Eleven blank stares faced the Major as he tried to teach them the basics of gun maintenance. C42 had decided that both teams needed the training, so the group all had to learn together.
24-42 didn't really bother with Team B42, most of them seemed okay but they didn't seem to want to mix. Alexis and Henna tried, but were often rebuffed.
“What's their problem?” Tytus grumbled as Team A42 sat in the lunchroom afterwards.
“I think they're upset that MB42 isn't taking the classes.” Suzie said, eating a sandwich.
“Who's MB42?” Alexis asked.
“Their Major.” Suzie replied. “If you thought M42 was bad, this guy is about ten times worse. At least our Major doesn't have a chip on his shoulder about everything.”
“What do you mean? How could anything be worse than 24-42s boyfriend?” Henna asked, ducking as 24-42 threw a piece of rock-melon at her.
“M42 is strict and aloof, yes, but he'll defend you guys to the end of the earth.” Suzie pointed out. “MB42 won't defend his team at all, he's furious that he got what he considers the inferior team.”
“Well, technically they are. Can any of them Blast or fly?” Daniel asked.
“Not to the extent that you guys can. None of them can fly.” Suzie informed them. “They also don't seem to have your superhuman strength.”
“I wonder why such a vast difference in ability?” Daniel wondered.
“We don't know. All of them fell unconscious during the Exposure, you guys didn't. Maybe that has something to do with it.” Suzie sighed.
“That doesn't explain me though.” Henna pointed out. “I'm still well behind the others.”
“You're an interesting case.” Suzie said. “After the first few deaths, we had a look at everyones medical results. Yours certainly weren't the highest, in fact, you were one of the poorest performers. We didn't expect you to survive, let alone stay awake the entire time. Even though your Blasts are weaker than your team mates, you can still use Blasts that far outperform any of B42. Plus you were the first to be able to fly, and even Tytus and Alexis can't do that yet.”
“You certainly seem to have something that the others don't.” They heard a voice from the doorway. M42 had just walked in.
He sat next to Henna.
“A lot of your problem is up here.” He pointed to her head. “You don't have much self-confidence. You need to start believing in yourself, you've already proven that you're capable of handing everything that the others can.”
Henna went bright red at this praise and looked down at her roast beef. 24-42 went a bit pink too, and the others smiled at the Major.
“That being said I expect a lot better of you in training. It's time you got your act together and pulled your weight, Experiment.” He finished coldly.
Everyone scowled as the Major left the table.
“I really don't know what to make of that.” Alexis frowned after the Major left. “What a spectacular return to form after saying some very nice things to Henna.”
“He's a prick.” Tytus shook his head.
24-42 bit her lip to keep from giggling.
“Go ON!” Henna urged 24-42 forward.
“You saw how the banana bread went!” 24-42 hissed angrily.
“A casserole is different. He'll be inclined to invite you in for dinner.” Daniel said with an air of authority. “Trust us.”
They stepped onto the escalator that headed up to the wing where Henna, M42 and 24-42 lodged.
“And what are you guys doing tonight?” 24-42 narrowed her eyes at the pair of them.
“The rest of the team are heading to my place to watch movies.” Henna shrugged. “That way if something goes wrong we're all here to look after you.”
“I can't believe I'm going through with this.” 24-42 sighed as they reached the ground floor.
“He's still injured, it makes sense for you to try and help him.” Henna pressed. “And that casserole in your hands tastes great.”
“You sure?” 24-42 asked warily as they headed towards the lodgings.
“Just go!” Henna opened her front door. Both she and Daniel disappeared, leaving 24-42 with her nervousness.
“Okay, it's just going to give the Major something to eat. You're just concerned about him. It's not like you want to...well, you do, but he doesn't need to know that.” 24-42 tried to calm herself. She tried to think of something other than the Major and found herself thinking of her past love.
He wasn't anything like the Major. He'd been kind, sensitive and funny. 24-42 remembered how she'd had to push him to get motivated and to live up to his potential. He'd been kind of like Henna when they'd first met.
Thinking of him got her to the Majors door before she began to worry again. Her heart began to hurt. Wasn't she betraying the one she loved by fraternizing with M42? She tried to shake it off, it's not like he cared about her any more. She wasn't that person any more, that person didn't exist any more.
She sighed and used her elbow to get the doorbell. Soon enough, M42 appeared.
“Hi! I brought you a casserole!” She offered it to him.
He looked down at it for a second, before looking at her. “Come in.” He said gruffly before turning around.
YES!!! 24-42 did a silent cheer as she walked in.
The Majors lodgings were very different from her own. It was bigger for a start, and the front door opened up into the living area instead of a front hall. His yard was to the side of his lodgings instead of out the back. Everything was so clean and tidy and bland. If it weren't for the gauntlet that was mounted on the wall, 24-42 would have assumed it was a spare lodging instead of being lived in.
“Have a seat.” The Major said uncomfortably, taking the casserole. 24-42 sat down on the couch and stared at the television where the news was playing. She looked at his coffee table. A few notes were scattered over the table.
“I'm writing up tomorrows lesson plan.” The Major noticed. He put the casserole in the oven to keep warm and sat down next to her. “If I do it in my office I get constantly interrupted.”
“Oh. Busy man huh?” 24-42 blushed slightly, hoping like mad he didn't notice.
“No, just in demand. If I didn't have people constantly barging into my office I'd get so much more done.” He sighed.
“You're...not really a people person are you?” 24-42 tried.
“Neither was I until I came here. I couldn't help but become friendly with everyone. I used to just hang out with my cats.” 24-42 tried to make conversation.
“You have cats?” The Major asked.
“Yeah, five.” 24-42 smiled nervously.
“I only have one. Roger!” M42 called out. A stubborn-looking tuxedo cat stalked in from the yard.
“This is Roger, he's my best friend.” M42 scratched the cats chin. “I'd be careful though, he's rather nasty around new...or not.” M42 frowned as 24-42 cuddled the cat, who purred happily. “Traitor.”
24-42 laughed. “I guess I have a way with cats.”
“You seem to.” M42 smiled back.
24-42 went completely red. “You really do have a nice smile.” She mumbled, letting Roger go.
“So you've said. You seem intent on worming your way into my life.” The Major got up to check on the casserole. “Hungry?”
“Yes please.” 24-42 couldn't have been less hungry, her heart and stomach were busy dancing the can-can inside her.
“Smells good. Make it yourself?” M42 handed her a bowl full of the meaty casserole.
“Yeah.” 24-42's mind went completely blank. “I get the ingredients from the kitchens.”
“Tastes good too. Thank you.” M42 nodded.
24-42 forced down a mouthful. She was completely nervous now.
“So I have to ask myself, what do you have to gain by worming yourself into my good books?” M42 asked.
“You're...a really good leader...sometimes...” 24-42 forced down another mouthful of casserole, burning her mouth and throat.
“Sometimes?” M42 raised an eyebrow. 24-42 squirmed.
“You can be a little harsh.” She admitted.
M42 turned back to his casserole. “Is that why you're so bloody nervous?” He asked.
24-42 completely froze. “Um...”
M42 frowned at her. “Ah.” He set the bowl down next to some of his notes. “You find me attractive, and you thought you'd try and get into my good graces and then my bed. Am I right?”
24-42 could have fainted. “Well...kinda...not quite like that...”
M42 smirked. “Do you know how old I am? I turned 40 just before being assigned here.”
“You don't...you don't look it Sir...” 24-42 stammered. FORTY?!
“Meanwhile, you're barely 25 years old and act like you're 15.” The Major continued. “Coming over here like a nervous little school girl all flustered and with no idea of what you're doing.”
“And there's the prick right there.” 24-42 deadpanned, now annoyed.
“Excuse me?” The Major was taken aback.
“You don't have to be so blunt and nasty to us all the time! We have feelings you know, even if you don't, and we'd get along a lot better if you'd respect them!” 24-42 blurted out.
“Really?” M42 rested his head on his hand, in a look that plainly said “Please, continue insulting me while I laugh at you on the inside.”
“And now you're being condescending!” 24-42 jumped up. “You might be attractive and I might respect you and think you're really a nice guy, but you're still a JERK!”
And with that, 24-42 stormed out, leaving the Major looking rather amused.
“Yeah, calling him a prick was your first mistake.” Tytus brought over another box of tissues as 24-42 sobbed loudly in the lunchroom.
“I've ruined everything! He'll never like me now!” She wailed, tears and snot everywhere.
“There, there, I'm sure you two will make it up.” Henna rubbed the wounded back.
“I CALLED HIM A JERK IN HIS OWN HOME AND STORMED OUT LIKE A LITTLE GIRL!” 24-42 howled before dissolving into MORE tears, making the other four Experiments wince.
“You're acting like a little girl.” Daniel sighed, earning him filthy looks from the other females in the room.
“She'll be okay once she's had a good cry, won't you 24-42?” Alexis smiled. “And then one day after you've gotten with the Major we'll have a good old laugh over it.”
“You really think I still stand a chance?” 24-42 whimpered.
“Of course.” Everyone agreed.
24-42 let out one more pathetic sob.