Elizabeth Adams stepped outside of the helo into the heavy, humid sea air. The wind from the propeller practically ripped through her, causing her to have to grip her bag with all her might and even her tightly wound ponytail faltered sending her long blonde flying hair all over her face. Dammit, she knew she should have gotten a haircut before she left. She looked around at her surroundings, the carrier was different than she had expected. She had looked at so many pictures and seen them from afar and had convinced herself she knew was she was getting into but standing here on the deck was so extraordinary and she wasn't sure if that was good or bad.
What the hell had she gotten herself into?
She walked out of the way of the helicopter and toward a man in BDU's. He managed a small smile and held out his hand. "Ma'am, I'm Lieutenant Rossi, it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance."
Elizabeth just smiled, "Elizabeth Adams, likewise." She was still too overwhelmed by her surroundings to string together much more of a sentence.
He didn't waste a minute before starting to explain to her the layout of the ship, going over the numbering systems for the different decks and levels and explaining how to get around. Thank god she had studied it beforehand because she was so overwhelmed by the sheer expanse of the carrier that she was unable to focus completely on his words. He led her into the ship first to the bunks. "Ma'am you have to understand we don't get many women onboard, especially women with rankings equivalent to officers so while you have your own room you will have to share a bathroom area with two other male officers, possibly one more if we pick up anyone else or we happen to have a TAD officer onboard.
Elizabeth nodded, "It's fine. I'm a woman in the CIA, I'm used to being overrun with men."
Lt. Rossi just smiled awkwardly at her little joke and opened the door to her bunk. It was tiny and sterile looking. A small bed jutting out from the wall, a tiny desk right up next to it, and a small area for her clothing. She could make this work. Her quarters at the Farm hadn't been much better and those she had to share. At least it was her own space.
"Captain McCord is next door to you, he's the flight commander and Captain Mather is across. You'll mostly be working with those two I assume."
"If you'd like to take some time to get settled I can wait for you outside and then take you to the operations room to meet Captain McCord and Captain Mather. I imagine the CAG will want you to check in with him as well."
Elizabeth smiled and shook her head, "No, let's just go." He was sweet to offer but she didn't really have anything to get settled. She just wanted to get to work.
They first checked in with the CAG and Elizabeth found herself feeling a little off, she just prayed it was nerves and not seasickness. "Elizabeth Adams, pleasure to meet you." The Captain of the Air Group wasn't a tall man, in fact he looked as though he was just under six feet, but he was intimidating nonetheless. He voice was stern and his handshake was alone was a force to be reckoned with. Elizabeth swallowed hard and prayed her nerves weren't showing. "Conrad Dalton highly recommends you, he's never let me down. I expect you'll serve us well Agent Adams. It's good to have you onboard."
Elizabeth just smiled and nodded, "Thank you, sir." She was honestly surprised by his willingness to overlook the fact that she was a woman and focus solely on her abilities. She had expected to have to prove herself—although she still had a lot of men to meet. Dalton had never expected any less from his people though so it made sense anyone he had a lot of respect for would feel the same way. Hopefully the men in the squadron would be the same way.
They made their way to the small squadron operations room. Two men were hunched over a table and looked to be intently discussing several maps in front of them.
Lt. Rossi announced their presence and the two officers stood up and faced them.
Elizabeth felt her breath hitch at the sight of the man on the right. He was tall with light brown hair and sharp cheekbones. His dark eyes looked kind somehow, she couldn't pinpoint why exactly, and the way his mouth folded into a friendly smile was enough to make her feel like she couldn't catch her breath. She pursed her lips and pried her eyes away.
Lt. Rossi introduced them, "Agent Elizabeth Adams, this is Captain Henry McCord and Captain Brian Mather."
Captain McCord was the first to stick out his hand. She groaned internally, his adorable smile was giving her butterflies. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Agent Adams. I hope Lt. Rossi has given you a proper tour of the carrier?"
She smiled and nodded, "He's been very helpful." She tucked a lock of hair behind her ear twirled it once before she pulled her arm down quickly. Good lord what was happening to her? She was acting like a middle schooler with a crush.
Come on, Elizabeth. Be cool. You have to work with this guy for the next six months. She just needed to keep repeating that to herself. She was here to work, nothing more.
Henry held eye contact with her, unnerving her in a way and she averted her gaze. He was so attractive, it was just unexpected, she would get over it.
Luckily Captain Mather reached forward to shake her hand and thankfully dove right in to their mission. He seemed to be all business and Elizabeth was somewhat grateful for that. They got straight to work, discussing the reason she was there. She had been assigned to the carrier to work with the squadron and assets in country to secure more accurate intel and reduce possible casualties in their air raids and to improve location accuracy.
They finished up with basics for the day, clueing in Elizabeth to their standard operations and procedures and decided to start fresh tomorrow. When they disbanded for the night Captain Mather headed to the mess hall but Elizabeth wasn't hungry and apparently neither was Henry and they headed towards their bunks together.
She was tense but she found she wasn't uncomfortable in his presence like she normally would have been with an attractive man she had just met. She was usually a nervous talker and although Henry had her on edge, at the same time something about his presence put her at ease. If she was honest with herself, finding a man attractive at all was a rare phenomenon for her. The times she actually found a man attractive were few and far between and for her to then be affected by said attractive man was an even more elusive feeling. But this, this was different. It was so strange to feel so many butterflies but at the same time feel comfortable.
She was totally unaware that Henry was feeling the same thing. From the moment she walked into ops he had been sort of awestruck by her. Pretty girls normally didn't affect him the way Elizabeth Adams was affecting him. But she was more than pretty, she was absolutely stunning and she was also brilliant. Henry had enjoyed just talking with her about work.
"Is this your first time on a carrier?" Henry asked as they walked toward their quarters, wanting to break the silence. They were going to be working closely together and he wanted to get to know her.
Elizabeth smiled, "Yeah, I studied everything about it and I thought I would be prepared but I underestimated how extraordinary it would be." She was genuinely in awe of the carrier, it was more incredible than she imagined.
Henry smiled; she was so cute when she smiled. The way her lips curled was adorable. It made his heart skip a beat.
"Give it a couple months. It'll seem small." He said, making them both laugh. She knew it was going to be true.
"How many times have you been deployed?" She asked, he seemed like he was around her age, maybe a little older, not to mention he was a Captain so this was most definitely not his first deployment.
"This is my fourth deployment."
"So you're well acquainted with carrier life."
Henry nodded, "Yeah, this is my second carrier deployment. The other two were in country."
"Afghanistan?" She asked quietly.
Henry nodded; he almost looked like a little boy with his hands in his pockets. "Yeah, I assume you've come from the Middle East desk, have you been?"
Elizabeth bit her lip and crossed her arms, nothing bad had happened to her when she was in country but it had certainly been eye opening to witness the death and destruction first hand. "Yeah, I um, I was there a few months back. It was certainly an experience."
Henry pursed his lips and nodded, "Yes, that it certainly is."
Elizabeth knew his time there couldn't have been a picnic, it was war for god's sake, but she didn't want to pry. She had just met him after all. By now they had arrived at their bunks and Elizabeth was frankly disappointed to end their conversation. "Well, um, this is me."
"That's me," Henry said, pointing to the door next to hers.
"I hear we're bathroom mates as well." She was trying to sound playful when she said that but it just came out sounding weird and she cringed. God she was bad at this.
"Um, yeah, do you need any help in there?"
She raised an eyebrow, what the hell did he just ask her? Maybe she had jumped to the wrong conclusion when she assumed he was a gentleman.
Henry blushed and started to wave his hands in front of him, "Oh god, no, I'm sorry, I meant do you know how to use everything? How to turn the shower on and all that stuff? It can be a little tricky."
Now was Elizabeth's turn to blush, she felt like an idiot for judging him. She laughed nervously, "Oh yeah, I know. Thank you though."
Henry took a deep breath in relief and nodded. "Um, that's good. Well, it was great to meet you, Agent Adams. Sleep well, I'll see you tomorrow."
"You too Captain McCord, and please call me Elizabeth." She asked as she pushed open the door to her bunk.
Henry was at his door and looked over, "Elizabeth." He said with a smile. "Please call me Henry."
"Goodnight, Henry." She said as she slipped into her bunk and closed the door behind her.
Henry just smiled and shook his head as he entered his own bunk. He sat down and took a deep breath. This was certainly going to be a long six months.
Elizabeth shut her door and sank down against it and she laughed out loud. She caught her breath and powered up the computer. She was supposed to check in with Isabelle but she definitely had alternative motives.
Please answer. Please answer. Please answer. She muttered to herself as the call connected. Finally she saw Isabelle's face and she sighed in relief. "Oh god it's good to see you."
"Elizabeth, you haven't been on carrier for even twelve hours, please don't tell me you're already sick of it?"
Elizabeth rolled her eyes at her friend, "No, but the squadron captain. Isabelle…honestly he's like George Clooney handsome."
Isabelle raised an eyebrow, "Oh my god do you have a crush? And at work! Is the salty air already getting to you?"
Again Elizabeth rolled her eyes as her friend teased her, "No, I don't have a crush. He's just handsome. I'm allowed to think men are attractive without having any ulterior motives." She said, a little too indignantly.
Isabelle bit her bottom lip like she was trying her hardest not to tease her friend. "Uh huh, okay, whatever you say, Bess."
"We're not talking about this right now!" Elizabeth said and immediately moved on to explaining her first day to Isabelle.
But Isabelle had seen the way her friend's cheeks got rosy at the mention of her new coworker. This was certainly going to be an interesting six months.
My first ff in a very long time, I'm nervous! Please leave me a comment if you enjoyed it!