Characters: Nope, gotta read if you want to know.
Rating: PG-13 for subject matter.
Summary: I think the prompt is summary enough.
Notes: Spoilery. Oh, so, so, SO spoilery. But I can’t write this and not have you know who it is by his situation, so I might as well spell it out in black and white. Don’t read unless you want a big, fat spoiler for a certain legacy couple’s war chapter.
Word Count: 1,221
Nick blew on his hands, trying to warm them. It was the end of December, maybe even January, and the woods in Simdennes were cold. Damn cold. If he’d been at home, there would be a warm fire and a pot of hot coffee waiting for him after spending so much time outside. Here, there was only his winter uniform and a few wool blankets to keep the chill away. For a moment, he let himself think of Alice and the farmhouse back home. His father was probably sitting in the living room, reading the paper while his mother tried to swipe the sections he was looking at. Alice would be on the floor, playing with the baby. Nick shook his head slightly. The baby, as he kept referring to his son, was nearly three years old. He would be walking and talking now. He was missing it, and the thought made him sad.
With that, Nick brought his thoughts back to the present. He reached up to adjust his helmet, feeling the raised red cross painted on the side. That was the reason he was here, in the forest where the battle raged and not back a few miles at the aid station where he should have been. Heavy fighting had meant heavy casualties, and one of them had been a unit’s medic. A replacement was on the way, but he wouldn’t arrive for a few days, and the unit couldn’t do without a medic for that long. Nick, being the lowest ranking soldier, had drawn the short straw and had been sent forward. So far, the unit he was with had been giving more than they had been getting. Mostly, he was making sure that the men didn’t suffer from frostbite and hypothermia. But the forest had gotten quiet over the past few hours. Too quiet. He knew something was coming, but not what or when.
The shell exploding caused Nick to jump. The silence of the forest was gone, replaced with gunfire, booms of explosions, and people screaming orders. When the initial shock of the first explosion wore off, Nick could hear that the shouting was not only in Simlish, but in Simman as well.
They were close enough to the enemy that he could hear them. He would probably be able to see them, if he had the guts to poke his head around the tree he was hiding behind. His stomach leapt into his throat at the thought.
Nick grabbed the first aid kit he’d been given upon arrival, and sprang into action. He headed in the direction of the cries, weaving in and out of the trees as he did so. He reached the first wounded soldier, and his training kicked in. Sprinkle sulfur on the wound, wrap it with a compression bandage, and get a corpsman to drag the wounded man back for transport to the aid station. He had to stop himself from doing more than that; it was his job to simply provide the most rudimentary medical care and then let the aid station do the real treatment. It went against nearly all of his medical training to do next to nothing, but it was what had to be done. There were too many wounded for him to spend more than a few moments with each of them. He could hear the battle raging on around him, but it seemed far away as he treated soldier after soldier after soldier. As he worked his way among the fallen, he saw men that were beyond his help. One of them, a man who barely qualified as a man – Nick was certain he hadn’t started shaving on a regular basis yet – had a bullet wound in the center of his forehead. Muttering the prayer he often heard the chaplain at his aid station say over the dying, he tore his eyes away from the boy and sought out the next one who he might be able to save.
After what seemed like an eternity, he’d attended to all the men who had screamed for his attention. He slumped behind a tree, gasping as he tried to catch his breath as the adrenaline worked its way out of his system.
“Bradford! I need a hand!”
Nick groaned as he got up and poked his head around the tree. The corpsman was struggling to drag one of the wounded men he’d treated back for evacuation. He hurried over to the spot, and grabbed the legs of the wounded man as the corpsman picked him up from under his arms. Nick’s back was to the fighting, something he knew he shouldn’t do, but he needed to get the wounded man out of harm’s way.
A shell exploded just to Nick’s right. The force knocked him off his feet, and the world suddenly began moving in slow motion. He was chest down in the snow, his head resting on his left ear. His helmet had dislodged itself from his head; he could see it lying in the snow just at the edge of his line of sight. He tried to get himself up, but his body didn’t seem to get the message from his brain. The corpsman who had been assisting him with the wounded man knelt down by his head. Nick could see his lips moving so he knew the man was speaking, but Nick could only hear the ringing in his ears. His eyes drifted down towards the snow, and he could see that it was stained red with blood. His blood. He tried to move again, but all his limbs just felt so heavy. Even though he knew that he was planted firmly on the ground, he felt as though everything was spinning around him. Suddenly he was cold again. Very cold.
“Alice,” he whispered. Then everything went black.
* * * * *
“Damn it, Bradford, you stay with me,” the corpsman was yelling at Nick. He heard the blond man whisper his wife’s name and close his eyes. Though he could feel the warmth of the blood trickling down his forehead from his own head would, he grabbed Nick under the arms and dragged him back. Soon enough, he reached the evacuation point, where he collapsed.
Two of the medical personnel rushed forward, but he brushed them away. “Worry about him,” he said, pointing at Nick. “He’s got a wife and little boy to go home to.”
They hesitated, but quickly got to work checking Nick. The corpsman, pressing a bandage to his forehead to quell the bleeding, caught snippets of their conversation. “Head wound,” “concussion,” “possible internal injuries,” were just a few of the things he heard, and none of them sounded good.
“Is he going to make it?”
“Touch and go. But his pulse and breathing are strong, so that’s a good sign.”
The corpsman nodded. “Take good care of him. He saved a lot of lives today.”
He watched as they wrapped Nick up and placed him into the ambulance. He watched as the vehicle drove away, finally allowing the two medical personnel to look at him.
“Godspeed, Bradford,” he muttered. He looked upward at the sky. Please, let him be okay. Let him get home to that beautiful wife of his, and their little boy. Please.