Disclaimer: I do not own Twilight or any of the characters. They all belong to SM. No copyright infringement intended. I'm just having fun dreaming of what ifs.
A/N: This story was submitted in the Canon Tour, Pre-Twilight round, anonymous contest. I highly recommend checking out The Canon Tour as there are 5 more rounds to go! A HUGE thank you to my most awesome beta, Katmom. She made this readable, but any mistakes are my own! Also thank you to my Edge Girls. They support me in all I do. This story is especially dedicated to MegsD2 and Eiralav1313 though - they made this posible. This story never would have made it out of my head without them.
I am not a historian, but I did do some research into Alaska's involment in WWII and tried to fit the Cullen's in. Col Castner and his 'Cutthroats' did exist. I do not claim for this to be entirely historically accurate though!
Called to Serve
I wasn't really sure if the treaty had strengthened my resolve or if I was just getting that much more comfortable with being around humans, but either way I was thrilled to interact with them more often. Unfortunately, U.S. involvement in the war was seemingly more likely and men my age were expected to volunteer to head off for Europe. Not that I would have minded a good fight, but I wasn't Carlisle. There was no way I could be anywhere near a bloody front line.
After four years in the northwest, Edward had noted that people were beginning to wonder about us anyway, so we packed up and headed north to Alaska. Alaska was great! Plenty of irritable grizzlies and room to run. Now that I was done with my "newborn" phase, Rose and I decided to live separately as a married couple, in a sturdy wood cabin not far from Carlisle, Esme, and Edward. Carlisle had again taken up the post of doctor in the town of Fairbanks.
Not that the war affected us very much, but Carlisle was always concerned about the humans around him. Between him and Edward they kept us up to date on the current affairs.
"The people in town seem convinced Alaska will be targeted next," Carlisle told us one sunny day while we were running through the park.
"Yes, but apparently the government hasn't put much stock into those fears," Edward replied. "I suspect it really will be just a matter of time though. I don't know why the humans can't see it. Alaska is the next closest thing to Japan. It makes sense, strategically."
"Too bad the military won't accept vampires," I supplied. Little did I know this errant thought would turn into a full-fledged plan for vampires to join the U.S. Army.
Not three days after our hunting trip did we hear word of the bombing of Dutch Harbor. Now the men and boys of Fairbanks were leaving by the truckload to defend the Bering Sea coast. Fairbanks was a popular recruiting ground as well - a lot of prospectors, outdoors men, and rough looking men in general. Why not let them recruit us,I found myself wondering. I hadn't thought about much other than Rose and blood since becoming a vampire, but now ideas of adventure and glory were able to creep into my mind. I loved taking my aggression out on angry grizzly bears, but how great would it be to take down a Japanese submarine!
I initially thought these ideas would get me in trouble with Edward. Surely he'd go into some lecture about how I couldn't go off and play war with a bunch of humans like some game. However, several times when I was sure he was tuned in to me, the look in his eyes told me he was daydreaming of taking down a few bombers himself. Apparently Carlisle was feeling something similar.
"I am going to head to Dutch Harbor," he informed us. "They are in desperate need of medics and the Japanese are now occupying several of the Aleutian Islands. They are evacuating the Aleuts and I am already hearing stories of the poor conditions and sickness in the camps. I must do what I can. We're right here. It just seems right."
"Of course," was all Esme offered and she stood to kiss him. "Why shouldn't we all help? I'm sure there is something we could do?"
"Well, actually," Edward began, "I was thinking, as long as I'm not getting wrapped up in any battles, I could obviously offer good intelligence by scouting out the islands." He seemed hesitant and he gazed at Carlisle for a long moment.
"Hey! No silent conversations!" I protested. "Would the military even take us?" I wondered out loud.
"I'm sure they would take any able bodied man right now," Edward answered. "Plus, I overheard some conversations in town today about a Colonel putting together a Combat Intelligence Platoon. He was looking for natives and huntsmen. Men who could survive in the wilderness. They are not only going to be scouting the area and coast, but going on reconnaissance missions."
Brilliant. I could definitely get into some reconnaissance missions. We could be on the islands in a matter of hours and move through the water and trees like ghosts. I was halfway through a strategic plan that involved Edward and I swimming through the Bering Sea when I heard a huff of irritation next to me.
"Are you telling me you are actually considering running off to Uncle Sam like some...some war crazed boy?" Rosalie spat at us.
"I wasa war crazed boy, Rosalie," Edward replied and he was grinning. A very rare sight and one that made me jump at the chance to have some fun.
"Come on, Rosie, let us help out and have some fun," I pleaded with her.
"Oh, don't Rosie me. Have you even thought about what would happen if a fight actually breaks out? What about the blood and how the hell are you suppose to dodge suspicion when you're living in close quarters with a bunch of humans!" she snapped back at me.
"We won't be," Edward replied calmly and I could see his mind working. My excitement level went up another notch. "We're not just going to go enlist. We'll find this Colonel Castner. If he's taking any rough looking man he can get a hold of, then obviously he's not asking too many questions."
"Excellent, I can't wait to take down a submarine," I supplied and Rose rolled her eyes at me before stomping out of the room.
I knew Rose would come around and Esme promised to speak with her about it. Esme wanted to head south with Carlisle anyway and see about helping out in the displacement camps for the Aleuts. They were mostly full of women and children and not much was happening for them officially. Most of the men had stayed behind and joined up to be scouts or help build the new landing strips on the islands. Esme hoped she could offer some education and care to those left behind. And I'm sure she had grand plans of sneaking in medicine and provisions as well. So Edward and I trudged into town the next day in our huntsmen gear. Our story was we were cousins, who had come to Alaska to prospect and hunt. People didn't expect more than that. Everyone had a deeper back story in Alaska that just wasn't shared.
We strolled down the street casually as Edward listened in on thoughts and conversations to locate this Colonel Castner. We hadn't made it very far before Edward stopped outside a small bar.
"In here," he said and turned to push open the rough wood door. The room was filled with smoke and the clinking of glasses. Men hollered to one another across the cramped space. We made our way to the crowded bar, trying not to push the humans but they made it difficult. The Colonel was a stocky man and not what I expected of a military officer. His hair was a bit shaggy and his face was scruffy. He wore a pistol strapped to his hip like you'd expect the sheriff to carry, not a U.S. soldier.
How should we approach him? I silently questioned Edward. Straight forward, or do we have to wait for him to come to us? Edward studied Castner and the men surrounding him for a moment. I took stock too; quite the group of cutthroats it seemed.
I'm bigger and you'd obviously be my younger cousin. I should lead, I strategized. Edward nodded his head once while gazing at the spirit selection.
"And a little of both," he whispered to low for the humans to hear.
At that I squared my shoulders and walked up to the bar. I placed my hand palm down on the counter to get the bartender's attention and plastered a winning grin onto my face. My dimples could win over anyone.
"Hey, pal, I'd like a couple shots of whiskey for my cousin and me here. We've been out in the brush for the past several months, and boy, are we thirsty!"
"Real subtle," Edward mumbled next to me. I shrugged, maybe not, but it was effective. Castner immediately gave us a once over before looking back down at his drink.
"And how's the Alaska summer treatin' you boys?" he asked without lifting his eyes from his cup. "You like livin' off the land, do ya?"
And that was how Edward and I found ourselves enlisted in the U.S. Army.
"Cutthroats is more accurate than you thought, Emmett," Edward told me on the way home. "Those men are some of Alaska's roughest for sure. Some are just tough guys who really do live off the land, but some of them…well, it's probably a good thing they'll be staying busy defending U.S. soil instead of wandering the town of Fairbanks."
We arrived back at the cabin moments later to find Rosalie in a fit of rage. All thoughts of war and battle and cutthroats fled my mind as I hesitantly approached her. She was currently throwing pieces of the useless kitchen table across the room into the fireplace.
"What happened?" I asked Esme. I wanted to run and wrap my arms around Rose, but I knew I'd likely end up short one arm.
"We decided to go into town too," Esme told us, "so we could hear some more information about these camps. Rosalie heard a group of men discussing the, well, 'easy pickings' is how they put it." She grimaced as she looked back at Rosalie.
"Rose, my angel," I whispered as I carefully approached her. Nothing brought out her anger and protective nature like a man even thinking brutal thoughts towards a woman. I didn't want to see my angel brought to such rage. "You can do better than just revenge Rosie, you can go help. You can protect them."
"We all can," Esme added, "we can all serve."
I watched the soldiers file out of the cargo plane from the hillside across from the Fairbanks' airstrip. I loved a man in uniform. We didn't see as many during the previous war. Alaska was even more secluded and without threat of enemy invasion then. My sisters and I had been abstaining from human blood for some time now, but the last major battles on American soil were too bloody to get close to. It wasn't worth the temptation. We craved the softness, warmth and affection more than the blood. At least when we had a choice. So we fed off animals so we could love the human men and let them walk away at the end of the night, or more often, the next morning.
I watched these new men with anticipation. They looked young and full of energy.
"Do you hear that?" Tanya asked me as we lounged on the hillside. "They're speaking Russian." She turned and gave me a reminiscent smile. "It's been a long time. I do miss the… how do they say? Mother country."
"And I'll bet they do too," Irina smirked. "It will be easy to find companions."
"True," I allowed, "but they won't be able to stay long. I do like to have them around for awhile." I enjoyed getting to know the men I was with. Hearing their stories, their dreams. They'd tell me anything and everything and I drank it in like blood. I loved my sisters, but I desired the companionship of a man. I yearned for the moment of feeling almost human in a lover's arms. "Let's head into town then, shall we?"
The streets were a buzz with the new arrivals. The Russian soldiers were going to be training here in Fairbanks before flying west across Russia and to the German front. Turns out we were luckier than we first thought. Of course we were noticed right away and Tanya immediately found a suitor when she replied in perfect Russian to a passing soldier.
We spent the next several days around town near the soldiers. With all the new arrivals and nerves high with the war people didn't have many questions for us. The soldiers were grateful for a distraction and others were grateful for a helping hand or encouraging word. We were able to slip in and out with ease. We were dropping off food at the base when I smelled them.
I stopped too fast and stood frozen. Only Irina's vampire reflexes kept her from bumping into me. "Kate," she hissed, "what are you doing?"
I turned my face into the wind and took a deep breath of the cool Alaskan air. The distinctly sweet scent of vampire slid into my lungs. Tanya took a deep breath too. "Two," she exhaled. We really didn't see others of our kind that often and crossing paths here on the Army base was troubling. "They probably think the disappearances will be overlooked with all the new people and commotion," Tanya supplied.
The occasional visit from nomads didn't usually bother us too much, especially if they passed our trail out in the wilderness. Crossing paths near our men made us protective of our territory.
"There," Irina pointed down the street. "Two of them. The dark haired one is large."
They were carrying uniforms and didn't seem to give the humans around them a second thought.
"Let's keep moving and get downwind. We'll keep an eye on them and decide if anything needs to be done later."
"Yes, good idea, Kate," Tanya said over her shoulder as she walked up to a nearby soldier.
"Do you smell that, Eddie?"
"Don't call me Eddie."
"Fine. One of these days you'll let me call you Eddie though."
"No, I really don't think so. And yes, I smell them."
"Do you hear them?"
Edward cocked his head to the side a bit and stared out at the crowd down the street, his brows pulled together. "Well?" I prodded.
He gave me an exasperated expression. "There are a lot of people, Em."
Oh sure, you get to call me by a nickname. He smirked. Shut up, one day you'll be calling yourself Eddie.
"Want to place a wager on that?" he asked me. Hmm, I'd have to think about that. "That's what I thought."
"Well, what do you think? Did you hear anything?" I asked him.
"No, and there are three of them so lets get home for now."
We arrived back at the cabin and told the others about the trail we had come across in town. Carlisle had not heard of any disappearances and there hadn't been any bodies found either. Since we would all be leaving Fairbanks shortly we decided to let it rest, even though I was up for the confrontation. "Take it out on the Japanese bombers," Rosalie had suggested.
After hearing Carlisle and Edward discuss the conditions and hearing firsthand the likely predators the women and children of the displaced Aleuts would face, Rosalie was more than convinced to support the war effort. Rosalie, Esme, and Carlisle would head south toward the coast and Dutch Harbor the next morning. Edward and I had to wait around to report to the base.
I was alone on the street outside the bar where my sisters currently sat flirting with two soldiers when I yet again smelled two vampires. Two different vampires. I was immediately on alert. My body tensed and I could feel the electric current run under the skin of my palms as I prepared for fight or flight. I stepped back against the outside wall of the bar into the puff of smoke from some nearby soldiers and glanced up and down the street. Standing on a corner about fifty yards away were two beautiful women. The shorter, softer looking one had an arm around the tall statuesque blonde. The blonde was obviously upset and carried herself rigidly, but I couldn't see her face. The caramel haired woman turned then to face her companion and I gasped. Her eyes were a bright gold. I had to force myself to move at a human pace into the bar towards my sisters.
"Come," I whispered, "and do not speak louder than absolutely necessary. There are others outside." I watched as they tensed in the arms of their would-be human lovers, who remained oblivious. "They have gold eyes." Tanya and Irina glanced at each other and then back at me with obvious curiosity and hope.
Once outside I pointed out the two females to my sisters. We walked to edge of the bar closest to them before ducking out of sight and listening. They were not being that quiet. The blonde was still quite upset. They were speaking of a camp of women and children, displaced because of the war. They were going to head south towards Dutch Harbor to protect these humans. I wasn't sure why the women and children needed protecting, but this did make me think of all the men they were sending to the coast to fight the Japanese who had occupied the Islands. Those Japanese soldiers would be no match for vampires.
"Sisters," I began after we were away from the bar and new vampires, "let's follow them."
Irina glanced at me warily. "I don't know…" she began.
"But just think, Irina!" I cut in, "Others just like us! Who abstain from human blood! And they're going to help the humans. We could help too while possibly adding to our coven. It's been lonely with only the three of us."
"How long have we wished for others of our kind who lived like us? To share our existence? And what if they have unmated males in their coven?" Tanya added.
I laughed. "Of course that is what you think of Tanya," I teased.
She was unrepentant and merely shrugged, "fine, if it will make you feel better, Katie, we can help some humans while we're at it."
I didn't think of my human family often. Rosalie finding me was the best thing that had ever happened to me, but as we walked down the street in our pressed uniforms I thought of my brothers. Alton would have joined up minutes after the bombing at Pearl Harbor. I could picture him in this same uniform, sitting on a bench in the back of a truck, shoulder to shoulder with other soldiers. Wyatt and Nicholas may have been drafted.
I wondered what I would have done if I were still human. The adventure of the war definitely would have appealed and the need to protect was almost overwhelming to me. There had been nothing more important to me than protecting and providing for my family. I hated to think of all my brothers heading off to war and leaving my mom and younger siblings to fend for themselves. With Edward's help though, I had made sure I provided what I could, I reminded myself. Edward placed a hand on my shoulder and gave me a grin. I nodded once and placed my hat on my head. My hands smoothed over the thick, stiff cotton.
"How do I look? Are the ladies swooning?" I asked.
Edward rolled his eyes, but he humored me. "Ladies always love a man in uniform," he replied.
"Come on, brother. Let's go show these soldiers how to kick some ass."