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A DISH BEST SERVED COLD

Posted in 24_fanfic

Title: A Dish Best Served Cold
Author:marinw
Characters: Curtis/Assad
Rating: R for violence and language. Viewer discretion is advised.
Summary: Set during Desert Storm. Curtis witnesses one of Assad’s atrocities.
Disclaimer: 24 is the property of the Fox Production Company. We miss you, 24. Battlestar Galactica is the property of the Sci-Fi Channel. Ditto.
A/N:All original characters are named after the people on Battlestar Galactica. BSG and 24 are my two favorite interpretations of the post 9/11 zeitgeist. This isn’t a crossover. (Except maybe for the character of Doctor Cottle.) I just need a naming scheme when I use a lot of OC’s.

“Revenge is a Dish Best Served Cold”
~ Klingon Proverb



There was sand in his rifle. Sand in his skivvies. Sand in his mouth. Sand everywhere. Sand, and noise, and blood. And now, pain.

The shrapnel had pierced through the gaps in Curtis’s body army, distributing itself into both his legs. In his fading moments of consciousness Curtis remembered his anatomy lessons. Hazily he wondered where all the important arteries were. How much blood he could lose until it was too late.

Curtis was even more worried about losing his legs.

“We need a medic over here!” Someone shouted.

No shit.

Curtis felt himself being lifted onto the rough canvas stretcher as his thighs were tied off with touranquents.

“My men…”

“No talking.” The medic ordered as Curtis was carried towards the waiting chopper.

“I don’t see them…”

“What part of ‘no talking’ don’t you understand?” This medic had a terrible bedside manner.

“Where are they?” Curtis tried to lift his head. “Are they on another chopper? They should be here…”

The medic covered Curtis’s face with an oxygen mask, and Curtis finally had to stop asking questions. When the nauseous blackness came, he didn’t resist.

••••

“Well, your lucky. You get to keep your legs.” Doctor Cotlle announced without preamble. “You lost a fair amount of blood and there is some tissue damage. You’ll need to spend a couple of days in bed and then some physical therapy, but you’ll be fine.”

“My men,” Curtis insisted, “I need to know about my men.”

Cottle answered by injecting a hefty dose of valium into Curtis’s IV.

••••

The next time Curtis awoke to find Colonel Cain standing beside his bed. She was tall, and the slopping roof of the medical tent almost met with the top of her head. Her face wore an even harder expression than usual.

“You’ve been asking about your men.” Cain said accusingly.

“What aren’t you telling me?”

“I’m sorry.” Cain said stiffly.

Curtis already knew what she was sorry about. “How many?”

“Jammer, Shore, Fiske, Anders. And Tyrol.”

Five men. But there had been seven men on his team.

“Thrace and Roslin. Did they make it back?” Curtis asked. But his stomach was already sinking through the thin mattress.

“Not…exactly. They were captured.”

•••••

Curtis used his IV stand to support his weak legs as he made his way to the administration tent. He knew that it was too early to be out of bed, he had been injured only yesterday. But he had heard the other patients whisper that contact had been made with the men who had captured the surviving members of Curtis’s team.

The medics were too busy to notice and Doctor Cottle had stepped out of the tent to take one of his dozen daily smoke breaks. Curtis had used that opportunity to make his escape.

Curtis reached the tent-barely-to find it so crowded with people that nobody even noticed his entrance, even though he was dressed in a hospital gown (and a pair of scrub pants baggy enough to cover his bandaged legs) while clinging to an IV stand. He saw Helen Cain standing in front of a TV. She held up a video tape.*

“This was received from the local TV station an hour ago.” Cain announced gravely as she put the tape in the VCR.

Tom Zarek noticed Curtis and pulled out a chair. Curtis gratefully sat down, his long legs were wobbly and no longer capable of supporting him.

The tape was of poor quality, grainy with the visual noise. But there was no mistaking who this was.

“I am Hamri Al-Assad,” The man said importantly. As if he needed an introduction. By any standards he was extremely handsome. That only made it worse.

“We have asked you to leave. We have asked you to leave Iraqi soil.” Assad said.

“Bullshit,” whispered Zarek.

“Shut up, Tom,” Curtis rebuked.

“The Americans are invaders here. Infidels. Infidels must be sacrificed.”

The hand-held camera moved shakily to show the kneeling forms of Thrace and Roslin. Their hands were bound from behind. Their eyes were blindfolded and their expressions were stoic.

That was what everyone in the unit had agreed on. If captured, they swore not to beg for their lives.

Oh, God….

Assad raised his long, curved, sword…

…No.

And…

Nobody in the crowded tent could say anything. The ones still standing leaned against the tent’s poles. Some wept silently, some vomited, some people screamed. And some people did nothing at all. Even the supremely confident Colonel Cain hung her head.

••••

Curtis didn’t remember exactly how he got back to the medical tent. He vaguely recalled Tom half carrying him, his arm around Curtis’s waist and Curtis’s IV bag clenched between his teeth. Curtis might have passed out.

Now he was back in bed, staring at the canvas roof. His legs throbbed loudly and Cottle’s shot of morphine made no difference. His mind was still on what he had just witnessed. Curtis wondered if he would ever be able to direct his mind elsewhere. That image blocked out everything else.

Hamri Al-Assad. If I ever meet you, I will kill you myself. Curtis Manning promised silently.

END

* Remember videotapes? That’s what they used back in the 1990’s. Gods, I feel old. (When I was your age, we had to program our VCRs…)

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