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Indescribable concepts

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Everyone in Easy Company had found a brotherhood. Whether they'd strode into the volunteer office looking for trouble or had fallen into the unit on accident, each and every man there has found friendships they could never break free from - even if they wanted to.

Some of them had just found more.

Some in quantity - No soldier was more beloved than jolly saint Luz - and others in... well, Martin couldn't really put a name to it.

There was probably a word out there somewhere, coined by somebody. Some asshole with too much time on his hands, busying himself making up labels for indescribable things. Though he had never met this person or even knew who they were, Johnny wanted to fight them. Regardless of whether they existed. For principle's sake.

He huffed out what might have been a laugh, had it not been shrouded in the cloud of steam it created. In the biting cold and uncomfortable foxholes, this was what his mind was reduced to when alone. Trench foot of the brain, or something - that's what Guarnere had said. Like the temperature had dropped so low he couldn't think straight, his thoughts left to wonder.

To try and imagine what old Wild Bill was thinking right now, probably huddled up in a foxhole with Buck and Babe. The former more likely than the latter.

Johnny was no idiot. He'd seen how the ginger man had been following Doc Roe about, and vice-versa. He knew that kind of thing when he saw it.

The same troubled yet longing looks that Toye would send at Luz when he passed by. The same subtle touches Lipton would lay on his sleeve, where Speirs' hand had been a second before. The same brief moments when Winters and Nixon would press their foreheads together, when they thought no one was looking. The same stumbling run that had Malarkey almost tripping over his own feet, when he saw Skip emerge from a separate foxhole after a particularly heavy barrage.

The same deep, indescribable thing that had filled the silence after Liebgott and Webster's arguments. The same thing that shone in Lieb's eyes now, sitting alone in his own foxhole.

It was beginning to sprout and blossom between Babe Heffron and Eugene Roe too, if the blue handkerchief wrapped around the redhead's hand was anything to go by.

And somehow, in such dire times as these, Johnny found that he was strangely okay with it.

Whatever 'it' was - it didn't have a word, that was what the small man was mad about. Not having a label to put on those feelings, those interactions. On these new found bonds that would be so difficult to explain back home.

Thankfully, describable or not, nobody else cared about how two men felt for each other here. Not even Guarnere - who was currently acting like Babe's wing-man in a bar full of dames. Constantly trying to push the young man away from him and Buck so he could spend time actually talking with Roe. It was almost comical.

Fuck it, it was really comical.

And also somewhat heart-warming, even for Johnny - who had long considered his heart as impenetrable and disciplined as his resting bitch-face. He'd had years of practice, either way.

He wondered, shifting his sore behind against a particularly sharp twig, if he was just a little jealous. Just an inch.

If he only wanted to put a label on these foreign feelings between two soldiers so that he could apply it to himself, or at least question whether said unknown thing was what he wanted. A gloved hand found his forehead and rubbed irritably at his temple. He was getting too old for this philosophical bullshit.

He stopped wondering and lent his head back instead, against the tightly packed earth of his foxhole. The metal of his helmet dug awkwardly into the dirt, its brim raised just enough for Johnny to see the sky above. Grey, as per-fucking-usual.

No snow though, which was a welcome change. His frozen hands retreated back under his armpits, another gust of steam escaping his lips as he let out a low grumble. Frost was beginning to form on the fibers of his coat, though the cold had long since pierced straight through to his skin. He wondered - and it only made him grumble more because he couldn't help doing so - if he'd ever be warm again.

If the sun would ever be able to melt the ice from his bones.

"Figured you'd be on y'own."

Even with seemingly no sunlight, Bull was still able to cover Martin completely with his shadow. The smaller man turned a glare on him, as if being disturbed from his wondering thoughts was some kind of crime.

"Why, I'm the most popular guy here."

It was difficult to keep up such a pointed scowl with Bull smiling like he did then, a fittingly large grin splitting across his jaw.

"Move over."

After a scrape against the dirt and a dull thud, Johnny had one shoulder pressed against the foxhole's edge, and the other side by side with Bull's. The large man lent his rifle by his neck, his head tilted in Martin's direction. Close-up, the smaller of the two could see his friend's jaw moving. Chewing on one of those cigars he loved, no doubt.

The name 'Holts' sprung to mind. And either Johnny really was getting trench foot in his brain, or that was the brand Bull said he liked best. Mentioned in passing, somewhere in their many little talks and muttered conversations.

Not that he was really a 'cigar man', but Martin thought he should probably try this esteemed brand when he got home. For his friend's sake, if nothing else. Hell, if he bought Bull a box then that was the perfect opportunity.

"You seen Heffron recently?"

The soft drawl felt like a flick to the skull as Johnny blinked blearily, coming back the present. The man beside him didn't notice, thankfully, his eyes focused on quietly fixing the strap of his rifle.

"Mnn." Martin gave a grunt that sounded like a negative. And he would normally leave it there, were it not Bull he was talking to. "Heard he went off with Roe back to Bastogne. Pickin' up more supplies or somethin'."

Out of the corner of his eye, Johnny didn't miss the gentle smile that appeared on his friend's face, nor the soft snort of good-natured laughter.

"Figured."

It wasn't a loud word or even a sharp one, but it struck the smaller of the two a little too hard for his liking. And not even in a painful way - more in the sense of being shaken awake from a deep sleep. His stare was puzzled, maybe even a little shocked, as his gaze fell on the soldier to his left - still silently focused on his equipment. Never once looking up, never dropping his smile.

And maybe it was Johnny's fault for thinking so stereotypically, or maybe he just didn't know Bull as well as he thought (God forbid). But he'd always presumed, of all people, the born and bred Arkansas boy would be the most uncomfortable with the more than friendly relationships blooming across the company. Even if there was no obvious anger or disgust, Martin had always avoided bringing it up, fearing he'd only get silence at best.

Maybe he was reading too much into the man's expression anyway. Maybe he really didn't know Bull as well as he thought, and therefore had read that smile and honest-to-God happy laugh all wrong.

Because what Johnny had thought he'd saw was an expression that was almost pleased, and maybe even a tad proud. Like Bull wanted to hear that Babe was tagging along with Roe, that he was rooting for that exact answer. Like he supported the very unsubtle idea of the two being a little more than friends and little less familial than brothers.

And come to think of it, Bull had had plenty of opportunities to stand in the way of those kind of relationships, or saying something about it. They both had.

"I sure miss Arkansas' sunshine." The large man huffed, making Johnny jump where he was sat scowling intensely, "Can't say I'll be goin' back after we done here though."

Relieved to have something to distract his mind, Martin focused his gaze back on his company, an eyebrow lifted - this time in confusion.

"Why's that?"

"Well," Finally finished with his rifle strap, Bull lent the gun back against the foxhole's wall, "Guess I don't like the thought of it much."

He turned his eyes on Johnny now, who kept his confused frown up defensively. As if whatever his friend might say could shatter his cold exterior.

 "The people there wouldn' like wha's out here." Martin tried desperately to pretend he didn't know what the man was talking about, "An' I don't think I could explain it, neither."

To anyone watching, the gentle words might have seemed simple enough. Even Johnny, who's cheeks were a little red (from the cold, of course) could see what the man could be referring to. The blood, the death, the awful things they'd seen - they weren't something you could put into words easily.

But, then again, neither was the relationship between Babe and Roe.

And, if he had to pick, Johnny thought the first option would be much easier to explain.

Especially in Arkansas.

"Why would y'have to explain it?" The smaller man huffed irritably, turning his eyes back to the snowy landscape ahead. As if Bull's kind eyes were drilling a hole into his every time he looked at the man. "You wouldn't need to explain it."

"I would if you were with me."

By the time Johnny has processed the words, had played them over and over in his head a dozen times, had picked away at them with lightning speed and still found no ulterior meaning - Bull had already looked back down to his rifle.

Even as Martin's head turned sharply, an expression of shock replacing his usual frown, all he could do was stare at the side of Bull's head.

And the gentle smile still on his lips.

 

 

 

 

 

Johnny realized that, at the end of the day, he still hadn't found a label for the feeling between some of the men out here. But he had solved one mystery; he wasn't jealous of Babe and Roe. Or Toye and Luz. Or Lipton and Speirs, Winters and Nixon, Malarkey and Skip, Liebgott and Webster.

He didn't need to be.

He had everything they had right here. In a bigger, more cigar-flavoured package.

Johnny stopped staring, his eyes falling shut instead as he rested his head on Bull's shoulder. The other man only shifted closer to him, so that they were both comfortable, large fingers patting his thigh as Martin grunted in response.

"You make a real nice pillow."

Even with his eyes closed, he knew Bull was grinning around his next cigar. Could hear it in his voice.

"Sleep well, darlin'."