In October 2015, the reactivated Rainbow was launched after gathered all 20 elites from 5 countries. The remaining operators arrived about the same time and immediately completed the group training sessions before throwing into the operation.
Just like what Six planned, Sledge and Ash made a surprisingly perfect duo to lead the international team. They kept helping each other to improve, as Ash taught Sledge the technique to move faster, while Sledge rewarding Ash back by assisting her in weight training. With Ash’s surprise, the big Scotsman who gave others the first impression of depending his raw and wild power was good at thinking when trying his best to follow up Ash’s engineering topics and becoming the best assistant in her gadget’s improvement. Their collaboration showed a great example to fellow operators.
They had begun to treat each other as good friends. Nevertheless, Ash still had an odd sensation of desiring more from the Scotsman, mostly, his tall, broad and ripped body. In fact, Ash supposed that anyone who didn’t see the attraction containing the mess of muscle must be blind. And she couldn’t believe such a good man was still untaken, either. She didn’t ask as it felt a bit shameful to her professional image and belief. What she could do was just musing the Eros secretly, and it had troubling her day by day.
At the same time, the team had succeeded different missions in a dramatically short time: from stopping a bioterrorist attack in Boston, hostage rescue in an industrial area in Hamburg, protecting a VIP among a siege taking place in Abidjan, and more. These crazy two mouths with full of tension finally ended, as their eventually had a chance to take a short rest in December.
On the day they returned the base, Sledge was resting in his quarter. After a quick shower, he lay in the bed in just his underwear, as he was too lazy to take on other clothes at that time.
Didn’t know how long passed, “Seamus,” Thatcher’s voice waked him up, “Sleep naked again? You will catch a cold by that.”
“Hmm,” Sledge opened his eyes and found Thatcher sitting on a stool beside the bed, wearing his grey jumper and black pants. “I’m from the Highland. Little cool weather is nothing to me.”
“It’s already December. You’re too important for the team, so, you should take care of yourself better.” Thatcher patted Sledge’s exposed chests while frowning in disagreement, “Anyway, I’m here to remind you it’s dinner time.”
“Shit.” Sledge jumped off and collected his clothes in seconds, “I’m dressing up.” He held the waist of his cargo pants and hopped into it quickly. When they went out the door, he finally put on his white singlet and tartan shirts and found Smoke was waiting outside.
“Ah, nice and fine evening then?” The short Englishman greeted, “How I want to go to a bar to reward myself by drinking out.”
“You’re always a bloody mess with alcohol.” Thatcher disapproved.
“Don’t be so rude, we have done so many works, right?” Smoke kept persuading in a witty tone, “Let’s meet at the same place after dinner!”
“Discuss this later. Don’t let Mark wait too long.” Thatcher cocked an eyebrow while fastening his steps.
They then went straight to the canteen, as there were already bursting with soldiers and officers. “Mark, thank you for reserving the seats for us.” Sledge greeted Mute who was waiting at a table.
“No worries. Today who’s the cook?”
“I’ve heard it’s Tachanka and Glaz’ turn to prepare today’s supper.” Thatcher sounded slightly worried, “Can that loud Russian handle it? Glaz is also like—”
“His eyes,” Smoke stretched his eyes with thumbs and index fingers, “Can kill people! I can already see the sniper forcing you to eat up all the food with cold gazes and voice…… ‘Mark, behave. Eat your vegetable.’ Don’t you think it’s horrifying?”
“James, not funny.” Mute coughed. “Stop mocking our teammates.”
Sledge knew Glaz might be a strict man to detail from an action when he commented positively on his beanie before received his serious answer of “the hat names Chechenka” in a cold face. But what if such the man attentive to detail also applied this character in cooking? “Well, Let’s take our food here.” Sledge then stood up to check it. And overall, they were all hungry and in need of the food.
Beef stroganoff with fusilli, borscht with Smetana, a small bowl of stir-fry fruit salad and three pieces of sourdough rye bread. The Brits were amazed at the simple but delicious and nutritious Russian style home dinner, and they all agreed the two Spetsnaz’ culinary skills were far higher than their expectations.
“Okay,” Smoke commented humorously, “I think Glaz definitely doesn’t need to gaze at me to get me to eat his food.” Before Mute groaned annoyedly with moving his lip to sign him “Shut your fuck up”.
“I’d like to thank them for this wonderful dinner, and to have some chats.” Sledge left his seat with an empty plate in his hand.
At the table seated Spetsnaz operators, four men talked loudly in their native tongue, then Glaz noticed the impressive view of the Scottish giant approaching them.
“Hey,” Sledge lowered his head to greet, “Thanks for your nice dinner.” He recognised the youngest Russian guy with wheat-blond hair and stunning cornflower blue-coloured eyes. The jacket Glaz took off was hanged on the back of the chair, as a sleeveless dark-blue striped undershirt was the only thing on his upper body. The swirl and floral pattern tattoos on his right arm caught Sledge’s eyes.
“Just some handy dishes, you’re overpraising,” Glaz turned to him and answered in English in a gentle tone, “By the way, I made that beef stroganoff, and Alex did the borscht.”
“From my mother’s receipt. Believe or not, it has received all my comrades’ positive comments as the best borscht they ever had.” Tachanka – the elder Russian with a shiny blond butch cut hair and wrinkles on his white skin signifying his age -- smirked, “I began to learn cooking since being a boy. Timur is the same.”
“Amazing,” Sledge continued, “How do you feel about here? Like, working with others from various countries can be a rare experience to you, right?”
“And a good challenge.” Glaz replied, “I would be happy to know you all better, sadly we barely have the chance. We’ve been all so busy.”
“Oh, and you can just call our names in private, Seamus.” Tachanka introduced others, “Here’s Maxim, the hooded hunter and trap maniac. And Shuhrat, the silent and dangerous ‘Mr. Boom-boom’. A note to us is: never get him close to hostages.”
“I never hurt any innocent. Risk can happen, but all in my control.” Fuze answered emotionlessly.
“Ah, so it’s now the social time?” Kapkan groaned, “Not my speciality.”
“Come on, the Scottish just wants to make friend with you all!” Tachanka shook Sledge’s hand firmly, “Right? Friends.”
“Uh, yeah.” Sledge felt a bit stuck of words.
In the meantime, Smoke appeared behind the Scotsman, “What are you doing, Seamus? Just saying thanks needs so much time?”
“They’re more passionate than I thought.” Sledge made up.
“Oh, really?” Smoke pointed back, “Don’t forget soon later we’re going to a pub!”
“Pub?” Tachanka noticed the keyword, “We’re also planning to go to drink out! You know any good one here?”
“There’s a pub just 4km from here we always go to, and it has a discount to the military.” Sledge answered.
“Хорошо! I know you’re good bro.” Tachanka hooked Sledge’s shoulder, “Let’s not waste any time.”
“You might fancy having a few more friends with you.” Glaz suggested, “Who would you bring to the pub?”
“Hmm,” Thatcher reckoned, “Maybe Gilles?”
“Then I get Dominic.” Smoke laughed, “My valuable lewd buddy!”
“So……” Sledge scratched his head and glanced at FBI operatives’ table, “I take Eliza?”
“How about all the team go together?” Tachanka laughed, “The more, the merrier, don’t you think?”
“Liquors are always welcomed. But with so many people? No.” Kapkan shook his head to his old comrade. “Save my ass from it.”
“Neither do I.” Mute made a sarcastic comment in a low voice. “We’re in an elite force, not a damn orientation party in a university.”
“The Director might not agree that we all going out at the same time.” Glaz made reason.
“Glaz is right. It’s what I’ve concerned.” Thatcher agreed with vigorous nodding, while he noticed somebody pausing by his side. “Kevin? Aidan? What’re you doing here.” He found another two SAS operators as well as the part of the Rainbow after turning his head.
“Just got curious at the Russians who made today’s dinner.” Sweeney formed a friendly smile, “It tasted wonderful.”
“Seam, you’re going to Nevermind for a drink, no?” Aidan requested, “Take me with you.”
“Look, we’re going to have a large party!” Tachanka laughed louder.
“So, I said Six won’t—" Thatcher knocked the eldest Russian’s shoulder before being stopped by his old SAS teammate.
“Mike, stop being so stubborn. I see you lads want a pub night, right?” Sweeney took out his phone, “One minute, I’m asking for ma’am Six’s consent.” He went away speaking for a moment before coming back, “She agreed.”
“What—” Thatcher’s jaw slacked in astonishment, “Impossible!”
“Hurray!” With a cheer, Tachanka fist-bumped with the deputy director, “I already love you, Sweeney!”
“You heard him, let’s get others,” Sledge urged in a joyous tone, “We’re going to have a pub night!”
The pub Nevermind in the adjacent town of the base was always one of SAS soldiers’ favourites for a precious relaxed and tipsy night. Not unlike other pubs in the city of Hereford or other places in this country, it offered the best quality liquor, beverage, food and entertainment. There was two LCD TV always showing sports live locals enjoyed like rugby and football. The stage in the middle would have jazz musicians in weekends to make their performance as an elegant amusement. For customers fancied something intense, sometimes there were even a group of dancers arrived the stage showing seductive dances. Although they wouldn’t strip to naked due to the traditional English bar was not mainly for the kind of entertainment, but to these men, watching these pretty girls’ rocking titties covered in lacy bras was exciting enough. Of course, some thirsty guys such as Tachanka and Smoke would be the loyal fans for such the show, but there was no any performer this day, so like others, they would just relax and have some nice chats over the power of alcohol.
The soldiers quickly ordered their drink and started mingling with others. “I’d like to seat outside, anyone with me?” Smoke made an implying gesture. Then Bandit, Kapkan, Glaz, Thermite and Sledge followed them out.
They found a round table outside and seated, and all of them except Sledge took out their cigarettes. “You don’t smoke?” Bandit handed him a cigarette while asking politely.
“Seamus? He’s a giant boy. Smoking is too mature for him.” Smoke chuckled his banter.
“I can see. Your face is surprisingly white and smooth. What’s the brand of face tonic and lotion you use?” Thermite inquired, “Kiehls? Task Essential?”
“Uh, I never use them.” Sledge shook his hands.
“You’re such the envy by your naturally perfect skin, you know?” Thermite sighed when lit up his cigarette, “Recently, I found the amount of my white hair gets even more. Can’t escape this, huh?”
“You can get shaved like Seamus does.” Smoke laughed. “You know what, I help him to shave his head about once a week. I think I can help you with it, too!”
“No, I don’t think it suits me.” Thermite lifted an eyebrow, while others all followed the laughter.
“Anyway, I just like to chat with you.” Sledge put his arms on the table, “Such as, in the dinner time, Glaz’ tattoos caught my eyes. Can I have a look?”
“You mean this?” Glaz rolled the sleeve of his jacket to show the art on his right arm. “It’s like…… One day I got too bored so that I treated my body as a canvas.”
“You make this on your own?” Sledge asked in surprise.
“Timur has artist’s eyes and hands,” Kapkan answered.
“I know how to make a tattoo and create some original designs as well.” Bandit moved closer to the sniper, “We might be able to make a collaboration. Open a tattoo studio and make a lot of money. How do you think of this idea?”
“Don’t ever dare to entice Timur into your bullshit, fuckboy.” Kapkan snorted while pulling Bandit’s elbow to take his body which almost leaning on the sniper away.
“Oh, yeah. A possessive lover you are.” Bandit chuckled his reply while shaking some ash off his cigarette.
“I’ll deck you for this, you know that?” Kapkan sounded angrier with clenched fists.
“Hey, better stop this.” Glaz separated them and switched the topic, “What do you like to do in casual times?”
“Boxing is my main hobby, but I’m generally into all martial arts.” Smoke answered in complacency, “If you’re looking for an opponent exercising hand-to-hand combat skill, or just want someone to fight with, I’m your man.”
“I like riding bikes, body arts and making fun!” Bandit interrupted, “But mostly I love looking at people’s different expressions. It’s amusing to me.”
“Well, chemistry is my professional as well as my biggest interest.” Thermite replied, “Don’t take me like only able to make explosives or another big fucking hole. I also make casual things in my free time. Like soaps, face and body lotion, ointments, muscle-soothing cream…… Even fragrance candles.”
“You make scented candles?” Sledge couldn’t believe his ears.
“Is it so surprising? It’s quite easy to make. Just combine some wax, essential oil and a wick in a glass jar, then ta-dah!” Thermite chuckled, “It’s your turn, Scots.”
“My hobbies…… Watching rugby games and working out.” On the amusement, Sledge was not the one could come up with many ideas. “I also practice empty handed combat with James often.”
“Um-hmm. You appear like a gym nut enough.” Kapkan nodded, “I bet you’re always the most distinctive one in the gym.”
“Your tattoo looks great. Is it an emblem?” Glaz took Sledge’s hand to observe his forearm in an enthusiastic expression.
“My clan’s crest.” Sledge answered.
“Can I draw you? It’s the first time I clearly look at your face.” Glaz stubbed his cigarette out then took his sketchbook and pencils out his backpack, “It won’t take long.”
“Uh……” Getting a little surprised at the sniper’s extreme passion about arts, Sledge still stayed still to let Glaz depict his figure on the paper.
“You better be quiet,” Kapkan turned to others, whispered his reminder with a calm face. “Timur doesn’t like to be disturbed in such the state.”
“If it’s the case,” Smoke groaned in boredom, “I’d like to go indoor.” He drunk up his beer and went up. He extended his hand to the door handle, but the door opened by somebody else before he touched it.
“Oh, Smoke, you’re here!” Tachanka’s significant figure appeared at the door, while Fuze standing behind him. “I bet you all have a happy time?”
“We had a nice chat before Timur immersing into his art shit.” Smoke scratched his head.
“Oh, yes. Timur told me he studied in an art school in teenage. I’ve seen some of his artworks.” Tachanka nodded before turned to Fuze. “You too, no? Shuhrat.”
“Yes. I like his painting.” Fuze expressed in his iconic impassive voice, as Smoke couldn’t decide if it was sincere or just a courtesy.
“He’s now sketching Seamus.”
“The Scotsman? He’s definitely someone Timur loves to draw.” Tachanka laughed gently.
“Timur likes beefcakes,” Fuze added.
“Uh, thank you for the information.” Smoke responded sarcastically.
“I’d like to wait for him finished, but I need to get Sledge.” Tachanka turned again to peek the interior. “Because Eliza…… Ash seems a bit strange right now.”
“Strange?” Sledge turned his head to the Russians after he heard the keyword, “What do you mean? What happened to Eliza?”
“She’s just sitting alone there, appears like thinking of something.” Fuze explained, “And already finished several shots of strong drinks, as what I can see.”
“I think she’s not in a good mood. She shouted me back after I greeted her. What a rude girl.” Tachanka sounded salty, “But I know you’re a…... good friend of her, right? Therefore, I reckon you have some ideas to cheer her up.”
“Maybe she’s just, you know, in period?” Smoke tilted his head with cross arms, “Better just leave her that way.”
“From my knowledge, I don’t think she would be grumpy by that.” Thermite answered seriously, “Even if it’s the case, she won't come here at all, but just stays at the base.”
“It’s my fault.” Sledge got restless, “It’s me urge her to come, but……” He gazed at Glaz, who just stopped his pencil, “You haven’t finished, right? Sorry about that.”
“No need. I can continue it anytime. You must go to talk to her at now.” Glaz nodded in understanding.
“Then pardon me,” Sledge went up and strode to the door.
Sledge found Ash seating at a small round table the corner, shaking her glass with a hard face. “Eliza, you alright?” Sledge sat at the opposite of the table. And they both realised that they were not feeling so close in the distance like this, as if a couple on a date. “If you feel unwell, I can take you back to get a rest.”
“Oh, excellent,” Ash gave the Scotsman a sour look, “You sound like an over-protective dad, you know?”
“No, how come do you think this way?” Sledge made a wry smile, “Listen, as we’re teammates and friends, tell me anything in your mind. Is it good?”
“I just…… Don’t like here.” Ash sighed, “Too crowded, noisy, makes me hard to concentrate.”
“Every pub is like that, people communicate there, do everything fun and relax.” Sledge pointed at a large table seated Castle, Pulse, Thatcher and Montagne playing poker, and the bar counter seated Blitz, Jäger, Smoke and Doc watching a Premier League game on the TV.
“Yeah, I know that, but ----” Ash still intended to defend, but another woman’s approaching interrupted them.
“Oh, my, who’s the lonely and pity girl?” IQ grabbed a chair to sit beside the pair, “Still can’t mingle with others, Eliza?” She purred in a strong navel sound, and the faint alcohol smell expressed her status.
“Monika, you’re drunk.” Ash frowned in disgust.
“No, how come I’m drunk? I just won Emma in a drinking game.” IQ laughed loudly, “She’s now leaning against Julien like a kitty.”
“Why everyone is like that?” Ash shook her head to IQ, “Honestly, discussing on technical topics in the workshop with you girls is more enjoyable to me.”
“Well, then you can make friends with Fuze and Chanka. They won’t show any difference no matter how much they drink, isn’t it amazing?” IQ giggled, “I just watched them trying to beat each other in who can drink more vodka, what a view!”
“So, you are all good?” Suddenly, Glaz arrived with his sketchbook in his hand. “I’ve just thought if Ash feels unwell about the pub night, seems like I worried too much.”
“Great, then it’s you.” Ash pouted, “Don’t mind me.”
“As you lead the team, I think it’s normal to me to care about you.” Glaz sat between Sledge and IQ, “When I was in the service for 45th Guards Brigade, I met a great leader inspired me that the real strength of a team is not from raw force, but our bond and trust.”
“I trust you all in actions,” Ash answered.
“True, but work is not everything in our life.” Glaz made a kind smile, “He told me that: before being a good soldier, be a good person first. I will never forget his word.”
“Hey, how about that, let’s think of some ideas to entertain Eliza. Make our first pub night unforgettable!” Sledge patted Glaz’ shoulder before got up, as the Russian followed. “Just give us a moment!” Two men then went to the owner of the bar who was serving drinks behind the bar, seemed like to discuss something. Despite feeling strange, Ash didn’t care too much, took no reaction but shaking the glass in her hand.
15 minutes later.
“We have two guests just volunteered to present us a special performance. Let’s have a round of applause for Euan & Tim’s military hunk show.” An old man in bartender’s suit with grey hair and short beards seemed like the bar owner announced with a microphone.
“What?” Ash jumped off the seat and went in front of the stage with the surmise of what was going on, while IQ followed her with an excited face. Suddenly, two muscular men stepped on the platform, showing the well-built muscle line exposed from their tank tops. Although their faces were covered by balaclavas, Ash immediately knew they were Sledge and Glaz. The customers included her teammates cheered loudly, while the duo starting flexing. Ash groaned in a low voice while looking at the Scotsman’s bulging biceps vibrating by his force, and his proposing eye expression made her so uneasy.
They made some poses before switching into a fighting pose to each other then began throwing fists. Looking at Sledge’s movements, Ash recalled their empty-handed combat practices. “Wow!” Amazing exclaiming came out from the crowd when Glaz dodged Sledge’s straight punch with a backflip. In a flash, Sledge squatted to sheer Glaz’ flying kick coming after, then caught his legs to take him onto his shoulders. Sledge supported the Russian at his hips then wrapped his arms around him to form a bear hug. Sledge then bent back, lifted Glaz over his shoulder to put him to the ground upside down. Glaz then did a handspring to leap back to an upright position. “Nice tricks!” A random customer got excited and urge to see more.
“Hey, wait!” Tachanka leapt on the stage with a dissatisfied groan, “You guys didn’t call me to the muscle show?” He removed his jacket in a blink, rolled up his T-shirt and discarded them on the stage. He curled his arms high, elbows levelled with each other to make the iconic “front double biceps” pose with a perky smile.
“Idiot, it’s not your one-man show. Don’t you know the reason we are doing this?” Glaz knocked his elder comrade’s elbow with the banter.
“I know, for that lady.” Tachanka glanced at Ash, who appeared faintly confused at the scene. “And my muscles can easily win that Scotsman, don’t you think?”
“I beg to differ.” Sledge smirked while removing his white tank top, then paused his hands on his belt buckle, “I’m going to show you what I gain from the hard-working in these days.” He undid it in a teasing movement, then slowly pulled his pants down. Ash almost lost her breathe while looking at the strong and perfectly shaped glutes only partly covered by Sledge’s black-coloured, thin and tight sports briefs. He took off his boots along with pants and kicked them away while standing straight, then discarded the balaclava. “Oof! What a masculine badass!” Smoke, who occupied the position beside Ash she had overlooked until then, yelled loudly with raising fists. Sledge made a confident grin after turned to his front side and flared his lats to emphasis his bulging pecs and arms. Ash tried her best not to notice another significant pack on his tight underwear. Sledge then transferred to the “side chest pose” while flexing his pecs and thigh muscles while looking at Ash, the ardent eye expression was asking his lady if she liked this show.
It looked just like a hilarious dream. The Scotsman she had begun to admire to display himself with no cover – she didn’t surprise at Sledge showing up to her without a shirt – he did that almost every time they went to the gym together. But to watch him showing off to the public was a completely fresh experience. With more sounds of jubilation from the crowded, Ash noticed other two Russians also stripped to underwear without any hesitation and competed with the Scotsman in posing. She couldn’t decide if the scene was awesome or ridiculous, as she finally lost control of her mouth corners.
“Look, Seamus,” Tachanka patted Sledge’s shoulder, “Eliza just smiled at me.”
“She thinks you’re funny.” Sledge shook his head with a smirk, “It doesn’t mean she likes you.” He then changed into the rear double bicep pose, “What do you think of my back?” His excellently built latissimus dorsi twitched and rewarded more cheering sounds.
“Good, but I think I’m still better.” Tachanka turned to his young comrade, “You too, Timur, show him what we made of.”
“You don’t even have to ask,” Glaz turned around to form a pose like Sledge did, and another wave of laud came out, as the sniper who has significantly smaller build than other two also had surprisingly deep muscle lines on his back.
In the meanwhile, “Can I join? It looks fun!” Montagne ran to the stage in nothing but a navy-blue pair of boxer briefs. The tall Frenchman’s figure was undoubtedly another potent competitor in showing muscles.
“Gilles? Why?” Sledge was amazed at the elder GIGN who usually appeared professional and rigorous joined.
“A reason is that I lost all my clothes in the poker game.” Montagne chuckled, “Another is, I’m certain to win you all in flexing!” He then pulled the hem of his undergarment up to expose his bottoms entirely.
“Great, now we can make a true contest!” Tachanka looked at other teammates under the stage, “Anyone else wants to join?”
“Count me in,” Blitz shed off his shirt while joining them, “Let you all withstand the pride of a sportsman.” Despite being the shortest one, the German expressed the confidence in his imposing physique.
“And me.” Castle followed Blitz on the stage sporting his shirtless torso like a basalt sculpture, “I don’t usually participate in this, but…… Blame Jordan and Jack for it.”
“Then I volunteer to be the judge so that there are five from each different country.” Glaz announced with a microphone, “And this lass will be another judge.” His index finger pointed at Ash, who was looking around while receiving her teammates – especially Thermite, Pulse and Smoke’s gestures to urge her to go.
“Me?” Ash went to the stage in perplexity, “I don’t understand, what are you guys---”
“And the winner can take her as the trophy!” Glaz continued while bathing in the big wave of cheers.
“No! I’m not into----” Ash began to grumble, but it didn’t last long before Glaz put his finger on her mouth to sign her to stop.
“Eliza, I understand how much you are confused at now, but please believe Seamus and me.” Glaz whispered to Ash’s ear, “And I know Seamus wants to be closer to you.”
“Closer? Who inform you this?”
“Mark and Miles told me in a chat. They’re the first ones noticed what’s going on.”
“How about others?” Ash peeked at the five “competitors” on the stage, and the remaining operators blending in the crowd.
“I don’t know. I only care of finding a way to help you both.”
“Well, so you’d like me to cooperate in your show, right?” Ash rubbed her braid, “Fine. Just for this time.”
“Thank you very much.” Glaz’ mouth formed a glad curve while guiding Ash back to the stage with another announcement, “Let me introduce the competitors again, the first one is Euan the Highlander from Scotland!” His tone was unusually bright and loud like the host of a TV program, different from his usual reserved and quiet image. Ash doubted that where he learned such the skill. And Sledge made another pose by placing his hands behind his head, stretched his diamond-cut abdominals.
“Look at the pecs and abs…… What a glorious built!” Recalling her tasks in the program, Ash squeezed a dry exclaim, rewarded by a wave of amused laughter.
“Can you turn around again?” Glaz spook to the Scotsman, who immediately rotated to back to the audience. He spread his wings to full extension while folding the back of his briefs into the groove between his buttocks, which could be described as delicious with the large and firm muscles shaped flawless V-shape. If not considering others’ eyesight, she could touch and rub these butts already.
“Would you like the man to lift you up, Eliza?” Meanwhile, Glaz throwed Ash a sudden question.
“Uh……uh, YES!” Ash nodded quickly with a stiff grin. She believed her awkward expressions had screwed it up, but instead, she heard more laughter as the crowd had got more fanatical. She shared a glance with Sledge who made her the biggest smile in this day as if telling her this perfect physique was all built for her. A strange sensation of joy flowed to her as a sign of the start to integrate into the atmosphere.
“And the next competitor,” Glaz continued while proceeding to his elder comrade’s side, “Alex the Lord, from Russia......!”
The pub night was finally over, and the special program had a satisfying result: Sledge won the prize to hug Ash as his trophy, along with 100 mugs of beer on Sweeney’s deal (which Sledge generously shared with everyone in the team). All SAS operators were proud of the Highlander secured the honour for them, and others also felt happy for the fantastic night. Ash already had the idea of Sledge’s victory might be Glaz’ work though, she didn’t say it as she thought it was better to the Scotsman to believe that he genuinely seized the triumph by his power. Another thing she confirmed was that, it felt like on the moon to be carried in his thick arms, despite her tipsiness could be a catalyst for it.
This midnight, in the shared living room in the barrack.
“What a crazy night,” Sledge felt into the sofa, “Still can’t believe it’s ended. How do you think about it, Eliza?”
“You want my opinion?” Ash’s forehead creased, “It’s not so bad to indulge ourselves sometimes, as all guys enjoy this so much and it exactly strengthens our morale.”
“It’s not the answer I want.” Sledge chuckled, “I mean, do you feel happy about this?”
“Uh, yes.” Ash gave a short but honest answer, “It stunned me when you going to show off your muscle, and I was afraid this act would take us to the risky high-profile. But seems like other civilians in the bar all treat us as regular customers. Lucky us.” She sighed. “Overall, I can say I enjoy this night; however, if we have the next time, can you guys control your playful mood for just a little?”
“Okay. I also suppose such the mad experience is enough to have one time.” Sledge hooked Ash’s shoulder, “And you’re right, ‘pub night’ should be a regular event, we can suggest this in the next meeting.”
“How about the bodybuilding contest, too?” Ash asked with a funny poker face.
“Seriously?” Sledge’s lash fluttered.
“Just kidding.” Ash knocked Sledge’s elbow.
“Come on, I know how much you want to feast your eyes on my big muscles.” Sledge laughed heartily while getting up, with his hands readied on the hem of his tank top. “I can flex right here again, just for you.”
“Idiot!” Ash patted Sledge’s hands off, “It’s not proper to do it here.”
“I’m also kidding.” Sledge shrugged while sitting back.
“By the way, the next morning in five thirty, are you free?” Ash inquired.
“I think I am. I always wake up early.”
“I know I’m not a morning person, and I want to change that, so I reckon to go jogging after getting up can be a good way.” Ash explained, “And I’d like you to join.”
“You don’t invite others, do you?”
“Just two of us.” Ash gradually move her hand onto Sledge’s, “I just…… Want to spend more time with you.”
“Of course. Always have time for my lady.” Sledge approved while gazing at Ash with a loving smile. Suddenly, he bumped his lips on her cheeks.
“Hey, what did you just—” Ash responded in a higher tone.
“You don’t like this?” Sledge formed an innocent face.
“Not even for a bit.” Ash grabbed Sledge’s shoulders heavily before pushed her lips onto the Scotsman’s mouth. She even thrust her tongue in, left him in shock after being released. “I’m not a pure girl. Try to get more aggressive next time.” She stood up with the notice and went on her way to her quarter.
“Alright.” Sledge rubbed his lips in a complex of astonishment and joy. “Good night then.” He waved to Ash while getting up and received her shaking hand from the back. While on his way back, Sledge thought he should thank Glaz during the next breakfast, for helping him with the idea of the performance. Indeed, the others’ assists to boost up the mood and made the sternest lady in the team end up relaxed and delighted at this pub night couldn’t be forgotten, either.