"What do you mean? Here! Right out in the open? Are you nuts!"

Ashley stared miserably at Leon for a moment, who returned nothing but a look of professional coolness, blue eyes blinking slowly. Deciding to try a different tactic, Ashley smiled coquettishly, fluttering her eyelashes slightly, shifting her weight so that the more gifted aspects of her body were more visible.

Leon would not be moved. Ashley began to sputter.

I'm the president's daughter for god's sakes! There should be a law against such disrespectfulness!

"But, Leon, there aren't even any toilets around! Where am I supposed to go?"

Leon turned, pointing towards a stone corner, semi-protected by wooden barrels.

"There. I'll turn my back, and keep an eye on things. You'd do best to hurry up, before any Ganado find us."

Ashley sputtered indignantly again, angry syllables and incoherent words spilling from her lips.

"Well, what about paper? What am I suppose to do?"

"Improvise," Leon said, opening his rifle case and fishing through it, retrieving an herb he'd yet to crush up. He plucked the leaves off it, handing them to Ashley. "That's the best we have."

Ashley glared at the slightly-wilted leaves, willing them to become soft cottony sheets. When they didn't, she grumbled, roughly yanking them from Leon's grasp and pouting before turning on heel and stalking into the corner.

Oh my god, how embarrassing...

She pushed her panties down to her knees, squatting awkwardly, shivering from the chill. She stared at Leon's back, almost slightly miffed that he didn't even try to snatch a peek. He stood alert, spine straight, shotgun resting in his hands. Ashley indulged herself with a glance at lower parts of his backside anatomy, muffling a giggle.

She was kind of unsure what to think about him, sure he was cool and totally hot, but was alternately strict and affable with her, leaving her with no idea where she stood. She knew she was a spoiled brat, she could admit that much, but her father was the president after all, and she felt justified with the many perks of her life.

Still, she wasn't some brain-dead damsel in distress, she'd kept her wits about her pretty well, she thought, and tried her best to help Leon out...

Like what, that wagon with the barrels on it? Leon was already aiming at it before the words were even out of your mouth, don't flatter yourself.

Ashley frowned sourly, mind struggling to come up with rationalizations, each time the more sensible part of her brain shooting them down. She wasn't anything special, it was simply luck she'd been born into her status, and she knew it.

Leon doesn't even look at you that way, you're just a kid to him, just a "subject." He's just trying to do his job by saving you, if Father had lost the election, he'd be saving some other kid by now, not you.

But she would've never met him, then...

Ashley managed a slight smile, one that didn't quite reach her eyes, but was close enough.

That's true. I suppose... I guess I at least got that much.

Leon was... he was cool, a really incredible guy. He was an amazing shot, and could perform all kinds of physical feats she'd only seen in movies. And it was for her. He was saving her. Ashley's smile grew as she tried to ignore the cold air, the stiffness in her legs.

Even... even if he isn't interested, even if he's not mine... maybe I could barrow him for a little while... improvise.

She finished, struggling to hold onto what remained of her dignity by keeping her hands dry and quietly disposing of the soiled leaves.

"Leon?" she asked timidly, her protector turning around to face her, glaze fading from his eyes, as though he'd just been miles away.

"Ready?" he asked, giving a quick nod of his head, towards the heavy-looking wooden door on the far wall.


He grunted, pulling on one of the large iron rings, muscles straining. Leon took a few steps into the plush hallway, shifting his gun from side to side, motioning for Ashley when nothing leapt out to attack them.

I won't slow him down, Ashley promised herself, and stepped after him.