“I can help,” I insisted, “I’m new, yes, but you know I know this stuff, please.” I reached out to grab Priya’s wrist, to make her turn and look at me, to make her listen to me, to see sense. We were in a war here, and this was a battle. You didn’t let soldiers sit on the side lines, especially when the fight was going to be close.
I expected her to be angry, that I was defying her orders, that I was daring to challenge her in the middle of a fight where she clearly out ranked me, that I was preventing her from moving forward—but it wasn’t anger that I saw when I pulled on her arm and made her face me. Not Anger. Desperation. “You can’t go out there Anna Belle, you just can’t.”
“Give me one good reason I can’t go out there and fight next to you.” I challenged.
Priya gave me the look again, but I wasn’t backing down. I couldn’t sit on the sidelines while my friends went out to fight. And then suddenly, my hand wasn’t around her wrist anymore, but she wasn’t pulling away either. Her hand slipped around to the small of my back, and she pulled me in close, kissing me half on the mouth in one hard fast motion. “You can’t be out there Anna Belle because if you are out there I will be distracted worrying about you and I need to not be distracted okay.”
I’m not sure what expression was on my face now, but I don’t think it was very reassuring for poor Priya.
“Look, I’m sorry. Now is not the time but—We’ll talk about it later. For fuck’s sake, Anna Belle, go help fortify the medical room or something but please, please, don’t ask me to take you out there again, please. I just can’t do it.”
I blinked, and nodded. Priya, for the first time in weeks, looked slightly relieved. She kissed me again quickly, and then in a blink she was gone. I stood frozen for a few moments longer before realizing that I had to move. As I made my way back towards where the medical rooms were, I found that it was happy kind of stunned. I hadn’t known what I wanted until it was presented before me. But I wanted Priya. And she—well she definitely something’d me too.