Vin looked at the calendar and the date circled in bright red. It seemed like months ago that they had marked that date. Where had the time gone? He wasn't sure he would be ready but he had promised...
He hadn't realized before when the date was given, but he saw it now. It was the same date as Flag Day. Thinking it was a coincidence, but in his heart knowing it was fate stepping to have him honor the symbol of this country's freedom in this somber way, he got up out of his chair and, going to Larabee's office, he tapped lightly on the open door.
"Vin," Chris said, noticing the look on his friend's face.
"Just wanted to remind ya that today is the date I told ya I needed the afternoon off."
"I know, I had it marked on my computer's calendar." Chris paused for a moment, studying Vin's face and eyes. "Is everything all right? Do you need any help with whatever it is you're going to go do?"
"Thanks, but it's something I can handle," Vin answered softly. Turning with those words, he walked away, pausing long enough to turn his own computer off. Then he headed out of the office and straight onto the elevator.
Chris frowned, not liking the way Vin had answered, and thought back to when he had asked for the date off, remembering Vin had just spoken with Travis out in the hall in front of their office. He remembered Vin had had a shocked look on his face and then had sat at his desk quieter than usual the rest of that day. Chris picked up the phone and placed a call, as he saw that day again in his mind's eye, knowing he needed an answer.
He hadn't looked in the mirror, for Vin knew it would have made it harder than it already was. He stood straight and tall, listening to the words a stranger was speaking of those the stranger didn't know, of things the stranger would never know or understand what they were like. He heard the call and raised his rifle without hesitation, firing again and again until it was over. Then he lowered his rifle, feeling so alone inside.
A movement caught his attention and there they were, his six friends - standing tall with respect and support for him. And suddenly he knew that even though his old Ranger team that had gone MIA right after he had left the army - and was just now being buried after being found in another country on this date, Flag Day - they had been his friends from a life he had already lived. But he wasn't alone now, for his brothers - his family - without knowing the details, had come because they knew he would need them.
Stepping up to the row of caskets, Vin stood at attention in his dress uniform displaying his medals. He saluted those who honored their country with their lives, as the flag above waved in honor for its country as well. Six men joined him, surrounded him and lent him their strength. As he said good-bye, they said a prayer of thanks that their brother was still alive.
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