Kelly frowned at the male trainees as they watched Linda walk along the side of the pool. She didn't know why she was so mad at the moment. Linda was her friend and hasn't really done anything wrong and the guys were just watching her. Kelly didn't know why it bothered her so much.
Linda stopped to talk to Kathleen who was heading toward the lockers. Kelly was just watching them when she suddenly realized there was something very different about the two of them. Their bodies were different. Kathleen would have easily been able to pass off as one of the guys in normal clothing and in her swimsuit it was only evident that she was female because of the slight development of her chest. Linda was a completely different story. She looked like a full developed woman, curves and all. Was that what had all the guy's attention?
Kelly looked toward the male trainees and noticed that when Kathleen left they still kept their attention on Linda. Kelly really only cared that one of the men was watching Linda but a part if her was annoyed that Linda had all of their attentions. She suddenly became aware of her on physical appearance sitting on the bench in just her swimsuit. She looked more like Kathleen than Linda, just a bit more developed than the Red Team member but nowhere near how Linda was. Kelly suddenly felt awkward, vulnerable, and it scared her. She wasn't used to self-doubt and she wasn't sure how to handle it.
Kelly did the only thing that seemed logical, she left. What wasn't logical was wrapping her towel around her body to try to hide herself from any glances that might wander her way for a second when she passed Linda.
The walk to the lockers was uncomfortable and as terrifying to her as running toward a tank with no armor or weapon. She managed to make it to the lockers but even there she felt uncomfortable. She sat in front of her locker, not willing to remove the towel. Maybe she should have waited for everyone else to finish so she'd have some privacy.
"You all right?" Kelly looked up to Kathleen who was opening her own locker.
Kelly wasn't sure what to say. Kathleen was the one person she thought would understand her feelings the most. "I just...I wish they wouldn't stare at Linda like that. It makes me..."
"Angry, feel inferior, sad," Kathleen offered. "Yeah, I know what you mean." There was an edge of annoyance to her voice. "It's hard to express but when they look at her and ignore me it hurts."
"They only look at her because of her body." The words came out more agitated than Kelly wanted but she couldn't help it. "No offense but neither of us will ever get looks like that from the guys." They were only twelve but most people thought they were in their twenties. Kelly was fairly sure that most of them had developed as much as they would, particularly if Linda was any indication.
"No offense taken. I've accepted the way I am. I've accepted that I'll never even develops as much as you." Kathleen shrugged, apparently brushing it all off.
"How do you do that? How do you get over how it makes you feel?" Kelly sort of admired it. Kathleen was just letting it all roll off her back. Kelly wondered how long she'd been dealing with these emotions that she was able to just push past them like that.
"It's really simple. Every time I feel jealous of the looks Linda gets and feel bad about my own body I just think: if having looks like that means I have to be as cold and boring as Linda then I'm fine with how I look."
Kelly felt that was a bit mean but she did admit that it was a bit logical. Linda may have the guys watching her but she knew that they didn't seek her out for conversation. Yeah, if you were close enough to Linda she could have a full conversation with you but even then it felt like talking to someone who was a bit of a stranger. There was a lot that Kelly didn't know about Linda even after six years of friendship.
Kathleen removed her swim suit and tossed it into her locker. "I heard this female soldier talking, had a big scar on her neck and cheek from a burn. Her friend was consoling her about her appearance and said something I think will help you. They may like her for her looks but they won't stick around once she's opened her mouth. They'll come to you for who you are and see the beauty inside over time."
Kelly just stared at Kathleen for a couple seconds. "I think that's the most girly thing I've ever heard you say."
"Hey, I was just repeating what another woman said. Just thought it would help you," Kathleen pointed out.
"It does, it really does. Thanks, Kathleen ." Kelly smiled at the other woman. Kathleen didn't seem comfortable with the praise and turned, heading toward the showers.
Kelly finally removed the towel, feeling comfortable enough to get undressed. She took a quick shower and moved out to the locker room. Kathleen was getting dressed and on the bench behind her sat Fred, holding his bleeding nose.
"What happened?" Kelly moved over to her locker, glancing over at Kathleen and looking for answers.
"Men are idiots." Kathleen slammed her locker and she noticed that Fred flinched. Kathleen stormed out, still fuming over whatever had happened.
Kelly looked to Fred for answers. John moved over and leaned against the locker beside Kelly's. "Anton dare Fred to say something...mean to Kathleen, sort of insinuate that she's a man, and she punched him for it," John explained.
"Good," Kelly snapped. "If you're going to be a jerk to her you deserve to be hit," Kelly directed the comment at Fred. Maybe that was how Kathleen dealt with things that hurt her emotionally. She hit them, knock them down and at least you cause them pain for the pain they cause you. They did it all the time in training when a teammate was hurt. Maybe Kelly could take that approach, she was sure she could hit anyone before they could even react. She decided that a violent approach just didn't fit her.
"You should get your face cleaned up," John advised. Fred nodded and stood up, moving away. Kelly started to get dressed as John continued to talk. He was explaining the information he'd been given about their training exercise that they'd be doing early tomorrow. Kelly took in the information, glancing toward John every once in a while so he'd know she was listening. She'd finished lacing up her boots and looked up to John. He was explaining what he expected from the exercise but he wasn't looking at her. Linda had come out of the showers and was getting dressed. Apparently that was more interesting to John and his eyes were steadily on the red-haired woman.
Kelly felt the same annoyance and hurt from earlier and decided she didn't need to stick around and basically be ignored. She swung her legs around to the other side of the bench and stood up before moving out of the lockers. Either she moved too fast or he really hadn't been paying attention because it took him a moment to register she was leaving. She heard him call her name once in confusion but she ignored it.
They sat at dinner like always but Kelly remained quiet for most of the meal. She was still trying to deal with the confusing emotions from earlier that he meal was over they went different ways, deciding how to spend their bit of free time. Kelly was heading to the track for a quick run but as soon as there was almost no one around John grabbed her arm and pulled her a different direction. He wasn't forceful, just lead her behind a building.
When they were away from everyone else Kelly pulled her arm out of John's grip. "What?" She demanded.
John didn't waste time and answered her directly. "Why did you run off earlier?"
" I didn't run. If I'd run then you wouldn't have seen me leave." It was a technicality but she didn't yet know how to answer the question.
"Why did you leave at all? I was talking to you and then you just left." John frowned at her and it angered Kelly. He had ignored her and thought that he had a right to be mad at her.
She decided at least this time she'd try it Kathleen's way. She'd let her anger decide her answer. "Funny because as you wouldn't even look at me I figured you weren't talking to me so I left." John was surprised by her aggression and he backed off a bit, not sure how to handle an angry Kelly. She wasn't angry at him often so it was never something he learned to handle. His gaze dropped and she could see he felt bad about it, though she wasn't sure if it was because she was mad or because he'd ignored her. Still she felt a bit bad about being mean. She wouldn't take back what she said but she could be a bit more calm. "It's just, when you're talking me I'd like your attention, even for a second."
Kelly wrapped her arms around herself. The same doubt she'd had earlier that day rose up again and she cursed the way this all made her feel. She was Kelly, blue three and she was confident, not weak like this. John's gaze turned back to her and he seemed upset by her posture. "I'm sorry, Kelly I really am. I promise that whenever I talk to you in the future you'll have my full attention, only you."
Kelly knew it was just another promise he wouldn't keep but she nodded, a part of her hoping this one time, this promise, would be an exception and he'd keep it. "All right."
"Come on, you can be my sparing partner," John offered. Kelly followed him to the gym, forgetting about her run. The sparing turned out to be perfect. Kelly didn't go easy on him and there was something therapeutic about knocking John on his butt. Maybe Kathleen was more right than Kelly had expected. They sat around and chatter for a while after the match while Kelly iced the places where she'd hit him too hard.
They sat beside the sparing mat, Kelly holding a cold compact to John's shoulder. John leaned back against the wall holding his shirt out if the way so that Kelly could hold the compact to his bare skin. They had settled into a comfortable silence, until John broke it. "You hit me a lot harder than for just not paying attention to you," John stared. Kelly kept her mouth shut. "What's really got you upset?"
Kelly didn't know if it was really something that she wanted to talk about with him. He was staring at her and she knew he wasn't going to let it go. "It more of has to do with why you weren't paying attention to me." From the look on his face she guessed he didn't know what she was talking about. "It's not a problem you'd understand. Guys and girls just develop very differently."
"I want to understand. Please, Kelly, explain." John's hand moved up to her hand that held the compact in place. He forced her to move it away and pulled his shirt back up.
Kelly wasn't sure how to even start to talk to a man about a woman issue. "You aren't able to understand, John. The way guys develop they can just train to look how you want. There are parts of a woman that now matter how hard you train you can't improve those parts." John still didn't seem to understand. "Just drop it. It's a girl thing and if you persist then this conversation is going to become very awkward for you."
"No, I said I'd treat you just as fairly as the guys and that means helping you when I can. I'm going to help you," John stated.
Kelly thought of arguing but it was a long and troubling day and she really didn't have the energy for it. She'd have to try to embarrass him into dropping it. "Linda has bigger boobs then me."
John froze at the words and she could see that he was blushing, exactly what Kelly had expected. What Kelly wasn't expecting was for John to speak after that. "So her breast are bigger than yours." Kelly could tell that the word breast had been hard for him to say.
Kelly sighed, knowing that he wouldn't understand. "You don't get it because you don't get compared to the other men. When everyone is watching one woman and it isn't you and you realize that you aren't attractive enough to even get the attention of one guy."
John watched her like she'd make some move that would suddenly cause it all to make sense. He was over thinking it like he always did with matters like this. Maybe he was thinking a bit too hard about the last part of what she'd said. John frowned but was still confused. "Guys get compared to each other all the time. I mean Sam is more muscular than I am but I don't get upset about it."
"It's not the same, John. You can just train more to gain muscle weight. There's no exercise I can do that can increase the size of my breasts." Kelly leaned back against the wall and crossed her arms over her chest.
"I will admit that is true, though he does gain muscle easier than I do," John pointed out. "I do notice that the girls will watch him more than me."
"That's because you're squad leader and it's intimidating to try to stare at your squad leader," Kelly countered.
"You stare at me," John argued. "You don't seem at all intimidated by me."
"That's because you're my best friend and as I just proved I can kick your butt." Kelly smirked at him, a bit satisfied with herself and feeling more comfortable.
"We are best friends which is why you can trust me when I say," John's hand moved over and forced her to move her arms from her chest. "You are beautiful the way you are." Kelly frowned at him and shot him a unimpressed look. "I mean it. Nine-point-five out of ten times I'd spend the time with you. The point-five of course being me trying to spend time with Linda but leaving part way through to spend time with you."
Kelly smiled at that last bit. A comment like that was rare from John, something sweet and a bit humorous, a hard combination for the squad leader. Kelly let her arms relax and John smiled just a little bit. Kelly moved faster than he could stop and her arms wrapped around his neck and hugging him tight.
John's arms wrapped around her after a moment of hesitation. Kelly relaxed her grip a bit, allowing her head to rest on John's chest. She smiled as she listened to the slightly elevated beat of his heart. "You're a great friend, John."
"The best?" John asked.
Kelly pulled a bit away from him and placed a light kiss on his cheek. "The best a woman could ever hope for." She returned her head to his chest and grinned as she realized his pulse was quicker and he was taking deeper breaths. Kelly laughed and snuggled a bit closer to him. "Am I making you nervous?"
John eased his own grip on her to be more comfortable. "How could I ever be made nervous by a girl as pretty as you?" Kelly was aware that he wasn't being serious. Kelly hugged him a bit tighter and made herself comfortable. John cleared his throat. "Um, we should clean up the gym and head back to the barracks." Kelly ignored him, keeping her grip on him. John sighed and shifted, making himself more comfortable. "All right," he muttered. John let his head rest against hers and they fell into a relaxed silence.