#2 in the new Mouse story. All Mouse entries can be found here.
Mouse Sits on a Gate and Ponders Life
I am slowly realizing that life in covert ops is just one song on constant repeat, but not a good song and not really a bad song either. It’s that song you don’t mind at first, but the more you hear it, you wish it would sink into oblivion.
We are all back in the roles we played a few months ago. Nick Ryder bosses Tom. Tom bosses me. And I, well, I sometimes look at Tom like he’s lost his marbles; don’t worry, it’s reciprocated.
The thing is, I’m pretty sure I’ve changed. I just don’t think it matters.
“Joe, work out with Mouse. She’s looking soft,” Tom says after his meeting with Nick.
I’m sure my mouth is working like a goldfish as I stare at Tom. “If you think I look soft, then take me on yourself.”
He shakes his head. “Not today. You and Joe. In the gym. I’ll swing by in a few.”
“And hopefully learn how to speak in longer sentences in the meantime.”
“What’s that, Mouse?”
“The Queen’s English is frowning at you, Tom.”
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” he says in his clipped English accent. He walks away and I watch his very tight glutes do the work. Now that’s what I’m saying.
“Did you just make a very tiny joke?” I ask.
“Gym Mouse sounds like some weird workout toy,” I mutter.
The gym smells like all gyms I’ve ever been in, mildewy with the effervescent odor of men’s socks and jockstraps with a little eau du Lysol. Joe is over fifteen inches taller than me, which makes me feel like a little kid (or a mouse) who could scurry between his legs.
We both take a stance. He moves quickly, but I’m ready for him and slide his legs out with one quick sweep of mine. Tom was wrong. I am not soft. I may not have been working out here, but I’ve been working out.
Joe ups his game. Suddenly I’m on the mat and then I roll back onto my toes, waiting. He grins at me.
“What’s that about?” I ask.
“You’ve been working out.”
I shrug, my stance changes as if we were about to have a conversation and then he’s flipped me onto my back and straddles me, holding my wrists above my head. His look of triumph changes to something else, something that looks a lot like desire. I wiggle, which is a mistake, as it puts certain parts of our lower anatomy into contact.
He lowers his head until his lips are just inches from mine. His breath smells minty clean. His green eyes sparkle.
“Excuse me, toddlers. Since when did working out mean making out?” Tom asks.
Joe grins down at me, but seems in no hurry to get up, maybe because his southern welcome wagon is standing at half-mast. “No making out going on here, Tom. I was just getting her where I wanted her.”
I roll my eyes.
“Oh, for freaking sake’s get off me before I change you to a tenor,” I say and push him.
I scramble to my feet. Joe stays where he is, for obvious reasons. Our eyes meet and I feel a little bad for him. It would be nice if I felt something for him other than friendship. Hopefully I haven’t given him any ideas.
“We have a briefing in two hours,” Tom says. “You both need to be there.”
Tom watches me as I cross the gym toward him and the exit. “Is there something going on that I need to know about?” he asks.
“How would I know?” I wink at him, but realize it just looks like I have an eyelash in my eye.
Instead of returning immediately to my room to shower, I go outside to watch the dragonflies flutter around the pond. I climb up on the gate and sit, thinking about the few months I have left with this group and then I’ll be free. My record will be expunged and I can live the life I’ve always wanted to live. If I could just figure out what that was.
And if I could just figure out how to get one sullen Englishman out of my head.