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Friends tell intimate stories about first time.
"What did you mean 'goes south?'" he inquired.
"Ends badly, disastrously. Sometimes, I slip. Now, let's get back to the cave."
She was so adept at that fa__ade of invincibility. He admired her for that. Yet he now knew her well enough to understand she would need him later, when she let down her guard. He vowed he would be there for her, as he had attempted the night before.
She hadn't lied to him; not really. She hadn't been the slightest bit afraid of Leatherface. She had seen the film so many times, choreographed and rehearsed her response in her head so often, that when it actually played out, she could have all but phoned in her performance. Who says nothing good ever comes of a childhood fixation on scary movies?
Her ploy had had an entirely different motivation, one that seemed to be working out. With a smile, she noted that it had not yet occurred to Geoff to offer her back the sword he had slung over his shoulder as she did. She had wanted him to have a taste of command, of being in charge - with all the responsibility that job carried. She would need that of him later; Earth would. More to the point, she wanted it. So far, he was handling it like a natural.
Upon their return to the cave, the Praetor's holographic image awaited them.
"Who are you?", he inquired accusingly.
"Giselle Du Mont. I told you that."
"Who are you with? What military organization?"
Giselle blushed, not wanting to embarrass herself in front of Geoff.
"I am unemployed. I have been for two years. I told you that, too."
"I don't believe you."
"Look it up. I'm in the book!"
The heated exchange went on for several minutes. In the end, the Praetor broke contact; satisfied or not, they could not tell. Shortly, a tall stack of MRE's, medical supplies, a couple of knapsacks and some kind of lantern appeared on the cave floor. There were still no new weapons. The lantern would be useful in providing additional light at night. Geoff just stared at their reward for providing a good day's 'entertainment'. Giselle placed her hand on his arm. He looked up.
"What?" she asked softly.
"I can't help wondering what the Golganthans received for losing," he intoned.
Her jaw muscles clenched. She already knew the answer to that. In her mind's eye, she could still see the excised portion of the dead ant's abdomen. She wondered how it had tasted.
"Go down to the grotto and get cleaned up," she advised. We'll talk when you get back."
"What about you?" he asked.
"I'll shower later. I have something to do first."
When Geoff returned, she wasn't there. He was getting used to that. The dejected young warrior-in-training realized he wasn't in her league - and wondered if he ever would be. He had the distinct impression she was older than she appeared. She was clearly more skillful, experienced, intuitive and fiercely independent. He wasn't used to a woman making him feel like an addled schoolboy. Right now, he would be happy if she would just let him know when she was leaving.
It was dark when she finally reappeared in the cave entrance. She dropped her empty knapsack and Sally Mae in a heap with the rest of their gear. She placed the sword more reverently in the corner. Geoff looked at her expectantly. She shrugged her shoulders.
Even in the dim light, Geoff could make out a shadow on the side of her face. He held her chin in his hand and gently turned that side toward him. A fresh bruise shown clearly. She avoided his gaze.
"A little misunderstanding. I got it straightened out."
"I'm glad. I wouldn't want people to suspect I was abusing you."
She regarded him tenderly.
"That is the one thing I don't think I would ever have to worry about."
She kissed him lightly on the lips.
"That wasn't very professional," Geoff murmured.
"Sue me," Giselle replied softly. "I need a shower."
He watched her retreating form as she made her way through the passage.