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Author’s Note: I tried to limit the military jargon but some was inevitable to help the flow of the story. Also, this is a work of fiction!
The man across from me barely raised an eyebrow at my anger. I’d served with Capt. Lohman long enough to know when he would and when he wouldn’t change his mind. This situation quickly looked like it fell into the latter category.
“Gunz, I know you’re ready, that’s not the damn point! You’ve been wounded three times out here and I don’t need you pushing your luck anymore!”
“Are you kidding me? I know I’ve been hurt but there are some guys who’ve been hurt a lot worse than me.”
Captain Lohman stared at me through tired bloodshot eyes. He’d gotten little sleep for three days while we’d been out on a mission and while he thought highly of me most of the time, I could tell I was getting on his last nerve. This was confirmed a second later when he used my full name, you know it’s never good when a senior uses your full name and rank.
“Gunnery Sergeant Jason Hunter, why are you so determined to go outside the wire anyway? Haven’t you seen enough action? You starting to get a death wish on me? I don’t need you becoming a liability.”
“I don’t have a death wish, but I’m out here, what the hells the point of my being here if I can’t leave base?”
Frustrated, I put my hand on the M-4 slung muzzle down over my shoulder, the cool metal stock and faint smell of gunpowder calmed and reassured me. Anger would do me no good here, clearing my throat I said.
“Look sir, I don’t have a death wish or am I a combat junkie, but I’m here, this is what I signed up to do and I’ll be damned if I’m going to turn tail just because I got hurt. There must be something I can do. If you won’t let me leave the wire on missions, let me protect convoys or something. I just don’t want to come to the opposite side of the world and get benched halfway through the game.”
Running his fingers through his short-cropped hair, “You’re bound and determined to make my life hell aren’t you?” he asked dryly as he slumped his head.
Sensing victory, “Well it’s not a particular goal, but I admit it does have entertainment value!” I replied.
“Fine, I’ll give you your wish, you can do guard duty for EOD, those crazy bastards are always leaving base and having to go detonate IED’s. They need someone experienced to keep them safe while they do their jobs.”
“Guard duty for EOD,” I replied hesitantly.
Lohman could tell I was dubious, “Gunny, I respect that you want to go right back out, but this is coming from higher. Now I can sidestep a little and have you do guard duty, but I can’t let you back out with the company. At least not right now, maybe in a month or so we’ll look at the situation again, ok?”
“Good enough sir, who am I protecting?”
Shuffling through the paperwork on his desk, “It looks like we just got a transfer from Camp Leatherneck, a Sergeant Erik Mendes. You’ll be running him around and making sure he doesn’t get shot. We have him staying at the H7 barracks, so link up and become his new best friend.”
“All right sir, consider it done.”
Base Delaram II in Afghanistan was having an unusually nice day for March, with light cloud cover and a slight breeze the temperature was perfect. I huffed a little as I double timed it down to the barracks. I was slightly annoyed at how fast I was breathing, three weeks ago I had been too close to an RPG that exploded during a firefight and had been sent flying to smash through the brick wall of a nearby hut. I’d taken some shrapnel in the leg and had been laid up since. Without any chance to exercise I could practically feel my muscles weakening, I needed to get back into the gym and workout before I would be back in my customary shape.
Our base was big but due to drawdowns, it only housed a few hundred. I reached the barracks quickly. The barracks were wooden rooms built in rows, they were back to back, and were 15×8 feet large. Each had a skylight and a front shuttered window. I found the H7 room and knocked, nothing, after a minute I knocked again. Frustrated at no answer I tried the door, locked. Just then another Marine walked by.
“Hey, you seen Sgt. Mendes?”
“At the gym PTing gunny.”
“Thanks,” I replied and took off toward the gym.
Walking across the compound I felt hope, maybe this wouldn’t be a bad assignment. If Mendes liked the gym we could work out together on downtime. I opened the door and felt a blast of cold air as I entered the building. The smell of sweat, chalk and gym assailed me. I saw an M4 lying on the weapons rack next to the front counter. It always made me smile, the difference between military and civilian lives. We both went to the gym, but in the Marine Corps you have to take your weapon everywhere you go. I loved being deployed!
The gym was slow for this time of day, most people were out enjoying the good weather and playing basketball or running. I saw a few Navy Medics that I knew ataşehir escort bayan in the corner lifting free weights. The only other person I saw was a female in small black spandex shorts and a pink Underarmour tank top doing squats in front of a mirror. I stopped to admire her “form” for a few seconds, her chest was straining her top and every time she bent down I had an excellent view of her very tight butt, she had muscular thighs and was toned. Her dark black hair was tied in a thick ponytail that went hallway down her back, she looked Hispanic.
After watching her complete a set I scanned the gym more thoroughly, not seeing Sgt. Mendes I walked over to the female.
“Hey, you seen a Sgt. Mendes here by any chance? I need to find him.”
Catching her breath, she turned to face me, her dark brown eyes were intense as she replied. “You got to find HIM huh?”
Frowning, I scanned the room again, failing to miss the subtle influence on the word “him.” I replied offhandedly, “Yeah, I’m his new babysitter, I need to make sure when he goes off base he doesn’t do anything unsat like get himself killed.” Turning back to her I smiled, trying to impress her. With my dark eyes and athletic body, I knew women found me attractive and I figured a little flirting would be fun.
She’d stopped sipping her water, her eyes narrowed “Yeah, what makes you think you can stop that from happening?”
“As long as he’s not an idiot I can help him, and if he is an idiot, then I just need to make sure that he doesn’t… uhm, get somebody… ahh, else killed too.” My voice trailed off as I saw her posture change, her arms crossed, her foot began to tap and her smile disappeared.
“Oh shit.” I said as I realized my mistake. “Erik?”
“It’s Erika! They made a mistake on my paperwork! So glad you’ll be around to keep me safe, I hope I’m not too stupid to keep from getting me or you killed.”
“Uh… o damn… look… uhmmm….” I tried to talk as she marched away.
“I’m gonna go take a shower now,” she said. I followed her out of the gym and back to her room, she opened her door, grabbed some shower gear and began to march toward the showers.
“Look,” she said as we walked. “I get that you don’t want this duty, why don’t I go ask for someone else to take care of me, I wouldn’t want my stupidity to be a burden.” She reached the showers opened the door and turned to face me. “Ok?” She turned her back to me and slammed the door.
Damn! Sighing inwardly, I thought about how bad I fucked up. I really didn’t want my CO to give me grief over this, he’d given me a chance to do something other than work in the main office doing useless paperwork. I needed to make this work, I decided to wait around and see if I could repair this relationship.
Twenty minutes later Mendes opened up the door and found me standing there. Pausing she arched an eyebrow at me.
“Uhmm ok, that was a huge mistake on my part,” I rushed to speak so she wouldn’t interrupt me.
“I was trying to impress a pretty girl with how tough and badass I am and I sounded like an ass. I can’t even talk about other people’s stupidity, I’ve been wounded three times in the past six months and now they won’t let me leave the wire on missions with my platoon. I don’t want to be in Afghanistan and feel useless, so I’m really freaking out about not being able to work with you. I’m really sorry for implying you were stupid.”
For a moment she just stood there wearing black shorts and a gray USMC shirt, her damp hair falling around her shoulders. “Hmph, I’m impressed, I don’t think I’ve ever even heard of a gunnery sergeant apologizing to a sergeant. Not to mention one doing it and so openly admitting his faults.” Pausing… she rolled her eyes, “I may have overreacted just a bit, since you didn’t actually call me stupid, you just implied I could be. I can be a little hotheaded sometimes, my last boyfriend called it feisty… but sometimes it’s hard to be taken seriously when you’re a woman.”
“Fair enough, I promise I’ll take you seriously. Want to go get some chow?”
She smiled, “Sure,” she said. Her face transformed with that smile, she went from pretty to stunning.
The next few weeks passed quickly as we settled into a routine. Whenever we were called out on patrol we’d fall into place beside one another. I learned how to stow her gear in the vehicles, her suit weighed more than 80 pounds and was a colossal pain to store. I gave her tips on marksmanship and how best to wear her flak vest and ammo magazines for when she wasn’t geared up for bomb disposal. I worked with her on quick draw drills and went over a few procedures with her.
“Ok, so we’re keyed up together with these headsets,” I explained. “Now I know you’ve taken care of bombs before this, but this is your first time with such a small unit right?”
“Ok, we’ll keep it simple. To begin with, I have to listen to you as far as IED’s are concerned, but you need to listen escort kadıköy to me on all other moments. If I say leave it, LEAVE IT! Also, it’s not sexist but I’m here to protect you, if we get in a firefight I’m expendable, you’re not, got it?”
She nodded again.
“By all means fight, if it goes bad, start shooting things,” I joked. “But understand, I’m here to protect you because you’re more valuable than me. So if I say move back to the vehicle, move the fuck back. Your suit is very heavy, I move a lot faster, but I can’t leave you exposed, so I need you out of the way before I can move back. So you won’t be helping me if you try to cover me or something like that!”
She nodded again, “Got it,” she said.
Our missions were simple, when a convoy or patrol found or thought they found an IED they called us. We would then load up into a small convoy and move to the site, Mendes would dress from her battle gear to her bomb suit and go inspect/ defuse bomb while I stood watch 50-100 yards back. I was supposed to protect her from snipers or any other bad guy that wanted to shoot at her. We had all of our gear staged in our vehicles so that if we got the call we could be gone within 15 minutes. There were two teams and we each did a 24-hour rotation. We were called at least once on every shift, most times 2-3 and a few times we were called 5-6 times in a day.
Other than that, we had plenty of free time on our off days.
We began going to the gym together every day we could, she loved to lift weights. I don’t know if she was intentionally an exhibitionist but she drove me nuts because she always wore the tightest and smallest outfits that she could possibly wear and not get in trouble for. All of her shorts barely covered her ass, and I don’t think I ever saw her in anything that didn’t cling to her like a second skin. When she bent over for stretches or squats and I could always tell she was wearing a thong. I know she saw me and everyone else in the gym looking, and I swear she exaggerated her moves to make everyone drool. I always wore standard military PT gear, black shorts and a gray USMC shirt. It didn’t take long before I began to look forward to our workouts not only for the gym time but for the view as well.
“All right, Sergeant Mendes, what are we going to work out today?” I asked as we entered the empty gym late one evening.
“I was thinking we’d do all yoga and cardio today, we’ve been hitting the weights really hard and we need to stretch and do some lean muscle stuff. Is that ok with you?” Looking around, she realized we were all alone. “Wow, we’ve got the place all to ourselves.”
“Yep, and cardio sounds good sergeant,” I said, glancing down at her. Her chest was at least a 36C and pushed against her bright yellow Underarmour tank top. I’d gotten used to the never ending tight, bright clothes she wore when we worked out, and I was beginning to think she didn’t even own a bra, her nipples were always clearly defined, pressing against the fabric. After a second I looked up into her eyes and realized she’d caught me looking. She just arched her eyebrows and smirked. I looked away embarrassedly and made busy as I hooked an iPod into my shorts, putting one earplug in, leaving the other free so I could hear her talk.
“Where did you get a single earphone?” she asked.
“It’s a regular one sergeant, I just cut off the second earphone so I can use it when I need to hear what’s going on around me.”
“Oh, what do you listen too?”
“Little bit of everything sergeant, hard rock, some country, some old school stuff like the eagles. My favorites are Three Doors Down, Nickelback and Linkin Park though.”
We settled into a few warm up stretches.
“Can I ask you a question?” she said.
“Anything sergeant,” I said as I stretched my arms behind me.
“Why are you always so formal with me?” she said as she stretched her calves.
“I beg your pardon.”
“You heard me, why are you always so formal with me? You always use my rank and name or my rank, you’ve never just used my name, you’re senior to me, which means you can call me Mendes or even Erika if you want, especially when we’re just hanging out or in the gym.”
“Uh… look it’s complicated.” I replied, moving to an abdominal stretch.
“You said you’d answer anything.”
Sighing, “God, you’re persistent. Ok, I don’t want to get to informal with you for my own protection, you’re entirely too damn pretty to even be in the military and it’s already ridiculously hard to work with you. I mean, we workout and you’re dressed sexy enough to cause a heart attack. Do you even own workout clothes that aren’t skin tight?”
She grinned, “You saying you don’t like it?”
“Definitely not saying that! I just don’t want you to feel weird around me or anything and if I start being too friendly it might screw it up, so I maintain a little bit of formality. Make sense sergeant?”
“Kind of, but that’s stupid. We’re maltepe escort friends, right? We have to rely on each other, right?” She asked as she touched her toes from a standing position.
“Yeah, but I just don’t want any weirdness between us.”
Finishing her stretch, she looked at me, “Fair enough, but you can see from my workout gear it’s hard to make me feel awkward.”
“That’s true,” I laughed.
“Do me a favor and give me your hands,” she said as she moved to stand right in front of me, she held out her hands palms up.
“Ok,” I said quizzically as I placed my hands in hers. “What for?”
“I’m going to end the awkwardness,” she said, as she pulled me forward and placed my hands onto her ass.
“Jesus Christ,” I exclaimed as I tried to pull away. I was off balance from her initial pull and as she held my hands tight I only succeeded in pulling her toward me. “What the hell are you doing?”
“Calm down, nobody’s here so you won’t get in trouble,” she replied laughing. “Your hands are now grabbing my ass, I think that by any standard that means you can call me by my name now.”
I half-heartedly tried to pull away but she held my hands tight against her ass. Sighing, “Christ, you’re killing me,” I groaned.
“Stop resisting,” she commanded, I could smell mint on her breath. “Look at me.”
I froze and looked into her eyes.
“Feel-my-ass,” she ordered, emphasizing each word separately.
Shaking my head resignedly I cupped her ass tightly.
“Now leave them there,” she said as she took her hands away from mine. Moving her hands, she reached around my waist and cupped my butt.
“Now, are we friends?”
Laughing, “Yes damnit, we’re friends ERIKA,” I said, emphasizing her name without using rank. I gave her butt a squeeze and said. “Are you happy now?”
“Almost,” she laughed and gave my butt a firm squeeze. “Now I am.”
“Let’s finish our workout.”
We hit our workout pretty hard after that. I was feeling very energetic and pushed us hard on our exercises. Erika waited until I began my movement before she’d move into hers, every time she seemed to angle herself so that I had a perfect view of her butt or chest, I just smiled and made sure to enjoy the show. Afterward, we were both heaving and sweaty.
“Can I borrow your IPod?” she asked. “I’d like to download some of the music.”
“Sure,” I said as I handed it to her.
From that point on our friendship deepened. I began to refer to her by name when we were alone and we spent most of our off days together. We ate chow and hung out at the MWR tent in our free time.
One morning as I was walking across the compound, gravel crunching under my feet.
“Gunny! Hey gunny!”
I looked up to see my CO walking toward me.
“Hey gunz, I have a KLE today at Lashkar Gah, I need security, want to go?” he asked coming to a halt in front of me. “Should be an easy day, they want us to have lunch with local governor.”
“Sure, I’m always up for a free meal. When do we leave?”
“About two hours, is that sat?” As I nodded yes, he asked, “Know anybody else who might want to go?”
“I can see if Mendes wants to come.”
“Great, let me know and then go stage at company headquarters,” he said as he turned to walk off. “I’m going to go get my gear and I’ll meet you there.”
I walked over to the barracks, heart pounding. The CO was letting me go outside the wire with him, if he thought I was ready it wouldn’t be long before I was back with my platoon on missions.
Reaching her room, I began to knock, “Hey Mendes, open up if you’re in there, it’s important.”
After a minute, she opened her door, barefoot, sleepy faced, hair tousled and wearing a gray USMC shirt that barely came to her thigh. She looked cute and sleepy!
“What?” she growled, “I was sleeping damnit, this had better be good.”
“Uhmmm…” I stuttered, I’d totally forgotten what I was going to tell her, I couldn’t take my eyes off her legs.
“If you woke me up just to stare at my legs I swear to god I will kill you,” she said.
“Huh,… er, no…” clearing my throat, I looked up at her face, “We have a mission, get dressed and ready.”
“WHAT? It’s my fucking day off!”
“No, not an EOD mission, something easy, we’re going to be security for the CO and group, they’re going to go meet the local governor for lunch. I thought you might enjoy it, easy day you know.”
She just stared at me, “Why would I want to do this?”
Laughing, “It’ll be fun I promise. Nothing big, we just perform security during chow. Afterward, they’ll have a meeting and then we’ll get to eat, the foods good and it’s a change of pace from getting shot at and defusing bombs.”
“Ughhh, fine, let me get dressed.”
“Is that all you wearing?” I asked with a grin.
Narrowing her eyes, she turned to her side and then lifted her shirt to above thigh. I could see smooth golden skin sans panties, but she kept her front and back angled so that I couldn’t see anything else.
“Happy?” she asked smirking.
“Very… we’re staging at company headquarters, bring your stuff there,” I said and turned away.
“Yeah, yeah…I’ll be there in twenty,” she said as she dropped her shirt.
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