I wrote this earlier last year and loved it; reread it a few months ago and still loved it. This was written during a strange period and very spur of the moment. Don't worry, it isn't unbearable. I would like some constructive criticism for this seeing as it is not a usual genre for me to touch on. Be honest, I can take it. "Tracey Holens, born September 26 of the year 1999." The cherry red eyes of Captain Nathaniel's secretary gazed expectantly over the rim of her prescription glasses at Captain Locke. The secretary wasn't particularly threatening to him but to others her bright red eyes and tight blonde bun would have easily set fear into their core. She was a slender woman with small curves that fit into her beige skirt and up blazer well enough to catch a man's attention- and some of the women for that matter- though not as much as a full figured woman. She wore a constant cold, emotionless expression. Locke refused to be threatened by the small female. "Is she or is she not your secretary Captain Locke?" "She is," the captain answered in a gruff voice. "But she is not in her office at the moment. Secretary Holens just stepped out." The secretary tapped her clipboard aggitatedly. "Captain Nathaniel is not going to take no for an answer. Do you know when she will be returning?" "I'm afraid not Secretary Serene. She hasn't been the same since her former captain's death. She goes out to the cemetery everyday, never at the same time or for the same amount of time." ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Tracey lingered in front of the cemetery gates for hours before deciding to go inside. She held her umbrella with both hands against the wind and rain. She didn't watch the path but stared at her feet. It had been six years since the funeral and Tracey came back everyday since then so she knew the path well enough. She looked up at a large bouquet of flowers placed on a grave marked only with a stone cross. Tracey paused to pay respects then moved on to a grave marked with a tombstone naming Captain Leon Gray of the third division. Tracey knelt there and closed her eyes. The pain was constantly renewed everyday she came but she couldn't stay away from him more than the required hours of work. "I always finish my work before I come sir," she said softly. "I've gotten better about that. It's still weird to come into the office and you're not there. I miss you Leon.." There was no reply. The rain came down harder as if trying to give her some answer but she ignored it's cry. August 10, 2025 Tracey jumped out of bed and raced into the bathing area. She dropped her clothes and rushed under a shower. She let the water run over her aching muscles and massaged her shoulders. It was her first week of training to become a secretary and she was already sore. Those drills were nothing to scoff at after all. She washed her chestnut brown hair then got out the showers, grabbing a towel on her way out. Tracey quickly dried off then rushed through getting dressed. She forced her hair into a decent bun in the mirror, satisfied, she ran out to join the other trainees. "Hold on! Holens!" Tracey stopped as fellow trainee, Michael Brun, ran up to her. He wore half rimmed glasses that sat all the way up on his nose and he always looked to be excited about something. That same excitement was magnified by ten when he handed her a piece of paper. "We've been moved to another division," he said with as much composure as he could manage. "We're under the third division. That's the division that handles all weapons related data." "I know, I know!" Tracey exclaimed with less composure. There were three divisions: intelligence, infantry, weaponry. Only two of those are the hardest to get into. Want to take a guess at which ones? "How in the world did we get into the weapons division?" Tracey asked, exasperated. "I don't know but let's hurry up before we're late on our first day!" Michael grabbed her hand and they ran to the farthest corner of the grounds, second to the intelligence building. He had to drag her inside from staring at the weapons division banner blowing proudly in a summer breeze. They went in the front door and stopped dead upon entering. The building was empty except for five desks with secretaries working busily behind them. The trainees looked at each other. Tracey went up to one of the secretaries and cleared her throat. The man looked up at her. "Sorry to bother you, but can you tell us where we could find-" "Captain Gray, here are the latest reports. I filled most of them out for you so there isn't much left to do." "Thank you Chelsea." He was perfect; tall, muscular but not bulky, clean shaven, soft bright green eyes, and a voice that made her stomach do back flips at the thought of him totally walking up to her and saying anything, anything at all. "Tracey Holens and Michael Bruns?" He stood less than a foot away from her, looking them over with his gorgeous green eyes. She almost melted out of her uniform. "Yes sir," Michael replied quickly. He nodded, still looking them over. "You two know anything about weapons?" "N-No sir," Tracey answered, trying to regain her dignity. Stop looking at me with those eyes! "Alright, then follow me." He turned and walked away, not looking back to see if they would follow. Michael shot Tracey a glance as they followed him. He had noticed her clumsy posture as soon as she had seen the captain. "What was that?" he whispered to her. "What was what?" Tracey replied in a trance like drone. Her eyes were locked onto the back of his neat, black haired head. It was so perfect. Michael pinched her arm and she punched him back. "What was that for?" "Will you stop making googly eyes at the captain please?" "What are you talking about?" "Just keep in mind that relationships among higher ups and lessers are forbidden," he hissed. "This is one of the best divisions to be in and we got in here for practically nothing, Holens- nothing. Please don't mess this up and get yourself kicked out." "I won't! You know me Michael, I won't do anything if there's no chance of victory," she assured him with a smile. "Is that suppose to be funny Holens?" The captain stopped in front of a door bearing his name on a golden plate. He handed off the short stack of folders to Michael and turned the solid gold handle. "You can just place those on my desk," he said as they entered. "Thanks." Tracey walked as gingerly as possible over the carpet with Michael. She scanned the designs covering the walls with a keen eye, not wanting to miss anything. His walls were the mandatory purple with vines painted to snake all over the room. Thorns threatened to draw blood if she wandered to close. The painting was so realistic.. Captain Gray touched her back as he went by to get behind his desk. "Excuse me." Tracey bit the inside of her lip and took a deep, shuddering breath. The captain sat in his chair and turned to face them. "I'm sure you're both wondering why you were transferred It was on my request that the both of you be transferred here under me." He started shifting through some papers on his desks. "I saw your stats and I had to ask General Wheeler why in the world two people with dominating arms characteristics were not in my division." He stopped when two packets of faded grey papers found his hands. "We actually got into a little altercation over whether or not you should be transferred." He raised those heart melting green eyes to Tracey. She swallowed hard. "I had to promise him I'd straighten you out Holens. Can you make an effort to fix your previous record? I won't tolerate any misbehavior from my juniors, but, hopefully you understand how far I had to stick my neck out to get you this position and won't give me any trouble at all. Yes?" "Yes sir," Tracey replied meekly. Her voice was a tiny squeak to her ears. "Good, good." He stood and went to a huge wardrobe. "I had these made specifically for you two so try to keep them nice." He opened the doors and brought out two clean, purple junior uniforms. The female version had a long skirt with an insignificant half inch split, a short sleeved dress shirt and coat that fell well past it. The sleeves on the coat were sown up so they would sit over her elbows. The male version consisted of purple cargo pants, a long sleeved shirt that stuck out through the short sleeves of the coat. It came with a belt that buckled behind the image of two small rifles, the insignia of the third division. The captain handed them over, satisfied with their stifled smiles. "There's one last thing as well," he said making his way back to the desk. They folded the uniforms and followed him back. "We do things here a little differently," he said as he took a small box from his desk. "While other divisions have tags, I prefer to have something a little more personal." He turned it to them and snapped the latch, pulling the box open. "Choose your pendant wisely, this is how most of your fellow juniors will recognize you." There were rings of silver, bronze, and gold; Bracelets were hanging from the roof of the box, dangling the symbol of fire arms among other weapons; black chokers showed the insignia in the same fashion of gold and silver. Tracey touched an earring that had a large symbol on it. Michael took out a gold ring and turned it between his fingers. Tracey took out a bracelet and stepped back. Gray closed the box. "Welcome to the third division. This may be an easier field labor wise, but it will require you to think and react fast. The lives of every division body depends on us." They nodded. He dismissed them to their assigned rooms. Tracey held up her new uniform and giggled excitedly. "This is awesome! I never dreamed I would get to wear one of these." She hugged it as if it was a long lost friend she hadn't seen in years. Michael was silent next to her. "What's wrong?" "I hope you heard what the captain was saying about your record Holens." He glanced at her sideways. "You heard him right?" Tracey rolled her eyes. "Yes, I heard him. Don't you have any confidence in me?" It was a long time before I was completely competent behind the pierces and big guns. You know, Captain, I still hate them. I was always faster with a sword or staff. I remember that time you got very upset with me about messing with some really important ones... The room was silent all around her but for the sound of her slowly exhaling. Her coat was over a chair by the door as she had ventured into the training room. Tracey ran her hand over the staffs as she walked along the wall. They were hung neatly upon the wall where the sunlight coming in through the high windows could hit them just right. They shined under the morning sun as she took an oak patterned bo staff from it's place and twirled it in one hand. Tracey weighed it carefully in her hands. She passed it between them, twirling it with such ease it even surprised her. The bo rolled over her shoulders and neck like a familiar wind at a favorite eating spot. Tracey spun it over her head and tucked it under her arm. "I thought I heard someone in here," the captain's voice boomed around her. Tracey started and spun around to see him standing in the doorway. "I see you've found the bo staff training room. This is a long way from the shooting range. Are you lost?" His boots echoed softly around the room as he came inside past the doors. "I guess I did get a little lost," Tracey answered nervously. "There was no one in here so I thought it wouldn't hurt to take a look around.." Her voice trailed off when she raised her eyes to meet the toxic green irises of the captains' where he stood barely two inches from her. He was looking past her to the empty spot on the wall. "I..." "Those staffs were gifts from the nobles of a very wealthy eastern estate. They're a most treasured possesion for us, these staffs." He kept his eyes forward as he spoke, making Tracey feel even smaller than she normally did around him. "I-I'm sorry," Tracey stuttered. "I didn't know-" "I didn't expect you would but let me give you a little advice." Gray took the staff gently from her trembling hand then their eyes met without faultering. "Don't wander into anymore empty rooms. There's usually a reason for them being empty." "Yessir," she breathed as he went to put the staff back in it's place among the others. She hurried away, taking her coat on her way out and ran down the hall. The captain could be truly intimidating despite his unearthly ability to make her forget to breathe. I think something happened to you after that. My roommate, Jackie, told me how you were being nice to her and it scared her more than your usual self. I had been in the third division about a year by then and I didn't know Jackie to scare easily so I started to worry a little as well. "I'm telling you there's something wrong here," the taller woman said, leaning in close to her shorter roommate. "I don't think it's that big of a deal," Tracey said with an identically serious, albeit mocking, tone. "Isn't he ever nice?" Jackie shook her head of short black hair and sat back on her bed with a scowl. "I forgot you're still fairly new to the captain's behavior. Captain Gray is courteous but not nice. He would probably save a puppy just to kick it later. He is not someone I would want to be stuck next to on the airway. I'll jump first." Tracey got into her bed and pullled up her covers. "Is he really that bad? I've never seen it." "Because you get him in the morning. The captain's a morning person so he's decent early on. I get him at night when he's tired and ready to slit throats." Jackie put her hand to her neck and made a face. "He wasn't shouting at all today, though and he didn't hit anyone. Something is wrong with him. I've been here three years and I know when there's something not right about the captain." "It's sweet how you care so much about him," Tracey teased with a smile. "He's my captain, I'm suppose to care," came Jackie's removed reply. "Besides, how can we learn from someone who isn't even all there?" Tracey faced her roommate, a plan forming in her brain. "Hey Jackie. Do you want to find out what's bothering him?" The dark haired girl snorted. "You don't just walk up to Captain Gray and ask him what's wrong. That's suicide." She laughed a little at the idea. "Well I'm going to. Tomorrow." Tracey turned off her light and closed her eyes to sleep. In the dark silence she heard Jackie's sceptical reply. "Are you off your head Holens?" The next day started with both women hunting down their dark haired captain. They went to his office, checked most of the off limit rooms, hounded the training grounds, stalked veteran juniors for information, and even snuck into the men's sleeping house to see if he had been there. In the end they ended up at the outside eating tables. No one had a clue to the captain's whereabouts. Tracey kept racking her brain for places to look. "Give it up Holens," Jackie sighed. "It's almost time for the morning routine and he'll be there so-" "We'll be working then and I can't talk to him while shooting," Tracey retorted exasperatedly. She was just about to give up when Captain Gray walked around the corner. He stopped when he saw them staring wide eyed at him. "The routine is about to start. Do you ladies need something or can I get on with more important matters?" "We-" "We were just on our way to the gallery sir," Jackie interrupted expertly before Tracey could say something they both would regret. "There's never enough room for improvement sir." "And even less room for kiss-ups. On your way then." He nodded and Jackie dragged Tracey away. She refused to let her go until they reached the gallery; the largest display of weapons on the grounds. Tracey snatched away and glared at the taller woman. "What was that? I thought we were going to ask him." "I was testing the waters and you wouldn't have gotten a very good response from him," she replied calmly. "You can't just ask the captain personal questions like that. I think we should just let him be and he'll get over whatever it is that's bothering him." "Fine," she pouted. You never really got over whatever it was did you? Now that I think about, you were a very good actor. You had everyone fooled that you were over it; even me. Jackie watched with a least interested look on her face as Tracey danced around holding her new gown in front of her. The diamonds on the halter collar sparkled as she spun, fanning out the shimmering fabric skirt. "I love this purple- Isn't it dazzling Jackie?" She turned to show her and her smile fell away. "Jackie! Stop looking like that and get excited. The general's ball is tonight and we have to look the part! You don't want to embarrass Captain Gray do you?" "If Captain Gray wants to look nice he'll dress accordingly, I don't see why I have to," Jackie retorted. "Aren't you even a little concerned how one of the generals will see you?" "Um, no. I might not even go." Tracey hung the dress back up as calmly as she could then grabbed her roommate's shoulders and shook her violently until the older woman shouted something about killing her. "Are you crazy? I can't go by myself! You have to come with me or else I'll do something stupid for sure. Be my wing-man Jackie- I need you!" "You don't need me Holens, you need to use your head for once," she snarled. "I look ridiculous in a dress anyway." "What about the captain? He wanted everyone to be there. You're not going to let him down are you?" She glared at her puppy eyed roommate and snarled, "Sometimes I wish you weren't so persistent." The ball began at seven sharp. Tracey and Jackie arrived thirty minutes afterwards. Tracey walked in and instantly fell in love with the scenery. Thick ribbons of scarlet and gold swooped down from the ceiling like rings of ancient treasures. The walls were gold with tapestries brandishing each division's insignia in scarlet with golden strings streaming down the sides. Tracey noticed the floor beneath her golden heels was a scarlet tinted glass that gave a rather astonishing review of herself. She smiled at her reflection then looked for her roommate. "Jackie? Will you get in here- no one is even paying us any attention." Jackie stalked into the room blushing madly down to her collar bone. The gown was one of Tracey's tastes; it was a beautiful purple v-neck with diamonds circling the waist and a pleated skirt that fell loosely about her tall, slender figure. Her shoes were solid based and tied up around her ankles for security. Jackie exhaled aggitatedly toward her friend. Tracey had on a purple halter gown that hugged her few curves and fell from her thighs. She also enjoyed the flirty open back. Tonight was the night to be as bold as she could while at least acting sophisticated. "You look amazing Jackie," Tracey assured her and took her hand. They traveled into the crowd, ready to take on the night. Jackie hung around the refreshments for a while and glared at any guy who even remotely seemed to be coming toward her. Tracey spotted Michael and waved him over. He wore a royal blue tux and had apparently lost a lot of weight. "This is Jackie," she introduced, " and this is Michael, my best friend." "Ah, smiley," Jackie said, amused. "So you two know each other?" Tracey exclaimed with a sneaky smile. "Yes, we have the night shift with Captain Gray," Michael chuckled. "Not so bad," Jackie said, earning her two highly surprised stares. Tracey was taken aback by the sound of someone calling her name. She looked around and froze upon seeing Captain Gray waving to her. She pointed to herself and he nodded. Tracey whispered something to Michael then walked briskly over. "Yes sir?" He motioned to a group of people talking amongst themselves. "I would like you to come with me to meet the generals," he said as if it was an everyday happening. "What? But I-" "Come now, we can't keep them waiting," he said and led her away with her arm in his. Jackie and Michael stared with wide eyes at the unnatural phenomena. A smile came onto Michael's face and he turned back to Jackie. She played off her surprise with a sneer then turned back to the refreshments to stuff her face. They were even more threatening up close, the generals. One general in particular took most of Tracey's attention. His hair was fully white and his face was lined with shallow age. He was surprisingly solid for a man of his age. He greeted Gray with a pat on the back and kissed her hand all to sweetly. "This is our division's general, General Wheeler," Gray introduced him. Another shook their hands but kept his distance behind pale green eyes. He was much thinner than any of the others. His white streaked brown ponytail fell over his shoulder as he bowed slightly. "General Grant is over the intelligence division." Then a woman held out her hand with a noble smile. Tracey smiled back as calmly as she could. Her hair was done up in a high ponytail with loose flowing braids that fell down her back. Her sleeveless gown was accompanied by a dazzling scarf that hung on her elbows. She shook their hands strongly despite her heavily feminine appearance. "General Wayde is over infantry." Tracey admittedly expected another older man but was nicely surprised by the younger gentleman who took her hand next. He had to be close to the same age as Gray. They almost looked like they could have been related with identical green eyes but he had wavy red hair that was held back in a short ponytail. He kissed her hand in a way that made her blush just slightly. "And finally," Gray said with noted annoyance, "General Hawkins who is over the information division." Each of them wore the color of their division. "This is Tracey Holens," he introduced her with an affection she would later grasp. "I'm sure some of you are familiar with her already." "She must be doing you some good seeing as you have yet to send her back to infantry," General Grant replied. "It is nice to see her flourishing where she belongs at least." "Gray begged me to take her," General Wheeler laughed. "She was definently in the wrong place. This poor doll wasn't built for sneaking around, she has a dominating presence! She belonged behind a gun." Tracey smiled nervously, unsure if it was a compliment or not. "I'm just glad to see more women in weapons," General Wayde commented. "We're working our way in there, aren't we?" She flashed Tracey a beautiful, genuine smile. "Keep working hard and you may become secretary." "Don't fool yourself General Wayde. Women are to fragile to take such a position in these days," General Hawkins replied coldly. She laughed aloud. "Oh, dear Hawk, who is your secretary? I don't believe you let your men walk around in women apparel do you?" "Calm down Mrs. Wayde," General Wheeler said and put a hand on her shoulder. "You know how Hawkins is." "Indeed..." She turned back to Gray and Tracey. "Well now Captain Gray," he said, turning his attention back to them, "Mrs. Holens looks well on you." He laughed but Tracey was blushing again. Gray replied with his own smile. "She would look beautiful on any man's arm sir." Tracey could have sworn she saw a flush of color in his cheeks. The conversation continued like that with General Grant brooding and General Hawkins steaming until they departed to mingle with their divisions. General Wayde gave Tracey her number for later conversation- most likely on women's advancement from what she gathered- and walked off with the most elegance she had ever seen in one human being. After they cleared out Gray led her away to the balcony. He closed the door behind them then turned to her. Tracey sat up on the railing. She wasn't sure what to expect when he walked up to her and took her hand but she kept her composure. He held her hand between his for a minute and just gazed at it as if she would disappear if he looked away. "You were very well behaved with the generals tonight," he practically whispered. "They seem to like you a lot. What do you think?" "I think I'm questioning my existence after meeting them," she answered truthfully. "They were very nice people though." That's when he looked up at her and she forgot to breath for the first time in almost a year. He positioned himself over her, his chest close to hers. He held her in place with her knees between his legs. Her breath wasn't coming back any faster. There was a fairly high drop from here and he was pushing her chances of surviving the fall. "Captain..," she exhaled her already scarce air. His lips just barely brushed hers as he spoke. "Be mine," he whispered. "I need you by my side." "Captain, what are you-" "I don't care if it's forbidden." "But why?" "Because I love the way you stutter when you're nervous, the way your hair's always a mess in the mornings-" "My hair's a mess?" "And when you repeat everything I say when you know it's true." There was a smile in his voice that made her smile. "Say you'll be with me?" Tracey couldn't deny the fact that since the moment she met him this was all she wanted. She had put it out of her mind in order to behave properly enough to not get kicked out of the division. This moment had rekindled her flame for him though it never fully went out. He was practically begging her to take him. Who would she be to say no? "I would be a fool to say no wouldn't I captain," she asked, knowing full well his answer. "Yes," he breathed against her lips. "A rather big fool." She smiled and leaned forward, pressing her lips against his just enough to entice him into the kiss. Gray pulled away slowly as if asking "was that an answer?" and Tracey smiled "yes". Gray stepped back holding her hand and helped her from the railing. As soon as her feet touched the ground she pulled him back into a sweetly passionate kiss. Her hands explored that wonderful head of black hair, destroying it's previous style completely. He moved back and looked at her as if to make sure she was the one truly kissing him at the moment. Tracey assumed this was a good thing. Sadly they had to return to the party before anyone noticed they were gone so she fixed his hair and they returned to the ball arm in arm. The rain had slowed to drizzling by now though Tracey hadn't noticed. "That was the happiest moment in my life captain. I really can't imagine a happier time until the day you asked me to marry you. Do you think the rogue know that? Is that why he stabbed you so many times, because he was jealous of our future?" The tears ran down her face in small streams. It's been six years now- is it still suppose to hurt this bad? Is her heart suppose to feel like it's being ripped out every time she visits him? Most other people are happy when they come to visit their deceased but it has yet to be that way for her. She tried to suck it up when she heard the approaching footsteps. Small hands touch her face with curiosity. "Twafey? What wong you Twafey?" "Don't do that Garret," Jackie hissed. "Get over here." She scooped up the running boy. "Are you ready to go Tracey? Michael's in the car waiting." Sometimes Tracey thought of this as some cruel joke, picking her up with his family, but she knew it was just her being petty. "I'm ready," she sighed on shuddered breaths. Tracey stared out the window the entire ride back to the office with a look of longing. Michael tried to keep quiet but can't help asking that burning question. "I really hate to see you like this Trace," he said. "It's been six years. When are you going to stop visiting?" Tracey smiles painfully and answers, "when he finally says it's okay."