|Jack "JD" Stevenson (jd_stev) wrote in destructionisle,|
@ 2019-06-02 06:12:00
|Entry tags:||!complete, !thread, ian marsh, jd stevenson|
Who: JD and Ian
When: Afternoon, Saturday, May 18, 2019
Where: Around the Island
“Y’know, we could go back to Mount Rainier and try a different trail. I read that the ones on the western side are supposed to be quite the challenge, but the views are worth it... if you think you can rough it for a night.” JD teased as the two men walked along.
So far the routine patrol that took them out around the Lighthouse and back to ‘town’ was pretty quiet, the few people that they had seen along the way were going about their own business and not causing any problems so there was no reason to disturb them solely for the sake of it. That was one thing that disturbed him about some of the other guards on the island, they would harass and sometimes physically assault residents just for fun, knowing that their victims wouldn’t fight back in fear of getting dragged away. Ian was different though, after all it was his idea to come here and no matter how small he believed that the two of them were making some kind of difference, even if no one else could see it.
“You haven’t given your ‘wilderness leg’ a good workout for months, we’ve got two days off right before the next food delivery so let’s get off the island and go hikin’.” Not that it usually took much convincing to get Ian to agree, JD was pretty sure that they both enjoyed the times they could get off Destruction Island and go exploring the multitude of parks and reserves that were scattered around the state of Washington
That quip was amusing and Ian nodded. “If you had to worry about me I doubt you’d even have asked.” His Ian comment was nestled in that same string of teasing. His face was split open with the grin and Ian shook his head. Moving alongside his friend and fellow soldier sharp eyes would keep steady watch of the path ahead.
The wilderness that surrounded the small settlement was vast. In any other world it would have been a dream to explore - tall trees, hidden trails, stretches of water and beach to swim and fish. But the weight of the large semi-automatic weapon in his hands confirmed that this was no vacation or recreational trip.
He wished he was of the age to retire to some strip of land big enough to satisfy his yearning for adventure. Serving overseas had been able to quell some of that but he hadn’t been stationed in any regions with anything more than sand and sun.
Wilderness leg. Keeping a straight, neutral face as they passed two residents he abated his laughter. “Alright, sounds fine with me.”
A small, polite nod was directed at the two residents as they passed, they were still humans and deserved to be recognized and treated as such. They had arrived here two years ago and from the beginning saw the kind of behavior that their fellow guards were engaging in and refused to take part in it, JD was raised better than that.
All men were equal and should be treated the same despite race, skin colour or in this case - ‘illness’. Radiation poisoning? His Uncle Larry! The government might see them as a threat or sick but maybe this was what humanity needed to survive.
“That’s settled then, I’ll get the permits but you can hump all your own gear this time.” He looked over at Ian, the two of them stepping in time from too many years of moving in formation. They acted like a well oiled machine together and it was a proviso of taking this posting that they only patrolled with each other - Marsh and Stevenson were a package deal, take it or leave it.
But they had the Memorial Day barbeque on Monday, organizing their hiking trip could wait until after that. “Don’t forget to set your alarm for Monday morning, they said they want us at the port by 0530.” Not that 5:30am was that much earlier than JD’s usual waking time, even during winter he was almost always awake at 6, it was habit he just couldn’t shake.
Nobody was stupid here - the guards, the residents. They all knew what was going on and yet nobody said anything, nobody did anything about it. He had never gotten a direct command to abuse a resident though during debriefing and training they were told to use force if necessary detaining a resident. Any type of force. So far in the two years he had been stationed there he had never had to use force on anyone to get them to do as asked but then again he wasn’t shouting orders at anybody unless it was the final warning.
“You won’t even help a guy out?” He quipped, playful. Carrying his own stuff was part of the gig, you bore what you brought and didn’t rely on anybody else to pick up the slack. They were soldiers. He was glad that JD had come with him considering how close they were. Best friends, which was a rare feat these days. Patrolling without the other man was odd and felt wrong, and Ian trusted no one else to watch his six or his twelve.
“Yes Sir,” came the immediate response though in a low tone to confirm he received the message. Pausing, Ian took a second to set the alarm on his phone to oh five thirty, and then the mobile went back into a pocket and the walk began again.
“I might help by carrying your bedroll, but don’t expect me to hump your spare leg around.” He joked. There was that one time when JD had taken some of Ian’s gear in his pack when they had gone on a hiking trip, he only thought that it was fair as at that time his friend was having issues with his prosthetic leg and the added weight in his pack aggravated the issue. JD knew that Ian hated it when he had issues with his leg and was unable to pull his weight as much, but after so many years and countless times saying it was okay and that’s what friends were for JD thought that maybe Ian now just let him help without complaining.
It did feel strange when he had to patrol without Ian, not that it happened that often but there was the odd day where his friend was not fit enough to do his job, then again there were also days where Ian had to work without him. That was one of the downfalls of being soldiers - they couldn’t control when the flashbacks or PTSD hit them or how hard it would hit, all they could do was be there for one another during those times.
“Once we’ve got the food in storage what d’ya think about doing the Hero WOD?” Both of them seemed to enjoy the Workout of the Day’s that were named after fallen military and first responders, they were always different and sometimes they had to alter them a bit but it added variety to their workouts.
There would always be some complaining, but he realized that help was needed and offered in spite of it which meant something to him. There was no doubt he could rely on his Staff Sergeant for things of all caliber but what really settled into his bones was the genuine kindness that came with the offer to assist. It wasn’t one soldier, one brother in arms to another, it was from a friend to another friend. So the back and forth was always less, the give and the take came when needed. He didn’t want to be viewed as incapable or weak by anybody but that was never something JD had made him feel because of his leg.
A nod would come at the offer. “Yeah, I’d like that. Which one’s up next?” It was something to look forward to. Even as a guard things to do to pass the day were few and far between when you had down time. Luckily for him he found motivation to stay active in his friend.
Ian did his best not to burden JD with his episodes, either. They’d had an unspoken thing for years where crawling into bed with each other in effort to quell the nightmares was for the sake of their friend’s well-being. So many little things came that Ian was grateful for.
Despite everything the younger soldier had gone through and even with one and a half legs Ian was still stronger and more of a man than almost all of the guards they worked alongside of on the island. Although JD was several inches taller than his friend they were both still rather physically intimidating and had gained a lot of respect from the others over the years and even some of the newer guards seemed a bit afraid of them, not only because of their physical presence but also because of they were both ex-military. The war might be over (for the most part at least) but for them both they would always be carrying it with them.
JD got out his phone, swiped it open and searched through the calendar where he had written the WOD’s. “We’ve got Memorial Day Murph. Start and end with a mile run, a hundred pull ups, two hundred push ups and three hundred air squats. Oh… and all in a weight vest.” He looked over at Ian with a grin. “Sounds like fun.” They’d break those large numbers up into groups which they’d repeat until they got to their totals.
Listening, he found the challenge appropriate as each task listed was stated aloud. It would probably have been a daunting task for anyone not in the same physical shape as they but Ian was looking forward to it “I’ll be sure to put my workout leg on. Think you can keep up?” A laugh came after the teasing string of words.
Like anything in life the repetition was important. They’d gone from casual lives to structured and it was that little box Ian and JD would live in the remainder of their days. Rigidity was predictable. He didn’t like surprises.
His gun shifted in his hands as they walked, giving another nod when they passed someone else who was out along their route. “Oh, I’ll try. I haven’t met a WOD who could beat me yet!” Keeping himself in peak form was something that JD was proud of, both he and Ian could have stopped it after they had finished active service but neither of them had, Ian had continued it as part of his rehab and JD just couldn’t picture himself doing anything else. Which was one of the reasons he ended up working in the VA gym and with the Wounded Warriors program for so long, it also gave him the chance to remain close to his friend but he wouldn’t admit that, Ian had saved his life and that was debt he could never repay.
It was almost twenty years since he had joined the Army and built that structure into his life and JD couldn’t imagine life any other way, Ian was one of the only people that he had told about his rough upbringing and those tough few years ‘before’. Ian also understood why he was never interested in going out for a beer after work and never laughed at him or tried to change his mind. Maybe that was why they had always gotten along so well and had remained friends after that last tour together, they both remained in touch with others in their unit but none were as close as Ian.
A nod would also come to those on the path of patrol. He always hated the looks they got as guards, those cautious, mistrusting glances. There was nothing he could do about it and he understood the why. They were hated, feared. Turning to look forward at the path he trekked on.
He didn’t hold a measure of pride for saving lives back in the day. It had cost him but he blamed no one. It was just what you did for your brothers. No soldier left behind at any cost.
“Life’s funny like that,” Ian teased, nudging his friend in the arm.
At least there were some on the island who didn’t hate or fear them, most of them were people who either he or Ian had smuggled something in for. That took a level of trust and it had taken a long time to get that, for the people to believe that these two guards actually wanted to help and were men of their word. But now they had a slowly growing group who they’d do things for, JD’s job though was a lot easier than Ian’s.
He’d just go to the post office, write down the return name and address of the post box onto the back of the envelope, add a stamp and send it off. Getting letters and parcels was a bit harder, they were all addressed to his alias but were double enveloped, he’d just strip off the envelope addressed to him and see who it was really for. Ian had to go out and source the items, buy them and then hide them to get everything back onto the island. Then they’d put the letters or items into the designated bag with that household’s rations and drop them off during their delivery rounds.
“No. Funny is when you’ve hopped over to my place at two am and forgot to bring both your leg and crutch. Ain’t you glad I now keep a spare in the closet?” JD returned the nudge with a smirk.
A roll of his eyes at the comment. “You tell anyone about that and I swear you’re going to wake up with dynamite in your ass,” he said, trying not to laugh. It wasn’t often he stumbled over to JD’s in the middle of the night and when he did it was because he was shrouded in a moment of weakness. He didn’t take that lightly but he was glad his friend could make light of the experience.
Reaching a stopping point Ian slid the safety onto his weapon and housed it into the holster on his back. He took a moment to sit and stretch his leg and the prosthetic attached to it.
There was more than one night where JD had shown up at Ian’s door in nothing but his boxers after a particular bad flashback, if they wanted to start counting the score would be pretty even between them, but friends never did and just having someone there who knew and understood that despite the years that had gone by that there were still moments where it all seemed to much and they would always be there for one another at those moments.
He drew a cross on his chest, a silent ‘cross my heart’, they might make light of the bad experiences now but it was something that would remain only between them, one of the many secrets that the shared. When they stopped JD holstered his weapon too, stretching his arms above his head and groaned softly as there was a soft pop from somewhere down his back, it did feel good though. “They’ve got some Roman Candles and Bottle Rockets for the night, should be a good one.” He said after a few minutes of quiet, fireworks were fine as long as he knew they were coming, it was those sudden loud noises or explosions that he wasn’t expecting that still triggered something inside him, probably would for the rest of his life.
He took that gesture and was warmed by it. Nodding with understanding he glanced away. He wouldn’t show weakness out here, only a rubbing of his fingers at the spot where the plastic cradled the nub and then he made himself stand up again.
“Oh good. I suspect they’ll put us in charge of the food at least.” Every guard worth his salt would be applying for the opportunity to set off fireworks. Who wouldn’t?
He hated them, if he was being honest with himself. “Might retire early.”
He had seen Ian at his worst - hell, he had carried the Sergent out of there on that dark day a decade ago! They had both accepted that nothing would change what had happened and were grateful that things weren’t worse than they could’ve been, everyone had gotten out alive and the overall mission was not compromised even if their unit had been.
“Oh c’mon now Marsh, don’t tell me you’re not looking forward to been Grill Master. No one cooks those steaks better than you!!” JD patted Ian on the back as he spoke, it was true that Ian was much better when it came to the grill than pretty much anyone else. He wasn’t too bad at it but Ian was definitely his superior in that regards.
“If you want some company, let me know.” Seen one lot of fireworks, you’ve seen them all. If Ian didn’t want to be alone, that took precedence over some colorful gunpowder.
“I’ll leave the cooking up to you,” he quipped. “You look better without your shirt.” It was an innocent quip but he actually meant it. He was alright at cooking, or so he told himself.
He would guard and protect, swap out when needed. Smelling like smoke all day wasn’t the option of choice.
“Thanks.” He wouldn’t be staying for that. If JD came back he might take him up on the offer, if not he’d prevail through.
“And there I was believing you only liked my cookin’.” JD laughed, bringing an arm up and flexing the bicep at Ian. “Gotta give them something nice to look at.” His ego wasn’t that big but he could agree with his friend that he did look good without a shirt, though Ian didn’t look that bad either but he wasn’t going to say it aloud.
His eyes were still scanning around them as they stood and talked, never letting the guard down though there wasn’t any threat at present it was another force of habit. Always alert and in tune to what’s going on around them was what made them both good soldiers.
“That’s what friends are for, right?”
The swallow was taken at first glance and he averted his gaze. JD was ideal to man the station - no grease on his shirt, rippling biceps and pectorals. Ian cleared his throat and moved on. “You’re appointed to the job, soldier.”
Up and moving now he continued on their journey for patrol. “Ten four, sir,” came the reply.
“You can be in charge of the drinks, or something.” He didn’t want to be out there without his best friend around and keeping an eye on his six even though this was suppose to be a relaxing day.
A small smile remained on his face as they continued on their patrol back towards ‘town’, they only had a bit over an hour until the end of their shift and JD was looking forward to getting out of this uniform and maybe hitting the Marketplace before having to retire to his place.
“Oh yeah, cause that’s where the fun is,” he laughed, unable to help it. He would step into the grill as needed to back his friend up but otherwise standing guard was probably all he would do.
A bit more of a trek would be had; then it was refuel, hit the gym, shower and maybe sleep. Any and all of the rest he could get before Memorial Day commenced would be good - he needed to stockpile the zzz’s where he could get them. There wouldn’t be much sleep come Monday night. He didn’t mix well with fireworks.
“How about the beach volleyball then? I’m sure you can find someone who wants to recreate that scene from Top Gun.” Except the residents weren’t a group of Air Force pilots in good physical condition like in the movie, but some fun could be had. Though it was up to Ian to decide what he wanted to do, as long as they did their job that was all that mattered.
Usually JD liked to hit the gym with Ian, they were good at pushing one another to do more - one more set of pull ups or five more minutes on the treadmill, this usually left them puffing and panting and hurting but it was worth it in the end. But he had gotten up early and had done an extra mile before they met up for their daily workout, JD just wanted to relax this evening, maybe even let himself enjoy a nice long soak in the tub. “Oh six thirty for our workout tomorrow?”
“We can see how we feel when we get there.” Cooking could be exhausting when you did it in the sun; the heat from the grill was liable to suck the energy out of someone after so many hours. He would play if he had the chance only if to have something to do, but he would play it by ear. For once he wished the circumstances were different and that they could enjoy the simpler things without repercussion - like volleyball.
“Yes, Sir. I’ll be there. Oh six thirty sharp.”
He’d sleep well Monday night, that was for sure. Cooking over the grill for hours on end would be stressful on his body but the weather up here in Washington wasn’t as warm as it was during mid summer back in Louisiana or in the deserts of Afghanistan, he could always stand back for a moment and cool down with a drink or two. JD just hoped that Ian would enjoy himself, if only for a while.
The workout together was something he always looked forward to, although they tried to do them daily sometimes PTSD got in the way and after a tough night the last thing on their minds was exercise. There was a small smile as Ian called him ‘Sir’, although it was so long since they had both left the military and JD had told him to stop calling him such Ian still did it, old habits die hard.