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I was walking calmly towards the door, avoiding all eye contact of Ryan holding the girl I waas so close to finally asking out. I reached the door and opened it. It was then that I heard Ryan say "You're so beautiful Mary-Kate."

I stopped in the doorway with the door pushing against my hand, following it's instinct to close after being opened. I forced myself not to make a scene, which was incredibly hard considering what I've been through. I just kept walking and slammed the door, putting several cracks in the glass. With my new access card to the base, I decided to walk there and do some target practice. I decided not to picture myself shooting at Ryan because I kept telling myself 'I'm better than that' but did it ever seem tempting. I looked up at the sky, clouds were moving in and it might rain before I reached the base. But I didn't care. the walk would do be good.


I was getting worried about Ashley. Sooner or later it is going to hit her that Matt is gone, and I wanted to be around to help her when it does. I didn't know what to do to help her. I felt so useless and I hated that feeling. I decided to take her for a walk around the town, just to get her outside.

"Come on, we're going for a walk." I said decidedly.
"I don't feel like it." She said.
"Too bad." I said as I made her stand up. I went to get our coats and when I came back she was standing beside the window.
"We can't go, look at the nasty clouds." She said, making up any excuse not to go.
I gave her one of those 'don't push it' looks, but I think she ignored it.

"Fine! Lets go.." She said resignedly, walking towards the door.

I jogged ahead of her and opened it "My lady" I said.

My reward... the look. Remind me never to do that again...

"There's nothing to do hear" She complained as we walked around town.

I had to agree. Man this place was boring!

"Hey there's Mary-Kate with some guy" I said pointing.

"That's Ryan" She explained. "Come on lets say hi" she pulled me alone with her.

She was now the one taking me for a walk. Funny how things change so quickly. When we got there, I gave Mary-Kate a hug and then she introduced me to Ryan.

"Hi." He said with a smile. "I'm happy to meet you."

"Same here." I said to him. "Where are you from?"

"I was in San Francisco." He said.

"Funny, I didn't know San Francisco was attacked." I commented.

He looked uncomfortable for a moment, but quickly explained. "It wasn't. They were... looking for volunteers to join up and I decided to help my country. When the base doctor looked me over he said I couldn't go fight. So I decided to stay here and work. I... love the country air."

'Uh-huh' I thought 'Wieeeeeerd!' But I didn't comment out loud. I glanced at Mary-Kate who was smiling at Ryan. She obviously really liked him. Poor Brett...


After I shot off a few magazines at a target, I decided to use my anger in an other sense. I was punching a punching bag I had set up in the base gym. I pictured the punching bag as the soldier that killed Matt. I found myself getting angrier and angrier after each punch. I didn't notice Gibson as he walked in. When I noticed him, I stopped punching and saluted.

"As you were." He said, I put my arm down and I continued punching the bag. He looked at me and asked "Anything bothering you?"

"Just relieving stress sir." I answered without stopping.

"Oh." He nodded. "So I guess this wouldn't have anything to do with Private Matt's death?" He said.

I gave him a brief look and kept punching the bag, with a little more force than before. I didn't feel like talking to anyone about my problems right now.

"So I'm half right." He said. I wondered how he knew that. "So what else is bothering you?"

I was punching the bag harder and harder. I don't know where all this anger was coming from, but it kind of felt good to get it all out.

"I'm giving you an order Private. What is going on with you." He said sternly.

"It's none of your business." I said flatly. I didn't care what would happen. What's the worst he could do, discharge me from the force?

"Stop punching that bag while I'm talking to you." He said as he got in the way between myself and the bag. "I don't know what is eating away at you, but let's make one thing clear, it IS my business. I don't want good men and women to die out there because some kid is having a bad day. Now, you have the choice. Either tell me what is going on and we'll fix it, or you fix it on your own before we head back to LA next week. Either way, it WILL be fixed. Do you understand me?"

"Yes sir." I said annoyed.

"What was that Private?" He said

"I said YES SIR!" I yelled.

He was going to walk away, then turned to me again. "I was young once too, and I know this is about a girl. I don't know you to run away from a fight, Brett. I know you'll get the job done."

I looked at him and nodded. He was a tough man, but he had a heart. I went back to punching the bag, venting more anger that was inside of me.


If I get really really really mad at my best-friend, does that make me a bad person? Cause, right now Marc-Andre is REALLy getting on my nerves. He's acting all worried about me. I'm fine! I wish he'd see that!

Augh! I'm sick of Riverside too! It should really be called SmallVille!

I think I need a vacation. Matt and I were supposed to go to Europe...

WAIT! I am NOT going to think about that!

"Can we go back to the apartment now?" I asked Marc-Andre in a whining voice. "I'm tired."

I could see his patience was starting to wear thin. Maybe I could annoy him enough for him to take me back.

"Let's just go to this shop first, I'll buy you a strawberry milkshake." He said, trying to bribe me. It worked and I agreed to go in.


I sipped at my milkshake listlessly and stared out the window. Marc-Andre sighed.

Well, this was fun!


I smiled up at Ryan as we walked along the edge of the river.

"Whatcha thinking?" I asked.

"Nothing" He said a little coldly.

"All right, fine." I said. "Sooorry!" What is it with guys these days. Is it some kind of All guys get mad at Mary-Kate week?

"I should probably get back" I said starting to walk away.

"NO! Wait!" He said catching my arm.

"OW! That hurts!"

Chapter 28

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