This has been the hardest mission of my life – emotionally that is. I hadn’t been particularly happy about Princess being used as a Judas goat in the first place. To be honest – I hate it when one of my team has to go in alone. It’s something that I rarely allow; preferring that if anybody has to go alone it’s me.
This time, though, it was Princess. And I’ve never let her go alone anywhere. Not because she can’t do her job – she does it damn well. Most of the time, better than I could.
It’s because I love her. There. I’ve said it now. I love Princess. I love her so much that I’m constantly engineering situations where we’re together. I can’t help myself but to touch her constantly. I know that every time we’re together, my arm goes around her but I can’t help it.
Anderson’s never actually forbidden us to have intra-team relationships. It absolutely kills me to know that Jason and Princess have been to the movies a few times. When he mentioned that he’s kissed her, I wanted to kill him!
I know she thinks of me the same way I do her. For some reason, though, we just can’t move beyond the flirting.
These flowers came. They’re taking women – and that alone would make my blood boil. Jason and I have known for a long time why Zoltar keeps trying to kidnap Earth-born women and we’ve been waging our own little war quietly since we found out. It made me even more determined not to let Princess go on missions by herself.
Equally, since I found out that Jason had kissed her, I’m dammed if I let them go off on their own. Yeah. I know exactly who my competition is!
I can understand that the skinsuit works best on women. I dig that completely. And if these flowers target women, then it makes sense that Princess be bait.
What I cannot understand was Anderson’s insistence that she go alone. Jason and I both exchanged glances on that one and our unspoken commitment was the same. No way were we going to let our Swan go this one without the full team backing her up.
I would have been able to persuade Anderson no problems. What I hadn’t counted on was Princess herself.
As I helped her into the suit (and no – I’m not some sort of weird pervert. Princess and I have had to strip down to underwear together to put on Spectran disguises on a number of occasions – when you’ve got only a couple of minutes to get changed, you don’t really care who helps you!) I tried to persuade her to let us go with her – discretely behind – to back her up.
Not a chance.
“I have to do this, Mark. Need to. I know as well as you what Spectra’s been doing and why.”
“I know you do,” I said to her. “But I don’t like that you’ll have no backup. It’s not because you’re female. You know I’d be the same if it was one of the others as well.
“But not yourself,” she said a little bitterly and I wince. She’s suffered too much stress when I’ve been pinned and only managed to get out through sheer dumb luck.
“That’s different. I’m only putting myself in danger.”
“And I’m only putting myself. It’s exactly the same. Please. Let me do this. I can do this.”
“I know you can. That’s the one thing I have no worries about. I do worry that something will go wrong.”
She smiled at me and touched her arm. The suit has given her skin a sparkling tone to it and is opaque enough that I can’t really see her bra and panties through it. She looks naked and I can feel my body’s reaction to this.
“This works best on women, Mark. I trust the Chief. And I trust the intel from Zark that his sensors can keep a track of me. Mark, I have a feeling that these women are targeted. They’ve all been taken from specific places around the city. I suspect that Spectra may have observers and some way to target the women. Otherwise, why are some taken and some not? If it’s the case, then I really need to be truly alone.”
I can’t fault her logic – I rarely can. The only other person on the team who can pick up on enemy tactics faster is Jason – who usually then hands the ball to Princess who can pick apart the logic of it all.
I still don’t like it. And I don’t have the trust in Zark that she does. I do, however, trust her judgement.
It’s something I can’t resist, and I hold out my arms to her, catching her hands and drawing her close. I revel in the times I can do this. I’m always looking for reasons for it. I’ve never, however, held her when she’s wearing so little, and I can feel my body’s reaction – and she can feel it too.
It only makes her press closer and I tighten my arms. “Just be careful. I don’t know what I’d do if you didn’t come back to me, Princess,” I whisper into her hair as we hold each other close.
We separate and she swiftly puts the rest of her clothes on, giving me one of her flirtatious looks as I sigh wistfully as her beautiful body is covered up in the loose t-shirt and trousers.
Jason gives me a sharp glance as we re-enter. He knows who his competition is too.
“Took your time,” he said softly.
I’m irritated because his implication is clear – and he’s also partially correct in that implication. I’ll never admit it though. “I was trying to persuade her to let the team come as backup.”
“Trying?” As usual, Jason’s picked up on the crux.
“No luck. She’s got it all worked out and will abort if we try.”
“She’s got guts.” His look is admiring.