Disclaimers: This story belongs to me so I don't give permission for it to be posted somewhere else under a different title, change in names or storyline.
Sex: But of course! J
Note: There will likely be somewhat graphic violence in this story, as part of it takes place during war times.
If you'd like to tell me what a wonderful writer I am or that I royally suck, feel free at: XenaNut@hotmail.com .
San Jose , CA 1968
Megan stood back, arms crossed over her chest and her tongue nearly in tatters from biting to keep from lashing out at her mother, who was packing a suitcase. “What about my wedding?” she finally asked, feeling selfish to bring it up, but it had to be brought out in the open.
Kate glanced over at her daughter, who leaned against the doorframe of her bedroom. “Megan, I'm going to be gone for a few weeks at most. I hardly think in that time I'm going to miss either your wedding – which isn't until September 10 – nor any of the preparations that need to be made.” She grunted as she used her body weight to close the full suitcase.
“I don't understand this,” Megan huffed, flopping down on the edge of the bed, refusing to help her mother snap the case closed.
“What's to understand?” Kate asked, finally latching the clasps. Out of breath, she brushed her hair out of her eyes and met her daughter's angry gaze. “Megan, I'm 41 years old, have a daughter who is about to graduate college in six months and a son-in-law that I adore and will inherit in three months. I've lived a good life, created a fulfilling career and family, so why can't I do what I need to do for myself.”
“But why ?” Megan exclaimed, exasperated. “Mom, you won't even tell me who you're going out to find! I really think you're going through a mid-life crisis.”
Amused, Kate smiled. “That may be, sweetie. That really may be.”
San Diego , CA 1943
Danni and Kate lay naked in Kate's bed, facing each other on their sides, legs entwined and hips pressed together. After an evening of making love, they basked in each other and the incredible love that had developed between them. They shared a slow, lazy kiss before Kate lay her head on her pillow, Danni's face not more than six inches away.
Danni ran her hand up the side of Kate's thigh, which was placed over her hips - her own thigh pressed gently between Kate's legs – and ran her hand up the smooth skin of Kate's side, up over her shoulder and down between her breasts before heading back the way she'd come. To her, there was nothing more amazing than the feel of Kate's body: it was beautiful and incredibly intimate.
“And you're sure you two haven't had some kind of argument that she hasn't gotten over?” Danni asked, responding to Kate's frustration and confusion that her best friend seemed to be pushing away from her.
“None,” Kate said, followed by a sad sigh. She rested her hand on Danni's behind, so glad she had all of Danni now, and not just the illusion of two weeks ago. “I don't understand it. It's like Carol doesn't even want to be friends anymore.”
“I'm sorry, my love,” Danni said, seeing the sadness in Kate's eyes. “Maybe she's just trying to deal with the fact that Mike will be leaving in a week.”
Kate's eyes fell closed, her tears nearly choking her as she swallowed them down. “So will you,” she whispered.
“Oh Katie, girl,” Danni whispered, resting their foreheads together. She was the only one in Kate's entire life who dare call her Katie. She loved it. “I'm sorry, baby.”
Kate took several deep breaths, finally getting herself under control. She didn't want to squander their last week with tears. “There are so many things I want to do with you, Danni.”
Danni gave her a sexy little smile. “And I think we did about half of them tonight.”
Kate delivered a playful slap to Danni's arm. “I'm serious!”
Danni laughed, pulling Kate to her in another loving kiss. “What do you want to do with me?” she whispered against Kate's lips.
“I want to have our own house,” Kate began, running her fingers through Danni's hair. “I want to see your farm in Nebraska , and that bedroom you slept in with the crazy diagonal ceilings. I want to know you're there every night and every morning when I wake up.” Her voice fell to a whisper as her emotions began to take over. “I want you to come back from the war, and I want to spend the rest of my life with you, Danni. I want to marry you.” She could no longer hold her tears back, and they flowed freely down her cheeks.
Danni's own emotions caught up with her, and soon she and Kate were clinging to each other, both shedding their fears as she rolled onto her back, pulling Kate with her, so the blonde lay atop her. “I love you so much, Katie,” Danni whispered into her ear. “So much.”
After long moments, Kate got herself under control, using the edge of the pillow case to wipe her eyes. “I'm sorry,” she said softly, placing a soft kiss to Danni's lips. “I promised myself that I'd keep it together this week.”
“It's okay, love,” Danni said, hugging Kate to her. “Let me get up for a second, because I have something for you.”
Kate moved off Danni, sitting on the mattress and watching as Danni got up and walked over to her clothing, which was strewn on the floor. Danni pulled something from her pants' pocket and returned to the bed. Kate gasped when she saw that it was a red satin ring box.
“Let's do it,” Danni whispered, ring box held in her hand, the gold band inside glinting from the lamp light.
Kate smiled, her heart in her throat as she nodded. “Let's do it.” In her excitement, she bowled Danni over, knocking her to her back and landing on top of her. “Yes,” she whispered against Danni's lips. “Yes, yes, yes, yes!”
Kate was dressed in her best dress, standing across from Danni – joined by the hands – dressed in her best dress uniform. She was nearly lost in the June skies of Danni's eyes as the minister spoke to them.
“I do,” she said, her voice soft, but never had she meant two words more than she meant those two. “Forever.”
Danni smiled, mouthing the words: I love you.
The minister smiled. “I now pronounce you as mister and misses Daniel Felts! You may kiss your bride.”
Danni leaned in, taking Kate in a deep – and totally inappropriate – kiss. The small audience, made up of Herb and others in Danni's regiment, clapped and whooped. Danni pulled back, a huge grin on her face, eyes only for her beautiful bride. Kate gave her a look that made Danni melt. She knew that their wedding night would be far more than either of them could have imagined mere weeks ago. The only thing missing was Carol and Mike.
Later that night, Danni and Kate stood on the beach, the ocean roaring beside them. Kate looked down at her gold band, which glinted so beautifully in the moonlight. “I can't stop looking at it,” she grinned.
Danni also looked down at it, her own a gold twin of Kate's. “I just can't believe we actually did it.”
“Me, neither.” Kate met Danni's gaze, holding her hand in her own. “What are we going to do?” she asked, all mirth leaving her face. It was something they hadn't discussed. “When you come back, Danni, you'll have no reason to be Daniel Felts anymore. We can't...,” Kate sighed, dropping Danni's hand and turning to the waves that gently lapped at the beach.
“No, I won't have reason to be Daniel anymore,” Danni said, coming up behind Kate and holding her. “But I'll do it if it means we can be together.”
Kate turned in Danni's arms, stunned. “You'd give up who you are to be with me?” she whispered.
“In a heartbeat.” Danni brushed the side of Kate's face with the backs of her fingers. “Don't you get it, Katie? You are who I am. Without you, I'm nothing.”
Kate kissed her then backed away. “I can't do that to you, Danni. You have every right to be the woman that you are: the woman that I love. ” They shared another kiss. “I can't strip you of that. It's not fair.”
Danni knew Kate was right, as she had no desire to live the rest of her life as a lie. But, what choices did they truly have? “Tell you what,” she said, once again taking Kate's hand. “Let's deal with this when I get back. FDR says the war will be over in six months, then I'll come home, your hero on this big ol' ship, and we can decide from there where we want to go and what we want to do.”
Kate smiled, liking that idea. She snaked her arms up around Danni's neck, bringing them close together. “Okay,” she whispered against Danni's lips. “Now make love to your wife.”
Danni stared down at her wedding band, the whipping waves far below as the ship made good progress across the ocean. They'd been speeding across the Pacific for nearly three months now, and she felt her heart becoming a little more distant each day. If she allowed herself to live in a desired past, she'd never be able to face her battle-filled future. She looked out over the expanse of the ocean, not for the first time amazed and awed by what she saw. The sheer majesty of it all left her speechless.
As she looked out over those beautiful blue waters, her mind raced back to that day on the harbor, Kate clutching her for all she was worth.
“I love you so much,” Danni whispered into Kate's ear, needing her to understand just what she meant to her soul.
Kate could only cry, words escaping her. She held on to Danni, never wanting to let her go, but knowing that this was it. Was this it for six months? For a year? Forever? “I'm going to miss you,” was all she could come up with to say.
“I'll be back, my Katie girl,” Danni whispered. “I swear. I'll be back.” Danni looked up over the top of Kate's head to see George Hannigan, her superior officer, watching them. The two sailors met eyes then George mounted the gang plank that led to the ship, soon disappearing from Danni's gaze. “Be strong, baby,” she pleaded. “Please, be strong.”
Kate pulled out of the intense embrace just enough to be able to place a firm kiss on Danni's lips. “Go find your destiny,” she whispered, before pulling totally away, hurrying off to disappear in the gathered crowd.
Danni watched, lifting herself onto her tippy toes, trying to get one last glimpse of Kate, but was unable to. With a sad sigh, she turned, duffel bag heaved over her shoulder, and headed towards the gang plank and into her world for the next six years of her life, unbeknownst to her.
Danni took several deep breaths, shoving the emotions down. They were set to arrive at their destination within seven hours. Truth be told, Danni should be asleep, but she was wide awake and just wanted to get her current world going so she could forget about her previous world.
Kate finished unpacking the final box in her bedroom. Now that Danni was gone, she had the time and sort of, energy to unpack. Danni had been gone for three and a half weeks and classes were set to start within a few days. She knew she'd be a rarity among her fellow rare female classmates: there to get a degree, not a husband.
Things hadn't improved where Carol was concerned, no matter how many times Kate asked what was wrong. Carol was distant and non-responsive. Ultimately, Kate decided to fully concentrate on her studies as well as letters from Danni. Whatever was going on with Carol would work itself out, she was certain.
Plopping down on her bed, Kate grabbed her pen and paper then rolled over onto her stomach, ready to write another letter to Danni. What she'd found helped was that whenever she was so lonely for Danni that she wanted to die, she'd pen her a letter, even if she'd just sent one out to her the day before. She didn't get as many letters back from Danni as Danni got from her, but Kate knew she did the best she could. Danni wasn't allowed to tell her where she was in the world, but she did fill her in on the day-to-day routine of building an airstrip, roads and currently, a new mess hall.
My sweet Katie girl. We have finally docked, and what a journey it's been! I didn't think I be sea-sick, but I definitely had my moments! I can't tell you where we are, but I can tell you that it's beautiful and we've got a lot of work to do. I can also tell you, I love you.
Hello my handsome sailor. I was worrying for nothing, as I got perfect scores on my mid-terms and am very excited. I beat out almost all of my male classmates! Ha! Goes to show what a woman can do when she sets her mind to it.
I know you said you may be able to get home for Christmas, and I know I said I'd be as patient as I can. I miss you so much! You would be the ultimate gift from Santa.
To my love. I'm so sorry I wasn't able to come home. No one is more disappointed than me. I miss you with everything in me, and it's so hard to face everyday when the guy who was your friend yesterday doesn't come home tomorrow. Oh, and if you thought you were surprised that George is my commanding officer, you have no idea how I feel about the situation. I guess it is what it is and I'm making the best of it that I can. In all honesty, so far so good.
We've finished our work here and are set to be shipped out to the next within a week. I miss you like crazy and would do anything to hold you. I love you and know that I wish you the Merriest of Christmases.
Happy Anniversary, love! When is this godforsaken war going to end and bring you back to me?
Wayne, NE 1950
Allison Hughes laughed with her dinner guests, a glass of red wine clutched in beautifully manicured fingers with long, painted nails. She and her husband, Harvard were having their end-of-month client dinner, which Harv insisted on having, as he felt it bonded him with his clients' money down at the bank all the more. It was only the high rollers who were invited, however: owners of successful businesses, stakeholders in the bank and prominent people within the town and surrounding communities.
Allison, looking stunning in a new red dress, her hair coifed perfectly, saw one of the servants headed her way, a telephone placed on the silver tray the young woman carried. Allison politely dismissed herself from the conversation she'd been having with the Post Master's wife, and met the servant halfway across the dining room.
“Phone call for you, Mrs. Hughes.”
“Thank you.” Allison picked up the handset, which had been set down on the tray so as not to disconnect the call, and placed it against her ear, the heavy plastic of the phone clicking against her large, diamond earring. “This is Allison Hughes.”
An hour later, Allison strode into the Wayne Police Station with purpose and grace. She walked up to the front desk, every person in the building knowing exactly who she was, and – on this night – why she was there.
“Come with me, Mrs. Hughes,” a uniformed officer said, quickly hurrying to meet Allison in the lobby.
Allison was led through the darkest corners of the inner workings of the police station until finally she found herself in the holding cell area. Looking through the bars, she smiled, shaking her head. In truth, she was relieved to see the drunken figure splayed out on a bench. Outwardly, she was amused, yet disgusted.
“She's yours, Mrs. Hughes.”
“Yay!” Danni exclaimed in a slurred, sing-song voice. “They called you!”
“They sure did. Come on, vodka breath.”
Allison bailed Danni out after she'd been arrested for drunken and disorderly charges. Her shoulder-length hair was greasy and stringy, her breath measuring a solid ten on any drunken test. She paid the two hundred dollars in bail and secured a uniformed officer to help her load a very drunken – and singing – Danni, into her Cadillac.
About two minutes into the ten minute drive to Allison's house, Danni fell into a deep, near-comatose sleep. Once Allison had pulled into the yard, she called for a couple servants to help her get Danni quietly into the house via the back door, the dinner guests inside non-the-wiser.
Allison got her tucked into a guest bedroom in an unused portion of the house, silently marveling at the length of Danni's hair, as the last time she'd seen her, she was far more a ‘he' than a ‘she'. She was just as shocked at the state Danni was in: no longer was she the quiet, yet assured teenager from seven years before: now she was a woman of 27 years old and a complete mess. What had happened? As she tucked Danni in then closed the bedroom door, she knew she'd get all of her answers the next day.
Danni groaned as the world began to swirl back into focus. She was in a bed, the covers wrapped around her to the point of turning her into a human burrito. It took her fuzzy brain a moment to figure out how to free herself.
“How's the head?”
Danni was startled by the sudden voice, and in her haste to free herself, she tumbled right off the side of the bed and to the hard, wood floor below. “Shit,” she muttered, picking herself up and flopping back onto the bed. She turned to an amused Allison, who sat knitting in a chair in the corner of the room.
“Good afternoon, Danni,” the older woman said, putting her knitting aside and pushed up from her chair with her usual grace and elegance.
“Good afternoon,” Danni responded, “and I feel like something is squeezing my head like a lemon.” Danni closed her eyes and buried her face in her hands, hoping the pressure would stop. She felt like throwing up and like a waste of space.
“Well, in the condition I found you in last night, I can understand why.” Allison walked over to the bed, standing in front of Danni. “You have two options: you can either eat now then clean yourself up, or you can clean yourself up then eat. What's your poison?”
“I don't want any food.” Danni sniffed herself, grimacing at the stench. “Bath.”
Danni sat in the hot water, the steam rising up all around her, making her sweat. Even her sweat smelled like alcohol. “Jesus,” she muttered. “It's coming out of my fucking pores.” Water sloshed as Danni pulled her knees to her chest, startled as the bathroom door opened and Allison stepped inside. “Allison!”
“Danni!” Allison sat on the closed lid of the toilet, unmoved by Danni's irritation. “Nothing I haven't seen before, honey.” Her gaze traveled over what she could see of Danni's body. “Jesus, you're thin.” She noticed the heavily scarred flesh of Danni's back and wondered what it was from. Allison move to the back of the free-standing, footed tub. “Rinse your head: I'll wash your hair for you.”
Danni did as asked, and nearly moaned in pleasure as Allison began a slow, steady massage of her scalp with the floral-scented shampoo.
“What happened to your back?” Allison asked, her voice soft.
“I don't want to talk about that,” Danni murmured, eyes closed and ready to purr.
“Alright, fine. Let's talk about something even more pleasant. What's your plan? Lie back.”
Danni lay back in the hot water, holding herself up as Allison rinsed the soap from her shoulder-length hair. “To get the stink of the gutter off me then get a drink.”
“And your other plan?” Allison asked, the disapproval clear in her voice.
Danni smiled, amused, but it quickly slid off her face. “I don't have one.”
Allison tapped Danni's shoulder, letting her know she could sit up. “Then let's get you one. I can't have you going home like this, Danni; it would kill your mother.”
Danni's head fell as she hugged her knees to her chest again. “I know,” she whispered, her shame stabbing behind her eyes.
“Aw, sweetie,” Allison murmured, moving around the tub so she could look into Danni's face. “I think you've lost your way a little.”
“Just a little,” Danni blew out, her words laced with sarcasm.
“You did good by having them call me, Danni.” Allison took the scented bar soap in her hands, dunking it in the water and then rubbing lather before she began to wash Danni's back and shoulders. “It's good to have you back. To be honest, when your letters stopped nine months ago, I figured you were dead somewhere.”
Danni said nothing, but felt like she truly has been. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to enjoy the touch. She hadn't been touched in a very long time. Truth of the matter was, she felt cold and hollow, not real sure what her purpose was anymore. Maybe that's why she drank so much: to make it all go away: pain, emptiness and perhaps ultimately, her life.
Omaha, NE 1968
The Douglas DC-8 came to a stop at the gate, the passenger sitting in seat 17B extremely grateful. Kate grabbed her purse from where it was tucked under the seat in front of her and unbuckled her seatbelt. She waited patiently for her turn to step into the aisle and finally out of the giant metal tube of death. Not a fan of flying, Kate did it rarely, and in fact, this flight to Nebraska was only one of three times she'd ever done it.
As Kate walked into the terminal, her nerves hit her full force. Her nervousness and fear of flying had kept her mind plenty occupied during her travels, but now… She took a deep breath and followed the crowd to the baggage claim, trying to concern herself with finding her suitcase then renting a car and finding a map of the area. After that, well, that's where she didn't want to have to think.
Kate climbed the wheel of her rented Austin Mini Cooper S, her suitcase tucked into the tiny backseat. She turned the engine on and was rewarded with The Doors', Hello I Love You on the radio. Letting out a heavy breath of courage, Kate got the little blue car moving.
Somewhere in the Pacific, 1944
The island base had been taken over by the Navy eighteen months before, and the SeaBees crew had been brought in to turn it into a Naval post, replete with airstrip, hospital and barracks. Danni had just finished a challenging twelve hour shift and was on her way to the Post Office, where she was going to check for mail as well as send out a letter to Kate.
She was glad to get out of the glaring sun as she stepped into the fan-cooled Post Office, which was a small structure with the main room nothing more than a small, square space with a wood counter that separated the customer from the worker.
“Evenin', Danni,” the man behind the counter said with a welcoming smile.
“How goes it, Dave? Got anything for me today?”
“Hang on and I'll check it out.”
Dave made his way into the backroom, leaving Danni standing at the counter, leaning on her elbows, as she was exhausted. She glanced over her shoulder when the door opened and someone stepped inside. Immediately Danni stood erect, giving her superior officer the respect his position deserved, regardless of how much Danni did not like him.
“Good evening, LT,” she said.
“At ease, Sailor,” newly-promoted Lieutenant George Hannigan said, stepping up beside her as she returned to her former position at the counter. “Got some mail, Felts?”
“I hope so, Sir.” She gave him a polite smile. For a moment she was tempted to pull her letter to Kate out and set it on the counter, just so George could see who her girl was.
George glanced over at Danni's left hand, which rested on the countertop. He noticed the shininess of the gold band on his finer, which stood out in stark contrast to the deeply tanned skin. Brow furrowing, he looked at Danni's profile, about to ask who the “lucky bride” was when the postal worker returned, setting a large box down in front of Danni.
“Here ya go, Danni. Guess the wife felt the need to send you a care package.” He gave Danni a knowing grin, completely unaware of the man stewing across from him.
“Thanks, Dave.” This time Danni did pull out the letter and slid it across the smooth wood. “Send ‘er off, if you would.”
“Will do. Have a good ‘un, Danni,” Dave said, taking the letter and setting it on a small table behind the counter before turning his attention to Hannigan. “How can I help you, Sir?”
Danni was nearly doing a jig as she took the box and hurried from the Post Office, beyond excited to see what Kate had sent her. She was able to totally forget about Hannigan, her focus fully on her prize.
George Hannigan, on the other hand, was livid. His jaw muscles clenched as he set his own mail on the counter. Jealousy, deep and dark began to climb its way to the surface. He looked at the clerk. “Let me talk to your superior officer.”
Danni entered the room she shared with Mike. The great thing about their assignment now was it was only two men to a room, and they were roomed by rank. She and Mike were the exact same rank – to the day – so were roomed together. Mike was sitting at the desk, reading over the manual for some training they had coming up.
“Hey,” Mike greeted, glancing at his friend and roommate.
“Howdy do.” Danni walked over to her bed and plopped down, the box set down in front of her.
Seeing what his buddy had, Mike hurried over to the bed. They'd always shared the contents when their respective families or girls sent them packages. “What'cha got there, guy?”
“Not sure.” Danni sliced into the tape on the box then tugged open the flaps, revealing a dream of candies and cookies from home: all of Danni's favorite kinds. She nearly swooned: so did Mike.
The two junked out on all of Kate's offerings, nearly emptying the box, other than the letter and picture Kate enclosed, which of course Danni kept to herself. One of the picture was of a nearly naked Kate, smiling at the camera with purpose and seduction. It would certainly give Danni sweeter dreams than any candy could offer.
“So, I finally finished my letter,” Mike said, his gaze not meeting that of Danni.
“Oh yeah?” she asked, shoving a sweet into her mouth.
“Yeah.” Mike climbed off the bed and walked over to the desk, producing a folded piece of paper wrapped in plastic wrap.
“Good. Then we're both ready.”
“Remember man,” he said, “you promised.”
Danni smiled at him. “So did you.” Danni found herself pulled into a brief, but tight hug, borne out of the bonds of fear and camaraderie.
San Diego, CA 1944
Kate leaned in to see her reflection better as she applied the clown makeup she would sport to the Halloween party she and her other three roommates were planning to attend together. Edna, the newest roommate after Carol had moved out, stood next to her, applying her own scary witch makeup.
“I sure hope this party isn't a drag like the one last year,” Edna murmured, her eyes open wide as she applied a dark layer of mascara.
“I agree.” Kate took a step back and examined her face, liking what she saw. “Now I just have to get dressed.”
“Girls!” Helen called from the living room. “Mail!”
Edna squealed in delight, hurrying out of the bathroom, followed by Kate. Helen stood within the circle of her three friends and began to dole out letters and parcels. Kate's heart was pounding and leapt into her heart when Helen handed her a letter. Just as quickly, her heart fell as it had George's name on it and not Danni's.
“Anything more?” she asked, unable to keep the hope from her voice.
“No, sweetie. Just the one from George.”
Trudy looked at Kate with drawn brows. “I thought that whole thing was over with George Hannigan.”
Helen rolled her eyes. “It never even started.”
“He needed a friend and asked if I'd write him to help ease the loneliness, Trudy,” Kate said quietly then turned and walked to her bedroom, closing the door softly behind her.
“What's with her?” Edna asked.
“Danni hasn't responded to her last three letters,” Helen said quietly, her gaze on Kate's closed door.
“He's not…?” Edna's question trailed off.
Helen shook her head. “According to George, he sees Danni often.”
“Oh no,” Trudy blew out, glad her Kenneth was a good guy.
Kate tossed George's unopened letter to her bed and sat down heavily next to it. She was frustrated, hurt and confused. Why wasn't Danni writing to her? George said she was just fine, and often saw her at the canteen with friends and some of the nurses. Kate's head fell and her shoulders sagged as she felt the sting of tears start.
“Please God,” she whispered, “don't let her be seeing someone else. Please.”
Somewhere in the Pacific, 1944
Mike stepped into the Post Office, dropping off a letter to Carol as well as dropping off one for Kate on Danni's behalf. Lieutenant Hannigan was at the end of the short line, which put him in front of Mike. Mike glanced down at the LT's hand and noticed a handful of letters he held. The one on top was addressed to Kate Adams.
Arms loaded down with Christmas gifts, he headed back to the room he and Danni shared, eager to see what his family had sent him, though he e ager to relay the news that someone else was writing to his girl. Danni was combing his hair when Mike entered the room.
“Ho ho ho and all that,” he said, laying the gifts on his bed. “Santa came.”
Danni turned and walked over to Mike's bed, excited to see what goodies they'd have. “Any mail for me?”
Mike shook his head, “Sorry, guy. But!” he said, trying to take some of the sting away. “I got cookies from Aunt Margaret!”
Danni put on a brave smile and sat down next to his friend, digging into the delicious baked goods, slightly stale from the time it took to reach them. “I don't get it,” she said at length, looking out the window of their small room with a sigh. “Why isn't she writing me back?” She looked at her friend, who wore a sympathetic expression. “I haven't gotten anything back from her in months.”
Mike chewed on his bottom lip, trying to decide if he should tell Danni what he'd seen at the Post Office. Finally, he decided Danni deserved to know. “Look man, when I went to drop off your letter, I saw Hannigan in the P.O. He was waiting in line to mail somethin', and that somethin' was a letter to Kate.”
Danni could only stare, wide-eyed and slack-jawed. “What?”
Mike shrugged. “It may not be anything, but,” he shrugged again.
Danni felt her heart stomach drop and blood freeze. Fingers of dread tickled down her spine. “No way,” she said, more to herself than to Mike.
Mike felt terrible, and like maybe he'd done the wrong thing. He didn't have long to contemplate that before suddenly the world seemed to roar to life. The shouts of men could be heard outside as well as the shrill whine of alarms and the engines of fighter planes.
Mike and Danni's door was slammed open, one of the men on their floor barging in. “We're under attack!” he screamed before storming back into the hall, his voice heard the next door down with the same alarming message.
Letters and cookies forgotten, Danni and Mike ran out of their room, the entire building shaken when a bomb was dropped and exploded nearby. Danni's eyes were huge as she ducked through falling debris, the lights in the hallway flickering before going out completely.
“Come on!” Mike yelled above the chaos, “We gotta get to the armory!”
Danni and Mike finally got through the chaos of the attack and men, who were trying to get to weapons and airplanes, and finally took off at a dead sprint. Danni spared a glance up above as a low-flying German Arado AR 240 spraying bullets, as well as a Dornier Do 335 higher up, bombs moments away from being dropped.
“Christ!” she cried, diving behind a Jeep as bullets pelted the ground at her feet, the sound of them hitting the metal of the Jeep almost deafening. She barely scrambled away from the vehicle before it exploded, the gas tank hit, igniting the Jeep.
Heart pounding so hard Danni worried it would pop out of her chest, she continued on, noting Mike running just a bit ahead of her. The doors to the armory had already been flung open, men running out with weapons in their hands and a man standing at the entrance, literally tossing weapons to men as they neared the building.
Danni caught a Colt M1911A1 pistol, which she tucked into the waistband of her pants so she could focus on the M50 Reising submachine gun. As men fell dead around her, she pulled herself away from human mode and instead took herself to a place of rage and survival.
“Fucking Nazi's!” she yelled, finding a hiding place behind a small storage building and taking aim on the low-flying planes, landing a few good shots. With the combined effort of her gun and those around her, the fighter plane crashed in a fiery explosion, which was deeply satisfying for Danni. The celebration was short-lived however, as she had to move on.
She and Mike ran along, Mike just barely missing being shot by the gun of a fellow sailor who was shot down, his finger letting loose on the trigger as he died. They took a dive as the whine of a ruined engine warned them of a plummeting plane. Sure enough the German pilot, shot down, was heading straight for them.
“Run!” Danni screamed, Mike following as they both gave all they had, their legs pumping to get distance between them and the doomed plane.
The plane crashed with an impressive – though amazingly non-fireball – landing. Within a few moments, the pilot came out firing. Though bleeding heavily with likely-fatal wounds, he spotted Mike and Danni and opened fire.
Danni grunted in burning surprise as she was shot in the arm. Mike stopped and turned, his weapon at the ready to open fire on the Nazi when he was cut down, the bullets of the German's pilot's submachine gun tearing into Mike's midsection, sending Mike to the ground.
“No!” Danni yelled, raising her own weapon and letting loose. The German pilot tried to fire, but he was mowed down by a full magazine and a screaming Danni, his body nothing more than a broken, bullet-riddled hunk of meat when she was done.
Magazine empty, Danni threw her gun down and turned to Mike, who was gasping and gurgling on the ground at her feet.
“Mike,” she breathed, falling to her knees, pale and stunned. Mike's entire front was meat, his insides threatening to pop out of the patchwork of holes through his body. “Oh god…”
Mike was conscious, his eyes huge and mouth opening and closing like a dying guppy. He focused on Danni's face, the pain overwhelming yet numbing at the same time. His mind wouldn't focus on any one thing, the inevitable chipping away at his mental state. “Danni,” he managed, blood dribbling with the simple declaration.
“I'm here with you,” Danni assured, keeping her tears in check as she cradled his head in her arms. “I'm here.”
“You promised,” Mike whispered, barely audible. He reached a hand up, just barely able to touch his dog tags.
“Yeah, I did.” Silent tears fell from Danni's eyes as she nodded. “I won't let you down.”
Something inside Danni told her to look up. As she did, she saw – as if in slow motion – a bomb coming down far enough away that the blast wouldn't be directly on them, but they would definitely feel the blast. The bomb hit, people disappearing in the explosion as a wave of destruction and devastation made its way towards them. Instinctively, Danni covered Mike's body with her own, the blast showering her back, imbedding fire and shrapnel in her flesh.
All went black.
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