Damn her, he thought, why did she have to go and do such a thing? In a different time, under very different circumstances, well who knows? But he couldn’t tell her he reciprocated her feelings, it wouldn’t be fair. It was much easier to let her believe he didn’t care.
She must know though. He thought he knew Princess well enough to know she wouldn’t have tried anything so bold if she thought for one minute he wouldn’t respond favourably.
Did she realise how much effort, how much self control it took for him to pull away, when all he really wanted to do was pull her into his arms and return her kiss?
He smiled at the memory, blushing as he felt her body pressed briefly against his, warm sweet lips upon his. The sudden elation he had felt, then the crushing blow when he realised he couldn’t let it continue.
- THREE 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. He was alone, apart from Princess.
“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 offered as she sipped from her own glass, a small smile playing on her face.
“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 said as he swallowed the rest of his drink. “How about a movie?” she suggested at last.
“Ugh, not one of those ‘chick flicks’ you enjoy, I hope.” Mark cringed at the thought.
“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. He 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. He wasn’t sure when or how it happened, but by the end of the movie, she was snuggled up to him, resting her head on his shoulder, an arm wrapped around his waist. It felt comfortable at the time.
The film came to an end, and he 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 really should get going...” he began.
As he spoke she wrapped her arms around him once more; lifting herself up on her tiptoes and pressed her mouth against his.
For a moment he was too stunned to respond, then he put his hands on her shoulders and pushed her off.
“What do you think you’re doing?” he demanded to know.
“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?” He 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. For a while afterwards he had simply ridden around town, at a complete loss as to what to do, trying to get the disturbing images of her tearful face from his mind, until eventually he pulled over, and radioed the events to Anderson over a secure channel on his communicator.
It had been such a pleasant evening too, the two of them watching a DVD together had felt natural. For that brief period he had felt like a regular guy, with his best girl at his side. All the pressure of commanding G-Force had seemed a million miles away. If they had been normal people, that kiss would have been the perfect way to end the night.
Instead, he had panicked, and broken it off rather abruptly. Spoke to her harshly about the appropriateness of her behaviour and stormed out. Then to cap it off, he had reported her behaviour to Anderson!
He wouldn’t blame her if she hated him for that; he certainly could have handled it better. It had taken him by surprise that he really hadn’t had time to consider what the best course of action would be. It had never been part of his training.
He sighed, running a hand through his unruly hair. If ever there was a time he needed a drink, it was now. He contemplated going back out, to find somewhere to drown his sorrows when a knock on the door broke his train of thought.
Answering the second knock, he stood back in shock when he saw Anderson stood waiting to be invited in.
“Chief? What brings you here?”
“Hello, commander, I just want a quick word, off the record if you know what I mean.”
“Ok, sure.” Mark stood to one side, allowing Anderson to enter. “I could have come to the office though.”
“I know, I thought this way there would be less interruptions.”
Mark nodded, understanding. “Well it’s just a surprise to see you here in person. Can I get you anything?”
The security chief looked around the disorganised little room and chose to sit in the seat Mark had just vacated. “No, thank you, I’ll get straight to the point. I’ve spoken to Princess about her little indiscretion, and pointed out the implications if anything was to happen between the two of you and she promises it won’t happen again.”
“Oh,” Mark almost looked disappointed, “well thank you chief,” he said almost as an afterthought.
Anderson studied the young man for a minute. “I understand it must have been difficult for you.”
“Ye... you what? What do you mean sir?”
“Don’t pretend she doesn’t mean more to you than simply a team mate.”
“Um... well... I do think a lot about her,” he reluctantly admitted, “but duty comes first, sir, always has, always will.”
“You did the right thing, commander.”
“Sir,” he paused, “do you think I should speak to her? I mean try to explain why...”
“I wouldn’t recommend it, but if you feel it would help your working relationship you could, or if she raises the subject, although I doubt she will. I would just let the matter lie now.”
“You could be right, although I feel I should apologise for the way I spoke to her.”
“Why? You were put in an awkward situation, and you handled it the best way you could. If anyone should apologise, it should be her, if only for putting you in that situation in the first place.”
“Yes sir.” Mark wasn’t comfortable with the idea, “but I don’t think it’s all her fault though,” he said finally.
“No, I should have suspected she might try something like that, and took steps to avoid being in that situation. Besides, if I’m really honest, I wanted to kiss her myself.”
“You did?” Anderson frowned. “So why did you inform me?”
“Because I want her to understand it isn’t me who’s keeping us from developing a closer relationship, it’s the circumstances and our positions in the team, and I want her to know that whatever happens, I’ll be there for her, no matter what, just not in the way she hopes.”
“I see.” Anderson looked angrily at his commander. “I think I’m done here. Just make sure I don’t hear of a repeat performance.”
“There won’t be sir, at least not while the team are still active.”