A bit AU- another girl in the group who Major West takes a liking to. (possibly only a two-shot)

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Major West looked down at her and sighed. Before infection he never would've looked at her twice, but now he figured she was the prettiest thing he'd ever seen. He knew it was a daft notion, but he wanted to protect her. Seriously, something primal in him wanted to hold her and keep her safe. He realized he could care less about the others that had came in with her-the strung out looking black woman, the teenage girl and the lanky guy. Best to try and sort out the guy-give the other two to the men…but her-her he would keep for himself.

Major West wasn't a vulgar man. On the contrary, he had manners to a fault. He wouldn't think of forcing himself upon her, but if infection had taught him anything-it was that time is short and that uncertainty was around every corner.

"You will be wanting to clean up then I suppose." he said more to her than the others. "We have a operating boiler which means warm showers." The ragtag group barely muttered a thank you as they were all still a bit shocked by it all, but the semblance of normalcy was comforting. West nodded to Bell to show them upstairs.

After they were out of ear shot Bedford let out a cheer. Major West stopped him in his tracks.

"I promised you women. I delivered on that promise, but there will be ground rules. We will proceed slowly-" West's eyes cut to Mitchell. "-no one does anything without them getting settled in first. Secondly, the girl in the blue sneakers is off limits."

"But Major?" Mitchell spoke up-but was cut off by West.

"Off limits, Mitchell." He said in almost a whisper. He nodded reluctantly.

"I wasn't looking at their feet." Bedford sighed.

"She was the one with the tits." Clifton grinned sticking his hands out.

"I think they all had tits." Davis sighed wistfully.

"Clifton, patrol the perimeter." Major West barked a bit more forcefully than was needed. "Davis, you as well."

"Yes Major!" they said in unison and quickly left.

"Supper, I believe, Jones?" he said turning to the youngest.

"Yes, Major." Jones nodded and headed off to the kitchen.

"And Jones," the Major stopped him.

"Yes, Major?"

"Something special-in honor of our guests." West turned back around.

"Yes sir!" Bell happily scampered to the kitchen.

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The table was lined with candles. The food smelled good-if a bit processed. West was pleased-he had hoped to impress her-a fact demonstrated by the fact he was in his best dress uniform- and this spread seemed as though it wouldn't disappoint. "You've out done yourself." he said to Jones as he removed a lid from a tray revealing an omelet.

"Thank you sir." Jones smiled.

"I was going to propose a toast.." West said holding up a fork of the eggs. "But under the circumstances I think this will suffice." West put the bite of eggs into his mouth but quickly spat them back out. "Were you aware these eggs had gone off?"

"Well, sir I thought I had masked the taste with salt…" Jones's face fell.

"Can you cook?" West asked Hannah-as she seemed forlorn. "You don't know how desperately we need someone with a little flair in the kitchen."

"I can cook some." Rach spoke up-from his left side.

"Can you?" West asked with renewed interest-happy to have the prospect of a decent cook and also happy to be talking with her. He had been trying to avoid making eye contact-after having stared her down when they'd first arrived, but now she was speaking-not looking at her would be improper.

"I worked in a cafeteria-before infect….well, it seems like a life time ago now." Heads around the table nodded in understanding.

"A cafeteria?" Major West probed further.

"At a senior citizens center." she nodded a bit shy-not really a profession she was proud of. In fact she wouldn't have mentioned it but the way his eyes seemed to linger on her longer than they should made her feel as though she should tell him anything he wanted to know.

"That's perfect-actually." West said still looking at her. He wasn't smiling per say, but his mouth had gone dry-but feeling it was better to not let himself be seen grinning like a mad man in front of his men. What was it about the fairer sex that could do this to a man-cause feelings to stir that he hadn't even realized he had missed until now. In abstract, women had meant the promise of a future-but here in front of him this woman meant something completely different.

"Yes, well…if you like mashed potatoes or porridge, I'm your girl." She laughed, he didn't.

"Still, a cook who can prepare meals for a large group of people is something we desperately need. As you can see." West looked at the untouched eggs.

"Erm, yes" she said reluctantly not wanting to make Jones feel bad for his botched omelet.

"Take this away Jones." West said and pushed the eggs toward the private. Jones nodded and picked up the plate. He made to head to the kitchen but was caught short.

The alarm rang out. The soldiers jumped up and began yelling…cocking guns as they went. The Major didn't move. Selena and Jim made their way out the door following the soldiers. Hannah dove into a corner and covered her ears. Rachel stood and backed up against the wall-unsure what to do. She wasn't like Selena. She had survived infection by luck-not bad-ass. Hannah realized her rock Selena wasn't in the room and crawled out to find her. Rach briefly wondered if she should go find her as well.

"Please," The Major spoke and though the sirens were loud-they were outside far on the lawn, muffled by the large castle walls. She heard him clearly. "Sit back down." He motioned to the seat nearest him. "It's quite safe." he added when he noticed her breathing. She moved closer and sank down beside him, on the edge of her seat. "I am glad to have you to myself, actually." he smiled charmingly and scooped some beans on her plate before scooping some on his. It seemed a bit surreal to be having dinner by candlelight while automatic gun fire went on outside -under their window.

"Why is that?" she asked.

The Major paused-not sure how to answer. "I want to get to know you better-all of you." He lied and smiled timidly. "Your name, for example?" he took a bite of beans before scowling slightly but managing to get them down.

"Rachel." She answered. "And your Major West-I heard them calling you…"

"We're alone…" he said taking a drink of the sherry. "You may call me Henry. I would like it if you did." He added upon seeing the look on her face.

Outside a landmine erupted, causing Rachel to jump in her seat. Henry leaned into her.

"They're there to protect you." he said. "The landmines, the guns, the barbed wire…all of it's there for your protection. I wont let anything harm you. Nothing and no one will harm you whilst you're here." Suddenly, he had become serious. His tone of voice lowered. He was vowing to her and she knew it. He leaned in closer-those intense eyes now staring at her lips which she wetted instinctively.

"Major!" Mitchell burst into the room-upon seeing the major and the girl close he smiled slyly.

"Yes, Mitchell?" West said trying not to sound as put off as he felt.

"Threat has passed, sir." Mitchell said as he remembered his place. "Permission to turn off alarm?"

"Granted." West said then looked back at Rachel. He wanted to say something-he wanted to kiss her, but he knew he belonged with his men now-to congratulate them on a job well done. There would be plenty of time for kissing later, he thought hopefully and smiled. "If you will excuse me?" he asked and waited on her reply.

"Of course." she nodded and watched him leave. She was blown away. Had he really been about to kiss her?

Get a grip, Rach! Your probably the first girl he's seen in weeks…hell, he's in the army-you could be the only girl he's seen in months. You were sitting by him-there were pheromones! She took a piece of the cooked canned ham and plopped it on her plate. It looked horrible-part of it still had the congealed jelly bit attached. She ate it reluctantly, but hungrily as it was the first time she had felt like really eating in a long time.

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