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THE BRIDGE

 

Combat! Fan Fiction
by
Mary Wright "Eagle Lady"

eaglelady80010@netzero.net

 

          Lieutenant Hanley stepped out of what was left of the building they were using as a temporary headquarters and looked around at his men.  Most of the squad were sprawled in the early morning sunshine, talking, repairing equipment, or just enjoying each other's company.  Close enough to be a part of the group, yet still a little apart, his friend; his right-hand man; his sergeant; Saunders, sat on the ground, leaning against a post, his face tipped up to the sunshine, his eyes closed.  He looked to be asleep, but Hanley knew him well enough to know he was awake, listening to his men.  He didn't want to disturb him, but it was necessary.

          "Saunders."  He called softly.

          Saunders immediately flowed to his feet, one hand reaching for his helmet, the other for his Tommy gun, both in place by the time he was upright.  He looked over at Hanley, caught the jerk of his head, and followed him into the building.  Hanley was waiting just inside, a cup of coffee in one hand, a lit cigarette in the other.  When he offered both to the sergeant, Saunders looked from them up to Hanley's face, seeing nothing but his officer's wide, friendly smile.  Warily, he slung the gun over his shoulder and accepted the offerings.

          "What's up, Lieutenant?"  He asked around the cigarette.

          "Too bad this can't last, isn't it?"

          "What?  The sunshine or the quiet?"

          "Both.  Either.  I know you're tired, Saunders, but I've got a mission for you."

          "Somehow I suspected as much."  Saunders waved the coffee cup.

          "Love Company is north of us a couple miles.  Their medic is running low on supplies and Doc has some he can spare.  I want you and one man to escort Doc over there and back."

          "That's it?"  Saunders asked suspiciously.

          "Yep.  Just escort duty."

          "Last I heard, it's clear between here and there."  Coming from another man, it would have been a bid to get out of the duty.  Hanley took it as Saunders intended it, a request for verification, knowing Saunders wouldn't let the medic go alone any more than Hanley himself would have.

          "That's what they tell me.  Love is just south of that deserted village up there."

          "Yes, sir, I know where they are."  Saunders agreed.

          "Who are you going to take?" 

      "Caje."  Saunders drained the coffee and handed the cup back.  "After the war, you can open a coffee shop, Lieutenant."  He grinned.

          "After the war, I may never touch the stuff again."  He grinned back.

          "Yeah, sure.  When do we leave?"

          "As soon as Doc's ready."

          "Okay."

          With a nod, he headed back outside, stopping for a minute to enjoy the sight of his men relaxing and enjoying themselves for a change.  Feeling the sergeant's eyes on him, Caje looked up and started to his feet and picked up his helmet, his rifle already in his hand.  The others started up, but Saunders waved them back down.  Curious, but not curious enough to ask, they watched in silence as the two men talked quietly, then walked down to join Doc who was waiting at the other end of the building.

          "Five bucks on Kirby." Doc looked at Saunders and grinned as the three started off.

          "I never bet on a sure thing, Doc."  Caje shook his head.

          "Hey!"  Kirby's voice floated after them.  "Where ya goin'?"

          "To have a beer with General Eisenhower."  Saunders threw over his shoulder as Doc and Caje exchanged grins.

          "Funny.  Real funny."  They heard him mutter.

          "Maybe you should take him, instead."  Doc grinned.

          "Yeah, you know my toe is really bothering me."  Caje quoted one of Kirby's frequent complaints.

          "You can trade with him if you want."  Saunders slanted a look at him out of the corner of his eye, keeping his voice serious.

          Startled and uncertain for a second, Caje exchanged a look with Doc, then shrugged.

          "I've gone this far, I might as well go the rest of the way."

          Saunders turned and looked at the twenty feet they'd covered, then back at Caje.  "Yeah, I guess if you've gone all this way, you might as well keep going."  He said soberly.

          "Out of all the soldiers in this war,  I get stuck with two comedians."  Doc commented.

          Caje laughed and Saunders grinned as they struck off cross-country.  They reached Love Company without incident, dropped off the supplies and headed home. 

^^^

          Both men had their weapons slung over their shoulders as they moved through the trees, Doc following a few paces behind with his head down, fiddling with something in his ever-present bag.  When the two in front of him stopped, he didn't notice and walked right into Caje's back.

          "What the..."  His voice died off as he looked up into the barrels of three guns, held by three German soldiers.  "Where did they come from?"

          "Germany?"  Saunders answered facetiously as he and Caje lifted their hands.

          To their surprise, the German sergeant gave a snort of laughter, quickly suppressed.  The corporal at his side smothered a grin as well, but the private just stared at them.

          "So?  What are you gonna do?  Shoot us?"  Saunders asked.

          "Not right away, Sergeant."

          "Well, that's certainly a relief."  Caje remarked.

          "You will gently toss your weapons over here.  One at a time.  Including your sidearm."

          Reluctantly, but having no choice at the moment, they did as they were instructed.  The private picked them up, handing Saunders' .45 to the Sergeant.

          "Do you have any cigarettes?"  The German sergeant asked.

          "You came all this way just for a smoke?"  Saunders grinned.  "In my pocket.  If I reach for them, are you going to shoot me?"

          "And get blood on the cigarettes?"  The German returned his grin.  "Just reach for them slowly and carefully."

          Saunders pulled the pack out of his pocket and looked at it, then shrugged.

          "Sorry, only two left."  He tossed the pack to the corporal, who was closest.

          "That's fine.  Hans doesn't smoke."  The German sergeant lit his cigarette, then gestured toward the east.  "Start walking.  That way."

          The three Americans looked at each other, shrugged and started walking.

          "You think they're going to walk us all the way to Germany?"  Caje asked after a mile, glancing over his shoulder at their captors.

          "Hope not.  My toe is really bothering me."  Saunders replied.

          Caje laughed in spite of the situation, and Doc just shook his head.

          "What is funny about a toe?"  The German sergeant asked.

          "Just a joke, Sergeant."  Saunders called back.

          Ahead of them the trees thinned out, then stopped altogether.  There was an open area leading to a stone bridge across a river with more trees on the other side.  The German sergeant halted them, inspected the area, then motioned to them to move on.  They had just about reached the middle when a single shot rang out.  Saunders cried out in pain, spun around and crashed to the ground, blood starting from a wound in his right shoulder.  The other five men dropped to the ground, then scrambled for the protection of the side of the bridge.  Doc looked at the still body of his sergeant, then at the German sergeant.

          "Can I go get him?"  He pleaded.

          "In a minute.  Which side is shooting?"

          "Who cares?"  Doc snapped.

          Doc made an involuntary movement toward Saunders when another bullet kicked up dirt next to Saunders' body.  The German sergeant grabbed his arm.

          "I'll get him."  The corporal said.  "Americans don't shoot at Americans, so it has to be a German, who won't shoot at another German."

          Caje and Doc stared at him in surprise. 

          "Go ahead, Miller.  If either of you try to escape or attack us, you will be shot.  Do you understand?"  The German sergeant asked.

          "Yeah.  Just get him out of there."  Caje urged.

          The corporal dashed toward Saunders, grabbed him by the left arm, and started dragging him toward the others.  The rifle in the trees barked again and Miller cried out and stumbled forward, falling more or less in Caje's lap.  Doc quickly pulled him off as Caje jerked Saunders under cover.  The Germans exchanged bewildered looks with Caje and Doc.

          "What the hell is going on?"  Caje asked.

          "I have no idea."  The German sergeant shook his head.

          Doc reached for the corporal, who was closest to him, slapped a dressing and bandage on his thigh, and crawled toward Saunders, ducking as another bullet slammed into the side of the bridge.  Rising to his knees, the German sergeant fired a burst toward the shooter, then dropped back to the roadway.  Doc crouched over Saunders, awkwardly bandaging the wound while trying to stay out of the line of fire.  Caje helped him move Saunders up against the side of the bridge, lying on his left side with his head resting on Caje's leg, then turned to be sure the corporal was under cover as well.  Unlike Saunders, the corporal was awake, sitting with his back to the wall.

          "Thank you, medic."  The German sergeant said.

          "You're welcome."  Doc leaned against the bridge next to the German private.

          "We just gonna sit here?"  Caje asked.

          "For the moment, yes."  The sergeant answered.  "We cannot move while your sergeant is unconscious.  Whoever it is cannot hit us here."

          "Unless he moves."  Miller commented.

          "Thanks for bringing that up, Miller."  Doc said.  "I bet you're a lot of fun at parties."

          Miller and the sergeant looked at each other and grinned briefly.  Caje and Doc looked at each other over Saunders' still body and shrugged.

          "Hey, Sergeant?"  Doc said.

          "Yes?"

          "Since it appears we're stuck here together, you got a name?"

          "Yes."

     "Are you going to tell us?"  Doc asked patiently.

          "You didn't say you wanted to know what it is.  You just asked if I had one."

          "Oh, God."  Doc groaned.  "As if you two weren't bad enough, I get captured by a German comedian.  Somebody shoot me."

          "Just raise your head up and I'm sure it will be arranged."  Miller grinned over at him.

          "Schwartz."  The sergeant said.

          "What?"  Caje looked over at him.

          "My name. Sergeant Schwartz.  Corporal Miller.  Private Hans Von Elecstadt.  We call him Hans."

          "I can understand that.  Doesn't say much, does he?" 

          "No, but he shoots well."

          "I'm Caje.  Sergeant Saunders and Doc."

          Saunders groaned softly, and his head lifted slightly from Caje's lap, then dropped back.  Caje put a hand on Saunders left wrist where it lay limp next to Caje's leg, bending over him.

          "Sarge?  Are you awake?"

          Rolling slightly, Saunders groaned again.

          "How could anyone sleep with you jokers gabbing?"  He complained.

          "Yep.  You're awake."  Caje grinned with relief.

          "Help me up."

          "Nope."  Doc said.  "You're better off lying down."

          Motioning to Caje to help, he carefully eased Saunders all the way over onto his back and handed Caje his canteen.  Lifting Saunders head slightly, he gave him a drink, then offered it to Miller, who took it gratefully.

          "Would someone mind telling me what the hell is going on?"  Saunders demanded.

          "I would be happy to tell you." Schwartz replied. "If I knew."

          "Who shot me?  And why?"

          "I don't know and I don't know."

          "Caje?"  Saunders notoriously short temper was beginning to fray.

          "It's true, Sarge.  Someone up in the woods shot you.  We thought they might be German, so Corporal Miller went out after you.  Whoever it is shot him, too.  We're pinned down."

          "Who's Corporal Miller?"

          "The German corporal."

          "He came after me?"  Saunders sounded surprised.

          "Yeah."

          "I must be hurt worse than I thought.  Nothing is making sense."

          "It's not your wound, Saunders.  Nothing is making sense."  Schwartz told him wryly.

     "How many are out there?"

          "One, I think.  We only hear one shot at a time."

          "Did you try talking to him?"

          "What do you expect me to say?"

          "You could try"  He paused, his face twisting with pain. "I'm German, don't shoot?"

          "I don't think it will do any good, but I'll try it."

          Twisting around, Schwartz shouted, automatically ducking as a bullet slammed into the side of the bridge.

          "Doc.  You try."  Saunders ordered.

          "You want me to tell him I'm German?"  Doc stared at Saunders.

          "No, Doc.  Tell him you're American."  Caje said patiently.

          "Oh.  Sorry.  Hey!  You out there!  Don't shoot!  I'm an American!"

          Everyone flinched as another bullet hit the bridge.

          "Caje?  Try French."

          When that resulted in another bullet, Schwartz sighed and looked over at Saunders.

          "Any other ideas?"

          Saunders had just opened his mouth when they heard shouting from the trees behind them - very angry sounding French.  Caje stretched to hear better, inadvertently jostling Saunders who bit back a cry of pain.

          "What'd he say?"  Schwartz asked when it was quiet again.

          "I think we're in trouble, here."

          "Caje.."  Saunders ground out between gritted teeth.

          "He said the Germans killed his mother.  The Americans killed his father.  Now he will kill all of us and drive us from his country."

          "Alone?"  Miller muttered so low only Caje heard him.

          "We have to get off this bridge."  Schwartz commented.  "Doc, do you have any morphine to give your sergeant?"

          "No."  Saunders snapped.  "No morphine."

          "But, Sarge"  Doc started.

          "I said no, Doc."

          "Have it your way."  Schwartz shrugged.  "We will have to work together or we will all die on this damned bridge.  Hans and I will work our way down to the far end of the bridge.  Caje, you help your sergeant.  Doc, you help Miller.  When you get to us, we will give you cover till you get into the trees."

          "The bridge gives better cover."  Saunders countered.

          "As Miller said, only as long as he stays where he is.  If he moves around to the end, we have no chance.  In the trees, we can move around and go after him."

          "No.  We stay here."  Saunders said.

          "Sergeant, you don't have a choice.  You are my prisoners, and you will follow my orders.  Is that clear?"  He sounded so much like Saunders that Caje and Doc gaped at each other.

          "I forgot."  Saunders muttered faintly, shaking his head.

          "Hang on, Sarge."  Caje urged.  "I'll need your help."

          "I'm okay."  He waved a languid left hand.          

          Looking up, Caje's worried eyes met Schwartz's equally worried look.

          "Everybody ready?  Let's go."

          He and Hans started squirming their way along the wall, then Caje eased out from under Saunders, wrapped a hand in his jacket and started dragging him along.  Doc grabbed Miller's arm and helped him along.  Ten feet later, Caje cursed softly when Saunders passed out.

          "Help him.  I'll make it."  Miller gave Doc a push.  "Go on."

          Crawling up on the other side of Saunders, Doc grabbed his web belt and they dragged him to the end of the bridge, both of them gasping for breath when they stopped beside Schwartz.  Doc turned to go back for Miller, but the corporal waved at him to stay where he was, joining them a minute later.

          "How are we going to do this, Sergeant?"  Miller panted.

          "Caje, Doc, you will take Saunders to that tree over there.  Remember you have no weapons.  If you try to escape, we will shoot you, if that crazy Frenchman doesn't.  Caje will stay with him.  Doc will come back for Miller.  Hans and I will cover you.  Understand?"

          "Yeah."  Caje replied.

          "Alright, get ready to move."

          Caje rose to a crouch, Saunders' left arm pulled across his shoulders.  Doc crouched on the other side, reluctantly doing the same with his right arm.  Although unconscious, Saunders moaned in pain.  The second the Germans above them opened up, they ran, Saunders hanging between them.  They reached the shelter of the downed tree Schwartz had indicated and laid Saunders on his back.

          "Put pressure on that wound.  Try to stop the bleeding."  Doc ordered as he turned to run back.

          "Ready, Doc?"  Schwartz called softly.

          "Yeah."

          "Go!"

          Doc slapped a hand on his helmet and ran, Hans grabbing his arm to stop his momentum when he reached the bridge.

          "Thanks."  Doc grinned as he reached for Miller.  "Ok, we're ready."

          As the guns chattered again, they took off.  They were nearly there when Doc cried out and crashed to the ground, clutching his leg.  Miller dropped to the ground, grabbed Doc's collar and dragged him into the trees, unaware of his own cry of pain as he forced his injured leg to work.  They both collapsed beside Saunders.  Unable to release the pressure on Saunders' shoulder, Caje watched as Miller grabbed Doc's bag and tied a bandage around Doc's leg.  He and Miller were wounded in almost exactly the same place, a deep gouge on the outside of the right leg.

          "Sergeant!  Your turn!"  Miller called.

          "On our way."  Schwartz called back.

          Firing as they ran, the two Germans broke from the bridge.  Almost immediately, Hans threw up his hands and tumbled to the ground in a heap. 

          "Miller!  Hold this!"  Caje yelled. 

          As soon as Miller touched the bloody padding on Saunders' shoulder, Caje was running.  In one fluid move, he passed Schwartz, scooped the slightly-built private off the ground, turned and sprinted for the trees.  He laid him on the other side of Saunders and dropped to the ground, gasping for breath.

          "God, what a sorry group we are."  He panted in several breaths.

          Thrusting Saunders' Tommy gun into Caje's hands, Schwartz knelt beside Doc.

          "Keep watch for that idiot."  Schwartz ordered.  "Doc, tell me what to do."

          Recovering quickly from his amazement, Caje twisted around, his eyes searching the trees.  Following Doc's instructions, Schwartz soon had all of the wounds cleaned and rebandaged.  Both Saunders and Hans were unconscious,  Doc and Miller both lay on their left sides, heads pillowed on their arms.  Picking up his own weapon, Schwartz moved up beside Caje.

          "See anything?"

          "Nope."

          "I'm going to help Miller into position, then I have to get Saunders awake to talk to him."  He paused.  "Would Doc use a gun?"

          Caje twisted over his shoulder to look at Doc, then glanced over at Schwartz.

          "I don't know.  The subject never came up.  Technically, he's a non-combatant, you know."

          "Which means he is not supposed to shoot at Germans.  I don't think that includes murderously insane civilians."

          "Ask him."  Caje shrugged.

          "Good idea."

          Schwartz crawled back over to the injured men, squatting between Doc and Miller.

          "Miller, I'm going to help you over there to keep watch, if you can handle a gun?"

          "I can handle a gun."  Miller glanced over at the absurdly young private.

          "Doc,  I know you're classified as a non-combatant, but this situation never came up in any manual I ever read.  As a non-combatant, you aren't supposed to shoot Germans.  We need you to watch for a crazy Frenchman.  You don't have to shoot unless it's to protect yourself or these two.  Will you take a gun?"

     Doc propped himself up on one elbow and looked at Hans and Saunders, then over at Caje, who refused to turn and look at him.

          "After I pick up a gun, then you can shoot me for violating the non-com rules?"

          "I am trying to save all of our lives, American.  I don't have time to argue rules with you. Yes or no?"  Schwartz snapped.

          "Yes."  Doc snapped back after another look at the two unconscious men.

          "Thank you."

          Schwartz helped Miller move to the other end of the tree, opposite Caje, then handed Doc Caje's rifle and helped him over to Caje.

          "Caje, I need you with me."

          The two men moved over to crouch one on either side of Saunders.  Schwartz shook his good shoulder but got no reaction.  Doc twisted around briefly to see what they were doing.

          "In my bag, Schwartz.  A little gold foil bag.  Rip it open and wave it under his nose."

          A moment later, Saunders involuntarily recoiled from the strong fumes and opened his eyes.  Without moving, he looked from Caje to Schwartz.

          "Can you understand me, Saunders?"  Schwartz asked.

          "Yeah."  He whispered.

          "We can't stay here like this.  The four of you need medical attention.  I want to take Caje with me and hunt him down."

          "Four?"  Saunders frowned.

          "He got Doc and Hans."

          "Bad?"

          "Doc got hit in the leg, Sarge.  Not bad.  Hans got it in the shoulder."  Caje told him.

          "Miller?  Doc?  Can you hear me?"  Schwartz called softly.

          "Yeah."  They both answered.

          "We are close to your lines, are we not, Sergeant?"

          "Closer than yours, anyway."  He managed a faint grin.

          "I have a proposal for you.  Your man and I will go hunt down this lunatic.  I will return here.  Caje will go to your lines and bring help.  My men and I will become prisoners of war."

          "But, Sergeant..."   Miller protested.

          "We do not have a choice, Corporal.  Hans needs a doctor or he will die.  We cannot carry him to our lines.  Do you see any other solution?"

          "No.  You are right."  Miller reluctantly admitted after a long moment.

          "Sergeant Saunders?  Do you agree?"

          "As you say, Sergeant Schwartz, do we have a choice?  Watch yourself, Caje.  You, too, Schwartz."

          Saunders eyes drifted closed and he relaxed, either asleep or unconscious again.  Schwartz met Caje's eyes over the sergeant's body, and gave him a crooked smile.

          "Ready?"

          "Yeah."

          Schwartz moved over to Miller for a quiet word, while Caje crouched by Doc.

          "You okay with this, Doc?"

          "There is no choice, Caje.  Get that nut and get us some help before we lose the Sarge."

          Schwartz touched Caje on the shoulder and the two men disappeared into the trees.  Doc twisted around to look at Miller, who was looking at him.  Both men turned back to scan the woods.

          "If you see something, throw something at me and I will shoot.  You will not have to."

          Doc stared at him, touched by the thoughtfulness of the enemy.

          "Thanks.  I'm okay.  I was a grocery clerk before I got drafted.  I wanted to be a cook, you know, learn a trade for after the war.  Instead, they made me a medic."

          "Have you killed a man?"

          "No."

          "It is not an easy thing to do.  Do not believe those who say it gets easier.  It is a terrible thing to do."  Miller told him softly.

          "Maybe we'll get lucky and neither of us will have to."

          "Maybe."

          They fell silent, the only sound the ragged breathing of the unconscious men between them.  A short time later, they heard a single rifle shot, followed by the sound of Caje's Tommy gun.  They lay still, following the sounds of the shooting as it moved through the trees.  After what seemed an eternity, they heard someone coming toward them.  Both men hitched themselves around to face the sound, their rifles ready.

          "It's me.  Schwartz.  Don't shoot."

          Doc sagged in relief, but Miller remained tense.

          "What is my sister's name?"  He demanded.

          "Gretchen."

          Miller sighed with relief and lowered his rifle.

          "Come on in, Sergeant."

          Schwartz went directly to Hans, checking him, then checked Saunders.

          "Caje?"  Doc asked.

          "He's fine.  We got him and Caje took off.  He said to tell you he'll be back soon.  He also said to tell you to enjoy it, because Kirby would be coming?"

          Doc chuckled and laid the gun aside.

          "Let me help you back down here."  Schwartz got to his feet.

          "If it's all the same to you, I'd just as soon stay where I am."  Doc waved him back down.

          A few minutes later, Saunders stirred.

          "Caje?  Doc?  Littlejohn?"  He muttered.

          Schwartz was on his feet instantly, practically carrying Doc to Saunders' side.  Doc put a calming hand on his good shoulder.

          "Right here, Sarge.  Take it easy."  He said soothingly.  "Schwartz?  See if you can find the morphine in my bag."

          "No."  Saunders said, his voice a little stronger.

          Silently, Doc held his hand out for the vial.  Schwartz handed it to him, then pushed Saunders sleeve up, holding his arm steady despite Saunders' weak struggles.  A moment later, Saunders' mumbling stopped and he lay still. 

          "Find another one for Hans."  Doc told Schwartz.

          Leaning across Saunders hips, Doc injected the young private as well, then lay back, propped on an elbow next to Saunders.  Miller squirmed his way down to join them.

          "If you were serious about surrendering, you better get rid of the guns."  Doc advised.

          "Good point.  It would be a shame to be shot now."

          Schwartz looked around for a minute, then helped Miller move to the far side of Hans, then piled the weapons on the ground behind Doc.

          "The pistol, too, Sergeant.  Saunders sets store by that weapon."  Doc grinned.

          "Sorry, I forgot I had it.  What is 'sets store'?"  He asked, handing the pistol to Doc.

          "Umm, he values it highly."

          "That is understandable."

          Schwartz sat down on the far side of Miller, who was now lying on his back, watching the leaves above him dance in the slight breeze.  Out of habit, Doc laid a gentle hand on Saunders' chest, checking his breathing.  Schwartz watched but said nothing.  When Caje silently appeared an hour later, Miller and Doc were asleep,  Schwartz leaning against a tree, his head nodding.

          "Everyone okay?"  Caje asked.

          Badly startled, Schwartz jumped, nearly falling over sideways.

          "Sorry."  Caje grinned.  "How are they?"

          "Doc gave Hans and Saunders morphine.  Doc and Miller went to sleep about half an hour ago."  He replied, glancing at his watch.  "Where is the help you went after?"

          "Waiting for an all-clear."  Caje pulled his beret off and waved it.

          A moment later there were a dozen or so Americans gathered around.

          "Lieutenant?  This is Sergeant Schwartz."  Caje indicated the man getting to his feet.

          "Sergeant."  Hanley nodded.  "Alright, get these men on stretchers and let's get going."

          Doc, who had woken up, protested, but Littlejohn simply picked him up and deposited him gently on a stretcher.

          "Shut up and relax, Doc.  We're gonna take care of you for a change."  He grinned.

          In minutes, all four men were on the stretchers, covered with blankets and were being carried through the trees.  Saunders and Hans both lay still and quiet.  Miller talked quietly with Schwartz, who carried one end of his stretcher.  Doc listened with quiet amusement to Kirby's multiple complaints as he carried the head of his stretcher.

^^^

          The first thing Saunders saw when he opened his eyes was Lieutenant Hanley, relaxing in a chair beside his cot, cup of coffee in one hand, cigarette in the other.  When Hanley realized his sergeant was awake, he leaned over and put the cigarette between Saunders' lips.

          "Saunders.  I send you on a quick, simple, easy mission and it turns into a major undertaking. How did you manage that?"  He tried to sound severe.

          "It wasn't easy, sir."  Saunders grinned, seeing right through him.

          "How you feeling?"

          "'Bout like you'd expect, I guess.  Doc and Caje okay?"

          "Caje is fine.  Doc is laying next to you.  Under protest, I might add."  Hanley smiled.

          Saunders turned his head slowly to find Doc grinning at him. 

          "The Germans?"  He asked, turning back to Hanley.

          "The two wounded are on the other side of you.  The sergeant is being kept company by Caje until his men are ready to travel.  He's been asking about you."

          "Tell him I'm fine."

          "Good to have you back, Sarge." Hanley said softly as he bent over to retrieve the cigarette. "I'll tell Caje."  He said in a normal tone and got to his feet, glancing at Doc, who was busy staring at the ceiling.

          The second Hanley disappeared through the tent door, Caje, Littlejohn, and Kirby crowded through, falling over each other in their eagerness to reach the sergeant.  Behind them, Hanley and Schwartz stood at the doorway watching them.

          "No wonder we are losing, Lieutenant."  Schwartz shook his head. 

          Hanley looked at him in surprise, uncertain of his meaning.

          "Americans are unpredictable.  Your private is a natural-born hunter and killer one minute, the next he is like a young boy."  He explained, watching Caje laughing and joking with the squad.

 

Copyright 2000 by Mary Wright. All Rights Reserved.

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The CombatFan web site thanks Mary (aka "EagleLady") for letting us share these fan fiction stories on this web site.