Officers don’t run.
The war is over. Anyone would run.
Liebgott slammed the door of the jeep closed with so much force it rattled, making Skinny in the back seat jump in surprise and drop his rifle right onto his foot. Skinny hissed at the sudden pain in his toes and cursed internally at the soldier, who he saw practically stomp like a sulking child into the building half of Easy Company were occupying.
Skinny brought his foot up onto the seat and started rubbing at his toes through his boot, peaking over at Webster who was still sitting in the passenger’s seat, staring blankly at the door that Liebgott had pushed through seconds ago. He didn’t even blink. Skinny sighed, it wasn’t the first argument he’d seen those two get into, and it probably wouldn’t be the last.
Webster didn’t flinch.
“Webster?” Skinny tried again, this time earning a small hum in answer. “You going after him?”
“Why should I?” Webster said, sounding irritated at the mention of Liebgott.
Skinny shrugged, realising the other man couldn’t see him. “Uh... I don’t know... before Liebgott tears the house apart.” Which would probably be true, he felt sorry for any furniture getting in the Jewish man’s way at this point.
“Who cares?” Webster shrugged, picking up his gun and opening the door. “Let him do what he wants, he doesn’t care.”
Skinny was about to retort but was cut off by the loud thud of the passenger door shutting. The young soldier watched as Webster walked off without another word, bypassing the household that Liebgott and he stayed in. Skinny sighed heavily and slumped down in the chair, closing his eyes and thinking about anything that wasn’t Webster and Liebgott’s messed up, strange affiliation. They’d have to work this one out themselves.
Two minutes later a loud crash sounded from the second floor. Skinny shot up in his seat, opening his eyes to find Malarkey, Heffron, Roe, and Luz walking out of the house as if it were on fire.
“Rest in peace, house.” Skinny muttered to himself, before he leaped out of the back of the vehicle and went to find somewhere quieter to nap.
“Don’t salute the Germans.”
Janovec turned from the German MP and grinned as Webster sauntered up to him, slinging his rifle onto his shoulder. “Aw, come on, I sorta get a kick out of it.” he unbuckled his side arm, passing it over to Webster who, up close, looked a little worse for wear. “Anyway, I got me a new enemy. Japs.” he said with a little excitement. “Seventy-five points. How about you, I mean, you're a Toccoa guy, right? How many you got?”
Webster heaved a sigh, putting the gun into place around his waist. “Wouldn’t you like to know?” he said quietly, rubbing a hand across his forehead. It suddenly felt like a thousand drums were going wild in his head.
“You alright there, Web?” Janovec asked as a young, German soldier approached them, handing his identity card over to the other man. “You look like you’ve been through hell and back.”
“Havn’t we all.” Webster mumbled, looking up at the German as he read the card. “Discharged, huh?” Janovec looked over his shoulder, trying to get a better look. “Go ahead, take off, it’s my turn.” Webster said to him.
“You sure, pal?” Janovec asked, he could tell that the other man had already had a tough day and it was only early afternoon. “Could stay and help if you wanna?”
“I’m fine, Janovec. Just tired.” Webster lied. Of course he wasn’t going to tell him exactly why he felt like absolute rubbish, he’d probably find out about that morning’s events as well as the rest of the company sooner or later. “Go get yourself some grub.”
“Alright.” Janovec gave him a pat on the shoulder, before making his way to the waiting jeep. “See you back at the farm.”
Webster sighed. “Eighty one.” He called over to the younger man.
“I have eighty one points.”
Janovec snickered cheerfully as the jeep sped off. “Well that’s just not good enough.”
Webster smiled to himself as Janovec went on his way, his gaze wandering back to the waiting soldier leaning on his crutches in front of him. The writer caught the German man’s gaze who smiled up at him wearily, his eyes red and shoulders drooped. He looked as bad as Webster felt. In fact, he probably felt just as exhausted and fed up as Webster was.
Then, the sound of a horn caught his attention. A civilian car stopped nearby, and he suddenly had an idea. “Let’s see about getting you a ride.” he said to the German, knowing he probably had no idea what he’d said.
Webster kind of felt better after tossing the civilian’s suitcases out onto the road and helping the soldier into the car.
Webster wandered heavy footed through the building where Easy were bunked, pushing past a few stragglers smoking in the hall, humming in response to some half-hearted greetings, passing Malarkey who was deep in slumber on a wooden chair. He’d never heard the place so quiet before. Even at half seven the house was usually full of laughter and merriment, groups of troopers playing cards in one room, while others got drunk in another. But tonight was different, because they’d lost yet another soldier, and the war was supposed to be over.
Webster was having the worst day since he’d returned from the hospital. He’d thought crossing the river to snatch German prisoners was bad, but today was turning out to be slightly shoddier. From having to stand there and watch a man get shot in the back to seeing another soldier, a friend die, it was starting to take its toll on him. Not to mention he shared a room with Liebgott, and he really hoped said man was fast asleep so he could just lay down and sleep himself. Of course, lady luck was far from being on his side that day.
Opening the door, Webster’s eyes instantly landed on Liebgott, who was sitting on his bed slouching against the wall and undeniably not asleep. The room was in complete darkness, the only light coming from the moon streaming through the window. He looked absolutely wrecked. His eyes were red from what he could see, hair sticking up on all ends, and his face was paler than usual under all the layers of dirt on his skin, he even had small cuts dotted over his hands that Webster could only imagine how he’d gotten those. Liebgott looked like he’d been dragged through hell and back. When the Jewish man’s gaze fell on him Webster quickly looked away, closing the door behind him and heading for his own bed.
On his way to his bed he then noticed a broken chair scattered by the end of the other man’s bunk, and a few bits and bobs strewn all over the floor.
“Janovec’s dead.” Webster said, dodging the items on the ground, and dropping his helmet onto the mattress.
Liebgott exhaled softly. “I heard.”
Webster nodded, keeping his back turned to the other soldier as he fiddled with his rifle. He could hear Liebgott scuffling around on his bed before the clinking sound of a lighter filled the stillness, and within seconds the room went as silent as a graveyard. The strong scent of cigarette smoke quickly filled the air, and Webster took in a deep breath, grasping his gun tight with both hands. It was pretty damn obvious Liebgott wasn’t going to talk, he was downright avoiding what had happened that morning, completely evading the fact that the two of them had bashed heads, again.
They’d had their fair share of arguments since day one. Back when they’d met in Toccoa their first conversation wasn’t exactly friendly.
“Hey! College boy, pass me a light would ya?”
Webster looked up from his book to find a tall, skinny guy from Easy Company saunter towards him. He remembered him from some of their training exercises, a Jewish man that spoke German from what he could recall, but he couldn’t quite remember his name.
“My name is Webster, asshole.” He answered, closing his book and picking up his jacket. He definitely didn’t want to chat that was for sure. “And I don’t have one.”
“Sure about that, pretty boy?” Liebgott grinned.
“Pretty damn sure.” Webster rolled his eyes as Liebgott looked him up and down, before the writer turned and walked away.
“Name’s Liebgott by the way!” The Easy man called over.
“I don’t care!” Webster shouted back.
He could just about make out Liebgott’s laughter as he turned a corner.
Webster sighed heavily, carefully laying his rifle on the bed. Liebgott wasn’t going to like it, but Webster wasn’t going to sit around there in awkward silence and pretend like nothing had happened.
“Are we going to talk about this?” the writer said, turning around to face the other man. “Or are you going to be childish and ignore me all night?”
Liebgott snorted a laugh. “What’s the matter, Web? You miss my touch already?”
Webster frowned, falling onto his bed not so gracefully. “Joe, you know what I mean. We have to talk about what happened this morning.”
“Like fuck we do.” Liebgott snapped, lobbing his burnt out cigarette on the floor in frustration. “I was ordered to kill a murdering, evil piece of shit, so that’s what we did. End of story.”
“That’s not the point, Joe.” Webster said calmly. “You lost it out there, I heard you inside that cabin, you were screaming at him-,”
Liebgott growled in annoyance, swinging his legs over the side of the bed to face the younger man. “I wanted to scare him, Web. I wanted him to feel fear, I wanted him to feel the same fear my people felt when they were taken from their homes and tortured, murdered.”
“Joe,” Webster whispered, reaching out his hand to take a hold of Liebgotts. He was surprised when the other man laced their fingers, gripping his hand tight. “I know you’re upset, we all are from what we saw, I understand what you’re going through but you can’t let your anger get the best of you. It could get you into so much trouble Joe, or worse.”
Liebgott shook his head. “I don’t care, Web.” He said. “I don’t care, because if I can kill one more of those fucking murdering Nazis then so be it. If I’m ordered tomorrow, the next day, or next week to shoot one dead I’ll do it. I want them all dead for what they did.”
Webster sighed internally, giving his lover’s hand a squeeze. “Please Joe, don’t say that, you shouldn’t say things like that. You can’t just go around shooting those men it’ll drive you crazy, what’s to say the army get all their information right, not all of those soldiers were guilty. ”
In an instant Webster knew that he shouldn’t have said those words. Liebgott’s eyes grew dark as he glared at the younger soldier, before pulling his hands back onto his lap.
“Not guilty?” Liebgott practically hissed. “You think those bastards who were part of those camps weren’t guilty?” he said, feeling himself growing angry the more he talked about it. “Those men who stood there and did nothing are just as guilty as the ones who took part. They’re all guilty, Web! That man who died today, he was guilty, he was a commandant of a camp, it doesn’t matter which one Web, he was still a God damn murderer!”
Webster heaved a heavy sigh, running a hand through his messy hair. He wasn’t even slightly getting through to the Jewish man no matter what he said, he seemed to be focused on one thing, and that one thing was payback.
“Joe, they’re not all guilty and you know it.” Webster said, as Liebgott shook his head and stood from the bed, starting to pace back and forth which could only mean he was about to explode. “I know you want to get them back for what they did, but it’s not your job, Lieb. Don’t do this just because you want revenge.”
Liebgott snorted, kicking at the leg of his bed in frustration. “It IS my job, Webster!” he almost shouted, before turning to the other man. “It’s my job, our job to find those men who did this! And I’m not doing this for revenge, I’m doing this because it’s what those so called soldiers deserve! I’m doing this because I’m ordered to!”
“It’s revenge, Liebgott!” Webster stood, his own fury starting to boil over at Liebgott’s ignorance. “For fuck sake, Joe! You killed that man for revenge and nothing more!”
“I didn’t kill that man, remember?” Liebgott smirked.
“Grow up, Joe!” Webster barked.
“What?” Liebgott bawled back, getting up close in Webster’s personal space. “Why should I, huh? It’s true, ain’t it? Skinny shot the guy, not me.” Webster opened his mouth to protest, but was quickly cut off. “Maybe that’s what I should do, maybe just torture the Nazi fucks like I’ve been doing for the past few weeks and get someone else to shoot them, right? Would that keep you quiet, Webster? I’ve been ordered to get information from some more Nazis soon, you gonna try and stop me from doing that too?”
Webster took a deep breath as Liebgott drew closer, challenging him. “You know what, Liebgott.” He said coolly. “Just do whatever the fuck you want. Go kill all those men for all I care. Keep torturing them down in those cells. I give up trying to help you from losing your God damn mind.”
With that said, Webster swiftly turned to his own bed and picked up his helmet and rifle before making his way to the door.
“So that’s it, huh?” Liebgott said, voice sounding bitter. “No more lectures, professor?”
Webster was halfway out the door when he answered back in exasperation. “Just fuck off, Liebgott.”
Liebgott smirked as the writer left, leaving the door slightly ajar. “Fuck you too, Webster!” he called, knowing he could hear him.
Liebgott was left standing there in the middle of the room, staring at the door for what felt like too long. Just seconds later he heard the front door to the building slam, and he didn’t know what else to do but to drop onto his bed and stare at the cracked ceiling. But even laying there in the dark all he could think about was Webster, and how he might just be right about him after all.
“So, I heard a lot of men got taken back to the States after Bastogne.”
“Yeah.” Webster answered as he drove the army jeep along the gloomy, still road, whilst the replacements yattered on behind him on the back seat.
“I heard about the guy, what was his name?” one of the boys said. “Wild Bill, I think.”
“Guarnere.” Webster droned.
“That’s right, Guarnere. I was told he’d had quite the hit out in the woods.”
“Yeah, he did.” Webster murmured, not really wanting to talk about it but knew these two excited, fresh faces wanted to know every detail about every battle, even after they’d found out Webster hadn’t even been a part of the fight in Bastogne.
It had been a couple of hours since he’d left Liebgott alone in their shared room, he wanted to get away and let the other man cool off, but mostly so he didn’t have to waste his breath trying to get through to him anymore. No matter what the writer said to Liebgott, it went in one ear and out the other.
He really didn’t want to fight with the other man again, but it was just nigh impossible not to. Every time they disagreed about something one of them would get irritated and like a flip of a switch there’d been an outburst, which always led to one of them walking away, and this time Webster had decided he’d had enough.
After a long walk up and around the small area Easy had occupied, Webster had returned to the building to sit outside and think, noticing the absence of light through the window of his room. He wasn’t ready to go back up, he wasn’t tired or wanting to get into another argument that was for sure. As luck would have it Grant had pulled up in a jeep right in front of him, and asked him a great favour.
“Could you drive these two to the roadblock?” he’d asked, directing a thumb at two young looking replacements sitting in the back seat. “I gotta deliver some papers to Winters.”
Webster hadn’t thought twice about his answer. The Private had leapt off the stone step and practically ran for the jeep, and after a short introduction to the new paratroopers and a farewell to Grant, he’d stepped on the pedal and sped off down the near empty street.
“What happened to him?”
“Got his leg blown off under mortar fire.” Webster answered the replacement. “I’m just glad I wasn’t there to see it.”
“Jeez,” the other Private grumbled. “I can’t imagine what it would have been like.”
“Yeah.” Webster mumbled, eyes stuck on the road in front as he saw some other vehicles parked up ahead, their headlights lighting up the roadway. “Me neither.”
The closer he got the more anxious he became, as none of the jeeps had anyone in them, and lurking around them was a lone soldier swaying back and forth as if he’d had a little too much to drink. Webster instantaneously put his foot down on the brake, bringing the truck to a sharp halt.
“Wait here.” He said to the men behind him, who’d gone silent as soon as the vehicle had stopped.
Without taking his eyes off of the soldier out on the road, Webster slowly got out of the jeep and made his way over to him. His eyes swiftly travelled down to the sodden ground as he passed the first motionless jeep, and there, lying dead, was a German soldier. Coming to a stop next to the lifeless body Webster took in the scene around him and realised that that man wasn’t the only casualty. Alongside the other jeep in front of him was another unmoving German soldier, and to his surprise, a British soldier spread in a puddle of his own blood.
Webster’s eyes widened in horror at the sight. And he soon felt his blood run cold as he noticed the trooper waddling towards him, a hand gun in his hand.
“You okay there?” Webster asked, trying his best to sound calm, as if there weren’t dead bodies lying across the path. “Need some help?”
The visibly drunk soldier laughed loudly, coming to a stop in front of one of the bodies. “They wouldn’t give me any gas.” He said with a grin. “Krauts!” he spat.
Webster watched the man as he turned back around and started wandering towards the third jeep that had its engine on. “I tried to explain,” he went on, Webster coming to stand behind him and gasping inaudibly at the sight of a second British man. “This fucking Limey wouldn’t listen!”
Webster soon began to grasp how serious this was, as he stared down at the British soldier, stone cold on the ground. At first he’d thought the drunken Private had come upon the Germans who’d been the ones to shoot the British man, but as the replacement began rambling Webster had put two and two together and realised this G.I was the one who’d shot them all. He’d shot every single one of them.
This definitely wasn’t something he’d trained for, or thought he’d ever come across during his time in the army. And now, standing there surrounded by four dead bodies of innocent men who’d been shot by one of their own, Webster wished that he’d gone to his room earlier. He could face an angry Liebgott, but this, this was something else. Not only was he fearful of the drunk man, but he was angry, angry that once again innocent men’s lives were being taken for no reason at all.
Webster felt his heart race as the other man pointed his gun down at the Brit. “I think he was a Major.” he said casually, like he hadn’t just put a bullet through an Officer’s chest.
Webster took a deep breath, hoping that somehow he could get through to this drunken, irrational man, and get back to headquarters as fast as possible. “Look, Private, we got a problem here.” he said, as said man looked up at him with wide eyes.
“Do you have any gas?” he asked dumbly.
Webster gazed at the gun in the man’s hand, knowing he had to get to it before someone else got hurt. “Why don’t you give me your weapon?” He said, reaching out a hand.
His words seemed to go unnoticed as the Private crooked his head towards the jeep that was still running. “Well I-I guess I’ll use his jeep,” the replacement muttered, stumbling towards the vehicle, completely ignoring Webster. “I-I don’t think he’s gonna be needing it.”
Webster knew exactly what the other man was planning to do as he made his way over to the carriage. He was going to drive off, carry on as if nothing happened, as if he hadn’t lost his mind. He knew he had to stop him and get him to headquarters before he caused another accident.
Marching in a hurry up to the soldier, Webster called out. “Hold on a second-,”
He didn’t hear the deafening sound of a gunshot, or hear the frantic shouts of the replacements watching from the side-lines, nor did he catch the loud screech of tyres as the mad trooper raced off in a jeep. Webster saw darkness before his body even hit the ground.
Liebgott could hear people yelling. It was God knows what time in the middle of the night and troopers were bawling just outside the building, waking him up from his much needed sleep after all the bullshit he’d had to deal with that day. He wasn’t going to get any shut eye with them lot being rowdy in the street.
Rubbing roughly at his eyes Liebgott pushed himself up off the mattress, hunching forward into a sitting position. His eyes swiftly wandered to the bed beside his, a bed that was empty. He gave out a loud sigh, whilst running a hand through his oily hair. It was no surprise really, when Webster felt strongly about something he stuck to his guns until he was proven wrong, or until Liebgott pushed him up against a wall and kissed him until he gave in. Liebgott snorted, thinking back to a time when that had been the case.
But now, staring at the ammo box that substituted as a bedside table, with Webster’s notebook sitting on top, a part of Liebgott just wanted him there. Even if they weren’t on speaking terms, even if they didn’t agree with what he was doing, he just needed Webster to be there.
The technician was about to reach for the notebook when he noticed something. With a frown Liebgott listened, instead of the loud commotion from outside he could hear voices from the hallway, a panicked voice yelling his name. As he yanked his blanket away and swung his legs over the bed, hurriedly shoving on his boots, his bedroom door flew open and collided with the wall as Grant ran in.
In an instant Liebgott could tell something was wrong, as Grant’s troubled expression came into view, followed by Talbert who wore the exact same look.
“What?” he was scared to even ask.
“Liebgott,” Grant repeated, taking a tentative step forward. “It’s Webster.” he said, and Liebgott’s blood turned cold. “He’s been shot-,”
Before Grant could say anymore, Liebgott was shoving past the two soldiers and running out of the building.
Liebgott could practically feel his heart beating out of his chest as he raced through the front door to the town hall, where the medics and doctors had set up their hospital, where Grant and Talbert had taken him in a jeep to see Webster. When he’d sprinted out of his room minutes before, Grant and Talbert had followed not saying a word, the three getting odd looks from other troopers who were hanging about without a clue as to what was happening, and other looks of shock and concern from those who’d already heard about it from Grant.
Grant knew what Liebgott wanted, and that was to get to Webster. So they’d all jumped into the army vehicle, and sped off down the silent roadside. It was seconds later that Liebgott couldn’t take the silence and flipped out.
“Is he okay?” he asked impatiently, hands gripping the seat tightly. “Is Webster okay?” he repeated irritably, feeling his tempter rise. “Fucking answer me!”
“We don’t know, Liebgott!” Grant said, as calmly as he could. “He’s been taken to the set up hospital in the town hall, Speirs was the one who told us to come and get you, all we know for now is that he’s been shot in the head and the doctors are going to take a look at him.”
“In the head?” Liebgott said, voice quieter than before. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He didn’t want to believe that this was happening, that after all they’d been through this was happening now.
“What the fuck happened?” he yelled, running a hand through his hair and tugging at the ends. He was already planning what he was going to do to the man who’d dared hurt David Webster. “How the fuck did he get shot? Those fucking German nazi-,”
“It wasn’t a German, Liebgott.” Talbert had said, loud enough to cut across. “It wasn’t a German.”
That was when Talbert had jumped in, telling the other trooper what the replacement soldiers had told them, about the drunk American who’d shot German and British officers, who’d turned on Webster and shot him before driving off into the darkness and not been seen since.
Liebgott had sat in silence the rest of the way, going over in his mind how a man who was supposed to be on their side, supposed to be their brother, could turn on his own like that. He also told himself that he’d make that soldier pay for what he did, brother or not.
“He’s through the door to the left.”
Liebgott heard Grant call as he marched through the town hall building, his heart practically hammering against his ribcage by this stage. The nearer he got the more anxious he became, the more his hands shook from rage, the more his jaw clenched from the tension. But once he reached the wooden doors leading to the great hall itself, Liebgott didn’t think twice about charging in, the doors slamming back against the wall with the sheer force.
Liebgott suddenly stopped in his tracks, breath catching in his throat as he took in the scene in front of him. There, in the middle of the darkened, set-up hospital room, was Webster, his body laid out on top of a high table. He was unmoving, as still as a statue, as if already dead. And that thought chilled Liebgott to the core.
Getting a hold of himself the technician took small, measured steps towards his partner’s body, not meeting the eyes of Roe, who was holding up what appeared to be a jar of blood with a tube leading into Webster’s hand, and Speirs, who was standing beside the Private and holding onto his hand firmly. Then there was the Doctor who’d just strolled over to his patient, cigarette hanging loosely between his lips as he reached a hand out to check Webster’s wound, stopping his ministrations as Liebgott drew closer.
“Liebgott?” Speirs broke the eerie silence in the room, his voice remarkably gentle.
The other man didn’t answer as he took a stand beside the Captain, who let go of Webster’s hand so that Liebgott could take over. Liebgott reached out a shaking hand to take a hold of his lovers’, and flinched at how cold it was, how frozen Webster’s skin felt against his own. His eyes travelled up the length of the younger man’s body, noticing the blood staining the front of his jacket, all the way up the side of his neck and across the left side of his pale face. Then he saw the thick, white bandage tied around his head, except it wasn’t so white anymore, instead it was thickly covered in crimson. It made him feel sick to the stomach.
He opened his mouth to say something, his voice coming out scratchy as he struggled to speak. “I-is he gonna be alright?” he asked, his gaze falling on Roe who looked dejected.
“The doctor here will be able to tell us.” Roe said softly, his accent coming out strong. “Doc?” he gave the surgeon a nod, letting him know it was okay to continue. Liebgott felt Speirs put his hand on his shoulder as a sign of support, as he watched the doctor’s every move.
“Right, let’s take a look.” He grumbled, leaning over Webster to switch on the light near his head.
As soon as the light flickered on, Liebgott felt his stomach do another flip. In the glare of the lamp Webster’s wound looked even worse if possible. Now Liebgott could make out the blood streaking his hair, flecks of it dotted all over his face, even dried clumps stuck to his eyelashes. He gave his lover’s hand a slight squeeze, hoping that deep down Webster knew that he was there.
“Jesus.” the doctor said, sounding stunned.
“What?” Speirs said calmly.
“He’s not gonna make it.”
Liebgott didn’t like that answer. “What the fuck did you say?” he growled, feeling Speirs’s hand dig into his shoulder.
“Liebgott.” He warned, noticing the sudden tension in the other man.
Roe stepped in in a hurry, knowing Liebgott would soon kick off if he didn’t get a straight answer. “You can’t operate on him?” he asked.
“Not me,” the doctor answered in double time. “You’d need a brain surgeon,” he said, scratching his head. “And even if you had one, I don’t think there’s any hope.”
The doctor must have had a death wish because he was acting as if a soldier wasn’t dying on the table, as if Webster’s life wasn’t hanging on the line, and Liebgott wasn’t having any of it.
“The fuck you mean there’s no hope, huh?” Liebgott roared, grudgingly letting go of Webster’s hand and dodging Speirs to grab the doctor by the scruff of his jacket and shaking him roughly. The doctor cursed under his breath, dropping his cigarette in the process and looking wide eyed at the smaller man. “You’d better save his life or I swear to God I’ll-,”
“Liebgott!” Speirs’s assertive, firm tone cut through the shouting. “That’s enough!”
Liebgott clenched his teeth in annoyance, his fists clutching even tighter in the doctor’s uniform.
“I said that’s enough, soldier.” Speirs warned once more. “That’s an order.”
Liebgott snarled, shoving the doctor back into the nearest makeshift bed. He stumbled, almost tripping over his own feet before righting himself, and getting away from the group as swiftly as he could.
“Liebgott.” Speirs called again, watching as the soldier’s shoulders slumped and his head bowed, hands balling into fists. “Get over here, now. We need to get Webster out of here.”
That caught Liebgott’s attention at once, Roe too gazing questioningly at the Captain.
Speirs pointed a finger over at Talbert who was standing silently off to the side. “You find the shooter,” he said. “I want him alive.” Talbert nodded, wasting no time in running out of the hall to do just as Speirs ordered.
Then the officer looked over at Liebgott still standing in the same spot, whose hands were visibly still shaking. “Liebgott, get over here!” he repeated. “Come on, help me!”
Liebgott bit down on his bottom lip hard, practically stomping over to the end of the table Webster was laying across. Speirs picked up the top side of the stretcher underneath him, whilst Liebgott lifted the tail end.
“What are you doing?” Liebgott asked, as they lifted Webster up and rushed him through the hall.
“We’re gonna go find a brain surgeon.” Speirs almost yelled as their loud footfalls sounded off the hard floor.
“You think we’ll find one around here?” Roe said as they got Webster onto the back of the waiting jeep outside, he climbed up and sat beside the Private, as Liebgott got in on the other side, immediately taking a hold of Webster’s hand between his.
“We’ll drive to the next town if we have to.” The captain answered as he jumped into the driver’s seat and started the engine.
That’s exactly what Liebgott wanted to hear. And as Speirs drove off, the jeep’s wheels swerving in the gravel, he brought Webster’s hand to his lips and kissed his knuckles one by one. He silently prayed that there was someone in town that could save David Webster’s life.
They’d found a surgeon. Liebgott hadn’t felt so damn relieved in all his life when they’d pulled up to the German doctor’s home. Speirs was very persuasive while he held a gun in the man’s direction, Liebgott didn’t even have to get off the back of the jeep before Speirs was leading the doctor over to Webster.
Within less than a minute the surgeon was seated behind the wheel of the vehicle as Speirs sat beside him, and he drove them speedily to Saalfelden which felt like hours. Liebgott held Webster’s hand the whole way, his gaze never leaving his lover’s chest, fearful that at any moment his breathing would suddenly stop.
But he’d made it. In just a couple of hours, after an intense surgery at a small town hospital where Liebgott was losing his mind from the long wait, Webster was put in a private room to heal. Still living and breathing.
It was around four in the morning and just minutes after the surgery when Liebgott was sitting on the side of the bed, running his fingers gently through Webster’s knotted hair. (The writer was always fussy with his hair, if he woke up now he’d be appalled to see how much of a mess it was. Liebgott smiled to himself, well-nigh hearing the younger man’s whining in his head). Speirs had stood by the door observing the nurse’s every move until they left, and he hadn’t moved an inch since.
It was when there came a slight shuffling sound from behind him that Liebgott noticed someone else had come into the room. The Jewish man took a quick look to see Grant standing by the Captain, leaning close to whisper something that had Speirs’s expression harden at his words, before he nodded and locked his gaze with Liebgott.
“Liebgott.” Speirs spoke, marching towards him.
“I have to go back to headquarters,” he said, sharing a troubled look with Grant that didn’t go unnoticed by the other man in the room. “There’s been a disturbance between the men.”
Liebgott knew he was lying. He could tell by the way Grant was avoiding his gaze, and the way Speirs’s hands balled into fists like he was holding something back, just like Liebgott did when he was wound up. But he didn’t say anything, he just nodded, knowing that he had no right to question the officer. Speirs said nothing in return either, he was out of the room within seconds, Grant on his tail, his thunderous footsteps echoing down the hallway.
Liebgott was left staring down at Webster’s sleeping form, wondering what had happened between Easy Company that could have been so urgent. It didn’t take him long for it to all click into place. Hours ago Speirs had ordered Talbert to gather the men to go and find the man who’d done this to Webster, and he was willing to bet his life that they’d found the piece of scum.
Liebgott clenched his teeth, slamming a fist into the bedside table. He took one look at Webster’s injury and knew he couldn’t just sit there, he wasn’t going to just sit there. Getting up off the bed, Liebgott leant down and placed a tender kiss on Webster’s chapped lips, tracing his cheek with his thumb.
“He’ll pay for what he did to you, David. He won’t get away with this.”
“WHERE IS HE?”
Luz was the first person Liebgott came across as he burst through the glass doors and into the main hall. The cigarette pressed between his lips fell to the marble floor as the barber stormed towards him, like an angry bull charging, and it wasn’t until he got closer that Luz spotted a pistol in his hand. Luz held up his hands and stood in the other man’s way, knowing exactly why he was there and what he was about to do.
“Liebgott, hold on a second!” Luz pleaded, grabbing him by the arms. “Wait a minute!”
“Where the fuck is he?” Liebgott virtually screamed in Luz’s face, fighting against the technician’s hold. “Let me go, Luz, I swear to fucking God!”
Talbert, who was standing nearby, came to Luz’s aid, taking a hold of Liebgott’s shoulders and pushing him back as he began to throw his arms around. “Christ, Liebgott, calm down!” Talbert bellowed, eyeing the gun in his hand that was waving around dangerously.
“Fuck you!” Liebgott knew the guy was there, he knew it, he could see through the glass doors to the left that the rest of the company were in that room, in that room with the so called soldier. He growled, pushing against the two men’s hold. “Let me fucking get him, you know he deserves it!”
“We know that, he deserves everything he God damn gets, Speirs is in there now!” Talbert said, trying desperately to keep him still. “The boys have beat him shitless!”
“Good!” Liebgott breathed out deeply, his movements slowing down as he got tired from all the struggling. “Now let me through so I can finish the son of a bitch off!” he growled, holding up his gun to make his statement. “I’ll kill him, I’ll shoot the fucker right between his fucking eyes!”
Liebgott froze, breathing heavy, Luz and Talbert’s tight grips not letting up in the slightest. Three heads turned to the source of the voice. Speirs was standing in the now open doorway, a grim expression etched on his face, and a bloody hand gripping a handgun. The faces of other Easy soldiers stood behind him, looking over his shoulder to see what was going on.
“Calm down.” Speirs said unnervingly composed. “You need to leave, I’ve dealt with the piece of shit myself.”
“Like fuck I’m leaving!” Liebgott cried, just about hearing the gasp that passed Luz’s lips, and seeing the shocked expressions on the Easy men’s faces as they each piled out into the hall. “Sir.” he added through clenched teeth.
“You listen here, soldier.” Speirs spoke coolly, strolling up to the Jewish man and not once did he break his stare. With one quick movement he stole the weapon out of Liebgott’s hand, who wouldn’t dare make a move to take it back. “You are in no state to be around that so called man, if I let you in there you will do something you’ll regret and I’m not about to let that happen, do you understand?”
“I know what he did, Liebgott. I’ve seen what he did.” Speirs said, looking him dead in the eye. “And trust me when I say I will not let him get off lightly. I will not let him get away with hurting one of my men.”
Liebgott held his gaze, chewing on his bottom lip as he finally relaxed in Luz and Talbert’s grasp. He still wanted to go in there, he still wanted to come face to face with the man that almost killed Webster, and he still wanted to punch the living daylights out of him until every bone in his body was damn broken. But he knew Speirs was right.
If he got a hold of the soldier in that room and lost it, he’d a hundred percent do something he’d regret. Or more like something Webster would never forgive him for. Webster would never forgive him for putting himself in that position and getting into trouble, for losing his temper again, like he always did. Once again he’d let his anger control him.
Liebgott bowed his head, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath. “Yes, sir.” He said, still looking down at the ground.
“Talbert, Luz, I want you to escort Liebgott back to the hospital.” Speirs said, Liebgott’s head flying up and looking at the Captain in confusion.
“You’re not staying here, Liebgott.” Speirs knew what he was thinking. The older man wanted to stay to find out what was going to happen to the murderer. “You need to be back with Webster encase he wakes up, I’ll give you a pass from any duties tomorrow, and I’ll send one of the men to keep you updated on what’s going on over here. Understood?”
Liebgott could only nod. The fight slowly leaving him.
Speirs sent Talbert and Luz a nod, the two letting go of Liebgott’s arms as he just about drooped like a bag of potatoes. “Let’s get you to the hospital, Liebgott.” Talbert said gently, giving the smaller man a pat on the shoulder.
Liebgott huffed inaudibly as Luz slung an arm around his shoulder and led him out through the glass doors. He couldn’t look at the men still standing off to the sides quietly, watching everything that had unfolded. He didn’t want to see their looks of pity, of sadness, he was just grateful that they’d done what he couldn’t. He was glad that at least Easy Company had been able to get the man back for hurting one of their own. And he trusted in Speirs, he knew the Captain would do whatever it took to make sure the man got the worst punishment imaginable. All Liebgott needed to do was concentrate on Webster, and Webster alone.
“Hey guys,” Luz pipped up as they sauntered down the stone steps. “Guess what?”
“What?” Talbert and Liebgott both answered in unison.
Then Luz was grinning. He took his arm off Liebgott’s shoulders and shouted, “I GET SHOTGUN!” and ran full speed towards the jeep.
Talbert and Liebgott shared a look before they both began laughing.
It had almost been a week when Webster finally woke up.
During the last few days after the incident, life in the Austrian town went on for the soldiers, but the same couldn’t be said for the murdering man who’d killed four officers, and harming an Easy Company soldier. A day after Speirs had ordered the Easy men to hand him over to the Military Police, news had reached the company that had them cursing, hugging one another and letting out long sighs of pure relief. Liebgott, well, he almost got teary eyed from where Heffron was standing.
Heffron, Roe, Speirs and Lipton had practically burst into the hospital room and from the looks of relief on their faces he knew it was going to be good news. That’s when Roe had taken a seat next to Liebgott and announced that the now ex trooper had been charged with four cases of murder, one attempted murder, and to Liebgott’s utter disgust, attempted rape. He’d been court-martialled on the spot as soon as they’d brought him in, no questions asked. For hours the police had gone over the events of that day, and had come up with a decision that had apparently had the soldier begging on his knees, crying to be released, to have a second chance.
The man was sentenced to death. He was listed to be executed within the next few weeks.
Liebgott had looked over at Speirs then, as if for confirmation, and the Captain had smiled slightly with a small nod. Liebgott then turned to the soldier laying in the hospital bed sleeping softly, he had brought Webster’s hand to his lips, placing a kiss atop his fingers, a relieved sigh escaping him.
That was five days ago, and now, Liebgott and half of Easy were currently patrolling the town, an exercise they all had to do every day to keep them in line. It wasn’t the most adventurous task they had to perform during the day, but walking with Luz most definitely kept him entertained.
“Ya know, I always wondered how giraffes stand up.”
Liebgott flicked open the lid of his lighter and lit the cigarette between his lips, looking over at Luz with a roll of his eyes. “They use their legs, wiseass.” Liebgott mumbled around the rollup.
Luz hummed, pursing his lips. “But they’re like beanpoles, skinny and shit.” he said as Liebgott passed him the lighter. “Toye said once that they could be aliens with machine legs.”
Liebgott snorted. “Pretty sure he was messing with you.”
“He wouldn’t dare.” Luz faked a stunned gasp, putting a hand to his heart which of course earned him another eye roll. Luz just grinned, sticking his own cigarette to his lips and lighting it up. “Hey,” he began as he puffed out a cloud of smoke. “How’s Web doing, huh? Any signs of him waking up yet?”
Liebgott inhaled a long drag of smoke before taking the cigarette between his fingers, biting down on his lower lip. “He’s still the same.” he sighed. “They changed the bandages again yesterday and said it was healing good.”
“Yeah?” Luz smiled, patting the other man on the back. “That’s good news, Lieb, he’ll be up and arguing with you in no time.”
Liebgott grinned, already imagining their first fight because he forgot to make his bed or something just as ridiculous. If Liebgott was being completely honest with himself, he couldn’t wait to argue with Webster again. He couldn’t wait to hear his voice, his laugh, his whining about the way Liebgott sometimes chews with his mouth open, or whacks him in the face when he’s sleeping beside him, or makes fun of Webster for being obsessed with sharks. He looked forward to the day when he could kiss Webster, and he’d be kissing him back.
He also wanted to apologise. Since the entire situation had happened he’d always have that nagging voice at the back of his mind reminding him about that day they both fought, the day he let Webster leave their room, when he’d let Webster drive right into that murderer’s path. He blamed himself. He knew it was partly his fault, because he should have protected him, he shouldn’t have been an idiot and let his anger get in the way, he should have got up off that bed and ran after the younger man and told him to come to bed, told him he was sorry.
Those thoughts kept running in his mind as Luz carried on yapping away about something or other, and as they got to the end of the road there came a loud, lengthy beep from behind them. Luz and Liebgott spun around at the unexpected noise in the fairly peaceful town, to find Nixon and Winters driving towards them. They weren’t surprised to find Nixon behind the wheel, as the jeep almost swerved off the road as it skidded to an abrupt stop.
“Jesus, do you think he took driver’s ed?” Luz muttered jokingly.
“Liebgott!” Winters called out from the passenger seat, waving him over. “Get in, hurry.”
“Sir?” Liebgott frowned in confusion.
Nixon grinned then, leaning one arm across the top of the door. “Don’t just stand there, soldier. Webster’s waiting.”
Liebgott looked comical as his jaw opened wide in surprise. “What?”
“He’s awake, Liebgott.” Winters smiled widely. “Now get in, Corporal.”
“Yeah,” Nixon snorted. “Before he falls back to sleep.”
Liebgott didn’t need to be told twice as he hoisted himself up onto the back of the jeep, sitting down in the seat with a big thump. It didn’t hit him until they were driving down the gravely road that this time when he goes into Webster’s room, his lover’s eyes would be open, those blue eyes that he’d missed would be looking right back at him. Liebgott let out a laugh, running a hand through his messy locks. He couldn’t stop grinning for the entire journey.
“Now, he’s a little bit dazed, he doesn’t quite know what’s going on so we’ve just told him a few things like he’s been in an accident and that he’s been in hospital for a few days,” the German nurse announced as she trotted through the hospital hallways, Liebgott and the two officers close behind. “His speech is a little frazzled because of the placement of the injury, and his arm is giving him problems, he’s just woken up so he will be experiencing some soreness having been in bed for so long.”
“How longs he been up?” Liebgott asked, trying to keep up with her fast pace.
“About an hour now,” she answered. “We gave him a little food and some water straight away. Your friend, Mr. Talbert is it? He was on watch duty today and saw him wake up, I told him to go and get Major Winters here, and here you are.” She smiled, slowing her steps as they approached the room.
Liebgott could feel his heartbeat pounding wilder and faster with each stride he took. As they rounded the corner, passing Talbert just next to the door, he stopped right outside the doorway to Webster’s room, the wind getting knocked right out of him. Webster was laying there like he had been for days, except this time was a bit different. This time, his eyes were open, and he was smiling faintly at the nurse who cheerfully strolled over to him.
“Mr. Webster, you have visitors.” She said to him, gently patting his hand before moving to the other side of the bed to check his wound.
Liebgott sucked in a breath as Webster turned his head to face the doorway, and their eyes met instantly. A week ago Liebgott had thought that bullet to the head was going to kill Webster, he thought as he first laid his eyes on him, bleeding profusely from his injury, that he was going to lose him to the war. He didn’t know whether to laugh or cry because Webster was now smiling at him from across the room.
“Joe.” Webster whispered his name softly, and that broke Liebgott out of his reverie.
The barber almost ran across the room to his lover, falling onto the bed and plunging forward to envelope Webster in his arms. Liebgott held onto him like his life depended on it, not wanting to let go after being without him for what felt like too long.
The nurse who stood on the other side of them looked down at them knowingly, a pleased smile gracing her lips, before she strolled soundlessly out of the room. From the doorway Winters and Nixon shared a smile before taking their leave too, following the nurse to gather material on Webster’s recovery.
“Fuck.” Liebgott heaved a sigh into Webster’s neck, running a hand through his thick, tangled curls. “You’re a fucking asshole you know that, Web? A big fucking asshole.”
The other man let out a low laugh, trying his best to hug his lover back, but he felt so weak that his arms began to shake. “I... I’m... s-sorry...” he stuttered.
Liebgott pulled back, keeping his one hand tangled in Webster’s hair whilst the other cupped his cheek gently. “Sorry for what?” he asked, obviously irritated. “For getting shot in the head? It wasn’t your fucking fault, Web, don’t you dare sa-,”
“F-for... before.” Webster sighed, annoyed that he couldn’t get his damned words out. “Fight... o-our fight. I’m... s-sorry.”
Liebgott exhaled loudly, moving his hand to grasp Websters. “I’m sorry too, I should never have let you go like that,” he said as he ran a hand through his own hair. “You wouldn’t be here if I’d only calmed the fuck down and gone after you!”
“Joe...” Webster lifted a hand weakly to the corporal’s cheek, tracing his fingers lightly over the dirt marks across his skin. “no... n-not your fault... I understand... you were hurting... a-and I... I should have... have been there for y-you.”
“Jesus, Web, you were there for me.” Liebgott snorted, remembering how Webster was the one who knelt beside him in the truck that fateful day outside the Landsberg camp, holding him as he cried. “You we’re right, as per usual, Harvard boy.” Liebgott grinned, earning an eye roll from the other man. “I shouldn’t have lost it like I did, my temper did get the best of me. I just... fuck, I just want them to pay for what they did.”
“T-they will.” Webster said certainly, giving Liebgott’s hand a squeeze. “D-don’t put yourself in... danger or trouble because o-of them, Lieb. L-let the army... army deal with i-it now.”
“You hate the army.” Liebgott smirked.
“I do.” Webster grinned. “I-it doesn’t mean I... I don’t think they’ll do what’s... what’s right for your people.”
Liebgott hummed in response, grabbing both of Webster’s hands in between his own. “Let’s just forget about it all right now, huh?” he said. “I’ve asked Winters if he could get someone else to do all the uh... you know, torturing Nazi’s for information and shit.”
Webster’s eyes widened in surprise. “Y-you did?”
“Yeah,” Liebgott shrugged. “Once again you were right,” he rolled his eyes as Webster grinned cheekily at him. “It’s not good for me, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, about all the Germans I tortured, it’s... I don’t want to keep seeing their faces and hearing their screams it... it’s-,”
“I know, Joe.” Webster whispered. “I’m glad you’ve s-stopped. It... it really is for the best, a-and I’m here to help... to help you.”
“I know.” Liebgott nodded. “We can move on from all that bullshit.”
Webster hummed, more than a little relieved that Liebgott had finally seen sense, that he’d finally realised how something like that could affect him in the long run.
The two sat there in silence for a short while, their thoughts running around in their heads like a film reel. Then Webster broke the silence, as a dull, shooting pain stirred in his head.
Liebgott felt his shoulders tense, knowing what Webster was referring to. He immediately thought about the man who was rotting in a cell somewhere, probably still begging to have another chance and be let off as if he’d done nothing wrong. Liebgott held onto Webster’s hands tighter. He didn’t want to have to go over it all again, but knew that Webster needed this.
“You remember what happened?” he asked him, as the writer nodded a little in response. “After he killed those officers and uh, and hurt you he drove off, the boys found him a few hours later trying to rape a woman in a nearby town.” he bit out. “He wasn’t even that drunk, Web. He’s just a fucking monster.”
Liebgott felt Webster’s fingers tighten around his own, his eyes unblinking. “Jesus Christ.” he let out in shock.
Liebgott was right. Thinking back to that night, at first the young man had just seemed like another drunken trooper out causing havoc and messing around, until he’d seen those dead officers lying in their own blood. Not even someone tanked-up beyond reasoning would do something so vile, so evil, to four innocent men who were peaceably moving on from all the fighting. And then, to make matters worse he’d gone and shot Webster without hesitation, a man from his own infantry. Now, finding out he’d drove off into another town to try and sexually assault an innocent women, he deserved the worst possible outcome. He really was a monster.
“W-what happened t-to him?”
Liebgott looked him in the eye and said straight out, “He’s got the death penalty, Web.”
Webster let out the breath he was holding in, closing his eyes. He felt a little guilty about feeling pleased with that consequence, but when he came back to the image of the unmoving corpses on the wet ground, he knew the military police had done what he would have done. No murderer deserved to live.
“You alright?” Liebgott asked, reaching over to smooth his hair away from his forehead.
“Yeah.” Webster grumbled, sighing at the feeling of his partner’s cool hand against his warm skin, which helped sooth the dull ache in his head. “I-I’m fine, Joe.”
“Hey,” Liebgott began, pulling his hands back and standing up. “Budge up, Web.”
Webster opened one eye to take a peek at Liebgott, who was kicking off his boots into the middle of the floor. “What are... are you doing?”
“Don’t make me say it.” Liebgott grunted, helping Webster shuffle over as best as he could, so there was just enough room for Liebgott to lay beside him and sling an arm around his shoulder.
Webster grinned over at the barber who pulled him in close, yanking at his hand to lay it on top of his stomach where their fingers entwined. “Are we cuddling?” Webster teased, laying his head carefully on Liebgott’s shoulder.
“Tell anyone and I’ll make sure every shark in the world goes extinct, Webster.” Liebgott said in a serious voice.
Webster just chuckled softly, lifting his head up to look at the older soldier. “Joe?”
“T-Talbert told me... he said... you n-never left my side.” Webster said, remembering the short conversation he’d had with the Sergeant before Liebgott had shown up. “H-he said... you... you talked to me all the t-time, and n-never let go of... of my hand.”
Liebgott smiled down at the younger man, carding a hand through his curls. “Yeah, well, I wasn’t going to let you go, Web. You can’t get away from me that easy, buddy.”
Webster chuckled, before he gripped Liebgott’s shirt with as much strength as he could muster, and drew him down until their lips met. Liebgott sighed into the kiss, using his free hand to wind around his lover’s neck, pulling him nearer to deepen the kiss.
God, Liebgott had missed this. He knew he’d missed having the feeling of Webster’s lips on his, the feeling of his hair slipping between his fingers, and their bodies pressed together from head to toe, but he hadn’t realised how much he’d missed it until that very second. He realised then that he couldn’t live without this stupid, annoying, smart ass who’d come into his life and completely changed it around.
“David,” Liebgott said quietly as he broke the kiss, leaning his forehead on the other soldier’s carefully. “Ich liebe dich, mein schöner Hai-Junge.”
Webster laughed softly. “Ich liebe dich auch, Joe.” he said. “Du idiot.”
Liebgott beamed, going in for another kiss.
“Ow!” Webster groaned, pulling away quickly.
“What’s wrong?” Liebgott asked concerned. He extended a hand to comb away Webster’s hair from his wound, noticing that he was scrunching his eyes shut in obvious pain. “Bad head?”
The Private nodded.
“Maybe it’s best if you get some sleep for a while.”
Webster grumbled as Liebgott sat back against the pillow, yanking Webster back down to rest his head on his chest. “I’ve been s-sleeping for a week... I-I don’t... think I need anymore.”
Liebgott took his hand in his once again. “Shut up, Web, and get some sleep.”
“I will if you don’t shut your eyes.”
“You wouldn’t... dare. I-I’m a wounded man.”
Liebgott snorted. “Damn, you see right through me.”
Webster grinned into his lover’s shirt, shutting his eyes. He wasn’t going to admit it out loud, but he was kind of feeling a little sleepy. With the throbbing in his head, the slight pain in his arm and the tightness in his throat, he was happy to be able to nod off and not feel any of it and hopefully wake up feeling a whole lot better.
Webster snuggled in closer to the other man if it were possible, quite content with Liebgott’s hand rubbing soothing circles into his scalp. And Liebgott, he hadn’t felt this relaxed since before the damned war.
He shut his own eyes, leaning further back against the headboard, before resting his head atop of Websters. Lying there with him in his arms was surreal after everything that had happened, and it all felt like a dream. It was like nothing had even happened a week ago, as if they hadn’t fought, as if he hadn’t almost lost the man he loved.
Liebgott could finally breathe again, knowing that everything was going to be okay. He knew they had a lot to talk about later on, he had no idea what the future held, but he also knew for damn sure that Webster would be in it.
Before he drifted off Liebgott suddenly felt Webster tap his hand, asking for attention.
“Does my... hair look really b-bad?”
Liebgott groaned, he should have seen that coming.
“You look swell, now just go the fuck to sleep.”
Just ten minutes later, Talbert and Luz came through the door after being sent up there to check on the two soldiers inside. They found the two troopers fast asleep on the bed, looking peaceful and contented. Luz grinned over at Talbert before they both left as quietly as possible, closing the door behind them.
Being the good friends that they were, the two soldiers grabbed a seat just outside Liebgott and Webster’s room, taking out their deck of cards and lighting up their cigarettes.
And anyone that tried to disturb the couple, well, Luz had something to say about that.