Status: Active.

Little Hand Grenade

Chapter 3

The six hour drive to Seattle wasn't too bad, and soon enough I was at Alex's shoulder, dressed in civilian clothes, watching the crowd of fans as they moved in a single-file line to meet All Time Low. Many of them asked who I was, but I ignored them. I couldn't afford any distractions. Alex was giving me dirty looks, and proceeded to tell them that I was some jerk that who was supposed to keep an eye on him. No one questioned why he should need looking after, and that made my focus that much more important. They thought he needed someone to keep an eye on him, too.

Jack had given me a t-shirt that read "Boner" because I laughed so hard when I saw it I almost cried. So many jokes in my old battalion would be complete with this item of clothing, and I demanded to buy a few boxes and I would send them to every drill sergeant in the country. He selected my jeans, shoes and jacket, and I was rather pleased with the combination.

"Come on guys, it's time to go rehearse," Joe announced, and the fans had been blocked off. They had to set limits on the number of fans they could meet, or they would be there for days on end.

"What? Oh, come on, let's just close the doors and meet the rest of them," Alex argued, and I kept watching the milling crowd as they left the store. One figure didn't move. In fact, it was walking in the opposite direction.

"Get down!" I hissed, shoving Jack and Alex down by the shoulders, and Rian and Zack ducked on their own. I hopped up on the table and a gunshot fired. Chaos broke out, but I saw a girl no older than eighteen with red hair, pale skin, freckles, bright blue eyes, a lot of makeup around her eyes and holding a revolver next to her face, panicking as she tried to hide it in her clothes. "THERE! Get her!" I leaped off the table and shoved everyone in my way to the ground. I reached the redhead, and gripped her by the elbow. The rest of the crowd dispersed very quickly, and I took the gun from her. She was crying and babbling unintelligibly, and Alex tried to come over to see what happened, but I flung out a hand.

"It wasn't her!" he exclaimed, pointing at her. "Do you see her face? She's traumatized!"

"Go with Joe," I ordered in my best General voice. "I'm not going to hurt her, but so help me God if you are hurt because you were wrong, I will kill you." A new look appeared on his face, a combination of disgust, awe and disappointment, and he stalked away. "You, girl, what's your name?" Her sobbing had subsided a little, probably because Alex was defending her, and she coughed before answering.

"Emily," she said. Her small and high-pitched voice cracked as she spoke. "I would never try to hurt Alex, this girl came up behind me with two guns, and told me to shoot one up by the ceiling or she was going to kill me." Her sobs renewed, and I put an arm around her shoulder.

"It's okay, you aren't in any trouble," I said calmly, and held both of her shoulders. "Did you happen to see her?"

"No," she choked out, and wiped her eyes. "I'm sorry, it all happened so fast..."

"That's fine," I said, cursing in my head. "So um, did you get to meet them?" I turned to look at the back door, and Alex stood defiantly next to it. That stupid motherfucker.

"No, I didn't get here early enough," she said, and laughed sadly through her tears. "But I guess I got to meet someone who wanted to hurt him."

"Come on, Alex is still here even after I told him not to be," I said gently, and led her to where Alex stood. He watched her approach with sad eyes, and wrapped her up in a big hug. He flicked his gaze up at me, and it was a lot less hostile.

"Thanks for having bad aim," he said, and she let out a noise somewhere between a sob and a laugh, and he had to calm her down all over again. "Wait, no, don't about I kiss you and you can take a picture for all of your friends who will never believe you." The poor girl looked like she was going to faint, but he was true to his word. "Would that make this whole bad day go away? It's not fair that you have to remember us like that. Vanessa, can you take the picture please?" He wasn't mad at me anymore, and handed me Emily's phone. I had the camera ready, and he didn't just give her a cute little kiss on the cheek, but on the lips, and it wasn't cute at all. He better hope that she was eighteen. I got the picture, and he signed a few more things for her before the police took her in for routine questioning. She was on cloud nine and not even jail could bring her down.

"I told you that girl in D.C. wouldn't be the last," I said, standing at his shoulder again as we made our way back to the tour bus. "And it's shenanigans like that, that got you here."

"And I told you that she was innocent," he retorted, but it wasn't as snappy and sharp as it could have been. "That was nice of you. You could have sent her out with a nightmare, but now she will remember that for the rest of her life. Plus, she was cute; it was worth it."

"I'm not an icy, emotionless douchebag," I said, ignoring his last statement and he lifted his eyebrows at me skeptically.

"Could have fooled me."

"I'm female," I argued, and he rolled his eyes. "The children that we could save from the bombs strapped to them would come straight to me, and I remember every last one of them." I forced my lips shut, and didn't continue. "Anyway, the point is, you need to let me guard you. My life before yours, alright?"

"Whoa, whoa...wait just a minute," he said, stopping and rounding on me. "Bombs strapped to children? You were there for that? I thought you were guilt-tripping me." I didn't answer, and looked at him flatly. "What else have you seen?"

"Rehearsal. Get in the bus."

"Don't deflect me," he said, affronted. "This could be a long tour if you don't want to talk to me. I'll talk your ear off."

"That's it; I'm carrying you onto the bus." He yelped as I put my shoulder to his stomach and lifted him off of the ground, and carried him onto the bus. I dumped him onto his bunk and sat down in my preferred spot on the sofa. He sat right back up, hands on his knees and looking straight at me. That uncomfortable feeling came back, the nervous one, and it was all I could do to hold his stare.

"I think you pretend to be a brute because that's the only part of you that you haven't buried," he said, taking advantage of my stubbornness to read my eyes. I told myself I had to look down out of necessity, but he saw it for what it was. "You can choke me out, pack me around and tie me in knots as much as you want, but I can see past that rough persona that the Army made you put up. Have you even slept since we met?" I thought of a million different responses, and I didn't say a single one of them. He growled irritably and threw up his arms at my silence. There. Now he would shut up. Or so I thought.

"You know what? No," he said, getting up from his bed and sitting down next to me. "You aren't getting away with this one."

"Getting away with what?" I asked innocently, and smiled broadly at his very frustrated expression. He was talking to the queen of deflection.

"Tell me about it all."

"I don't know what you're talking about," I said, feeling some defense mechanisms kick in.

"Why did you really join the Army? How was boot camp? You said your drill sergeant was more of a bitch than you are, I want to know more about that. What was the best part about the Army? The worst? What did you do all day? How many people have you kill--"

"Okay, that's enough," I interrupted, corking the anger that wanted to spill out of my gut and unleash on this highly obnoxious boy. Yes, boy was the right term. Only a boy would ask those kinds of questions. "Do you want honesty?"

"Yes," he answered plainly. "I want to know why you're so hard to be around. I usually get along with people." I scoffed and laughed. At least he wasn't lying.

"Alex, I don't know you from a hole in the ground, other than you're the one I'm supposed to be guarding," I said, and I continued even though he let out a long sigh. "Without getting into any grisly details, I simply don't know if I can trust you." I expected an argument, but he only sighed again and unexpectedly put his arms around me. Naturally, when someone does this to you, you should twist his arms behind his back.

"Ow! Knock it off! I was trying to give you a hug, ow!!"

"Oh. Sorry." Instead of glaring, he laughed at me. Not in a playful, "haha, nice joke" kind of way, but more like he could hardly believe what he was seeing. This time he held out his arms, warning me about what was coming next, and hugged me.

I sat very, very still and I was more aware of my surroundings than I had been in a long time. I could feel the fibers of the fabric in my new clothes, the shoes on my feet, the looseness of my hair and the lack of a hat; every particle of air that I inhaled through my nose, down my trachea, into my lungs and back out again; the unfamiliar arms around my shoulders, making my skin burn under my jacket where they touched, and where the attached hands rested on my back; the strange chest that pressed against mine, slowly heaving breaths and the closeness and warmth of the neck and face. It lasted for all of five seconds, three seconds longer than what was acceptable for a stranger, but my mind had drawn it out to at least a full minute.

"You don't have to be so uptight," he said, sounding a little miffed that I didn't hug him back. "When was the last time you hugged someone, anyway?" Now there was something I definitely was never going to talk about, especially with him.

"It doesn't matter," I said stonily, and he sensed that it was a touchy subject, and left it at that.

"Get some sleep, soldier," he said, almost affectionately, making my cheeks turn a little red. "I'll wake you up if we stop so you don't tie me up."
♠ ♠ ♠
This is actually really fun to write, I haven't done fanfiction in so long!
What do you think about Vanessa?
Thanks for reading :)