"Why not?" Her grip around his neck tightened as her mouth went back to his throat, running lightly over the skin.

He pulled at her arms but they both knew that he wasn't putting up much of a fight. "Because I'm squad leader. This wouldn't be setting a good example." He couldn't stop the sound that slipped out in response to her actions.

"I don't care about that. No one needs to know any way." She pulled herself closer to him and rubbed her body against him. "You can't tell me you don't want it."

He didn't answer. If he told her he didn't want it, which was what he needed to say, it would be a lie. They both wanted it. His hands stopped trying to push her away. It was a useless fight. Instead they went to the wall, looking for anywhere he could find something to hold onto. He felt like his legs would give out under him as she moved lower down his neck to his collar. He didn't understand how she had this kind of power over him. He could beat her in any test of physical strength. He could even out-do her in some weapons and in hand-to-hand combat when her speed didn't give her the upper hand. But here she was, with complete power over him. He was almost sure that if she took a gun to his head and shot him he would never even be aware of the threat.

His hands moved down her sides till they found the hem of her shirt. His fingers snaked up under the fabric, ghosting over her skin.

"Oh, looks like you do want it." She was teasing him, and there was nothing he dared do about it. If he teased back she might stop, which was the last thing he really wanted her to do.

"Yes, I want it. I want you, Kelly." He couldn't deny it to her. He couldn't bring himself to lie to her. She rewarded him for admitting it. Her mouth found his, and the two clung to each other as their tongues fought for dominance.

They hadn't even heard him enter the room. They were both caught up fully in what they were doing, in the feeling of being together. He stood watching them for a few seconds. Hands groped, bodies grinded, and they fought for power as they kissed.

"What are you two doing?" The pair froze in pure horror. "John?"

"Sam, it's not what it looks like?" John removed his hands which had found their way completely under Kelly's shirt. Kelly didn't dare look behind them, her face buried in her partner's neck.

Sam frowned at them. "Well, it looks like you two are getting all touchy-feely in the showers. I don't really want to hear it." There was a look that John had never seen in his best friend's eyes. "Just stop it, and don't do it again." He turned and stormed out of the room.

Kelly and John remained where they were for a few moments, in shock. Finally Kelly removed her arms from John's neck. She took a step away from him, staring at the floor. "I'm sorry, John." She turned and started to walk away.


The female soldier stopped and looked back at him. John hesitated, and then looked away. He had chickened out; he wasn't able to say it.


John stood still as the technicians fitted him with his new Mark VI armor. His mind wandered to the events of First Strike—to Dr. Halsey spiriting Kelly away without telling them anything. He didn't know if Kelly was alive or dead, or if he'd ever see her again.

He suddenly regretted his cowardice so many years ago. He should have had the guts to tell her. He made a promise to himself that if he ever saw Kelly again, he wouldn't be a coward.

He promised to tell her that he loved her.