This would be set BEFORE Ranger Rendezvous, consider this to be another "dating" fic, so I should have added it to that perhaps. But it wasn't a date that they planned or set up, so it doesn't really qualify, so I decided to post it seperately for everyone to enjoy. Thank my erstwhile beta again for this bit of fluff, since it was a request.

In the Joe messhall...

Beach stabbed up the last few veggies on his plate and swallowed them down with half a glass of milk. His eyes flicked up to the ex-model seated across from him picking at her food. "You doin' okay there, Princess?"

"I'm fine, why don't you shut up, you backwoods hick?" She glared at her plate and pushed it aside slightly.

He nudged it back. "You should eat." He sounded concerned. "Why ya so tired?"

CoverGirl scowled and pushed the plate away again. "Your stupid greenshirts tore the tracks off two Mauler tanks today and I had to put new tracks on both of them, because THEY tried to repair it and mangled them up." He nudged the plate back again and she slapped the table. "Stop! I don't want to eat."

"Yer too thin already, go on and eat something." The Ranger turned the plate slightly. "At least eat the taters, you like those. I don't want you bein' all kinds of cranky in the mornin'."

She picked up the fork to poke at the pieces of potato. "My back is hurting and tired. Forcing tracks up onto the sprockets is really a pain, and the first stupid tank was sitting at an angle." She continued to complain quietly about her day, railing about the amateur efforts to assist her and worse, the failed attempts at repairs before she showed up.

BeachHead listened to her and nodded. "Couldn't Clutch have gone and taken one of those tanks himself?"

She snorted. "Clutch has a sprained elbow, he can't pull the tracks into place. It takes some real power to get them on the cogs. You can't just toss a track on and hook it in place, you gotta have it tightened properly."

"I know.. and no one gets it done like you do." He watched her nibble at the potatoes absently with her head propped on one hand.

"Well, I'm tired and my back hurts and my legs are sore and I slipped and banged my elbow.." She lifted her arm to display a large scrape already stained orange from being cleaned with betadine. "And I'm all whiny and I know you're just going to tell me to toughen up and stop complaining." She tossed the fork down when he started to reply. "I don't want to hear it Beach! You ASKED! So don't start telling me to... to 'suck it up buttercup' or whatever. You asked me!"

He waited for her to wind down. "I was gonna ask if you... uhh... should.. I mean.. never mind." Looking away, he leaned his chair back slightly and let it thunk back onto the floor. "I'm sorry your back hurts."

She sighed and then smiled at his attempt to show concern without appearing to care. "It's not your fault. I'm not going to the rec room tonight, just going back to my room and hoping my back eases off." She watched him consider that and suddenly she leaned forward slightly. "Why don't you come and sit with me?"

"What?" He looked startled. "And do what?"

"Calm down.. I just thought you might want to spend some time with me.. but I can see I was wrong." She stood up and tried to take her tray up, only for him to pull it away. "Beach.. I'm too tired to.."

"I got yer tray.. and I'd like to.. sit with ya. Maybe I could.. " He stopped again, shutting up.

"Well, thank you Beach." She waited for him to put their trays away before he came to the doorway to motion her out first. He watched her walking gingerly along the hallways and slowed his steps to accommodate her slower pace. "Scarlett is out on a mission, and Jaye is up on night shift.. just so you know there won't be anyone but us in the room." She looked over at his thoughtful expression. "I wouldn't want you to think that I'm tricking you into being all alone with me."

He looked back calmly. "I think I can defend myself should you get too frisky. What with yer back bein' all sore, I'm pretty sure I can fight ya off." She reached over to poke him in the arm and he dodged. "Hey hey.. don't start assaulting me." That got her focused at getting a jab in on him, and dodging her in the hallway was difficult.

She grabbed an arm and he pulled away. Courtney dropped her hold and reached around to her back. "Ow.. dammit Wayne.."

He held up both hands. "You're the one tryin' to whack me.. I ain't done nothin'."

"Well.. you could just stand there and let me beat you! That would be helpful." She glared and he sighed at her. "Fine.. that way." She turned and headed back to her room she shared with the two other Joe women. "Come on in.." She stepped in and scooped up a few clothes on the little loveseat-couch to toss into one of the tiny attached rooms. "Sorry about the mess."

He gazed around. "Ain't much worse than my room." At the raised eyebrow, he cleared his throat. "Okay.. most-a the mess in my room is from LowLight.. but still." She motioned for him to seat himself and he did so very cautiously.

She settled next to him and sighed. "It's been a long day, Ranger man. I know you bust your butt every day, but today was just a real bear for me."

"I know.. believe it or not, I have bad days too." He leaned back and raised an arm to encourage her to lean against his side. "You look tired, Courtney."

She scooted closer and laid her head on his chest. "I am tired, Wayne." His hand rubbed across her shoulder and she sighed and twisted a little to let him rub a bit higher. "Ahhhh.. just a bit to the right."

He shifted his touch and pressed a little harder, rubbing at a sore spot. "There?"

"Ahh... yeah.. " When Beach stopped, she made a noise of protest. "Don't quit.."

"I can't reach properly.. turn around so I can rub yer back properly."

She tried to find a position and then got up. "Let me stretch out on the bed."

He hesitated but followed her to the door of her room. The three women shared quarters, but each managed a very small bedroom, just large enough for a bed and set of drawers. All three had done a lot of decorating that wasn't regulation. CoverGirl chose to hang multiple pictures on the walls, and her bed had several blankets and pillows piled up. He cleared his throat. "You uhhh.. you like covers."

She blinked at her, pillow in hand where she was moving them aside. "What? OH! The blankets... well yeah. Sorry, my first thought was helmets.. just proof I really am Army, huh?"

He grinned at that. "Never doubted it, darlin'. Yeah, I was referrin' to the blankets."

"It gets cold. One drawback of the Pit, it's always cold down here." She sat on the bed and began to untie the boot laces. "Let me get my boots off."

He nodded and stepped a little closer. "Uh huh. Always chilly." He watched her fingers moving to work the lacing. After she got one boot unlaced, she sat up wincing and putting a hand to her back again. "Here..." He settled onto his heels in front of her and tugged the boot off. A moment to undo the laces of the second boot and remove it and he stood again. "There... no reason to go hurtin' yerself to take off boots.."

"Thanks.." She suddenly stripped off her shirt and Beach made a strangled noise and twisted on his heel to face away. "Oh stop it! I have a sports bra on that covers more than my damned tank top does!" He peeked around. "Oh my GOD Beach! You're supposed to be my boyfriend and you won't even look at me with a bra on?"

"It ain't that.. I just... " He looked at a crack in the masonry. "I didn't wanna make ya think I was.. uhh.. expectin' nothin' outa ya. Just that."

She narrowed her eyes at him until his gaze flicked over to look. "Fine." Getting up with a visible effort, she rummaged in the set of drawers and then put a hand in the center of his back. "Get out." A quick shove and Beach was deposited into the outer room. The door clicked shut behind him and he stood for a moment trying to decide whether leaving or explaining would be his better option. Explaining himself usually turned into 'arguing loudly until she started throwing things with great vigor'. But then leaving might just turn into 'she chases him down and publicly berates him until he has to give her punishment duty for talking back to a superior publicly and make her even angrier than when he gave her the cactus'. How exactly did he end up in these no-win situations so often when he was around her?

The door opened and he jumped and started to apologize. She waved him in. "It's safe to come in now." He stepped in and drew a breath in to explain and she turned to look at him. "This better? You didn't have to watch me change clothing even."

His gaze went downward and he swallowed. She had pushed him out to change clothing, so he wasn't in trouble... yet. He had no illusions about how long he was going to stay out of trouble.. in fact, he was pretty sure he'd passed the world record for the two of them being in the same vicinity and not fighting already. He watched her twist her hair up into a loose ponytail and rather against his will, his eyes trailed down her sleek back. The lightweight teeshirt clung in all the right places and ended well before the workout shorts she preferred to sleep in. He really liked those shorts. She'd chosen the kind that reached comfortably halfway down to her knee, which meant he wasn't looking at all that much of her thighs. He did notice she had awfully cute knees.


He blinked and forced his eyes up to her face. She thought he was leering at her and he wanted to explain that he wasn't pressuring her for anything at all and he understood it was inappropriate behavior in the first place and was very sorry. Unfortunately there were too many of his brain cells still fixated on the thighs and not enough to utilize the stored language in his head. "Huh?"

"Do you need a cold shower or are you going to rub my back for me?" The sharp glint in her eyes told him that THIS time she wasn't amused by her ability to distract him from nearly anything short of a firefight or a good argument.

"Rubbing back.. sorry. I was... uhh.. lost in thought." He nodded and hoped she'd buy that, hoped he wasn't too obvious in his admiration of her assets.

"Right. Real likely." She handed him a small bottle of liniment. "Scarlett swears by this, it takes all the soreness out of you. And it's not stinky and smelly either."

He popped the top and sniffed at it. "Smells all.. flowery."

She climbed onto her bed and settled gingerly to her belly. "Wayne, love you.. I'm a girl, girls like nice smelling things. Try to remember that."

He sighed heavily. "Alright alright. Where is it most sore?"

She tugged her shirt up a bit more and twisted one arm around to point at the middle of her back. "Right down the long muscles.. just from.. AAAAaahahhhhhhh..." She twitched several times as he poured a trickle of the liniment along her spine, grinning at the shiver that ran along her whole body. "That's cold... you're such a bastard sometimes."

His lips twitched as he peered down at her, and finally he raised one leg up and placed it over hers to straddle her thighs. He spoke very sternly to himself about the proximity of one warm gorgeous female underneath him. Somehow it felt more proper that he kept one leg on the floor. "Alright.. here?" His fingers spread the ointment carefully along the lines of her spine.

"Yeah.. right.. ahh ahhh ooohhhh yeah.. there..." She let out a soft groan. He began to knead the cramped muscles with the heels of his hands. "Oh gooooood.."

He leaned to put a bit more weight behind his motions. Shifting to one shoulder, he dug fingers in under the edge of the scapula to force the knots to relax. She winced a few times and made a soft whine when he hit a especially sore spot. "Sorry.." He gentled his touch but continued to work on the sore spot. The lotion made his hands smooth along her skin.

His concentration on the spasmed muscles made him focus on the massaging rather than the lithe female body he was working on. He relaxed along with Courtney. She slowly became limp and her back muscles smoothed out as his hands soothed the angry knots. He smiled as he continued to work down to her lower back.

Courtney let out a soft snort. Then she took a deep breath in, releasing it in a louder snore. He stopped and peered down at her face. He used one finger to hook the loose bits of hair out of the way, trying not to get any of the liniment on her face. Courtney's eyes were closed, long lashes flickering slightly in her sleep. Careful not to touch her skin, he tucked the strands of hair into place. Then he raised up to move off the bed, trying not to jostle the sleeping woman.

Wiping his hands clear of the ointment, he picked up one of the thick blankets to shake out and lay over her. He tucked it in gently and she mumbled softly in her sleep and turned her face to the side, reaching out blindly. Beach put his hand in hers briefly and bent to press his lips to her temple. "Good night Courtney."

Her lips moved and a soft mumble emerged. "Ni' Beach.."

He closed her bedroom door behind him, and double checked that the door to the room was secured behind him. As he wandered down the hallways headed for his own room, he wondered if he should count this as a date or not. After all, they'd eaten dinner and then he'd ended up in her room.. in her bedroom.. so he supposed that would be considered a 'date'.

Maybe once she showed up for PT, he could remind her not to overextend her back. Of course, that might be taken as her needing a reminder not to get hurt which she might get angry over. He sighed and cast his mind back over the silken feel of her skin and the way her shorts rode up slightly...

He firmly turned his thoughts away from fruitless imagining and then turned his steps away from his room and towards the showers. That cold shower idea wasn't such a bad one after all.


Go ahead.. go "Awwwwww..." You know you want to. Fluff. Happy tank jockey. Reviews makes for happy writer too.