"Flawless Abandon, Irrevocable Surrender"
Rated: M – for violence, language, and mature/adult situations
Summary: American Grace Grant, newly back in the states in the summer of '42 after a discharge from the British Army and new addition to the 101st, 506th, 2nd Battalion, Company E. Proving herself to the Brits was troublesome, now she's back at square one – but this time it's with her own kind.
(Also: Any historical mistakes I make, I apologize for. I've done as much research as I could. I'm considering this a kind of historical-fiction so any interruption in factual events should be overlooked. Also, seeing as this is an OC/Speirs story – Speirs, in THIS world, is a single man)
Disclaimer: I do not own 'Band of Brothers' – mini-series OR the book nor do I intend ANY disrespect to the real men of Easy Co. All that is mine is Grace Grant and a deep, profound respect for the real heroes.
You'll never see the courage I know
Its colors' richness won't appear within your view
I'll never glow the way that you glow
Your presence dominates the judgments made on you.
"Jumped on with the Royal Army Medical Corps in 1940, quickly transferred to the 127th Parachute Regiment to serve with the field ambulance there, and in 1941 taken by the 1st Battalion Parachute Regiment", the older and distinguished man flipped the page of her rather long resume, thumbing it absently as he read on, "Ran with the Special Air Service in July of '41; fought in Operation Crusader in November then promoted with Special Op's and Forces; stationed in North Africa until discharged in May and sent to us one week ago." Colonel Sink's eyes crinkled over at her still form from his large window.
"Yes, sir" She replied, her eyes meeting his. She made sure to stay still, the damn heat in this state, in this time of year did nothing but irritate her – especially in her US Army dress greens; even having a skirt didn't help, neither did the still-mending wound in her left shoulder. She'd had worse though – she'd been in Africa.
"The British General was certainly sad to see you go. I'm glad he did – the brass considers you quite the asset to us. You've seen action, you've made a combat jump, you've been shot at – our boys need to know what they're up against and you provide for us one hell of a unique insight." Colonel Sink looked out onto the baking Georgia land before him, "I will not sugar coat this – there are some who think this an unwise decision – based on your gender", he looked her hard now, "but me and a lot of higher up's think that's a load of bull. We don't have the same mind set as your old XO. I hope you know that".
Keeping herself from grinning at the man who suddenly reminded her of her late grandfather, she simply nodded her head, "Yes, sir. I do sir".
He smirked and nodded his assistant over, "Good. I'm officially signing you into the 101st Airborne, 506th 2nd Battalion. I am placing you in our best company, our main assault company – Easy Company. Based on your combat experience, your training, your decorations awarded to you; I'm officially making you a First Sergeant".
Her eyes snapped up from the pen in his hand, "Sir" –
"No First Sergeant, you have earned this. I don't care what note your former XO may have attached to your discharge papers. You were honorably discharged to us." His quick hand signed the dotted line fluidly, "Your position here will be an exclusive one Sergeant Grant. I know as a field ambulance member, you accompanied injured men to aid stations, but here – you're Easy Company's diamond-in-the-rough. On the battlefield, you will stay on the front, letting the two medics under you take injured men away, while here in Toccoa you will take the men through some rigorous medical field training, you will train with them, make the four jumps with them to earn your US Paratrooper wings. You straddle the fence – you're a combat medic and a soldier who's fired more than one round at the enemy; to us that makes you a priceless commodity."
Pride bubbling up inside her, she nodded curtly, "Thank you, sir".
The Colonel stood up, "your captain, Captain Herbert Sobel, knows of your arrival and should be out with the men soon to run Currahee – the mountain outside my window. Care to join them and meet the men?"
She felt the current of her strong competiveness whirl in her veins even though her shoulder was beginning to groan at her, "yes sir. Thank you very much, sir, for this opportunity and your trust in me. I will not let you down". Her dark hazel eyes held his and he smiled fully now, she felt herself begin to smirk back, infectious.
"Very good; you're already talking like a paratrooper. First Sergeant Grace Grant, welcome to the United States 101st Airborne". He came towards her and stopped, pinning her with the insignia of 'First Sergeant'.
She snapped a salute to him, which he returned. She turned on her heel and briskly walked out of his office.
An orderly stopped her right outside, "First Sergeant Grant".
"Yes Private", her eyes darted down to his name on his OD's, "Favley"
"Colonel Sink has instructed me to inform you that your personal effects are already in Easy Company's barracks. They are the barracks at the back southeast corner of the camp, all barracks are marked on the side." He saluted her sharply, she returned it and he stalked off.
She nodded her thanks to the air after him. She knew it was not her imagination telling her the private was uncomfortable speaking to the only girl around Toccoa, even if it was a command from the good Colonel. She thumbed her garrison cap, tucked in at her hip; First Sergeant Grant? She worried her bottom lip, as she does when she's anxious – how will the men in her new company respond to that?
While stationed in North Africa, she'd been a part of a very small Special Operations group – they saw a lot of action; hell, they saw more German soldiers than their British counterparts. Point being – she never really needed to make introductions, play nice, do with the mind-games of the higher ups…her experience and ability were renowned and they spoke for her. Also, being the only female and only American there, she was a lone wolf. She wondered absently, looking around the empty hallway when she'd forgot how to socialize.
Looking around the hallway and spotting a small door, she found a latrine, letting herself in, she sighed in relief as she saw the mirror above the washbasin. Today had been a lot to take in, and only half the battle was over. She'd braved the Colonel, sure, but she has the rest of the company and her CO to face. She studied her pale face in the mirror; it'd been a while since she's worn any kind of makeup. She was able to find some white blotting powder, some mascara, and some pink-hued lipstick – the bare minimum according to any normal female, but for Grace it felt like heaps. How will my skin fair with the unforgiving sun here? She asked herself idly. Rolling her eyes, she ran her fingers through her auburn hair. She'd gotten through North Africa of all places – well I suppose they're right: 'you can put the girl in the army, but you can't take the girl out of the girl' or however the saying goes.
If there was any place her gender was painfully present, it was here in this damn skirt. What she would give for her pants, sweating and swearing and dirty like the rest of the men. Being in a tight skirt, and a very fitted shirt and jacket and high heels clicking under her, her curves sticking out to her like sore thumbs; there was absolutely no way she'd blend in on her first day.
Staring hard at her reflection and tossing her curled hair over her left shoulder, she took a deep breath. I look like I belong in a damn USO show right now, she thought bitterly. Shutting off her thoughts and the pain coming from her shoulder, which was beginning to burn, she turned on her heel once more and made her way out and to the front door of the building and into the sun.
She felt the beginnings of butterfly wings in the pit of her stomach and attempted to quiet them with a small cough, "well, now or never Grant", she muttered, placing her garrison cap on her head at the right tilt. She looked over the camp swiftly, and began walking to where her new barracks would be.
Floyd Talbert just finished tying his boots when he heard George Luz call out.
"Make a path boys! Incoming!" George called out. Floyd could see the familiar mop of brown hair come through the crowd of men, he came to a stop right next to Talbert's bunk. "Hi there Tab. I got ya a new neighbor".
Tab narrowed his brown eyes, "What do you mean Luz?"
"New guy, huh? Where?" Bill Guarnere and Joe Liebgott, who's bunks were nearby came over to inspect the situation.
George looked at them, "Nope, not here yet – he's over with Sink right now, or so I've heard". He turned to the privates behind him who had the new guy's footlocker in their arms, "Right here fellas." He turned back to the three men in front of him, "from what I hear, the new kid was in North Africa with the British, seen some action".
Bill's eyebrows went up, impressed. Liebgott perked up, "is that right?" He looked at Tab expectantly.
"Don't look at me, I don't know anything about it; it's news to me", he said, watching the footlocker get placed at the end of the bunk next to his.
"New guy's seen action?" Donald Malarkey poked his head into the circle of four.
Bill shrugged, "sounds like it Malark, should be interesting".
George appraised the footlocker briefly, "would ya look at this – new guy's a First Sergeant" he kicked the footlocker at the painted stripes bearing the rank on the side.
"New First Sergeant, huh?" Lieutenant Lewis Nixon walked over, his ever-present smirk on his face.
"So they found an NCO to replace White", Another man, Carwood Lipton, had followed Nixon over and put two-and-two together.
"Looks like it Lip", Tab said. Hopefully this new guy will be more 'there' with them than White. Try as he might, Tab couldn't seem to get to know that guy, then he dropped out suddenly.
"HEY! Hey guys!" Suddenly through the door of the barracks, Warren 'Skip' Muck and Frank Perconte ran in, "the new kid got placed here?" Muck asked, clearly winded.
"Jesus Skip, you run Currahee without us?" George laughed.
"Yeah, new kid's with us apparently", Nixon answered.
Perconte smirked, "well get out here and get a load o' her".
"HER?" Bill and Joe said together.
Without an answer, Skip and Frank turned and left the barracks in a hurry. The remaining men cast one quizzical glance at one another and then bounded for the door.
The rest of Easy was outside in their PT gear, their heads all turned to the right. It was simple to spot the 'new kid' – every head turned her way.
Squinting slightly from the afternoon sun, Grace purposefully put one heel in front of the other. At every 'click' on the ground she inwardly winced – the sound of the heels were like a cattle call to these men. Shoulders back, posture is important.
She idly noticed the rest of the camp was in their OD's – their Olive Drabs. The building that bore the mark of her new company had men standing outside of it in their PT outfits. Jesus those are some short shorts….goodbye feminine mystery, she thought to herself.
As she passed another company marked 'D', she heard the usual catcalls and whistles, hushed instantly by their NCO's. Grace's backside was practically sparking from all the attention it was getting – she could feel it. She immediately figured no one knew but Sink and Sobel that there was a woman on her way to the 101st. Starting from square one was never a truer statement; I can only hope I'm not too much of an outcast here.
Tab and the rest of the Easy men eyed her closely – her tall 5'8'' frame, long auburn hair, and pale features. Zeroing in on her face, he saw determination - his brain couldn't help but tell him she was beautiful too. This woman, this very attractive woman has seen action? And she's sharing barracks with us? Tab swallowed thickly and cast a glance at the other guys, they all mirrored what he must have looked like: shocked.
"Would ya take a look at that", Joe drawled out, smirking at Bill and Don who looked pleased as well.
"That, boys, happens to be our newest addition and First Sergeant", Lipton reminded them, shaking his head.
"Look at that chest candy, huh?" George said elbowing Tab.
"Christ George, really?" Skip said over Tab's shoulder.
"Means her decorations Sherlock", Bill said distractedly, "I'll be the first to say it out loud – First Sergeant Doll-Face is a beauty".
Tab found himself nodding in agreement with the rest of the men around him. As she neared closer, he could see a faint frown on the Sergeant's very feminine face. He wondered if she was used to this kind of welcoming. She slowed to a stop in front of them, in front of their barracks and gave them all a quick once-over. Tab found his eyes travelling down to the cinched waist of her Dress Greens, he found the color complimented her hair and skin.
"Gracie?" Next to Tab, Nixon whispered.
"Lieutenant?" Tab said, turning to him.
Not answering, Nixon walked the few feet to their newest member, "Gracie." He stated, his voice low and unbelieving.
Tab looked over at George who looked back at him and muttered, "what the fuck?"
Joe groaned softly, "Oh don't tell me that's his girl".
Bill nudged him softly, "Lt. Nixon's already married, Joe". Joe smiled at this, comforted.
Grace turned towards the voice who called her 'Gracie'. No one's called her that since…
Her eyes adjusted to the Georgia sun and she focused on a handsome face with dark, dark hair, "Lew?"
Lew, her old friend came to her side, "Gracie, is that really you?"
Grace felt herself chuckle a bit, "yeah it's me. Jesus, what are the chances?" She then felt herself pulled into a crushing hug. She stiffened at once, not wishing her CO walk in this moment, but she smiled anyway; it had been since the spring of 1940 that she'd spoken to Lew.
Lewis let her go, his dark eyes wide, his voice low and unbelieving, "what in God's name are you doing here, Gracie?"
Grace smirked slightly, noticing the surrounding men's sudden silence to hear what she had to say, "Oh Lew, let's not bring God into this just yet". She joked lightly and Lew frowned at her, "I've just been assigned to Easy".
Lew shook his head, "That doesn't make any sense – last I heard you were in London volunteering for the nurses".
Grace cringed at this, now that she was alone and without family, she didn't have any reason to keep anyone else in loop with her life.
She looked up at her older brother's long time friend, "That was in '40 – everything changed Lew."
Before Nixon could decipher her vague answer, he was interrupted, "First Sergeant Grant?" Lieutenant Richard Winters walked up to them.
Grace looked over to her right and saw a tall man with red hair take one look at Lew and then at her, "Sir, First Sergeant Grant reporting". She saluted him gracefully.
"I just heard about your transfer here, Sergeant. Welcome to the finest company the 101st has to offer. You'll be a wonderful addition." Winters said, a small friendly smile on his face. Grace let out a breath she didn't know she was holding; this man had kind eyes, they didn't hold the hatred she'd seen before. "I suggest you run into barracks and get in your PT's, we'll be running Currahee in five".
As Grace was about to nod and salute, a hard voice cut through, "Lieutenant Winters, this new member will NOT put on PT gear". The company saluted the approaching dark-haired man immediately – Grace followed suit; this must be Captain Sobel.
Ignoring the salutes of her and the men, Sobel sauntered up to Grace, looking her up and down, an odd expression on his face. Grace could only place it as 'put-out' or annoyed. Holding her salute along with the rest of the men, she looked straight ahead of her, out at the mountain they were about to run.
Captain Sobel lazily saluted them all, "First Sergeant Grant."
The pause he provided told her she should answer him back, "Sir, yes sir."
Sobel smirked, "You want to play soldier?" She heard him breathing hard, looking down at her, "you will don your BDU's and full gear for Currahee today", he said conversationally. He strode away quickly before she could answer him. "Lieutenant Winters, Easy will be at the base of Currahee in five!", Sobel yelled over his shoulder.
"Jesus Christ", George Luz breathed to the men beside him.
Malarkey turned to Bill and Joe, "Full fucking gear? We haven't even done full gear."
"What the fuck is Sobel thinking?" Bill said, spitting on the ground, already feeling protective of the mysterious woman before them.
Tab shook in head, looking on.
Before Lew could say anything more, Grace nodded at Winters who nodded back and she took off inside the vacant barracks. She saw her footlocker with her name on it pushed at the end of the last bed on the left side of the barracks. Looking behind her, making sure she was alone, she reached for her BDU's and began throwing off the wool dress greens.
"Nix?" Dick turned slightly to his friend. He'd seen Lew hug their new Sergeant – he obviously knows her from home, somewhere other than here.
"Family friend, Dick", Lew, still in shock, responded. "I'm good friends with her brother Chuck. Their father was a doctor – they were in London after Chuck volunteered for the RAF in '39. I haven't seen her or heard from any of them since they left the states in the spring of '40".
All Dick could do was nod at Lew. He watched Sobel walking towards Currahee with heavy feet; he knew right away that First Sergeant Grace Grant had one long, uphill battle ahead of her. The men of Easy were fiercely protective, and with all of them together they'd all get through this.
Getting her backpack on with some difficulty because of her aching shoulder, Grace picked up her weapon and jogged outside. She was just in time, the rest of the men were beginning to walk to the mountain. There was a small group outside that was waiting for her.
"Sergeant Grant", Grace looked at a man with sandy brown hair that looked at her curiously, "I'm Sergeant Carwood Lipton". He briskly saluted her.
She quickly saluted him back then offered her hand to his to shake, "We're not in front of the brass Sergeant Lipton, I'm Grace Grant".
He smiled warmly and nodded, "Carwood Lipton".
"Or Lip, if he likes you", Grace looked over to a man with big brown eyes and an amusing smirk, "If we're doing introductions the old fashioned way, I'm George Luz".
Grace shook his hand, smirking back "George this is Grace Grant", Lipton said.
"Grace – can I call you Grace?" George asked.
"As long as you're not on my shit list, George, you can always call me Grace", she responded, testing the waters with her language and humor. To her delight, then men around her laughed jovially while they were walking to Currahee.
George grinned, "On behalf of the boys, I'd like to welcome you to Easy. Don't let the 'Easy' fool you – we can be a hard nut to crack".
"Well then we've already got something in common, don't we George?" Grace laughed.
"I'm Bill Guarnere, Grace. This here is Joe Liebgott, Floyd Talbert – we call him Tab, Skip Muck, Don Malarkey, and Frank Perconte." The man with the accent and the strong jaw and probing eyes pointed out the rest of the men walking with her and Lip.
"South Philly?" She said simply.
A wide smile broke his masculine face, "Yeah! That obvious?"
"Is the Pope Catholic?" She countered and he grinned.
"Are you?" The man called 'Skip', with a friendly faced asked.
Grace smiled, "I was born in Dublin Ireland from Irish parents, what do you think?"
"That means no dice for you Lieb", she heard the dark featured man, Perconte, say to Joe – the one with the mischievous eyes.
"I might be able to look past it", she heard him say back, chuckling.
"You're Irish, huh?" A red-haired man with long eye lashes asked – Malarkey, she said to herself. She smiled and nodded. "Me too!", he said.
She laughed, "Well 'Slainte', then". She smiled at his face, "Means 'cheers' in Gaelic".
"Sergeant, can I lighten your load for you til we get to the mountain?" A soft voice came behind her. She turned, surprised someone would offer, and saw a man with tanned skin and light brown hair. His wide eyes were searching hers and miraculously, she felt her cheeks burn slightly in embarrassment.
"Floyd Talbert otherwise known as Tab, correct?" He smirked and nodded, "I appreciate it Tab, but I can do it". She covered up her pride with nonchalance and smiled. She could do it, although she was touched he offered, her pride wouldn't let her present a vulnerability. She found his eyes still on her, she bit her lip lightly and smiled, turned away and kept walking.
"Aw, you're so sweet Taaaaaab", she heard George whisper to Floyd behind her.
"TWENTY-SIX MINUTES MIGHT BE GOOD FOR DOG COMPANY BUT IT IS NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR EASY!" Captain Sobel yelled at the running soldiers from the top of Currahee, stopwatch in hand.
Grace was breathing hard through her nose, gun swinging right and left with her gait. She could feel warmth pooling under the left strap of her backpack – she'd bled through her bandage.
Running up to the plague at the top of the hill, Lew ran up beside her, "you ok there Gracie?" He breathed out, panting. She nodded her head, attempting a smile at him.
The whole three miles up the mountain, Grace was in pain; not from the actual run, but from her stupid shoulder. The whole of Easy had kept together in a pack, she could feel the stares of the men the whole way. She'd run up next to a man who introduced himself as Bull right after Sobel had ducked into the trees, taking a short-cut no doubt. She had also met another man with bright blue eyes named Webster – he eyed her gear just like Tab had.
The men who'd established themselves with Grace before the run kept close to her. Easy had not yet run Currahee in full gear before and they were keeping a close eye on her. With Lt. Nixon obviously knowing Grace from back home, they'd taken her in as well and the close group had to stop themselves from grabbing her gear and running with it themselves. Apart from women being scarce at camp in general, this woman wore the same outfit they did along with the red cross on her left arm– she had been accepted into the airborne; it didn't take a genius to figure out she was something to be protected.
Grace slapped the plaque like Lew did, Sobel directly to her right, staring at her hard.
The three miles down went faster than up and by the end, Grace was relieved it was over. She was thinking about who to ask where the infirmary was to re-dress her shoulder; the warmth had spread down her side. Standing in formation rigidly in front of Sobel's approaching figure, she swept her eyes over the men and caught Bill's eye, he winked at her quickly.
Instantly locking onto Grace, Sobel began speaking, "I expect your time up and back Currahee to improve, Easy company".
"Sir, yes sir", the company parroted back.
Sobel's eyes still on Grace, he stood before her, "Sergeant Grant, I expected someone who has had combat experience to have performed better. Perhaps you can prove your worth to this company after that display on the mountain." He paused, and Grace could feel her blood beginning to boil over. She wasn't angry, she was disappointed that this was happening again. "The rest of you are dismissed, Lieutenant Winters and Lieutenant Nixon, Colonel Sink requested to see you. Sergeant Grant – training course in fifteen, as you are". The men saluted Sobel, he returned it and took off.
Grace turned to Lew, who looked murderously after Sobel's retreating form. She caught his eye and smiled softly, nodding. He nodded back with Winters and the two of them stalked off, huddled together. Grace found herself thinking Winters was good for Lew…he'll need him after she tells him about her father and Chuck.
"Grace?" She turned to the voice – Bill, George, Tab, Joe, and Don stood looking at her.
"Hey Bill. One of you guys mind helping me with my backpack real quick?" She asked lightly. Tab and George were on her first, either man taking a strap. She crinkled her nose and sucked in a breath as Tab lifted it off her left side. She tucked her chin in, holding in a gasp.
"Holy shit, Grace – you're bleeding", Malarkey said, a bit too loudly.
"What happened there – nothing happened on the mountain", Joe asked, his voice thick with concern.
"Bled through; looks worse than it really is, I'm sure", Grace replied.
"Bled through? What happened?" Bill demanded.
Grace breathed out evenly, not looking forward to the training course she has to face with Sobel, "I'm nursing a bullet wound I got last week in North Africa".
Tab fingered her medic badge, "but you're a medic, they can't shoot at you".
She looked at him, holding his eyes, "It wasn't on at the time", she paused then thought whether or not to get into it, but decided to give them something more, "and it doesn't help when you're firing back at them". They all looked at her, obvious questions in their eyes but she shrugged them off, "Want to help me get this back on? I gatta meet Sobel at the course".
"You probably shouldn't run it with that shoulder of yours", George said from her right as she cringed. He tried sliding it up her arms as softly as he could, he looked up and could see the same concentration on Tab's face.
She knew she'd given up too much then, need to stomp on the questions now, "where's the fun in that?" She smiled wryly, her eyes hardened over. Put the wall up, no questions yet.
"You better see a medic right after", Bill said, his voice without jest.
Grace nodded, "We'll see you at the mess hall", Tab said next to her.
She smiled, "save me a seat will ya?"
They nodded their heads as they watched her run off towards the training course and Sobel, all worried about what indecent things he'll say without them present.
Review pretty please! I have an entire amazing story planned out and I'd love to her what you have to say so far!
Thanks for reading!