Haltern, Germany: Midnight

The world began with flame, and the sound of superheated metal giving way to crash to the forest floor.

It took him precious moments to gather what little remained of his wits and move-which, on second thought seemed to be a bad idea as a wave of pain and nausea swept over him.

He froze in his half seated position to let the discomfort subside as much as it would, while he evaluated his current situation. (had there been a time when he was in this much pain before? Something in his mind seemed to think so, but... all he knew now was fire and pain and –)

The sky above him appeared to be metal- but above that through smoked filled cracks he could tell that that sky was false. Darkest blue and hints of stars stared back at him through the fog. He was in a box of sorts, with rounded corners, that had been twisted out of its original cylindrical shape by a massive outside force- (Going to lose that wing, grab the damned chute already, and get your skinny ass out of here-) rendering it useless scrap, barely resembling what it had originally been.

Heat found him, some organic strapping material or perhaps coating for one of the myriad of wires that he could barely make out through the watering and stinging of his eyes. It dropped, embers still burning on his left hand, and the remains of a black glove. He jumped, forced to move before it could start eating through the leather to more tender skin below. He had to get out of this box or it would be his coffin- the realization came more swiftly as his mind started to catch up, become more aware. It didn't matter if it hurt to pull his aching body to unsteady feet, if his throbbing pierced through his mind like a- something. If he remained, it would hurt worse, to stay was to be burned alive, and that was one thing he didn't ever want to go through again. (again?)

His next problem presented itself firmly as he turned through the near familiar but now hellish twisted and broken cylinder. Through the haze, he hoped to find an exit, a break in the prison walls, what he found first was a figure slumped over a set of controls- it only took another heartbeat to recognize- to finally understand what his box truly was.

An airplane.

And the figure in the sideways twisted and broken seat must have been the pilot.

(Don't be an idiot, we're both-)

The thought, the memory, perhaps, was gone as soon as it had come, and just as swiftly forgotten. The pilot, however- was he alive as well?

One could certainly hope not, with the dark stains puddling on the clothing, and around the chair. One could only hope that that brave figure (or foolish?) was not suffering from the injuries that had come about from the way the nose of the plane shattering, sending glass and metal shards flying- driving them into vulnerable flesh. Or with the way that the entire front of the vehicle had caught the body, as it had hurtled to an impact whose momentum –

So much blood...

And yet, when he forced himself to walk to the corpse, to touch the still-warm shoulder and make certain, the pilot gave a peculiar little whimper that tugged at him deep within his bruised chest.

Oh God, still alive.

But in grave danger.

The decision of whether or not to move the badly injured man and aggrivate the wounds inflicted by the crash- and it had been a crash- wasn't difficult.

If he was left in this wreck, he would burn, and most certainly die. He could attempt to stop the bleeding in relative safety outside, and just hope that there would be a chance. Hell, there was a better chance if the pilot was moved, than if he just stood there and dithered about whether or not he should be risking his life to save a stranger.

(That's what a hero does- risks everything for someone who needs help...)

He had to act quickly, no matter what he did. There had to be an exit near, something in his mind reminded him, and he tugged at the dead weight with a wince. He was relieved to find that none of those projectiles had pinned the other man in place, that would have made this closer to completely impossible, rather than merely difficult. The pilot didn't react to the touch, the movement- hopefully unconscious. Hopefully would remain so while he practiced what little first aid that he knew-

But there was no more time to dwell and dwaddle- he might himself ache abominably from his own injuries, and from breathing this foul smoke, however this pilot-

Was heavy. One arm over his shoulder, and held tightly, the other around the pilot's waist, half dragging, half carrying him up the pathway towards that place that instinct told him an exit would be.

And it was there, the door itself had most likely been jarred loose upon impact, and probably lay somewhere within the trial of debris that he could barely see as he maneuvered himself and his burden through the hatchway- careful to mind the steep drop to the ground.

The forest had a pathway carved through it, from where the plane had plowed through the trees in what may or may not have been a controlled crash. Most likely not, considering the state of the pilot, the plane, and the passenger-

Had he been a passenger on this- no. It wasn't that sort of an airplane. It was – images of violence filled his thoughts momentarily, however the soft whispering gasp of breath in his ear distracted him.

"Got to... get away... before they find..." The pilot was barely conscious- of course he was, the hard part was over, and he'd been carried through- "I-Sorry..."

It felt as though the weight of the world had been let loose on his shoulder, and suddenly he understood. The pilot had been at least partially conscious through the evacuation, attempting to move under his own power and keep the burden lighter- but now-

The man was slipping from his own weakened grasp, and all he could do was try to ease the fall, so there wouldn't be any new injuries to add to the tally that he suspected was quite long already.

Blood, blood. More blood.

Was there any part of this pilot that wasn't covered with scrapes and injury, and blood?

Coughing out the smoke that he'd inhaled, he studied the prone man.

Blond. Regular features (though bruises and swelling marred how pretty he actually was)- the thought shook him for a moment. He didn't recognize this man, instead returning to the survey of injuries. Eyes closed, with the cracked remains of a pair of glasses somehow still perched on the obviously broken nose- bruises. More bruises. The brown leather jacket had obviously deflected some of the smaller debris, and slowed down some of the larger- but still, the light colored uniform beneath was stained dark with blood which still oozed around the large shard of metal protruding from the right side of his chest.

From his chest.

It couldn't be anything less serious, something that he could handle with a few plasters and some bandages, and maybe a compress. The smaller injuries to his companion, perhaps he could handle with such and sundry- if he had them- but this...

His headache worsened, bringing with it a nausea that drove him away from the wounded man to vomit leaning against one of the trees- now on fire, he noted with a sense of resignation. His head hurt. His body ached, and somehow the realization that he'd just rescued a man he couldn't save made his chest hurt. He didn't even know the man's name, despite the faint sense of familiarity about him.

He couldn't just ask- unconsciousness aside- he should know the name of the insane idiot who'd gotten him into this mess. He did, just as well as he knew his ow-

A blink, as the nausea returned.

Damn it, he knew his own na-

"Fuck me." He gasped aloud. "Fuck..."

He didn't know- how could he not know- why did he- His head throbbed again, nearly driving him to his knees.

He had to know. Had to find out. The pilot- had they been friends? Perhaps acquaintances. The pilot would certainly know who he was, but-

Uniform. Military.

He looked down at his own clothing, for the first time since noticing the ragged black gloves in the plane. A similar uniform on himself, but coloured differently- They were soldiers. Perhaps enemies?

No. He doubted, somehow, that that other man would so docilely allow him to touch, hold- help- if he were an enemy. But the thread of memory that had sparked with the thought of uniforms wasn't completely gone. Military men had identification, in case of situations where they could no longer speak- his tattered glove was stripped from his hand, and tossed to the ground as he frantically tore open the collar of his shirt (not so stuffy now, while you're a little rumpled-) digging for what he knew should be there, fingertips finding warm metal- not fire warm, but body warm- next to his heart.

With trembling hand, he pulled out the tag and held it, squinting as he read the text engraved upon the piece of tin. His name, where he came from, his life.

Arthur Kirkland, London, England, UK.

And a series of useless unfamiliar numbers, but the important part was there. He was Arthur Kirkland, of England, although right now that comfort was weak, facing the inevitability of the death of that pilot, a man he might know- who would die, if Arthur Kirkland didn't at least attempt to do something to save him. He needed to know the man's name, at the very least.

Limping back to the man, Arthur knelt, careful not to touch the metal, as he carefully unbuttoned the shirt, cautiously tearing as he exposed the minor cuts that had bled so badly. The major wound wasn't bleeding as much- at least not externally. How was he supposed to deal with this- with the tears that were forming in the corners of his eyes. The smoke, he excused himself. That must be what's doing it.

A glint of metal caught in the flickering firelight, and Arthur bent to read whatever name might be given to this man, this –(Old man- you don't really have to escort me on this flight. My people are fine-"

"What if I want to go, you idiot-")

Arthur must know him. Though the voice he'd heard from the pilot before wasn't anywhere near the brash and fairly loud voice from those memories that trickled through the embers of pain in his mind. The man before him had been nearly silent, whispering- but then, he basically had a metal stake through his chest, and was probably in horrible amounts of pain-

Alfred F. Jones, Washington DC, USA

If he'd hoped for a shining moment, a burst of light and joy that would herald the return of coherency, and the end of this headache that was obviously keeping him from remembering beyond waking in the flaming wreckage of a Liberator B (He should know the model, and its capabilities, because Alfred wouldn't stop telling him about-). Arthur winced again. He was sorely disappointed.

He would be better off right now if he would stop trying to think, or remember. All Arthur needed to know right now was how to keep this baby faced young man from dying. He looked so damned young-

The boy's breath was hitching softly, as his body tried to compensate for the foreign object that had been thrust between his ribs, and probably through a lung, or some other vital organ. Collapsing a lung, and making this bad situation worse- (Where did this knowledge come from, this realization of slightly more than basic first aid.. long practice?)- a brief check of the mouth, and an ear to the cool skin of a blood soiled chest told him there was fluid building up in the lung.

Fuck.

The feeling of helplessness washed over Arthur as a little dry voice in the back of his head told him that pulling out the metal would be a bad idea, that Alfred was already in severe shock, and that without a real medical professional, he would die. Not necessarily within minutes, but certainly within the day.

And Arthur didn't even know where they'd crashed, let alone where the nearest hospital was-

So lost in thought was he, allowing his hands to automatically tear the already ruined uniform, and bandage the more minor injuries to the pilot in front of him, that Arthur entirely missed the crashing of footsteps through the bushes, the gutteral bark of men looking for something-

He'd forgotten Alfred's words of concern, and as the gray-cloaked soldier stopped in front of them, Arthur merely looked up with a plea in his face.

"Please, help him-" The second blond man stared down at him with a look that mingled surprise, horror, and perhaps a little spark of compassion. Before he could continue, something struck the back of his head, sending him spiraling back into the darkness.

Arthur only hoped that he hadn't just landed on Alfred. The poor boy couldn't take much more injury.

And then there was nothing.