The First of Many

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Chapter 25

Aedan was enjoying a workout at the Delta base, the day before his return to his own base. He was covered in sweat, muscle rippling as he pummeled a punching bag into submission.

He was on a roll when Hannah walked in, wearing a bra, a rather short pair of exercise shorts, and absolutely nothing else.

She was beautiful as usual, but he had never noticed her scars before. He noticed one in particular, a deep, jagged mess in her side that looked like somebody had stuck a sword in her and twisted to do more damage. He realized it must be the shrapnel wound from Afghanistan. He realized he was staring, and turned away awkwardly.

He stood there for ten seconds before he was knocked off balance by the punching bag flying into him.

Hannah walked over to him. "Hey there," she said.

"Oh, um... hi," Aedan said.

"You okay?" she asked.

“Yeah, I'm fine,” Aedan muttered, trying valiantly to not blush.

“Then get back to work,” she ordered sharply, heaving her bag off her shoulders.

He chuckled and returned to punching the bag, glancing at Hannah from time to time. Christ, she's beautiful, Aedan thought as he stared again.

She began by stretching, and proved just as limber as her profession suggested. He wondered if she was double-jointed. That, or a gymnast.

Aedan finished boxing and went to the kitchenette that was conveniently placed in the corner of the gym, and made himself some hot chocolate.

Hannah stopped short and sniffed at the air like a bloodhound, a shiver making its way down her spine. Chocolate, she thought greedily.

She walked up to Aedan in a half-daze. "You make me a cup and I may just kiss you," she said seriously.

Aedan stuttered for a second, uncharacteristically tongue-tied, before he regained his composure and smirked. “Promise?” he asked.

She frowned for a second, then shook her head. “Sorry,” she said, “But I'll make you a deal.”

“What kind?”

“You make me a cup of hot chocolate, and I'll fight you. If you win, I'll kiss you. If you lose, you make me another cup.”

Aedan raised an eyebrow. “You really like hot chocolate, don't you?”

“More than life itself,” she answered, completely serious.

Aedan made her another cup of the drink as she sat, rubbing at her shoulders absentmindedly. She took the cup with a gracious smile as he handed it to her.

The pair drank in silence, although Aedan couldn't help but watch her. Her dull, dark eyes lit up at the simple pleasure of the taste of chocolate. Her pale lips curled into the faintest hint of a smile, the tip of a rosy tongue sneaking out to lick the milk off her lip.

Damn, he thought. She really likes hot chocolate.

"So, are we still fighting, or do you want to skip to the kiss?" He asked as they finished.

She chuckled lowly and placed a hand at the juncture between neck and shoulder, leaning in slowly to kiss him. He smiled and closed his eyes in anticipation, but she simply gave his dog tags a hard yank and started dragging him to the ring that was generally kept for hand-to-hand fighting.

“I'm going to enjoy this,” she said, stretching for a moment.

Aedan smirked. “So will I,” he said. “Hey, tell me, do you trade a lot of kisses for victories around here? I just might transfer.”

“I've only lost once,” she said with a shrug. “Shadow promised we'd never do that again. I dislike making out with my brothers. Now, are you going to keep talking, or shall we fight?”

"Let's do this," Aedan said as they began to circle each other. Thirty seconds later, they clashed with a bang.

They fought neck and neck for what felt like years. Every time she thought she had him, he would counter with a strength she was completely unused to. She exploited every weakness she found, but he did the same, moving too fast for her to dance around him as she did most of her opponents.

The pair never noticed they had an audience, but nearly half the Delta team had gathered, muttering amongst themselves. Snake stood apart from them, silently rooting for his rookie.

Aedan threw a right which she deftly dodged. She threw the same right and he caught her arm and twisted it behind her back. "Give up yet?" He asked.

“Not on your life,” she snarled, grabbing his hand and squeezing hard enough to make his hand convulse. She sprang away before he could catch her, landing on the other side of the ring.

"Fine,” Aedan called with a grin. “Let's dance, then.”

Hannah sprang at him, and he side stepped. She fell facedown on the floor and he caught her, holding her down with a knee at her back. He secured her arms again. "Surrender and save us all the trouble," he whispered into her ear.

She struggled hard against him, but he pushed her harder into the floor, crushing her until she gasped for breath. “Come on, Rosie,” he said. “All you have to say is 'yes'.”

“Fine,” she ground out at last, falling limp beneath him. He grinned and let go of her, helping her up. She brushed herself off carelessly, although all she really did was get some dust into the cut on her arm.

That was when they noticed their audience.

“Damn, Rosie!” Viper hooted. “You're losing your touch! He's a new guy!”

“Shut it, Viper!” she called back. “If you remember, I beat your sorry ass in minutes!”

Viper grinned. “Was it a bet?” he asked.

Hannah groaned. “Yes, Viper, it was a bet.”

“Well, what are you waiting for? Kiss him!”

Cheers and whistles were all Aedan heard at first, but when Hannah pressed her lips to his in a heated kiss, Aedan could have sworn his brain quite literally melted through his body.

As for Hannah... Well, Hannah was confused. She had kissed men before; too many to count, really. They had all been mere tools, easy to manipulate, or Nico's rough, angry movements, or Nine's posession, pain, agony. None had been pleasant. But this... A different sort of heat built up within her at the gentle touch of his lips, and she reached up, her hands toying with the hair at the nape of his neck, losing herself completely to the moment.

It couldn't have been more obvious to her that Aedan had no idea what he was doing: he was doing little more than sitting there like a fool, waiting for her to do as she pleased. On the other hand, Hannah had never experienced a kiss quite the same as that one. She put it down to the fact that he tasted of hot chocolate.

She pulled away with a faint blush. "I... um... wow," she said.

"Ditto," he answered.

"I have to go do... um... I have to go clean my rifle," she turning and fleeing. She made her way to her room and sat down on her bed. No, I do not have any feelings whatsoever for that pathetic squid.

A little voice in the back of her head answered; But he beat you. Nobody's done that before, other than Shadow. And you enjoyed it. You enjoyed kissing-

-A measly little squid. Blade would flay me alive.

You like him. He's stronger than you ever were.

No, she thought angrily. Damn him, I don't. It was just a kiss, Solomon, get yourself together. It was just the chocolate. Nothing to be worried about. Just the chocloate.

A few minutes later, Mike walked in. "What the hell just happened? I've never seen you kiss like that,” he demanded.

“I don't know,” she muttered. “I have no clue what that was.”

“You missed the aftermath. After you left, the Squid just stood there like an idiot for ten minutes while he figured out how to use his legs.”

Hannah smirked. “Serves him right. I'll bruise from that one.”

Mike chuckled. “You looked like you enjoyed it, though,” he said with a grin.

“Did not.”

“Did too.”

“Did not.”

"Then how come you kissed him like that? Look, I know you, Rosie. You know you liked it. If you like him, it'll be just between you and me. I promise," he said

“I don't,” she argued. “Mike, why would I? He's a Squid!”

"He's a man, isn't he? Hell, if I weren't a guy, I'd probably like him too. Who cares if he's a squid? I saw the way you looked at him. If you don't feel at least something, then how come you left to clean your rifle?"

"What's wrong with that?" She asked.

"Rosie, you cleaned your rifle before you went to work out," Mike said, raising an eyebrow.

“Mike, enough,” Hannah said shortly. “I'm not having this discussion with you. Yes, I did enjoy the kiss. I don't know why, and I don't want to. I have absolutely no emotional attachment to the Squid. Now, get out of my room before I throw you through the wall.”

"Fine," Mike said, leaving with a sigh.

Five minutes passed before Aedan walked in. "My team is preparing to go home so... I wanted to say goodbye," he said.

Hannah looked up at him, trying to find something to hate, to keep herself far away from him.

Blue eyes, dark enough to be almost Navy, wide and unassuming, deep and clear and innocent.

Hannah prided herself on being able to read people; He had nothing to hide.


“Goodbye,” she said shortly.

Aedan stood up a little straighter, confused. “What's wrong?” he asked immediately.

“Nothing,” she growled. “Get out of my room.”

“Not when you're in that state,” he answered.

“What do you care?” she asked shortly.

“We're all on the same team here,” Aedan said, sitting down beside her. She shifted away from him, trying to put as much distance between them as she could. “I don't care what branch you're in, you're a valuable member of Delta. I think you would have made a great SEAL.” He sighed. “I care because I don't like to see people hurt.”

“I'm not hurt,” she argued.

“Yes, you are,” he said. “I'm not blind. You ran away because you were scared, and I don't understand what you're scared of.”

“Well, I guess you'll just have to learn to live with disappointment,” she answered.

"Why are you being so difficult?" Kronos asked.

"Why do I have to tell you anything?" She spat.

“Because you won't tell anybody else,” he said. “And you need to get it off your chest.”

“If you know so much about my problems, why don't you tell me what they are?”

Aedan sighed, forcing himself to be patient. He wouldn't let her go that easily. “Rosie, calm down, all right? I don't want to argue with you. If you don't want to tell me, you don't have to. I'm just here to listen, if you need to talk about whatever it is that's confusing you.”

Why is he like this? Why does he care? Oh no. No, no, no! He can't care. He doesn't... "Aedan, I barely know you," she answered.

“I know,” he said. “That's why I can listen. You can say anything and I won't care; I'd be surprised if we saw each other again.”

Yes! We'll never see each other again! That means I can... What? Trust him? No, Solomon, get your shit together, don't even try that!

Snake entered, leaning against the doorframe. "Hey, new guy. We're out of here," he said.

"Okay," Aedan said, then turned back to Hannah. "Look, take my cell number in case you ever want to talk," he said as he took out a paper and wrote his number on it. "I'll see you around," he said as he rose and left, taking a quick moment to look at her again before leaving.

He never noticed her staring at his back as he retreated, an unspoken longing in her eyes.

She dreamed of his smile that night.
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