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War-Crossed

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The Prelude ~ Winter

"...snow."

The woman stopped mid-walking on the sidewalk, just to look at the little flakes of winter as they had started to fall. A small, but sad, smile formed on her face as she watched the flurries fluttering about her. A deep breath, and she resumed walking at a slow pace from her apartment building.

River Bend, Missouri.

She did not imagine moving here after the Korean War. But circumstances back home in New York were nothing short of hectic and had only changed for the worse since when she joined the United States Army. Life in Korea became a welcomed escape from home; and while there were a few incidents that brought about some pain for her, the friends she made at the MASH unit she was assigned to more than made up for the broken family that she would have to return to. Once home, however, her father threatened to disown her--now that man was a raging alcoholic, with a horrid temper. And how the wife and children survive for so long, was God's miracle and one of many.

But the ill-fated night in which the father threatened disownment, he took the girl's mother and two sisters for a ride. Supposedly to their grandparents' so to relate his decision. That never happened however--

He crashed their car over a bridge. The family was killed.

Two days since the funerals, and the woman no longer felt at home in New York. There were neighbors who would keep talking about the accident, the father, the abuse, the alcoholism, and... and she had had enough. Because they wouldn't ask if she was okay. If she needed help. So... so she left. For some place in Missouri. A change of pace, scenery. Everything.

Because the scars of back home still lingered. She didn't really have anyone to talk to since coming home from Korea. Her best friend, whom she loved dearly, was no longer with her. She would write to the Chief Surgeon from her MASH unit once or twice, but... it wasn't quite the same. Now at River Bend, perhaps, she could start again. She had some money left to her from her mother, and it would be enough for her to move, find a place, fill the fridge a trite. But she would also waste no time finding work. Hell, it wouldn't be too difficult finding work as a Nurse...

But as she stepped out of the building and began making her walk she felt... alone... all over again. And the more she walked, the more she felt it. It almost made her begin to cry, her eyes fixed on the sidewalk as her walking pace slowed...

Father Francis John Patrick Mulcahy had stepped out of the Veterans Hospital just about a couple of blocks away. He had just finished his shift and was on his way back to his little home a few blocks off--because home was a small simple house, nothing too major, and quaint enough for Francis to call it his rectory. It was enough. It was home. The first one wasn't working... Sherman saw that this one did.

But as the Chaplain turned a corner he stopped in his tracks... his eyes catching sight of a woman with her head down, dark blue overcoat and a bright yellow scarf. And he smiled. He knew that scarf. The woman walking towards him and not even realising that she was going to walk right into him.

He took a few more steps towards her and waited... as memories of their adventures together at the MASH unit in Korea began to replay in his head. This was the nurse he did not expect to fall in love with, but Aurora Davenport was no ordinary woman either. She was Spitfire, the unit's noble rebel whose kindness exceeded a normal human's own. And Spitfire too had come to love the Padre--hell, he saved her life.

His smile faded when he saw that beneath the warmth of the scarf... she was crying. Eyes shut tightly.

"Rory..." he sighed quietly.

Aurora kept walking until she stopped... when she ran into Francis, who by then had his arms open to wrap her into a hug. And she sobbed against his chest. Francis smiled and hugged her still, and stayed. He hadn't expected to see her in River Bend... he didn't think he'd see her again and in fact, he had missed her. And he was happy to see her once again...

...and heartbroken the reunion was of this sort of circumstance.

Aurora did not notice right away but as her sobbing calmed down a bit, she took a deep breath and--and... the man holding her smelled of hope. Of roses in bloom on the brightest of winter days, when the sun shone and the sky was its deepest hue. Of holy courage and patience and love. She knew that scent. And it was then that she knew whose arms were around her. She wrapped her arms around her best friend's waist and, hugging him tightly, began to cry all over again.

Francis took a deep breath. Perhaps it was best he got her out of the snow and back to the rectory. Some tea, some tears and some hope, and Spitfire would be right as rain. Not a word was needed as he held her and led the way to his home. There would be plenty to say once she was warm and calmed down some...