Chapter 7

A Soldier's Promise

A/N: I'd like to point out; Sweet Pea is 23 in my story. Also, I've heard a lot of different people tell me when exactly Sucker Punch takes place, and I don't think the timeframe they say on Wikipedia is right. So, I'm writing it as if the movie took place right after World War 2 because that seems to make more sense to me. Don't ask why, it just does.

*Eight Years Earlier*

War was waged upon the world.

America needed soldiers.

Someone had to defeat the Germans.

I just wished it didn't have to be him.

It was 1941. I was 16 when I'd met him.

Eric Hudgens.

I had bumped into him accidentally in the hallways of our school, dropping my books and papers everywhere. Like every other classic meeting between a boy and a girl, he had knelt down to help me gather my things and introduced himself.

That meeting had been a turning point in my life.

We went to the same high school, but apparently we'd known each other longer than that. He'd always said he'd known me since Kindergarten and his friends would pick on him for saying how pretty I was. I always felt bad after he told me that story. It bothered me how I could never remember him.

He sat behind me in Biology class. Every day I greeted him with a smile when I walked in, he always returned the gesture with a half-smile. That small smile would always make me blush, and that smile of his would turn into a laugh.

I would take my seat and try to stop my face from turning any redder than it already was. His smile never faltered, and his eye never left me. Those gorgeous, dark green eyes.

Eventually, we traded the smiles for actual words. We would talk briefly before and after class, then we would spend most of our lunch break talking. He'd told me everything about his life, and was just as interested in mine. I'd told him about Rocket, who was 14 at the time, and how she was obsessed with being exactly like me.

He'd mentioned a sister of his own who was only a year younger than me, and he'd thought that her and Rocket would've been best friends.

The two girls had never really gotten around to meeting, but that would change eventually.

Eventually, Eric and I's awkward friendship blossomed into a romance. For the rest of that year, we'd spent every moment we could together. He'd even sneak out at night just to see me. Some nights, his timing couldn't have been better. Some nights, I needed him there for comfort.

We'd never done anything those nights he'd come over. The most that would happen would be him falling asleep on my bed and me curling up next to him. Every morning he'd leave before I woke up, just to make sure he never got caught by my father.

He'd made me the happiest person in the world. As a bonus, my entire family loved him.

He was my Prince Charming. My knight in shining armor.

Nothing could separate us. We were unbreakable.

Or so I thought.

We were at the park when he'd told me. We were laying in the grass, watching the clouds roll by. As usual, we talked a lot. They were never serious conversations or in depth topics. It was small talk to some people, but to us it was a lifetime's worth of conversing.

"Sweet Pea," He said. It was his nickname for me, and it always made me smile. "I've got something I want to ask you."

I rolled over onto my side, resting my head on my hand. "What is it?" I asked.

His gaze wasn't as playful as it usually was. It was a serious gaze that didn't seem to fit with those eyes. "Well, I've been doing some thinking. This war with the Nazi's and the Japanese is getting too out of hand. They're attacking our military bases for Christ sake, and they're making everyone in the country afraid to leave their homes."

An eyebrow rose as my response. "And? What are you saying?"

"Abby…. I feel like I can do something about it. I've put a lot of thought into it, and my mind has been made up." He finally rolled over and faced me. His hand that wasn't keeping his head elevated came up to caress my face. "I love you, you know that?"

"Eric, what are you saying?" I repeated.

He closed his eyes for a moment, obviously contemplating what to say. "Abby, I'm joining the army." He said, opening his eyes again. "I want to fight for my country, and I want all this terror to stop. I don't want to have to go to sleep every night wondering if someone is going to attack us again."

I pulled away from his touch and pulled myself into a sitting position. "What? Are you insane?" I said louder than I intended to. "You don't have to do that! We're winning, aren't we?"

"Abby, they tore apart Pearl Harbor! How is that winning for our side?"

"Well why should you have to go and fight? There are plenty of people that can do it! You don't need to."

He followed my actions, lifting himself off the ground until he was sitting, and took my hand. "I want to do this. I know it's risky. I know the consequences. But if it means I can keep you safe, I will gladly lay my life on the line."

"How could you say that?" I'd asked, tears rolling down my cheeks. "Don't you care about the consequences? What would your parents think if you told them this? What about your sister? How could you even consider this?!"

"Abby, I've told you why already. I will walk through the fires of Hell to protect you and my family. This war is putting everybody at risk, and you know it. If my fighting is what keeps you safe, then so be it."

"You're not even old enough." I pointed out.

"I'm 17, Abby. They're recruiting 15 year olds! If they think 15 year olds are old enough to fight for their country, why can't I?"

I didn't respond that time, pulling my knees to my chest and resting my head upon them my knees. I didn't like this one bit.

"I leave tomorrow morning." He said.

"And you waited until now to tell me!?" I cried. "How could you?! Do you not care about my feelings on this!? I…. I…" My words broke into sobs. He pulled me into his arms and smoothed my hair with one hand. "I'm sorry Abby. I really am." He whispered. "But better I tell you now than never tell you at all, right?"

I nodded, not wanting to speak. I didn't want to leave his arms. I just wanted to stay at that park, under that tree.

"I want to spend every last minute with you until I have to leave." He said.

"I do too." I replied, wiping away any tears left on my face. I then pulled myself from his grasp, and took his hands. "I want tonight to be the night."

As vague as that sentence was, he knew what I was saying. It was something we'd talked about quite a bit. I had originally wanted to save it for when I decided to get married, but that was before he came into my life. That was before I'd fallen in love.

"What if Jena finds out? You know she can't keep a secret. Your parents will find out the minute she does."

"Are you sure you're not talking about your sister?" I asked half laughing. He smiled in response. "True point…. I guess we could rent a motel room tonight. You could go home tomorrow morning before anybody wakes up, then we could meet up at the train station before I leave."

I nodded, and leaned in to kiss him.

That had sealed our plans.

We'd spent the rest of the day walking around town. At one point, we'd passed by a jewelry store, and Eric proceeded to drag me into it. We'd walked out of the store with two golden lockets. Each would eventually hold a picture of the two of us.

That night had been a turning point for me. We'd gotten the room, and the door remained locked until 5 o'clock the next morning.

By the time the sun rose, everything changed.

(A/N: I'm pretty sure everyone could gather what went on. If not, that's my fault. I'm not really god a t being subtle about those kinds of things.…. Also, for those of you that would like to add a bit more emotion to this upcoming scene, I would suggest listening to "Brothers: Instrumental Version" from Fullmetal Alchemist. It fits perfectly and I was listening to it while I was writing it. Just thought I'd say that.)

The rest of the plan carried out flawlessly. I'd gotten home without anyone noticing.

By the time I was at the train station, Eric was already saying goodbye to his parents and his sister. Jena and my parents had stayed home, knowing that I wanted to be alone for this.

As his sister pulled away from their hug, he caught sight of me and flashed a dazzling smile. Unable to hold back the tears and emotions welling up inside me, I ran towards him, pushing myself pass the crowds of people forming.

I threw my arms around his neck, holding him tightly. My body shook as I cried into his shoulder. One of his arms wrapped around my waist, and the other hand was rubbing my back. "It's alright Sweet Pea." He whispered. "I'll be back before you know it. I promise."

I nodded. "Write to me every day."

"Only if you promise to write to me." he replied.

"Shut up! Of course I promise."

He chuckled, and pulled away from me. "I love you."

Instead of replying with my usual "I love you too" I simply took a hold of his face, stood on my toes, and kissed him. He returned it, holding me tighter.

Once I had pried myself away, our lips stayed only inches apart from each other. "Kick some ass for me, baby." I whispered.

A small smile graced his lips. "I will. And I promise the moment I return, your house will be the first one I visit. I'll come home, Abby. You can count on that."

The train whistle blew, indicating that it was time for him to leave. Tears that I had been holding back escaped in a single quiet sob. Eric kissed my forehead, and stepped back. "I've got to go, Abby. Whenever you need me, just open up that locket. Know that I'm never too far away."

Unable to speak, I just nodded in response.

And with that said, he boarded the train. He'd waved goodbye to me as the train pulled out. I was in too much pain to even think about waving back.

Keeping to our promises, we'd written to each other for god knew how long. We'd kept it up for months, not ever intending to stop until he returned home.

About four months later, the letters stopped coming.

This had worried me for quite a bit. I kept telling myself not to be paranoid, but it never seemed to help. The constant thought of him getting hurt in battle, or worse, was burning in my mind. I wasn't a very religious person, but I eventually started praying every night for his safe return.

Finally, after another month of waiting, I had received my answer. But it wasn't one I wanted to hear.

When I had come home from school that day, a letter was resting on the coffee table, unopened. My name was written on the face of the envelope, but it wasn't Eric's handwriting. I was confused by this, but opened the letter regardless.

I only had to read one phrase of that letter for my entire world to crumble.

"I regret to inform you that your betrothed, Eric Hudgens, has fallen in battle."

My heart shattered, and my eyes welled up with tears. My throat felt as if it was closing over, making it hard for me to breathe. It hadn't even registered in my mind that I had been called his betrothed.

The letter crumpled in my now clenched fists. I slid to the floor, curling up in a ball against the island in the kitchen.

"No…." that one heavy word had started off as a whisper, but had gradually become the one word I screamed for the rest of the night. I wept, my body staying within its fetal position. Absentmindedly, I had even started rocking myself back and forth. I'm sure if I hadn't been in Lennox a few days ago, I would've been sent there back then if my parents had seen me.

Luckily, only one person did. Rocket.

She'd come home that day a bit later than I had. She skipped into the living room with the biggest smile on her face. "Abby? You home yet? I had the most fantas-." Her words cut off in a gasp upon seeing me. "Abby?! What's the matter?!" She cried, sliding to her knees beside me.

I couldn't tell her. That meant I'd have to come to terms with the reality of it myself. I refused to do that. But the crumpled up piece of paper beside me was her clue. She picked it up, and read over it.

A gasp escaped her lips. "Oh, Abby…" She said, wrapping her arms around me like I was the baby sister here. "Abby I'm so sorry."

"He promised….." I whispered. "He PROMISED!" The sobs broke out again. Jena shushed me. "I know he did. I'm sorry Abby…. Come on, let's get you up."

She helped me to my feet, which had become practically useless from my laying on the floor. From there we walked to my room, and I had finally regained enough strength to pull out my pajamas and drag myself to the shower.

After all of that, Jena had me sit down, and read the 2nd letter that I didn't even know was in the envelope. She pulled something else out of the envelope as well, but I wasn't going to see that yet.

I read over the letter, but none of the words seemed to help with the pain. It was the last letter Eric was supposed to send me. He'd talked about how the real fighting had started, and how he'd thought of me every single day. He'd said how much he'd missed me, and couldn't wait to finally get back.

But part of him was also afraid of what could happen. The very last line of the letter read,

"If I should fall in battle today, tomorrow, or any other day, I must ask you one last thing Abigail…. Will you marry me?"

My breath caught in my throat. My mind suddenly went back to that day in the jewelry store. He'd gone off by himself to talk to the clerk. Could he have bought the ring there?

Jena sat herself next to me and held a closed hand to me. "Now Abby, I'm going to give this to you. But you need to promise me that you'll pull yourself together. You need to promise that you won't do anything stupid because of his death, alright?"

"Jena.." I groaned.

"Don't you 'Jena' me, Abigail!" she snapped. "Promise me."

"Alright! I promise!" I replied, holding my hands up in surrender. She grinned, and slipped the ring onto my finger. "Thank you Abby." She then threw her arms around my neck, pulling me into a tight hug. "It'll get better, I promise." She whispered. "This isn't the end. There will be other guys."

I closed my eyes, my mind retreating back to that night at the motel. "Yeah." I whispered back in reply. "But not like him."

A/N: And there we have our background folks! I hope you all enjoyed reading this chapter as I did writing it! Let me know what you guys think! Your feedback is greatly appreciated!

Hugs and kisses!

-Rowan Cousland