A/N: Yes, the last names of three of characters are based off America, Germany, and Austria from Axis Powers Hetalia. Its because Beilschmidt and Jones are based off these toy soldiers I have, and I named them after Al and Ludwig because I felt geeky...but when I wrote this, I just kept the last names because I liked them. If anyone thinks this seems too much like APH in any way, please tell me! I'd never want to copy, and I never intended to with this story.
Since around two o' clock in the afternoon, Beilschmidt had been antsy, jumping at the slightest sound while his German blue eyes clicked around in his head and took in everything and nothing. His men noticed this and got nervous too because the General was never this jittery, except for once in their collective memories; on the day they learned they were being sent to the trenches. They trusted his instinctive, almost psychic, ability to predict life-changing events, The only other time he had been nervous without reason, though on a much smaller scale than the first time, was the day before their first night fight when hundreds of them had died. Even though Beilschmidt didn't recognize this ability himself, his troops certainly did and they knew long before he did that something was going to change.
They just hoped it wasn't a change for the worse.
In the Entente trenches, the British major was on the radio, chattering quickly in French to whomever he was talking to. Jones didn't speak French, but he did speak German, which was why he was standing next to the major in case they had cracked a code and needed him to translate. He was the most fluent German speaker out of all the officers, as his Austrian grandmother had taught him how to speak it from a young age. Because of his heritage and his knowledge of the enemies' language, the other soldiers viewed Jones differently than the other Americans. However, he wasn't full or even half Austrian, so no one really hated him – he just felt like they all viewed him like you would view a garden snake: like they knew he wasn't dangerous but they weren't quite sure how to deal with him either. It was uncomfortable sometimes, but he was thankful that he seemed to be someone that people just liked in general. With that trait, he felt like he could survive just fine as a garden snake among the lions, eagles, and roosters.
The crackle of the radio and the quick French of the major that had become background noise to his thoughts stopped and Jones snapped out of his daze. The silence stretched like a rubber band on the back of the necks of everyone present. Then, the Brit turned to Jones. "Tell everyone. The bosses are declaring a truce on the front." Jones's stomach dropped. He should be happy, he knew, but how could they know for sure that the Germans would stick to the truce? He suddenly realized that he was still standing still, and jumped to attention, saluting before he charged off down through the trenches, calling the news out in English and leaving the bilingual ones of the group to translate to the poor French who only spoke one language. Once he passed his duty onto an American private, he ran back to the major and reported that he had fulfilled his duty.
"Good job Jones." The major smiled, "I'm glad you came back. We'll need you to talk to the H-" he paused and eyed Jones, as if he could see the Austrian blood running though his veins. "…To the Germans. You're the best speaker we have, and we'll need you in case they don't speak a proper language." The Major stood and clapped a hand on Jones's shoulder. "Come on then. We're meeting them in 15."
"General! General!" Beilschmidt turned to his Lnt. Major. "Yes?" "The front is declaring a truce! News straight from the top!" "….I see." Beilschmidt rubbed his neck. "Go find Private Edelstein. He speaks English well." True, Beilschmidt did as well, but it couldn't hurt to bring along a couple English-speakers. The snapped at an unlucky solider to go find the Private, then turned back to Beilschmidt, awaiting more questions and commands. The General rubbed the spike of hair that stuck out over his right ear and continued to do so while he spoke " How long until we meet?" The eyed Beilschmidt, who was shifting from foot to foot nervously. He wondered if this was going to be another one of those big changes. "15 minutes, sir." "Good. Get the Private to me and then come back. We'll all go to meet them then." He paused, " And Diederick?" The jumped at the use of his first name. "Y-yes sir?" "Do we need to bring anything?" "A-A pole, sir. They want to erect a flag of sorts to declare the no mans' land." "Get a tent pole then. A long one." Without another word, Beilschmidt turned and walked away, leaving an anxious Diederick behind.
14 minutes later, both parties arrived at the middle ground between their respective trenches, the Entente with a somewhat white sheet and the Central Powers with their tent pole. They stared each other down, shoulders firm and mouths tight, until finally Jones spoke.
"Alright. Shall we?"
The others jolted and looked at the calmly smiling Jones with the cloth thrown over his shoulder. Beilschmidt eyed the American far longer than the other soldiers, calculating, see something there that no one else bothered to notice. Then, he spoke.
"Yes. Let's begin."
He gestured for the Private to hand him the tent pole and then pointed the blunt end at Jones, waiting. Jones obliged him by un-slinging the cloth from it's place and tying the ends neatly around the top of the pole. There was silence as the task was done except for the slight clangs when Jones accidentally cuffed the pole. Once he was done, he and Beilschmidt stood the pole upright and, glancing at the all the members of their little party, the two of them clasped their hands in an alternating pattern around the cold metal and slammed the sharp end into the packed dirt. They twisted it in and when it was finally straight, both stepped back together and gazed at their makeshift flag. The breeze tangled its hands in the "flag" and began tugging it north towards everyone's home countries, be it Germany, America, or Great Britain. The lone Frenchman in the group was already home in the loosest of senses, but he still felt his heart being pulled north with the wind with the rest of the company.
The silence changed into a pure, warm quiet and the day took a hopeful feel to it. They all exchanged glances and vaguely smiled. Jones caught Beilschmidt's eye and grinned. The two of them felt this moment, the moment where it felt like the war was finally over, stronger than maybe everyone else. They were the ones who spoke, they were the ones who put up the flag tugging their hearts, and there was now a kind of kinship there.
They also knew war very personally, more personally than they'd ever admit to anyone, maybe more personally than most.
Maybe that's why they grew close in the coming months and years.
Or maybe it was that day, when Beilchmidt's nervousness was a sign of a change for the better, when for once all was quiet on the Western Front, and when they stopped a piece of war together, that was a prologue for the things to come.