DISCLAIMER: All main, recognized characters belong to William Broyles, Jr., John Sacret Young. and Warner Bros. No infringement intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: A very special thank you to Debbie for taking on the job of beta for this fic as well as the 22 others and especially for agreeing to write her specialty, Birds of Prey, as part of this 24 fandom series. Thanks, Deb, I truly do appreciate it.
CHALLENGE: Written for the first International Day of Femslash.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.

To Everything There is a Season
By Ann


The rising sun peeked over the tops of a mountain range, casting individual bright rays of light that spread across the surface of the calm water. On the shore, a lone figure sat in the sand, staring blankly, completely oblivious to the water that gently lapped around her and slowly returned back from where it had come. The beauty of the scenario was lost on her. In her mind's eye, Colleen only saw the dozens of critically wounded soldiers that had been brought in the evening before. There was so much blood and now it swam before her eyes.

Just down the shore, a redhead strolled barefoot along the edge of the water, shoes in hand and a smile on her face. Every few steps, she'd wade into the water to wash off the coated sand from her feet, only to step back out for the process to begin again. She'd had the most glorious of nights, but more importantly, the most prosperous. With the money she'd made from her 'date,' coupled with earnings from an impromptu poker game, she wouldn't have to work for the rest of the month, unless she chose to. Grinning widely, KC picked up her pace. Perhaps a trip to Da Nang was in order.

The color of red was everywhere – from the large ball which had slowly risen over the distant mountains to nearby waters which spread as far as the eye could see to hands that could never be cleansed. Colleen wrapped her arms around her shivering body and closed her eyes tightly, trying to rid her once favorite color from her mind. She'd reached her breaking point and desperately needed a distraction – any kind of distraction. Tilting her head to the heavens, she screamed out her frustration.

Without a thought, KC dropped her new shoes into the surf and raised her hands to defend herself as she turned a complete circle in search of her attacker. Her heart practically beating out of her chest, she was hyperaware and ready for action; her sudden fear morphing quickly into pure rage when she spotted the brunette yards down the shoreline. She was going to kill McMurphy for scaring the life out of her. With renewed purpose, she scooped her soggy shoes from the water and stomped toward the trauma nurse, ready to give Colleen a piece of her mind.

The cathartic scream only serving to bring her emotions closer to the surface, Colleen found herself gasping for air as well as some semblance of control. Her head still tilted upward, she screwed her eyes closed tightly in an attempt to keep her tears from escaping. She failed miserably as two steady streams eased their way down pale cheeks. She didn't dare try to wipe them away for fear that her fingers would come away with a red stain upon them. Her body shook with fear and utter devastation.

"Damn it, Colleen! You made me ruin a perfectly good pair of shoes!" KC stomped closer to the distraught woman, continuing her rant, "What the hell were you thinking, screaming your head off like that?"

McMurphy didn't budge, didn't open her eyes, and didn't offer a reply or an apology. So lost in her memories, she'd no idea KC was even there. The injured soldiers had been so very young, and not a one had made it out of surgery, not even the sandy, blonde-headed kid she'd led to believe that he'd live another day to see his newborn baby.

KC towered over the other woman, her hands placed defiantly on her hips in preparation for a war of words. No one could stand toe-to-toe with her like McMurphy could, and even though she was angry beyond words, KC was looking forward to their sparring match. It always made her feel so alive. When Colleen ignored her attempt to engage in a verbal match, KC only got angrier.

"Don't you dare try to ignore me, Colleen; I'm not going away." KC tossed her ruined shoes a few feet away and waited for McMurphy to throw down the gauntlet, only to once again be disappointed. The deafening silence had KC tilting her head to study the other woman, instinctively knowing what was wrong - she'd certainly seen it enough times. Colleen had hit the wall.

With a loud sigh, KC plopped down beside the nurse, sacrificing her new dress to the gritty sand of the beach. She wrapped her arms around her legs, placing her chin on her bended knees as she stared across the shimmering water, patiently waiting for McMurphy to acknowledge her presence. She had all the time in the world.

Endless minutes later, dark eyes finally opened but kept their focus skyward. Painfully aware of who had disturbed her mental breakdown, Colleen knew she was no longer alone.

"Go away, KC." McMurphy's whispered words didn't surprise the other woman. They'd been here before. KC pushed forward, going right to the heart of the matter.

"You can't save them all, Colleen."

"We couldn't save a fucking one of them!" McMurphy jumped to her feet and walked further into the surf. She seemed surprised to see the water covering her calves and knees, her green fatigues taking on a two-toned color. Her next words were spoken in an eerily calm voice.

"There was this brunette kid who was so damned young; he looked as if he should be excited about his high-school prom instead of looking at me with eyes full of fear, knowing he was going to die." She swallowed hard. "Another was so tanned, I could just imagine him catching a wave and riding it to the shore." Colleen looked directly at KC. "Another had sun-kissed red hair and eyes as blue as the ocean; he spoke with a country accent. He had no business here; he should be driving a tractor through the fields, cutting hay for the family's cattle." She shook her head, trying to rid the images that haunted her.

"I can't get them out of my head." She pleaded with the other woman. "Help me, KC – help me get them out of my head."

Easing to her feet, KC waded through the water until her thighs brushed against McMurphy's. She slowly reached out and gently cupped Colleen's face, before leaning in and tasting the lips she'd often dreamt about. The rest of the world slipped away as both women became lost in the sensation. For just a moment, there were no more killings, no more senseless deaths, and no more Vietnam.

KC reluctantly pulled away but made sure to maintain contact with Colleen. She gripped the other woman's hips tightly. "Let's go talk to Boonie about finding us a way to Da Nang."

Colleen smiled through her tears. "I can't afford that right now."

"I can." KC smiled and slipped her hand in Colleen's. "You can pay me back later."

"With interest, I assume." McMurphy allowed the other woman to lead her to the shore, trusting KC to restore balance to her life once again.

KC grinned saucily. "I think we can come up with some form of payment."

McMurphy laughed aloud as they made their way up the beach, their hands swinging easily between them. With KC's help, she'd made it over yet another wall. Maybe, just maybe, this particular victory offered the sweetest reward of all. She'd no longer have to face despair and disappointment on her own again. KC would make sure of that.

The End

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