So, this is the first in a line of one-shots that I'll be posting. Some will have to do with certain episodes, others not so much. But I still want to maintain a certain chronological progression in the way their relationship develops through out the singular scenes. Of course, neither 'Last Resort' nor any of its characters belong to me. Enjoy!
After the exerting experience of commanding the Colorado for the first time, Grace needed some time to clear her mind, so she'd taken to wandering around the island. With everything that had happened since they'd arrived, there had never been time to actually take in how serene and untouched it was. It had already turned dark when she'd made it back to the village, strolling towards the small bar that Tani owned. She'd decided a drink or two might help her relax and besides, she wanted to celebrate even if it meant doing it alone.
Apart from a handful of crewmembers sitting at a table in the far corner, most of the guests were villagers. She moved along the bar counter, saluting her officers in return after they'd acknowledged her and took a seat on a bar stool. In that moment Tani chose to reappear from the back of the bar, Navy SEAL King following her shortly after. Judging by Tani's visible blush and his smug smile, there was no doubt in her mind what the two had been up to. She felt something not quite discernible at the observation and quickly wrote it off as just another one of those things that bothered her about James King. Arrogant, stubborn, big-mouthed and utterly full of himself. That's what she thought of him. She decided one drink more than planned was in order tonight.
His smile slipped when he saw her, Lieutenant Grace Shepard, sitting stoically at the bar. Still riding on his adrenaline rush, the first thing he'd done once they'd gotten back from the repair mission was to find Tani and kiss her. He'd spent the night at her place and the past half-hour making out with her in the storage space behind the bar. He felt lighter with her, simply because she had nothing to do with his former life. Nothing about her reminded him of the things he'd done, the questions he needed to answer, the responsibilities he'd taken to neglect. Grace on the other hand had this keen ability to bring everything flooding back. He hadn't taken her seriously before partly because - go ahead and call him a sexist - she was a woman and because he had the feeling neither did her crew. Two days ago though, she'd gained his respect, maybe even a bit of admiration, even though she'd decided to leave him for dead deep down in the pitch black of the freaking Pacific Ocean. But a decision had to be made – him or the crew - and as a fellow soldier he understood. He would have done the same. She caught his eye and he suddenly felt thirsty for a drink.
"Hard day at work?", he asked her with a smirk as he sat down beside her.
She watched him warily unsure of his intentions. "My day off, actually."
"And you decide to end it with a buzz." He winked at her. "Classy."
Tani chose that moment to set a glass down in front of her with a decisive thud and a warning glare, subtle, but obvious enough to any woman. Grace didn't quite know what to make of her. Mostly, she seemed calm and collected, genuine in her demeanor and yet Grace had a feeling she was already one foot off the island. She wondered what it was that kept her here.
With a twist of her wrist Grace sent the auburn liquid swirling and then took a hearty sip without sparing James a glance. "What can I say, I like my bourbon."
The corners of his lips lifted into an amused grin as he ordered himself a beer. If this had been a worse day with bad moods, he knew she wouldn't have let his humorous jibe pass without a provocative quip of her own. Or maybe, she was letting it slide because she felt guilty for practically sacrificing him on the last mission. Whatever the reason, he welcomed the peace. A few moments passed in silence and then…
"You seem good."
James turned to face her sporting a boyish grin. "I'm a guy. Breaking records does wonders for us."
She chuckled despite her best efforts but kept her eyes fixed on her finger tracing the rim of her glass. A deep breath later. "Glad to hear it."
The bottle was halfway to his mouth, when his hand stilled mid-motion. He hadn't expected her to say that. Or more accurately, he hadn't expected for it to sound so heartfelt and that he'd care that it did. Maybe he had suffered some brain damage after all. Every conversation between them until now had either been hurtful banter or heated argument. Nice wasn't something they did, so he stuck to what he knew.
"Sounds a lot like you were worried about me Lieutenant."
The statement caught Grace off guard. Not because of the teasing way he'd said it, but because she'd realized there was some truth to it. She chose not to respond, but then her head turned and her eyes caught his of their own accord and told him what she hadn't wanted to admit. Neither of them spoke, be it out of surprise or embarrassment. And in the silence they both acknowledged that something indefinable had changed between them. Not friends, or even friendly, but something more amicable and tolerable than what they'd been before, which for the record, hadn't been much at all.
In light of the awkwardness, Grace downed the rest of her bourbon and stood to leave. "I think I'll leave it at one, after all." She picked out a note from her pocket placing it underneath her glass. She'd barely taken a few steps around her stool when she stopped abruptly. He waited expectantly as he stared at her back and then she finally turned around with a rawness in her eyes that he'd never seen before.
"Extremely tough." Her voice sounded tender.
He looked at her puzzled.
"On the boat, you asked how tough."
He felt his lips part. Oh.
She didn't give him a chance to respond, already having darted towards the steps. He wouldn't have known what to say anyway. And yet, he did notice how his free hand hovered awkwardly in the air as though reaching out for something that suddenly wasn't there anymore.
Continue? Yes/No. Feedback appreciated!