Life oozed from the bullet-wound and he knew he was dying. He lay on the battlefield, every heartbeat only serving to push more blood outside of his body, bringing him one step closer to oblivion.

He was a doctor. He knew the extent of his wounds and the name of every muscle that had been shredded or pushed aside by that small piece of metal. The knowledge was of no comfort to him as he thought for sure his life would end.

He'd always imagined his death would have more meaning. If he were protecting someone, anyone, it would be alright to die. But here, even on the fields of Afghanistan, he had not died defending a life. (In his mind, he was already dead, it was just a matter of time before the shock and blood loss made it official.) He'd died in a sudden rush on their enemy who was more well-prepared than they'd suspected.

The pain caused his senses to darken. A part of his mind was busy diagnosing and evaluating every single injury. His shoulder, pierced, the bullet causing significant damage to the pectoralis major, coming far too close to his lateral thoracic artery, and stopping near or in the scapula. The rest of his mind couldn't help but scream that this is not how he wanted to die. He was defending nothing by his death. He'd thought perhaps he'd go out protecting a family from terrorist bullies, or taking the bullet for a friend.

"Please, God, let me live!"

He wasn't sure if he'd said it aloud, but he meant it with all his heart. He knew it was probably too late, as the seconds ticked by, the blood flowing down on the outside of his body where it didn't belong. He'd never been terribly religious before, but if ever there was a time to plead to God, this was it.

What would the funeral be like? Dad would show up. He'd always been proud that his son became a soldier. His mum hadn't. What about Harry and Clara? Harry would probably be drunk and start spouting nonsense or embarrassing stories about his childhood, if she came at all. His Army buddies had gone the way he was going quite some time ago. Not all of them, mind, because Bill got a medical discharge and George was back at base, giving orders instead of taking them, safe from battlefield disasters. What about Patricia? Oh, God, Patricia! How could she ever forgive him? That stupid misunderstanding with Clara and the CPR lessons…

In reality, it had only been a few seconds, but in his mind, it had been minutes. He was surprised to still be conscious, with the amount of blood flowing out of him as if he were a punctured water balloon. (That's what the human body is, that medical portion of his mind told him. He told it to bugger off.) Any heartbeat could be his last. He almost couldn't hear the gunfire and the explosions. He couldn't feel the baking heat. He didn't register the shattered bricks beneath his back or the tears of terror streaming down his face.

Ever the soldier, he fought to retain what little consciousness he had, hoping against hope that someone would find him. He couldn't move. He could hardly breathe. The pain sharply increased as pressure was applied to his wound, and he heard a voice call his name.


He grew even more frightened. He knew what it was like to lose a friend in front of your eyes, to feel like they've betrayed you by leaving you. He didn't want to do that. He refused to die. Not so pointless a death as this would be. He wouldn't. He couldn't. But then blackness surged over him, and he thought for sure he was dead.