Remember

By DC
© December 2002

 
Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: The Tour of Duty characters do not belong to me. I just love playing in their sandbox.

Summary: Camp Barnett- Christmas 1968 (and a missing scene from the episode: Green Christmas) This is a sister story to my Christmas story The Discovery from last year, and finds Myron a year later, still in Vietnam.

Note: song quoted here- Lay Down (Candle in the Rain) as performed by Melanie with the Edwin Hawkins Singers. Written by Melanie Safka

** Thanks to Doc LaVigne and Mel for the beta help and the suggestions. As always, itís deeply appreciated. **


Youíre so close, there was no room
We bled inside each otherís wounds
We had all caught the same disease
We all sang the songs of peace.

Goldman sat on the floor of the Huey as he always preferred to, up behind the co-pilotís seat with his knees drawn up to his chest and his rifle, muzzle down, cradled loosely in his arms. He had his face to the wind, letting it wash over him as he silently watched the lush jungle rush by below the skids of the slick.

He closed his eyes for a moment, exhausted and a bit numb as he laid his head back against the seat behind him. He tried not to think. Tried not to remember.

It was Christmas Eve and McKay was flying just a little lower than the angels.

Lay down, lay down, lay it all down.

The slick was crowded with his men- some of the same men heíd spent Christmas Eve with last year. Percell, Taylor and Ruiz. Just like this, in a slick heading back to base. With Anderson sitting across from him then as he was now, watching him quietly.

It was the same then as it was now.

They were still in Vietnam. And it was Christmas Eve once again.

Only then they had been trying to mutilate a Christmas carol, one which Myron could not remember. And Anderson had been trying to play his harmonica. Myron opened his eyes and turned his head enough to look into the crowded cargo area of the slick. Some things do change, he considered, as he watched Doc Hockenbury re-bandaging the shoulder of the POW they were taking back to Barnett.

Myron realized that he could not remember the last time he saw Anderson try to play that harmonica. And Firebase Ladybird was a lifetime ago.

Youíre so close there was no room
We bled inside each other wounds.

Myron realized Doc was looking at him. Looking through him. He uneasily slipped his gaze away from the medicís curiosity only to find Anderson watching him as well with gentle concern. Myron mentally flinched back from the sergeantís never ending understanding and turned his face back into the rush of wind from the rotors.

So much was still the same.

Yet everything had changed.

So raise the candles high
Oh you know we could stay black against the night.
So raise them higher again
And if you do we could stay dry against the rain.

"Doc, why you makiní such a fuss over this guy?" Taylorís voice cut across Myronís distant thoughts and he found himself glancing back inside the Huey. "Itís not like itís gonna matter in a few hours anyway. I say- just let the bastard bleed."

"You know, Marcus- Iím kinda funny that way. I see someone bleediní all over the floor of the chopper here and well- I just canít help it." Doc shook his head without looking at his teammate. "Must be why Iím the medic and youíre not."

"I think we can all be thankful for that!" Percell was shouldered up next to Anderson. He had been reading a letter from home that he got just before they had gone out this last time. He now tucked it back inside his shirt.

"Christmas Eve and youíre just full of good cheer, now ainítcha, Doc?" Taylorís sarcasm was not lost in the rush of the chopperís rotors.

"Hey, weíre alive, ainít we?" Doc, now finished, started putting odds and ends of medical supplies back into his medkit.

"Yeah, well, in case you havenít noticed, Hockenbury, this IS Vietnam!"

"And your point is, Marcus?"

Some came to sing.

Myron turned his attention once again to the landscape that slipped by below him in a dizzying blur of greens. Last year Taylor had been laughing and changing the words of the carol to something less reverent. Last year Taylor still had Johnson. Things change and Myron didnít want to remember.

Taylorís sullen anger and Percellís distant shame brushed at the edges of his awareness. Last year it was simple disappointment in the mail having been lost. This year, it was so much more complicated.

So much had happened.

Some came to pray.

McKay brought the helicopter in over Barnett and Myron watched the scenery change from the lush jungle to buildings and vehicles and people. The Huey banked and came around, and Goldman caught a glimpse of the SOG emblem that was painted on the platform. And the peace sign. Camp Barnett sprawled out below in dull shades of greens and browns as McKay started to settle the Huey towards the pad. The rotors kicked a storm of dust that quickly surrounded the helicopter, the camp disappearing in a haze of browns and reds for a moment. Then the skids touched down and McKay cut the engine, the roar dying away with the slowing of the massive blades.

Percell and Taylor were already hauling the POW, none-too-gently, across the deck, Ruiz directly behind. Anderson watched for a long moment before turning to Hockenbury.

And some came to keep the dark away.

"Letís go, Doc." Anderson nudged the medic.

"Whatís gonna happen to the prisoner?" Hockenbury was looking at Goldman, ignoring Anderson for the moment.

"You did your part, Doc. Let it go now." Anderson nudged the medic again, gently. "Just let it go."

Lay down, lay down, lay it all down.

Myron could sense that Hockenbury was still watching him. Could sense the other manís growing confusion and sorrow.

Youíre so close there was no room.
We bled inside each otherís wounds.

Exhausted, Goldman finally looked up. Behind Hockenbury, he could see Johnny standing on the other side of the cargo hold, flight helmet in his hands. Myron reached up and stripped the rag from his head and wiped the back of his hand across his mouth before he finally met the odd gray-green eyes of the medic.

Why?

The question hung in the air, unspoken between them.

"Let it go, Doc." Myron finally found his voice. Hockenburyís eyes darkened a shade. Myron felt a surge of anger and despair wash over him, and he lowered his gaze to the deck.

Saying nothing, Doc Hock grabbed his medkit and slid across the deck. He stood up next to McKay, who gently caught his arm. "DONíT!" Hockenbury snapped and yanked himself out of Johnnyís grasp with a glare. The pilot stepped back a pace, hands up in a warding gesture.

"Sorry, Doc."

"Donít," Hockenbury repeated, the sudden flare of anger sliding away to be replaced by bewilderment in those odd eyes of his when he glanced back at Anderson and Goldman, who were still inside the bay of the chopper. Myron could see it clearly in the other manís eyes, and feel it wash over him.

And there wasnít a thing he could do about it. Goldman bowed before the unspoken accusation in the medicís darkening eyes, and glanced down at the dusty deck of the chopper. Nothing more was said and Hockenbury walked off, head down as he shouldered his medkit. Johnny followed silently in his wake, unwilling to let the medic be alone.

The heat of the late day and the smell of jet fuel wrapped in around Myron.

He could feel a numbness starting to creep in on the edges of his awareness as he listened to the comfortable ticking sounds of the helicopterís cooling engine. His breathing sounded loud in his ears. The rotors now secure, the crew chief reached in to get the ammo cans, not paying any real attention to the two silent men still sitting in the cargo hold.

The crush and press of so many emotions not entirely his own started to ease in his mind.

Lay down, lay down, lay it all down.

Myron was too tired to fight back the encroaching numbness. And wasnít sure he wanted to even if he did have the strength. A small part of him warned himself to hang on, to not give over to it entirely. He had made a promise, but he was no longer sure to whom heíd made it. He didnít want the responsibility anymore. Didnít want to have to remember why it was so important.

Lay down, lay down, lay it all down.

There was simply so much he didnít want to remember.

Nikki walked away from him, unable to accept who he was. The nightmare that was Phu-an. Bellar betrayed a friendship and understanding. Brewster was relieved of command. His father came to tell him he was dying. And then there was AlexÖ

Youíre so close there was no room.
We bled inside each otherís wounds.

Myron hugged his legs up to his chest and pressed his face into his knees, trying not to shake.

"L-T."

It wasnít a question.

Myron had forgotten that Anderson was still there. That the sergeant, his friend, was patiently waiting for him- like he always did. Waiting for Myron to gather himself together.

Some came to keep the dark away.

"Iím alright," he finally whispered. It was such a lie. And they both knew it.

Myron wrapped his arms tighter around his legs, as if trying to hold himself together by sheer will. He could hear Anderson shifting his weight around. Knew the man was looking at him, could sense his honest concern.

And he was so afraid to reach for it. To touch it and accept it. Too much lost. He couldnít bear to lose more.

"Itís been a long year, L-T." The words were soft and measured. "Iím sorry for it."

Unspoken was something else entirely- youíre slippiní away from me, from all of us. Most of all, from yourself.

Lay down, lay down, lay it all down.

Myron found himself looking up finally, blinking in the sunlight that spilled into the cargo bay. What was there to say?

So much had been lost to him.

A promise madeÖremember.

Myron swallowed and looked away from those dark eyes. He lowered his hands and pushed himself across the deck until he shoved against the frayed padding of the slickís back wall.

"Ya know, McKayís taking the whole unit aní then some to that orphanage tomorrow." Zeke wasnít looking at him, but across the camp. He resettled his rifle across his lap.

"I know."

"Itíd be nice, L-T, if youíd come." Zeke finally looked back at the younger man. "It would mean a lot to the men, and Lt. McKay."

Lay down, lay down, lay it all down.

"Thereís so much death and sadness here, L-T. Just for one day, let yourself set it aside." Myron found himself staring at Anderson, captured in his friendís dark eyes.

The one person Myron could never hold his defenses against was this man- who from the day they first met could reach him as no one else could. It had been Andersonís greatest gift to him- his gift of understanding and friendship.

So many things had changed. Yet through it all, Anderson was the same man Myron remembered last Christmas Eve, on a firebase, in another lifetime.

Anderson extended his hand, the gesture representing so much. Myron hesitated, blinking, and then swallowing against the tightness in his throat. Without even realizing it, he was already reaching back. They said nothing, the simple gesture conveying more in that moment than any words the two could possibly say.

Some came to sing.
Some came to pray.
Some came to keep the dark away.

Myron smiled softly and gripped Zekeís arm. Anderson smiled in return and pulled Myron across the deck to the edge of the cargo bay.

"You know, Sergeant, I think Iíd like to come."

So raise the candles high!
Oh you know we could stay black against the night
Oh raise them higher again!
And if you do we could stay dry against the rain.

~finis~

 

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