Alex's sleep was troubled by dreams of dogs, streets filled with the dead and a choking, stinging cloud of white. The white remained, as he opened his eyes to find himself lying in a hospital bed facing the white tiled ceiling. He blinked in disorientation and looked down at his arm, which felt heavy and he quickly ascertained the cause. A bright pink cast concealed his whole right forearm; he frowned at the color and wriggled his fingers experimentally. It hurt, but they worked.
A mocking voice interrupted him from the bed next to him, "They didn't come in Khaki or Olive Drab."
Alex looked across to see Li propped up by several pillows and looking very relaxed. Paulo sat at the end of her bed and waved at him with his hand that was held in a smaller, black cast. Alex's face fell when he saw the other boy's cast.
"I couldn't have gotten a black one too?" He complained morosely.
From a tacky couch opposite him another familiar voice taunted him.
"Yeah, you could have, but you were unconscious so they let us pick." Amber answered with malicious glee.
"We decided it best with you becoming a big sissy and all." Hex put in from beside her, looking quite amused at the circumstances.
Alex opened his mouth to defend himself, but seemed unable to find a defence, he was being accosted from all sides.
"You better leave poor Alex alone or I will hit you with my crutches." A voice warned sweetly from the doorway.
Alex swiveled in his bed turning to find the girl he had been worried about, standing by the door supported by a pair of crutches, a fresh bandage covering her knee.
"Yes ma'am." Hex apologized, with a sly grin as he moved closer to Amber, making some room for Camilla on the couch.
"I suppose you didn't try stop them from giving me a pink cast either?" Alex accused the now sitting girl.
"Whose idea do you think it was in the first place, amigo?" Paulo shot at him, wearing his lazy cowboy grin.
"It can match the color you go when she hugs you." Li pointed out painfully, with a look of cruel amusement.
Alex winced in embarrassment, as his color indeed started to match his arm.
"Well I think it is rather fetching." Camilla concluded with a coy raised eyebrow, causing Alex's complexion to darken further.
"Hey look, he's matching it now!" Amber pointed, breaking into giggles with Hex.
Camilla cut off the rest of the jokes and laughter by loudly announcing. "Well I'm going to sign his pretty pink cast now if you all want to give us a moment."
The grins couldn't have been wider, as the remainder of Alpha force trooped out of the room, deprived of further amusement.
"Thanks for saving me there." Alex said, his color slowly returning to normal.
Camilla giggled and rose from the couch to crutch her way over to his bed.
"You assume I did it to save you?"
Alex looked down his bed as she sat on the end of it; raising an eyebrow, his gaze swept the length of her body slowly before he commented on her state.
"It might just be the morphine talking, but there doesn't seem to be anything wrong with your legs at all."
Camilla sent him an appraising look.
"Maybe I'm just doing it for the sympathy?" She suggested innocently, batting her eyebrows in a way so unlike her.
"Well I'm not the most sympathetic person, but I guess I could make an exception."
The blonde raised her eyebrows and shuffled a little further up the bed.
"My my, isn't someone the smooth talker after a few painkillers?"
Alex blushed at what almost seemed like a rebuke and looked down to his pink arm instead.
"Well are you going to sign it or not?" He teased lightly.
Camilla leaned in further till she was inches away from him and whispered in a husky voice.
"I'll get to that."
Before closing the final centimeters and kissing Alex on the lips.
A shockwave of sensation seemed to run through Alex, as the beautiful girl pressed her pert lips softly to his own. The moment and the sensation lingered a second longer before he responded in kind, kissing her right back and opening his mouth slightly to drink in her taste. Alex breathed in her sweet scent so different from the sterile smell of the hospital around him, creating an escape from the neutral prison into a whole new world.
He felt a shudder run down her body, as he returned her passion and wrapped one arm around her neck to cradle her face and pull it in to his own. His other hand drifted to her waist to pull her body further up the bed and closer to his own. She obliged by sliding her good leg across his legs til she was practically straddling him; leaning deep into his kiss and raising a hand to caress his chest. Alex gasped into her open mouth, as the pleasant weight descended on him. The moment seemed so surreal for him and some small part of his mind was still trying to comprehend the magnitude of the moment.
The door suddenly swung open, as Alpha Force quickly returned to the room and returned to their respective seats, causing Alex and Camilla to freeze in place, lips still locked.
"Well now that we are all comfortable," Amber smirked. "Someone here wants to talk to us."
The pair turned in place to stare at the door in shock, as the man from the helicopter the previous night walked in.
"M.. M.. Major General, Sir." Camilla stammered awkwardly, as she quickly pivoted on her good knee and slid off Alex, who shuffled across in his narrow bed to make room for the girl to sit beside him instead.
"Camilla." He acknowledged with a look of amusement dancing in his eyes. "And you must be Alex, we didn't get a chance to meet yesterday I'm sorry. My name is Major General McGarvey."
A red-faced Camilla hissed in Alex's ear. "He's my boss." Causing Alex to match her horrified expression.
Addressing the entire Alpha for the first time, Major General McGarvey continued.
"I'm just here to thank you for your efforts over the last couple of weeks. What you did ensured that hundreds of villagers were bought a little more time until a proper aid chain could be established. Furthermore, the Intel you gathered was the damning evidence needed for NATO to be able to justify taking military action to remove Lomada from power."
The friends cheered and high-fived at this last point, having witnessed first hand the destructive regime and its toll on the people.
The grizzled officer broke through the celebrations, as he continued.
"Frankly I'm impressed by the dedication you showed in helping these people and I'm very proud of Camilla for her part in it all. For this reason I would like to offer you all jobs working for NATO, in whatever capacity you wish. We really think you young people would be an asset."
Alpha force looked at each other, their opinion on the matter decided almost a year earlier in Scotland when they were approached by another organization with a similar offer. The choice had been made then, to remain their own independent outfit so as not to get tied up in the red tape and politics that came with working for a government or international agency.
Alex spoke up in a clear voice that summarised the groups feeling.
"Thank you very much for the offer General, but with all due respect we wish to remain our own unit for the time being."
The others nodded in agreement, despite the officer looking a little put out and Alex felt the small hand in his tighten, as he spoke again.
"That is not to rule it out as a possibility though Sir and we certainly look forward to continued interaction with NATO forces in the future."
The last part was the standard line they trotted out when approached by government and international agencies. It was designed to soften the rejection and make it clear that Alpha Force was a professional outfit that valued its supporters and allies. They had decided that remaining independent was only viable if they were recognised by other organisations and were able to cooperate with them or work for them, when the situation required it.
"Not the too distant future I hope." A sweet voice whispered in his ear.
Alex turned to meet the lively blue eyes, as the general left the room and he brushed a loose golden lock off the girls face before answering.
"Is now soon enough for you?"
As an added extra and a new feature I'm putting at the end of my AF fics, find my very own survival guide, just like the ones in the books. I say just like, but mine are probably a little more relaxed and fun ;p Still worth a read though, all the info is accurate and could be useful!
Until next time.