Status: Active.

Little Hand Grenade

Chapter 2

When Joe presented Vanessa, some ex-Army chick, I thought he was making fun of me. She was probably five foot five at the very most, with dark hair in a tight bun beneath her hat, and it was hard to judge how fit she was underneath her baggy Army uniform. Her last name was O'Connor, and she almost saluted to me, and called me "sir". He must be kidding. There is no way someone smaller than me could be my body guard. I did peek into the room of a knife victim, the one she supposedly saved, and he looked like a bigger Russian guy, but no one said how big the attacker was. I had every intention of remaining skeptical of her ability to do anything but start wars and bat her eyelashes at me.

"I'm going to bed," I announced as soon as Joe and Vanessa walked out of one of the conference rooms at the hotel. "It's been a long night." Vanessa was at my side, and followed me to the elevator. He must have given her a contract, because she was definitely on duty. Her eyes were on everything like it was going to explode. I watched her distastefully, and sighed with irritation. Well, so much for that joke. The elevator dinged, and she shouldered her way into the hallway first, looking both ways before allowing me to step out.

"I can feel you glaring at me," she said nonchalantly, looking ahead as she led the way. "You don't like me."

"Well, I don't know you either," I defended, unable to hide my irritation that she was here. We reached my room, and she turned her head enough so I could see her mouth move.

"I never said I cared," her voice was still flat, and my dislike grew. "Go on." I slid my card and I waited while she swept the room. This was ridiculous. "Where would you prefer I stand?"

"Um, I would prefer that you sleep in your own room," I said, and today I would learn to never be snotty and turn my back to my new body guard. The next thing I remembered, I was twisted up in a pretzel, or it felt that way, and her legs were in a 4 around my neck. My wound throbbed and started bleeding again. I already felt dizzy from the lack of oxygen.

"I know fifteen ways to kill you in less than fifteen seconds," she lectured, and I was absolutely defenseless. I started panicking, trying to writhe away from her, but it only made it worse. "Don't fight it; I kind of want you to pass out so I don't have to argue with you anymore."

"You..." I choked out, "are a...BITCH."

"You should meet my old drill sergeant," she laughed, and it was the last thing I heard before my world went black.

* * *

Alex Gaskarth was a little shit. He would eventually learn to stop fucking with me, and maybe that little triangle hold would be the only lesson he needed. I wasn't all evil, though. I replaced his bandages, fetched aspirin for the next morning, and made sure to have his favorite coffee (I learned it from his friend, Jack) ready for when I woke him up to leave for Seattle.

"Alex, bus call is in an hour," I announced loudly, but he didn't move. His snoring didn't even hitch. "Alex!" Still nothing. I put the Starbucks under his nose, and that was effective enough.

"Mmm...I love you," he groaned, and then his eyes cracked open. "No, wait. I hate you." I replied with a big grin, and he smiled and shook his head. "I'm not forgiving you for that pretzel move last night. My head hurts."

"I don't expect you to," I said. Of course he shouldn't forgive me. That was a nasty hold. "This is supposed to be your favorite coffee. Here is some aspirin, and here is something...a little stronger. This is what we give soldiers on the field before they get to the hospital." I handed him the little pills, and he swallowed them all dry. He took a sip of coffee and agreed to get out of bed.

"So, what is your story anyway?" he asked, picking clothes out of his suitcase. "If I'm stuck with you, I might as well learn about you." I crossed my arms and leaned against the door jamb, watching him warily as he changed.

"Well, I joined up right after graduation," I started, looking down at my boots. "For four years. I was in infantry first, but they figured I was better at leading the battles than fighting them, so they moved me to intelligence after a couple years. I signed up for another two years, and now it's over. I felt like it was time to go live a normal life."

"You've probably seen a lot of shit," he said, flattening his hair before stuffing his old clothes into the suitcase. I went to pick it up, and he tried to stop me. "Seriously, I can carry my own suitcase."

"Sorry, I have orders," I told him, which I didn't, but he was trying to be all manly after I man-handled him. "If you prefer, I can call you sir."

"Ugh, fine," he said, back to his thoroughly irritated mood. "I hope you realize how stupid this is." He really did think that this whole body guard business was stupid, but he didn't know the gravity of the situation. Kailey, or whatever her name was, wasn't the first one who tried to gank him.

"Someone is out to kill you," I told him, but withheld the little details. "I highly doubt this girl is going to be the only attempt. From what I've been told this morning, you have a few upset females in your past." He laughed at my polite phrasing, but I wasn't smiling.

"You know I'm in a band, right?" he asked, and laughed again before I could answer. "I leave strings of them behind on every tour. Do you even know who we are? All Time Low?"

"Are you a metal band?"

"Um, no."

"Probably not, then," I said, remembering Disturbed and Slipknot, favorites of the infantry, but never All Time Low. "Unless your music could be the soundtrack to Call of Duty." He seemed amused by me now, but I would rather have him irritated at me.

"At least you have a sense of humor," he said, and we stayed silent for the remainder of the walk to the tour bus. I met Jack earlier this morning for breakfast, and Zack and Rian shortly after. They were much more agreeable than Alex, and they seemed to be on board with the body guard deal.

"Come on, I'll give you a tour," Alex said, hopping up the stairs and into the large tour bus. I followed him and he held out an arm. "My room, Rian's room, Zack's room and Jack's room. The kitchen, the bathroom, the living room and the driver. There. Make yourself comfortable. Seattle is six hours away." He dropped into his bunk and pulled a blanket over his head to hide that he was going through his phone. I sat down on a sofa that was adjacent to him, and plucked at my uniform. I didn't have any other clothes; I had planned on shopping when I got here.

"We've got a signing at the mall up there," Jack said, nodding to my uniform. "You can pick up some clothes there before they open the store to the fans."

"I was too busy working to wear anything but these and pajamas," I said sheepishly. "Civilian life. I'm not sure if I made the right choice leaving the Army."

"Of course you did!" he said happily. "We get to keep touring thanks to you." He was trying to reassure me, and cheer me up. What was I thinking? I couldn't carry a normal conversation anymore, let alone with people who were more than up to speed with current trends. I forced a quick smile before falling silent again. I felt awkward and out of place. My entire life was about to change, and I wasn't ready for it at all.

I looked over at Alex, who was still hiding under his blanket, and decided that I would have to try and engage him in conversation without putting him in chokehold.
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Just in case, the * * * means a change in point of view.
Thanks for reading!