Woman in Uniform
AN: I love Saving Private Ryan and decide to do a one-shot. If afterwards you enjoyed the one-shot, I'm also doing several one-shots for Band of Brothers if you're interested.
"In the last great invasion, of the last Great War,
the greatest danger for eight men...was saving one." – Saving Private Ryan
France, Omaha Beach, D-Day plus three
SHE couldn't believe this was how she was going to get found out, she could very well look after herself. She wasn't conscious at the time but she was sure the young medic got a surprise when they striped her to get easier access to her wound. She could still remember the pain and fear as they landed on the blood beach surrounded by the dead and screaming. Her concern now was been sent back home, she could already imagine the furious emotion in her father's eyes. She stood up and paced the tent that she was placed in to rest; she winced as her stiff muscles worked against the bandage. It didn't take long for her to lose her patience and walk out of the tent onto the beach filled with soldiers'. She almost groaned at the French weather and the mud surrounding her, at least it wasn't raining at the moment.
She ignored the heads that turned and slowly made her way through the camp, taking everything in as she passed by. The men were sitting around; she wasn't sure what she should do. "Miss Marshall?" She didn't need to turn around to know the voice; it seemed her second battle was going to happen at the moment.
"Lt. Colonel Anderson." She turned her attention to the grey haired man and put her hands behind her back.
"Marshall what on earth are you doing out of the tent?" He walked straight past her and she followed his steps with the private in trail with a clip broad.
"You're not sending me back home." The man simply raised an eyebrow at her.
"Your father would have my head."
"Than don't write a report up." She knew it was a stupid response; he had probably already written a report on her and sent it to her father. "Sir let me help."
"You are to be on the helicopter."
"Ah Lt. Colonel." The clip broad man beside her shifted on his feet.
"It already left." She smirked at her luck as Anderson muttered under his breath about the helicopter not returning for another couple of weeks.
"What the hell am I going to do with you?" She thought the solution was simple.
"You could always put me in a platoon Lt. Colonel." He seemed to stare at her for longer than required.
"You are definitely like you father." The Lt. Colonel stared at her, pondering the best route to keep the woman alive and well while still keeping his honour once her father heard about the actions. "Right this way Private, think I know just the place to put you." She followed his footsteps hoping that this 'place' to put her wasn't a radio or telegram at one of the stations.
It was the circle of men with a smoky gray fog of smoke surrounding them that she heard the brief conversation between soldiers and they were heading right for that group. "You're going home wrapped in an American flag with a hunk of cheese up your ass Caparzo you smart ass!" The sergeant cast him a glare.
"You like it in the ass!"
"I thought you liked it in the ass." Reiben smirked, giving him a classical devilish smile.
"Shut up Reiben and listen up . . . Captain's just received orders to put together a squad to find a missing paratrooper. Three of his brothers were killed in action- our job is to find him and get him home." It was at that comment that the Lt. Colonel made their presence known to the group.
"Sergeant Horvath." She scanned her eyes over the men, taking in each appearance and assessing them. They seemed like an alright group, she had seen far worst during her stay on the beach including the battle field results. "Private Marshall here will be joining your squad." He paused for a second waiting for the responses of a woman in their presence but the men kept themselves in check. "When Ryan is found, he is to be on a damn helicopter back to the States and Miss Marshall is to be sitting right next to him, do I make myself clear?"
"Yes Sir." She couldn't help but kept her head down as the Lt. Colonel addressed her as a woman instead of following through with using Private.
"Very well." He turned his attention to her, giving her a hard look that clearly said there would be punishment if she didn't get her ass back home on that helicopter. "Private Marshall, make sure you gear is packed and your ready to leave within the hour." She nodded her head knowing full well there was no other answer, satisfied with her response Anderson left leaving her with the group of males. She didn't know what she excepted with joining the war but there was no way in hell she would put up with men staring at or down on her .
AS the squad moved out of town they couldn't help but notice the contrast between the rubble scenery that they were stationed to the nice country side of France. She could remember the one time that her father had brought her to France when her mother was still with them, she was a young child but she could remember the vibrate colours and the upbeat music. It saddened her to see such as country crumbling at the hands of war, the chance of life styles .
Her head snapped up at the harsh sound of Jewish's outburst. "Hey! You want your head blown off you fancy little fuck? Don't you ever touch me with those fucking little rat claws again! Get the fuck back in formation!" She felt slightly bad for the young Corporal who was stuttering words before taking the advice and moving closer towards herself.
"I was just wondering where you were from." The sound of his small voice was heard next to her. Not letting Mellish's outburst bring down his spirits, he turned to Caparzo in head of him."Hey...Its Caparzo isn't it?"
"Hey, drop dead Corporal." Adrian kept walking giving him no attention.
"Got you." Once again she felt slightly bad, though his had no experience and it showed as he was putting them at risk.
"And another thing, every time you salute the Captain, you make him a target for the German's. So do us all a favour and don't do it, especially when I'm standing next to him. Capisce?"
Timothy stated hesitantly, "Capisce."
"Talking about doing us favours, what's your name Darling?" She sent a glare to Mellish at the nickname.
"Sophie" Adrian tested the name on his lips.
"I would have thought you would be a Rachael or Katrina, something more harsh than...pretty." She sent another directed glare at Reiben at the mention of her name, her mother had chosen it but the truth was it didn't represent her nature one little bit.
"My mother picked it." Her voice wiped the smart ass grin from Reiben's face as she ducked her head before searching the area again.
"You wouldn't by any chance be Marshall's Daughter?" The captain's question once again turned the attention to her.
"The Marshall's daughter." They didn't know many of the commanders but there were rumours about Marshall and his harsh standards, he had to be to in times like these. Mellish looked at her expecting some kind of answer, she gave him a simple nod. "No wonder you have to be on that helicopter with Private Ryan."
Reiben piped up with a question several of them had wanted to ask. "You wanna explain the math of this to me?" He turned the attention to himself, half directing the question to their Captain. "I mean where's the sense of risking the lives of eleven of us to save one guy?"
Captain Miller sighed, "Anybody want to answer that?"
Wade spoke, his soft voice strong, "Reiben. . . think about the poor bastard's mother." No mother should have to get a letter about losing all her children in a war, Sophie knew exactly what the letter would say- The Army Department deeply regrets to inform you that your son was killed in action in the performance of his duty and in the service of his country. The Department extends to you its sincerest sympathy in your great loss.
Sophie couldn't help but agree with the medic, she had seen first hand the disaster it caused in families. "She's lost three sons already, she can't lose another."
Reiben didn't seem to find that a reasonable answer, she cast a glance at Jackson beside her but she couldn't tell if the sniper agreed or not. "Hey doc, I got a mother alright. I mean, you got a mother. Sarge has got a mother. I mean shit, I bet even the Captain has a mother! Well maybe not the Captain, but the rest of us got mothers."
For the first time Sophie heard Jackson speak, turning to face Captain Miller. "Sir, I have an opinion on the matter."
She glanced in the direction of the Captain and saw the knowing expression graced upon it. "Well by all means, share it with the squad."
"Well from my way of thinking sir, this entire mission is a serious misallocation of valuable military resources and well, it seems to me sir, that God gave me a special gift. Made me this fine instrument of warfare." She couldn't believe the man's belief in himself, his aim as a fine instrument. Where she was standing he appeared to be a fine specimen but his skills was a totally different thing, she hadn't yet seen him in action.
"You must have a fine shot for that boost of confidence." Jackson cast a glance at her, a small smirk at the corner of his lips.
"Jackson is the best I know, he could shoot your clothes clean off without a harm coming to your pretty white skin." Her attention was moved from Jackson to Reiben, if she didn't have the gun in her hand she wouldn't have mind to give him a new nose job.
Miller grinned at the two, "Reiben! Pay attention! This is the way to gripe. Continue Jackson."
Jackson continued with his speech as if Reiben or Sophie hadn't spoken a word."What I mean by that sir is if you were to put me and this here sniper rifle anywhere up to and including one mile of Adolf Hitler with a clear line of sight sir. . . pack your bags fellas, wars over. Amen."
Reiben shot back, "Oh that's brilliant bumpkin."
THE crack of a gunshot rang through the air and one of the runners fell to the wet ground. Sophie jumped along with Carpoza, cursing at the Germans for continually shooting the fallen runner. She was thankful to be out of the rain open area, the rumble of buildings gave them some cover but it seemed the town was worse for wear with the Nazi's. Peeling her eyes from the fallen runners, she listened to the Captain and Carpoza's conversation. "Reiben, Caparzo, Greene! Fundamentals! Short runs! High and low at the corners! Could be tight, be prepared for close contact, go!"
The three nodded and followed the Captain's Miller orders as he turned to give his next ones. "Upham, you stay with Sergeant Horvath, the rest of you, with me!"
Horvath grinned, "I'll wear him like underwear Captain." She couldn't help the smile that appeared even in their shit situation as the Corporal did exactly that to the Sergeant.
On the other side, half turned she listened as Upham asked, "Hey, where's the Captain from?"
"Figure that out, you got yourself a nice prize," Reiben simply replied.
Jackson sidled up next to Sophie quietly, "Three hundred bucks last time I heard. Company's got a pool; five bucks will get you in."
"Well someone must know where he's from; know what he did for a living?" Upham pushed.
Horvath looked up, "I've been with him since Kasserine Pass and I don't have a clue."
"Reiben, so you don't even know where he went to school?" Sophie couldn't help the roll of her eyes at Upham.
"Cap'n didn't go to school, they assembled him at OSC outta spare body parts of dead GI's." She watched the blank white expression on the young corporal's face- they were giving the poor man a run for his money with being a newbie but why not her as well because she was a woman? Reiben continued, "You gotta pay attention to detail. I know exactly where he's from and I know exactly what he did cause I pay attention to detail."
Jackson grinned and moved ahead towards a large pile of rubble, "Hey Upham, be careful you don't step in the bullshit." She followed his lead and let Uphan get caught up in teasing with the fellas.
IT wasn't a few minutes later that Sophie realised the true ability of the war had on the town people themselves. The house was half blown out, sheltering a small French family from the rain. The crying of the baby seemed to echo in her ears as she stood not far from them. Her eyes bounced between the father with the young girl to the mother holding the baby close to her chest. The family seem to freeze at the sight of her. "Ask them if they know where the Germans are!" Miller ordered. For once in her life, Sophie wished she had completed her French classes that her father seemed so dead set on.
"Bonjour." She tried to remember the words to ask them the question when the father started trying to pass the young girl off. His own mouth muttering off French that she couldn't quite get a grip on.
"What he say?" She clutched her teeth together at Captain Miller.
"I think he wants us to take the children." She didn't know France hundred percent but she knew the simple hand actions of any human.
"No! We can't take the kids!" The Captain reacted just as she thought, she was somewhat grateful for Upham stepping in.
Upham called out, "They think they'll be safe with us!"
Adrian moved quickly over the rubble and reached up to take one of the girls, "Adrian," murmured Sophie, "You can't do this."As much as she wanted to take the kids herself, there was no time or place in war for children.
"Caparzo put that kid down!" Miller shouted over the rain.
"She reminds me of home."He whispered. Caparzo looked at the little girl and hugged her, he murmured small words to quieten the girl down.
"Get that kid up there now!" She tried to follow the Captains orders, going to take the girl from Adrian back to
"Captain the decent thing to do would be to at least take her up the road to the next town!" Caparzo fired back. She didn't get the chance to hold the young girl when a sound shot straight passed her and into Carpoza. She instantly pressed herself against the wall, her eyes watching Adrian and her ears filled with his plead.
A sudden cracking noise filled the air and Sophie felt the air once again rush out of her lungs as the wall of the building suddenly crumbled and a squad of German soldiers began to yell at them with their guns raised. In reaction she jumped up and fired her BAR as her head pounded with each bullet.
With the rest of her team followed suit, she slumped against the wall again. She felt light headed as Jackson came into her sight of view. "Shit, Doc!" He pulled his hand away from her hand, it was covered in blood. Sophie didn't get any chance to reply as Wade came to her side, his Medic mode suddenly kicking in. "How bad is it Wade?"
"It's just a graze from the bullet." His words repeated in her head, that bullet that killed Adrian was meant for her, if she had stepped slightly to the left it would have been her laid out on the piano.
A man jogged up to Captain Miller, "Fred Hamill, Pathfinders 101st."Miller passed a glance at Sophie, watching Wade tend to her as Hamill spoke to him.
"John Miller, 2nd Rangers. We're here looking for a Private James Ryan. He's part of your outfit . . . any chance at all you policed him up?"
"You should be fine, I want to change the dressing later." Wade finished putting the dressing on before turning to Daniel. "Make sure she doesn't fall asleep for a couple of hours, that she doesn't have a concussion."Jackson sat down behind her; he had angled himself to have the best view point of her.
"Do you always take your job so seriously?"He lifted a simple eyebrow at her.
"If it concerns someone's health." She was hoping the conversation would take her mind of Adrian- it only reminder her that she was alive and he wasn't. "It wasn't your fault; anyone could have been hit- we're in a war." She stared at Jackson, trying to find something of the kind of joking that Reiben would have pulled. Sophie didn't find anything except the truth and pure concern.
Her attention was turned to Hamill's shouting, "Lieutenant, redeploy that bazooka to the right side . . . and get Ryan up here!"
"Here comes our boy. . ." The Soldier who spoke didn't seem any older than herself as they all watched him pass through, "Told you he was an asshole," Reiben snapped. She kept her eyes on the man, Ryan as she rubbed her temples rolling her eyes at Reiben behaviour.
Wade knelt down in front of her, "I could get you enough morphine to completely take the pain away."There was the unspoken sentence that she could stay here but they all knew that she needed to be that helicopter with Ryan.
"I'm alright Doc, bit of rest and I'll be back on my feet." She hated being the weak link or seen like that because of her gender.
Wade started to argue with her on the matter. "It wouldn't be a problem-"
"I'll keep a close eye on her Wade." He seemed hesitant before he left Jackson and herself.
The two were silent when Reiben marched up, the look on his face one that was not pleasant, "He's the fucking wrong guy," he growled.
"Calm down Reiben," Wade stated.
"We just fucking lost all our ammo and Caparzo for nothing!" He threw his hands up, "Even Sophie got-" He didn't finish the sentence as his frustration run through.
Miller turned to Hamill, "My men are beat, we're going to hold up here for about three hours, then pull out after dark. Got anything left in this town like a three-star hotel? Something with clean sheets, soft pillows, and room service?"
Hamill looked to the side and then grinned, "How about a nice comfy church?"
Miller laughed, "We'll take it!"
THE church was better than nothing; it was almost nice if it wasn't for the sound of mortar fire and war on their door step. No one seem to mind though as they sat down finding a comfortable spot, Sophie was leaned up against Jackson who hadn't left her side as he promised Wade. Thinking about the Doc, she could really do with some sleep, leaving the safe zone near Jackson she made her way towards Wade.
It wasn't until she was standing next to him that she wished she had stayed with Daniel, he had his head bent over a pen and paper. One of the papers was wet and bloody, Adrian's handwriting scribbled on it. "Carpy's letter," he said with a calm voice, squeezing her hand.
"Think I could get some shut eye Doc?" She smiled at him; his head looked over her shoulder.
"I think that's possible though it looks like Jackson bet you to it."She followed Wade's gaze to Jackson- his eyes closed and calm breathing.
"Look at him, the guy's lights out before his head hits the pack." Mellish shook his head at the sniper.
"Clear conscience. . ." Reiben casted a glance around the church as if looking for someone. "What's the saying?'If God's on our side, who the hell could be on theirs?"
Upham sat up and corrected him, "If God be for us, then who can be against us?"
Rieben snorted at the Corporal, "Yea, what did I say?"
Wade looked up from his letter, "Well, actually, the trick is to try and stay awake."
Reiben shook his head, "How is that Wade?"
She left the boys talking, making her way to Jackson as sleep started to take over making her eyes hurt.
"Well, when my mother was an intern, she used to work late through the night and sleep through the day. So the only time we ever got to really talk about anything was when she got home. So what I used to do, was I used to lie in my bed and try and stay awake as long as I could, but it never worked because the harder I'd try the faster I'd fall asleep."
Reiben laughed softly, tilting his head back as he spoke, Sophie let their voices pull her into a light sleep."Yea, well that wouldn't have mattered in my house. My ma? She would've come home, shook me awake, chatted me up till dawn. I swear, the woman was never too tired to talk."
Mellish laughed, "Probably the only time she could ever get a word in."
Wade sighed, the sound making her open one eye. "I used to pretend to be asleep. . . she would stand in the doorway looking at me and I'd just keep my eyes shut. I knew she just wanted to find out about my day cause she came home early just to talk to me. I still wouldn't move, I'd just pretend to be asleep. I don't know why I did that."
"What about you Sophie?"It surprised her that Reiben was asking her a reasonable question.
"Nothing like that for me. My mother died when I was young, can hardly remember her. The closest I had to a mother figure was the nanny, she was always there while father was at work. Though, I always knew that father would be down stairs reading the daily newspaper with a cup of black coffee, he was always there at that time even though I hadn't seen him the night before."
"So your daddy's girl?" She snorted at Reiben's question, it sounded just like him. Not answering the soldier she cast a glance beside her at Jackson making sure he was sound asleep before resting her head on his shoulder. She had to hand it to Lt. Colonel Anderson for picking the group he did. There hadn't been any gender jokes or touchy feely hands, there was the usual comrade teasing that happened to everyone in their company. She didn't feel the need to shy away as she had back at the beach, and yet it could have to do with the man she was leaning on- the safety that wrapped around her. She had seen him earlier with a gun in hand, the sharp eyes and ears of a true sniper- she had doubted him at the beginning with his cocky behaviour but now she wasn't so sure that the behaviour was all for nothing.
She slightly moved her head taking a deep breath. "Hey." The voice right near her ear made her heart rate speed up. "Just relax." To emphasis it, he rubbed his rough fingers into the stiff muscles in her shoulder. "You'll get home, safe and sound." She didn't close her eyes or fall straight to sleep; she listened to the snoring that echoed through the empty church. Like when she arrived at the beach, she didn't want to leave, she wanted to stay and fight for her country, but know she had another reason to stay behind. With another sign, she adjusted her head on Jackson shoulder to catch some sleep- tomorrow they would be searching for Ryan.