AN: Just for some quick visual aids, and a little bit of explanation. I've started putting some fic/army related posts on my tumblr. I'll probably add more as I go along, but for now, gnomingabout tumblr com /tagged/I-Need-a-Medic


Army Values: Duty.


Besides the fact that he's been your friend since you joined the service, Sam Evans has always been a really nice guy. When you knock on his door this Saturday afternoon, fully prepared to make the forty-five minute drive to Nashville and get your party on, he's still not dressed and invites you in to mess around on his computer while you wait.

"There's not really much you can do with your Army boy hairdo," you throw over your shoulder at him in the bathroom, "so I don't know why you're trying so hard."

He's always kept his hair longer than what most people would consider regulation, it's long on top, clean around his ears and just enough to be styled into something cute.

"I need a haircut tomorrow," he calls back to you, "don't let me forget."

"I will," you mumble. Chances are you'll both forget and you will end up cutting his hair in his bathroom again, you've gotten really good at it. The first few times... not so much. He doesn't complain, it saves him seven dollars from the ladies at the barbershop.

You play around on his computer, the bigger than necessary monitor taking up most of the space on the desk, with an array of video games and geek paraphernalia surrounding you. The Darth Vader bobble-head is giving you the creeper jiggle and you have to hold it still to keep from smacking it off the desk.

Evans is a complete nerd and you love him for it. Sure, you don't always get his jokes, but at least he's making jokes that have some sort of intelligence to them instead of the dirty humor most of the boys are inclined to. You're sure Flanagan will fall into this same, shyer than most, un-macho type of guy you actually like talking to.

As a teammate Evans is more than you could have hoped for, he knows you have more pride than is healthy for your little body so when you struggle with the more physical aspects of your job he's always there and never says a word about it. You're actually work out buddies, he's been coaching you on the different supplements you've been taking along with your workouts. You've gotten to a point where you can bench press your body weight and then some. Now that's badass.

He's the only person in the company that's seen you cry and you plan on keeping it that way.

"Alright, you ready to grab Flanagan?"

"What's his first name?" you ask, standing up as he grabs his coat, "Flanagan is totally not something I want to be saying in the club."

He laughs and tells you it's Rory.

"That's a little better."

You find his room, approve of his outfit, and pile into his car. He's offered to be the designated driver because apparently he get's crazy when he drinks.

"What," you send him a smile so he knows you're joking, "does your Irish blood make you think you're not as scrawny as you really are?"

"That's pretty much how it goes, yeah," he scratches the back of his head.

"I still think that you and Lopez should be the ones celebrating tonight," Evans says from the back seat, ever the gentleman to give you the front. "It's not like I had to go to the board."

"Be thankful of that fact," he tells Evans through the rear view mirror. "They tore me a new one."

During the drive you talk about the board and how ridiculous it was. You wonder if you should be offended that First Sergeant Sylvester accused you of bringing a shank. Apparently, she told Flanagan that it was obvious he hadn't brought his four leaf clover. You're not sure which one is worse.


Along with being your favorite nerd in the company, Evans is also native to Kentucky and frequents Tennessee so often you're pretty sure they're the same thing, so he knows all the little places around Nashville that are either pro-military, or he can make you seem local enough to fly under the radar in places that aren't.

It was really strange, the first time you realized that not everyone wanted to shake you hand and thank you for your service. Not that you liked getting that kind of attention, it's awkward and make you feel like you aren't living up to their expectations because you didn't join to serve your country. You joined because it was a good opportunity for you at the time.

That still doesn't mean that it's okay with you that people deliberately go out of their way to tell you how much you suck because you're in the military. The boys get it more than you do, they stand out because of their haircuts, but you hate seeing it.

Tonight you wont have to worry about any of that, you're going to a place you frequent. They know you and love Evans, and sometimes he get's drunk enough to steal a guitar and sing a sad song about losing his truck and his girl and his dog on the tiny stage in the corner. It's a little... country for your taste, the dance floor is more for line dancing than bump and grinding, but you're not looking to do that with anyone.

No one in present company anyway.

You hate to admit it but there has been more than one occasion that Evan's pulled you onto the floor for a little two step.

You find your favorite spot on the corner of the bar, it's perfect so you can all see each other and the dance floor, and the blonde bartender who's decidedly not as pretty as you remember. Spending days obsessing over a particular blonde medic will make all other beautiful blondes seem... less beautifully blonde.

You chuckle to yourself and order yourself and Rory drinks.

"Drink this," you hand it to him.

He's confused, "I thought I was going to DD?"

"Not a chance dude, after the trauma you went through in the board you deserve to let loose," Evans claps him on the back and nods encouragingly. "I got your back if you decided to turn into the Hulk."

You get the play on words, "Ha, the Hulk is green, the Irish like green. He gets angry, angry Irish drunks. You're so fucking funny Evans."

"I try really hard," he smiles at you, probably impressed that you even know who the Hulk is and not at all slighted that you ruined his joke.

"Keep trying, pal."


You're successfully drunk. You can tell because when The Bombshell Stomp starts playing over the speakers you almost jump off your stool. Evans rushes off the floor to grab you, pulling on your arm saying, "This is your song!"

You turn to Flanagan and deny everything, "This is not my song."

"You're gonna miss it," Evans grins at you, grabbing your drink off the counter and you're off your stool just to get it back.

Getting your drink turns into falling into step with the rest of the line and soon the drink is back in your hand and you have no desire to go back to the bar. Evans is next to you and he's kicking up his boots. You're following along in your heels and it's almost the same thing.

You swing to the the right, and swing to the left, shake your booty, and step step step.

"Go get Clover over there and we'll teach him how to step," you tell your friend. He laughs and does just that.

"I thought that wasn't your song?" Flanagan asks as he falls into place next to you, looking all sorts of awkward and three moves behind.

"If you ever tell anyone about this," you threaten as you stay in step with the dance, "I'll cut off your toe and keep it as a lucky charm."

That makes him nod and focus on what Evan was saying about the footwork. You fall into your happy line dancing place, enjoying the music and the alcohol. When Flanagan starts to get the hang of it Evans moves a little closer to you.

He hold out his hand to you, "May I have this dance, Little Lady?"

He always asks like the biggest cheeseball and you have to take his hand and let him spin you into the center of the floor where other couples were two-stepping. You like dancing with him, because besides the spinning and the hand holding, there's not too much touching. He makes sure to keep a respectful distance and you're flattered at the concern, but you're sure you'd be comfortable getting a little closer if it came down to it.

He's a good guy, and it's not like he doesn't know.

You had been hanging out for few months before he caught you making out with a pretty little cowgirl in the hallway to the bathrooms. He might have been crushing on you before that, but now you're just one of the boys and you're grateful.

Tonight you're happy to celebrate owning the shit out of the board, impressing First Sergeant Sylvester, and making that senior medic proud of you.


A few hours and a few drinks later, you're sure that Evans isn't supposed to be drinking, but whatever, you're not in charge, all you care about is the blonde you're dancing with. She's too short and not as thin, and really... just not SSG Pierce.

"You'd make a sexy cowgirl," she whispers in your ear, placing her cowboy hat on your head and pulling back coyly.

This isn't the first cowgirl hat you've donned, or stolen, it's something you do. You think it's funny as shit and Evans sells them on eBay and you drink more with the profits.

You open your mouth to say something flirty back when something knocks into your shoulder. You're amused until you see that it's Flanagan and another guy trying to fight, they're too drunk and confused to get many hits in. The bartenders are yelling to take it outside when Evans comes flying in, trying to break it up.

"Hey! Irish! Knock it the fuck off," you're yelling too, trying to get them to break it up, a rouge elbow hits you in the face and you just get pissed. You jump on the guys back and pull back his hair so that Flanagan can get a clean shot.

Evans rips you off the guy and throws you over his shoulder, pulling Flanagan along by the arm and out the door.

"Fucking put me down Evans!" you're yelling and kicking your feet like it would help, like you're really in any condition to go back in there and beat up a bunch of wannabe cowboys. "That guy clocked me in the eye."

You can feel it pulsing along your eyebrow, hopefully it wont swell or bruise, you would hate to have to explain that at work on Monday.

He gets you both about a block away and nowhere near your car... which you can't actually remember where you parked. Not that any of you are in any condition to drive. Setting you down gently he looks around, "Do you know where we parked?"

"No," you admit, following his eyes around for something familiar, you find nothing but Flanagan. "What the fuck is your problem? Why did you get into that fight?"

"He insulted my mother," he mumbles, dabbing his split lip with the cuff of his shirt.

You snort insensitively, "That's a great reason to get into a fight. I'm sure she's really proud."

All the fight has left him and he looks more embarrassed than anything. Evans sits down on step of a closed bakery and you see his head bob in that way it does when he's about to pass out.

You kick his foot, "You weren't supposed to drink."

"I'm sorry," he shakes his head in his hands, "some girl was buying me shots, it woulda been rude to turn her down."

You pinch the bridge of your nose. You're drunk, Flanagan's leaning against the brick wall like he's going to trow up and Evans has just ruined your ride home.

"I'm sorry, Santana."

Your anger dissipates and you know you have to figure something out. You can find a cab to a hotel, fork over the hundred bucks for a room, and figure out where your car is tomorrow. That's your plan, you have a plan. You can do this.

"Hey, Sergeant..."

Your heart stops when you hear Flanagan's obviously inebriated voice slur out those words. It just gets worse.

"...yeah I'm drunk."

"What are you doing!" you hiss, trying to get the phone away from him. You can figure this out yourself, you can take care of yourself. You don't need an NCO. You don't need his boss coming to your rescue.

His boss.

SSG Pierce.

"Yeah they're with me," he continues, swatting your hands away with horrible aim. "No, we can't find our car and they're drunk, and I'm drunk, and there was this guy, I got a pretty good shot in, with Lopez's help."

You're not sure how much of it she can understand through his thick accent and slurred speech. He tells her the cross streets before you can stop him and says, "Okay, thank you. I'm sorry."

He hangs up and turns to you.

"Sergeant Pierce is coming to pick us up."

"What, in an hour?" you throw your hands out in an aggravated gesture. It takes a second to get out here from Fort Campbell.

"No... like," he rubs his stomach, "she's right across town."

"What?"

"I don't know, that's what she said," he looks just as confused as you feel. "Stop yelling at me..."

"Fucking sit down with Evans," you shove him towards the step and fall into place next to him. "We're all fucked now."

You're going to sit here and wait to be the biggest disappointment ever.

It's not fifteen minutes before her jeep pulls up on the curb, illegally parked and kind of crooked. You don't care, by this point you're getting really tired and the alcohol is really setting in and you're sure you're going to bust into tears as soon as she gives you that 'I'm really disappointed in you' speech.

She jumps out and you're surprised by her outfit; the skinny jeans, the heels, the Nashville Predators jersey. There's two cute little stripes of blue paint under her eyes and you have a vague memory of someone telling you that there was a hockey game tonight. You're not into hockey, it's a little butch for you, but they way she's pulling off that look is just...

"So fucking hot," you say it before you can stop yourself and Evans elbows you in the ribs.

She didn't hear, she's leaning in front of Flanagan and talking in a soft voice with a large smile on her face.

"How ya feeling, Flan?"

She's... fucking teasing him. She thinks this is funny. If your NCO was the one picking you up off the street he would have something more to say than, how are you feeling?

"I wanna go back in there an make that guy apologize to my mother," he mumbles, "she's a good woman, a saint."

"I'm sure he got what he deserved," she's squinting at his split lip, "we'll have to clean that up. Are either of you hurt?"

You shake your heads and Flanagan dimes you out again, "Lopez was wearing this cowboy hat until I elbowed her in the face and knocked it off. Accident, I swear. I think I got her in the eye, it's kinda swollen."

"I'm fine," you brush it off and cringe when she moves towards you. You keep your eyes on the concrete in front of you.

"Can I just take a look?" she asks softly and you know it's entirely up to you.

You almost give in, but like Flanagan get's angry when he's drunk, you get stubborn so you say, "Really, it's fine."

"Alright," she steps away and you miss her presence instantly. "Well, you guys have a choice. I have a hotel room across the river, it's small, single bed but we can all crash there until the morning and I'll drive you out here to find your car then. Or I can take you back right now and you'll have to come back out and find it yourselves tomorrow."

None of you like the idea of driving out here just to find a car tomorrow. It would be a two hour round trip and even then... with the impending hangover... so not worth it.

It's a unanimous decision and it's likely that you're the only one worried about being stuck in a small hotel room with her. You're hoping that you'll just pass out as soon as you find a spot on the floor. She helps you get the boys into the back of the jeep. When Evans hits his limit he's as good as gone and it's ridiculous that he was able to get to this point so quickly. Flanagan lost all of his fight and is now taking every opportunity to tell SSG Pierce how sorry he is.

"Flanagan, I'm not mad," she tells him, "but if you say you're sorry one more time I'm gonna start getting annoyed, so knock it off. This is my job, to take care of you guys. You shouldn't be sorry, I'm just glad you called me instead of trying to drive home."

He falls silent after that and you're glad. You finish pushing Evans up and into the back seat. The jeep is very tall, raised on a fancy suspension system, you're sure she's put a lot of work into bells and whistles of it all.

"You good, Evans?" you ask to be sure.

"Yeah," he's fumbling with the seat belt and Flanagan reaches over to help him out.

You startle when something touches your shoulder, you spin on your heels and she's standing in front of you.

"Sorry," she takes her hand back, pushing her long bangs back behind her ear.

Her hair is in a ponytail and you want to reach out an touch it. The curls falling from the tie are effervescent in the streetlights. She's licking her lips and saying, "Did you need help getting into the cab?"

You glance up to the passenger's seat, it looks daunting but you're a slave to your pride.

"It's a little... tall," she continues with the hint of a smirk on her face.

"I can get it," you say, turning to the jeep. You've climbed over walls twice your height, you've beaten rope ladders, and scaled suspension bridges in obstetrical courses. You can get into a fucking jeep. You place your foot on the aftermarket chrome step rail and take a hold of the door frame.

You might have owned those obstetrical courses but that was when you were wearing combat boots and not heels. You misjudge the amount of friction your shoe has against the steel and you slip.

"I got you," firm hands capture your hips, and your grip on the metal tightens tenfold. You have to keep yourself from letting go, just to fall into her arms.

Wouldn't that be a glorious feeling?

She adds a soft, guiding pressure, encouraging you towards the seat. You let her move you, because all motor function has failed and you're putty in her hands. When you're in the seat she surprises you by hopping onto the railing and stepping up after you. She holds on easily to the frame of the jeep above her head with one hand.

"Now that I have you cornered," she laughs lightly, still wonderfully lighthearted about the whole situation. The hand not steadying herself on jeep is moving towards you and you do everything in your power to keep from straying away from it.

"I wish I had some better light," she mumbles to herself, focusing entirely on the throbbing spot over your eye. Her fingertip hovers just over your skin, and you look around her jeep to try and distract yourself from it. She might as well be holding a match to your face because every nerve ending in your skin is on fire.

Without touching your skin, she brushes back a strand of your hair, to get a better look, "We'll have to put some ice on it when we get to the hotel."

You nod, not trusting your voice or your sobriety to make an intelligent reply. With your consent for further treatment later on she smiles, stepping down from the jeep and taking her hand with her.

"Buckle up."


She's able to charm the lady at the front desk into giving her a double room instead of a single, she hadn't checked in yet which was a bonus.

"Why would you spend the night in town if you weren't going to drink at the game and it's only an hour drive from post?" you ask, following her down the hall. Evans is on your shoulder, leaning most of his weight on you and you're going a little slower than her with Flanagan.

"I was planning on a shopping trip downtown tomorrow," she shrugs, pausing in front of a room to slide the key card in and open the door. Awkwardly you shuffle in and close it behind you. She's depositing Flanagan on the far bed and you get Evans walking enough to push him into the bathroom when he says he has to piss.

"Don't make a mess," you warn after him.

"Yes ma'am."

"Fucking funny."

"Flan, take off your shoes buddy," she pats his shoulder to keep him awake for a second longer, "and make room for Evans, you're bunking together."

"Yes, Sarge."

She snorts, "Don't call me that."

"No, Sarge."

She shakes her head, walking away from him as his shoes hit the floor and wrestles the blanked out from beneath the mattress. You watch her turn on the television and flip through the channels until a late night sports broadcast comes on. She's looking to find out how the hockey game ended.

"How much of the game did you miss?" you ask, feeling guilty.

"Just a little of the end," she shrugs again. "Really, I'm not a huge Predators fan, my hearts in the San Jose Sharks, but they won't be playing here for another few weeks," her eyes find yours and it's so obvious that she doesn't even have to say, "I'm totally excited about it."

"That's cool," you mumble, because you don't know the first thing about hockey.

"The Predators rock!" Evans comes out of the bathroom punching his fist in the air, "You rock, Sergeant!"

"Thanks... Evans," she laughs at him, holding her hand up for the high-five he was offering as he passed them. He kicks off his shoes, taking a pillow from the head of the bed, he fell into the mattress next to Flanagan on his stomach, tucking the pillow under his chest so he can watch the highlights.

"I'm going to go grab some ice for your eye," SSG Pierce walks towards the door. "I'll be right back."

You watch her leave and you sit next to Evans on the bed the boys have claimed. It's big enough to fit all of you snugly so you don't have to worry about the awkwardness that would commence if you tried to share a bed with SSG Pierce.

You're not sharing a bed with her. That was a ridiculous notion. You would rather sleep on the floor than put yourself so close to temptation.

"I'm sorry about messing up our ride back," he looks up at you.

"You're fine," you put your hand on his head and mess up his hair. "We're just lucky that Pierce is being so cool about this."

"You think she's gonna tell Karofsky?"

"I'm not sure yet," you say honestly. "It's so weird that Flanagan didn't even hesitate to call her."

"I know," he sighs, "I think you and I would've rather walked back to Campbell then called the people that are supposed to take care of us."

"Isn't that fucked up?"

"Yeah."

"Shoulda been a medic," you're only half joking.

She returns shortly after, handing you an icepack, "Got if from my jeep, I keep a CLS bag there just in case."

You just put it on your face and try to ignore how perfect she is.

She disappears into the bathroom and comes out a few minutes later in a pair of pajama pants from her overnight bag, the face paint is gone and she's carrying a washcloth. You know it's creepy, but you watch her sit on the edge of the bed and try to shake Flanagan awake. When he doesn't wake up she takes the washcloth and cleans the cut on his lip.

"You know," she glances at you and you blush for being caught staring, "I hope you guys take him out again."

You're really confused, you took her soldier out and your DD got wasted and you all got into a fight, she should be telling you to stay away from him.

"What?"

"He," she hesitates double checking that he's asleep, "don't tell anyone this, Lopez, I'm trusting you here," she meets your eyes and you nod because she could trust you with anything, "but he doesn't have a lot of friends. He talks to a few guys in the motor pool but..."

You knew that, of course, he always was one of the odd men out. Maybe that was why she is always with him, just to make sure he wasn't alone.

"I had to convince him to come out with you guys and try to have a little fun. He needs to talk to more people in the company than just me," she folds the washcloth so the small spot of blood on it is covered. "I can't be friends with him the way you guys can."

You understand. Her rank is keeping her from becoming too personable to her soldier. The professional boundaries to keep fraternization out of the ranks are taken seriously in your unit. The MPs are really strict about stuff like that.

A bitter sensation fills your chest.

Soldier and NCOs aren't really even allowed to be friends... relationships beyond that are completely out of the question.

"We'll keep an eye out for him," you look down at Evans and find him drooling on the pillow. "He get's along with Evans really well and I've been talking to him more recently."

"I've noticed," she says with a soft smile in her eyes.

You drop your eyes to Evans, who's starting to snore. You're not looking forward to sleeping with that racket going on.

"Are you sleeping with him?"

You don't think she meant to ask if you were having sex with Evans but that's exactly what it sounded like. She realizes her blunder, and back peddles

"I mean, shit, that's not what I meant—"

"I know," you put her at ease quick, the more awkward she gets the more awkward you'll get, then you just might have to pass out from embarrassment. You adjust the icepack on your eye and say, "but yeah, I'll just crash out with the boys. I'm not gonna invade your space. You're already doing us a huge favor by giving us a place to stay."

She glances over to the bed that has yet to be touched since everyone came into the room.

"I have moral reservations about making you sleep in the same bed as two boys," she stands, tossing the washcloth on the dresser next to the television. You watch her turn to the bed, scratching her forehead as she thought. "The Army might pack us in like sardines sometimes, but girls always get our own space."

You're about to tell her that it's fine, both of the boys are passed out and you don't expect them to do anything funny while she's in the room, but she's already pulling the blankets and rearranging them as she saw fit.

"There," she stands back, proud of her work. "Now it's like two beds."

You blink at her, lost in your haze of alcohol and the idea that she wants you to sleep next to her. She wants you to sleep there and she wants you to feel comfortable so she's rolled the comforter into a divider between the two pillows, one white sheet on either side.

"You're right," you nod slowly, agreeing to keep from saying anything stupid.

"So are you getting excited for Air Assault School?" she asks quietly, mindful of the boys sleeping.

"I'm..." you stand and move over to the other bed, choosing the side that's closest so you can make a quick escape back to Evans if you need to, "getting kind of nervous actually."

She's shutting off all the lamps around the room and soon only the glow from the television is left. When she looks back at you she's lost in the shadows from the television behind her. She's a wonderful silhouette of temptation. You focus on getting out of your heels and she sinks onto the other side. The movement she causes on the mattress makes this all so real. You're sitting on a bed with SSG Pierce.

You're drunk.

She's kind, and generous, and decidedly off limits.

"Don't worry about it too much," she tells you and you focus on her advice. "Just take it one day at a time. That's all you can do."

She sits against the headboard and starts flicking through whatever is on the television this late at night.

"I don't want to go and fail out."

"Then don't," she says not unkindly. "You're gonna go, they're gonna tell you everything you need to do. They'll explain it and give you two chances. All you have to do is want it badly enough, and I know you do."

You fall onto your back, wrapping the sheet around your body tightly, as if it will keep you in check. You stare at the ceiling and focus on your breathing. Hopefully you'll be able to convince yourself that you're tired. That not every one of your senses is reaching out to the woman next to you.

You swallow and say, "I do."

God you do.

You close your eyes and try to blank out everything around you. The boys aren't snoring, the television isn't playing America's Funniest Home Videos, she's not trying really hard to stifle her giggles next to you. The sound is frankly adorable and more than you could have ever wished to hear for about ten minutes straight.

Because your eyes are closed, you imagine her there next to you, biting her lip and trying to muffle her laughter with the back of her hand. When a particularly stupid video plays the bed moves, just ever so slightly, with the force of her internalizing her amusement into deep, chest shaking, silent chuckles.

You are immersed in the her joy, you can feel it, you can hear it, you can almost touch it. All you would have to do is reach over and take her hand...

The grip on your sheet tightens and you wish for sleep.


The next time you open your eyes the only light in the room is natural, a small tracing of dawn sneaking in from behind the large curtains on the windows. You assume that you finally fell asleep and that SSG Pierce went to bed shortly after.

You assume that whatever is warm and pressed against your forehead is not yours.

Your eyelashes flutter as you shift your gaze to what you can see of the hand on your forehead. She could be taking your temperature, the way the back of her hand is just laying across your forehead like that. You take in a breath through your nose, trying to get your barrings and figure out what to do. You bite your cheek to make sure you're not dreaming.

Slowly, without moving your head too much, you glance over to the woman next to you.

She's dead asleep, you can tell because she wouldn't be mouth breathing like that if she knew you were watching. You watch anyway, because it's the cutest thing you've ever seen, with her lips parted and her face completely relaxed. Sometime during the night she had decided that the rolled up blanked-barrier thing was her cuddle buddy and she has one arm and leg thrown over it, the other arm is snaked underneath and extended to fall on your forehead.

Her hair is simply everywhere. The hair you've dreamed of seeing free is spread haphazardly over the pillow and blanket, falling over her shoulders, covering the straps of her tank top so if you squint you can almost pretend that she's naked.

That's too much.

You have to shift your eyes away, closing them to keep from leering. For a moment, you just bask in the fact that she's touching you. You close your eyes and take a walk down fantasy lane where you're waking up together after staying up late without two boys in the other bed. You take another breath and swear you can smell her skin.

Again, it's too much, and with a pain in your chest you roll away from her and out of her reach.

The backs of her fingers slide down the side of your face as you go and you have to choke back the whimper that might escape your lips. Just when you thought you were in the clear, her hand starts to move. Confused at the sudden lack of body heat, it's searching, feeling, grasping. You feel sleepy fingers wrap a strand of your hair between them, languidly, lazily, like lovers do when they're laying in bed.

Your eyes are squeezed shut so tightly that you're seeing stars.

Thankfully—depressingly—the hand stops, frozen. You hear the barest intake of breath and know she's awake, with her fingers in your hair. For the life of you, you're not sure how you are able to keep you breathing steady to feign sleep, but you do.

It's a slow and careful movement when she takes her hand back. Then once that's gone, so is the rest of her, the mattress shifts and she's out of the bed. Somehow, beyond your pulse hammering in your ears, you hear her shuffle, standing on her side of the bed and just breathing. You can feel her eyes on you, she's trying to figure something out. Does she know you're awake? Finally, she escapes to the bathroom and shuts the door behind her.

By the time the boys wake up and you pretend to roll out of bed with them, SSG Pierce is dressed and ready for the day. It's kind of fitting, she's looking every bit as put together as a Non-Commissioned Officer should be and you three are fighting bed head and wondering if the hotel had complimentary breakfast.

They do, so at least that's a plus and one more reason that this morning has risen the charts to be one of the best mornings of your life.