She smelled like sweat and the rough matting of the training room floor.
“That your first kiss, Len-nerd?” she whispered, breath hot on his face, which was already burning.
“N-ngh—no-o—,” he stammered. Holy shit.
Tal kissed him again, but didn’t linger that long, her lips drawing out his with lazy intent.
“I saw you watching me practice,” she said, still speaking lowly, like sharing a secret.
Leo’s brain was literally about to explode.
“I wasn’t—” he began, voice hitting a rather embarrassing pitch.
Tal was practically pinning him to the wall. Leo gulped when her felt her hand slide under his shirt.
“I’m in a good mood,” she said, clearly and infuriatingly amused. She braced her arms near his head, draping her head towards his, speaking into the curve of his ear. “It’s up to you if you wanna share it. I could always go find somebody else. That blondie with the cat t-shirt who just came in last week looked like he could use the chance to unwind.”
Leo felt like he was burning up. He stared at her and tried to find something coherent to say. “I…”
“You what?” Tal asked, taunting.
For whatever reason, that made him angry.
And for whatever reason, the best response his brain came up with was to grab her face and slam it into his.
He had no experience with kissing or making out or whatever it was called. He had seen maybe three love making scenes in films he had seen with the other soldiers, who had all cheered or made lewd comments that never really made sense to him.
Thankfully, he was beginning to realize that it wasn’t like a detailed process Daniel might have liked. Leo was moving in a way that he wasn’t objectively planning; his body did its own thing. His lips moved on their own, with his teeth clacking into Tal’s until she drowned him out.
She pulled back suddenly, both of them breathing heavily.
“You call that a kiss?” she asked, eyes bright like stars.
“Shut up,” Leo hissed, grabbing the back of her head, digging his fingers into her scalp. She only grinned against his lips.
It wasn’t in his hands for long. She was the one who pushed them back towards the bed. Leo grunted when she was suddenly straddling him, pressing down into his hips in a way that made the fire in his face spread all over. Tal pulled away from the kiss, which Leo was grateful for; he fought to catch his breath.
“You got protection?” she asked briskly, as if they were on a timed schedule.
His brain wasn’t exactly working on full thrusters at that point. “Uh—”
It didn’t do much good for his pride when she rolled her eyes. “Ugh. Naturally.” She set to work unbuckling her military fatigues. “Just don’t cum inside.”
“Inside—?” he asked, before being rudely interrupted when Tal shoved her hand down his pants. “Christ—!”
Tal was a beautiful woman. Even Leo knew that. He had seen plenty of guys gawking after her out of armor, at least, for the first few days. People got scared of her quick, but Leo knew that that wouldn’t keep most hot-blooded males away. Maybe she hadn’t hated her so badly, Rachel would have been gawking, too. He wasn’t going to deny having thought about her, oh, once or twice.
Leo knew that arguing at that point was stupid, for two reasons. The first was that Tal seemed pretty intent on getting what she wanted when she wanted it.
The second was that he would likely not get this sort of chance again.
So, he took it.
He was almost eighteen. He knew what sex was and what it should have felt like. It was hard to tell, then, if the intensity of it all was just because it was Tal—because Tal was intense. Tal was fire all over. Her touch made it difficult to breathe when she yanked his shirt off and he barely realized he was supposed to help her with hers. He was clumsy—fingers getting tangled in the clasp of her bra, fumbling to untangle his feet as she kicked off her boots and he barely kicked his sneakers off before she tugged his sweatpants down to his knees.
If it weren’t for the fact that it wasn’t Gamma’s style, Leo would have imagined it was some sort of mean mind game prank.
But it wasn’t.
It was real.
It was real enough that every bit of him was burning hot and electric flashes. It was different with another person. It was different and scarier and better in every capacity.
Tal dragged out his name over his bared neck and he could only answer a shuddered gasp.
Leo had no idea how long they fucked. It really wasn’t anything drawn out, like he had always seen in movies. He had never expected it to be like that; the sarcastic comments from Gavin or other agents in passing confirmed movies were all fake and fluff. Fucking was fucking, as Rachel had once eloquently told the entire mess hall while Carrie buried her face into her hand, embarrassed.
Lying there, on his own bed and thoroughly exhausted from something that had nothing to do with the Project for once, Leo felt like it been a lot longer than it had been. It was stranger to realize that it had actually happened. Getting laid, as Taylor would crudely put it, had certainly not been on his game plan for the evening. It did not match up to any expectations of reality that he had for himself at all, actually.
It hadn’t been making love, because Tal was anything but gentle and Leo was relatively certain love was a myth, but it still…
Turning his head to see Tal rolling over to the side, draping herself in a strange sort of modesty with his bed sheet, Leo found it difficult to say much.
Tal had ended up on her side, facing him with her head tucked into her arm. She was playing with the edge of the sheet that just barely hid most of her breasts. Leo stared at her face, unsure what came next.
“That was your first time, wasn’t it?” she eventually asked, at complete ease as she stared at him.
Leo scowled. “Shut up.”
That earned him an eyebrow arch. “It wasn’t terrible, if that’s any consolation.”
“Fuck off, bitch,” he muttered into the crook of his arm as he raised it over his eyes.
Despite that, Tal only snorted in amusement and stilled, apparently not in a hurry to get up. Leo enjoyed that moment of peace and quiet, still reeling from all angles.
Well, he thought, it could have been worse.
They had lain there for a few more minutes. Leo heard his own breathing even out, like he wasn’t really there doing the breathing himself. Tal barely made any sound when she didn’t want to, he realized. It was a little unnerving, but laying there next to her, both of them naked on his own bed, made it strangely easier to be that close to her. It sure made her seem more human than ever before to him.
“I remember when I first saw you, in the labs,” Tal said, breaking the silence. She sounded thoughtful. “I thought, what the fuck are they doing with a scrawny little shit like you? I thought the Director was all about winners.”
Leo turned his head to stare at her, unsure of what she was getting at. Tal stared back, blond hair hanging down in strands in front of her face. She stared at him with those expectant blue eyes.
“But I guess I was wrong,” she said, shrugging, looking away.
“What that fuck is that supposed to mean?” Leo asked, his own eyes narrowed.
“Nothing.” Tal suddenly sat up, displacing the blanket. “I got to go.”
Leo felt a twinge of something in his gut, but he forced himself to close his eyes again. “Whatever.”
People left. That’s what everyone did. Sometimes, they came back, but there were no constants. Daniel and Teddy had moved away and he barely saw them anymore. He never wanted to see Oliver or Samuel, but even Gary and the twins were kept at a distance. He never had the same handler twice in a row. Caroline sure as fuck never lingered.
Of course, Tal had to go.
He didn’t watch her grab her shirt and throw it on, not bothering with her bra. She shook the bed as she slipped back into her fatigues and Leo idly turned his head as she stood. He saw a flash of a tattoo at the base of her spine. He wasn’t sure what it had been. Maybe a star.
“Hey, Leonard,” Tal said, grabbing her left boot and shoving her foot into it.