A/N: Thanks for all the reviews! For those of you who liked it, I'm sorry I changed this chapter. But, it has been really bugging me.
Disclaimer: I own only the plot. Characters and other elements are compliments of Tamora Pierce.
Kel was so lost in her thoughts; she did not realize that someone was approaching. It was not until that person put their hand on her shoulder that she snapped out of her reverie. She grabbed the hand and twisted so she could see who it was.
"Oh, Dom, it's just you," she exclaimed.
"Don't look too happy to see me. Ouch!" The lanky, black-haired sergeant cradled the hand she had grabbed. Domitan of Masbolle was a sergeant in the Third Company of the King's Own. She had traveled with him for four years, when she served as Sir Raoul's squire.
"Sorry. You scared me."
"I, scare the Protector of the Small? Unthinkable!"
Kel sighed, "For the millionth time, please stop calling me that."
Kel laughed and shook her head him. She had hidden her crush on him since her years as a squire. He flipped a strand of black hair out of his eyes.
"You sound like our dear meat head."
"Oh, gods forgive me! Hey Kel, what are you doing tonight?"
"My Lord is having a get together in the mess. Something to do with his wedding. He's meeting with someone or other now, so he sent me to ask you and meat head. Neal and Yuki already said yes."
"Why not? Thanks for giving me the details." Kel stressed the word 'details' and glared at him.
Dom just smiled mockingly. "Glad to be your humble messenger. See you later."
"Wait, Dom. When exactly is this?"
"Ummm, seventh hour. I think. Bye!" He ran off.The mess was spilling over with men from the Third Company. Someone had coerced the chef into providing food and a few bottles of mead were being enthusiastically passed around. Kel was distracted by many hellos and congratulations as she tried to make her way to Raoul and Buri. She finally reached the table where they were sitting, Raoul with his arm thrown around his fiancée. Kel gave them both big hugs.
"By the way," she asked, "Why are we here?"
"It's a surprise," Buri replied mysteriously.
Kel grabbed a glass of mulled cider and went to mingle with Dom, Neal and Yuki. Neal and Yuki wandered off, leaving only Kel and Dom. They talked about all sorts of trivial things, mostly the Own.
"How long are you guys staying at Steadfast?" Kel asked.
"Truthfully, I do not know. Hopefully we'll move out soon. It's getting a bit boring; I miss the action."
"Careful; you may just get what you wish for."
Just then, Raoul grabbed a glass and tapped it. Only those closest to him paid attention, so he just shouted at everyone to be quiet.
"Alright, nobody knows why they are here, except Buri and me and…"
"Just get on with it," someone shouted. Raoul glared.
"As I was saying, I have a surprise. Many of you know that Buri and I are to be married some time around Midwinter in Corus. The king has granted permission for Third Company to come with us when we go. We leave in a month." A chorus of cheers followed this announcement. Another few bottles of mead were revealed. Raoul looked around and shouted for Kel.
"You, Neal, and all your other little friends who helped you kill Blayce have been granted leave. We couldn't have you miss this one."
"Hey Neal," she shouted, "Guess we have to go back to Haven tomorrow."
"That's okay," he said, glancing at Yuki, "I'll have all winter with you." Obviously, that comment was not directed at Kel.
Feeling the need for fresh air, Kel slipped out of the mess and went out to a nearby balcony. Dom followed.
"Ahh, fresh air," he said as he reached her.
"Yeah. What do you think of our little vacation coming up?"
Dom's blue eyes twinkled. "I can't wait to be out of this rock heap. We deserve it, especially you Lady Knight."
She punched him lightly on the arm. "Stop calling me that. What is it, do you forget my name?"
"Of course not. I just like to annoy you."
"I'm going to bed. 'Night." Kel turned around and headed back to her rooms.
Wolset, one of the corporals in Don's squad, walked out. He slapped Don on the back. "Courting the Lady Knight, now, are we sergeant?"
"Shut it, Wolset. She's just a friend and you know it."
"I know what I see and hear, and I say you like her."
"Then you had too much to drink."
"No, I'm as sober as ever, sergeant."
Dom just scowled. "Is this how you treat your superiors?"
"No," Wolset replied, "Unless I know I'm right. Enjoy your evening." He winked and walked back toward the mess.
'Do I like her?' Dom thought. 'No; I can't. She's the best friend of my cousin and a fellow soldier. I just like her as a friend. Just because I missed her and couldn't wait to see her again and make her smile… Mithros! I do like her as more than a friend. What am I going to do? How could this happen? I have no chance; I'll just give it up now.' Unfortunately, his mind and heart remained unconnected in this pursuit so he simply cradled his head in his hands and went to bed.
A/N: Please keep reviewing. Updates coming soon, so stay tuned.