ONCE AGAIN I OWN NOTHING!
Weston woke up in the same position he had fallen asleep in. Haper's condition was the first thing to cross his mind. He pushed himself up on his elbows and looked across the small open space between the two campfires. Everyone was sleeping soundly so he quietly rose and made his way into the open.
He stretched and for the first time, really looked around. His mouth fell open. There was a thin layer of white covering the ground, bushes and trees. It was white everywhere but around the fire. Weston shivered as he made his way to the sleeping squad. They were all lying in the twenty or so feet around the charred remains of the fire where there was no snow. All but Reiben who had rolled away and was now coated in snow.
Weston found the medic lying next to Harper. There was a thick army blanket thrown over them both. Careful not to wake Harper or Jackson, who was on her other side, Weston gently shook the medic's shoulder. Wade opened his eyes slowly as Weston whispered, "Snow."
Wade looked around and his eyes suddenly filled with fear. He quietly got up and spread the army blanket over Jackson and Harper.
"Go wake up the captain. We need to-" but he was interrupted by the sound of shells exploding just outside the tree line.
The earth shook and woke everyone up. Even Harper tried to respond to her army training and jump up, but Wade pounced on her and pushed her back to the ground.
"Take cover!" yelled Miller from the other fire pit.
They all hit the ground and Miller and Horvath crawled over. Now there was machine gun fire accompanying the shells. They were inside the tree line now.
"How did they find us!" shouted Upham frantically.
No one answered but they all had a pretty good idea how the Krauts had known about them. They had probably been waiting out on the field all night and had seen Weston walk across the open area between the fires.
"Don't point fingers," said Miller as the men angrily glared at Weston. "We need to get out of this first. Wade!"
Wade looked up.
"Get her back."
Wade nodded. He turned to Harper and without a word; he slid one arm under her knees and the other around her back. He lifted her surprisingly easily and with covering fire from their squad, quickly ran back off the line. Wade set her down 300 yards back in a crater probably made from earlier bombings. Harper moaned as one of her stitches ripped. Wade looked at her.
"Where?" he asked already knowing what was wrong.
Harper looked down. Wade stretched her legs out and pulled one side of her olive trousers off her hip. That wound was the easiest to sew up, but the hardest to keep sewed because it was right on her bone. He took a pair of scissors and cut the remaining two out then as gently as he could, he pulled them out with tweezers. Harper gasped as he opened the wound, washed it out and packed it with sulfate powder.
"What no stitches?" she panted weakly.
"I'm going to try just packing it and wrapping it. It has more of a chance of getting infected and I'm going to have to open it every chance I get and clean it, but there will be no stitches to rip," Wade answered.
"Whatever doc. I trust you," she said letting her head fall back.
Wade was quiet as he covered the wound with gauze. Harper looked up at his silence.
"Wade, what is it?" she asked.
Wade kept his eyes on his work so Harper gently touched his face. He lifted his eyes and said, "This is my fault. If I wouldn't have tried saving that damn Kraut, you wouldn't have had to save me and you wouldn't have gotten shot."
He was looking at the ground so Harper leaned over painfully and lifted Wade's face with both of her hands. Tears were on either side of his face.
"You are one of the few of us who hasn't gotten his humanity beat out of him by this war. I don't want you to ever stop trying to save people. Even if they are Krauts. And when you do, I will always be there to save you. You once told me that as long as you were around, I wouldn't die. Remember?"
Wade nodded. The fear in her eyes when he had told her that was hard to think about, but he remembered.
"I came to save you because I had no fear of getting shot because I knew you wouldn't let me die. I trust you completely."
Wade smiled weakly as Harper placed a soft kiss on his cheek. A yell from the line brought Wade out of his state of mind. He looked at Harper sternly.
"Stay," he ordered pointing at the ground with his finger.
He then jumped out of the hole and was gone. Harper sighed and leaned back to wait for her friends.
Wade ran dodging bullets and falling trees.
"Who's hit?" he yelled throwing himself in a ditch beside Reiben, but he already saw. Upham had a thin branch sticking out of his lower arm. Wade rushed to his side. When he got there he realized the branch was only barely poking him. Wade rolled his eyes and yanked the twig out making Upham squeak with pain.
"Give Wade your gun you moron. Why don't you go back and see if Harper needs anything. Make yourself useful, just don't get shot going back there," yelled Reiben.
Upham didn't have to be asked twice he tossed Wade his rifle and high tailed it back to Harper. It took the squad twenty five minutes to decide there were too many Germans to win this battle.
"We are going to have to make a run for it! Let's get back to Lewis and Upham. We will run for cover from there!" shouted Miller. "Go now!"
They all turned and ran to where Wade had left Harper but they all stopped open mouthed when they got there. Harper and Upham's gear was there, but neither one of them were anywhere to be seen. The crater was empty.
Harper listened hard and heard Reiben yell at Upham to get back. About a minute later he had rolled into the hole with her.
"You alright Tim?" Harper asked.
He nodded, though he looked pale and terrified. Harper shook her head and said, "Tim why did you take this job?"
"Research for my book," he said running his hands through his hair.
"But is that the only reason?" Harper pressed.
"You," he confessed weakly. Harper's brow furrowed so Tim continued.
"I settled for Dee, but I have always loved you."
Harper's mouth fell open. She thought of her sister and how stuck up she was. She was five years Harper's elder, and had always attracted every man, but Harper never dreamed the man she married would be using her to be around Harper.
"Don't worry about it," said Tim waving his hands. "I would never have even told you except you asked, and I cant lie to you. I can see what you and Jackson have is good. I wouldn't dream of coming between you two."
Harper was speechless, but she didn't have time to think about it because someone was suddenly on top of them. Three Germans had thrown themselves into the crater practically on top of Tim and Harper. At first both sides just stared at each other surprised, then Tim, Harper and all three Germans pointed their weapons at one another. The Germans were yelling in their language, but Harper assumed they were saying about the same thing she was.
"Put your weapons down!" she shouted over and over until her throat was raw.
After over a minute Upham was getting jumpy and fired, killing one of the Germans. Harper knew their only chance now was not gunplay. It was fists that would keep them alive. Harper whirled her gun around and hit one German in the side of the head. Upham tried to do the same, but his attempt didn't go as planned. The German caught the muzzle and slammed the butt of the gun into Upham's eye. He cried out and fell back, close to unconsciousness.
"Tim!" Harper shouted as she punched one of the Germans square in the ribs hard enough to double him over.
She looked around frantically searching for help. She found her squad and was about to yell for help, but big hands wrapped around her, one covering her mouth, and one around her waist. He easily lifted her and pulled her backward out of the crater. The other German was following, dragging Upham. Harper elbowed the German as hard as she could. He dropped her with a grunt of pain. She turned and used his face for a punching bag. The last blow sent him reeling. He was holding his broken nose. He yelled something in German and his buddy dropped Upham and came to help. Harper turned, but not in time. Her jaw met the German's fist. This surprised her enough for the first German to grab her again, and with German number two, drug her away, though she didn't go quietly. She kicked out hard smacking one German in the gut, but he didn't let go.
"Let me go!" she shouted, but the German clamped his hand over her mouth.
Harper managed to get his pinky finger between her teeth and bite down until she tasted blood. He screamed and pulled his hand away. She took the advantage to shout for her squad.
"Jackson! Reiben! Weston! Help m-" but her words were cut short by the German's fatty hand and sausage fingers.
She tried her earlier tactic, but the enemy kept his fingers out of reach of her teeth. As they dragged her farther and farther from the closest people she had to a family, her heart began to race. She could see Jackson in her mind's eye. His sharply cut features and bright blue eyes. She would never get to see his very rarely seen anyway, yet gorgeous smile. She remembered the last thing she had said to him on that wretched field while machine gun bullets were raining down on them. She had told him to shove it after he had been instant on not going to save Wade.
At that moment she suddenly remembered the terrified look in his eyes that hadn't registered when she had seen it the first time. His eyes held terror for her safety, and also for Wades. The endless blue seemed to overtake her mind and she began to sob.
She suddenly felt strength in her she hadn't felt in a long time. She kicked out and caught the German holding her feet in the jaw making him drop her feet, thou the other German still had a hold of her. With surprising strength he flipped her around and threw her against the hard packed earth.
She screamed as she felt something in her shoulder crack. She could no longer lift her left arm which didn't help her much. The German was forcing her arms above her head with one hand and working on the zips and buckles of her field jacket.
"No please! Not again! Stop!" she shouted as images of her father flashing before her eyes.
Terror gripped her heart and paralyzed her lungs. She couldn't breath and as the German ripped her field jacket off and started on her olive t-shirt. That was where black started clouding her vision. She stopped screaming and fighting and let herself travel back to another time where she was back in her room and it was her father on top of her, until sudden commotion around her in the real world took place.
Her eyes shot open as the weight of the German disappeared. She looked around frantically and saw blurs of green. She was so confused and terrified she didn't know what to do other than curl into the fetal position. She heard men yelling and a sudden gunshot then all was silent. She didn't dare uncover her face or chest.
She felt a gentle touch on her shoulder, but for fear it was the German she turned and tried to punch whoever it was, but they caught her wrists easily and pulled her into a hug. Jackson's quiet voice was at her ear. She felt the soft, warm breath on her cheek.
"Easy," he whispered. "Your alright sweetie. Your safe now."
Jackson held Harper tightly as she sobbed into his chest. He stroked her hair as she said something he couldn't hear into his neck. He felt her latch onto his collar still sobbing.
"Damn Krauts," said Reiben kicking one of the corpses.
He walked over to the small circle his squad mates had created around Jackson and the distraught Harper. Jackson glanced up at Wade, who looked worried about Harper's health. Harper pulled her head off Jackson's shoulder and looked into his eyes.
"He almost go me, Jackson," she sobbed renewed tears running down her face.
"But he didn't darlen'. He didn't. I wont ever let anyone hurt you," he answered cupping her face between his hands.
He wiped the tears from her cheeks with his thumbs.
"Look at me," he said firmly as he raised her face and waited for her green eyes to meet his.
When they did he said, "You have a whole squad of men who care about you and won't ever let anything happen to you. I love you."
The last three words were said in a matter of fact tone that forced Harper to believe him. She let her hand find its way to his cheek and then her lips find their way to his. Jackson seemed a little surprised at first but it only took a second for him to relax and return the kiss. Harper felt his long fingers slowly run thru her dirty and disheveled hair. It sent shivers through her entire body. She wrapped her arms around his neck, deepening the kiss. She wished she could stay in his strong embrace forever, savoring the sweet aroma that was so Jackson.
He too felt the same. As the kiss deepened, he thought to himself how much he loved this girl. This 30 year old woman trapped in a 19 year olds body. This gorgeous woman who was younger than his own little sister in image, but far her elder in mind and spirit. He loved her and in that moment, where their lips were together, they both realized they would never be with another.
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