The cafeteria’s still pitch black when Tara shows up, practically dragging her sister after her. She’d have no problem throwing her over her shoulder and carrying her if she thought it’d get them here faster. With dinner over for several hours there’s normally no need to keep the lights on this late. Anyone wanting a snack can turn them back on but with a fantastic recreation room on the same floor the cafeteria isn’t a hangout spot. That makes it perfect for a group looking for a little privacy.
The sparkling black material of her dress catches the light and stands out. That was the goal. She can’t remember the last time she wore a dress. When Melissa saw her changing into it her eyes went wide and she started laughing. She was even surprised Tara brought a dress to the base but she tries to be prepared. Tonight she wants to look good.
Melissa changed as well, not wanting to show up to hang out in her dress uniform. She went a little more casual though. A nice red blouse that compliments her hair and a pair of black jean shorts. She spent more time fixing her hair after taking it out of the bun she kept it in for the presentation than she did worrying about her outfit.
Unsure what to do while they wait, Tara pulls a chair out at the nearest table to help her sister. Melissa shoots her a dirty look but takes the chair. A long day seems to have taken its toll on her. She’s willing to accept some help, even if she doesn’t like doing so. “I can’t believe you’ve been giving me the cold shoulder for a week because you didn’t want to be on the team.”
Pulling a chair out for herself, Tara starts to sit backwards before deciding the only way she’ll manage that is if she pulls her dress up around her hips and gives everyone a show. Even she’s not that bad around people. Instead she corrects the chair and sits down, crossing her legs for modesty. Looking down, she grimaces at the couple of small nicks from having to shave her legs in record time. They’ve stopped bleeding at least. “I do want to be on the team, or at least the field team. I want to back you up. I wanted you to get it more though. You only got hurt because you joined the army. That’s on me and if this can help you then I want you to get it.”
Leaning in for a hug, they’re still holding each other when they hear the door open. Turning they see Wyatt’s the next to arrive. He spent the entire time they sat next to each other at the announcement chatting her up and trying to flirt but she told him he wasn’t her type. He seemed disappointed but it didn’t last long.
Wyatt didn’t change it seems, he only removed his heavy military jacket to reveal a basic cotton shirt. He was invited to bring a guest but seems to be alone. When he sees the sisters he smiles and jogs across the room. His smile’s primarily focused on Melissa which almost makes Tara snort. If he’s not her type then he’s most definitely not her sister’s.
“Evening ladies, nice to see you again. I wanted to congratulate you Red but I didn’t get a chance before everyone took off back there. It’s Melissa, right?”
Extending a hand to the man, Melissa nods and smiles back. “It is. I’d stand but you know, it hurts.” They both chuckle at that. “Congratulations to you too. You must be excited. I’m sure your family will be proud.”
He puts a leg up on a chair, stretching out in a way which makes Tara feel embarrassed for him. “Oh ya, it’s great. My old man’s going to be crazy excited when we go public. He served in Vietnam and the whole reason I joined the military was him. What are we drinking?”
The doors fly open, banging against the wall with a clang. With a giant grin and several bottles in his arms Kurt walks in. Sandy’s right behind, waving at the sisters as they cross the room. “I’m here folks and I’m glad to say I have brought the drinks. We can get the party started.” His hair’s unkempt and Sandy’s looks to be the same. She keeps it short, likely because of how few options military hair standards provide. A few strands standing up seem out of place though and she wonders what they were doing and if whatever it is explains their being the last ones here when this was their idea.
They settle in, Kurt choosing to sit backwards the way Tara wanted to. He grabs the last chair at the table, leaving Sandy without a place to sit. She grabs a chair from the next table over but not before giving Kurt a light smack across the head. “You couldn’t grab me a chair? Really? Such a gentleman.”
“I try. You can get your own chair. Consider it practice for taking care of yourself on the field team.” His eyes run over the group but she notices them pause to run over her legs. He catches her noticing and looks away quickly but she smiles, not minding. She’s not sure Sandy would be okay with it though.
“Okay,” Sandy says with a snort, pushing him to inch over and make room for her chair. She’s dressed casually in a pair of shorts and a tank top. “I guess we can get this party started at least. Anyone have cups?”
There’s none around but Tara knows where they’re kept in the back. She jumps up to run to the pantry, pulling her dress down as she goes. It’s really not that short, it reaches her knees. She’s not used to exposing even that much though and the air on her legs is both nice and uncomfortable.
Choosing between actual glasses which they’ll have to wash after drinking or a set of mini paper cups takes a moment but the little cups make sense. From what she saw Kurt brought whiskey, rum and two different bottles of tequila. These can approximate shot glasses which seems perfect.
Tossing them to Kurt as she returns, he looks them over and then gives her a look with one eyebrow up. “These work, though I think you may seriously underestimate how much I can put away.”
Pouring cups for everyone, Melissa turns to Wyatt. “You didn’t bring anyone with you?”
Coughing and not meeting her eye he still has a smile across his face. “I uh, don’t really know anyone here yet. Haven’t had the time to get to know many people. I want to though. Need to make some friends. Hopefully good ones.” He inches his chair slightly closer to Melissa.
Cringing at the display, Tara turns to Kurt and Sandy. “So when did you two meet?” The second she asks she regrets it. She doesn’t want to think about the two of them. She shouldn’t think about either of them.
Exchanging a look, they laugh and Sandy punches Kurt’s arm. “Twenty eight years ago.”
Kurt puts his hands on his hips and shakes his head. “No, it was twenty seven and change. You are not twenty eight yet.”
“I’m close enough.” She downs her shot and pours another. Tara’s trying to keep up so she downs another shot of tequila.
Looking at Melissa, she seems to be nursing the first shot she took. She takes a sip of it and makes an awful face. Is this the first time she’s drunk alcohol? They’ve never talked about it before. They’ve always been close but she never brought Melissa along to parties. Bringing your little sister isn’t cool. Some of her friends must have taken her to a party though, right? “So wait, you two have known each other your entire life? How’s that work?”
Pulling a flask from the pocket of his shorts, Kurt pours a brown liquid into three cups. He slides one in front of each of the women. He looks over to Wyatt and Melissa but they seem locked in conversation and both still have plenty of their first drinks. “That’s usually how it works when someone’s your sister.”
“Half sister.” Sandy slams her cup and Kurt’s right behind her.
“Wait, so you’re brother and sister? You have different names.” Tara’s staring back and forth between the pair in surprise. After a moment she notices her cup’s still sitting there full. She sniffs it and realizes it’s strong.
“That’s from my private stash, really good stuff. If you like whiskey you’ll like it.” Tara takes a moment to breathe in before pounding the cup. The burn hits her hard and she starts coughing, covering her mouth. Kurt starts to laugh. “You’ll be alright, cough it out if you need to. Ya, that’s my little sister. Half sister, hence the names. There’s a few sets of siblings here. Makes sense I guess with the tests being based on DNA. Why’d you think we were something else?”
“I don’t know, the captain was talking about you being a ladies man and then you were running off to hang out with her.”
Sandy slaps the table. “Shoot, don’t give him too much credit. He thinks he’s smooth but he spends almost all his time hanging out with me. He’s all bark.”
Shaking his head, Kurt looks to Tara. “Ignore her. She thinks I’m a joke but that’s because she’s never seen my A game. Not the stuff you break out in front of your sister.”
“Oh, you have an A game huh?”
“Hell yes I have an A game.”
“Prove it.” Sandy sits there staring at her brother, cocking her head slightly to the side, grinning with her entire face.
“What the hell do you mean prove it?”
“There’s a pretty girl sitting right here next to you. Let’s see your A game.”
Looking at the ground, Kurt takes his flask back out of his pocket and takes a big sip. “That would be inappropriate. We work together and I’m going to be on a team with her sister. Besides, where’s your A game? You could bring it yourself.”
Looking to Melissa, she’s inched a little further from Wyatt. He doesn’t seem to be giving her a hard time but he’s persistent and doesn’t seem to be getting Melissa’s hints that she isn’t interested. “I think Wyatt’s a little fascinated by my sister.”
Grinning at Sandy, Kurt says, “I wasn’t talking about Wyatt. Not exactly my sister’s type.”
Several punches reign on Kurt’s arm. Sandy stares him down, wide eyes with her lips pursed. “I think you’ve had enough to drink tonight. Maybe enough for this week.”
Picking up on what Kurt meant, Tara decides to change the subject. “If you want to show off your A game, that’s okay. I mean, I can be an impartial jury if you want. See what you have. I’m not going to go easy on you though.”
Sandy’s demeanor changes back to a positive one, laughing and clapping her hands. “You have to now, you have permission. Let’s see this so called A game.”
Looking for a way out and finding none, Kurt sighs. “Alright, you ladies asked for it. Fair warning.” Turning his chair to face Tara’s, he scooches closer to her until their faces are only a foot apart. Running his hand through his hair, he smiles and already she can feel herself wanting to lean toward him. He has a great smile. His eyes are a beautiful light blue and when he smiles his eyes follow suit. “Girl, I can’t help but notice that you’ve been noticing me. I don’t like to make assumptions but I do need to let you know, I think you’re absolutely beautiful. Are you here with anyone tonight?”
Staring into his eyes, it takes Tara a moment to realize a response is expected. “Uh, no, just my sister.”
“Well that’s a real shame. You deserve someone to appreciate how amazing you are. I don’t think I could be more impressed. Smart, tough, able to handle basic training like a pro, and then to be this absolutely beautiful. Any man who gets the chance to be your man is the luckiest one on earth.”
Sandy rolls her eyes and snorts at this but Tara’s lost in his eyes. He reaches out and takes her hand. His hands are tender and clasp hers gently but they have a roughness to them. She tries to regain her composure and straighten her back. “That’s a very nice thing to say.”
“Nice doesn’t begin to describe the things I want to say to you. I know you probably aren’t looking for anything serious right now. I know this is an important moment in your life. If you could carve a little corner of your time out for me though, I’d be eternally grateful for every moment you grant me.”
The stare’s what really drives it home. Looking into his eyes, every word seems sincere. Her lips stammer and she tries to find words but nothing’s coming. Keeping her eyes open and breathing’s all she can manage.
A slow clap emerges from the side. They turn to find Sandy making the noise. “Bravo, I have to give it up, that was A game.” Managing to move her head, she sees Wyatt and Melissa are both watching as well. Melissa makes an exaggerated fanning motion which Tara promises herself she’ll get her for.
Climbing out of his chair, his face twists into a grin. “Maybe next time you’ll know not to doubt me. You’ve seen the ladies I hang out with. I can bring it when I need to bring it.”
Stupid. She’s so stupid. She said she was okay with it but that felt so real. She wanted it to be real. He’s way too old for her. She knows that. He’s charming though, and she loves blue eyes. They’re her favorite feature. Her dad would hate him but she doesn’t care. She wants this man.
Looking back at her, Kurt sits back down but moves his chair back a little. “So I assume you give me a passing grade.”
“Ya, uh, ya, that was pretty A grade. I knew you were proving something but it was hard to remember. Well done.” She still can’t look him in the eye.
“Hey.” He takes her hand again and Sandy looks away. “Look at me.” She tries to do so but she’s still not meeting his eyes. “For the record, I wasn’t lying. That’s the secret of bringing the A game, you need to put the truth in it. You’re awesome. I probably shouldn’t get involved with someone in the unit but you’re pretty great and I’d like us to be friends. Why don’t we be friends? No game, I don’t think you need game. Just two people getting to know each other.”
She gives his hand a little squeeze as her heart pounds. “I think I’d like that.”
“Awesome. You want to get out of here then? Go somewhere and get to know each other?”
Everything in her wants to say yes. From her head to her toes and everywhere in between. She hopes somewhere is his room even if that’s not the message she’s getting. Then she sees her sister still being talked up by Wyatt. She keeps looking over at Tara, going big eyed and searching for assistance. How long’s that been going on? Why didn’t she see it earlier? “I’d really like to but I came with my sister and I think she might need a hand.”
Sandy pops her head between them, almost giving Tara a heart attack. “I got her. Least I can do after being a jerk. Go, get to know each other.” She stops to make air quotes. “I’ll make sure she’s alright.”
Standing up, Kurt puts a finger in his sister’s face. “Be good.”
“I will be. Get out of here before I have other ideas.”
Still holding her hand, Kurt pulls Tara to his feet. The alcohol goes straight to her head. Her feet feel weak but his hands steady her. She hasn’t noticed how tall he is until now. He’s easily got a half foot on her and she’s five seven. Leading the way out of the room with a hand on her back, she follows his lead, eager to see what secrets tonight still holds.