"That was suppose to be routine!"
Max Brutto saw a helmet flying across the locker room. He rolled his eyes as he unlocked his own locker. It wasn't the best day- that was true. They were told to accompany a crew to repair one of the stations that used to be over run by bugs. Intel said the sector was clean.
And it was- until three quarters of the way in when the bugs showed up.
But Intel being spotty wasn't exactly news. It wasn't like they promised the whole rock was clean either. Bugs were to be expected- they were deployed for a reason.
"And you!" Flores marched down the aisle heading straight for the trooper quietly stowing away her stuff beside him. "Anderson, you froze. What was that about?!"
"Diz," the warning came from Doc. "Just let her be."
"Yeah Flores. We all have off days," Gossard agreed with the medic.
Brutto saw the girl continue to fix her things like she didn't hear anything. She actually probably didn't since that white cord hanging from her ears meant that she had already headphones on to block everything out. That wasn't exactly new either- though it is new that she now had a pair inside her locker.
"Look, I know that you guys have a soft spot for the new girl but it's live or die down there. If she can't get her act together then she shouldn't have done the drop," Dizzy Flores argued. "Hey! Are you listening to me?" she demanded as she pulled the headphones off the other girl's head from behind.
Max watched that the corner of Andy's mouth twitch for a second before she spun around and faced the more aggressive trooper. Warning bells rang in his mind when all she did give Flores a calm stare.
He knew that look.
That was the look he saw her give his old buddy Keller after she "tripped", throwing her cup of slushy directly at the guy roughing up a kid in her math study group. "Oh no! Clumsy me. I'm so sorry. You better get that cleaned up before it stains your varsity jacket," she deadpanned standing in between her friend and the bully. Max was just passing through the corridor to his next class, but he remembered that defiant stare.
Everybody keeps forgetting that Andy was in his highschool for a year. She was a year older and they didn't exactly have classes together but he saw the very discreet way she dealt with bullies. She played the clumsy geek card to her advantage. He's seen her once play a terrific game of pick up basketball in the park so when his buddy came out of gym class with a broken nose because of a bad pass from Andy, Max knew it wasn't a bad pass- especially since his buddy was the same guy who tipped her lunch tray out of her hands only a few hours before. Of course, nobody in school could ever believe that Andy can actually play ball because she was a science nerd and coach didn't play her based on that reputation, not that she wanted to play with a bunch of jocks either. It didn't help that people rarely saw her after school hours. His favourite was how she "accidentally" lit his teammate on fire because the guy was being a jerk to her chem partner. Then there's all these stories of the pranking she did in Sierra squad because the majority there wanted her dead for no good reason- not that any of them could be traced back to her.
Anderson is a nerd but she wasn't the kind that backed down and was smart enough not to get caught. Only people, like Diz, seemed to forget it because Andy largely had a really chill albeit quirky personality.
"What? Are you freezing up again? Are you only good in the simulators?" Flores taunted.
"Umm... Dizzy, maybe you're going too far," Higgins said tentatively.
"Diz, seriously, back off," Goss repeated. "We all had a bad day. Just hit the showers."
"You're not Paperboy, Andy. What's the use of you down there if you're just going to choke?" Dizzy continued.
Brutto slammed his locker shut. "You're going to have to stop now, Flores," he warned, seeing as Andy hasn't made one move away from her silent stance. "And give the headphones back."
Flores gave him a look of disbelief. "Come on, Brutto. Not you too. You-"
Brutto rolled his eyes again, snatching the headphones from the redhead's hand and giving it back to the quiet girl beside him who was also currently giving him a confused expression. "Whatever you thought of doing- don't," he said. "I told you the other day I got this."
He saw her slip the headphones back on with one hand while she gave his shoulder a pat with the other as she started walking away. "Jock."
"Nerd," he replied automatically keeping his sights on redhead.
"I don't believe this! Did I board the crazy ship? She almost got us killed and you all let her walk away without anything?!" Flores exclaimed. "Brutto, you're old man would've dragged her up—"
"Don't you start with my dad, Flores," Brutto found himself sneering. "Because pops would've been the first to tell you that this is a bad idea."
"Well, yeah. Little Miss Ashley Anderson gets away with almost ending the squad is always a bad idea," Diz shot back dryly.
"Paperboy almost ends the squad all the time. Do we go after him after every drop?" he replied in the same manner.
"That's actually..." came the small voice of Higgins from the side. "... true..."
"In the first place, this thing with Andy is your fault," he continued, taking a step forward poking a finger at her shoulder. "If you and Rico could just have your pissing contest out of everyone's comms- I mean, who in the galaxy could shoot straight with you and the L.T. arguing in their heads! Even I wanted to shoot you down there and I'm not the one who came from a broken family," he said plainly seeing Dizzy set her jaw while she turned red partly in anger and embarrassment. "So break up or get back together or whatever the hell you and Rico do. Just figure it out before you both bury the rest of us six feet under."
Suddenly, Zim's voice boomed down the aisle, "What is going on here, troopers?"
"Nothing, Sarge," Brutto answered, taking a step away from the older trooper but letting his glare linger for one more second more than it has to.
"Private Flores?" Zim demanded.
"It's nothing, Sarge," he heard the girl answer back.
"Good," he barked. "Hit the showers. Get some food. Hit the sack. And shake today off. Tomorrow's a new day," Zim ordered.
Brutto begrudgingly grabbed his gear and did exactly that- hoping tomorrow is, indeed, a new day.