[ in the mist ]

by pfc kory

Sergeant Zeke Anderson hugged his wounded Lieutenant closer to him as the kid trembled violently.

"It's all right, sir," he spoke soothingly, "you're gonna be all right."

The wounded officer moaned as his eyes rolled back in his head and Zeke hugged him tighter, as if he could somehow hold on to the life that was quickly draining out of the kid. The battle-weary Sergeant knew better, however. A slight tremble rippled through Zeke as he felt the young Lieutenant release his final breath, the tension in his body leaving with it.

Zeke felt tears well up in his eyes as he clung to the limp body of the Lieutenant. He wanted to scream. Instead, he laid his slain officer down gently and quickly brushed the tears away, hoping the men hadn't noticed.

"He gone, Sarge?" Taylor whispered hesitantly, more stating than asking. He'd hovered protectively around the Sarge and Doc as they'd done what they could for wounded Lieutenant.

"Finally got a butter bar with potential, now we're gonna have to break in a fuckin' new one." Taylor muttered to himself, fighting back tears.

Shuffling his feet for a moment, he resisted the urge to glance again at the lifeless form, knowing the tears would win the battle if he did. Feeling himself losing the battle anyway, Taylor moved away.

Sgt. Anderson continued sitting by the body a for a few minutes. The kid hadn't been with the platoon long, but his loss was going to be felt deeply by the men, nonetheless. Running on Nam time, ya got attached to guys quick, and the Lieutenant's friendly, easy-going nature that had made him especially easy to like him. Damn!! He really liked this kid. Well, at least he'd make sure the Lieutenant's body made it home.

"Saddle up! We're movin'!" Sarge ordered, slinging the limp body of the young Lieutenant over his shoulder.

Sighing, Zeke focused himself on the business-at-hand. There wasn't time to grieve for the young officer now. The dense mist that had settled in around them as the rain let up was going to slow them down, so they couldn't afford to waste any more time getting to the LZ.

"Bravo six, this is two-five," Sgt. Anderson reported in, "we're coming in from your November-Echo."

"That's a roger, two-five," came the response, "we'll keep an eye out."

As the soggy platoon trudged wearily into the LZ, Cpt. Wallace watched Sgt. Anderson flop his Lieutenant onto an empty plot of ground. Damn! He'd planned to send the kid to check out the ridge rising a dozen meters up from the western edge of the short, flat hill they were using for their LZ. Well, he couldn't spare anyone else, Anderson would have to do it.

"Sergeant, I need you to take a couple squads up there," Cpt. Wallace pointed to the steep ridge, "There's NVA coming from below, I don't want any surprises from above."

"Yes, sir." Sgt. Anderson responded flatly.

The direct approach from the LZ would have been a formidable climb for anyone, but after working his way across the wide gully separating the short hill from the steep ridge, Anderson had marched his men north and found an another path to the top. Despite needing to maneuver around the steep, rain-slickended gullies that criss-crossed up the hill, it had been easy hike. Zeke had been in combat long enough to know better than to take the easy path, but he was tired and more upset than he cared to admit over the loss of the Lieutenant.

As they reached the rocky crown of the ridge, Anderson thought to himself that the day's luck must have shifted their direction. Assuming there weren't any nasty surprises waiting for them in the caves they'd seen from the LZ, the position could be easily defended.

As he began to inspect the area, the Sergeant thought about the devastating havoc the NVA would have wreaked on the men below had they taken control of the ridge first.

"Bravo six, this is two-five. No sign of any unfriendlies, sir," Sgt. Anderson reported, "pretty easy access up here, though."

"Anything interesting inside those caves?" Cpt. Wallace inquired, hoping they'd make this mission worthwhile by stumbling across an NVA stash.

"Negative, Bravo six, caves just an optical illusion. Nothing but some deep crevices."

"Roger that, two-six," the Captain responded, trying to keep the disappointment out of his voice. "Can you hold the position with what you've got?"

"Affirmative, Bravo six," Sergeant Anderson replied.

"Watch your tail up there, two-five," came the reply.

"Roger that, two-five out."

Zeke had caught the disappointment in Cpt. Wallace's voice, but he was still relieved that the "caves" had been nothing more than the scant light filtering through the dense mist making the deep crevices appear even deeper. Finishing his inspection of the ridge, the Sergeant paused to looked down on the men formed in a semi-circle below him. As he viewed the serene, mist-obscured scenery around the LZ, the Sergeant felt oddly removed from the impending fight. It felt as though he were a fan sitting high up in the stands preparing to cheer on his favorite team.
Behind him Zeke could hear his men chatting casually as they hunkered down. Everything around him seemed surreal, and Zeke wondered for a moment if he was really sound asleep in his bunk back at Ladybird. He felt a twinge of hope that maybe he'd wake up from this dream and be able tell the Lieutenant all about it over a beer.

"Two-five, this is Bravo six, we're in over our heads."

Zeke jumped, startled by the voice crackling over the radio. He hadn't noticed the intensifying sounds of battle below him.

"Got a Spooky nearby, he's coming in to clear the area," Cpt. Wallace announced, "Get your guys ready to move, the choppers will be right behind him."

"Acknowledged, two-five out." Zeke responded, pulling himself back into reality. "Saddle-up guys, we're heading back down."

"Anderson, wait!"

The Sergeant jumped. The order had come out of nowhere. Zeke twisted around to locate its origin.

"Sir?!" Sgt. Anderson responded automatically to the authoritative tone of the voice, but then hesitated.

His eyes settled on a vague human shape standing in one of the deep, mist-shrouded crevices. The Sergeant could just make out the filthy green army fatigues, but couldn't quite see the face, or the name.

"Get the guys under cover," the voice ordered, "I don't want to have our butts exposed if that Spooky forgets to release his trigger as he passes us."

Sgt. Anderson still hesitated. Who was this? Was it some sort of NVA trick? Zeke could hear the devastating fire of the C-47 coming closer and auto-pilot kicked in.

"What's up, Sarge?" Taylor questioned, noticing that Sgt. Anderson had become distracted.

"We're taking cover!!" The Sergeant shouted, spinning around to face him.

"Huh? I though we..." Taylor began as Zeke pushed past him.

"You heard the Sergeant, Taylor! Move!"

Taylor jumped. He looked around, but there was no one.

"Move it, Private!"

"Yes, sir!" Taylor responded automatically to the forcefulness of the command and he slid into the nearest gully.

"Take cover!" Sgt. Anderson bellowed. "Move it! Move! Move! Move! Move! Move!"

The urgent tone of their Sergeant's voice sent the men scrambling for cover. A couple of the less experienced men hesitated and were rewarded by a hard shove from Zeke to get them moving in the right direction. The Sergeant paused as the heavy fire neared him, scanning the ridge quickly to be sure all the men had reached cover.


Sgt. Anderson heard the scream at the same instant the air around him turned into a mass of exploding debris. Strong arms were pulling him deep into the gully, away from the flying shards of rock and bullets.

His head ached and spun mercilessly, his shoulder felt like it was on fire.

"Zeke?! Zeke?!"

Sgt. Anderson looked hazily into the deep brown eyes of his savior.

"Zeke! Your gonna be all right! Just hang in there!"

Who was he? The Sergeant tried to stay coherent enough to identify the young face hovering over him. Feeling himself losing consciousness, he tried to fix the image of the unfamiliar face in his mind. Concern filled the deep brown eyes that burned into his memory as they slowly faded into the mist.

"You were damn lucky, Sergeant," Cpt. Wallace commented smiling, shaking his head at the thought of what might have been.

"Yes, sir," Sgt. Anderson absently replied, distracted by the activity outside his window. He hated laying around when he ought to be looking after his men.

"Sir," Zeke startled the Captain by suddenly focusing on the conversation, "I was wondering who it was that pulled me into that gully, didn't recognize the kid."

Cpt. Wallace stopped smiling as he looked at his Sergeant with a mixture of concern and bewilderment.

The Sergeant's injuries hadn't been as serious as his blood soaked fatigues had made them appear as he was loaded on the evac chopper. He'd been cut up pretty good by the debris exploding around him, but none of the wounds had been deep. The nasty knock on the head he'd gotten sliding into the gully hadn't seemed like anything to worry about either - until now.

"I'd like to thank the him, sir," Zeke continued, puzzled by the Captain's change in demeanor.

"Nobody up there but your guys, Zeke," Captain Wallace finally responded, "look, I better let you get some rest," he hastily added as a perplexed look came across Zeke's face. Leaving the infirmary, the Captain worried that his Sergeant had been in-country too long.

"Taylor, you see somebody pull Sgt. Anderson into that gully?" Captain Wallace quizzed the young soldier waiting for him outside.

"No, sir," Taylor responded, "Sarge was the last one to dive for cover, nobody else near him."

"See anybody up there you didn't know?"

"No, sir!" Taylor answered quickly, hoping the Captain wouldn't press the issue. He wasn't so sure what had happened up there, but he hadn't seen anybody up on that ridge besides his buddies. There was no way he was telling anybody about hearing the order to take cover. He was afraid he'd end up in the loony bin if he started talking about hearing voices.

Zeke felt his head start to spin as he strained to hear the distant conversation. The spinning turned into an ache and he settled into the bed. In a few days, when the Doc turned him loose, he'd check around and find the guy himself.

"I'm telling ya, Sarge, I didn't see nobody else up there," Taylor insisted.

For weeks the Sergeant had hounded everyone that had been up on the ridge with him. No one would admit to seeing anyone beside his buddies, or hearing any orders except Sarge's. Taylor'd been edgy, though, and Zeke was sure he knew more than he was saying.

Cpt. Wallace watched the scene from the doorway of the infirmary. It added to the irritation he was already feeling at being pulled out of Ladybird to have a chat with some lame-assed headshrinker. To prevent the trip from being a total waste, he'd brought the Sergeant and couple guys along to restock the pantry while the Captain was chatting with the Doc. He'd have left his Sergeant tucked safely away at the Firebase if he'd known that Zeke was going to be the topic of the conversation.

It seemed that the Doc had heard from some of the kids that had been medevac back to Chu Lai that the Sergeant was still determined to find out about the guy that he believed had pulled him to safety on that ridge nearly a month ago. None of the other men had seen the guy, so the Doc had decided that Sgt. Anderson was going a little loony and wanted to pull him out of the field for a while. Zeke HAD been a little obsessed with finding the guy, but it hadn't prevented him from duty his job, so the Captain had just spent nearly an hour convincing the Doc that the Sergeant was fit for duty. Watching Zeke corner Taylor, again, to question the poor kid about some imaginary savior, Cpt. Wallace wondered if he was doing the right thing. Anderson was one of his best men, he hated the thought of losing him, but maybe the Doc was right, maybe Zeke did need to spend some time in Psych.

"Problem with Taylor, Sergeant?" the Captain inquired, waving the Sergeant over.

"No, sir. Just chatting with the boy."

"Zeke," Cpt. Wallace began quietly, suddenly deciding to be candid with the Sergeant. He paused and stepped closer to prevent anyone else from hearing the conversation before continuing, "the Doc thinks your losing it - hounding the guys about some imaginary kid. Look, your one of my best men, but I gotta know if your heads still in the game."

Sgt. Anderson was floored. He knew the Doc thought he'd been seeing things up on that ridge, but it never occurred to him that Cpt. Wallace would doubt him. It dawned on Zeke how strange his behavior appeared - storming around the base, determined to find some kid that nobody else would admit to seeing. The Sergeant reluctantly admitted to himself that he must have imagined the whole thing.

"Come on! Let's get back to Ladybird," Cpt. Wallace had watched his Sergeant's face and knew that whatever had been going on with the man, he'd just put it behind him.

"Any of you men know which one of these officers is 2nd Lieutenant Goldman." Sergeant Anderson shouted as he passed one of the trucks quickly filling with the replacements headed for Firebase Ladybird.

A boy turned to face him. The Sergeant barely managed to suppress the shudder that threatened to crawl down his spine as he stared into hauntingly familiar eyes.

"Naw!" Zeke thought to himself as the upstart muttered something about a salute, "Just tired."

Continuing with the business of loading up the newbies, Zeke tried to keep his thoughts away from the memory of the fire from the C-47 tearing up the ground around him - pain searing across his shoulder - his head spinning as the world around him faded into blackness - deep, brown eyes looking down at him as a soothing voice told him to "hang in there, he'd be all right." That dream - those eyes, he hadn't thought about it - them - in months.

Zeke tried hard to push away the vision of the young face hovering over him as he lost consciousness. So this kid reminded him of that disastrous mission, didn't mean anything. Man! The firebase was just overrun, again. He was worn-out, that's all it was. Zeke forced himself to focus on the faces of his new men as he boarded the truck.

No way he was tangling himself up in that mess again, he'd already nearly landed himself in Psych because of it.

The Sergeant chatted with the new Lieutenant, avoiding eye contact as much as possible. The kid was a pretty typical cherry butter bar, Zeke didn't figure him to last long.

"Kid ain't nuthin' but trouble," the Sergeant told himself a fresh chill ran down his spine.

Eager to escape, the Sergeant searched for the harmonica player. What was his name? - Horn. Spotting him, Zeke squeezed in next to the kid, letting the beautiful sounds the newbie produced from his small instrument push the Sergeant's old demons away.

"Ell-teeee!" Sergeant Anderson shouted as his Lieutenant fell a few feet in front of him.

Zeke inched toward Lt. Goldman, staying as close to the ground as the interlaced tree roots beneath him would allow. Stretching, he managed to wrap his fingers around the officer's wrist and yank the Lt. towards him. The movement prompted a fresh wave of bullets, directed at the crumpled form being dragged away.

The Sergeant flinched as the bullets kicked up shards of rock and thick chunks of tree root that tore at his clothing and cut deeply into his flesh. He felt an anxious wave a nausea rise up as he realized that the blows from the debris exploding around them were increasingly being absorbed by the man he'd been trying to pull to safety. The Sergeant knew the ambushers were aiming at the movement, and in his hurry to save the Lt., he'd just made Myron his cover. Zeke stopped pulling on the officer as a large piece of debris tore up the side of Lt. Goldman's head.


Ruiz let the burst from the M-60 run long, his adrenaline taking over. He had just passed the Lt. when the officer went down and had felt the rounds zip by him. Intently focused on obliterating the jungle hiding the attackers, Roo didn't notice the first splashes of rain as they pattered softly against his helmet.


The breathless G.I.'s listened to their thudding heartbeats as they waited for the firing to begin again.


Thunder pealed across the sky, opening up the heavens. The soft sprinkle that had begun only moments before suddenly turned into a deluge instantly drenching the soldiers as they climbed back into the skins they'd jumped out of as the thunder'd abruptly broken the silence.

"Think they di di'd, Sarge." Roo whispered, then shouted as he realized the rain was drowning out his voice.

Sarge nodded affirmatively but signaled everyone to hold their position.

"Doc! Get over here!" Sergeant Anderson bellowed to the medic that had crawled to the RTO a few feet away. "Lt.? Lt.? You still with us?"

Lt. Goldman moaned.


Nothing. Myron lay motionless in his Sergeant's arms. Zeke gently pulled up the Lt.'s fatigue jacket and shirt as the medic crept up beside him.

"How's Turner?" Sgt. Anderson asked, referring to the fallen RTO.

"Gone, Sarge." The medic responded.

"And the radio's totally Fubar, Sarge!" Percell shouted, holding up the damaged radio.

"Doesn't matter, not even McKay would fly in this shit." Sgt. Anderson responded glumly, muttering under his breath, "Terrific! A cherry medic and no damn medevac."

The Sergeant glanced up from the wound in Myron chest just in time to watch Ferguson's face fall as he caught sight of the injury on Myron's right side, just at the bottom of his ribs. Looking back down, Zeke puzzled at the small amount of blood spilling out before realizing the bullet but have gone through his lung.

"Do something quick, Doc! We're not hanging around!" Sgt Anderson shouted at the newbie.

The young medic opened his mouth to speak, but the Sergeant cut him off.

"Just do something!" Zeke ordered as he pulled a rain poncho out of his pack to shelter the Lt. while the Doc worked.

The expression on the Doc's face had said enough. The kid figured he was in over his head, Sgt. Anderson hoped he was wrong. Zeke had seen plenty of wounds like this and knew there was a decent chance Myron'd make until their pick-up in the morning, as long as the newbie didn't screw up too badly.

Reluctantly, the Sergeant let Johnson take over providing shelter for the Lt. The Doc was nervous enough without Zeke standing over him. Moving with as much efficiency as the rain-slickened surface would allow, he quickly surveyed the men. They'd come out all right, really - cuts and bruises, mostly. The Lt. and Turner had gotten the worst of it.

Ferguson looked up, feeling the Sarge come up behind him as he pulled a needle out of his bag. The Sergeant waited patiently for the medic to relieve the pressure that had built up against the damaged lung then knelt beside Myron as Ferguson replaced the Lt.'s soggy clothing over the fresh bandages. Wrapping a quick bandage around the gash in Lt. Goldman's head, the Doc nodded to the Sgt. Anderson.

"We'll need a stretcher, Sarge."

"I'll carry him." Zeke responded, picturing two guys trying to haul the rain-ladened stretcher across the slippery terrain.

"I'll walk," Lt. Goldman croaked, weakly.

"Sir, I..." Ferguson began.

"I'll walk," Lt. Goldman repeated more forcefully.

Shrugging his shoulders, Ferguson backed out of the way as Sgt. Anderson carefully helped his Lieutenant to his feet.

"Let's get moving, Sergeant," the Lt. ordered, stubbornly refusing any more help from Zeke and he tried to steady himself.

The shout pulled at the wound and Myron flinched almost imperceivably. Catching it out of the corner of his eye, Ferguson pulled a morphine surette out of his bag. The Lt. waved the medic away, his head was spinning enough as it was.

"Come on! Let's go! If we don't get in another couple hours, we'll miss our pick-up," Myron elaborated, trying to prove to the men that he was fine.

"Let's move! Johnson, you're on point. Percell, bring the radio," Sarge bellowed.

Zeke ignored the skeptical glance that Danny threw his way before the tossing the radio over his shoulder. The Sergeant wanted to get a look at the radio himself before writing it off. Rounding up the Lieutenant's helmet, Zeke handed it to him, watching as the Lt. carefully shifted it around so that it wasn't resting on the tender gash in his head. A chill ran down the Sergeant's spine as the cock-eyed helmet gave the officer the appearance of a little boy playing soldier. Pulling out Myron's rain poncho, Zeke tossed it over the Lt's head and they began to move out.

The Lieutenant gave his Sergeant a disapproving glance. Myron knew the Sergeant would be hovering around him like a mother hen. Myron appreciated the sentiment, but having Zeke mollycoddle him wasn't exactly gonna fill the men with confidence.

The torrential rain didn't let up at all as the soggy band slogged its way through the dense foliage, but at least it had kept Charlie away.

Sgt. Anderson, shivering as the breezed puffed through his damp fatigues, was thankful for that. He knew Myron would be feeling weather worse than he was and wished he could do more for the boy. Myron had managed somehow to keep up without letting men see the strain of the injury. He'd even managed to toss out a few encouraging words as the weary men trudged on. Following their Lieutenant's example, the men had grumbled less than the Sergeant would have expected under the circumstances, and he was proud of his guys.

"What do you think, Sergeant," Lt. Goldman asked shakily, unable to keep the pain and exhaustion out of his voice any longer.

"It'll to do, sir," his worried Sergeant responded.

The shallow overhang wasn't much, but it was nestled well enough into the lee side of the ridge in front of them to give the men a dry place to snooze as they rotated off the perimeter. Zeke was relieved that they were stopping, even though he knew the Lt. had hoped to get it a few klicks closer to the LZ. As the injury wore at him, Myron had managed to keep the strain that was etching deeper and deeper into his face hidden from the men, but he hadn't been able to hide it from Zeke. Each time they had stopped to let the Doc check his wound, Myron been a little slower getting back to his feet and Zeke knew that the boy didn't have much more in him. He needed some real rest.

"Maybe you ought to have the Doc check that bandage, sir," Zeke suggested, glancing at the wet, dirty bandage peeking out from under Myron's helmet.

"Ferguson!" the Sergeant bellowed. The damn kid seemed to have a way of not being around whenever Zeke looked for him.

"Sarge?" Ferguson responded, pushing his way wearily through the bunch of soldiers massed into the small, dry space.

"Nice of you to join us, son," Zeke responded coolly, darting his eyes towards the Lieutenant. Ferguson shuffled over to tend the wounded officer as Zeke moved off to set up the perimeter.

"How's it look, Doc?" Roo asked cautiously as the medic removed the gauze from Myron's head.

"I'm fine, Roo. Nothing to worry about." the Lt. responded, trying to smile reassuringly.

Ferguson kept his focus on the Lt. The cherry medic didn't want the others to see the despair he was feeling. From the moment he'd tossed his gear on his bunk back at base, he'd noticed how tight the men in his unit were. They were a family, and that included Lt. Goldman. The guys were gonna hold him responsible if the Lt. didn't make it and the newbie worried about what that would mean for the rest of his tour. Hell! He'd only been in Nam a week, and besides, he was just supposed to bandage the guys and load them a chopper.

Sgt. Anderson woke with a start, needing a minute to orient himself. Then the Lt. moaned again, pulling the Sergeant back into reality.

"How ya doin', sir?" Zeke asked softly before realizing the officer was still asleep. Creeping over to the Lt., he noticed Myron was breathing in short, labored gasps.


Ferguson, dozing a few feet away, responded slowly. "Ferguson! Get over here!" Zeke persisted.

The young medic stumbled towards his patient. Zeke didn't much care for the new medic. The kid didn't seem much on the ball, but without a medevac, there wasn't any choice. The Sergeant had to leave Myron in the kid's hands, but he didn't have to be pleased about it. Zeke watched as Ferguson fumbled sleepily with the Lt.'s fatigue jacket. Myron flinched as Ferguson tugged at his damp clothing.

"Sorry, sir," Ferguson whispered as the Lt. sleepily blinked his eyes open.

"Hmmm," Myron responded, glaring up at the medic.

"Nnneed tto check your wound , sir" Ferguson stammered apologetically as he squirmed under the hostile stare of his Lieutenant.

Despite his worry, Zeke smiled to himself as he overheard. He couldn't really blame the kid, the Lt. was looking none to pleased about be woken up. The Sergeant watched closely as the skittering young medic peeled back the Lt.'s damp clothing and carefully relieved the pressure that had once again built up against the Lieutenant's injured lung. Ferguson looked as though he expected to be court-martialed for his efforts, but the Sergeant found himself impressed by the kid's skill. Maybe he'd underestimated the newbie.

Apparently satisfied with the result of his effort, the medic pulled Myron clothing back down.

"Looks fine, sir," Ferguson mumbled as he quickly grabbed his gear and backed away.

Zeke watched as Myron fell back to sleep, breathing more easily. Then the Sergeant carefully weaved his way through the weary, water-logged soldiers. Most of the guys had fallen into a light sleep. Leaving them to their dreams, the Sergeant moved out to the perimeter to check on the guys stuck on watch. Touching base with each of the men, he provided a few encouraging words before slowly making his way back to the Lt.

"How's he doing, Sarge?" Roo whispered, rubbing the sleep out of his bleary eyes as the Sergeant passed him.

Anderson shrugged his shoulder.

"Come on, Sarge." Roo pressed.

"He hangin' in there."

Ruiz glanced woefully at the Lt. before nodding his head in acknowledgment and moving over to settle down protectively next to the officer.

Frustrated by his helplessness, Anderson settled down on the other side of Myron, resting a comforting hand across the Lt.'s shoulder. Eventually, the exhausted Sergeant drifted into a light restless sleep.

"Sarge! Sarge! Wake up?" Roo prodded, "It's the Lt.!"

Sgt. Anderson shook the cobwebs from his head and focused on the wounded officer. The Lt. had begun to tremble violently and was mumbling incoherently.

"It's all right, sir," Zeke whispered soothingly, cradling Myron in his arms, "I've got ya, you're gonna be all right."

"What do we do, Sarge?" Roo asked desperately. Sarge always knew what to do.

"Doc! Get over here!" Zeke bellowed, ignoring Ruiz.

The urgency in the Sergeant's tone had been enough to get the sleepy medic moving without hesitation this time.

"He's going into shock! Do something!" the Sergeant ordered.

Ferguson quickly examined the Lieutenant. He was pale, but not alarmingly, and his skin wasn't clammy. His heart was racing but his pulse was strong and didn't seem to be having more trouble breathing. Peeling up Myron's shirt, the medic checked the bandages. The chest wound still looked stable, so he moved to the head wound. The bleeding had stopped some time ago, leaving a swollen, blood-encrusted lump. Ferguson checked his pupils, everything looked fine.

"It's not shock, Sarge." the medic informed his anxious Sergeant, shrugging his shoulders.

"Lieutenant? Lieutenant Goldman, wake up!" Ferguson gently prodded his Lt., "Come on, Lt., wake up!"

"Hmmm," Myron finally responded sleepily, "what do you want now Ferguson."

"He's doing fine, Sarge," the medic stated matter-of-factly.

Myron glared at Ferguson as the medic settled back down to sleep. The Lieutenant was convinced that the newbie had woken him up just to bother him.

"Sorry about that Lt.," Zeke tried to divert his annoyed Lt.'s attention away from the Doc.

Brushing the Sergeant away, Myron went back to sleep.

"Try and go back to sleep, Roo." The Sergeant instructed the shaken youngster staring up at him with huge, teary eyes.

"Go on, Lt's doing fine now," Zeke felt for Ruiz as he watched him wrap his arms around his knees and rocked himself back to sleep.

Listening to the sounds of his sleeping men, the Sergeant relaxed against the cold rock and stared out at the mist-shrouded night. He felt his eyelids drooping as an old memory tickled at his sub-conscious. A shudder ran through him as he drifted into an old nightmare.

"Take cover! Move it! Move! Move! Move! Move! Move! " Sgt. Anderson bellowed.

Zeke paused as the heavy fire neared him, scanning the ridge quickly to be sure all the men had reached cover.


Strong arms were pulling him deep into the gully, away from the flying shards of rock and bullets. His head ached and his shoulder felt like it was on fire.

"Zeke?! Zeke?!"

Sgt. Anderson looked hazily into the deep brown eyes of his savior.

Zeke startled awake.

"Damn dream!" Zeke repeated it several times under his breath as he tried to force himself to stop shaking. It had been a long time since he'd had that nightmare. Trying to pull himself away from the lingering memory, he turned towards Myron. The Lt. had begun trembling again and was muttering something about taking cover.


Sgt. Anderson jumped as Lt. Goldman screamed and his eyes flew open.

"Zeke! Zeke!" Myron screamed again, flailing his arms and grasping at the air. "Zeke! Your gonna be all right! Just hang in there!"

"It's all right, sir. I'm all right." The shaking Sergeant comforted his trembling Lieutenant.

"Zeke?" Myron whispered, blinking a few times before coming around.

"Yeah, I'm here." Zeke responded, shakily, looking down into the deep brown eyes of his savior, "everything's fine, sir. You rest."

Unnerved, Sgt. Anderson moved away from the Lieutenant as Myron settled back into a deep, restful sleep. Ferguson, startled awake by the commotion, made eye contact with his Sergeant.

"Nnothing to worry about, Doc. Everything's ffine," Zeke stammered uncharacteristically.

Ruiz, also awakened by the Lieutenant's screams, watched with concern as the Sarge backed away. The frightened, confused look on Zeke's face scared the young soldier. It was unlike anything he'd ever seen in his Sergeant's face before, and it shook him down to his toes. Roo stayed awake watching as emotions played across Zeke's face.

It had been a long time since Zeke had thought about that disastrous day, not since meeting Myron for the first time back at Chu Lai. Sgt. Anderson shuddered, again, as he look down at Lt. Goldman sleeping peacefully. It seemed a life time ago when he'd met Myron. Crouching, he rested against the cold rock and waited for the sun to rise and burn off the mist. Over and over he remembered the bullets pounding the hill around him, the arms pulling him into the gully, those eyes staring down at him - Myron's eyes. No matter how many times he went over it, those eyes were always there as he faded out of consciousness.

"Forget it, Zeke," the Sergeant ordered himself. The memory wasn't possible, it couldn't be real. He was tired and confusing things in his head.

Pushing it all away, Zeke rose as the mist around him began to glow with the light of the new day. He paused only for a moment as he passed the sleeping Lieutenant, then hurried to get the men up and moving towards the LZ.

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