Disclaimer – You recognise it, I don't own it.
When asked what he remembered about the day that everything changed for Captain Watson, he would always say the same two things instantly.
Fire and blood.
The hot sun was like fire on his skin.
He was on patrol. They weren't expecting anything to happen. Their particular route had been quiet for as long as they'd known it. So while the guns stayed and the body armour stayed, helmets had been replaced with their navy blue berets, complete with clipped white and red feather plume. A method of humanising them to the natives.
The sand was fire beneath their jeep's tires, but firm. No chance of slipping or skidding, unless you weren't paying attention.
While the banter amongst the patrol was friendly, they were still all business.
Then there was red fire. Yellow fire. White fire.
An explosion threw them out of their jeep. A second one rocked them backwards, scrabbling for cover.
Hot sand burned John's hands as he crawled behind a rock.
It was only when he was behind it and temporarily safe that he realized that Steve, his Lt. had been protecting him with his body the whole time.
"You idiot!" John snapped, "You could have been killed!"
"Better I get injured than you, Doc." Steve grinned without remorse, "Cause if you're down who's going to treat us?"
"Down!" Nick yelled, moments after gunfire broke out.
John's basic kit was down and out, before anyone had needed to reload.
There was blood. Blood drops staining the sand. Blood soaking into fabric. Blood smears on rocks. Blood running down limbs.
His job wasn't to fight… Not then. He was to keep the rest of his patrol alive. It was in the Geneva Conventions. Against all his training. He was not to attack. He was to protect and defend.
No more. No less.
"This is Captain Watson of Patrol Unit Theta calling Base." John yelled into his radio, "We are under heavy fire. Request back-up immediately. I repeat, we are under heavy fire. Requesting immediate back-up. Over."
"Captain Watson, this is Base. What are you facing? Over."
"I don't know. Started with a bomb. Possibly an IED. At least a dozen shooters. Automatics. Sounds like H&K. But I can't be certain. Send back-up. Over."
"What is your location? Over."
"We're about thirty klicks into our assigned patrol. Just about six minutes past the Oasis. Over." John replied.
"Hold your position. Over and out."
"Not like we were going anywhere." John muttered.
Crouched down, he pulled off his beret. No need to advertise his movements or position.
All around him, he could hear the retaliatory fire of his patrol.
He had to do his job. Both of them.
He was RAMC. His job was to keep them alive.
He was also technically the highest ranking man among them. So his job was to bring them home.
Only technically, because really the RAMC didn't have command over regular troops in anything but medical details. However John didn't really consider himself anything other than their Captain.
The job for a medic was to keep them alive. The job for a superior was to bring them home.
Both were the same job if you looked at it from one angle.
Well, he had four men to keep alive and bring home.
Carefully peering around his rock, John calculated where the shooters were.
The code for the RAMC was that they should not fight. Except in defence of themselves or their patients.
John mentally extended that to mean those who would become his patients, should the enemy harm them.
He drew his gun. Waited for a lull in the firefight. Then popped up from behind his rock and fired.
It wasn't quite where he had hoped to put the bullet. But a throat shot was as good as a head-shot.
It put the bastard down. That was all that mattered in the end. When it all came down to it.
"Leave the trick shots to the cowboys and civis and amatures," As John's gun instructor had always said, "Long as they ain't a threat anymore then it's a good shot."
One down. Eleven to go.
But that was for later. Steve's left arm was bleeding. Even from a distance John could see that both Nick and Muzaffar had head injuries. Possible concussion if he was any guess. But he would have to cross to their rock to find out. He couldn't even see Sheena; she was beyond and behind Nick and Muzaffar.
One pressure bandage later and John felt secure in the knowledge that Steve wouldn't be dying on him just yet.
"Cover me!" John yelled, moments before he duck-ran over to Nick and Muzaffar.
Surprisingly he made it without incident. Not even a few holes in his kit.
"Status?" He asked, pulling a cloth out his kit.
"You tell us, Doc." Muzaffar laughed, "I've got blood in my eye."
"Just a gash." John ran his fingers over it, careful not to obstruct the line of fire, "Head wounds always bleed. Hold still."
It didn't take much, just a small plaster on Muzaffar's forehead.
Nick had come out of the IED worse, missing the bottom half of one of his ears. And with several cuts and gashes. John bandaged him up as best he could. The only thing he could be glad of was that the jeep had protected them from the worst of the bomb. Otherwise the injuries would be much worse.
"Sheena?" John called over to her.
"I'm okay!" She replied from behind her rock, "Are the two lugheads alright? Muz and Nick whacked their heads pretty hard in that explosion."
"They got rocks for brains!" Steve shouted over, "Ain't nothing going to harm their heads. Right Doc?"
"I want Nick to see a Plastic Surgeon, but apart from that… Nothing too serious." John retorted.
"Hell, Doc." Muzaffar laughed, "Ain't nothing they can do. That's the way he's always looked. Ugly!"
John shook his head at the banter. It was always the same. Ribbing and joking around.
"Sheena," John barked, "Get over here. I don't like that we're so spread out."
"Move Steve first." Sheena countered, "I see that bandage."
"I want both of you in the group." John fired back, "I just want concentrated fire for when we move to Steve. He's got the largest rock."
"I know that what he always says, Doc." Sheena retorted, "But there's no need to confirm it!"
"Oh, ha ha!" Steve chimed in, "It ain't bragging if it's true."
"People!" John cut across the banter, "Patel! Shift that butt!"
Sheena moved as the rest of the patrol provided cover fire.
"Damnit Sheena!" John swore as she crouched down next to him, "You've twisted your ankle, haven't you?"
"It's nothing." Sheena protested.
"It's not nothing." John countered, "It's an injury that won't help. And that we have to take into account. A sprained ankle could put you out of commission permanently, if you don't care for it properly."
"Yeah, but I ain't gonna die from it, Doc." Sheena retorted, "Long as we survive this, I'll let you do what you want afterwards. Kay?"
"Alright." John knew that he couldn't fight her, not right then.
They quickly moved over to Steve. John was relieved to see that he hadn't managed to bleed through the pressure bandage yet.
John stayed low, while the other four kept firing. He just kept passing them clips for their guns. Though he was starting to worry that the back-up had not turned up. And they were running out of bullets.
Fortunately they were also running out of enemy. There were fewer shots than there had been previously.
More fire. Red fire. Yellow fire. White fire.
A second explosion.
It had been a grenade.
John hadn't even seen it land. The patrol had though. As one they had moved to protect him from the explosion.
He pushed his way out from the pile of limp bodies. His gun was firm in his hands. Three quick shots and he had no more enemies to worry about. They'd thought their grenade had taken out all of the patrol.
John knew why the others had protected him. It was instinct. It was habit. It was ingrained.
But that didn't stop him from thinking that it was spectacularly stupid!
However they were still alive. So he could yell at them later.
He did have to treat them. So that he could yell at them later.
He hauled them apart and started to treat them. There wasn't much he could really do. Apply pressure bandages. Start plasma expanders. Provide morphine. Intubate Sheena (the shrapnel had torn open her throat and she was drowning in her own blood). Set limbs.
Finally John was desperately trying to staunch the blood coming from Steve. The Lt's only chance at survival depended upon continuous pressure being applied until the medi-evac arrived.
The others were stable, but would need further medical care soon. Plasma expanders and basic pressure bandages wouldn't… Couldn't keep them alive forever.
All the time John didn't stop talking.
"You are not bloody Superman! I don't need you to sacrifice yourself for me! God, Steve! What did you do? Air goes in and out, blood goes round and round, any variation on this is bad! Remember? You're bleeding like a stuck pig!"
"Don't think that's the saying, Doc." Nick managed to get out.
"And I object to it." Muzaffar added.
"And you two!" John fired, "Broken limbs are nature's way of telling you to slow down! I'm a soldier. Just like you! I don't need any special consideration. I don't need any special treatment. I knew what I was signing up for!"
"That's not it, Doc." Steve hissed from beneath John's hands.
"Shut up!" John instructed, "You're going to live, damn you! And it's not being helped by your talking!"
"He's right though," Muzaffar nodded, "It's not that we think less of you. It's just that you're the Doc. If you're injured… If you're dying… Who's going to take care of us? Who's going to keep us alive?"
"Who's going to bring us home?" Nick whispered.
"Then don't you dare die on me!" John ordered, "Don't you dare! And if you do something this stupid again I'll hit you! I can cure a lot of things. But I can't cure stupid!"
That got a hacking cough from all parties. The closest they could come to a laugh.
John heard at least two vehicles approaching.
"Doc!" Muzaffar called out, "Run! They're not ours. They're not ours!"
"I'm not leaving you." John replied, "In Arduis Fidelis."
"That's stupidity." Nick hissed.
"If I move, Steve dies. I am not going to let that happen." John fired back, "If they want to kill us, then they have to kill all of us."
John knew they were in a hopeless situation. He was the only one of his patrol able to wield a weapon. And he couldn't move his hands from Steve.
He heard them get out of the vehicles. But he didn't turn his head. Looking wouldn't help. Moving wouldn't help. What would happen, would happen. He couldn't leave Steve.
He heard them approach. Heard Nick and Muzaffar's entreaties to leave them.
He felt them behind him. Felt a rifle pushed into his back.
"Get up!" The order was barked.
"No." John replied, despite the rifle barrel poking him in the back, "If I move he dies."
A shot rang out.
"And now he's dead. Get up!"
John rose to his feet. Eyes not moving from Steve's face, now ruined forever by a bullet. Fists clenched tightly by his side.
"What about the others?" One of the enemy asked.
"Leave them. They're dying. Would only slow us down. We don't need them. We have what we came for."
John stayed silent as they bound him and moved him to a jeep. He noticed that they also brought his medical kit with them
He sent up prayers of one sort or another that the back-up would arrive quickly.
It was his patrol's only hope.
He wasn't too surprised that they blindfolded him.
He had no fear that they would kill him. At least not yet. They had made their intentions clear on that front. They wanted him alive.
He had no chance of escape. A guard sat on either side of him. Bound and blind he wouldn't last two minutes in any attempt.
Better to wait and listen. There would be another time. Another chance.
If he had learnt anything over the years, it was the benefits of patience.
Instead of worrying, he subscribed to the old tenant:
"Sleep when you can. You never know when you might get another chance."
After all, he had no way of identifying where he was going. They might drive around in circles for hours just to disorientate him. So worrying about it wouldn't help.
Behind the blindfold, he closed his eyes and started to doze.
Fire and blood haunted his dreams.
Yes, this is a bit out of left field for a crossover. But it was set even before TMPPOTB was finished (sorry, can't be bothered to type of the whole title).
I would also like to apologise to true GI Joe fans if I massacre their fandom. I really am a big fan, but my knowledge of the series is a bit all over the shop… And a fair bit of it comes from fandom writers. So some of what I set as canon is their headcanon.
On the other hand, they are some of the best GI Joe writers out there: CrystalOfEllinon; Karama9; Totenkinder Madchen; and willwrite4fics. To name my top four.
I am trying to read some of the old comics, but they are getting increasingly hard/expensive to get hold of.
Also sorry, the Joes don't turn up for quite a way into this.
Once again thank you.