This was based on the Tv series, no disrespect meant to anyone, I am not basing this off real events.
How the hell Doc Roe knew his name, that was far beyond Babe Heffron.
"Edward? Jesus, Doc, the nuns call me Edward!"
The rest of the conversation is mixed up in Heffron's head. The cold, the hunger, the thirst. He can barely keep his eyes open, but he must, watch the goddammed line, Heffron.
He doesn't even think Bill knows his name, or even Winters. He is Babe Heffron, and always will be, well, until the end of that stupid war, but for now, Babe was all he was.
Except for the doc. The man was a real joke.
"Uhh... It's Edward, right?"
Babe half-smiled, half laughed. His little fox hole was cold and the air, colder. Hearing his name with that accent was somehow funny, and yet making Heffron uneasy. The doc had something, something in his voice, that bugged Heffron. He didn't know what yet, and, as the first bomb of the day fell upon them, Heffron suddenly couldn't afford to think about anything else than his fragile life at stake.
"INCOMING!" he screamed, as he heard and felt everybody move around him, as the ground shook, as the cries of pain or distress in between the booms grew louder, and then-
Edward Heffron had his eyes closed, and he was curled up on himself, trying to remember to breathe, but he could practically see Roe, running around, just like a doe, a hand on his helmet, the other one protectively put on his first aid kit, on his hip.
"MEDIC! DAMN IT DOC, COME HERE! HERE!"
The cries and shouts were very close to him, Heffron realized, as the attack withdrew after a few minutes in the distance and a pressing silence fell upon them. Babe opened his eyes and tried to move, his body suddenly heavy. He peeked up his hole to see a replacement hit on the ground, five feet away from him. Doc Roe was opening a sachet of salt.
"Easy, there, McCarthy, I got you, you're alright... Look at me, look at me, you'll be okay."
Salt, then bandages, his movements were assured and practical, fast and sharp. Heffron watched in awe as the victim relaxed, while Roe talked some more. His voice was hypnotic. The soldier that called the medic, another replacement, was looking at his partner, unable to say anything.
"Okay, McCarthy, your friend here-"
Roe gave him a quick look.
"Austin. Austin will take you to the station, Luz already called a Jeep, you'll be okay, it's just a scratch on your leg. Now, Austin, go."
Austin blinked and helped his friend to get up, quickly carrying him further away, where he would be safe. Roe sighed, oh so slightly, and something in Heffron's head clicked.
The doc didn't looked at Austin's uniform to know his name. He looked at his face. His goddam face, and he knew the name of that replacement. Hell, Heffron didn't even knew who he was until he screamed for the medic. He didn't even remember when exactly Austin got here, and Roe knew his name from his face.
A real joke.
"You okay, Edward? Heffron?"
Babe blinked twice, then realized that all this time he was staring at Roe, without moving a muscle. Roe's eyebrows were down in concern. He cleared his throat.
"Yeah, m'fine, thanks."
But Heffron didn't have time to answer, as the second assault fell upon them. Babe backed down in his foxhole, and, a few seconds later, he felt the heavy weight of Roe on him, as the ground was being torn apart.
"Sorry Edward-" could manage to hear Heffron in the turmoil, and, just before he could say anything, Roe was beside him, and suddenly he wasn't anymore.
"MEDIC!" someone screamed, and Heffron saw Roe running toward the voice as fast as he could, a hand on his helmet, the other on his first aid kit. The bombs were still falling from the sky, but Doc Roe couldn't care less.
Heffron started to laugh, without really knowing why.
A real joke.
Babe wasn't around when the first batch of the Easy was running up and down Currahee, but Guarnere talked about it sometimes, and Muck and Malarkey couldn't seem to shut up about it, so it was not like Heffron asked for anything, anyway.
"There would be Lip' and Winters, running very fast, but Winters would never run straight, and then Muck always seemed to fall somehow –ouch! Stop it Muck!- and Bull would, like, growl something, and suddenly sprint, and Luz always arrived last, right Luz?"
"Fuck you, Malarkey."
"Yeah, that's what I was saying. And Sobel was screaming insults... Hey, remember when it was actually hot outside, because I can't seem to remember anything that doesn't involve snow and trees exploding."
"Same here, Malarkey", said Muck, trying to eat his meal with his shaking hands.
There was a silence. And then:
"So... Everyone had to do the training?" asked Babe, curious. "Even the doc?"
Roe didn't eat with them, ever. He was in his foxhole, or a few meters away, looking at the distance, but he would never talk to the other men of Easy for another purpose than to know if they were okay. The only person he would talk to was Winters, and even then it was not so often. Babe wondered why he was so alone. I mean, it's not like the guy was mean, he just... Chose reclusion. For Babe Heffron, that was strange.
"Yeah, even the doc.," answered Malarkey once again. They all looked around, but Roe was no where to be seen.
"He never eats with us" continued Heffron, determined to have some answers. "I mean, we're not doing anythi- Ow! What was that for?"
Bill had slapped him across the arm lazily, but Babe wasn't expecting it.
"The man does what he wants, 'kay, Babe?"
"Yeah, sure, I know that! I was wondering why he would never try to be pal with us or-"
"Just imagine being him" cut Muck. The others became silent. Apparently, it was something they had already talked about. "You're always running everywhere, trying to save our sorry asses. And when you can't, how is that feel, uh? You just lost one of your friends. So, I guess he just wouldn't make any, so when the Reaper comes... It's just easier for him, right?"
"That guy's a freaking angel, if you ask me", added Malarkey. "I've seen him while he was fixing some poor guy's stomach, and he was just talking to him, you know? And the guy relaxed like he was back home with a beer in his hands. I was just beside the guy three seconds ago, and I couldn't even look at him in the eye."
"That's just because you suck", Muck smirked.
The men laughed a bit, but Heffron wasn't finished:
"The guy always calls me by my first name. I mean, I told him to call me Babe, but no, each time, he just..."
He was cut once again.
"He often calls me William", said Guarniere, laughing. "He seems remember every damn name of every damn soldier here. Even the replacements. I don't know how the guy's doing it, but he's something, that's for sure."
"Yeah, we're fucking lucky to have him with us" said Malarkey, suddenly serious. "I'm sure we would be half of our number if it wasn't for him."
All the others nodded, and that was it.
Babe didn't remember when exactly he became so obsessed with Roe.
"Dammit, Heffron, why don't you ask the guy himself", had say Bill, throwing him away from his foxhole, after the tenth or so question about the doctor.
To be honest, Heffron was afraid Roe wouldn't talk to him. It was terrible; having his own preoccupations, but to also carry all of the other's men problems... Heffron didn't think he could take all the pressure on him.
He walked around the fox holes for a bit, talking to some people, joking with others. He felt like Lipton right now, and it felt weird, like he had steal a job.
He stopped when he saw the medic's helmet peeking of his hole, the cross once white painted on it. A moment passed, while Edward considered his possibilities.
After some time, Heffron inhaled sharply, and thought: the hell with it. He slid beside the man before he could change his mind.
Roe looked at him, unsure of what to say.
"Hey. Everything okay, Heffron?"
"Yeah, yeah, don't worry, everything is fine, I just.. thought you could use some company."
Roe's eyebrows rose with honest-to-God surprise.
"Some company- uh... Okay, I guess" he answered after a minute. Heffron suddenly knew that the man was very alone, and even if everybody pretended it was him who decided to be that way, he realized that maybe the others too were pushing him away, always calling him Doc, instead of his real name, trying to keep a distance.
"Oh God, maybe that's why he's calling everybody else by their first name, so he could feel less alone all the time. Jesus Christ." Babe thought, suddenly horrified.
He tried his best not to go out there and punch someone. He smiled to the man, instead. Roe smiled back, a little smile.
And that was it.
"No, you got to cut the 'r', it has to be aggressive."
"Damn, I never knew cursing in French could be so dangerous."
Making Eugene smile for more than two seconds was now Heffron's favourite game. It was strangely satisfying.
"She would say: eat your vegetables and stuff like that, but I couldn't stand broccolis. I would prefer being punished, or not having dessert instead of eating that crap. Now, I wouldn't mind, anything but that sort of soup that we're always eating."
"I got it worst. Mushrooms. I can't stand 'em, and there's some in the meals."
"Ah, man, my condolences."
When Julian died, that was something.
Babe had already seen death all around him. He had killed Germans. He had carried some wounded, some dead, some half-dead. The war itself was just a synonym for death.
Poor Julian was so young. Like everybody else. There was too much bullets. He couldn't save him. Babe saw in Julian's eyes that he knew, but Heffron screamed and reached and tried and tried again, and didn't give up until he had no other choice, but even then, he made a promise he knew he couldn't keep.
And Julian was dead.
It was funny how a person is so easily eliminated. How the life of Julian was so small, like it didn't even matter.
They all sat in a heavy silence that afternoon, eating, exchanging looks, sighing. Winters even sat with them, sharing the loss, feeling the pain. Roe sat a bit in retreat, looking over him. Their eyes met, and Heffron did his best not to cry.
That same night, Babe Heffron walked groggily around the foxholes, and it was just when he slid in one he realized he was in the medics'.
"Hey, Babe, are you okay?" asked Roe's friend, Spina, an arm already around his shoulders.
The other man patted his back, and Heffron felt guilty about how he hoped Eugene would be here instead.
Babe couldn't speak. He just couldn't. It was too painful; to remember those eyes, that hand, reaching for him, all his body shaking, blood everywhere. It was too hard to open his mouth. Babe thought that if he opened it now, he would scream until somebody would knock him unconscious, or even kill him.
The medic threw a blanket over him, and waited in silence. There was nothing to say for now. Babe thought of Guarnere, and Muck, and Luz's stupid jokes, and he really wished those assholes could stay alive through Bastogne, and even through the war. If himself could stay alive. There was nothing more to ask. Just to wish.
He was starting to drift off when he heard someone approaching. The rough blanket that covered the foxhole was removed and a silhouette slid under. Babe turned his head and was more than glad to see it was Roe.
"Gotcha" he whispered, smiling, like he had been looking for him. His smile faded rapidly, seeing Babe like that.
He lifted a part of the blanket and got under. He took something out of his coat pocket.
He handed him something, but Babe didn't want to move. Roe retrieved the object, and, under his fingers, cut a part of it.
It's Edward, right?
It was dark, but Heffron could smell the chocolate, and oh, the smell.
Roe then cut another piece off, and took Heffron's hands in his own. They were cold, and it only lasted for an instant. Then they were gone, and only a piece of chocolate stayed between his fingers.
An order, but a friendly one. Eyes watering, Heffron took a slow bite. Roe seemed to relax.
And, almost for himself: "alright."
He then realized that the two men had lost a lot more of friends, and soldiers, and just people than him. There were tons of Julian out there that couldn't have been saved, but he knew Roe was carrying them with him. He suddenly felt silly and also ashamed as a mean part of him realized how weak he was.
He spoke. His voice was uncertain, and tears yelled up at the corner of his eyes. He couldn't care less.
"It's just that I promised him that I would take his stuff to his mom if anything happened to him, you know? And now the fucking Germans will strip him-"
"Hey, Heffron, it's okay, it's okay" said almost immediately Roe.
"No, it's not, it's not okay!"
There was a silence.
"I should have gone to him."
Heffron turned his head to look at Roe. His face was twisted with sadness and pain, and sympathy. And he had chocolate with him. Dammit, Heffron hadn't seen chocolate since he was in the army. Edward began to think that the doctor could now cure anything, even a rainy day.
There was nothing more to add.
Heffron drifted slowly into a deep sleep, tired like never before.
And the sun rose the next day, exactly like nothing happened.
"... traiteuses. You know, my grandma was a traiteuse."
"Lay her hands on people and cure 'em. Took away sickness… "
"Your grandma did that? You're shittin' me."
"I remember she used to pray a lot."
"Yeah, I guess she had to."
"She talked to God about the pain she pulled out… asked him to… carried it away. That's what she did."
Babe shifted, eyes closed, and went back to sleep.
When he woke up, Roe wasn't in the foxhole anymore. Babe was alone, in fact, with a heavy blanket, and Julian was still dead. He tried to push the thought away, and got on his feet.
It was still cold, outside, but Babe's heart felt warm as the sound of rescue planes got to his frozen ears.
"What do you miss the most from home, then?"
"Uh… Good coffee, I guess."
"Stop looking at me like I'm paid to know you better, Jesus, you're unbelievable. And coffee, I get you, I mean, that's just hot water with a hint of caffeine that they give us here."
"...Peaches. I miss peaches. I could kill for a can."
"Peaches? My, Eugene, you're a sentimental."
"I'm Edward, remember?"
"Shut up, and pass me the scissors."
"If you could be any animal, what would you be?"
"Okay, Heffron, I think you really need to shut up and sleep, now."
"Come on, 'Gene!"
"… A cat, I would be a cat. Happy? Now shut your eyes."
"A cat? I would be a bird, so I could fly. Wouldn't it be amazing?"
"Yeah, okay, alright, kitty."
"Hey, Eugene, I… Thank you."
"For not laughing at me right now."
"Oh, Heffron, I am laughing. In my head."
"Oh, fuck you."
"Well, it's not everyday that a medic can see someone that got hurt by his own helmet."
"Shut up and patch me up, would ya?"
When the Germans attacked with the goddamm artillery, Heffron thought that was it.
"MEDIC!" he heard, again and again, while he was shooting with his poor gun on the massive trucks that were headed towards them. Once again, he could easily imagine Roe fixing the poor guy up; with movements so fast even Lipton couldn't follow. It was Smokey, who got hit, and when Roe got back from the aid station, he wasn't the same. Heffron couldn't say why, but he just wasn't. The battle had been terrible. The men were all tired and hungry, and they lost a few of them. They could hold the line, but not for very much longer. When the Germans backed up, the men didn't immediately get out of their foxholes: they were still waiting for another atrocity to come their way. Eventually, Lipton, Malarkey, then Luz got out, and before they knew it was supper. It felt out of place.
"Here you go," said the cook, and Heffron handed him another cup:
"For the doc" he heard himself say.
Roe was sitting in his habitual position, staring at nothing and everything at the same time, lost in his thoughts. Heffron walked toward him, and gave him his cup. Roe didn't even acknowledge him, and Babe was starting to be worried.
"Doc?" he called, and he immediately hated himself for calling him that.
It's Edward, right?
He put the cup in Roe- in Eugene's hands, and walked away, feeling like he could never be warm again in his life.
Why would Eugene never let anyone take care of him? Heffron had a few times been wakening up by Eugene's nightmares. It wasn't funny, being he. How could Roe stand to be so alone? It felt weird. Perhaps he was keeping all of this to himself because he was afraid. Heffron sighed. The man was not a joke anymore, he was a fucking tragedy.
Night felt rapidly upon them. It was Christmas, but it didn't feel like it. It just felt like one more day in Hell.
Heffron didn't think the quietness would last. Guarnere called him an imbecile before leaving for Compton's foxhole, but it was his way to say Merry Christmas. It was all good, and Babe almost let himself believe that the Germans would leave them at peace, at least tonight, but-
The threes were exploding again, and Babe swore loudly. It felt good, but a cry for help cut him off. It was Harry, no other option, his foxhole was rather close to his, and he could hear Winters screaming for Eugene.
But the seconds passed, and no one came. Harry was dying, and where was their goddam medic?
Heffron got out of his hole and started running before he could even tell where he was going.
"DOC! ROE!" he heard Winters scream, and he repeated it without even noticing it.
He arrived at the medic's foxhole while the ground shook once more. Eugene was curled up in a ball, and he wasn't moving.
He can't snap out. He can't. You can't, Eugene, you can't let go, you can't, you hear me?
He fell into the pit, and motioned to Spina to move, and bent down, grabbing Roe by his shoulders.
" 'Gene, come on, get up, the Captain's yelling- Come on, get up!"
"Okay" said weakly Roe, and Babe had never been so glad to hear his voice. Heffron grabbed him by the front of his uniform, and pulled him up.
"Okay, okay, not okay like that, okay, come on, move, Jesus Christ-"
He helped Eugene out of his foxhole, pushing him, but his hand decided that it would not be at the right place at the right time. He cut himself on Eugene's bag, or uniform, it was too dark to see, but it hurt like hell.
"My hand! Goddammit!" he swore again, but he didn't feel better, this time.
He didn't feel better at all.
Babe was on watch when Roe came back from the aid station. Babe didn't care. He didn't want to care, not anymore, about that stupid medic, that doc that snap out, just for a minute. Heffron knew it wasn't fair, but he couldn't help himself, the cut on his hand was still burning with pain.
"To hell with Eugene," he thought, coughing. They had became friends over the days, the weeks, through their shared silences, and the conversations between two meals, and the walks, and the shared foxholes, and the screams for medic, and the bullets, and the attacks, but Heffron didn't want this friendship anymore, he didn't want anything anymore, he just wanted to sleep. But no, watch the goddammed line, Heffron.
He was tired. Nothing was fair. He hated the war, he hated Eugene Roe and his stupid accent, he hated the way he talked, the way he called him Edward, reminding him that he was human, and not just a soldier, hated that the poor guy had all this weight on him, he hated it.
He heard someone coming behind him, but Babe didn't move. To hell with everything.
He felt someone slid on his side, but he didn't had to look to know it was Eugene, because they were that close, he could tell by the sound of his boots on the ground that it was him. And Babe hated himself for that.
Always that sentence, even before a "hey" or a "how the things are doing?"
Everything okay? Are you alright? How are you? How's the leg?
Nobody asked Eugene. Nobody ever did. Babe decided he hated that too.
He nodded, responding without thinking to his nickname.
"Yeah," he answered, raising his wounded hand to scratch his nose.
"Hey-" immediate, it was like the man could only see what was wrong. "How did you do that?"
Babe turned his head, honest–to-God surprised.
"You did that."
The look on Eugene's face was terrible. He looked like he just hurt a puppy or a kitten by accident. He was horrified.
"I'll fix it up."
Babe turned his head (the line, Heffron, the line, Edward) when something off rang a bell in his head.
"Hey, 'Gene" he said, almost forgetting he hated everything. "You called me Babe!"
He was smiling. What was wrong with him? He was supposed to be angry.
Roe slowed down a bit, looking at him in the eyes. Green met brown.
"I did? When?" He sounded even more surprised than him. A sachet of salt was now in his hands.
"Just now", Babe answered, finding himself incapable of removing his eyes from Eugene's.
"Babe…" Eugene slowly said, like tasting the word. It sounded off, with his accent, and Heffron was careful not to laugh. "Yes, I did."
He smiled, a little smile, like he always did. Heffron laughed, unable to stop himself.
"Babe-" he mimicked, while Eugene was salting his wound.
"Heffron, watch the goddamned line." Babe laughed, but Eugene was all serious again. He took his hand in his, and started to cover the scratch with a light blue tissue.
When he was done, he didn't exactly let go of his hand. Babe waited, curious.
"Edward, for what happened earlier… I'm sorry."
It's Edward, right?-
"It's okay, Eugene," answered Babe, not sure of what to do, his hand still in the doc's. It was like Eugene was so concentrated on what he was saying, he forgot about everything else.
"No, it's not."
Heffron didn't want to move, he even held his breath. He didn't want to lose this moment, this very moment where Eugene, stupid Eugene, finally cared about himself.
"I mean, I shouldn't have frozen up like that, it's… I can't afford to fall apart."
Another silence. Babe couldn't stand it anymore, and turned his eyes from the line, meeting Eugene's again.
"But Ed, sometimes… It's so heavy, you know?" he whispered, like he didn't want anyone, except Babe, to hear this. He looked like a little boy, his hand still holding Heffron's, and eyes uncertain.
"He called me Ed. That could do," thought randomly Heffron before leaning down to kiss Eugene.
It was cold outside, and Babe hated everything. He hated the fact that Eugene Roe became medic, he hated the fact that the poor man was in the same war than him, he hated that Eugene was kissing him back, he hated that he loved it, he hated that he loved Eugene Roe, stupid, stupid Eugene Roe that never ate with the rest of the men, Roe that never forgot to pray, Roe that hated mushrooms, but loved peaches, Roe that could use a good night of sleep, Roe that was holding his hand in a strange way, Roe that could speak French, Roe that let Edward care about him.
"It'll be less heavy if you let me carry it with you" he said when he pulled back.
Eugene caught his breath, and looked at him with big questioning eyes. Heffron's shoulders rose, and he made a face. Eugene smiled back (gotcha) and this time, the kiss lasted longer.
For the rest of the night, he stayed in Heffron's foxhole, his hand still in his, and both of them watched the line, their problems still heavy on their shoulders. But it didn't matter, because they were now carrying them together.