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Title: Letters Home (The Echo 2/1 Remix)
Pairing: John Winchester/Mary Campbell
Challenge: Remix Redux 2010
Rating: PG-13
Fandom: Supernatural
Thanks to: My betas, omphale23 and elementalv.
Original fic: This Strange New World by littlemissmimi.
Summary: John writes home as often as he can, to let Mary know he's safe.

April 9, 1970
Parris Island, South Carolina

Dear Mary –

Remember the way you came stomping into the garage the day we met? I thought you were gonna kick my ass, and I didn’t even know why. You had an attitude that wouldn’t quit. Still do, God knows! It makes me think you’d fit right in here. Well, except for the language, but I’ll be sure to mind my manners writing to you.

I’ve been working hard, learning all I can. The things they’re teaching, it’ll all help me get home to you. I’m doing pretty good, so far. It’s not what I expected, though. Everything we do, everywhere we go, we’re in formation. PTII is even tougher than the PT phase. Today we had a 3 mile run in full pack and helmet, then an obstacle course. If anyone fails, we all fail. So we don’t let anybody fall behind.

I know you wanted me to wait, but enlisting in the Marines was the right choice. My number would’ve been up soon, anyway. Here I’ve got men who’ll really watch my back. Not a bunch of slackers too scared to enlist and too stupid to dodge the draft.

Wasn’t your dad a Marine? He never talks about the war, like my dad talks about his unit in France. But I caught a glimpse of your dad’s arsenal once. The drill sergeants here kind of remind me of him, too. If he is a Marine, maybe he won’t be so dead set against me when I get back.

I really appreciate the letters, Mary. And the candy, but it all got confiscated. We aren't allowed any personal possessions until we complete basic training. Everything's got to be regulation! Dad says you've been checking in, making sure the nurses are treating him right. Thanks for that, too. I'd better finish this up and get some sleep. Say hi to your mom for me.

Love,
John




November 15, 1970
________________
(Forward Base, Vietnam. Location redacted.)
Dear Mary –

Don’t worry about the secretary job. Mr. Higgins sounds like a real jerk. I’m sure you can find something better. With that college education, and the draft, there should be plenty of options. Please, don’t tell me anymore about your mom’s plans for Thanksgiving. Two months of C-rations and I’m just about ready to kill somebody for a slice of her pie.

I’m writing this with the paper propped up on a pile of salt canisters. Our sergeant, McQuade, is a great Marine, but he’s real superstitious. He makes us hump salt into the bush. Won’t let us make camp until we’ve got an unbroken salt line around the perimeter. That and the claymores, of course. He says it keeps out the snakes. Weird, but every other squad except ours has lost one or two Marines in their sleep. So I guess he can be as weird as he wants.

McQuade really liked that family heirloom knife you sent me. He even showed me how to clean it better. Did you know the blade’s not pure steel? The Sgt. said it was lucky, since it came from my sweetheart, and I should use it instead of my Ka-bar. I think any of the guys that didn’t get jealous the first time I showed them your picture sure are now. It’s not every gal who sends her Marine a present like that for his birthday!

Say, I found out that I’ve got R&R coming up, April 11-16. Some of the married guys take it in Hawaii so they can get together with their wives. Since we’re not married, we’d have to pay for you to travel out there. But if there’s any way, I’d love to see you. And I know you just lost your job, but I’ve got some savings stashed away. Dad knows where and how much. Talk to him about it next time you go visit him at the VA, okay? Let me know if you can swing the trip?

Love,
John




April 18, 1970
________________
(Forward Base, Vietnam. Location redacted.)
Dear Mary –

This is hard. It was hard to say goodbye, and it’s hard to just be writing you again. I got some strawberry ice cream in Saigon on the way back. I don’t much like strawberry, but it reminds me of the way you tasted for our first kiss. And our last one. So I guess that means I do like it. I miss you so much already.

Anyway, I’m back at the fire base with my company. Funny how just a few days away make it feel so strange. It’s loud here. Artillery, mortars, rifle fire, choppers coming in and out 24 hours a day. It stinks of cordite and jungle rot. Plus the hundred marines who get to shower every other week.

I’ve already told the entire company about every single thing we did on R&R, twice. Or, you know, everything outside the hotel. You’ve got quite the fan club here! They all laughed about you teaching me to play pool. And everybody really likes the Beatles 8-track you gave me. Every time I listen to ‘Hey Jude’, I think of you singing to me that first night in Hawaii, when I couldn’t get to sleep. Could you try to send some Rolling Stones or CCR? Thanks.

Eleven months ‘til I come home.

Love,
John




July 21, 1970
________________________
(Forward Base, Vietnam. Location redacted.)
Dear Mary –

It’s been a rough few days. Real ugly bush. Worst I’ve seen. We were You don’t need to hear about that.

My dad took me hunting in Colorado when I was 15. The summer before he got sick. Did I ever tell you about that? It was a 10 day trip. He taught me how to fish and trap small animals, and how to clean and cook what we caught for dinner. We were hunting mountain lion, but we didn’t get to shoot any. I kept making too much noise, scaring them off before we were close enough for a good shot. I was kind of glad about it. Dad didn’t get mad. Said I was a sweet kid, but he knew I could do it, if I ever really had to.

Guess he was right.

You remember what I said about Corporal Welling? Good guy, a little tense? Well, I got to talking to him the other day while we were waiting on a med evac, telling him that story about you and the possum. Found out Welling’s on his second tour. He got back home and couldn’t deal with civilian life. His wife kicked him out when she found him sleeping with a knife under his pillow. Said he was a danger to their kids. So he went and re-upped.

That’s not gonna be me. When I get home, none of this will matter anymore. I know we talked about me going back to school someday. But I don’t care about any of that. Not anymore. All I want. All I want is to get home and be a good husband to you, a good father to our children someday. Nothing else matters.

If you get a chance, could you send me a new picture of yourself? The old one got messed up, and I couldn’t get it clean.

Love,
John




August 5, 1970
Dong Ha, Vietnam

Dear Mary –

First thing you need to know is, I’m fine, and I’m coming home.

I’m writing from a nice comfy bed in Delta Med. I don’t know if you heard, but the NVA hit us hard up and down the Trace this week. Artillery all day to soften us up, and then ground assaults at night.

They made it through the perimeter. I swear I hit one of the enemy three times, center-mass, and he didn’t even slow down. He slid into my foxhole, knocked my rifle away, and got me pretty good in the shoulder before I could pull my knife. I lost the knife, somehow, during the battle. Sorry about that, I know it was something special.

Next thing I can remember, there was this corpsman hissing at me to be quiet, the enemy was all around us, and the morphine should kick in soon. All I could think of was that time in your bedroom, your parents right down the hall. I almost bit through my lip while he worked on me, but I didn’t make a sound.

I’ll need some physical therapy for the shoulder, and I’ll probably end up with a bad weather ache, but I’m fine. And I’m coming home to you. So don’t worry. This is the first day of the rest of our lives. We’re going to spend it together, and it’s going to be great.

Love,
John

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
tifaching
Jun. 3rd, 2010 10:58 pm (UTC)
John likes pie! And he sleeps in a circle of salt in the jungle. To keep out the snakes. And Mary sent him a special knife and John used it to kill an enemy soldier that bullets didn't slow down. And Corporal Welling was unfit for society because he slept with a knife under his pillow. Love, love, love how the letters tie into something that will impact John's future, whether he knows it now or not. I'm going to have to go read the original now!
keerawa
Jun. 4th, 2010 09:25 am (UTC)
Thanks for calling out the details that worked for you. And I'm so glad that you pulled out the bit about the knife taking down that enemy soldier! Sometimes I worry that I'm being too subtle. Corporal Welling was unfit for society because he slept with a knife under his pillow. Cuz that's just dysfunctional, right?

Thanks for reading, tifaching!
counteragent
Jun. 3rd, 2010 11:00 pm (UTC)
Wonderful! Love the hints of the supernatural.
keerawa
Jun. 4th, 2010 09:26 am (UTC)
Thank you counteragent! I like this idea of the supernatural elements always being there, seen out the corner of the eye, but never quite processed by normal people.
arliss
Jun. 4th, 2010 07:06 am (UTC)
I narrowly missed getting that kind of letters from H--timing was perfect and he never had to go. But friends of ours, oh yes. Those letters mean everything, even though they really say so little.

That last line is lethal.
keerawa
Jun. 4th, 2010 09:27 am (UTC)
I'm a generation too young to have lived it, but I tried hard to capture that here. Thanks so much, arliss!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )