Hearing the commotion, Keyop poked his head around the door.
“Hey, what’s ....up?” he burbled, genuinely concerned at the state she was in.
“Leave me alone,” the heartbroken girl screamed at him.
“Just go away.” Princess picked up the closes object to hand, a small teddy she’d had since childhood, and lobbed it in his general direction.
“Fine ...next time... won’t bother.” He closed the door behind him and shrugged it off as he went to find Tiny.
Princess lay back on the bed, instantly regretting the way she had treated the youngest teammate. It was rare he showed any real concern for her when they weren’t on a mission. Sighing, she fumbled for the remote to her C.D. player and pressed play, the first track made her cry even harder, but she still let it run.
Never had the song sounded more appropriate, as the events of the past couple of hours ran through her mind.
- TWO HOURS EARLIER
Jill’s was dead. As usual, the five G-force members were the only customers, and they were getting ready to leave.
Jill had asked Princess to close up after them, and took off early; Jason and Tiny weren’t long following her. Very soon, Keyop went to his room to finish off his homework. She was alone, apart from Mark.
“Care for one more drink before you go?” she asked him casually.
“Well, I would...but...” he mockingly pulled his pockets inside out, to show the lack of cash in them.
“Oh, it’s on me....this time.” Smiling she went behind the counter, helping herself to two glasses of cola, handing one to him as she returned to their table.
“Thanks,” he took it gratefully, taking a long gulp.
“So, any plans for the rest of the day?”
“Nah, just back to the shack, probably do some maintenance on the Cessna.”
“Well, you could stay here, I could use the company.” She took a sip from her own glass, a small smile played on her mouth as her imagination played through all the possible scenarios that could happen.
“Do you have anything planned then?” he asked, oblivious to her thoughts.
“No, nothing planned, but if there’s anything you fancy doing, I’m sure I could accommodate you.” She watched him down the rest of his drink while she thought of something appropriate to do, “How about a movie?” she suggested at last.
“Ugh, not one of those ‘chick flicks’ you enjoy, I hope.”
“I don’t just watch ‘chick flicks’” she admonished, “Come on up, and I’ll look for something more to your taste.” Picking up his empty glass, she refilled it, before collecting her own and taking them to her apartment above the diner. Mark shrugged, and followed her.
They had agreed on a sci-fi comedy film as one they could both enjoy watching, and settled down on the sofa, making small talk as the film progressed. She wasn’t sure when or how it happened, but by the end of the movie, she was snuggled up to her commander, resting her head on his shoulder, an arm wrapped around his waist. To her, at least, it felt right, and Mark didn’t seem to object either.
The film came to an end, and Mark sat up, gently moving her off him as he leant forward to turn off the DVD player.
“That was fun,” he commented cheerfully, “maybe we could do this more often.”
“Sure,” she agreed wholeheartedly, “it made a nice change.”
“Well, I think I should get going...” he began.
Princess seized her opportunity, wrapping her arms around him once more; she lifted herself up on her tiptoes and pressed her mouth against his.
For a moment he was too stunned to respond, then just as she thought he was beginning to reciprocate, he put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her off.
“What do you think you’re doing?”
“Well, um.... I thought....”
“You thought wrong Princess,” he told her sharply. “This is wrong in so many ways.”
“But Mark, I thought you liked me.”
“I do like you... I’m quite fond of you, if I’m honest, but I’m your commanding officer, anything else between us would be inappropriate.”
“I love you though.”
“No, Princess, you can’t, you mustn’t. It’s impossible, don’t you see?” Mark struggled to make her understand, but the tears that sprung from her eyes tugged at his heart. “I’d better go, maybe it wouldn’t be such a good idea for us to do this again.”
He had simply turned on his heels and left, without looking back. From the window she watched him drive away, until he turned the corner and out of sight.
She turned off the music and lay in silence, going over and over the events in her mind. Why had Mark said such horrid things to her? She was so sure he felt the same about her, as she did for him, and now he would hate her forever. They wouldn’t be able to work together again. He wasn’t going to chose her to go on missions with him any more, not now she had made such a fool of herself.
A tap on the door startled her, and she sat up, hurriedly wiping her eyes.
“I thought I told you to leave me alone, Keyop!” she yelled at the closed door.
“It’s not Keyop.” Princess gasped when she recognised Anderson’s voice through the door.
“Oh, erm.” panicking, Princess rushed to her dresser, digging out her pack of wet wipes and hurriedly wiping one over her red face in a vain attempt to mask the signs of her distress.
“Can I come in?” The security chief sounded more worried than angry, so she tentatively opened her door.
“What are you doing here?”
“Mark called me, told me what happened, I got here as quickly as I could.”
“Am I in trouble?”
“I’m just here to talk, see if we can’t straighten things out, that’s all.”
Princess sighed, and opened the door wide enough to allow him access. Anderson entered, sitting on the edge of the bed.
“So do you want to tell me what happened?”
“I thought Mark liked me.” She started to weep once more, “and I was stupid and tried to... to...”
“Yes, Mark told me as much, so what were you thinking? You know there are rules preventing such behaviour.”
Princess couldn’t answer that, she just sniffed, and reached for a tissue as more tears threatened to spill.
“Look,” Anderson put a comforting hand on her shoulder. “You’re only 16, you will have a lifetime to meet someone special when G-Force has been disbanded.”
“But I don’t want to meet anyone else, I want Mark.”
“Princess, don’t take this the wrong way, but you have a crush on him, and it’s a natural part of becoming an adult. It might feel real right now, but it is something you’ll get over.”
“I was sure he felt the same about me though.”
“Well, when he needs someone to go with him on missions, he picks me more than anyone else, and he’s always hanging around Jill’s when I’m helping out there.”
“Maybe, but so are the others, and if he is choosing you to partner him on missions, then it’s because you have the skills the task requires, you’re the best person for the job, so to speak.” Anderson smiled briefly, then set his features into a more serious expression. “And another thing,” he continued, “Even if Mark did reciprocate, and embarked in a ...romantic... relationship with you, then the consequences would be far worse for him, being legally an adult, and of senior ranking, he would have been viewed as the instigator, and quite possibly court-martialled. Believe me, that’s the last thing anyone wants right now.”
“Ok.” Her voice was quiet, as she acknowledged what he was telling her. “I understand. Does this mean you won’t take me off the team?”
“Heavens, no, you’re too valuable to G-Force.” Anderson chuckled to himself, “But you will have to learn to put these feelings to one side, I wouldn’t be able to ignore any more attempts of you trying to seduce your commander.”
“No Chief, and I won’t try anything like this again I promise.”
“Good.” Chief Anderson got to his feet, and headed to the door. “I’ll consider the matter closed then. See you in training first thing tomorrow.”
“Yes, Chief,” she responded dutifully, “Oh, and Chief?”