"How bad is it?" Alyssum looked down at the face of the medic they'd rescued from an ambush earlier. He blinked up at her, hands still bandaging her thigh.
"Not terrible. If we were closer to a base, I'd tell you to get some bed rest, but we're not." He took a deep breath. "And I'm guessing you wouldn't be welcome there anyway."
"Likely we wouldn't." She smiled, watching his hands tie off the bandages. Thick callused hands like that shouldn't be so nimble. "Most people think we're a myth."
"I did, until you saved my ass." He tried not to stare at the rose tattoo peeking out of the open neck of her tunic. "Thank you."
"Least we could do. Thank you for bandaging our wounded." She smiled, eyeing him, still kneeling at her feet. "Were I to ask, would you do me the honor of warming my bedroll?"
"Yes." He responded with no hesitation. "Yes, I would. "
"After we eat. The sentries are posted. None will disturb the camp tonight." She stood, wincing just a bit, and held out a hand to him. He took it and rose.
"We'll get you back to your squad tomorrow or the next day, depends on how fast they're moving." She squeezed his hand.
"No rush." He smiled at her, letting her lead him further into the camp.
19 years later, he tended bar in a dive near the docks. A short stocky young man with familiar eyes walked in and straight up to him.
"I heard there was a former medic, a sergeant working here. Was stationed in the West." The young man looked him up and down.
"You found him." The former medic's mouth went dry. "Who's asking?"
The young man glanced around to make sure they were alone, then unbuttoned the top two buttons of his shirt, revealing strips of cloth, binding down full breasts, and a rose tattoo peeking out the top of her cleavage.
"Hello, father. It's nice to meet you. I’m Delphinium.“