Disclaimer 1: Please note, that this is the 4th chapter of the novel, so if you did not read chapters 1-3, you can find them linked here.
Disclaimer 2: In this chapter I deliberately changed some events of Paris’ liberation by the Allied forces. So don’t be surprised if you find discrepancies between the real events of the war and this chapter.
A few days had passed, but the regiment still did not leave Paris. Originally, they were ordered to follow the front, and provide backup to the main forces when needed. There were rumors that they would be marched to the forest of Ardennes where in the bloodbath every single gun – Command could afford to send – was appreciated. But that specific order never came. Instead, they were assigned with the task to help the French resistance and keep Paris liberated.
Everybody was relieved by these orders, because it meant less danger for the company, lessened the odds for them to be killed in action. Nonetheless the urban warfare had its dangers especially the bombings at night both the Germans and the Allies were generous with. However they had beds to sleep in, and a hospital where their injuries could be properly tended.
Until the tables had been turned. All their worst fears seemed to become reality when the hospital near their lodgings had been bombed. After arriving to Paris, the Companies were lodged in a ratty hostel miraculously spared in the recent bombings – the one demolishing the hospital also bypassed the shaky building. It was April already, the weather started to become warmer and everyone could feel the looming end of the war in the air.
So they spent most of their time in Paris by patrolling the streets, keeping the city liberated at any cost – as they were ordered, and preventing the attacks when the Germans decided to enact some sort of a suicide mission. It was almost peaceful. Bloody nonetheless, but still peaceful compared to their previous battles.
Until the last bombing when the hospital with their battle buddies and a lot of civilians got blown up. Captain Baxter stormed into their quarters rattling off the news of the bombing – not that they couldn’t feel the world shaking, and their bones bumping together when the bombes impacted into the building nearby. The attack came so suddenly that they had no chance to run for the shelters. So they were forced to endure the attack in their quarters huddling together, gripping tightly each other’s hands.
After the attack subsided and the German planes ceased to keep coming back and unloading their bombes over their heads, and Captain Baxter arrived to check on his men, they were all confronted with the gruesome truth. They were alive, but their buddies in the hospital may not be. After relaying the news, Captain Baxter asked for volunteers to help at the ruins of the hospital. Lilly was first to respond, hoisting her hand into the air, Henry followed suit right after her. Then other medics and soldiers – without any kind of medical degree also volunteered.
“Piece of cake” muttered Henry to Lilly and Mark while they were walking to the place where once the hospital stood. Lilly just snickered at his grumpiness, but Mark – who also volunteered because there was no chance on God’s green Earth that he would let Henry go without him – playfully bumped his shoulder. This made Henry to shut up beautifully and step one step away, putting some distance between them to an army-safe level.
Arriving to the ruins, they saw a bunch of civilians who already started to save what was left after the air raid. They joined them, and regardless of the language difficulties – the French did not speak English and the Lilly’s team did not speak French – they worked together smoothly like a well-oiled machine. The civilians and soldiers dug out the injured and deceased from under the debris, leaving them in the doctors and medics’ care to do their damnedest to save as much life as possible.
They were working incessantly for almost 36 hours. Halfway through it Lilly got a five hours sleep because she was swaying on her feet after a whole day of operating on wounds and saving lives. While she was sleeping, Henry and Mark continued to tending to the injuries. And while they also were dog-tried, they weren’t letting anyone down in dire need of help.
Lilly had woken approximately five minutes before Captain Baxter arrived to the makeshift field hospital, organized and run under huge military tent canvasses. The Captain recently became the bearer of bad news, and his actual visit to the field hospital was no exception.
“Listen boys” over the time everyone got enough opportunity to get used to Lilly’s presence, so lately this kind of addresses weren’t followed by awkward silence or lame excuses “one of the companies got attacked on the way back from Versailles. They managed to defeat the attackers at the cost of heavy loss. They need medical attention now, but they cannot move with the wounded. I was tasked to send a truck for them with a doctor and medics.”
Again Lilly was the first to volunteer. Followed by Henry and Mark, as usual.
“Ok, Garrett” said Baxter to Lilly “chose two medics, and you go right away.”
“Davies! Taylor! To me!” Lilly called out, and the two medic ran to her immediately. They shouldered their and Lilly’s medic back, and all three was ready to go.
“Garrett, can I have a word with you before you go?” Henry stepped forward, blocking Lilly’s way.
“What is it, Every? Can it wait?” Asked Baxter trying to shoo Henry away.
“No sir, it can not” Henry stood his ground.
“Fine” Baxter sighed. “Make it quick, Every.”
Lilly nodded and the two of them stepped away, but Mark stayed with the captain not knowing what to do with himself.
“What the hell, Lilly?” Henry asked right after they were out of earshot.
“What the hell you mean by what the hell?” Lilly bit back.
“You really go with that two arseholes? Davies and Taylor don’t even know at which end to grab a scalpel…”
“Are you jealous?” Lilly grinned impishly.
“No, I’m not frickin’ jealous, I’m outraged that you even think about going out to the field without us…”
“Look. I had five hours sleep, but you two got none. Frack knows when I will be back, it can be another 24 hours, so it would be unfair to drag you two out there after being on your feet for almost two days. Even I’m not that cruel.” She grinned, she wanted it be reassuring, but cold settled in Henry’s spine to let Lilly go alone with other medics.
“I don’t want to trust them with you” he whispered.
“You don’t have to. It is my call, Henry. Besides, you now have the opportunity; a night alone with Mark.”
Henry’s cheeks reddened at the implication even though every fiber in his body screamed for attention, for Mark’s touches and caresses.
“How could I, knowing you’re out there?” He asked in a shocked voice.
“I will be all right. And you absolutely can. Get some rest. Get some fun.”
“You will ask about it, right?” Henry gulped down a mouthful of air threatening to suffocate him.
“You bet.” She winked, then turned his back to Henry and went back to Baxter.
“… I show you to the truck,” Henry heard him say “the driver knows where to go. After you get back, you directly come to me and report everything.”
With that Lilly, the captain and the two medics left the field hospital.
In a few hours Henry, Mark and every other first volunteers were dismissed, and sent back to their sleeping quarters. Henry and Mark also returned to their room, and almost unconscious they dropped in their beds. At that time Henry’s idea of fun only consisted of a a few hours of undisturbed sleep. Preferably with Mark, possibly together with him in Henry’s arms, but in the lodgings this would be too risky, so Henry rejected the idea.
In the dead of the night Henry was waken by sweet kisses. He pried one eye open and even in the darkness of the room and darkened Paris, he could see Mark’s muscular form towering above him.
“Hey, sleepyhead,” Mark whispered while he traced Henry’s jawline with kisses “I closed and blocked the door and have something on my mind. I think you would like it.”
“Really?” Henry cackled. “Why are you so sure?”
“I dunno. Want me to show you? Then you can admit that I was right with my assumptions.”
“In this case, don’t hold back, soldier.”
In a heartbeat Mark was all over him. He ravaged Henry’s mouth with so long desired kisses. He was so adamant like he wanted to clim into Henry’s body. Which he really was eager to do. They clung to each other, hard body pressed to hard body.
“I though I die if I can’t get close to you” Mark breathed on the heated skin of Henry’s neck.
“And is this enough for you?” Henry whimpered. “I want you closer. I want you inside…”
Henry couldn’t tell after that, when he came apart under Mark wanting him to remake, reshape his body. But he surrendered completely, giving away every bit of his control to the other. During the night he could not determine where his body ended, and where Mark’s had started. Their heartbeats become united, their breath were shared as were the flow of blood in their veins. They weren’t two separated bodies anymore. Not when they were wrapped in the dark veil of the night. It will be painful enough when the morning would find them separated once again.
And it did. They were abruptly waken by loud shouts, depriving them of the delighted feeling of pleasant throbbing in their special body parts after a night-long wrestling in the sheets.
“They radioed back! They were ambushed!”
“The hell?” Henry sat up with such vigor, he could swear his brain did not follow suit and stayed laying on the pillows. He started to feel woozy, and he would have fallen down off the bed if Mark wasn’t steadying him.
“Easy now” he chided.
“But…” Henry pressed his hands to his forehead covering his eyes in the process. “They got ambushed… I knew I shouldn’t let her go without us…”
“Calm down. We don’t know for sure.” Mark traced circles on his back, trying to keep Henry calm and cool-headed.
But as it turned out, it really was the truck from yesterday with Lilly and the medics on it which got ambushed. No one knew anything more after the rescue team entered radio silence. And Command decided not to send another team. They had barely enough soldiers, guns and ammo, Command couldn’t spare anything more. The morning came and gone, then the afternoon passed too.
“Can I panic now?” Asked Henry while looking at the distance, trying to spot the truck on the road.
“I don’t know,” replied Mark “would it help?”
“Dunno… maybe not…”
“Then do not panic. It’d just render you a mess. And what if they return? You won’t be any use for them like that.”
“I hate you when you’re right.”
“No, sweetheart, you love me for it.”
But Henry did not hear Mark’s final remark, and did not see his toothy grin, because in that moment the headlights of a truck cut through the recently descended darkness. The lights grew nearer, and in a few minutes they could be sure, that the rescue truck had returned.
“They’re back! Thank God, they’re back!” Henry grabbed Mark’s shoulder and hug him tight. He felt a bit lightheaded with relief.
Mark couldn’t even utter a word, because the truck pulled up in front of them right next to the field hospital. Its doors had been thrown open, and soldiers emerged from the back of the vehicle. Henry hovered at the back of the truck, waiting for Lilly to spill out… Minutes had passed, and the realization had sunk in. That was the exact moment when happiness turned to bile and sat heavy in this stomach. The troupe had returned without Lilly and Davies.