MarineAvenger and DarkGemini24601: “Obligatory Pool Scene, Part 1” High Orbit over Forseti (May 16th, 2044) The Einherjar (4:38 P.M., A.S.T.) Floor 5: Natatorium Connor walked with Tracey's hand in his, the girl skipping along with her father as she hummed happily, having barely slept a wink after the two got the invite from Avril to join her and some of the squadmates in the pools. Normally Tracey would have no interest but of course, when she hears Fraser would be there, she wouldn't stop asking. In Connor's other hand, he held a paper bag that had a new pair of swim trunks for him and a new bathing suit for Tracey they had gotten on their trip down to the surface. Tracey ran ahead and opened the doors for her daddy, running to the edge of the pool and waving a hand. "Hi everybody!" Zoya and Karolina were submerged to the neck in the water, sitting on a low bench. The latter waved at Tracey. "Hi, Trace!" she called out. Kriemhiel was sitting on the edge of the pool, just watching the others for now, and gave a slight nod of recognition to Connor. She and Avril explained the reason for the depth of the other two, Zoya in particular: their swimsuits - Kriemhiel a one-piece and Avril a two-piece - highlighted their endowed physique. Fraser was lying on his back beside his mother, and glanced over at Tracey as she entered. "Bonjour," he said in greeting. "Salut mon ami..." Tracey fumbled with, smiling in embarrassment as she butchered the words. Connor put a hand on his daughter's head, saying to the others. "Be out in a minute." With that, the rather guided his daughter into the changing room where he got Tracey into a pink and blue two piece, only part of her stomach being shown and her bottom being more like tight shorts. When done, he sent her out so he could put on his black trunks and leaving his torso exposed, putting their clothes into the bag and in a locker as he went out to the others. "How have you been?" Kriemhiel asked when the infantry exited. "I think the last time we spoke was a week or two ago." "I've been... fine." Connor responded as he sat on the edge of the pool and set his legs in the water. "I've been trying to decide on modifications... To try and increase my odds of surviving this damn war." "Well, skin ones help a little," Avril offered. "I plan on upgrading my anti-laser mod to the better vision tomorrow... Odincalor Dermis... something like that." "Odiocalor," Kriemhiel corrected. "It's Latin for "Heat-Hating", I believe." "That, maybe a few others like those Torpor Jammers so I don't get tired easily," Avril continued unabated. "If you're looking to increase your outright chances of survival, mon ami, then go for defensive crap. Otherwise, look for things like that bicep mod to increase your strength and aim with heavier guns." Avril rubbed her hands together, causing her to sink to her chin in the water. "I can't wait to give a fusion weapon a try." "If it is all the same to you, I would prefer to stay out of the line of fire as long as possible. I'm not a soldier." Connor said honestly, looking over at a giggling Tracey as she splashed water on Avril's son. Fraser closed an eye to avoid getting anything in his eye, and kicked a wave of water back at Tracey. "You kind of are now, even if you weren't before," Avril replied, pushing herself back into a floating position and looking at him with her head tilted back. To her, he appeared upside down. "Wouldn't be here if I didn't have to be. I got a fighting spirit, but the worse I got were some broken spots, bruises and cuts... Not bullet holes and limbs blown off." "Well, speaking from slight experience, you tend to just black out from the worst of it," Avril replied. "Thanks for that happy picture." Connor mumbled, looking away. "Relax... you're an infantry. You don't stand out. Leaving the daring to us scouts, assaults, and destroyers," Avril responded. The corners of her mouth curved up. "Or is that concern for me I hear?" "I guess it is. You are a teammate after all." Connor answered simply. "Of course, of course," Avril said mockingly, nodding her head and creating slight ripples in the water where her hair met the surface and disrupted its tension. "Nothing more, I'm sure." "What are you getting at?" Connor asked outright as Tracey grabbed the 12 year old and forced him into the water. Avril glanced over at her son's struggles in amusement for a moment, then refocused on Connor. "I dunno... I just figured you'd be lonely after all this time..." "I don't date anymore." Connor hopped off the edge and into the water, going down to his shoulders, closing his eyes. "I guess I can understand why... but then again, it's hard raising a kid by yourself, you know?" Avril said neutrally. "I'll... I'll deal. When I was younger I never thought in a million years I would have a kid, but... You just... never move on from what happened with me." Connor spoke sadly, waving at his daughter when she tried to get his attention, giving her a weak smile. "Besides... If I die, I already have someone who could be a good parent to her." Avril sighed. "You sound like a defeatist there. You say "if I die", but you're thinking "when I die"." The Frenchwoman floated upright. "There's no reason not to have backup plans, but you should live as if you're going to make it through this. Otherwise you can't be happy... and she won't be if you aren't," Avril insisted, looking over at Tracey and expressing her signature grin. Tracey chuckled nervously at Avril's look, finally letting Fraser go from holding him under. Connor chuckled, shaking his head. "I'm not a defeatist, I'm a realist. And besides... how could I ever learn to love again? It was hard enough the first time..." "Why's that?" Avril asked curiously. "You're a pretty hunky guy... and I don't need you to tell me personally that you loved your wife. Just the way you've talked about her tells me all I need to know about what she was to you." Connor thought on how to respond, rubbing his arm. "When I first met my wife... I was a complete mess. I was high on drugs, asleep in an alley when the cops approached me to arrest me. She jumped in just from off the street and vouched for me, telling the officers we were just going back from a big party and I ran ahead. After that... she would come by the gym I was working at every week to check on me to keep me on track. After a while... We started dating, I had gotten into professional fighting, and I got her pregnant. Not exactly romantic, and I'm not a romantic myself." He explained, staying silent after he finished. "So you think she was too good for you?" Avril chuckled. "You wouldn't have the same problem with me. You already know my story about how much of a sleaze I was... and probably still am... though I'd try to not be at least... haven't flirted with anyone else in about 11 days now, I'd say," she said proudly. "Aren't you flirting with me right now?" Connor asked, the corner of his lip sort of curving upwards. "Anyone else excluding you is what I meant," Avril said irritably. "Dumbass." "I think you mean 'smartass', mother," Fraser said, still regaining some of his breath. "Speak as I say, not as I do... shit, that doesn't work does it?" Goddammit... Avril thought as she realized she only messed up further in her attempt to correct the flawed logic by swearing a consecutive time. Connor's eyebrow arched as he recalled something she said, "Wouldn't have that problem with you, huh? You sound like you almost want to be with me." "Dear GOD, you are dense if it took you that long to figure that out," Avril whined. "When a girl calls someone 'hunky' they usually mean something by it..." He shrugged his shoulders. "Not necessarily... like when a guy calls a woman beautiful. It could mean nothing." "What guys do you know that call women beautiful and don't have some temperature of hots for them?" Avril asked incredulously. "I call Tracey beautiful. I have called my friend beautiful when she has asked, and I feel nothing for her, and the other is my daughter." Connor answered honestly. "But that's just you, Mr. Honorable." Avril rolled her eyes. "And besides, Tracey's a girl, not a woman. There's a difference." "So... what? You want to go on a date or something with me, is that it?" Connor asked, wondering if this was the whole reason she invited the pair here. But then again why would she invite the others? "Maybe later..." Avril said, swimming up to the side of the pool and pulling herself up by her elbows, her impressive chest supported by the tile underneath. "This was your whole plan, wasn't it?" Connor asked, not angry. "It certainly crossed my mind... and seeing you in a swimsuit certainly isn't a bad thing," Avril added. "I'm sure that's mutual." He said nothing in response, letting her take that as she would. "Were you guys in on this? He asked the other women, clearly outnumbered except for the boy. Kriemhiel glanced over, having been speaking with Zoya and Karolina about something. "In on what?" "I knew!" Karolina admitted openly. "And she made me stay silent or she'd..." Zoya trailed off. He raised an eyebrow. "She'd what? Tell Mikhail how much you have a crush on him?" Connor shrugged. "I said I'm not a romantic, that doesn't mean I don't listen." Zoya gave him a murderous look. "I do not..." "You two totally do," Karolina deadpanned. "Don't even try to deny that." He nodded in agreement. "You two would make quite the couple." Zoya submerged her face in the water, and Karolina smiled sheepishly and just patted her on the back. Avril grinned. "They've gone on a first date... she just doesn't want anyone to know." She held her hand over her mouth in mock surprise. "Do keep that a secret... what a slip of the tongue."