February 26, 2010

Harper- Beginnings

I wrote this as Harper's back story when I first entered the chronicle in '06. I've tweaked it a bit, thought about making it first person, but decided it worked better this way. So here you go! A look into how she used to be. (yes...still a bitch)) and yes, I'm sure some of the military stuff is inaccurate.. but.. get over it. That means you Ori. ;)

Harper sat in the back of the room as the others started with their considerable noise. She shifted uncomfortably and just watched from her chair. It was a bar, what did she expect, for everyone to leave her to her silent ruminations? If she wanted to be left alone, she shouldn’t have come. Not like Driscoll would have let me get away with staying home, she thought. She watched the dark haired man as he sauntered up to the stage and took the microphone. The karaoke machine played Love is a Battlefield, and Driscoll sang along like he wrote it himself. Harper grimaced as his voice broke. He was singing terribly off key. She glowered at him from her seat, to which his only response was a grin when she caught his eye. The bastard is doing it on purpose! He knows he can’t sing, but he assails our ears anyway, and they’ll all love him for it. Her thoughts about Driscoll were seldom charitable. The song ended and Driscoll made a deep theatrical bow. Everyone cheered. His close buddies making good humored jabs at him as he left the stage. He walked over and flopped down in the chair beside Harper as another soldier stepped up to the stage to serenade the bar goers.

“Why do you sing when you know you can’t?” Driscoll grinned at her comment, determined to make her have a good time despite her sour disposition. “Because I know all the words!” She looked at him incredulously and laughed despite herself. His grin widened at her reaction. “Knew you had it in ya O’Shea! A few more drinks and you’ll be gracing us with your beautiful rendition of Endless Love!” Her eyes widened at the suggestion, but he was off to the bar before she could utter protest. She watched after him with a small smile. He really is a good guy… cute too. But slowly her smile wilted as she watched him interacting with people on the way back to the table, drinks in hand. He was short for a man, 5’6, but he didn’t seem to mind. He was Italian, dark hair and eyes with a medium build. Nicely muscled, but most of the men there were. They were on active duty, stationed in Korea, many of them just out of basic.

Jordan Driscoll was the life of every party, even so far from home. Everyone loved him. He was charismatic, funny, and good natured. It was practically impossible to dislike the guy. Harper tried though. It was hard, especially since he had made it his personal mission to get her to open up and participate. He either didn’t understand her brooding, or just didn’t except it. No, he tried at every turn to break down her walls. If only. She thought sullenly. She wasn’t anti-social because she wanted to be. She had a deep seated desire to be as charming as Driscoll, which was why she allowed him to drag her along so often, but she was terrified at the prospect. She was attractive enough, tall and willowy with red hair and green eyes that held a strong personality, but it wasn’t enough to put her at ease in a crowd. Putting myself out there? To be judged? Why can’t you stick to anything Harper? How can you not have a goal? What’s wrong with you? No thanks. Still, she wanted it. But in her mind it was completely unattainable. The fact that it came so easy to Driscoll made her hate him more than a little. The times she admitted to herself that she really did like the guy made her hate him even more. Why should he get all the friends? All the attention? In the back of her mind she knew she wasn’t being fair to him, but her jealousy was stronger than her common sense; but her desire to be liked, by him especially, kept her from divulging her negative feelings towards him. In truth, he was probably her only real friend. She had yet to realize that.

“Rum and coke for the lady!” He sat with a flourish and put the drink in front of her. She mumbled her thanks and sipped the dark liquid. They sat for a few minutes, Driscoll either carrying on a mostly one sided conversation with her, or trying to involve her in conversations with anyone who walked by the table. He had made her laugh a few times, in his mind a great victory; though in actuality it only aggravated her more. When the karaoke machine began to spin out Don’t Stop Believing Driscoll jumped from his chair and grabbed her hand, only her sheer force of will kept her in the chair. “C’mon O’Shea! Let’s dance!” She frowned at him. She did that a lot. “There’s no dance floor.” He sighed dramatically. “Who cares? It’s a great song. Get off your ass and have some fun!” She responded by settling more firmly into her chair. He looked at her expectantly and waved his outstretched hand at her. She didn’t look at him as she said, “You go on, my knee is acting up.” Even with her eyes averted she knew his face had darkened, some of the good humor leaking out of his eyes. Before he could reply he was hailed from across the room. She waved him away before he could utter the apology she’d heard a million times. He wandered to the other side of the room giving her mournful glances as he left. She felt like a heel. Her knee was the only misfortune she could hold against him and oddly enough, the only one she didn’t.

In his zeal to get her involved, he’d signed her up for intramural football a couple years back. She’d made noises like she was pissed, but he had just grinned at her as she stalked out onto the field. She could hear him cheering for her as the ball was snapped, teasing her after the first tackle, and then calling for help when she didn’t get back up. She nearly fainted when she looked at her knee and saw parts that should never see the light of day. There was a shocking amount of blood, in her mind. Of course, she was used to treating the wounds, not receiving them. She didn’t feel it, not yet. Driscoll knelt down and tried to move her, shifting her knee in the process. She screamed then, the sound ending in a choked sob. Driscoll jumped back. She bit her lip trying not to let another sob escape. Tough as nails field medic and I’m crying. God how pathetic. Get a hold of yourself Harper. The medics arrived and she screamed again as they loaded her on to the stretcher despite her inner chastisement. Driscoll followed as the medics took her to the infirmary, flinching every time he could hear her screams and curses. He relaxed when she stopped screaming until he realized she had merely passed out from the pain. She came too again with tears streaming down her face, and Driscoll’s worried expression hovering over her. Every movement elicited at best a whimper, and at worst a muffled shriek. She lay like that for two hours before the doctor gave her something for the pain. She hadn’t realized until that day just how good morphine made you feel.

The injury had almost resulted in her discharge. It was nothing short of a miracle that she could return to duty after only a few months of leave with only a scar and a slight limp. Harper sighed as her thoughts came back to the present. Her knee didn’t hurt a bit, but it was the only sure fire way of discouraging Driscoll. He felt terribly guilty about the whole ordeal and never questioned her when she used her injury as an excuse. In fact, she’d probably have to deal with a fresh tidal wave of apologies from him later tonight, especially if he kept drinking. She tried not to remind Driscoll of the accident often, but sometimes she felt like she had no choice. She felt remorseful, but seeing the marked decrease in his exuberance gave her a small amount of perverse pleasure.
She drained the last of her drink and stood to leave. Driscoll saw her; he always seemed well in tuned to her movements, and called out. She pretended not to hear him and slipped out the door while she still had the chance. She headed back to the barracks, clenching her hands into fists to fight off the fine tremors that had begun to plague her.


“Heard you really passed out once you left last night O’Shea. I didn’t take you for that much of a light weight, I mean really, aren’t you Irish?” Driscoll teased her as they walked. Harper shrugged her shoulders and kept her eyes forward so he wouldn’t see the flinching look. “I was just tired. Insomnia.” He brushed off her excuse and kept talking. “You know what this means O’Shea. You have to come drinking until you can hold your liquor. An Irishman with your alcohol tolerance is downright shameful.” She sighed loudly like he expected of her. She knew for a fact that he had gotten completely smashed last night after she left, yet today he seemed no worse for it. Maybe he just hides it well. No, knowing him he doesn’t have so much as a headache, Harper thought resentfully. She retained her stony silence as they made their rounds. It was normal routine. They had the evening patrol, how he managed to get paired with her so often she had yet to figure out, and as they made their rounds he would talk her up. Sometimes she would engage him just to make him feel like he was making progress. Other times she would ignore him completely just to see how hard he would try before he gave up. She’d never gotten him to give up. In truth it was pleasant enough. Patrol was normally boring and uneventful. It helped to have someone to talk to, or listen to. Driscoll never seemed to get tired of the sound of his own voice.

Driscoll paused mid-sentence, an odd enough occurrence that Harper stopped and looked at him expectantly. She started when she heard what he had. Gun shots. Gun shots and laughter. She made an irritated noise in her throat and they turned in the appropriate direction, breaking into a jog.

It was coming from the bar. As the two rounded the corner they saw a man standing in a group, laughing loudly, his sidearm raised skyward. He fired two more shots and his friends roared with laughter. They were all obviously drunk. How the hell had he managed to smuggle the gun in three in the first place? It was one of the few times Harper had ever seen Driscoll angry. As carefree as the man was, he took his job seriously. “Sergeant James! You will relinquish your firearm now.” James walked over, stumbling slightly and squinted at the new arrivals. “Oh, hey Driscoll! What the fuck is up man? Hey guys! Driscoll is here!” Driscoll waved absently at the group, his attention on the drunk man with the gun. James clutched the weapon tightly, as though it would keep him from stumbling. “Sergeant, your gun.” He held out his hand to receive the weapon. “Huh? Oh! Sorry man, just got a little carried away!” James raised the pistol, too drunk to even consider handing it over grip first. As the gun came up, James swayed, his hand convulsing around the firearm in an attempt to not fall over.

Harper never actually heard the shot. Even later when she would replay the event in her mind, she never heard the shot. She saw the man fire the weapon, then saw pieces of Driscoll’s skull fall to the ground. The world moved in slow motion as Driscoll seemed to lean backwards and lose his footing, and ended up on his back. Of course that wasn’t happened, but that’s how it seemed to Harper. She wondered why the drunken soldiers didn’t start jeering at Driscoll’s lack of grace.

It wasn’t until she felt something wet and heavy sliding down her cheek that she clicked back into something nearer to reality. Driscoll was laying on the groud, half of the top part of his skull missing, blood and brain matter leaking out to mingle with the dirt. Sergeant James was sitting, gun lying innocently on the ground a few feet away. People around her were screaming, calling for help, giving her orders, but she found that despite all her medical training, all she could do was stare at the dead man at her feet. She knew he was dead without even checking, when a medic arrived and took his pulse, she almost laughed. Almost. She felt hands leading her away, trying to take her attention away from the scene, but she didn’t break eye contact with Driscoll until someone through a blanket over the body. But he won’t be able to see now. She felt something pressed into her hand, looked down and saw a rag. Vaguely she remembered her cheek. She wiped her face with the cloth. It came back bloody, with something more solid sticking to it. Upon seeing that, the full weight of the event broke through her shock. She turned and vomited, falling to her hands and knees. Tears streamed down her face as she emptied her stomach onto the grass. She began to shake uncontrollably.

Another soldier draped a blanket over her shoulders, only to have to thrown off in terror when Harper realized it was the same blanket they had used to cover Driscoll’s body. Her voice was high and panic stricken. “Driscoll? Driscoll! What the fuck Driscoll! This isn’t funny! Get the fuck up Driscoll!” she moved to the body and began to peel back the blanket, but it was hard, it was sticking to something wet underneath. Wait, blanket? Of course Harper, all the blankets look the same, it wasn’t actually the same blanket. Someone grabbed her from behind and dragged her back. “Wait! I’ve got to wake him up! Driscoll!” Her eyes began to make sense of the blood that the dirt was drinking up. “NO! no no no! JORDAN! GET UP JORDAN!” She fought the arms that held her, fought until she felt her muscles relax and her eyes flutter. Unable to ward off sleep, she slumped forward. She had never even felt the needle prick. As she drifted off to sleep all she could hear was Jordan’s voice in the back of her mind, Chill the fuck out O’Shea. I’m a goddamn national treasure. I’m not going anywhere. Then nothing but darkness.


Harper stared down at the body. She was alone in the small morgue, except for the body. It was a single room, adorned with stainless steel cabinets, a sink, and one wall bearing a handful of standard morgue drawers. The lighting was normally florescent and harsh, but today only a single safety light remained on, as it always did, casting dim flickering rays over the room. Typical medical supplies adorned the countertops, surgical tools sterilized and in their proper places. The room was everything a morgue was expected to be, clinical, stark, and depressing. Driscoll lay on the room’s only examination table, covered with a sheet. She had pulled it half way back, standing beside the table, eyes on the head wound. She hadn’t bothered to turn on the lights, that would make it seem too real. She didn’t want to see Driscoll’s olive skin looking waxy and fake, or give color to the devastating injury. She had already seen it all. The wound already seemed to snarl at her, huge and gaping wide with jagged teeth. She had seen it all a hundred times in her dreams, and it had only been two days. She stood in lonely stillness and stared.

Her dreams didn’t quite match up with actual events, though she had yet to realize it. She didn’t remember how desperate she had been, how panicked, how stricken . In her dreams, she stood to the side and watched as the shot was fired. It didn't make a sound, that much stayed the same. She was merely an observer, like it was just a bad movie. It wasn’t cold detachment; she was, after all, human. Harper felt alarm and fear, the kind any soldier would feel when seeing a man go down, but it was distant. She watched as the gun went off, smoke curling from the barrel, she watched as Driscoll fell to the ground, bits of skull and brain matter landing around him. She watched as his blood fed the ground, knowing she could do nothing for him. She knelt beside him, looking in his eyes, but making no move to help save the dying man. Half of his skull was missing, there wouldn't have been much of a point. Remarkably, he was dying and not dead, looking up at her with something that resembled his usual ingratiating grin, but wilted around the edges. His lips moved but no sound came out. He spoke, but Harper could hear nothing past the roaring in her ears, the sound that absolute silence makes. The scene was deathly quiet. There were no screams, no pounding of feet, nothing. She was not deaf; there was just no sound. She knew she should be hearing it, but there was nothing; nothing but the impossibly thunderous silence. It filled her ears and drowned out his voice. It was always the same way in her dreams. He spoke to her, and then he died. At that point she either woke up, or the dream began again. It was amazing how many times you could have the same dream in one night.

In the back of her mind she knew that wasn’t how it happened. He had been dead before he hit the ground. There had been no last words. She also knew that she had reacted strongly, perhaps violently, why else would she have been sedated? But all these thoughts were pushed back to the brink of her unconscious mind. It made no sense to her why she would have hysterics over a man she couldn’t stand, so it couldn’t be true. The event had been traumatic, a man shot to death in front of her. That was what bothered her. Her reaction had nothing to do with the fact that Jordan Driscoll was dead.

You know that’s not true O’Shea.
She ignored the thought. Ignored the voice and ignored the tears that coursed down her cheeks in steady streams. Serves you right you arrogant bastard. Everyone still loves you, you know. No doubt you’ll be given a hero’s funeral, hero’s funeral for getting shot in the fucking head by a goddamn drunk. She scowled, the action undermined by a fresh wave of tears that dripped onto the metal morgue table. She stood there for awhile in silence, looking at him, thinking nothing, telling herself she felt nothing, nothing but anger. She noticed no one had taken his dog tag yet. Both tags lay against his chest, glinting dully in the shine of the single safety light. A terrible idea struck her. Can’t give you a proper funeral if they don’t know who you are can they Driscoll? Never thought it would end like that did you? The man everyone loves, wants to be, or be with, ending up in an anonymous grave? She leaned forward, carefully releasing the catch on the chain and lifting the tags.

C’mon O’Shea, you know that won’t work. This isn’t a battlefield; just admit why you’re really taking the tags.

Harper made a frustrated grunt and pushed the thought aside violently. Harper slipped the chain over her neck, tucking the tags into her shirt. They clinked softly against her own tags and she jumped as they touched her skin. God they were cold. Taking one last look at her dead friend, she slowly pulled the sheet back over the body and tried not to notice how it sagged inward over the right side of his head. This is what you deserve Driscoll. Now maybe you’ll leave me the fuck alone. Absently wiping at the tears dripping off her chin, she turned and walked out of the morgue. But his voice whispered in the back of her mind. Not likely O’Shea. Not fucking likely.

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