Finally satisfied the suit passsed his safety checks Harm turned around to hand it over to Loren, who'd put some space between them, only to discover she was staring at him through narrowed eyes, lips pressed into a thin line, clearly far from amused over the way he'd just bullied his way in and appropriated the suit.

Holding out her arm she silently demanded he give her the leathers in question, muttering sarcastically when he reached out for her to take "Thank you."

Those flashing blue depths changed immediately when Harm released his hold, widening in surprise as her outstretched arm proved unprepared for the sheer weight of the leather. As it was she barely managed to avoid cleaning the floor with her new suit, stopping her arm's descent only at waist-level.

"Ooof. It's heavy." she grunted, lifting it back up again and moving her arm so the suit was hanging over her shoulder in a reverse fireman's carry, her fingers white-knuckled as they held the hanger from inside "How on Earth am I supposed to walk around in this thing? It must weigh a ton!"

"Don't worry about it, a ride or two and you won't even feel it anymore." Harm waved his hand dismissively.

"Somehow I doubt that." she muttered to herself, her doubtful stare almost penetrating him.

"Unzip the two parts first. First put on the pants and then the jacket, it'll be easier that way."

Loren was just about to snap back that she'd been dressing herself for decades when he disarmed her with an apologetic grin.

"Sorry. I tend to get carried away."

Deciding letting him get away with it would shorten the time she would be carrying the heavy suit she just nodded silently and made her way back to the cabin.

While Loren was changing into her future-maybe leathers Harm looked around the female part of the store in hunt for a seat. Sitting down with a grateful and relieved grunt he surprised realized he was the only one. While in any regular clothes store he would've inevitably found himself with a companion in suffering, the man laden down with bags and with a mixture of a tortured and bored out of his mind expression on his face (it never failed to baffle him why those women didn't just let their men do their own thing instead of dragging them along, it wasn't like they had to be attached at the hip all the time, each pursuing their own interest in a store wouldn't mean the end of a relationship), there was no-one.

He quickly remembered the distinction: in this store guys didn't need to waste time on any benches and be bored because here their women were trying out stuff for a shared interest, thus the men were actively involved in the hunt for "dresses". Either that or they just browsed what interested them while their women tried on new clothes.

Maybe more couples should ride, share something like this. went his thoughts as he looked around idly, appreciating the nature of the store.

Not only because it was about his dear sport, but also because here he didn't have to deal with anything from angry CO's, to pissy coworkers, to oggling women to flirty salesladies. It was a refreshing change from grocery stores where he always felt like he had a target painted on his back. With perhaps the word "sucker" written underneath.

When Loren again exited the dressing room minutes later, Harm didn't even realise for the first 15 seconds who it was. Instead he couldn't help but admire the beautiful woman looking for a mirror until it struck him like a bolt of lightning that he was oggling his coworker.

Then had to wonder for a second why was he torturing himself with insisting on leathers instead of Cordura. With both parts of the suit having been specifically made to go with one another, the whole ensemble looked a lot more harmonious than the previous and was made to fit the female figure a lot closer than what she'd tried on before. In consequence, it also emphasised her physical attributes to an even higher degree than her old pants. These fit her tight and snug, advertising everything from her widely flared and nicely rounded, but tight and firm buttocks, the way her hips narrowed into her tiny waist, to the depression of the small of her back just above them...

Harm was completely taken and if that low whistle and impressed murmurs in several different voices meant anything, he wasn't alone in his appreciation.

Loren blushed and glared at her admirers, who failed to be intimidated and just gave her a thumbs-up. "Hot!" was one of the descriptions used and definitely one Harm agreed with whole-heartedly, just as he agreed with that guy's buddy: "Nothing sexier than a beautiful woman in form-fitting race leathers."

"Well." he took up humorously as he approached her "I don't think that after that you still need my opinion."

This time it was he who her death-rays were aimed at, but yet again they failed to turn their target into a pile of ash.

"I think it looks good." Harm affirmed, carefully hiding his amusement from his voice "How do you feel?"

Loren thought for a second, taking a chance to do some movements before she answered "Pretty good. Better than with that other set."

Harm's "Told you so!" went unappreciated, but for one second he was sure he saw a quick up-tug of her lips.

"Can you move in it?"

"Actually, I can." she said with some note of surprise "That other jacket and my old pants actually felt stiff and too tight compared to this. I think I could even bend over enough to touch the tips of my toes."

Harm nodded and stood back silently for a couple of minutes, watching Loren perform in front of a full-length mirror what would otherwise be quite a demented version of gymnastics.

After checking there was still enough space in the jacket for a turtleneck and a fleece in case of colder weather, there was only one thing left to know.

"Well, what do you think?"

It made Loren's eyes lower to the suit as she stared pensively at it for almost half a minute, clearly weighing the pros and cons and if it was possible.

Finally she looked back up at him "I'll take it. I'll be eating bread and water for a month, but I'll take it."

Harm nodded "The bill won't be small, but it's probably the best long-term investment you've made in a while. And it is an investment."

"Hopefully." Loren replied and Harm considered asking what she meant, but decided to leave it be.

With the decision made Loren backtracked for the cabin and Harm for his seat. But after a couple of minutes, longer than previously, Harm started wondering what was taking her so long. When another minute went by he got up and approached the door he'd seen her enter earlier.

Clearing his throat he called out lowly.

"Loren, everything okay in there?"

"No, sir."

Noticing the words had been ground out through gritted teeth, his eyebrows shot up. What had happened in this short a time for her mood to sink so abruptly?

"What's wrong?"

There was a short silence, before her voice came through, hesitant in her embarrassement "I can't get the pants off."

Harm's lips twitched, but he stopped himself just in time. This was LT Singer, a more or less unknown quantity, especially an unknown in regards to a sense of humor. While she had been thawing out in his presence recently, they were no way close enough for him to make a joke about her figure or putting on weight. Last woman that he'd known he could've gotten away with it had been Meg.

"Why not?" he felt was the best question, neutral enough that wouldn't get him in trouble for implying anything.

"It's sticking to my skin." came the frustrated growl, followed by a woosh of air that made Harm clearly imagine Loren blowing the hair out of her face in irritation.

It took a couple of seconds for Harm to realize the cause and when it did he wanted to facepalm right there. How could he have forgotten about that part?

"Aha, got it!" came suddenly a triumphant chortle from behind the door, upon which Harm decided putting a little space between himself and the cabin was a good idea.

It took a few more minutes for her to redress and put the suit back together, but then she emerged a little sweatier and more flushed than before. A look, Harm decided, that looked quite good on her.

Relieving her of the heavy burden and placing it in the trolley, Harm quirked his eyebrow and grinned "Ready to blow this joint?"

The look she sent him revealed she wasn't relieved just in regards to the heavy suit.

x

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