceless person because nobody fucking let him see the aftermath of what he'd done. He never saw those boys' faces."
"And I can't get them out of my head." Brad says before chucking the basin in front of him.
Doc grabs for one of Brad's hands. The skin is red and raw from the scrubbing and he smoothes a thumb over the distressed skin of Brad's knuckle.
"Look at your hands."
Brad looks down at the hands in front of him.
"No blood," Brad echoes. Doc releases Brad's hand and squeezes his shoulder. He can feel Brad's muscles relax slightly beneath his fingers.
"How long have you had the OCD?" Doc asks wryly.
Brad won't insult his intelligence. "Since I was a kid. Sometimes I get it when I feel…" He moves his hands erratically to try and offer an explanation.
"Do you feel out of control?"
"I don't feel anything."
Brad's eyes are dull, the normal glimmer of amusement has gone out and it makes something bubble up in Doc. These men are brothers and they are all each other have out here.
Whether Brad likes it or not, Doc's going to get an emotional response. If his decision ends up with Brad's fist in his face, so be it. Brad can't be the first person in this war to want to hit him.
Doc leans forward slowly, testing Brad as he closes the distance between their faces. When Brad's knuckles remain by his side, Doc takes that for as much consent as he's going to receive and presses his lips against Brad's firmly. Brad is tense beneath him, motionless for a few seconds until Doc's tongue swipes Brad's bottom lip and Brad's hand comes to rest on the back of his neck. Doc can feel Brad's fingertips against the knot of his bandana. After the kiss has ended, they part slowly and a smirk spreads across Brad's face, teeth white and glinting against the grey.
"Your methods certainly are unconventional, Doc."
Doc gets to his feet. "Recon Marines, right? Always making do."
"I got word from battalion surgeon. The boys are going to be fine."
The relief on Brad's face is palpable.
"So why don't you do something productive with those hands?"
Brad's lips form his best cat-who-got-the-canary smile.
"What do you prescribe, Doc?"
Bryan shakes his head with a smile.
"Why don't you get under that Humvee and scrape off some of that Sabka tar?"
"Well, it's not raking a shag carpet, but I suppose it'll do. For now."
Doc Bryan nods, "Roger that, Sergeant."