Eddie reaches out and pushes a tuft of hair back behind Andy’s ear. Andy leans in with a smile, moving slow, as if to convey all the feeling he cannot say out loud with the intensity of his eyes. Eddie smiles back, just as loving.
Sledge sits there, watching them in awe from behind the rock he tucked behind to read. They did a horrible job of hiding their affection, but this was the first time Sledge had ever observed them in what they thought was privacy. He wanted to say something, to shout out that he was there, but it was too late and he was too fascinated by the sight before him.
“We can’t.” Andy says, pulling away from Eddie. Eddie’s body falls backwards, slumping against the tree. He looks like he is about to argue, but then lets out a sigh in admission. He whispers a response but Sledge’s ears cannot pick it up.
“There are men here… who would greatly oppose what we are doing. I just don’t want to risk it. I don’t want to risk you.” Andy explains, reaching out and placing a hand on Eddie’s shoulder, using his fingers to knead the skin. Eddie’s shoulder drops at the touch. His eyes flutter closed when Andy’s thumb reaches the bare skin at the base of his neck. He rubs it gently, wishing that he could be pressing kisses to the spot instead.
“I know.” Eddie gulps, attempting to steady his breathing. Sledge’s eyes are trained on them, until he picks up movement in his peripheral vision. Sledge grabs for his rifle, only to see it’s one of their men. He lets out a breath and stills, eyes returning to the two men now pressed close together.
They don’t notice PFC Davis sneaking down the trail to their private spot. Sledge was still silent, wondering what the confrontation would bring. What Sledge did not notice was Davis’ sidearm, in his hand and loaded.
Andy’s mouth was inches away from Eddies. When he spoke he could feel their breathe mixing together, hot and panting. Eddie was being held up by Andy’s arms that were wrapped around him. Just as Eddie leans in to finally press their lips together, Andy hears a twig snap under Davis’ boot. He turns his head quickly, causing Eddie’s lips to land awkwardly on his jaw.
Eddie pulls away to complain when he glances behind Andy to see Davis, gun raised, pointing directly at them. Sledge wants to move, wants to raise his rifle, but he’s frozen. He feels as though he is watching a movie, where nothing he can do would change the events about to happen.
“Davis! Lower your gun!” Andy shouts, pulling away from Eddie.
Davis stands there, arms shaking and tears in his eyes. His lip quivers with unspoken words. Andy goes to take a step forward, to coax the shaken man into diverting his weapon when Davis’ finger moves to the trigger. Sledge swears that time moves so slow he can see the bullet come out of the gun, moving steadily through the air. It hits Andy’s chest. He stands still for a moment, before dropping backwards. He lands with a thud, blood pooling in his chest.
The gunshot sound hits Sledge’s ears. He gasps and is brought back into reality, but by the time he has his own gun raised, another gunshot has already rung out, this one pointed at Eddie.
Sledge fires his rifle, hitting Davis in the thigh. Davis drops his gun, screaming, reaching down to press a hand over his wound. Sledge stands, running over to Davis, who was now flailing on the ground. Sledge grabs his shoulders, holding him down. He is yelling incoherently, but manages to ask Davis why he did it.
Davis stills, blood now leaking onto the ground around him. Davis grabs onto Sledge’s shirt, fisting it tightly in his hands.“It ain’t right. Two men ain’t right. I had to stop them. They’re going to hell now, Eugene.”
Sledge looks at him in disgust. Davis’ eyes roll back in his head, body going slack. His arms fall from Sledge’s shirt, leaving a dark red stain as evidence. Sledge pulls away from Davis, looking back to Andy and Eddie.
Eddie was coughing, spluttering from the bullet hitting his neck. Andy was on top of him, hand over his neck in some attempt to stop the bleeding, ignoring the own blood seeping heavily from his chest. Eugene could do nothing but stare. In a few moments, he would watch as the life drained from the lovers before him. They were positioned almost like a painting Sledge would see in a museum. Take away the blood, and they could be art.
Sledge turns away, giving them their final moment in privacy.
Eddie uses his last bit of strength to raise a hand to Andy’s face. Andy smiles, despite everything. He leans in and presses a soft kiss to Eddie’s lip. Andy pulls away a moment later. Eddie’s face falls to the side, letting out one final breath.
Tears fall freely from Andy’s eyes. He rests his head against Eddie’s chest, ignoring the blood wetting his skin. Andy closes his eyes, letting himself slowly slip into eternal sleep.