Learning Wash's Past

Valhalla

Now that we've come so far

How can we ever start again?

Memories would lead us back; instead, we just pretend

Now that we've come so far

But love that never ends

Keeps us, holds us, leads us, always tearing us apart again

"Agent Carolina." A voice said, startling the singer.

"Huh. Oh. Hello, Simmons." Agent Carolina said, taking a moment to compose herself. "Do you need something?"

"Well, uh. Uh. Yes." Simmons nervously answered.

"What is it?"

"Well, it's for Washington. Do you know where he is?"

"Wash is with Grey on Chorus."

"Really?" Simmons asked, surprised.

"Yeah. He's helping her with some paperwork and training some medical students."

"Wait. Training medical students?"

"Well, not so much training. He's there to help keep them in line."

"Oh, okay. That makes sense. Do you know when he'll be back?"

"By the end of the day or early tomorrow at the latest."

"Oh, well. I'll guess I'll ask him once he gets back. Thanks, Carolina." Simmons said. But before he could turn around and leave, he froze up out of habit when Carolina spoke.

"But out of curiosity, what is the question? Perhaps I could answer it."

"Well, u-uh. I'm not s-sure about that. It is slightly personal." Simmons stuttered.

"I doubt that. Otherwise, you wouldn't be asking Washington that."

"I-it is. A-and I don't think you would be a-able to a-answer it." Simmons said, stepping back.

"What. Is. The. Question?" Carolina asked through gritted teeth as she stepped forward.

"We want to know about Wash's past." Another voice answered. Turning to where it came from, Carolina saw the rest of the Reds and Blues.

"You know, after all this time, I'm still surprised at how you all manage to do that without making a single sound."

"And yet, that's not the most surprising thing you've learned about us." Tucker said.

"Nor the most disgusting." Carolina said. "But back to the point. Don't you guys already know about Wash's time in Freelancer?"

"About his time as a Freelancer, yes." Sarge answered.

"But what we really want to know is his time before becoming a Freelancer. You know. Before he became all grouchy and mean when we first met him." Donut added.

"Oh. So you want to know what Wash did before he joined Project Freelancer?" Carolina asked.

"Yup." Grif answered.

"That's why I asked where Wash was. So we can ask him." Simmons said.

"Makes sense. No better way to get information than directly from the source. Or, in this case, from the person who went through it." Carolina said. "But, in this case, I can actually answer the question."

"Really?" Doc asked, surprised.

"What? You don't believe me?"

"It's not that. It's just that Wash ain't too keen on sharing his past. It took a lot of convincing to get him to open up about his experience with Chuch." Sarge said.

"Yeah, if you call getting our asses kicked by that walking, growling tank as convincing." Tucker said.

"Y sin embargo, esa fue más una reunión que cualquiera de las que convocasteis en el pasado, pendejos." Lopez added.

"Haha. You're right, Lopez. The Meta put up a good fight, but he still could not overcome our red might." Sarge said.

"¿Por qué sigo intentándolo? Me lo pasaría mejor hablando con una roca que contigo." Lopez said.

"Haha. Classic Lopez. It is a nice day outside." At this, Lopez couldn't take it anymore and returned to base.

"Anyway. Are you sure Wash wouldn't mind?" Donut asked.

"Yeah, I'm sure. So." Carolina said. "Want to hear it?"

"Yes." The Reds and Blues answered.

"But before you start. How do you know about Wash's past? Did he tell you?" Doc asked before laughing as his Omaly personality took over. "HA! YES! TELL US! WE NEED ALL THE DETAILS!"

"That actually coincides with the story." Carolina said as she smirked behind her mask. "Now, listen up, boys. You're about to learn about what Wash did before he joined Freelancer."

"I knew I should have gotten some cookies before coming here." Caboose said before sitting down in criss-cross apple sauce, causing the others to chuckle at his childish antics.

"Alright. It all started years ago. We were just coming back from a mission. It was one of the few missions that I can now say we were dealing with a true threat to humanity's safety. But it was also the third mission since Wash joined Project Freelancer. And the rest of us were just about to learn there is a lot more to Wash than we initially thought."

Flashback

"Alright. Good job, everyone. We defeated the rebels and returned the data cores." Carolina said with a rare smile as they walked into the debriefing room.

"And it was all thanks to the rookie." York laughed as he pulled Washington into a friendly chokehold.

"U-uh. It was nothing." Wash struggled to say while thankful that his mask hid his embarrassed face.

"Still. You did good, kid." South said, chuckling.

"But you got to tell us, chap. Where did you learn how to use knives like that? I've never seen that level of skill before." Wyoming asked, impressed.

"My dad taught me how to use them when I was seven. And I just kept practicing ever since." Wash answered as York let him go.

"Maybe we should make that your symbol on the leaderboard." North said.

"No. Better yet. We should make it the Battle Rifle. He did use it to take out those pelicans that were chasing us." Wyoming said.

"True."

"And here I thought North was quick on the draw. But Wash certainly proved me wrong. Seriously. By the time I even processed Wash taking out his Battle Rifle, he already took out five turret gunners." York said, impressed.

"Maybe we should celebrate the rookie's first mission." Connecticut suggested before letting out a visible wince that only Wash caught.

"We should. But only a small one with minimal alcohol." Carolina agreed. However, everyone went stiff when the doors opened with the Director stepping inside, followed by the Counselor.

"SIR!" The Freelancers said.

"A celebration is only in order for highly successful missions. And this was anything but that. In fact, I have half a mind to consider this operation a near-total failure." The Director said, confusing the Freelancers.

"What are you talking about, sir?" York asked, puzzled.

"We completed the mission. We defeated the rebels and retrieved the data cores." Carolina added.

"Yes, you all did that. But none of you stuck to the plan. As you all landed, every single one of you did something different." The Director said.

"But if we did so, we would have gotten injured." Wash argued.

"Wash is right." North said. "If it weren't for Carolona's and Wash's quick thinking to change the plan, we would have gotten seriously injured."

"And because of them, we all got out fine." York added.

"Is that so?" The Director asked.

"What do you mean?" Carolina asked. Instead of answering, The Director pointed toward Connecticut.

"Are you alright, Connecticut?" South asked, noticing how Connecticut seemed to be rolling her shoulders constantly while standing awkwardly.

"Y-yeah. I think I'm alright." Connecticut struggled to answer. But a pained ground betrayed what she said. "On second thought. No, I am not. I think one of those Rebels got a lucky shot on me with something."

"There is no such thing as luck. You were sloppy and did not stick to the plan. That is why you got hit." The Director said.

"And if we did, she would be in a worse state." Wash growled as he moved to Connecticut. While he might not know about all weapons, he can generally tell what hit someone by the hole or burn mark left behind. And while there was no hole, the burn marks told Wash everything he needed to know. "You got hit by an Incendiary Grenade. Or at least, something that had the remains of a detonated Incendiary Grenade. You better head to the infirmary to check that out."

"Right. Thanks, Wash." Connecticut said, internally surprised at how Wash managed to find that out.

"No problem, Connecticut."

"If you guys need me, I'll be in the infirmary. And if I'm not there, I'm probably in my room." Connecticut said before exiting.

"I should probably go with her to ensure she's alright." Wash said, about to follow her. However, he stopped when the Director called his name.

"You will do no such thing, Agent Washington. You will stay here and listen to the punishment I have for all of you." The Director said.

"Fine." Wash said.

"What was that?"

"Fine, Sir!"

"That's better. Now, we need to go over everything. Starting from everyone's blatant disregard for the plan to their abyssal performance, which led to Agent Connecticut getting injured. In fact, I feel like a punishment is in order for your deviation from the plan and atrocious display of skill. And I should start by denying Agent Connecticut medical attention." The Director said.

"WHAT!" Washington shouted, startling the other Freelancers as they never heard him raise his voice before.

"You heard me, Agent Washington. Even I could tell the injury wasn't lethal. But the pain will act as a reminder of what happens when you don't follow the plan and get sloppy due to inadequate training."

"THAT IS BULLSHIT!" Washington said, stepping up to the Director.

"Is it, Washington? Is it bullshit to want your soldiers to be the best they could be?"

"IT IS WHEN YOU WANT TO KILL THEM!"

"Who says I want to kill them? I merely want all of you to be the best you can be."

"YEAH! THAT FUCKING BULLSHIT AGAIN!" Washington shouted as he got into the Director's face. And even though Washington was only about three inches taller than the Director, he seemed to tower over him now. But it was the act that someone, Agent Washington no less, was standing up to the Director that shocked them the most. Even Agent Carolina and Agent Maine feared the Director. "WHY DON'T YOU COME UP WITH ANOTHER EXCUSE FOR WANTING TO GET US KILLED!"

"It is not an excus-"

"IT IS! AND YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW I KNOW?!"

"How, Agent Washington?" The Director asked, getting annoyed.

"BECAUSE YOU WANTED US TO STICK WITH THE PLAN!"

"The plan would have-"

"-WOULD HAVE KILLED US! YOUR PLAN WAS PAINFULLY FLAWED! I'M HONESTLY SHOCKED AT HOW BAD IT WAS! YOU, OF ALL PEOPLE, SHOULD KNOW THAT NO PLAN SURVIVES FIRST CONTACT WITH THE ENEMY!"

"Not if you-"

"IT DOES NOT MATTER HOW WELL-TRAINED SOMEONE IS IF THE PLAN IS AS FLAWED AND IDIOTIC AS YOURS! YOU WANTED US TO BECOME THE PERFECT SOLDIERS, RIGHT?!"

"Yes. I want you all to become the perfect soldiers to save humanity."

"WELL, ONE THING EVERY SOLDIER NEEDS IS TO BE ABLE TO ADAPT AND IMPROVISE ON THE SPOT! AND THAT IS WHAT WE DID! AND NO SOLDIER CAN DO THAT IF THEY DIE TO INCOMPETENT PLANS!"

"You would be wise-" The Director began but stopped when the Counselor interjected.

"Agent Washington is right, Director." The Counselor said.

"How, Counselor?" The Director asked, turning to him.

"Improvising on the spot can lead to better results, as with this mission."

"What are you talking about?" The Director asked, confused.

"After reviewing the footage and related news articles, Washinton's and Carolina's improvised plan led to a forty-five percent increase in efficiency when compared to the original plan. Not only that, it led to the complete destruction of the Rebel Base. They will no longer be able to use the planet for their operations."

"Hmm. That is something even I was not expecting. But it does take care of a lot of problems that would have undoubtedly risen down the road. While I still think they should have stuck to the plan, I cannot ignore these results." The Director said, rubbing his chin. "Very well. I shall let this incident go and treat the mission as a success. But try to stick to the plan next time."

"Only if you don't make it as flawed as this one." Washington said.

"Agent Washginton. You're overstepping-" The Director began but stopped when Washington raised his rifle in the blink of an eye. While he wouldn't hesitate to have the others arrest or kill him, The Director knew he needed Agent Washington down the line when he tested the AI fragments. "Very well. From now on, I'll leave all plans to Carolina. However, any problems or injuries that occur will fall squarely on your shoulders, Agent Washington. Am I clear?"

"Crystal, Sir."

"Good. Dismissed, Agents." The Director said before exiting the room.

"And here I thought things would be different." Washington said as he put away his rifle. He then turned to the others, that were still shocked. "If you need me, I'll be in the infirmary checking on Connecticut."

"What did we just witness?" Wyoming asked, still in shock.

"I am not sure. I feel like we just entered the Twilight Zone." North said.

"What you all saw was something that I warned the Director a while back." The Counselor said.

"What's that?" Carolina asked, curious.

"As you all know, you all come from various different backgrounds. And some of you already have military experience. Washington is one of them. However, his experience is different than the rest of yours."

"How so?" South asked.

"While those with a military background have sometimes led others, it was never often or permanent. Agent Washington was an Army Corporal and led his units across different systems."

"Wow. I wasn't expecting that." North said.

"But it is one hell of a promotion to land here." York said.

"That's... not the case." The Counselor said, confusing the others.

"What do you mean?" Carolina asked.

"Does it have to do with what just happened?" South asked.

"In a sense, yes. After a few years, Agent Washington developed a bond with his fellow soldiers. But he also kept to the morals his mother, who was also in the army, taught him. And that was to watch over his fellow soldiers and ensure they got home safely. Agent Washington kept to that all throughout his military career. However, that all changed."

"How?" Wyoming asked.

"Washington and his platoon were resting after a successful mission of clearing out some pirates. But they were soon attacked by aliens. Agent Washington managed to save everyone under his control but had to disobey his commanding officer's orders to do so."

"Well, he did save his fellow soldiers. But what happened afterward?" Carolina asked.

"I couldn't get my hands on any information regarding the exact specifics. But I do know what happened afterward. And that is that Agent Washington attacked his CO after something he said, severely injuring him and knocking out three teeth. Once the dust settled, Agent Washington was subjected to a Court-Martial. However, due to the context of the situation and his fellow soldiers standing vouching for him, Washington only received a bad conduct discharge."

"That definitely sucks. But at least the chap got out relatively unscathed." Wyoming said.

"What happened to Washington afterward?" South asked.

"He wandered for a while, wondering what to do next. He then heard about Project Freelancer and decided to join. But, unlike what Washington told me, I knew he was only joining because he had nowhere else to go." The Counselor answered.

"But now he has us." North said, chuckling.

"True." South agreed.

"But why didn't he have any other place to go?" York asked.

"Agent Washington grew up on military bases. He didn't have a permanent home. He learned everything he knew from military school, his fellow soldiers, and his parents. Just about his whole life is the military."

"Well, I guess that explains a lot and why Washington snapped when the Director threatened to deny Connecticut medical attention." Carolina said.

"It is. That's one of the reasons why the Director allowed Agent Washington to join Project Freelancer despite not being on par in sparring skills." The Counselor said. "Now. If you will all excuse me, I have to go finish evaluating a potential recruit."

"Wow. Today certainly took a turn I wasn't expecting." York said.

"I don't think none of us expected this, York." Carolina said.

"But this just makes me more glad that we have an actual caring person on the team." South said.

"We should probably go and check on the chap. And while the Director wouldn't like us to throw a party, we can still bring out a few drinks." Wyoming said.

"I wonder how much Wash can drink." North said.

"Let's find out." York said as they exited the room and headed to the infirmary.

Flashback Ends

"And after that, we learned that Wash could barely hold his liquor." Carolina said as she finished the story.

"Wow. I wasn't expecting that." Grif said.

"Who knew Wash spent his whole life in the military." Sarge said, chuckling.

"But it does explain a lot." Tucker said, remembering how confused Washington gets when they head into town.

"It's a good thing his caring nature is still intact." Donut said. And even though he didn't say it, everyone knew he was referring to how Washington often treated Caboose like a kid.

"HAHA! YES! But I like the part where he stood up to the Director and knocked out his CO!"

"You said it." Sarge agreed. "Someone that does that definitely deserves to have his teeth knocked out."

"I'm honestly still surprised that Washington was a Corporal." Tucker said.

"Actually, I was a Sergeant. And only a few months away from being promoted to Staff Sergeant." Agent Washington said, startling everyone.

"Oh, ah, hey, Agent Washington." Simmons nervously said.

"How was your trip?" Tucker asked.

"Uneventful. But slightly scary due to Grey's stories. And now I am somehow scared of Ophthalmoscopes." Washington said, still somewhat scared and impressed at Grey's stories and adventures.

"Did something happen?" Carolina asked. "I thought you weren't supposed to be back until later tonight or early tomorrow."

"We finished a lot earlier than we expected. And by that, I mean all but one of the students ran away."

"But is it true that you stood up to the Director back then?" Sarge asked.

"Yup. Granted, it was a bit of a blur when it happened because of how angry I was."

"But I thought you were a Corporal?" Carolina asked.

"No, I was a Sergeant. The only reason it says Corporal on the reports is because the court knew it wouldn't look good on them if the records ever got out to the public."

"Yeah. That makes sense." Sarge said.

"Anyway. Now that I am back. It's time for your punishment." Washington said, confusing the Reds and Blues.

"What do you mean?" Tucker asked.

"It's one thing to ask your Commanding Officer something. It's another to invade his privacy, so to speak. So, a punishment is required." Washington said. "And before you argue, you could have just waited until I returned."

"Oh, come on, man. That's bull." Tucker said.

"And just for that, you all get another lap. Now, run around the entire canyon four times. GO!"

"Oh, fuck you." Tucker said before turning around. "Come on, Caboose."

"Coming." Caboose said, effortlessly catching up to and passing Tucker.

"Wow. Thank God we're on Red Team, and Sarge is our CO." Grif said.

"Actually, men. It's a nice day. We should probably join them. It will be a good exercise for when we beat them in our next match." Sarge said.

"Damn it."

"Come on, men. Double Time." Sarge said as they began jogging around the canyon.

"Knowing them, I should probably prepare some bandages for Grif when Sarge shoots him again." Doc said before heading to Red Base.

"So, how was your day, Carolina?" Washington asked.

"Quiet but enjoyable." Carolina answered.

"Quiet? That's concerning."

"Quiet in their sense. But a lot less chaotic than usual."

"That's good. Now if you will excuse me, I need to make sure Tucker isn't slacking." Washington said before running after the Blues. "I SEE YOU, TUCKER! NO SLACKING!"

"It's really good to have the real you back, David. And it seems like you found your next family. And just like you did with us during the early days of Freelancer, I'll help keep you guys safe." Carolina said as she watched the Reds and Blues run around the canyon.

Notes:

Something a friend wanted me to do while we were watching some of the earlier seasons of Red Vs Blue.