Characters: Nick, Walter
Summary: Nick and Walter the morning after the bombing of Plumbbob Harbor.
Notes: Canon. This or something very like it will probably appear in the next chapter, so it can be considered a spoiler.
Word Count: 698
Nick and Walter hurried down the street, their coat collars turned up against the cold. It barely qualified as morning, but both men barely noticed. Both were focused on their destination and getting there as quickly as they could.
After returning home from the girls’ boarding house, Nick had gone into his room without a word. After tossing and turning for several hours, and maybe getting a few of sleep, he’d gotten up and dressed. Walter had already been in the kitchen scrambling a large pan of eggs.
“Figured we’d both want to get an early start. I’m sure there’ll be a line at the enlistment office.”
Nick nodded, slicing a loaf of bread and popping them into the toaster. “Should we stop and Bruce’s fraternity and see if he wants to come with us?”
Walter snorted. “Waste of time. He won’t join up until he’s forced to, and then he’ll complain that all the choice assignments are gone.”
Nick simply nodded, and buttered the toast as it popped out of the toaster. When breakfast was ready, the two young men sat down to eat, though neither of them tasted their food. Once their dishes were in the sink to soak, they put on their heavy coats and hurried out the door towards the downtown area of the city.
As they rounded the corner they were met with a line of men, young and old, standing outside the door of the Army recruitment office. Nick and Walter looked at each other, shrugged, and went to stand behind the short, sandy-haired man who was stomping his feet and blowing on his hands trying to keep warm.
It was an hour before Nick and Walter made it inside, and longer still before either one of them sat down in front of one of the recruiting officers.
“So, son, tell me why you want to join the army.”
Nick looked at the man sitting across the desk from him. A million different thoughts ran through his head. He was enough of his father’s son that he felt the need for vengeance towards those who had cowardly attacked his countrymen at Plumbbob Harbor. But it went deeper than that. Ever since he started hearing of the brutality and inhumanity of the Simman regime, he’d wanted to do something to stop it. It was hard for him to put it into words, but he couldn’t bear the idea of raising a family of his own in a world where evils like Hitler existed and were allowed free reign.
The thought of his family mad his heart twinge. Alice knew where he was, and supported what he was doing, but his parents and siblings had no idea. His parents, especially his mother, would fret, but she would be placated by the news of his engagement and imminent wedding. But they would still worry. He could only hope they’d be as understanding as Alice had been.
All of this ran through his mind in a few seconds. To the waiting officer, he said, “I want…no, scratch that. I need to do my part.”
The recruiter nodded. “I see that you’re in medical school. How far along are you?”
“I’ve finished all my coursework, sir, and I was due to start a rotation this spring.”
“Pity you haven’t got your M.D. yet. We’re going to need doctors something fierce.”
“I’m sure I can do just as much good as a medic.”
“Someone as close to being a full-fledged doctor as you are is not getting assigned as a medic. For you, we can get you assigned to an army hospital to finish your residency, and go from there. After you’ve finished basic training, of course.”
Nick nodded. “It would be nice, to have my residency finished and be able to go into practice once the war’s over. Where do I sign?”
The recruiter placed some paperwork in front of Nick, and he signed his name on the line at the bottom of the page. The recruiter then stood, as did Nick.
“Welcome to the army, son,” he said, extending his hand to Nick, who returned the handshake with a grasp that was steadier than he felt.