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Hazy Memories

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Looking back all Curran could recall was flashes of the mission after he got shot. Up until that moment he had full clarity, remembering the treacherous journey from the beach, led by a kid barely old enough to hold a gun let alone use it so expertly. They had dodged through the debris and rubble, moving from one covered spot to the next as explosions and gunfire raged around them, providing the only light in the city. Curran wondered if anyone really knew who they were firing at as it seemed to be a free-for-all, with so many different factions vying for control of the city. Sunnis, Christians, Shiite, and the Hezbollah. It was crazy.

Beirut was a ruined shell of a city and he recalled wondering why anyone would choose to stay there under constant threat from one side or another - or even friendly fire. It didn't seem logical but he guessed they simply had nowhere else to go.

He remembered getting shot, recalled the agonizing pain as one bullet ripped through his thigh and the other his abdomen. Pure adrenaline got him back under cover but he knew there was no way he was getting out of there alive, not with all the gunfire and explosions. He was pinned down. The mission was everything though, and the C4 was in place, ready to blow. All it needed was his command, and he knew an explosion that massive would save him from a lingering, painful death.

He should have known Hawkins would disobey his order, though for someone so prepared for death, he'd been relieved to see Hawkins drop in front of him. He even found a soft huff of a laugh at the 'Navy SEALs to the rescue' quip falling from Hawkins.

He wasn't sure if he lost consciousness or not during that mad flight over rubble and debris, slung over Hawkins shoulder. The pain was incredible, his midriff on fire as his own body weight pressed him down hard on Hawkins shoulder, feeling sharp pain with every jarring movement as Hawkins clamber over the rubble. He could feel the blood gushing from the wounds, a warm trickle down his leg on one side, and over his chest. The concussion from the school building exploding behind them had him tumbling from Hawkins' shoulders, his ears ringing, drowning out even his own cries as he was grabbed by his men and carried awkwardly to cover before the rebels could regroup.

Morphine was amazing.

And that's when his memories became cloudy for a time. Bright explosions dazzled like fireworks, so close he could almost touch them, but Hawkins pushed his arm down as he reached out for the dancing sparkles of light.

He saw red exploding outwards to form an intricate splatter pattern on the windshield, before it all twisted like a kaleidoscope. The whole world turned upside down for seconds that seemed like hours, until he was dragged bodily from the car and set upright. He was slung between two of his team, and he had enough presence of mind to try to help them, though he had wondered why the world had turned from grey to golden and then to blue.

The shock of the cold sea water snapped him back, his SEAL training coming back as he took a deep breath and allowed his team to drag him under, drawing him along behind them as they swam for their lives. Bullets

"I can be bait," he stated, when it was obvious they still had a major threat in the form of a boat carrying their enemies.

It was strange, drifting face down in the water with a small, cleverly concealed breathing tube providing oxygen. He felt something grab at his clothing, tugging him along in the water, barely having time to register the next dive, though he felt the concussive force of the small boat exploding.

When he surfaced, Hawkins wasn't with them. The sea was relatively calm and Curran felt a sharp pain in his chest that had nothing to do with his wounds. Those scratchy memories took new form as he looked at the two faces of the men supporting him. Dane was dead, killed before they even reached the school... and Rexer. The kaleidoscope of red across the windshield was another loss for his team, another friend sent to an early grave.

As he floated in the sea, his morphine-addled brain was just starting to come to terms with another loss when the surface exploded beside them.

Hawkins. Alive.

He should have known Hawkins couldn't drown. The man was part-fish.

It all faded again after that, with just snatches of memory; being lowered through a hatchway into the belly of the sub, seeing concerned faces hovering over him and hearing familiar phrases. Lost a lot of blood. Blood pressure crashing. Need to operate now.

When he awoke it all seemed just like a dream because he was in a bright, airy room with sunlight filtering through the open slats of the blinds covering the window. He could see blue skies with a scattered white clouds rather than the gray metal ceiling of a submarine. It was strangely peaceful with just the muted sound of distant traffic rather than gunfire and explosions.

He moved, and gasped at the pain in his abdomen and leg.

"Hey, take it easy."

"Hawkins?"

"You have another visitor. Better looking than me," he quipped, moving aside to reveal Claire.

She looked as beautiful caught in sunlight as she had when he saw her on the night before the mission, bathed in moonlight. Yet even that could not compare to the memory of watching her sleep, almost hating to wake her but he hadn't wanted to leave without saying goodbye. She was seated in a chair drawn up close to the bed and from her sleepiness and discomfort, she'd been there some time, watching him sleep in turn.

"Hey," she murmured softly, and Curran barely registered the soft snick of the door closing behind Hawkins as he left them alone.

"Hey," he replied, voice a little scratchy.

When she leaned in to kiss him, he smiled as her lips touched his, knowing he was home.

END