[center Lauren was a small town girl, she lead an ordinary life with two ordinary and dull parents. She came from money, but she wasn't rich. Her father was the towns dentist and her mother worked as a surgeon in the local hospital. It wasn't until one day while working at Betty's Diner that Lauren's entire world was flipped upside down.
They had heard of the war, but nothing like that ever came to the suburbs. Or at least not until today...
Lauren was taking orders and putting on her girlish smile as she had time and time again, day in and day out when the first bomb hit. It shook the diner and all its customers hard, hard enough for one of the walls to cave in on itself and debris to rise and fill the air with smoke and dust. When the world stopped trembling Lauren looked around, there was a man hanging from one of the light fixtures and his legs had been torn from his torso, a mother clung desperately to her lifeless son, a husband holding the hand of his dying wife.
It was trying to evaluate her own bumps and bruises that Lauren saw the flare, another bomb. [b "Everyone get down!"] she screamed, just as the bomb made impact with the diner, collapsing the building to the ground.]
[center LT Ryker was making his rounds, it had been a hard day. After a bomb had struck their convoy and killed three of his men they were all feeling a little out of sorts. He slowly walked through the mess of broken spirits and quiet sorrows taking a silent count of those that remained. He wanted so badly to tell them that this war was almost over, that they would soon be returned to their loved ones, but even to him that was more of a fantasy.
He had heard rumor that the fight had been brought closer to home and that had only put everyone more on edge. Defending their country in a foreign land was hard, but defending their homeland while the ones they loved were at risk, well, that was a new definition of hell. He looked at the faces of his brave brothers and sisters before taking a seat and opening his meal in a brown bag, wanting desperately for one of his moms home cooked dinners.
The next morning a helicopter arrived, they were taking the men back home. It wasn't the homecoming LT Ryker had hoped for, but rather the one he feared the most. A town not too far from where he grew up had been hit and they were sending troops back to the homeland to fight.]
I'm looking for a seme-lit partner to play the role of either Lauren or LT Ryker. Please be able to post at least once daily and use real photos only. I'm not sure the path I want the two characters to take but that is for us to decide. Please PM me with the heading Love and War if you're interested.
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[center Lauren raked a hand through her hair, her gaze avoiding his. She looked down at her feet, at the old black sneakers she wore. She kicked at a loose rock from the street. [i Failed?] What else could any of them have done? Lauren was sure they had done everything they could have done to prevent what had happened.]
[center But Lauren saw the sadness in this man before her. She saw guilt, anger, and so many other emotions swirling. Emotions were swirling within her, too, but she figured that none could compare to how he was feeling. Her heart ached, for everyone. For her family, her friends, her neighbors, for this man before her. For herself. Was this hell? Was this what hell looked like, what it felt like? Lauren bit her lip.]
[center She tucked some of her loose hair behind her ear. [b "Oh, it's just right here, thanks."] What was there left to say? Lauren gestured to the house, the driveway just steps away from them. It wasn't a big deal, but somehow his offer to walk her home gave her comfort. She managed a smile.]
[center The house looked nice on the outside. It wasn't giant, but it wasn't small, either. A good neighborhood of good people. A good yard with the back fenced in. The grass was green, well taken care of. A rose bush was blooming near the front door. Just looking at this house, one wouldn't think anything could be wrong. But everyone knew. Everyone knew just how wrong things were.]
[center Lauren stepped up to the front door. She glanced up at this man whom she didn't even know the name of. [b "Oh, um, I'm Lauren, by the way."] She didn't know what came over her next, but words just poured out without her thinking much of it. [b "Did you want, like, to come in for coffee or tea or something? Uh, as a thank you? Or do you have somewhere else you need to get to?"] She wasn't sure if she should regret saying it, but she had said it anyway and there wasn't taking it back.]
Ryker didn't know what he could say to calm the girl worries, what could anyone say at a time like this. What happened, what she and everyone left on this street had been through was something that no civilian should ever have to go through. This was what he had signed up to protect from happening, if anyone should be apologizing it should be him for failing the people of his country. [b "Today is a bad day, everyday since the attack has been nothing but bad days. What happened that day, what happened to you and everyone else..."] he fell silent for a moment, turning his gaze from the girl to the pavement, [b "It shouldn't have happened, not here, not this way."]
His mind drifted for a moment back to the day he had enlisted, the day when he stood before God, his family and the commander and swore himself to fight and protect this country and all who lived here from all threats. He thought about how much hope he had back then, like he was some kind of fucking superhero that was going to change the world and erase all the evil that was here. Some hero he had turned out to be he thought to himself, shifting his weight from one leg to the other, his eyes still glued to the ground. [b "We failed you, we failed all of you...."] his voice drifted and a silence fell between them once more.
He took a long deep breath before he could find it in himself to look up at her once more, [b "Where do you live? I'll walk you home."]
[center Lauren was a bit taken aback at first by his calm, reassuring response. This man before her was telling her it was [i okay] to freak out and feel like everything was falling apart? Lauren ran a hand slowly through her thick blonde locks, chewing her lower lip thoughtfully.]
[center [b "I just,"] she paused, not knowing exactly how to put her thoughts into words. [b "I just don't understand why this had to happen, to anyone. It shouldn't be happening like this. This shouldn't be real, you know?"] Her words were soft, quiet. Lauren felt a little lost, and that feeling came in through her words. [b "None of this should be real."]]
[center But it [i was] real. It was [i too] real.]
[center Oh how she wished she knew a different way to cope, to handle everything that was going on around her. [i None of this is normal. None of this is right] She thought. [i Why can't things just go back to how they were?] [b "Why can't this all be a nightmare?"] Her words were hardly even a whisper. Lauren felt so completely and utterly helpless.]
[center She looked up at the man standing before her. She still felt so small, especially standing in front of a man in uniform. Her blue eyes told him how desperate she really felt, how small and lost she felt. Lauren closed her eyes and took a deep breath. [b "I am sorry, though. Me having a public freak out is just going to make things worse for everyone else in the neighborhood. I'm usually a lot more calm and collected. Maybe today is just a bad day."] She tried to crack a smile.]
Lt Ryker watched the woman, the way she repeated that she was fine, the way she ran a hand through her hair, her body language; she was not fine. Nothing about this was fine. He stood there, standing only a couple feet from her, exaimining her, witnessing her in all of her mental and emotional break down. Why wouldn't she? How was anyone holding together? This was America, things like this simply didn't happen here, especially not in small town such as this one. He was so busy watching her that he hadn't even noticed that she too was watching him, examining him with her eyes.
[b [i "I hope I didn't worry or inconvenience you, Sir."]] Sir? Sir was what his soldiers called me. It was how people of lower ranking addressed him. [b [i "I was just getting some air. I swear I'm going to go crazy if I stay in that house for another minute."]]
Taking in a deep breath Ryker loosened his body and took a step closer to her, [b "It's alright, and I don't think you're crazy. I think everyone else that is acting like all of this is completely fine are crazy, you, you are just handling all of this in the only way you can. It's okay to break down, its okay to feel like nothing around you is real. I'm sorry this happened to you, I'm sorry this happened to all of you."] he looked around noticing all the people that were staring at them from their windows, [b "Forget about them, ignore them. You are allowed to react in whatever way you feel necessary."]
[center Her mother had left, yet she still stood on the sidewalk. The breeze felt good against her skin. Lauren soaked in the air, her eyes closed. She crossed her arms over her chest. [b "This is so crazy,"] she murmured to herself. [i Why did this have to happen?] Lauren shook her head. [i Maybe if I close my eyes tight enough, this will all just go away?] She knew the thought was utterly ridiculous, and yet she found herself squeezing her eyelids shut as tightly as she could. Nothing happened, just as she expected. [b "This is real."]]
[center She stood there longer. She couldn't bring herself to move. Lauren's mind was racing, leaving her physical body paralyzed. The gentle wind played across her face and tugged at her hair; it smelled of dust. [b "This is real,"] she said again. She wished so badly that it was all a nightmare.]
[center Lauren opened her eyes. A chill ran down her spine, but she wasn't cold. Still, she rubbed her arms as if to bring the warmth back to them. She was wearing a sweater, and the breeze wasn't strong enough to bring a chill through it. She let out a heavy sigh. [b "Why does it have to be real?"]]
[center Lauren heard a voice. No one else was outside on the block, so she assumed it was calling to her. It wasn't until the second call that she brought herself to tur around. She didn't necessarily expect it, but it wasn't much of a surprise to her for whom she saw coming her way.]
[center [b "Oh, I'm fine."] Lauren's voice cracked, betraying how she was in fact, not fine. She cleared her throat to try again. [b "I'm fine."] She shoved a hand through the thick mass of blonde hair. She normally wasn't like this. And now people were staring from inside their homes. Lauren glanced around, suddenly concious of the fact that they had all more than likely seen and even heard her outburst of anxiety. Her face flushed from embarrassment.]
[center [i They all think I'm crazy.] She mentally cursed herself. [i My mom probably thinks I'm going crazy, too. I'm never like that! What came over me?] She couldn't shut her mind off for the life of her.]
[center Lauren looked up to the man before her, her blue orbs scanning him from head to toe. Suddenly, she felt so small. She noted the uniform, the rifle over his shoulder, everything. Lauren chewed the iside of her lip a bit nervously now. [b "I hope I didn't worry or inconvenience you, Sir."] [i How am I suppose to talk to this guy? Was 'Sir' too much? Oh God, what if I make myself look stupid?] The more she thought, the more Lauren became self-concious of every little thing about herself and what she was doing. [b "I was just getting some air. I swear I'm going to go crazy if I stay in that house for another minute."]]
Lt Ryker, having received his assignment from CPT Weir, rounded up his squadron. [b "Remember, these people are our wives, our children, our family. We will treat them as nothing less. Make sure to use nothing but respect when talking to them, they may just need a listening ear. These people, our people have suffered a loss greater than anyone could have ever imagined, they aren't built the way we are, they weren't trained how to respond to a situation such as this. We will deliver aid in whatever manner they require. Understood?"] "Hoo-ah" they responded in unison before loading into the Humvees and other military vehicles awaiting to bring them to the next town.
Making sure everyone was accounted for Ryker hoped into the front seat of the first Humvee in the line, he wanted to be one of the first to arrive. Today they weren't just going to any old town in the middle of now where, today they were going to his hometown. He took a long breath before signaling his driver, [b "Roll out!"]
Staring out the window he watched as the tree's and houses passed them by. Occasionally he would see a small group of people watching as they passed by, hoping, praying that they were there for them. But Lt Ryker had his orders, should he break them to help them and something were to happen it would be him that would pay the price. Instead he stared straight ahead, not daring to make eye contact.
Arriving Lt Ryker hoped out before the vehicle had a chance to stop. He took a look around, despite the recent bombings the town still looked almost the same as when he would left. It was one of the few perks of growing up in a one-horse town, nothing ever changed. From where they could stop he could see the buildings that had been taken by the explosions, one of which was the diner he and his dad would go to every Saturday after his little league games. He was saddened to see that only rubble and debris remained.
His crew had gathered, watching him, awaiting his direction. An entire minute had passed before he had even notived they were there. [b "You have your orders, go on!"] he shouted sternly before hoisting his rifle over his shoulder and making his way down one of the streets. Just ahead he saw a slender woman that seemed to be slightly distraught, [b "Ma'am?"] he called toward her, [b "Are you in need of assistance?"]
There was something oddly familiar about the woman, as he got closer and closer to her he could begin to make out some of her features. He knew for sure that he had seen her before he just wasn't sure where. [b "Ma'am?']
[center Days still seemed to drag on. Lauren watched out the window of her mother's home, one of the lucky buildings in a lucky area to have not been completely destroyed yet. Yes, Lauren considered herself lucky to even be alive, yet somehow she also felt unlucky. Unlucky to [i have] to think about being lucky for living. Simply living felt like a luxury to her. Simply being with her mother. The little everyday things suddenly didn't feel so everyday, as she knew how easily they could be ripped from her.]
[center The military camps seemed to surround the area. If the whole scenario felt stressful to her, she could only imagine how stressed the troops outside felt. Were they blaming themselves, thinking that somehow they could have prevented this? They wouldn't have been able to; evil people will find ways to do evil things. But was the enemy [i really] evil? Were the bombers evil, or just taking orders? Did it go beyond black and white, good and evil?]
[center Lauren turned from the window. She felt like she couldn't breathe. It wasn't out of nowhere, though; anxiety had been building up in her over the past few days. Now, though, she felt like it was going to suffocate her. Like it was going to kill her. Lauren clutched her chest, just above her heart. The feeling was unbearable, it was painful. It felt like there were chains over her chest, weighing it down and crushing her lungs. She had to get out of the house, had to be able to breathe.]
[center She stormed out, ignoring her mother's protests and calls to stay inside. She couldn't stay inside! The air inside that insufferable house was too thick, too heavy. She needed fresh air. She needed a walk.]
[center Maybe stretching her legs would help clear her mind. Lauren forced herself to take a deep breath. Her mother walked out and placed a hand on her shoulder.]
[center "It'll be okay. Time will tell." It was all she said.]
[center Lauren turned to face her mother, who had the same blonde hair and blue eyes. [b "Time will tell? Don't tell me time will help this."] She threw her hand out, gesturing to the collapsed buildings not so far away but still in the distance, and then to the camps. [b "Time. That's what you think? How are we just suppose to wait this out? We could [i die] at any moment, Mom! Don't say time will tell. We need so much more than time."] Lauren didn't normally snap at anyone, especially her mother. [b "Time. That's bull. I saw a little girl nearly lose her mother. We all could have died in that diner! I can't..."] Her voice trailed off as she caught herself then, finally. [b "I'm sorry. I just can't stop thinking."] Her head felt like it was going to explode. Lauren shook her head. [b "I'm not mad at you, Mom. I shouldn't lash out like that, especially when you don't deserve it. I just don't know if time can heal these wounds, not this time."] Throughout the whole thing, her mother had stood patiently.]
[center "Sweetheart, I can't imagine how terrified you were in that diner. It's okay to be angry and to lash out after something like that, during something like this. I have to get back to the hospital. You take care of yourself, alright, Dear?" Her mother brushed Lauren's hair from her face before leaving.]
[center Lt Ryker was in the mess hall with his soldiers, it was something that the men that served under him respected about him. He never let the fact that he was an officer define the way that he treated them, at least not while they were enjoying their own private time. They had lost more men only just that morning, they were dropping like flies. Although no one truly won when it came to war, they were losing. He looked around at the faces of the men that remained, they wore their sorrow like a blanket. Many of them ate in silence, some were merely pushing the food around their plates, but all of them were wondering. Wondering when they were going home, wondering when the war was going to be over, wondering if they were going to make it out alive.]
[center Finishing his meal Lt Ryker nodded his farewell to his comrades before making his way to his corridors. He had hoped to catch his mother on skype before going to bed. He knew how much she worried, if this deployment was anything like his last she would have her eyes glued to the news praying for his safe return. Changing out of his uniform he put on a plain t-shirt and jeans before opening up his laptop.
[center After three minutes of trying and failing to call Johnathan was beginning to worry. His mother was not one to miss a call from her only son, something was wrong. He began to think more on the rumors about the war being brought back to the states, that sort of thing couldn't happen, could it? He pushed the thought from his mind and instead crawled into bed for sleep.]
[b [center "Lieutenant,"] the voice woke him.]]
[center [b [+blue "Uhh, yeah? I'm up, what's up?"]]]
[center Standing at the door to his room was SPC Staples, he had an expression on his face that Johnathan had seen only once before. [b [+blue "What is it?"]]]
[center The male stood there, almost frozen before finally he stepped into the room and into the light, [b "There's been an attack."]]
[center Johnathan climbed from his bed, [b [+blue "How many are injured? Is it bad?"]]]
[center SPC Staples shook his head, [b "Not here sir, back home."]]
[center Johnathan shook his head, his mind went back to his mother and the fact that he couldn't reach her. [b [+blue "When do we leave?"]]]
[center [b "The helicopter is on it's way now."]]
[center Nodding Lt Ryker dismissed the male before he quickly changed back into his uniform. He couldn't hep but stop the flow of prayers that escaped from his lips. He feared for those that had been attacked.]
[center A few days later the unit was on the ground, they set up camps and offered aid to anyone they could find. The town that had once been boisterous looked more like a ghost town from a horror movie. Every day more and more troops were moved in search of the terrorist that had cause such fear and panic and each day more lives were lost. Lt Ryker whom was known for his optimism was growing weary. He feared for his country and all who lived there.]
[center During his day shift Lt Ryker made his way through the abandoned streets, many of the families had left in search of somewhere safe. Those that stayed watched, hoping that they had news, any news on what was happening and why it was happening to them. All Ryker could do was offer them words of kindness and heal their injured.]
[center The smoke and debris filled the air. The town had been hit. The diner was collapsed. Lauren couldn't breathe. Her lungs were filled, and she choked. Her hands shot up to her throat as she coughed and gasped. Lauren stood from the rubble. She looked around her, at the near empty street, at the people stepping away from the debris, and then down at herself. Bruised, scratched, and worse. A large gash went down her arm; she reached up and applied pressure to it.]
[center Lauren heard the sirens in the distance, drawing closer and closer by the second. Her head spun as the pain began to set in just as the adrenaline faded. Her knees felt weak, her legs like rubber. How could this happen? She felt sick. Why would anyone want to bomb innocents?]
[center Lauren wanted to collapse, but something in her refused to allow her body to give. She stood up a little straighter as she assessed the damage of those around her. She saw, a little ways away in the rubble of the diner and some surrounding buildings, a little girl trying to pry the debris off of someone else, probably a family member. Lauren stared before the situation really registered. She rushed to the scene.]
[center She couldn't think of what to say as she got to the little girl who couldn't be any older than ten. Lauren bent down to help; maybe between the two of them, they could get whoever was under this out. Lauren gripped the piece of rubble tightly and lifted with her legs, though it hardly budged. [b "Can we get some help? Someone!"] She shouted as loud as she could, to anyone who could stand and had the strength to lift. [b "Somebody, please!"] It took a few more shouts, but someone finally stumbled over. An older man went to the other side of the rubble and gripped. [b "Okay, on three. One. Two. Three!"] They all lifted at the same time, and finally the rubble was shoved to the side. A woman in her thirties crawled from beneath.]
[center Lauren watched, tears in her eyes, as the little girl slammed herself into a hug with the woman. Mother and daughter, both alive. Her heart ached. They didn't deserve this. The little girl did not deserve to see this, to nearly lose her only mother.]
[center And the thought came again: How could anyone do this? How could anyone attack innocent people? Innocent children? What Lauren saw, it was cruel. It was evil.]
[center The days after that passed like years. She had went to the hospital. Beyond the gash in her arm and some small shards of glass over her body, Lauren had a minor concussion, and that was the main extent of her injuries. Mentally, she was shocked; she would never forget the bombs, and the destruction. She would live with that day for the rest of her life. Lauren wondered of the little girl; how would she see the world now? How could any child trust kindness in a world after experiencing that kind of evil.]
[center How could anyone trust the world to be kind after experiencing such an act of cruelty?]
[center Soon after, though, troops arrived. Many people retreated into shelters, or wherever they could hide. Some even tried to leave town, hoping to find safety somewhere else. Lauren stayed. She couldn't up and leave her home.]
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