APH Fic: "Dog Tags"
Title: “Dog Tags”
Author: General Kitty Girl / Kelbora
Warnings: Blood, Violence, Dark Themes, Brief War Depictions, Depictions of PTSD
Summary: Gift for Zombie4Pie/Atomiccock. Inspired by one of her sketches, this short piece is both a tribute…and a release.
"No one comes back from war the same, even nations."
Time Frame: Post the Vietnam War
“Charlie on the Six! Hold that Beach-Line!”
He couldn’t run fast enough – he never could. No matter how hard he tried he couldn’t get there before the whistling pierced his ear drums and the bombs exploded. The world always spun, as debris and flames mercilessly assaulted him, burying him alive beneath the cast off and leaving him dying beneath soil and shattered pieces of his men.
He couldn’t cry out, he couldn’t breathe or scream for help because his throat felt wired shut. The world spun again, his head endlessly echoing the piercing shriek of another missile before the bayonet came down on him.
And suddenly he could scream again.
“Alfred. Alfred. Alfred – ”
Cold sweat poured down his face, as he stared wide-eyed and unseeingly at the man before him. He was shaking so badly and he couldn’t relax any muscle in his body. He was tensed, bracing for the bayonet’s inevitable impact while still buried and alone.
The hands before him remained in sight, palms out and unarmed. The man was on his knees, resting back on his heels and speaking to him softly with an accent that had nothing to do with Asia. Slowly, Alfred’s rapid breathing began to calm and he blinked for the first time since waking from the nightmare…the memory. He looked at Arthur for the first time without the past engulfing him…
And he cried, not caring about how desperately he sobbed into the arms now holding him.
Alfred sat stoically on the edge of the bed, staring aimlessly at the wall with a far off gaze. The memories still haunted him but were farther away now, just lingering around the edge of his consciousness and waiting to attack him again once he fell asleep.
The bedroom was quiet, a sharp contrast to all of his screaming just an hour before, and the darkness remained still. He was Stateside again and all was meant to be safe here…but he could not find comfort in the lie any more than he could close his eyes without fear. He barely noticed movement on the bed behind him, but knew who it was without looking.
Not the enemy…not the enemy…not the enemy…
Arthur didn’t reach out to touch him immediately, but waited until Alfred’s tension lessened; then gently spoke to him before pressing his body against the American’s back, embracing him. They stayed like that for a long while before the Englishman lifted his head from the other’s neck and carefully ran his finger’s along Alfred’s dog tags.
“It does get better, love. Some day you will be able to take these off and rest.”
Alfred said nothing and Arthur rested his chin atop Alfred’s shoulder, keeping his arms around the other as he turned the silver discs over and over again in his hand. He had memorized the information on the plates…He knew everything from how Alfred’s name had been stamped unevenly to the serial number along the bottom edge of each side. He felt the familiar wear along the surfaces, felt the all too accustomed weight of them…and the weight of the memories they brought.
He closed his eyes and buried his face against Alfred’s neck, breathing deeply before sighing and warming the chilled skin. He slowly brought the tags back down and held them against Alfred’s chest, gripping the American’s body tightly, as if he could hold him together on his own.
“I swear it, Alfred…you will be whole again.”