trigger warning for war and violence
"War educates the senses, calls into action the will, perfects the physical constitution, brings men into such swift and close collision in critical moments that man measures man."
the course your life was meant to take, was decided for you almost before you were born. military life ran in your blood. your great grandfather and grandfather were both honored men in the military, serving their country proudly and with honor. it became tradition for every male in the mitchell family to enlist at the age of eighteen, and the only thing you really got to make a decision on, was which branch to enlist with. you were never bitter about this decision, in fact, you were never bitter about anything. you have always been a very positive and upbeat person, determined not to let the curve balls life threw at you get you down. your friends always loved you for you sense of humor, for the contagious sound of your laughter as you retold a joke or story while fighting the laughter in your chest. people might have pegged you for the class clown if you hadn't been in the top five of your class, on top of football and volunteer work. it was built into your core, to be generous and kind. to always try and put a smile on someone's face, brighten their day. some people didn't like it, some people hated when you put yourself into their business. but you never really had enemies. everyone generally ended up being your friend because the positivity you exuded was something most people didn't realize they needed. it was something that always helped you with your football team. you were the fastest wide receiver of your class, practically dancing out of the defenders reach when they targeted you. people were often in awe of you, of your lack of the jock personality, the fact that you refused to be a bully to those different or less fortunate than you. in fact you worked very hard to be their friend, and stand up for them when someone did in fact, try and bully them. your parents always chatted you up, gushed over how good of a kid you were. how you volunteered at homeless shelters, food drives, soup kitchens, and food banks. then again, you didn't really think that anyone expected you to do anything less. your older brothers had set a very solid example of what a decorated army general's son ought to be doing with his life.
a few people used to ask you if you were going to try and become a professional football player. maybe in a different life it would have appealed to you, but you knew where your life was supposed to take you. at the age of eighteen, right after graduation, you enlisted with the marine corp, mostly because it was the branch of military your father and brothers wouldn't be your superiors in. it wasn't that you didn't want to work with them, you simply didn't want to be one of their underlings. you were treated like a cadet since you were able to walk and talk really, and it would be really nice to be able to take orders from someone who wasn't your father or brothers. military life wasn't anything new to you, you were very used to the rules, the disciplines it entailed, the organization. it was how you'd lived every day of your life. your father had done everything he could to instill the military lifestyle into you and your brothers, at least as much as he could get away with if your mom had anything to say about it. your mother was a very strong woman, there was no doubt about that. you still often wondered how she truly felt throughout it all, from her husband, to having four boys, and seeing them eventually don the military uniform. you often felt blessed, as a family, to have never lost any of your brothers to the wars. dakota, your second oldest brother, managed to survive a mine exploding, losing a leg but gaining a very well built prosthetic later down the line. emmett, the oldest, survived shrapnel to the face, and walked away with only a few scars. then daniel, your brother who was older only by a year, he was lucky enough to only suffer a bullet to the shoulder. dakota was the only one who was no longer on active duty, and frankly it wasn't by choice. it wasn't in a mitchell's blood to leave the military service unless it was absolutely necessary. boot camp was easy for you, you had been versed in what to expect so well, maybe it was technically cheating. your superiors never once complained. your first tour overseas was very different as a personal experience, compared to the stories your brothers told you when you were growing up. you would be lying if you said you were never scared, but you always kept your head up, figuratively at least. you always kept it down during a firefight. still, the guys knew you as the motivator on the squad. always positive, always smiling, always cracking jokes to ease the tension. your need to be there for people is what drew you to leon blake once you met him. he was very different from the type of people you were used to. but it didn't stop you from moving in to give him support and mood lifting jokes. you didn't really expect for him to become your best friend as quickly as he did, but you definitely weren't disappointed.
it was on your first tour that you discovered your affinity for languages. on the days you weren't getting shot at, you would patrol through villages, and you found yourself talking to the locals often, learning the language bit by bit through gestures and the little broken english they could manage. at your superior's encouragement, you began to study linguistics, with a heavy focus on farsi and arabic. it was difficult to actually study while you were deployed, but once you were home, there were days where you could go to campus and have an almost normal college experience. still, the majority of your classes were done online, and it was easier for you that way. aside from your given leave time, you spent pretty much everyday on base, fully dedicated to your life as a marine. you knew your family understood that, your brothers had done the same thing after their first tours. dedicated themselves to that life. emmett had done three tours before settling back into civilian life, though of course remaining on active duty. it felt necessary for you to do take it one step further, and while you loved studying for your linguistics degree, you kept your classes limited to online so you could do two back to back tours. it's the events of your third tour that encouraged you to take a break and focus on your schooling for a while. you've never been one to be seen as cocky. you've always been very easy going, could be considered a little immature. ultimately, you were always just a kid in a grown up body. the inner kid everyone tried to hide, was something you embraced wholeheartedly. it was what helped you ease the tension, lift peoples spirits when it was necessary. it didn't bother you if people called you immature or irresponsible, because in the end, you always got things done. besides, as a kid your brothers often called you a duck, because you never let things bother you, even if people said things in an attempt to hurt you. your family would often quote an old saying when describing what kind of person you were; like water off a duck's back. stressing over things was never something you did, and in the end, that was what ended up saving you from a life full of mental trauma. your second tour wasn't as eventful as you would have assumed it would be. perhaps it had left you ill prepared for your third. the intel said that it was supposed to be a routine patrol. to this day, no one in command has pinpointed where the intel went wrong. you and your squad walked right into an ambush, you distinctly remember the smell of copper in the air, the deafening roar of constant gunfire over your head. most of all you remember the warm, sticky blood of your platoon mates on your hands, against the side of your face, and in your hair. a grenade exploded dangerously close to you at some point, and there was a ringing in your ears that didn't go away for nearly two weeks. you were very lucky not to lose your hearing. the worst part, the part that occasionally haunts your dreams, was when you were holding the new recruit logan in your arms as he bled out from the shrapnel piece imbedded in his stomach. he begged you to take the letter from his pocket, the one everyone wrote for those they loved in case the worst happened, and get it to his parents. that was the first thing you did when you returned to the states.
the psychologist on base had always been impressed with how easily you shook off the things that happened to you, but when you returned from your third tour, she wasn't impressed. she wanted you to vent, to let out your frustrations, your emotions. to show a little bit more humanity. you couldn't bring yourself to tell her, or anyone, about how much you cried after you and the one other member of your platoon that survived were rescued and taken to the infirmary. it's never been a lack of an ability to feel or respond emotionally, you simply always felt like you needed to be strong. to be a pillar for everyone else that needed it. there was never a possibility in your mind, that you were neglecting yourself. she encouraged you to wait before deploying again, to finish getting your bachelor's degree, and to actually sit in a campus setting. so you did. in twenty-ten you graduated, and secured your diploma in linguistics. it gave you a boost in your ranking within the corps, and after two years, you were legitimately ready to put the events of your third tour behind you. your fourth tour started halfway through twenty-ten, and carried on through a good portion of twenty-eleven. you were aware that leon was deployed sometime in twenty eleven in response to the growing thread ISIS presented itself to be, but this time, you weren't in the same unit. you spent time with him when you could, but ultimately you had to put your focus into your job. your tour ended without too big of an incident on your end, and you were finally ready to take a break and wait to be called back of deployment, instead of signing up for another tour. you found out about leon's condition a few short days after he arrived back in the states. maybe it isn't any of your business, maybe you were only friends because you were both overseas in a shitty war zone. but you couldn't deny that you cared for him, that you needed to offer him support because he didn't have anyone else. maybe you annoyed him, maybe sometimes he would've liked nothing more than to punch you in the face, but you stuck by him. when you were approached by the NYPSA approached you with a job offer, you took it, both to stay in the city, and to have a foot in the door of a place that could offer leon a job once he was better. it took two years, and in those two years you proved yourself more than useful to the NYPSA. you made sure to tell the head honchos that leon was someone they wanted on the team. it warmed your heart to see him become your second in command. you're always ready for the day the corps calls you back for another tour, but so far it's been four years since the last one, and they haven't given called for your redeployment. you're happy with where you are, with trying to save gotti from the life of crime he doesn't need to be involved in, and being there for leon, even when he thinks he can handle it on his own. after all, being a support beam is simply in your nature.