I thought I would leave this chap in a cliffhanger. but I had lost all my hangers, so it didn't happen. or tehn I juts say that, and make this into a horrible twist of things. who knows. I don't, the characters may know. but yes, a warning. this chap is not good. it felt odd to write, adn i bet it will be odd to read. if you still feel like it, read on

Chapter III

They reached the front lines and ducked hastily. Kai hadn't figured the fight would still be so close, but then again they couldn't really start moving onward before they had enough men on the spot. He wanted to glance if Tala was still okay, but he couldn't really afford to look away from the enemy. So he just had to trust that the redhead could take care of himself right now. He saw some dark figures move in the dim night, and shot towards it. This was better, shooting in the dark, he had no way of seeing the enemy's face and see when the realization that they had been killed hit. He figured it was something he could never wipe away from his mind's eye, but at least right now he didn't have to worry about that too. Soon the command to move came, and he charged onward. After three steps, he dived down, crawled so he was partly protected by a tree trunk and aimed again at the enemy, and called Tala to proceed. Once Tala had come to his level, he charged again and so they moved. He recalled bitterly how he had in the rookie camp thought it was really stupid and ridiculous to crawl on wet ground and have so short charges. Surely one could run more than few steps before ducking, right? How foolish he had been, when bullets flew everywhere, you could hardly have the time for the few step charge, and it knowing how to charge and dive and soon after take the aim again were vital if one wanted to stay alive. And the whole group needed to move fast forward, or the enemy would have time to boogie trap their area and otherwise prepare for their approach.

"GO Kai!" he heard Tala's call, rushed up and tried to dash. Apparently he had been seen after his last duck, and once he was up, there was aimed fire at him. He gasped when a bullet scraped his shoulder, and ducked immediately. But because he had to go onward, he crawled onward, trying to get a shelter from the few tree trunks and bushes that were yet to be blown away. His heart was racing, and his arm throbbed. He was really afraid now, but what he could think was that the goal was onward, he had to reach it. Once he was in a good shooting spot, he called for Tala to move too. While he fired at the enemy, his head cleared a bit, and a chill run through his spine. Why had he called Tala to follow? He should have left the redhead to the so called safety of the background. The closer they got, the more desperate the enemy would be, and the more of them would get killed. Then he heard shots fired few yards from him.

"Kai, did you get hurt?"

"Just a little scratch, nothing serious."

"Wish I could believe on you on that"

"If it was serious enough, I would confess my undying love for you, not keep fighting onward." the enemy apparently had brought a cannon out, since there was a huge blast not far enough from them. In the bright flash of light caused by the ammo, he could see Tala lying on the ground, face all tensed and finger on the trigger. Tala was looking at him too, they changed a wary smile, and Tala nodded. He nodded back, and once it was dark again, which had only taken a split seconds, he got up and run. Once he was ready, he heard Tala coming after him, and tripping on something.

"You okay?" a silence that felt to last forever, and his blood was already running cold when the redhead answered

"Yeah, just fell over a...someone..." uh, that was nasty. He had been saved so far from falling over someone, but it couldn't be pleasant, especially now when you couldn't really tell what it was before you was face against it, or pushing yourself up with your hands. There was a bitter taste in his mouth, and he spat. How he wished he would wake up any minute and be back in his room.

It was already noon, when they had pushed through the enemy's lines and the enemy had retreated far enough for them to have a break. He sat panting under a tree, sweat pouring out from everywhere. He wanted to take the helmet away, it was hurting his head, but that was too dangerous, he could be taken out by a sniper any second. So all he could do to make himself feel better was rest his head against the tree and close his eyes, not moving a muscle. He had already partly dozed, when Tala came sitting next to him. He opened his eyes, and saw the sad smile Tala had on his face.

"You look horrible" the redhead commented.

"Thanks. Same goes for you" the redhead chuckled, and then got serious again.

"Show me your shoulder" he shook his head and closed his eyes again.

"No need to. Like I said, it's merely a scratch." not caring about his words, Tala got up a little and moved so he was able to touch and see the wound. There was a sigh of relief.

"Thank God you weren't lying. That probably doesn't kill you" he cracked an eye open and glanced the redhead

"Thanks Doc, I wouldn't have never figured that out myself"

"Oh, you are most welcome. After all, you are my favorite patience" he lifted an eyebrow

"Sounds like you would have many other patients" Tala laughed tiredly

"My wouldn't that make you jealous. But don't worry, you are the only one for me" he smiled at that.

"Kai, you know, I don't remember seeing you smile much while we were still kids. Why do you smile here" he opened both eyes and thought about it a while, looking at the blue sky

"I dunno. Maybe because I think you need to see smiling people. Not just agony and gloomy" the redhead gave him a kiss on the cheek

"Thanks. But now I fear that once we get out of here, every time I see your smile I will just think of this place" he smirked. It felt like a dream, to get out of here. And it was wonderful to hear Tala talking about it like it would be a fact they get away.

"Don't worry. I am planning on stopping it once we are back to normal. After all, it is not my thing to begin with" the redhead giggled, a sound that was so wrong to be in this environment.

"Okay, that makes me feel all better. But I like your smile too" he shrugged.

"You can't have everything"

"Yeah..." he turned his eyes from the blue sky, and into the blue eyes. There was something in the eyes, something they were yearning after, something pleading, but he couldn't tell what it was. And he didn't know how to ask what it was. He couldn't simply ask if everything was okay, because in here, that would be just absurd. So he did the best thing he could think of, and pulled the redhead back to sitting position, and pulled Tala close so his head was resting against his shoulder and the body was partly leaning on him, partly against the tree.

"Are you comfortable?" the redhead just nodded, shifting a little so he was more comfortable.

"Yeah. But doesn't this hurt your shoulder?"

"Don't be silly. You can't possibly hurt me" there was a silence, and he could feel the redhead was thinking something he shouldn't be. "Just sleep. It won't be long before we need to do something again."

"I know. You rest too, okay?"

"I promise."

"Good" luckily, it didn't take long before Tala was safely asleep. He listened the calm breathing, and sighed. It was good that Tala felt safe enough to fall asleep in his arms. So there was still a haven for the redhead. All was not lost as long as Tala would get enough rest, and avoid all the worst situations. And he was going to do his best to keep Tala out of the harms way. He did realize how stupid that train of thought had been, and he snorted lightly. The best he could do was watch Tala's back and make sure the redhead wasn't first one to enter new territory, who knows what kind of traps there would be hidden.

It had been a nice few hours, and then they were told they should go patrolling the area, to see if the enemy was hiding somewhere close, and check if there was something dangerous close, or something they could use themselves.

They were walking in circles, every round a bit further away from the camping area, where tents were being built. For their patrol, they were given the specialty of looking for mines, while others where searching for useful items and signs of enemy troops. They were walking with roughly eight yards distant, and for once, Tala wasn't right next to him. Some random officer had ordered them around, and Tala was on some other circle behind them, looking for traps in the eight yards gaps between his line. Suddenly he could hear a faint twinge, and before he had time to react, there was a loud bang on his right side and a pressure wave threw him backwards and the whole world went white, and distantly he felt how his body was slammed against something solid and a pain wave flashed through him before everything went dark.

"Chdainbw" the voice was very distant, and it sounded like he would be under water and the sounds were muffled by the body of water.

"Kai" he knew he was being called, and he wanted to open his eyes, but he couldn't do it. He heard many people talking, but he couldn't make out the words. Then a wave of laser sharp pain cut through him, and he whimpered. Someone grabbed his hand, and new wave of agony went through him, making him gag, someone helped him turn a little, and he could throw up without messing himself. The sour taste in his mouth helped him clear his head, and with a huge effort, he managed to open his eyes. But the world was so bright, he could only see white light and some dark figures.

"Kai, I was so afraid" he could hear those words, but it was mostly because the talked was hugging him, talking right into his ear. "Please don't leave me.." there was a sob, and he knew it was Tala right by his side, worrying over him. He was ashamed, he shouldn't cause worry to the cute little redhead. Experimentally he licked his lips to moist them up, and tried to talk

"So..rry" he managed to rasp out, and Tala pulled away a bit, wiping soot off of his face. He noticed his helmet wasn't on his head, and the air on his hair felt really good after so long. He tried cracking a smile, and Tala shook his head, tears falling down his cheeks, but there was a faint smile on the trembling lips too.

"I really won't like your smile in the real life."

"I know.." he tried nodding, but new pain wave hit him. With the speed of light, Tala got serious again.

"Where do you hurt? It is really amazing you didn't get more hurt. The guy..who triggered the bomb is nowhere to be found. The projectiles were really effective." so, that's what had happened. He did recall hearing the sound of a wire snapping...so someone had been enough stupid not carefully look before stepping forward. But he wasn't sure if it was so bad. At least the one had gotten away from here, and there was no need for him to struggle anymore. He on the other hand, was hurting like hell.

"More hurt eh.." he mumbled, and Tala softly caressed his cheek.

"Yeah. There is only few external wounds. Some on your handsome face." a finger carefully avoided certain spot on his face although it felt numb right now. " and then there is one bigger cut on your leg, but a doctor is coming to take a look at it, and make sure you are otherwise okay. But how are you feeling?" the blue eyes, that once only new laughter and joy, were now full of pain and worry. He was about to shook his head, but the hand on his face stopped him. "If it hurts, don't move. You can rest now you know. Even if there is no big problems, you can't be ordered to work right now." he frowned. He was not going to leave Tala's side, no way. Tala seemed to see what he was thinking, because he smiled and rolled his eyes.

"Really, I am not a five year old, I can look after myself fro a while. Besides, I promise I will be extra careful, okay? So don't worry, and rest. That way you can come to me quicker." he looked into the blue eyes for a while, but there was determination shining through, no sign of fear of dying. He sighed

"You have better be scratch free when I see you next time, okay?" Tala nodded and stepped aside and someone with the medical marks crouched on Tala's place. He wasn't pleased about that, but how else could the doctor check him up. So he didn't comment, just let the doc do his job, and answered his questions. He figured all was fine, since his vision was getting more normal by the minute, and his hearing was getting better too.

"You have damaged your eardrums and I really suggest you to be evacuated. Another close blast, and you most likely go deaf. And more good news, it seems you gained no internal damage, you are just bruised all over, and really sore for a few days." he let the info sink in, and then he sat up. Wow, he hadn't really realized he had been brought out of the forest and back to the camp. Or that he had been laying on a blankets.

"There is no way I am going home. I need to stay here and protect what is important to me" he noticed that Tala who had been standing close by was about to speak up, but he stopped him "No, no matter what, I am not leaving you. So if I can't leave with you, I won't leave at all." he faced Tala's glare dead on, and he wasn't going to give up. He will not leave. The doctor shrugged.

"Honestly, I think you are crazy" the doc looked at Tala "But I also kinda understand you. So if that's what you really want, the army really does need all the men it can have to fight, so you can stay here. You just won't get much as a compensation prize if you really go blind here. It is your fault in that case." he shrugged

"Whatever it takes. I am not leaving you, I have said it already." the doc nodded

"That's settled then. I have you resting on the tents for two days, and then you go back to the front line, okay?" he nodded, and the doc stood and helped him up and without looking at Tala continued

"Come help me to get your friend to rest. And I sign you as his nurse, make sure he really does rest and eats properly, okay?" Tala didn't but nodded and came to sneak under his other arm, so his weight was mostly on Tala and the doc to carry. if he hadn't felt so bad, he would have felt embarrassed by the treatment, but right now his legs wouldn't carry him. Just being up hurt like hell. He tried breathing calmly, not to show how much it really hurt. But Tala once again seemed to sense what was going on with him, and hold him a little closer and looking less scolding. Once they were in the tent, doc left and they were alone. Tala helped him lay down and get comfortable, and said

"You are stupid, you know that?" he smirked

"And you know I wouldn't get better if I had to leave you" Tala sighed.

"I know. You worry about me way too much. I wish you could at least get away from here"

"And I hope that exact same thing to you. So we are even. And before you complain more, would you leave me behind if our situation was reverse?" there was a deep silence and finally Tala shook his head

"I wouldn't. But I still think you are stupid." he reached out a hand towards the redhead who was still standing up.

"Then there is two of us" the redhead smiled sweetly and came to him, and careful not to hurt him, came to lay right next to him, warming him up and miraculously the worst edge of the pain disappeared. And soon he fell asleep, this time Tala being the one guarding their sleep and him being the one who was cradled in safe arms. And he liked that feeling for a chance, so he had his haven too, he thought before finally dreamless sleep took over.

that's that. of you are a civil, there is probably a things that didn't quite make sense. but just skip those parts as an army thing, okay? or write a review and tell which parts sucked. or juts review and tell how your day was. because I hope it was good. and I hope reading this helped making it better.