Warning! I should probably warn that there will be a fair bit of swearing. When I say fair, I mean a lot. This is me after all guys.
Disclaimer: I own nothing to do with Soap, Ghost, or any other part of Modern Warfare as they all belong to Infinity Ward. I'm just amateur writer who likes to borrow them a little. I do own Lara 'Bones' McCoy of course.
Note from Sassy: So…I'm jumping on the OC bandwagon whilst being really brave and writing two series' at once (I may pay for this). Either way I thought I would have a dabble with the usual "girl thrown into the 141" story, though of course there's going to be a Sassy twist along the way. No slash though since I've decided to embrace the character's canon sexualities here, but there might be a bit of het along the way. And of course, I'm going to desperately try to avoid any Mary Sue clichés, but I can't make any promises…
Life moved quickly in the 141. One minute you were welcoming another member of the team, the next they were saving your life. Blink for just a second and they were shot down before your eyes, life extinguished instantly. The next thing you knew? You were preparing for their replacement.
It felt wrong to be wrapping up the sparse contents of your friend's quarters within a cardboard box, to be writing their name, rank and number on the lid and shipping it to their family. And yet you'd do it, because they asked you to, a jokey statement before each and every mission. But those jokes were as real as your last will and testament. Sure, you might be laughing about who was going to steal your porn collection if you got yourself killed, but in reality everyone knew the real subtext of that conversation. The laughs were only there to make it more bearable.
Captain John Mactavish should have been used to this. In reality he'd lost many men, but every time he lost another the pain, regret and sadness was the same, never reduced or diminished. It would never be any easier to deal with. And yet he was always the man to clear away every trace of his dead subordinates, the one that Shepherd expected to be able to rely on to help him pick a replacement. It was an endless, churning cycle, one that was as difficult as it was necessary.
"Sir?" There was a soft knock at the door as Soap finished taping down the box, clearing his throat as he did so. He looked up, eyes meeting with the masked face of his lieutenant stood in the doorway. Ghost took this as a sign to continue. "I just received word…Jimmy's finally back in the UK."
The Jimmy he was referring to was Cpl. James "Chemo" Grant, the name that Soap had written on top of the cardboard box barely minutes before. Mactavish looked upwards, nodding slowly. Jimmy had been a popular member of the team as well as being their medic and his death had hit them all hard. "Full honours?"
"Shepherd's handled it." Ghost nodded slowly. He gave Soap an unsure look. "Do you want me to take care of that?" He indicated to the now sealed cardboard box.
"I'll do it." Soap shrugged quickly. "Is Shepherd here?"
"Just arrived. He wants to see you."
"Surprise, surprise." Mactavish rolled his eyes, tucking the box underneath his arm carefully. "Did he say what he wanted this time?"
"Replacement talk I think."
"Great…" Soap sighed. "Life goes on right?"
It was moments like this that made her question everything.
She should have wanted to cry as she drew her bloodied hand across his face, pushing the now still eyes closed, but in reality, all she felt was numb. A failure. She'd known all along that his chances were slim, but she'd promised him, sworn to him in the casevac helicopter that he'd make it, that he shouldn't let go. She'd radioed into the infirmary about the urgency, listened to him as he mumbled about his family back home, shock and blood loss tremors rumbling through his voice. But it was all for nothing. The IED had torn him to shreds and barely two minutes from the infirmary she'd watched her friend succumb to his injuries.
She'd seen it a hundred times over, but that didn't matter. It was moment's like these that made her want to just get up and run as far from this god forsaken desert as possible.
"McCoy?" The gruff, authoritative voice behind her threw her off balance, and she span round, eyes meeting with the world weary gaze of her superior, Captain Blake. He looked past her, eyes meeting with the still body lying rigidly in front of her and nodded softly. "Richards?"
"No, sir." She shook her head mournfully. "I couldn't-"
"I see." Blake had heard the same thing throughout his 15 year career and he interrupted her abruptly, his voice remaining cool and almost clinical. "I'll get some of the men to get him inside."
"…I'd like to help." She gave him a weak smile.
"Ok." He agreed his face still as impassive as before. "But get yourself checked out while you're in there." He indicated to the bleeding patch just above her hairline, the blood beginning to mat the hair that it found there. An RPG had thrown her clean off her feet and although the rest of her was relatively unscathed she could still remember the burning pain as her head practically bounced off the hard ground.
"Report to me when you're cleared." Blake nodded quickly, turning to leave. "We need to talk…privately."
Right then, Blake's words had very little meaning as McCoy slowly stood, waiting until the two of the other men arrived and helped her carry Richards into the infirmary. The whole while her eyes stung with tears, but she fought to blink them back, forever conscious that to release them would mean showing weakness, something she had tried to all but eradicate from herself, at the very least when she was around the other men. After all, she'd mourn her friend later, alone and away from the prying eyes of her superiors and colleagues.
"Ahhh…Mactavish." It might have been his office, but as he stepped through the door and into the small, square room it felt more like Shepherd's, the General sat behind Soap's desk, his hands knotted across the wood. He smiled a little too warmly and waved to the seat in front of the desk for Soap to sit down. "Good to see you."
"And you, sir." The Captain nodded quickly, placing the box of belongings down onto his desk before he sat down. "Chemo's things…"
"I'll handle it." Shepherd replied coolly, indicating for one of the soldiers stood behind him to come forward and take the box in hand. "Damn good man, Jimmy."
"And he'll be hard to replace." The General nodded slowly. "Which I suppose you realise is why I'm here."
"I had my suspicions." Soap smiled weakly. He raised an eyebrow at the file that seemed to be sitting patiently on the desk in front of him. "I presume you already have someone in mind, sir?" He reached out tentatively for the file. "May I?"
There was brief silence as Soap's eyes flicked quickly across the file. The candidate appeared to be of the usual stock, an experienced member of the Royal Army Medical Corps who had been attached to the acclaimed British Paratroopers regiment for the previous year. They were young, well qualified and had stood out in both selection and the training that had come after. Although their field experience was limited, Soap deemed them to be ideal 141 material, the Captain automatically ignoring their more personal details in lieu of studying their career accomplishments further. However, when his eyes did finally move to the basic information of candidate they truly began to bulge from their sockets, forcing an almost confused splutter from his lips.
"Sir?" He looked up at Shepherd questioningly, his mouth hanging slightly open. "A woman?"
"You remember women, right Mactavish?" The General chuckled, standing up and leaning on the edge of the desk. "The first woman to make it through Para's selection…and as you've read a fine medic. " He closed the file decisively. "She was recently decorated…had the SAS flying round like buzzards until I poached her for the 141 in… light of the recent events."
"I have no problem with her gender; sir .It's just that…well the 141…" Soap chose his words carefully. "We're used to being an all male unit."
"The addition of a woman might…shake things up."
"Your men aren't teenage boys, Mactavish." Shepherd warned. "I'm expecting paramount professionalism here."
"With respect, sir, I didn't mean that." Soap sighed, rubbing a hand across the top of his head. "But some of the men…they might not like it."
"Captain…" The look in his eyes and the tonality of his voice told Mactavish that Shepherd was fast losing his patience. "When I created this task force I vowed to make it a group of the most elite warriors on the planet. People who were exceptional, no matter who they were. You see this?" He tapped the file against the desk. "This is exceptional. This woman has potential, and once more she's as qualified as Jimmy was to keep you guys alive out there." He shook his head, standing up and motioning to the two soldiers that flanked him to follow him towards the door. "If your men can't handle that, Mactavish…then they better look to you for an example to follow, understood?"
"Good." The General nodded quickly. "2nd Lt. McCoy will be with you in 48 hours. I suggest you get your head around the idea in the mean time."
It might have been sentimental, but at first McCoy didn't want to leave him.
Abandoning Richards in the morgue felt so final, as did handing him over to the base doctors on duty, watching as they checked over his lifeless body and jotted down assorted morsels of information onto clipboards. She'd hung around for a while, answering questions and telling them that he had a family, that someone would have to tell his wife before it was too late. But she'd clearly been getting in the way, and it wasn't long before the other medics and nurses hustled her out from the room, telling her that she was in no fit state to be worrying about such things.
She grunted petulantly behind the now closed doors. She was bloodied, bruised and had just lost her best friend. She was in no fit state to be worrying about anything. In the real world she'd have been given compassionate leave to recuperate. In the army? She'd be lucky to get a pat on the back. After all, in the armed forces, no matter who lived and who died…life was always going to go on some way or another.
When she's finally gone to have her head seen to, she was told she was mildly concussed and would need the odd stitch to close the wound. In reality, McCoy was barely paying attention, the logical side of her brain telling her that was the concussion, the emotional side telling her it was grief. Either way she requested no local anaesthetic for the suturing, a request that the nurse treating her barely batted an eyelid to. Maybe it was the guilt of her survival, but right then in her disorientated haze, McCoy could be sure of one thing. She just wanted to feel.
"McCoy." It was well over two hours since he'd asked to see her, but as she made her way into his operations tent the Captain looked barely even fazed, his hands knotted stoically behind his back. He gave her a quick nod, beckoning her forwards to the table that lay in the middle of the camel coloured tent, a cigar smouldering idly in between his lips. "I have news."
"News, sir?" All she could manage was a confused purse of her lips.
"You're to be transferred."
"I thought that was pretty clear." The Captain stated bluntly. "Orders from above. You're being transferred to another unit."
"With respect, that can't be right…You told me that I would be attached to the Para's until-"
"Relax, McCoy…you're not going back to the Medical Corps." The Captain rolled his eyes. "As I said, the orders have come from above me. General Shepherd."
"Shepherd?" She gave him a bemused look. "I don't know him, sir."
"He heads task force 141. A global counter terrorism group." Blake laughed softly at her still confused face. "Think SAS, delta force…except bigger."
"And…they want me?"
"Apparently." Blake shrugged. "The task force isn't like the regular Special Forces, the men are handpicked. There is no selection." He puffed out a large cloud of almost stagnant smoke. "Clearly you've impressed someone up there."
"This is ridiculous." McCoy shook her head, grimacing as the action intensified her already burning headache. "I haven't done anything…"
"You passed selection into the Paras….broke the history books there." Blake shook his head dismissively. "In reality, I'm not sure why you've been chosen either."
"Look…let's face it, lieutenant. You've been with us a year…and even then…" The Captain shook his head. "I have men out there who have significantly more combat experience…" He smiled weakly around his cigar. "But you're a medic, that works in your favour here."
"And if I say no?"
"If I reject the transfer." McCoy folded her arms across her chest, keeping her face as serious as possible. "I get to stay here, with the Paras? It's still my choice. Right?"
"You have to be kidding me!" Blake laughed darkly. "You're not considering this?"
"I'd like an answer, sir."
"Then in theory…yes. But come on, McCoy. Be serious for a moment. Do you realise how many people are handpicked for this task force?" He gave her his best incredulous look. "This is an honour."
"But with respect, sir, right now it doesn't feel like one I deserve."
"Oh cut the self deprecating bollocks, lieutenant." Blake rolled his eyes. "I don't pretend to understand how General Shepherd's mind works but he has picked you for a reason." He sighed, rubbing a weary hand against his temple. "But if you just think for a second, McCoy. Imagine how much more of an impact your work is going to have with the task force…That's what you wanted, right?"
McCoy hesitated. What felt like decades ago she had joined the army with a naïve hope of making a difference, of being more than a GP stuck in some country practice. She'd wanted excitement, danger, maybe even a little bit of honour and heroism to finally make her stand out to her father. But then she'd slowly grown up, become bogged down with heavy sand and spilt blood. She'd lost sight of all of her previous motivation, that much was clear. After all, the fresh faced McCoy who'd gotten her into all this would have never even considered turning down such a huge, blatantly rare promotion…
"And if I accept?"
"Then you'll leave almost immediately. From what I gather their main base of operations is in the States…but you'll hear more about that from one of Shepherd's representatives." Blake nodded to her softly. "It's a full two year tour with the 141…leave included. If you choose to go after that, well, then the Paras will gladly take you back at your present rank…"
"Are you accepting?"
"I guess I am." McCoy shrugged. "Maybe you're right. Besides…" She paused, glancing around the tent almost mournfully. "After today I'm not sure there's anything left for me here anymore."
"A woman?" Riley's voice was thick with confusion. "You have to be fucking kidding me, sir?"
"It's a done deal, Ghost." Soap shook his head slowly. "Out of my hands."
"Has Shepherd finally lost it?"
"That's your CO you're talking about, mate…" Mactavish warned, leaning his head back against the wall they were both stood against. He took in a deep breath of smoke, breathing it away from Ghost out of courtesy before speaking again. "Remember that."
"Sorry…" The lieutenant added automatically. "But with respect…has he thought this through?"
"So he says."
"I just…" Riley tailed off, shaking his head incredulously. "Don't get me wrong…women in the army, I'm all for it. But this…" He shrugged. "The 141 isn't like the regular army."
"I know." Mactavish sighed thoughtfully. "But Shepherd picked all of us. He hasn't been wrong yet."
"Unless you count Roach." Ghost joked, his mask moving subtly as his features broke out into a soft smirk momentarily. "But still…what happens when one of us is downed? She's hardly going to be able to drag us to safety. Not when we're loaded up with kit…"
"I know, Ghost."
"And that's another thing…kit. What if we're on a patrol where we need to carry everything? We're talking 200 pounds of kit there with full ammunition…"
"I know, Ghost."
"And if we're fucking captured…interrogated? What's to say the sick bastards won't just rape her until she talks?"
"Ghost!" He'd intended for it to come out as an angered yell, but it became more of a choke as in his haste Soap sucked in too heavily on his cigarette, hot smoke scalding his tongue and throat. Disgusted he flicked the offending object away immediately before turning to his lieutenant with angry eyes. "What the hell do you want me to say? I'm caught between a rock and a hard place here."
"You could say no." Ghost shrugged. "You're the 141's field commander…surely that has to count for something?"
"And completely undermine Shepherd's authority?" Soap laughed darkly. "I'm not you, mate."
"I recognise authority…"
"Just not mine." Soap rolled his eyes, pushing off from the wall quickly and facing his lieutenant. "I know it's going to take some getting used to…"
"That's a fucking understatement."
"Just play nice…alright, Riley?" Mactavish gave him an almost wearied look. "Archer and Royce are going to bitch enough as it is…" He watched as Ghost's sunglasses stayed firmly away from his gaze. "…As a favour to me?"
"Fine." Ghost finally turned to look at him through the darkened frames. "I'll play nice. But that doesn't mean I'm going to like it…or her." He shook his head. "She better not be coming in here and expecting us all to fucking fawn over her…"
Soap laughed softly to himself. If her transfer into the 141 was anything like his, then Lara McCoy wouldn't know what the fuck to expect in the first place…
The amount her body was perspiring could hardly have been a good first image.
Lara sat in the helicopter, her hands cupped in her lap, thumbs drumming idly against each other. She felt as if she was on a parachute jump training run, adrenaline coursing through her body, the blood all flowing to her legs and leaving her feeling light headed. It might not have been a parachute jump, but McCoy was definitely jumping into the unknown, a situation that right then left her feeling as if anything would be better than this.
2 days ago she was in Afghanistan. Now she was in America, a country she'd only talked about distantly visiting with countless ex boyfriends. Her concussion certainly wasn't the only thing leaving her feeling disorientated.
General Shepherd was sat beside her, speaking to the pilots through their headsets. He was friendly enough, but Lara hardly felt at ease around the man, especially since she had only met him briefly herself. Back in Afghanistan Captain Blake had handed her over to one of Shepherd's representatives, Baker, a tall and imposing American soldier who had a face that looked like it was constantly sucking on lemons. He'd run her through all the official documentation and procedures, talking about all the different protocols as well as her new duties as part of the 141. To be brutally honest the man had scared her shitless, and she'd been eager to get on the plane leaving the airbase just to put some distance between them. After a gruelling flight, Shepherd had met her at the airport, and a quick journey into a suave black car had seen her being pushed back onto another helicopter, ready to make the final leg of the journey to the 141's base.
"The base is just below us." Shepherd's voice suddenly crackled through the head set, making her jump momentarily. Lara chose to stay silent, looking out through the small window and down to the isolated base, a small collection of buildings and outhouses that was encircled by thick perimeters of wire. From the air, it looked little more than the barracks where she had trained back in the UK…
"Welcome to the 141." Shepherd nodding as the helicopter began to descend. "It might not look like much…but believe me, we expect much more from you now."
"Yes, sir." Lara managed to choke, but as the helicopter touched down, she was left merely wishing that she was anywhere else in the world….
So again we reach the part where I nervously sit and await any reviews. Starting a new series is a terrifying thing for me, so if you like what you've read so far (I know its only a prologue) then please let me know. You'd pretty much make my week. :)