Title: Soldier, Soldier
Fandoms: Primeval, Sharpe (crossover fic)
Rating: 12 (possibly PG, but I'm playing it safe)
Warnings: implied slash, mild language
Disclaimer: Not mine. ITV and Impossible Pictures own them.
Word count: approx 3000
Summary: Action heroics, innuendo, monsters, and mud.
The place was a mud bath. Everywhere Ryan put his feet down, he sunk up to the ankles in thick, cloying mud that seemed to want to steal his boots. He had no idea what time period it was. He didn’t particularly care. He only wanted to find the child and get home.
That was, until he had spotted the second set of adult footprints. And the extremely large set of hoof prints that they appeared to be following. Ryan traced the footprints to a rocky outcropping and was about to start heading in that direction when he realised there was a gun pointing at his head.
“Stop right there,” a voice called out from the outcropping.
The first thought through Ryan’s mind was unrepeatable. The second was, bloody hell this guy’s good.
Because nobody had got the drop on Captain Tom Ryan for a very long time.
Ryan slowly raised his hands.
“Whoever you are, I’m not your enemy,” he called out. That may or may not be strictly true, but right then he was the one out in the open, while the other guy had the only cover for miles around.
“You’re English?” the voice sounded surprised. Ryan could hear enough of an accent to place it as northern, probably
“Why? What were you expecting?”
There was a pause, and then a man stood up on the rock, still aiming the rifle at him. One of the few subjects Ryan had really enjoyed at school had been history, and one look at the uniform and rifle told him this guy was either a very enthusiastic re-enactor, or else he was Napoleonic English military.
The other guy had also been wading through the mud, and for the briefest second his boot slipped on the rock and he struggled to balance. In that second Ryan brought his own gun up and suddenly they were having a Reservoir Dogs moment.
“Who are you?” Ryan demanded.
“Who the bloody hell are you?”
This was getting them nowhere.
“Captain Tom Ryan. Special Forces. I’m looking for a little girl. If you’ve seen her, if you can help me, then I’m happy to talk. Otherwise, I suggest we both go our separate ways right now before one of us tries to kill the other, and I succeed.”
“Confident bastard, aren’t you?” although there seemed to be a hint of respect in the tone now. “Captain Richard Sharpe.
That explained the hoof prints.
“Don’t suppose you have any idea where ‘here’ is?” Ryan asked.
“Not a bloody clue.”
“Did you come through an anomaly?”
“Big glowing… thing.” Not the best description in the world.
“Like shattered glass in the air?”
“You seem to know something about it then. So, where are we?”
“The past. Somewhere. I don’t know. You went through a doorway into the past. The animal you’re chasing probably came from here.” Ryan wasn’t used to trying to explain anomaly theory to anyone. If anyone in his lot needed an explanation they went to Cutter.
“I’m starting to think that at least one man in this conversation has gone mad,” Sharpe said carefully. “I’m just not sure which one.”
Ryan sighed. “I know exactly what you mean.” He weighed up the options for a moment. “Look, Captain Sharpe. Will you accept a truce? We’ve both got better things to be doing than this. Because apart from anything else we have no idea how long we’ve got until the anomalies close and we get trapped here.”
The sudden look of shock on Sharpe’s face told Ryan that wasn’t something he’d considered. If he didn’t know that anomalies came and went, then he probably wasn’t the Napoleonic version of Ryan and his anomaly team.
“All right then.” Sharpe said. “Truce.”
They both lowered their weapons, eyeing each other warily. Ryan waded over to the rock, and Sharpe offered a hand as he climbed onto it.
“What sort of animal was it?” Ryan asked as he used the vantage point to scan the surrounding landscape. This must be some sort of volcanic
“Lad that saw it says it was some sort of giant boar.” Sharpe sounded sceptical.
A high pitched scream cut their conversation short. Ryan couldn’t see the child, but he knew that sound had come from the direction of one of the larger pools. The same way the hoof prints seemed to be heading.
“That’s my cue to leave.” Ryan jumped down from the rock and started wading as fast as he could through the mud. It wasn’t very fast by any normal standards.
“Want a hand?” Sharpe struggled to catch up with him. “Looks like both our missions are in this direction, and two sets of eyes are better than one.”
Ryan nodded. He liked this Captain Sharpe. It made a nice change to talk to someone who said things straight, not all this political and scientific bullshit.
“So how did you end up doing this on your own?” Sharpe asked as they made painfully slow progress through the mud.
“I knew a child was missing. There wasn’t time to wait for backup.” That, and this was a completely unauthorised trip through an anomaly, and he hadn’t wanted to drop any of his men in the shit if Lester decided to throw a hissy fit about it later. With any luck Abby was still guarding the other side, and wouldn’t let anyone else through. “What about you?”
“Reckon I must have pissed off some poncey officer bigwig to get landed with it. Rest of my lads are marching out to fight the Frenchies, and I’m stuck chasing sodding animals.”
“Yep. I know that feeling,” Ryan muttered. Although, not the bit about the French, obviously.
They scrambled over a rise of slightly more solid mud and both uttered the same swear word simultaneously. In a dip in the ground, a small girl was clinging to the only piece of wood they had seen for miles. Unfortunately, said bit of wood was the smashed branch of a burnt tree that was sticking up out of the middle of a big, occasionally bubbling, pool.
She saw them and screamed again, and started trying to splash towards them.
“Stay there,” Ryan yelled. “We’ll come and get you.” He was already slithering down the slope to the edge of the pool. Without stopping, he waded into the water. It was warm, and the smell of sulphur was beginning to get overpowering this close. A bubble burst to the surface next to him and Ryan was sprayed with hot, muddy water. He was chest deep in it by the time he reached the girl. She couldn’t have been more than four or five years old, and by now was also covered in mud. What the hell had her sister been thinking, letting her wander off into the anomaly?
“It’s okay. We’ll get you home. Just grab hold of me and hang on.” He reached out, but she was clinging onto the branch and seemed too frightened to move. “My name’s Ryan. Your sister asked me to come get you.”
‘Asked’ in the sense that he and Abby had found the older sister in the forest having a panic because she was going to get into trouble about losing the little one, and had managed to babble a story that made sense only because they had known what they were looking for. He waded closer, aware that the loose mud under the pool was trying to settle around his boots.
“Where’s Amy?” she asked.
“She’s waiting for you, back in the woods. Come on, I’ll take you to her.” Okay, full marks for not going off with strangers, but this was getting bloody silly.
She let go long enough to grab hold of Ryan, and he picked her up with one arm and let her get her arms round his neck. Now the tricky part. He managed to turn round without overbalancing, and started to wade back. Sharpe, sensibly enough, hadn’t followed him in and was waiting away from the edge where the mud was firmer. Relatively speaking. A huge bubble popped to the surface right in front of him and Ryan wobbled, almost overbalanced backwards, and planted his feet more firmly to stay upright. He sank further into the mud, but at least he hadn’t fallen over. He tried to move again.
It didn’t work.
“Shit.” Ryan couldn’t pull either foot out of the mud, and he was still waist deep in water. “I’m stuck.”
“Oh bloody hell,” Sharpe muttered. He edged closer to the pool and reached out. There was a good two foot clearance still between them.
Ryan guessed the girl had managed to get out that far because she was lighter, less likely to sink. “Go on, go to Captain Sharpe,” he urged, trying to detach her from around his neck. The girl shook her head, and just clung on more tightly. Ryan realised he was still sinking.
“Sharpe. Take her.” As gently as he physically could, Ryan pushed the struggling girl away from himself, got hold with both hands, and held her out as far as he could without dropping her into the pool. Sharpe put his rifle and green jacket to one side, and lay down on the mud, spreading his weight over a larger area, and reached out. It wasn’t far enough. Ryan’s arms were starting to ache with the weight. He leaned forward towards Sharpe, even as he felt himself sinking further with the movement. Sharpe slithered closer, almost into the water, and abruptly their fingers brushed.
“Got her,” Sharpe said, and Ryan hesitated a second to be sure the other man had a good hold before he let go. Sharpe pulled the struggling girl to him, and planted her firmly on solid ground. He turned back and reached out his hand to Ryan again.
“Come on. Now you.”
Ryan could feel the hot mud sucking around his legs, trying to pull him down. He was near chest deep in water now, and every time he tried to move his legs he just sank further. He reached for Sharpe’s hand, but this time it wasn’t far enough.
“I can’t reach.”
The smell of sulphur was really starting to make him feel nauseous.
Sharpe looked like he was going to slide closer, and Ryan waved him back.
“No. There’s no point both of us getting stuck. If I can’t get out, I need you to take the girl back, make sure she’s safe. If not back to my time then back to yours, at least.”
“Bugger that. I’m not bloody leaving you in this shithole.”
Sharpe seemed to be thinking for a moment.
“Throw me your gun. And anything else that’s heavy. It’s all weighing you down.” Ryan must have hesitated a moment too long because Sharpe pulled a face at him. “What do you think? I’m going to steal your fancy Special Forces equipment or something? Just throw it over here.”
Ryan tossed first his gun, then managed to wrestle off his equipment vest and threw that as well. It didn’t change the fact that he still couldn’t reach, however.
Sharpe was still for a moment, then leaned back for his rifle and held it out to Ryan. It was enough the cover the distance, and Ryan grabbed hold of the stock, praying that his hands weren’t too slippery with mud. Painfully slowly, Sharpe puller Ryan closer to the pool’s edge. As soon as he felt the mud move around his legs Ryan tried to free his foot. Abruptly the ground gave way beneath him and his left leg sunk even further.
“Stop moving,” Sharpe ordered. “You’re making it worse. Just let me pull you out.”
Ryan couldn’t argue with that, and just hung on as slowly, so very slowly, he was dragged towards safety. With a sudden wet, sucking sound he popped free and in the mad scramble to get out he ended up collapsing on top of Sharpe at the pool edge. They were both soaking wet and covered in warm mud, and Ryan was suddenly very aware of the fact that Sharpe’s shirt was hanging open, and that he had a very good chest. He stayed there for just a moment too long, but strangely the other officer didn’t seem to mind.
Sharpe glanced sideways at where their guns lay, discarded, next to each other. The difference in size between the Napoleonic rifle and the modern automatic was obvious. He smirked.
“At least one of us has a weapon long enough for the job.”
Ryan grinned back, and rolled off to lie next to the man while he caught his breath.
A roar and a scream told the soldiers they were not alone. Ryan was on his feet in seconds, and they both spun round to see a creature at the top of the rise behind them. It was… Ryan had no idea what it was, other than the biggest, ugliest looking boar thing he had ever seen in his life. And quite obviously carnivorous.
Ryan scrambled to put himself between the creature and the girl, scooping his gun up as he moved. Sharpe fired, caught the creature’s flank, but then he had to reload - bullet, powder, ramrod and all - and for a second Ryan paused to admire the speed with which he was accomplishing the complex task. But it wasn’t going to be fast enough. The creature roared again and charged down the slope towards them. Ryan brought his gun up and a burst of automatic fire caught the creature full in the face. The creature had momentum on its side, and kept coming, even as blood sprayed from its jaws. Ryan saw where it was going, and it wasn’t aiming for him. Sharpe barely had time to bring his loaded rifle up. Ryan slammed sideways into Sharpe and they both hit the ground for the second time in as many minutes. Sharpe swore as his rifle bounced off into the mud. Ryan swung round and fired at the creature again as it splashed into the pool. This time he hit its flank, and poured two full bursts into it before the creature went down into the water, and finally stopped moving.
Ryan stood, and offered Sharpe a hand up.
“At least one of us has a weapon up to the job,” he smirked.
Sharpe’s amused grin was enough to tell Ryan that they had more in common than he’d thought.
Ryan comforted the girl, and picked her up again as Sharpe sorted their stuff out.
“Don’t tell me they want you to take that thing back to prove you killed it?” Ryan asked when he saw the other man eying up the creature.
“Couldn’t take a thing that size back if I wanted to. But they’ll want to see some proof, no doubt. Can’t give them an excuse to claim I didn’t do the job.” He waded carefully into the shallows, drew his sword, some kind of rapier, Ryan thought, and hacked the creature’s head off. Even that was huge, and he was impressed the man could carry it.
“Let’s get the hell out of here, shall we?” Sharpe suggested, and Ryan couldn’t agree more.
It didn’t take long to reach the place where their boot tracks parted company.
“I’d best be going, then,” Sharpe indicated the direction that led towards his anomaly. “Thanks for the help with this.” He nodded at the creature’s head slung over his back.
“Thank you. I couldn’t have done this without you.” Ryan meant it.
Sharpe looked like he was considering something carefully for a moment. “Ryan, I don’t pretend to understand any of this… anomaly thing you were talking about. But I’ve seen enough to know that you aren’t part of any English army I know of. You’re from the future, aren’t you?”
Ryan briefly considered lying, and then decided he owed the man better than that.
Ryan did the maths. “About two hundred years, give or take.”
“Bloody hell,” Sharpe was impressed. “The lads will never believe this.”
“Maybe best you don’t tell them,” Ryan suggested. “In fact, you probably shouldn’t mention anything about the anomaly at all. The less people poke at them, the less people get killed.”
Sharpe nodded. “Can I ask you something?”
Ryan didn’t like the sound of this. He was going to ask about the outcome of the Napoleonic war, or about the future, or about modern weapons. Things that Ryan knew he shouldn’t tell the man.
“In your time, can you still get a decent pint of beer in an English pub?”
Ryan laughed. “Yes. That’s just what I intend to have when I get home.” That, and the world’s longest shower.
Sharpe looked satisfied. “That’s good. And I expect that means we win this war.” Off Ryan’s confused look, Sharpe grinned. “Frenchies can’t make beer worth a damn.”
He held his hand out and they shook, holding on for a moment too long again.
“Good luck with the French, Captain Sharpe.”
“Good luck with the anomalies, Captain Ryan.”
They parted company, and Ryan realised he was smiling all the way back to the present day.