You shrug and say nothing in response to Terra’s question, half expecting Terra to lecture you for your attitude. To your surprise, Terra gives Grisham a sharp look.
“Are you sure everything is alright in here, Grisham?”
“Mhm. A pouting brat doesn’t count as something wrong in my book,” Grisham replies smoothly.
Terra’s eyes slide between the two of you for a long moment, her lips thinning. “I’m not liking this dynamic,” she says flatly. “But I don’t have time to address this now. Grisham, sort it out. We’re going to depart for our next base. I’ll take Sarah and ready the chopter. You two pack up everything here and carry it back.”
It’s going to be a whole lot longer on the way back than it was on the way there without Sarah to piggyback you. You’re exhausted from a general lack of rest, but nobody seems to notice or care about that. Before you can say anything, Terra leaves, taking Sarah with her. You and Grisham are completely alone. If the mood were as it was about ten minutes ago, that would be a good thing. As it is, it’s just sort of awkward.
“Get everything packed, Cadet,” Grisham orders.
“What are you going to do?” You ask the question sharply. If she thinks you’re going to be her lackey, she’s got another thing coming, rank or no rank.
“I’m going to carry the bulk of it back,” she says. “You look too tired to carry a heavy load all that way.”
Her empathy is unexpected, but you realize it probably shouldn’t be. Grisham has always been kind to you, even when she’s been punishing you.
“Oh, well, thanks,” you say, stuffing things back into the packs. You avoid looking at her, you’re feeling a bunch of conflicting emotions, none of which are easy to work out.
“For the record, Cadet, just in case you misheard me, I didn’t mean to imply I regret being intimate with you. I meant that it’s complicated when it comes to chain of command issues. Like I said back on base. That’s not your fault. That’s mine.”
“Yeah, well, you owe me an orgasm then,” you mutter as you push things back into the bag. “And an apology.”
“Cadet, I don’t owe you a thing,” Grisham snorts. “Aside from maybe a sore butt. You are one ornery soldier right now.”
“That’s because you said I shouldn’t be in this unit, and you didn’t let me cum, and now you’re making it all my fault!”
“I’m not making it all your fault,” she says, reaching down to snag you by the back of your collar. She eases you up to your feet and turns you around to face her. She’s got the back of your uniform scruffed pretty decently in her hand, so you’re stuck caught in her grasp. “Look at me, Cadet.”
You reluctantly raise your eyes to hers. You see warmth in her dark gaze, and maybe even a little bit of amusement.
“You really don’t like hearing what you don’t want to hear, do you,” she says. “All this because I expressed my honest opinion, and wanted to keep you safe.”
“All this because your honest opinion is that I don’t deserve to be here. Well, I do! I worked damn hard to get into the academy, and then I worked every minute I was there.”
“I never said you didn’t work hard, I said you’re inexperienced…”
“Well this is how you get experience!” You squirm in her grasp. “Let me go already. Stop holding me like a damn cat.”
“If you were a cat this grip would have some kind of effect on your temper,” Grisham drawls. “But you’re just working yourself up, aren’t you, Cadet. You need a damn good spanking and a nap, in that order.”