"Excuse me."

Someone tugs at her sleeve, lightly. A girl, it turns out - her first reaction is that she's far too young for that uniform. But a moment later she remembers: This tiny blonde was among the top graduates in the 104th. A classmate of that boy, the one who became a titan...

Petra shakes off the surprise and smiles. "What do you need?"

The blonde - What was her name again? She can't quite remember - looks up at her with an expression that seems a bit sullen and embarrassed.

"I need the oil for the 3D gear straps, but someone put it on the highest shelf..." She looks to the side, towards the storage closet she must have come out of. "Could you... please give me a hand?" She flushes a little as she speaks.

Petra's smile widens into a grin. "Of course."

But the top shelf is beyond even her reach. They sigh in unison, and Petra shakes her head. How inconsiderate some people could be! Or maybe someone just really has it in for the corporal...

Well, no use dwelling on it. She kneels down, laces her fingers together into a stirrup. "Come on," she says, looking at the blonde at her side. "I'll give you a boost."

The girl looks down. "Your hands will get dirty. I'll find a ladder."

Then she yelps, as Petra wraps her arms around her knees and rises, hoisting the blonde onto her shoulder. She's not heavy, but still heavier than she looks - just like a Legionnaire, Petra thinks, with a smile.

Great legs, too, slender but firm. And the hips they lead up to are just as nice. Definitely not the little girl she first looked like. She even smells nice, she realizes. You get used to hanging around a bunch of sweaty guys and don't notice it so much after a while, but when someone comes along and smells clean, you notice.

"Um."

Petra blinks and looks up. The blonde meets her gaze with wide, blue eyes. She's holding the jar she was reaching for - waiting to be let down again.

"Sorry," Petra manages, grinning up. "I was thinking about something."

Before the girl has a chance to ask, Petra eases her off her shoulder and eases her to the ground.

"Thank you."

"Don't mention it." And though there are suddenly butterflies in her stomach, you don't get picked for the Special Operations Squad if you're afraid to take risks. She puts a hand on the girl's shoulder, gently. She tenses, just for a moment, but doesn't back down. It's a good start.

"Say, we'll be in different squads when we head out, but do you want to get together when we get back?"

Those blue eyes widen a little, but there is no hesitation when she speaks. "I'd like that."

Petra leans a little closer. This time there is no reaction. "I'm Petra," she says, keeping her voice a little lower.

"Christa," says the blonde, and it clicks in Petra's head. Of course that's what her name is.

"Nice to meet you, Christa," she says, and slides her hand up the blonde's - Christa's - shoulder and neck, thumb stroking her jaw, gently pushing her chin up.

Christa rises. Even on her tiptoes, she remains the shorter of them. But she tilts her face up, and meets Petra's lips with her own, small and pink and soft, and her long, dark lashes flutter against Petra's cheeks as her eyes close.

It doesn't last as long as it seems. Anyone could walk in on them, after all. It's really only a quick brush, and they part.

"Nice... to meet you too," Christa says, a little breathless.

"Then I'll see you later," Petra promises, and lets her hand fall.

They say nothing more and part outside, each heading back to their own squad for final preparations. And although she knows the mission will be difficult, Petra smiles as she walks.

It's so nice having something to return to.