Disclaimer: Don't own War Horse and probably never will.
A/N: I was reading about British Calvary training and it said that Calvary troops were trained on both Calvary warfare and normal soldier fighting. So Rose and the rest of the men will be learning how do fight in the normal war as well, that way if they have to use it, they'll have the skills to do it. Sorry about the super long wait! I've been busy with real life stuff. Some inspiration I got for this chapter was this Conan video:
MustangLover97: I wish I knew a guy like Steve, but, alas, I do not. If I ever find one I might be iffy on letting you know about him. ;) Thanks for reviewing, you're awesome! :D
DestierSnowflakeMoonwood: Steve's story made me aawww too. Thanks for reviewing! :)
SilverTortoise: I did take my inspiration for Steve from the Captain America character but I'm not going to have him in the story. I'd have to change a lot of things in the story that I have planned out in my mind, but a crossover would be pretty cool. Thanks for the review and story follow! :D
disneyylandacidtrip: Thank you, I really do try to work hard on this story! :)
Nony: Thank you for telling me about the Nazi thing, I hadn't even thought about that! Thank you for the review as well, your English is pretty good so need to apologize. I'm happy that Rose isn't a Mary-Sue I try to make her pretty realistic. Thanks again! :)
Stephanie: Thank you! Your reviews are enough to keep me motivated and for me to try my best not to get constructive criticism. :) I was being pretty mean to Rose, wasn't I? I'm going to lay off on the harshness towards Rose now. Here's your long awaited chapter! :D
I woke up that morning, exhausted from my talk with Steve, but having enough sleep to get me through the rest of the day. I dragged myself out of the tent, yawning noisily as I did so. I drowsily made my way through the camp as the rapidly becoming normal mist floated about. I wandered through, taking my time, and lazily shoving my hands in my pockets. No one was awake, it was so peaceful and quiet that it almost made me forget that this was a war training camp. The realization of that not all of us would come back hit me like a ton of bricks, I nearly doubted my "brilliant" plan, but I shook off the horrible feeling and sped up towards the stables.
Later as the sun was rising and the trumpet was about to sound; I was finishing my job. Men were up and about, unusually before the wake up call, because of the excitement for normal combat training. We were to also learn how to fight in a normal combat situations along with normal Calvary horseback riding procedures, you never know when a moment like that will arise. Like I said, people were excited, they liked the change in the daily routine, I along with them. I was tired of the constant charges and drills we were so used to having.
A loud snort interrupted my thoughts, I turned back to the horse in front of me and realized it was Captain Nicholl's horse, Joey. His big brown eyes stared at me as I returned to my shoveling. I watched him out of the corner of my eye as he continued looking at me, I reached up a hand for him to sniff. He shied away at first but slowly raised his nose up to press it into my palm. I patted his nose, observing his beautiful features, he really was a great horse.
"Joey being good?" I heard someone say from from behind me.
I turned to see Captain Nicholls as I felt a smile spread across my face, " Of course he is, hows he doing?"
He took a couple steps forward to stand to beside me patting Joey's head. He looked at me and said, "Yes he is, rides well and is a great, lovable horse."
"Still as fast as usual?" I asked, thinking back to our race.
"Of course, Harry still a little racehorse?"
"Yep, nearly as fast as Joey," I said daringly.
"Is that a challenge I hear? You think you can beat the amazing James Nicholls and his lightning fast horse: Joey!" he said dramatically.
"I know wecan beat you! Harry the rocket and Michael the supreme are ready to beat the great Captain Nicholls any day!" I haughtily replied.
"You're on Private Copper!" he said, a glint in his eye. "Grab your horse and saddle up, you're excused from the rest of your duties until this race is finished- no, I mean, I win this race!" he smiled and waved me off towards Harry.
"Yes Sir!" I yelled as I ran off to my horse. I grabbed my saddle and threw it onto his back. I quickly strapped it on and opened up the pen, leading Harry back towards James. He was already waiting on top of Joey by the pen. I climbed onto Harry and side-by-side Captain Nicholls and I trotted out of the stables.
As we were nearing the practice field while challenging and mocking each other jokingly, I began to realize something. We were… friends, a commanding officer and a disguised woman were friends.
'And that's all we'll ever be,' I thought to myself, I should have never thought or wished we could be something more. If I ever told him or if he ever found out I'd be kicked out immediately… or worse.
My silence must have been noticed because the Captain said, with a slight tinge of worry to his voice, "Are you all right Copper, you're unusually quiet."
I gave him a half-hearted smile, "Just thinking."
"I hope the thought of me beating you doesn't worry you too much," he said kiddingly but suddenly got serious, "but really though, what's bothering you?"
I looked at him but quickly looking away. I felt the slightest bit of guilt for lying to him and the rest of the guys, but more especially; to him. I didn't want him dying or anyone else on that matter. I studied the dark trees around us as we slowly clip-clopped to the starting line.
"The thought of war- of anyone dying to be precise- kind of scares me," I looked back at him, he had a hard look on his face, "Then I have to think, 'come on Mate, this what you signed up for!''"
"I'm not going to lie, but it kind of makes me feel that way as well. I don't want to write any letters to families that say their young boys will never return home." He was staring straight forward, his mouth set in a firm line, it looked as if he was desperately trying not to let horror of it all show on his face.
"I'm sorry," I said quietly.
"I don't have the job that has nearly the amount of emotional toll as you have," I said, reaching over and patting him slightly on the shoulder.
He looked at me and gave me the slightest smile, "It's okay, and why do our conversations always lead up to this dark, dismal place?" He scrunched up his eyebrows, "Come on, let's race!"
I nodded happily. We led our horses up to the starting line, lining them up so their front hooves were firmly on the slight indent in the ground.
"Remember where that marker was during our very first charge? The one I yanked out of the ground before Major Stewart," he gloated.
"Yes, vaguely," I said remembering back to that day.
"That's the finish line, okay?"
A smile grew on both of our faces as we both counted down to zero. "THREE... TWO... ONE... GO!" we yelled in sync.
Our horses took off, Harry darting right behind Joey. We were soon neck in neck, no one in front of the other. He looked over at me, I glanced at him to see a mocking smile on his face as I bit the inside of my cheek, I was planning on winning. We shot towards the finish, our horses steadily keeping up with each other. Throughout the bolt to the finish line we moved in out of first and last lace before our horses crossed at the exact same time without a space between us.
We flew past the finish line at a tie. I was laughing at the outcome, Nicholls could not let me beat him. He slowed Joey to a stop grinning from ear to ear.
"I was going easy on you!" he called over to me.
"Sure you were! Looks like Harry's gotten better since the last time we raced, eh?" I asked, turning Harry around in a wide circle.
He led Joey over beside me as we began going back to the Stables. Helpers and soldiers combined were beginning to drag equipment for our drills today into the field. Targets were being set up around the makeshift shooting range, obstacle courses being created, and areas were being marked for the multiple groups along with the different drill courses were all being set up. The whole ordeal made me excited, the daily routine was about to get a little bit faster paced.
He just smiled and shook his head at my last statement. He then joined in on the observing of the whole set up. I saw him out of the corner of my eye glance at me, studying my reaction. It seems to me that he truly cared for me, perhaps he saw me as little brother and him as the guiding older one.
Inwardly I smiled, the thought of him being a protective older brother was adorable. I pictured him as a boy, standing proudly with his younger brother standing beside him. I turned to him, saying out-of-the-blue, "Did you have any siblings James?"
He gave me a quizzical look, "A older and younger sister," suddenly my mental image changed, "Why do you ask?"
I shrugged, "Just wondering," I said, sounding slightly detached from the conversation, "What do they do?"
"Well my older sister's a journalist, working around in India at the moment actually, and my younger sister is an aspiring actress," he sighed, "I miss them and Mum and Dad." He looked at me with a curious light in his eyes, "What about your family?"
I smiled slightly, this was the only thing I tell most of the truth about, "My father died of Tuberculosis when I was seven, so my mother raised me. She was a seamstress, made beautiful dresses. She raised me to never underestimate a woman's strength and to be like my father, a hard working farmer who honestly earned his wages."
"I'm sorry about your father. I am sure he was a great man, wh-" he started.
I waved my hand, cutting him off, "No need to be sorry, what's in the past is in the past. No need to worry, and thank you for understanding though."
He smiled apologetically, "I agree with your mother, never underestimate a woman's power." His warm, beautifully blue eyes looked into mine. I nodded and turned forward to steer Harry around the many men working around us.
As we neared the stables we dismounted our horses for the crowd of men made it a by to difficult to guide our horses around. Men were swarming around the area where we first got our uniforms. I could not see over the heads of the tall men what was being given out.
Nicholls noticed my difficulties and with a amused tone of voice said, "They're assigning rifles for our drills today. They'll hand out ammunition later on at the lessons."
I looked up at him, realizing how tall he actually was. His tall, lean frame towered over me. Luckily I wasn't actually a man otherwise I'd be ashamed of my height. "Thanks Sir," I said ruefully.
"James," he corrected and continued leading his horse towards it's pen.
We led our horses back in silence, thoughts drifting in and out of our minds. I know that they were completely different, for I was thinking of the man beside me. Thinking of how much I… liked him. My level of fondness of him was quickly escalating out of my control.
He on the other hand was probably thinking of his short, little, hot-tempered companion. Wondering how in the world he became acquainted with this small man. I laughed on the inside, the thought of his reaction if he ever found out who I really was would be somewhat amusing. He would be shell-shocked or it could be worse; he could be absolutely furious.
His voice broke me out of my thoughts, we had reached Joey's pen, "Well Michael, that race was a very adrenaline inducing event. I should very much enjoy another, just to prove to you that my horse is, indeed, the fastest!"
I snorted, "I don't know about that, Harry and I have been getting better at ridding of the late, so you better watch out."
He raised an eyebrow, a bemused expression on his face, "Are you sure about that? Joey may have been just having a bad day."
"I'm positive," I said smartly.
"Okay, you might be right," he turned around and put Joey back in his pen, "But Joey still did pretty okay."
"Yeah, I guess he did," I said, slightly disgruntled from the lack of praise towards Harry.
He noticed, "Harry did a magnificent job as well!" I perked up a bit, he smiled at that, "I should probably leave you to go help out with the set up," he glanced around the people bustling about before quickly turning back to me, "Great job at the race today and good look at drills!"
"Thanks James, and same to you, Joey did wonderful! Good luck as well," I said, turning around after he nodded in acknowledgement.
In the next chapter I'll have what happens at the drills, sorry for the wait again! :)