Dry. That single word painted an accurate picture of Blood Gulch, and one of its inhabitants. Sarge took a seat on the ground sheltered by rocks near the cliffs on the left side of the territory expanding beyond the Red Base. It was far enough away not to be seen by his men, but close enough that help was near if he needed it. After an unusually tumultuous morning of dealing with Grif's infatuation with the deadly sin known as sloth, some alone time was just what the NCO needed. Carefully, he laid down his shotgun on the desert floor, and the placed his canteen on his lap. After taking one final scan of his surroundings, Sarge removed his helmet, revealing a head of silver hair and piercing topaz eyes, and placed it next to the firearm.

After popping the cap off, he slowly raised the container's opening to his lips, taking care not to spill its contents. He'd just begun to take a savory drink when his ears detected a gun cocking next to his head. Sarge's hand shot out in surprise, causing some of the liquid's drops to scatter. "What in sam hell?!"

"All right, what's in the canteen? You're handling the thing too carefully for it to be water!" Tex's commanding voice answered as Sarge felt around on the dirt with his free hand. "You try to pick up your shotgun, and I'll blow your head off. Same if you try to use your radio," Tex warned.

"I'm trying to find the damn cap!" Sarge couldn't believe how stupid the situation had turned. He knew very well that the freelancer could turn invisible, but he had thought that he would have heard her coming. Apparently that thought was inaccurate.

Tex's dark form finally appeared as she pressed, "Well, what's in there?"

Sealing the vessel, he replied, "Whiskey."

"I knew it. You aren't the type to go off and think on your own, if you do at all."

"At least I'm not as bad as Grif. Doesn't know his head from his ass half the time."

"That must suck for you. You've been holding out on me. I'm tired of having to drink this flavored water Command keeps sending us! 'Light beer' my ass!" Sarge stared into the freelancer's visor, and wondered what sort of scheme she was trying to come up with. It was traitorous and downright stupid for a soldier to let a member of an enemy team know about his or her rations. Then again, after what he'd seen of this soldier, he highly doubted she gave a damn about military code. Maybe she was playing the poor little girl act by begging him for a little change in her life. Well, she had another thing coming. He'd taken great pains to keep this nectar of the gods he'd earned through vigorous work out of the grubby hands of his men, and there was absolutely no way he was going to allow this rude, sneaky, interloping bitch to have a single drop without proving she was worthy of it. Still, he did think it was odd that the Blues' rations were of as bad a quality as the Reds', hence the fact he had been trying to hide the rare good booze, but he let the thought pass. It was probably only part of her conniving plot.

He decided not to give her time to put the plan into action. "You want some? Come and get it!" Sarge threw the sealed canteen at her, causing a surprised Tex to scramble for it. She let out a grunt of pain as the Red leader collided with her chest, pinning the gun beneath him. The uncaught canteen ricocheted off a rock, and skittered away across the dirt. She tried to shove him off with her free hand, but he caught and held it in an iron grip, baring his teeth in a wolfish snarl.

His victory did not last long. Tex slammed the edge of her helmet against his head, stunning him and giving her a golden opportunity to ground him, which she all too willingly took advantage of. Sarge felt something warm trickling down his forehead underneath the barrel of her gun. He was so completely helpless...Sarge forced his fragmented mind back together as he felt his cheeks heat up. In any other situation, it would have been great to have a woman on top of him, but right now? No. She let out a mocking laugh. "What's the matter, old timer? Am I a little much for you?"

"I ain't that old, dirtbag," he growled.

"So how does that explain this?" She asked, rumpling his hair. It was too bad that he didn't have his shotgun on hand.

"If you had to deal with a lazy-ass and Barbie on a daily basis, you'd have it too."

"Oh please, you didn't have to hold yourself back from massacring your entire team on a daily basis because of their stupidity."

Sarge let out a bitter laugh. "It's a thankless job, but somebody's got to do it, eh?"

"Seems like we're the only two who really care about winning this damn thing," Tex muttered, shifting her weight to make it easier to stretch her free arm over, and pick up the neglected canteen. The NCO let out a cry of surprise at the sudden movement, feeling a hardening against his leg. Unfortunately for him, his reaction was not missed this time. "You dirty old man!" Tex scolded, giving his forehead a tap with the barrel. Sarge, however, noticed that she chuckled slightly as she did so.

His arousal was extinguished as she tugged the canteen over. Sarge had realized beforehand that she was planning to keep him pinned for a while, and it was looking like she was going to drink HIS whiskey in front of him. Tex let go of the vessel to remove her helmet, and out tumbled long red curls of hair. Green eyes gleamed mischievously down at Sarge, reminding him of a fox. He vaguely remembered hearing that a girl fox was called a vixen, and that word completely fit the description of his tormentor. She popped the canteen open with an excited grin. "Haven't had this in a long time."

As she began to take a drink, Sarge spat up at her face. Tex tore the vessel out of her mouth to let out a cry of surprise, shutting her eye. He twisted his head to the side, bit the gun's barrel, and jerked it violently to pull her with it. Bringing his elbow up, he knocked the gun out of her hand, sending it skidding to the ground. Tex bared her teeth, and poised her free hand to slap him.

Many of the drops within the container she was still holding had hit the ground as well as the two Spartans, and the air began to smell of it. Sarge grabbed her aggressive hand, forcing its fingers into a fist. He angled his body away so she could not kick him, while the other fastened around the top portion of the canteen. The wolf and fox were matched, although they were each too proud to admit it. "Knew you'd be a pain in my ass. Should've shipped you off to Command when I had the chance," Sarge snarled.

Tex rolled her eyes. "Oh please, you'd have been begging them the next day to give me back. And you can't deny that after what I saw," she broke off, casting her gaze southward, "and felt." The NCO's eyes stretched wide as she flicked her head back at him to capture his lips in a kiss. His grip on her wrists weakened for a fraction of a second, but snapped back when he felt her trying to wriggle herself free.

"You can't outwit me, girlie," he warned in a husky voice, feeling the heat in his cheeks drain away.

"What? Didn't enjoy it? I'm surprised, after that show you put on!" She would have thrown her hands up in frustration, had it not been for their current state.

He did in fact enjoy it, but he'd rather not let her know that. Instead, Sarge decided to turn the tables. His hand went from the canteen to her throat, causing her to drop it, and spill most of the whiskey onto the ground beside them, her now free hand tugging on his. She began jerking around in an attempt to kick him off, knowing better than to try to bite. "Tell me the truth! Why did you kiss me?" He barked, rising to his knees so he towered over her. Tex thrashed harder against him as his grip grew tighter around her neck. "Well, little girl?"

"Do what—" she broke off to cough, "you want! I'll come back!"

"I wasn't gonna kill ya. However, I know a move or two that would make things very uncomfortable. I'm willing to bet my bottom dollar that your team won't find you until four hours from now if you radio them, and that's being generous."

Her green eyes filled with rage as she wheezed, "Because you're—" she paused to cough again, "different, all right?!"

He smirked. "In what way?"

"You're a jackass like me!" Sarge's grip released at last, and Tex took a deep breath, her hand going to her throat. The NCO took his eyes off of her for a moment to look for the canteen. It was a big mistake. He recoiled in pain as she slapped him across the face, wheezing, "Happy now, you asshole?!"

Groaning at the stinging pain the slap left, Sarge placed a hand to his face. Shrinking back out of instinct, he looked at her. Some of Tex's fiery hair had fallen onto her now crimson face. She stared back at him defiantly as she panted hard, her hand back around her throat. Sarge thought she resembled a little brat that had just finished having a temper tantrum. Though he did feel pity for her, he neither felt a stroke of guilt, nor sadness. Tex was right. He was a jackass like she was, and to tell the truth, he liked it.

Letting go of his face, Sarge chuckled. Reaching out, he picked up the canteen. What was left of the whiskey sloshed around in it. He took a swig, draining it out under her watchful eyes. The fumes of the alcohol on the ground filled his nose, and the sound of her labored breath filled his ears. "You gonna rub my nose in it? Take me prisoner? Strangle me again?" Tex challenged.

He shook his head. "Now that ain't no way to treat a lady." He dropped the canteen to catch her fist before it hit his face.

"What the hell did you call choking me earlier?!"

Sarge frowned at her. "There you go again, acting like a child. Instead of being all dodgy, you talk to me, like you just did before."

"I'm sorry, but I don't think I'd want to tell you anything. You're my enemy, remember?" She shot back, narrowing her eyes at him.

The red Spartan smirked, kissing her captive hand, much to her surprise. "Kid, I pray that you'll be around as long as I have, so you'll finally understand that most people live and think just like little brats, no matter what their age. That said, you'd better get your ass back to your bitchy little Blue base before I throw you there myself."

"You're letting me go?" she asked in disbelief.

"Do I really have to spell it out for ya?" At that, Sarge thrust her wrists forward, propelling her into the rock behind her. Tex smacked into it with a groan, giving him time to run and pick up his helmet and shotgun. "Just this once, though. Jump me again, and I might just to have to cage ya up," Sarge threatened with a laugh at the end as he slung his canteen back on. Turning his back on her, he began to walk away.

"Are you stupid?" Tex snapped.

He stopped walking. "I thought you were above shooting someone in the back, Tex. Don't disappoint me, girl." Though Sarge knew he was taking a gamble, he continued on his way, and found that he did not hear gunfire after him. Much to his shock, he didn't care about the fact that he had collaborated with an enemy, or that someone other than him had drank his treasured whiskey. Instead, the NCO found himself looking forward to what little plan of revenge sge was going to come up with, for the shot in the back would have been quite humiliating in itself. He was raring to face her new little trick full on. "Let's see how much of a jackass you really are, brat," the alpha wolf challenged under his breath as he returned to his pack.