Stories, The Scions

The Scions – 9c

As the hours flew by and Hartmann had Carol progress to practicing shooting targets, he began to fancy that as long as he kept her busy, he could hold off the onset of the morrow. She seemed oddly oblivious to dramatic change in the nature of her training, and her good mood had a relaxing effect on him. Surprisingly, she would occasionally drop a comment over the radio that hinted at the events of the night before without exposing too much, and it was refreshing to realize that he wasn’t left to do all the work in flirting. Had she similarly spent the night preparing for the role that she would play in their secret romance?

They were reflections of each other, despite the dramatically different manifestations.

When the sun brushed the horizon, Hartmann decided that it was time to stop for a meal. He hadn’t eaten since his morning coffee, but he barely felt it; what he wanted was the moment alone with Carol. Once they were in the bunker and Carol was out of the Suit, he feigned indifference as he asked, “You eating in the cafeteria?”

She looked at him, then nodded as she slowly unclipped the radio from her t-shirt. “I guess so, master sergeant,” she replied.

“You’re dismissed, corporal,” Hartmann said to Holmes. “We’ll resume training in an hour, so take care of your personal shit for the day.”

“Yes, sir,” Holmes answered, saluted, then turned to leave.

Hartmann’s eyes were fixed on Holmes’ back as he said, “You’ve made a lot of improvement today, so I’m going to take you out for ice cream.” When he was certain the young soldier was out of earshot, he turned fully to Carol and smiled. “It will be a date.”

Carol blushed, bit her lip, and turned away, though she nodded and squeaked, “Sure.”

“Don’t be nervous.” Hartmann’s hand found her elbow, and he purred, “I’ll make sure it doesn’t hurt.”

Her cheeks turned an even deeper shade of red, and she lightly stuttered as she said, “M-master sergeant.”

“Trust me.” He looked around, but decided the bunker was far too exposed for him to try anything. “Let’s go. We only have an hour.”

“It’s hard to believe that it’s dinnertime already. Feels like we haven’t been training for very long,” Carol spoke in a conversational tone as they headed outside and turned towards the street. “I like being in the Suit much better than physical training or book learning.”

“We should focus on that from now on.” His reply was more autopilot than anything else, but his hand slid down from Carol’s elbow, along the soft underside of her arm, then clasped around her own hand. He liked making her blush, and she responded readily whenever he made his advances. In contrast with his experiences in the military, it was unreal to think that a woman like her existed – he understood why Lambert had called her a mouse. “Where would you like to eat?”

“I don’t know.” Carol hesitated, then moved to hug his arm between her breasts, holding onto him tightly. “Where ever you want.”

She was different now than she had been earlier in the Suit. More shy and uncertain, as if she had left all of her confidence inside the mecha. Hartmann related to her change in demeanor, knowing all too well how much better it felt to be big and indestructible. He knew exactly how to use it to his advantage, too.

“Burgers and fries, since that will give us enough time to hop over to the ice cream place. Let’s get my car.” He wanted the walk to the parking lot to last forever, to keep hold of the sensation of Carol’s heart beating against his tricep. “I’m proud of how much better you’re doing today.”

She beamed. “Me too. I thought that shooting and target practice were easier to get the hang of than running around, and it’s more fun. Are we going to do more of it tomorrow?”

“Absolutely.” Hartmann winced inwardly, but hid it. “And at the rate you’re going, you’ll be a pro by the end of tomorrow.”

Carol was too elated to protest the flattery, or to notice the forced note in his intonation. He was content to let her live in the moment, filled with the high that comes after piloting the Suit, and out on her first official date with her new secret boyfriend. He wasn’t going to spoil his chances by trying to burst her bubble with reality.

When they were seated in the front seats of his car, he couldn’t hold himself back any longer. Hartmann leaned across the center console and pressed his mouth against her lips, his fingers gliding through her hair just behind her ear. The taste of her was so intoxicating that it was difficult to maintain his senses and keep control of himself, and his nerves cried out to feel her skin against his. He had to break away when it became too much for him to endure.

Carol’s lips had turned a deep red and she was studying him closely, but her expression was difficult to read. “When did you first start liking me?” she asked.

Hartmann shrugged. “Can’t say, honestly.”

She entwined her fingers with his after he started the car, and surprised him when she said, “I’m sorry that it took me so long to notice you.”

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