Notes from me: Hello everyone once again like to thank Fifi and Crabby the weird twins of Reddit for proofreading my work. I am changing somethings up normally I put the speech and thoughts into italic but I decided to change that to just thought so I don't need to really add the whole he/she thought but speech will remain normal only thoughts will be in italic from now on. I hope you all enjoy this next chapter of 'A Cowboy's Wildfire'

A Cowboy's Wildfire

Chapter 2: The Warmth of a Smile

"Cherry, you said, right, ma'am?"

Those words seemed to echo in the young girl's mind as her items lay sprawled out on the floor of the store. The young man before her quickly put the single bottle of cherry soda back in the box before getting on one knee before her. He quickly placed all the items back in the basket in a neat pile like he had been doing it for years.

As he finished, he placed his free hand on his knee, and with little effort, he pushed himself up. It was then that Alisa realized how small she was compared to him; he was easily a foot taller than she was, as her head came up only to his chest. It was slightly intimidating—at least, it should have been, except his smile never left his handsome face.

"Ma'am, you dropped your things." he said in his strange accent, carefully holding the basket full of items out for her as if worried she'd drop them again. Alisa's brown eyes couldn't leave his copper ones as she gingerly reached out for the basket with both hands.

Her fingertips slowly grasped the edges of the basket. Pulling it to her small chest, she cradled the basket as if it were alive, her eyes still locked with his. She wanted to thank him, but nothing came out of her mouth as she opened her lips. She almost looked like a fish gasping for air as her lips moved but made no sound.

"Ma'am, you okay?" he asked, sounding legitimately concern for the girl. His concerned tone brought some sound finally, but the only thing that came out of the small commander's mouth was a nervous stutter of "A-Ahhhhhh." which brought a small blush across her freckled features.

"Ahhhhhh?" he mimicked. Normally, it would have pissed off Alisa to have someone else making fun of her, but she couldn't even get angry at this man. Something about him was just soothing like a warm shower after a long day; that smile had an almost unnatural warmth to it.

"Ah, right, cherry," the young man said. This snapped Alisa out of her daydreaming as he broke eye contact, turning away from her. With his back to the girl, he once again reached into a box of cherry soda and pulled a single bottle out.

"Ah, right…cherry…" she whispered nervously. It was barely audible, but the man seemed to hear her as he turned to face her. His warm smile was gone, replaced with a smirk, a rather cocky/sexy smirk that caused the girl before him to loosen her grip on the basket.

As it began to once again slip free of Alisa's grasp, the young man reached out. His hand slid right under the basket, catching it in place. His other hand carefully dropped the cherry coke right in with her other items as he held the basket for her. His eyes switched from a cocky appearance to a half-lidded look, an almost knowing look, as if he knew she'd drop her things again. But this look only made the girl blush even deeper; it made him look even sexier!

'Oh, COME ON!' her brain screamed as she grasped the basket once again, hard this time, as she ripped it away from his hand. His cocky/sexy smirk vanished, returning to that genuine smile that had caused her to drop her items to begin with but she wasn't going to falter this time.

'He thinks this is some sort of game. Well, buster, I'm not…not…' Alisa's brain once again came to a halt as the young man pulled his Sunkus cap off, as it was still backwards. The cap released his shaggy chestnut colored hair, which flowed freely now, coming down to just above his shoulders. His hair resembled a famous American actor Alisa had seen in a movie once—what was his name? —Owen Wilson.

'How the hell does he fit all that hair in there?!' She wondered. He carefully ran his hand through his shaggy hair, making sure it was slicked back. Holding it there for a moment, he slipped the cap back on, effectively hiding his once long hair again.

After a few adjustments, his hat was back in its normal position, facing forward. As he released the hat, he turned his attention once again to the boxes of soda that remained on the floor. He got to work, taking several bottles out at once and putting them in the fridge, filling up the empty or almost empty slots.

Alisa watched him work quickly as he filled up the cherry slot in a matter of seconds. It was rather impressive, she thought. Like he was a machine working the line, efficient and fast. It didn't take long for the first box to be empty, at which point he grasped the sides with his fingers, spinning the box in his grasp so the open side was now facing down. He poked his fingers into the small slit opening. Grasping it he used his free hand to hit the opposite lid he wasn't holding. It broke effortlessly, and a second later he broke the other lid open, folded the box up and placed it in a free space on the floor.

He was about to do same with the others until he noticed Alisa was still standing there, watching him work. He paused to look at her with his kind smile, and it was only now she realized she was staring at the strange man before her.

"Ma'am, was there something else you needed?" he asked kindly, keeping that smile the whole time. She looked away from that smiling, stupid, handsome face. "N-No, I mean yes! I'd like to check yo—MY stuff out!" She quickly corrected herself. The blush that was once fading from her freckled cheeks was once again threatening to take over.

"Ah, sorry, ma'am," he replied. Turning away from the stack of boxes, he closed the door to the fridge. He then went to squeeze by her to get to the front of the store, but Alisa just stood there. Keeping her blushing face pointed at the floor, she could see the large shadow he was casting over her thanks to the overhead lights.

"Ma'am?" the slightly concerned employee asked. He was a little confused as to why the girl before him was just frozen in place. Had he said something to offend her? Did his earlier teasing actually upset her? He didn't mean anything by it, he was just trying to lighten the mood since he could easily sense her nervousness. It was pretty much written all over her face, though this wasn't the first time someone had been caught off guard by his presence.

'Most the gals onboard never met an American before' he thought, 'But normally a smile can get them to relax…but this little lady…' Alisa seemed way more on edge than anyone else he had met since he came aboard almost half a year ago.

'What should I... AH!' An idea came to the young man. He backed away a bit from the girl. Alisa jumped a bit in surprise from his shadow uncovering her. She finally looked up a bit, but only enough to see him take his hat off. His Owen Wilson shaggy hair came free from its prison as he took a bow, his hat crossing over his heart as he took an almost comical pose.

"Name's Elias, Ma'am. Sunkus's lowly nighttime employee from America. Montana to be precise," the young man said. His shaggy hair fell down a bit to cover his eyes as he bowed low before the girl. His hand didn't stick out behind him, making his pose look goofier, like a performer on stage.

"Here to serve," he said in an almost musical tone. He tried to peek at her through his hair, but when that failed, he blew some air at it, parting his hair away from his eyes. As his vision cleared, he gave her that smile, that damn heart-skipping smile.

"A-Alisa…" she replied. Her nervousness wasn't nearly as obvious as before, though he could still hear it in her voice. But that wasn't what caught his attention; it was her name.

"Alisa?...the tankery commander?" He asked, sounding unsure. This surprised the freckled girl a bit. He actually recognized her? She gave a small nod, her blush now vanishing as a surprised expression formed on her features.

"You're Sunny's friend!" He snapped his fingers using his free hand. The same hand brushed his hair back as he slipped his hat back on. He had finally gotten her to relax it seemed, which turned his gentle smile into a cocky smirk again. He felt a little proud of that, though he noticed the surprised face changed to one of confusion.

"Sunny?" He face palmed himself a little inside feeling a little stupid; of course she wouldn't recognize that name. "Ah, apologies, Miss. Kay is Sunny." The surprised expression immediately changed to an annoyed one as Alisa looked down at the ground once more.

'Of course…he only knows me from Kay…it's always her.' Alisa sighed a little. Those ugly insecurities were once again rearing their ugly head. It was always the pretty ones they recognized; after all, guys notice how much prettier girls are when they are next to their ugly boring friends…

"Yeah, you and Sunny kicked some major as-" He cut himself off. He wasn't supposed to cuss in front of a customer. Clearing his throat, he continued. "Y'all did so well against the University team. It was impressive to watch!" Alisa was only half-listening to his praise. She was pretty sure he was just trying to be polite…

"Thanks…" she replied halfheartedly. She moved aside for him to finally get past her as he made his way to the register. Alisa followed close behind him. She placed her basket on the counter. Slowly, she placed each item on the counter. As he started to scan Alisa's items quickly, her mind once again began to wander to her earlier crisis…

'More like Kay and Naomi were amazing; I was just all talk…' That's right, she challenged the three commanders of the University in a moment of arrogance, in the heat of the moment.

She felt invincible, untouchable thanks to Anzio's amazingly detailed intel that had managed to turn the tables on the University team completely. They had managed to wipe out almost all the competition; Naomi had even helped Saint Gloriana take out the T28 that was tearing through the amusement park.

'And Kay…' When the assault force had ambushed Alisa's convoy she had immediately started to panic, while Kay managed to reroute the convoy to rejoin the main forces.

'It was some sort of miracle I wasn't taken out right there and then…' It truly was some act of God that helped her little Sherman manage to withstand 12 direct hits on the hull. Which shouldn't have happened, really; after all, that same tank was wiped out in the match against Ooarai with just one shot.

'Maybe that's why I got so cocky…because I felt like I was trying to prove myself to Takashi…prove I was worthwhile then that damn bimbo he's with now. But no…no, I got my ass handed to me! ' She scowled at herself; that same doubt from before was rearing its terrible head again. It forced her to close her eyes in frustration.

'You're worthless' some part of her brain said. 'Pathetic.' No guy would want some flat-chested loser who couldn't even manage to take out one tank without being rescued by her fellow commanders. No one would want some loser like her leading Saunders after Kay graduated, she'd simply be thrown aside like garbage…like some worthl-

"You were amazing!"

That strange accent said. Alisa's eyes snapped open as her brown irises met with a pair of copper eyes. That smile from before, the same smile that made her heart skip a beat, made her drop her things. There was a new look on this young man's face as he smiled at her, not exactly gentle but almost proud.

"The way you charged in…did you know there were mics built into your tanks?" he asked as he bagged her last items. He carefully lifted the bag, putting it into a second one to reinforce it so it was less likely to tear open. He then turned his attention back to the startled-looking girl.

"You want some?!" He quoted from her commentary during the match. It brought a small blush to the girl's freckled face. It sounded so corny, she admitted to herself; she had wanted to sound like a badass but instead sounded like a fool…but…

"But I got wiped out," she admitted. Elias simply smirked at her, keeping that proud look on his face. "Who cares? Granddaddy once told me there is no better way to go out then with your boots on!" He claimed seeming almost proud of his own words, while the girl before him looked confused as hell.

"What the hell does that even mean?!" she wondered aloud, only to smack her own hands over her mouth in embarrassment. She hadn't meant to scream that out. But instead of looking offended, the young man smiled even more proudly.

"Means going out with a fight, and did you ever." The blush of embarrassment that once was from her own stupidity changed to one of amazement. He actually admired her…not Naomi…not Kay…but her. And he did so with the sincerest smile she'd ever seen.

'His smile…' That warmth she had felt before was returning, not the burning heat of her cheeks from his praise. No, it was a gentle warmth that seemed to fill her whole heart, making her bring her hand up to her chest grasping the fabric above her heart.

'What…is this feeling?' She had never felt this way before. No guy ever made her feel this way, but she liked it…she liked his praise. Liked his charming smile, his strange accent, his handsome features…he was nothing like Takashi…he actually seemed to notice her. And it didn't feel like the normal customer service…it actually felt like it was for her…

'Or is it all in my head?…' She wondered. With a little smile, she gave a small bow of appreciation. Elias nodded in return to her, before finally pushing her items to her. He then pressed a few buttons on the register until a small ding was heard. The register opened up for him.

"That'll be $16.50, or 1788 yen please." Alisa nodded this time as she reached into her bomber jacket pocket, pulling out a small cute wallet with a Sherman tank design on the side. It was decorated with several hearts. Elias blinked a little, surprised by the cutesy wallet. It brought a small smile to his features…

Alisa pulled a 2000 yen note from her wallet and offered it to him. He gently took the note from her, as if worried he'd rip it by mistake. He placed it in the register, tapping a few buttons, and took a small sum of yen from the drawer. Flipping them over in his hand he quickly counted out the correct change before he offered it back to the girl.

"Here ya go!" he said cheerfully, all the while keeping that smile on his face. Alisa held her hand out, letting the coins fall into her palm. As soon as his hand was free of the coins, he took the printed receipt and placed it into her one of her bags. Alisa took her change, putting it into the cutesy wallet before shoving it back into her bomber jacket.

Before taking her bags, she looked at the young man, who bowed his head in thanks for the business. She was about to open her mouth to ask something until the back door that Elias had disappeared through earlier opened up slowly. Alisa wiped around to see a rather tired looking young man. He wore the same Sunkus shirt as Elias minus the hat.

"Ah, Daisuke, you're back from lunch already?" Elias asked. He sounded happy to see the young man; it meant his own break was coming up. Daisuke glanced from Elias to Alisa. immediately noticing the Saunders bomber jacket. He seemed a little surprised to see the girl. But he returned his attention to the American.

"Already? I left right when she entered." he said, pointing right at Alisa. Now it was her turn to be surprised. She quickly reached into her other pocket, ripping out her cellphone to check the time.

"7:00 PM?! I'VE BEEN HERE FOR ALMOST AN HOUR!?" she screamed in disbelief. Elias simply shrugged. "Time flies when you're having fun," he said casually with a knowing smile. Alisa didn't react to his words as she grabbed her things, making a break for the door. But she froze when the doors opened, not looking at him.

"Thank you…for what you…AH, NEVER MIND!" she groaned, too embarrassed to finish her sentence, grinding her bag-filled hands into her skull. "Please come again and tell Sun- Kay I said hi!" Elias called after her with a smile, and though he couldn't see her face, he took notice of her red ears.

"Yeah…goodnight," she mumbled before taking off into the night, leaving the two Sunkus employees alone. Elias propped his elbow on the counter, placing his head into his hand. He turned to Daisuke, who looked a little annoyed with Elias, the incessant smiler.

"So, she's amazing, huh?" The boy shoved his hands into his pockets before walking up to the counter. Elias smirked lightly. "Heard that, did you?" He didn't seem surprised by Daisuke's words, who leaned against the counter with his back to the American.

"You know I did. After all, the alarm tells you when someone comes in the back door." Elias faked a surprised expression before shrugging lightly. "I had no idea," he replied sarcastically before pushing himself off the counter to return to his other duties.

"I'm gonna finishing stocking the soda before I take my break." He made his way around the counter. As he was about to make it to the corner where the boxes of soda remained untouched, Daisuke called out to him.

"Ya know, it's impolite to lie to a girl." Elias paused turning his gaze to the boy. "Lie?" Daisuke nodded once. "Yeah, telling her she's amazing just to boost her morale, that isn't cool, man." The American gave a cocky smirk, surprising his coworker, before continuing to the soda shelves. His next words surprised Daisuke even more.

"I don't remember telling any lies."