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***Mary-Kate***

"Mary-Kate!" I heard Ashley running up the stairs and soon our apartment door was flung open "He wrote!"

"Matt?" I asked in a bored tone.

"Brett!" She said waving the letter around.

I lept up off the sofa and raced over to her. I read the letter and decided to write back immediately. Easier said then done! I must have started 10 letters before I finally got the right one.

Hi Brett,

It was great to hear from you! I'm doing great thanks. Work is a nightmare but I'm sure it's nothing compared to what you're going through..

Samara and her brother Levi are great to hang out with. There's nothing like children to keep you laughing! I took some photos the other day. And have included them. I took the photos except for one. That's why I'm only in one. Does that make sense?..

Well, I gotta go. Hope to hear from you soon.

Mary-Kate

PS Man! This sounds too formal! ;)

***Marc-Andre***

We were marching carefully through the ruins of Los Angeles at night on our night recon mission. Our forces managed to retake a quarter of the city by now, but had suffered heavy casualties in the process. It was our job to reinforce them while the officers came up with a new plan.

We all wondered why so many soldiers were dying for a pile of ruins. But, as privates, we didn't ask any questions. Our job was to do what we were told. I looked over to Brett and Matt as we marched. They were looking at the buildings that were still standing, watching for enemy snipers who were just waiting to take us out. The thought was a bit unnerving, but I had to stay focused. We had night vision eye pieces to help us see in the night.

***Brett***

The only sound we could hear was of distant gunshots and explosions. A squad to the east of us had been fighting the enemy for a day now, and it didn't seem like they would be finishing any time soon. I wish there were more cover for us. I hate walking on the sidewalks. We're sitting ducks out here. I couldn't think like that. Keep positive. The captain gave the signal to stop and we crouched down.

It was then that I noticed a park. It had craters scattered around it and the stone fountain that once stood tall was nothing but a pile of rocks. What remained of a crashed jet rested silently on the north side of the park. I could hear echoes of children laughing and I soon started to see ghosts of times past. Some children running around and laughing while their parents sat under a large tree in the shade. I could also see Mary-Kate and I sitting on a bench.

I was giving her a birthday present, a small locket necklace. She smiled and hugged me. I was starting to smile by this time.

Gunshots brought me back to reality. I dove into what was left of a shop.

"Report!" I heard Captain Gibson say over the radio.

"One man down." Marc-Andre's voice answered.

I looked into the street and saw the young soldier that shipped in this morning lying motionless. I was getting very mad now. I wanted to go out into that street and shoot them all. But I knew it wouldn't do any good.

"Everyone stay put until we know where it's coming from." Captain Gibson said.

***Mary-Kate***

I was curled up on one of the couches at the library reading a really sad story when Ryan walked up. I quickly brushed away my tears and smiled at him.

"Sup?" He asked sitting next to me.

"Not much" I said closing the book.

"Hey I was wondering..."

Uh-oh this sounds big!

***Matt***

"Sir, I have an idea that ight just work. It will be risky though." I said over the radio.

"Let's hear it, son." He answered.

"Well," I started. "The snipers would be looking around for us with night vision since it's so dark right? How about we draw their attention to a flash grenade. When it detonates, they will be blinded from all the light. We immediately use a flare to light up the area and take them out."

"That's the craziest plan I've ever heard!" Brett said.

"It might work." Gibson said after some considering. "Anyone who is against this plan, speak up now."

No one protested to the plan and commander Gibson gave out the roles.

Marc-Andre threw a peice of metal into the street to attract the snipers' attention and then threw the flash grenade right on top of it. The flash occured and we heard some yelling by the snipers, whom were blinded. I launched the flare and we all ran out and opened fire. Within no time the snipers were all eliminated.

"Alright, we'll have company soon so we better get out of here." Gibson said.

We were more than happy to comply. We took our fallen comrade's body with us and headed back to base.

***Mary-Kate***

"Yeah?" I prompted.

"I was wondering if you'd like to go out with me"

I thought of Brett. I wonder what he's doing now. I felt kind of guilty about accepting an invitation. But, it's not like Brett and I were dating. He probably didn't even like me. Probalby all my imaginaton...

"I'd love too!" I said with a big smile

"Great!"

***Marc-Andre***

We walked back to base calmly after we got out of "the red zone" as we have come to call it.

"It should have been me." Brett said, referring to the young soldier killed in action.

"There was nothing you could have done to stop it." I said to him. "He knew the risks before coming here just like you did."

"Guess you're right." He said.

***Ashley***

Mary-Kate told me about Ryan asking her out. I was like totally in shock! I thought she and Brett were going to finally get together. But it looks like it won't happen. Great!

Dear Marc-Andre

You won't believe it! Mary-Kate's going out with Ryan! How long do we have to wait before she and Brett get over their shyness! Grrrr! It gets annoying.

Sorry I probably sound really shallow complaining about this with what you're going through.. but. It's annoying.

I miss ya heaps best friend! I hope you guys get a few days leave soon. It'd be great to see you again.

Mary-Kate's rushing me to help her with something. Talk to you soon!

Love ya!

Ashley

***Brett***

Another week passed by and a we went on harder missions. We were having heavy firefights on a daily basis. The enemy had reinforcements shipped in so they stepped up their attacks. So far, only Marc-Andre, Matt and I were the only survivors from our original squad along with Captain Gibson. We didn't really know how to feel about that, but at this point, I almost think I forgot how to feel about anything other than Mary-Kate. She was all I thought about.

"I'm going to do it." I said to Matt who was sitting beside me against a sandbag wall.

"I told you that running around the base naked wouldn't be enough to get you out of here." He said to me.

I looked at him and slapped him upside the head. "That was Marc-Andre dingus!"

"Oh," he said rubbing his head. "Then what are you going to do?"

"I'm going to ask Mary-Kate out next time I see her!" I said with a smile.

"Finally!" He said smiling. "But, what if she says no?"

"I figure getting in the way of a bullet would be a good thing to do." I said half jokingly.

"Guys! Guys! Guys!" Marc-Andre ran up.

"Are we under attack?" Matt jumped up.

"No! Even better!" Marc-Andre said out of breath. "Turns out Gibson has earned so much shoreleave that if he doesn't use it soon, the army would cancel it. So he took me aside and said that he's arranged to split it with us since we are the only ones left from the original squad. We get to go home for a week!"

We all jumped up and cheered. I did a happy dance and soon Marc-Andre and Matt joined in. Everyone was looking at us weird but we didn't care.

"WE'RE GOING HOME FOR A WEEK!" We yelled.

Chapter 24

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