Title: The Best He Could
Word Count: 689
Summary: Michael never realized how often he used the skills he learned in boot camp.
Notes/Warnings: Written for winter_deaddrop, Challenge 44: Boot Camp
He doesn’t know why he thought of boot camp at this moment.
Michael had the blinds drawn up ever so slightly and could see the beginnings of the sunrise. Behind him, Fiona slept soundly. She had been exhausted and had finally given in but he had yet to come off the unbelievable adrenaline rush he was feeling. He had softly moved a chair over to the window and there he had sat for the last hour or so.
It had been one of the hardest things he had ever endured, boot camp, yet the easiest at the same time. A boy from a messy home, an abusive father and a mother who saw their world through rose colored glasses. He knew more about the world than any 17 year old had a right to know, but at the same time, he knew nothing.
He celebrated his 17th birthday in typical Westen fashion. His mother fussed and tried to pull them all together into “happy family” mode. His father had just returned from God knows where and had been a bender rage for days. Nate either stuck with Michael or disappeared. The evening ended in an altercation between Michael and his father, his mother crying and Nate no where to be found. His father had sworn he would never sign the form to allow Michael to enter to Army early, but later that night his mother slipped him the form, complete with a very feminine Frank Westen’s signature and a look of determined resignation in her eyes.
Michael didn’t hesitate.
The instructors didn’t place much hope in him at first. He had the agility and physical endurance. If there was an obstacle he couldn’t complete, he kept at it until it was mastered. But he was quiet and there was an underlying current about him that told them a history they had seen to many times pass through their base. It didn’t matter to him. He’d prove them wrong. He was going to excel. He worked through the heat, cramps, blisters and pulled muscles. He never complained. He didn’t make friends, but seemed to attract the admiration and respect of the other recruits. When lights were out, he’d stay up most the night, either studying for tests or reading anything and everything on military regulations and history.
Boot camp had probably saved his life, literally. But it was more than that. The instructors seemed to take ordinary instructions and use them with double meaning. He remembered once during a swimming exercise, he panicked when the weight of his gear started pulling him down. The instructor grabbed him up out of the water and told him firmly that when the current got rough, in the water or not, to relax and just float with it.
He had never really given it much thought, but the skills he learned in boot camp he had used so many times even after his military career abruptly ended.
From the moment he stepped foot onto that Army base, it had been instilled in him to keep going even when he thought he no longer physically or mentally could, to be loyal and dedicated and that if he was going to do something, he damn well better do it the best he could.
And he had.
He looked down and as if on cue, the sleeping baby in his arms opened her eyes. They had told him that newborn babies had trouble focusing for the first few weeks. But he had no doubt that she was looking directly at him. Blue locked on blue, father locked on daughter. She yawned and lifted a fist towards his face. He was pretty sure in that instant he had never loved anything or anyone the way he loved her.
And just like he was taught so many years ago, he damn sure was going to do the best he could.