After everyone and everything had been gathered together, it only took a few seconds for the group to reappear in the normal training room. At first, everything seemed ordinary, until the QM led them into the main lounge area.
It was completely trashed, and Sergeant Riley and Romford were pacing around, with no sign of that scary virus from earlier. Yes, it had been almost two days, and they were both still pursuing it haplessly.
The returning members of the group had helped to assemble a trap for the fiend, and were now crouched, waiting to pull the trigger.
"I still find it hard to understand why Riley hasn't been denoted from his position for his show of incompetence." Alexia commented.
Claireparker didn't usually like it when Alexia made those rude comments about people who were right beside her, but in this case, she had to agree.
Quietly, the group sat in waiting. This was a process that carried on for well over five minutes, until, in the distance; a progressively louder cackling sound could be heard.
It was getting closer.
"Get ready, everyone!" Riley instructed. The group stood back, each member holding onto a side of the trap.
They watched as the door opened, and the virus, in all its green, slimy, utterly repulsive form, was revealed.
Claireparker could see Alexia trying hard not to be sick. She rubbed her arm soothingly, as it was all she could do to comfort her at this moment.
A plate of leftovers was set out just below the hanging trap. The virus took an interest in this, and walked closer to it.
"Just a few more inches…" Riley urged.
It took some time, but as soon as the creature was in place, they all released their holds, letting the net drop onto the virus, entangling it.
"QM!" Claireparker called happily. "We've got him, er, it!"
The Quartermaster rushed into the room, breaking into a smile when he saw that the threat had been captured.
"Oh, good job everyone!" he praised. "Your things are still in the training room, but I'm not going to rush you. It's been a hectic couple of days!"
Everybody nodded, filing into the room. Unsurprisingly, there were only a bunch of apples, and several bags of makeup in the room, belonging to Rex and Aethelwynne, respectively.
Once the two boys had picked up their things, everyone began to come back out again. Alexia, however, stayed put.
"Alexia? Why aren't you moving?" Claireparker asked.
Slowly, the legend hunter looked around to see that no one was watching, before replying. "Well, treasure, the QM was right- today has been rather busy- but that doesn't mean I can't make the most of it, right?"
"Go on…" Claireparker probed.
Alexia rolled her eyes and giggled, before explaining more. "You see, I'm far too tired to do all the jumping off platforms and swinging from vines like I do in my game, so I've personally decided that today will be a non-stop training day!"
"Non-stop?" Claireparker echoed. "Won't that be a little… strenuous?"
"Oh, yeah. But, come on, Claireparker- when has that ever stopped me?"
The two girls smiled, as Claireparker went to tell the QM of her girlfriend's plans.
Claireparker smirked at this once she was out of his sight, as she daren't do it in front of him. For the person who was the controller of the entire console and its components, he was unusually relaxed about the day-to-day-running of things.
Quickly dismissing her no doubt controversial thoughts about the QM, Claireparker went into the bedroom, to continue reading one of her zombie encyclopaedias. As it wasn't her usual rota of kill, kill, kill, it would be tedious, but, she knew that knowledge did equal power, after all.
Everyone's day went on pretty uneventfully. People busied themselves, but Claireparker, eager to read up on any new killing strategies for tomorrow's first day of gaming since her temporary leave, was determined to stay focused.
Of course, that didn't mean she couldn't allow herself a giggle or ten at Alexia's constant heavy breathing and words of encouragement to herself as she kept one ear on what was happening in the training room.
"Come on, just one… more… stretch! Ow, too much! OK, ease it up…"
She was sure that this hadn't happened prior to the mini trip, and their joining as a couple. Well, they do say that love affects people in strange ways…
It was now late evening, and after a day of relaxation for most, the console and its inhabitants were settling down to rest.
Kiki was already fast asleep. Claireparker was just lying in her bed, waiting.
She was feeling rather bored, but her attention was grabbed when Alexia entered, breathing heavily and sweating. She'd obviously been putting every last minute into her training.
She was trying to say something, but, rather adorably, she was so drained that she wasn't able to form the words. Eventually, she just gave up on speaking, and got changed, flopping down under the covers.
What followed was a period of the only audible sound being Alexia's breathing.
After ten minutes, Claireparker figured that Alexia would be already asleep, but as she looked over, she saw her girlfriend's eyes were as open as hers.
Unbeknownst to her, though, the younger girl was actually experiencing withdrawal. After sleeping so close to her last night, the sensation of there being even a few inches between them now was almost alien. She knew that, a couple of nights ago, she could have just gotten straight into bed without even changing her clothes, and have fallen straight asleep regardless- but there was just something about having Claireparker beside her…
She wanted to say something. She'd now gotten her breath back, but her courage was dwindling. Nobody's perfect, I guess.
She quietly inhaled before speaking. "Claireparker?"
"I can't sleep."
"It's OK, neither can I."
Claireparker couldn't help but smile at how childish Alexia sounded, complaining like she was.
Meanwhile, Alexia was also smiling, but for a different reason. Claireparker's response was the perfect lead-in for what she wanted.
Claireparker smoothed out the smile on her face, turning to face her. "Yes?"
"I was just wondering… seeing as you can't get to sleep, and I can't get to sleep…"
She inhaled again, not wanting breathlessness to claim her at this point.
"Would you mind it if I slept with you, just for tonight?"
The older girl sat upright, not quite believing what she had just heard. "Excuse me?"
"Surely I don't need to repeat it twice?" Alexia asked.
"No, no- but, it's just, what if we get caught, again?"
"We didn't get caught." Alexia corrected. "Someone saw us in the same sleeping area, and you saved us both with your quick thinking!"
Claireparker blushed very slightly at this compliment, before snapping back to her old self and continuing to counter Alexia's verbal reasoning with her own.
"But who's to say our luck will run out?"
"Who's to say it won't?"Alexia contradicted with a smile.
At that, Claireparker gave up fighting. "Come on, then." she said, shifting to the left and, pulling the blanket off to make space.
Not even trying to keep the smile off her face, Alexia occupied the space quickly.
Warmth. That was the feeling they had, both inside and out. They''d felt it last night, in a brief flurry before falling asleep, and they were feeling it again now, but in a much more complex, prolonged way.
Not that either of them would admit that immediately.
Even though their current predicament was more likeable than what they were used to, it took some time to adjust, and words were scarce as the ladies adapted to this new situation.
"You OK?" Claireparker asked quietly.
"Of course." she replied. "Why would you ask that?"
"I dunno, it's just..." The older girl looked away, considering her next words carefully. "I don't want to make you do anything you don't want to do. You seem a little awkward, that's all."
"Claireparker, it's our first time in bed together. I'm actually pretty happy that this is finally happening. And as for pushing me into things, well, refer to my previous answer."
Her girlfriend smiled. She was trying so hard to be sophisticated; that was never something she would have actively looked for, in a friend or romantic partner.
I guess things like that don't matter too much, she thought to herself. She'll lighten up eventually; if I'm not mistaken, she's already partway through that progress.
She quickly came back to reality, and spied the clock out of the corner of her eye. She didn't even check what time it was, she just had a major inkling that it was getting very late.
"Alexia, we really should be getting to sleep now."
"Awww." the younger girl replied, pouting.
Claireparker had to hold in her laughter, as to not wake anyone else up.
"Come on now, it'll be OK." She looped an arm around her shoulder. "After all, they do say that absence makes the heart grow fonder- even if the person in question never really leaves."
Alexia made the move of pulling the couple into a hug.
Both could sense that the other had originally wanted to pull out of this embrace, but, somehow, they both stayed put. Though they loosened a little, everything felt in place.
Slowly, the two slid down into the bed, still holding each other.
The younger girl's eyes widened for a second, but Claireparker stopped her from probing any further with an affection saying of "Sweet dreams."
The phrase was repeated back to her a little quieter by her lover, as the two shared a gentle goodnight kiss.
Whatever troubles they had now could wait until morning.