Disclaimer: You know the drill... all Hasbro's, Marvel's, DDP's, none mine... except for Rebecca, Maggie, Katie, Sandy and her twins.
Eye of the Beholder
What a wonderful day. The sun is shining brightly, the birds are chirping and the Joes are having their annual Memorial Day picnic. We are all spread across the lawn in a closed off area of the park. Lonzo and his boys are playing football against Bill and his kids. It's funny to watch Jamal trying hard to avoid tackling Rebecca. She's a pretty one... I bet she'll be a heartbreaker in a few years. Poor Bill will get some headaches and a pretty high bill for shot gun ammo.
Lydia, Lonzo's wife, sits on a blanket and talks with Belinda Forrest and Maggie Armbruster, probably exchanging experiences of military wives... or, even more likely, their husbands' latest antics. Yep, they're are laughing. Belinda probably just told them how Brian /really /got that lumbago. Did he really think anybody would believe that it happened while he was clearing out the dishwasher?
A wonderful smell reaches my nose. Roadblock and Barbeque are behind the grills today. I can hear them from my observation point discussing on how long it should take to properly marinate steaks. I love listening to that... normally it doesn't take long until they started a fake spatula fight. They always do that.
Not far away from them, Courtney and Wayne are bickering again, under the amused eyes of several Joes. Again I can only guess what they are fighting about. Maybe Courtney went too close to the grills or spent too much time in the sun for Wayne's taste. He'd already been overly protective when she was pregnant with Katie, but now, with their second child on the way, he's even worse. I'm surprised he hasn't stuck her in a thick layer of bubble wrap.
Little Katie meanwhile happily chews on a piece of soft bread while sitting in her honorary grandfather's lap. Hawk has one arm wrapped protectively around her so that she doesn't fall. I still can't get used to see him in the wheelchair. There are a lot of things I will have a hard time getting used to.
Like seeing Dash without Alison.
To say it was a shock when we found out about her death was an understatement. She had always been so full of life. Even worse was seeing what had become of Dash. He was destroyed. Completely. We all thought he'd never recover. But then, three years ago, a miracle had happened. A miracle named Sandy.
Sandy's an ER nurse at a local military hospital and a very nice girl. One day, she was sitting in the park, reading a book when some guy started to pester her. Unfortunately for him, Dash came by that very moment and chased him away. As a thank you, Sandy invited him to a cup of coffee and the two started talking. A few days later, they met again on the that bench and talked more. When Dash had asked if her husband wouldn't be jealous that she was talking to strangers in a park, Sandy told him that her husband, a cop, had been shot during a robbery and brought to her hospital - during her shift. He had died in her arms a few hours later, leaving her alone with a young pair of twins. Dash had been surprised, but then told her about Allie, from the first time they'd met until her untimely death.
Over the next few months Dash and Sandy met at least once a week to talk and became friends soon. It was good for Dash to have someone who'd walked in his shoes, who knew exactly what he was going through. Slowly, he came out of his shell and became more and more the man I used to know, even though he never returned completely.
When the first anniversary of Allie's death came, a few Joes had decided to visit her grave. They were surprised to find Dash there, supported by this strange woman. Once they'd found out what Sandy doing to Dash, they'd easily accepted her, especially Conrad ... and Edwin.
It was love at first sight for both him and Sandy, but they didn't become an item until Ed took a job at her hospital, without knowing she worked there too.
Next month, they are getting married, and Dash will be the best man. He and Sandy are still best friends. I doubt he was ever in love with her... no woman will ever own his heart again in the same way Allie did. He hasn't been in a relationship since her death, except for the platonic one with Sandy.
Right now, the two of them are sitting on a bench together, watching Ed playing tag with Sandy's twins Josh and Emily. He adores them and their mother. Once they are married, Ed is going to adopt the children. The thought of having a family scared him at first, considering how he grew up. But now, seeing him with Josh and Em, I know he will be the wonderful father he never had.
As I look around the team, I notice that not every one seems to have fun. Conrad, Rob and Vince sit alone at a table, drinking beer and not saying a word. I know what's going on in their heads. It's the same thing they've been thinking of every year.
They are thinking of the friends they lost that day, especially Duke. Sometimes, he still blames himself for what happened then. A small part of him will always do. Everybody knows it wasn't his fault. I mean...
... he didn't force me to stick my head out of that hole to see what's going on nor did he fire the shots that killed me, Matthew, Sherman and Elwood or caused the explosion that took the lives of Alvin, Mac and David. I just wish I could tell him that we're not mad at him at all... but if he could hear me, he'd either think it was a bad prank Kurt cooked up or that he lost his mind entirely. They never know that I come down here every year to watch them and see how they are doing, how they go on without us. Sure, we all do watch them from where we are now, but it's not the same.
It doesn't feel the same. We miss them just as much as they miss us. But while they'll have to come to the memorial or our graves to feel they are close to us... we can come to them where ever they should be, or at least watch them. They'll just never know, though...
... sometimes I think Charlie is aware of our presences. The others have noticed that too. Sometimes it seems that he is looking directly at whomever has come for a visit. It doesn't surprise me, actually. Charlie has always been very in touch with the spiritual side of life. If someone from the team could see or hear us... it would definitely be him.
Right now, he's looking in my direction, and I'm left wondering if he can see me. Once more, that question won't be answered. He never shows any reaction. He just stares.
I don't have much time to wonder about it left today. When we come here, we only have one hour, then we must return. And this hour is almost up for me. With one last glance around, I try to take in many of my friends as I can. Then I turn around and leave until the next year.
So long, my friends.
We'll meet again on the other side.
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