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Price of War

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The bars are quiet on the weekends, at least the one that the vets go to. The VFA is strange these days. Tex used to go before the war, because while she hadn’t been in the war before this one, she had plenty of friends who had been. But this war is so fresh, the soldiers still newly back, and it’s to quiet. Like no one would dare to stare the stories of what they’ve been through, good or bad.

At first the people there give her weird looks, but mostly, she thinks, because of who she joins the second she arrives. An older gentleman from somewhere in town, she knows his son joined up too, and the lack of the young man’s presence speaks volumes. Then there is Washington. She knows him, she worked together with him for a while. Their unit was one of the best, on the front lines. She knows what he’s lost, though. What they’ve both lost.

You don’t win a war without losing people.

Their fourth wasn’t even in the war. From what she’s heard, what she remembers, she knows what Caboose has lost. Poor Michael. None of them can handle telling him what they all know, though, so they come together to this place to drink every Friday night. They all drink to forget.

The problem is Tex can’t forget. Never will forget. Connie limp on the ground beside her, the knife thrown by an enemy buried in her chest. There had been a gloss over to her eyes, and Tex had… Every time she closes her eyes she sees the smaller woman’s glassy eyes, staring with shock up at the sky. Even now Tex can feel the cooling blood on her hands. Remembers how badly she shook and how she couldn’t move for so long. It had been Carolina that had shaken her and Wash out of their stupor.

Carolina who had fallen and who Tex hadn’t been able to save.

“We never talk,” Caboose whispers. “Is that really what we want?”

Tex finishes the bottle in front of her and scoffs a little. “Yes,” she answers for all of them.

“They say talking will make it…”

“Make it what?” Wash asks, voice clearly pained. “Fresh?”

“Stuck in your head?” Sarge offers.

“Better,” Caboose says, pain in his voice.

“You talk about yours, I’ll talk about mine,” Wash answers, a sting in his voice.

And Tex slams the base of her empty bottle onto the table.

“Shut up, all of you,” Tex answers, voice hard. They are quiet. Very quiet. “That isn’t what this is about. That is the opposite of what this is about. So just stop.”

No one speaks again that night.

Tex likes that better.