I'm not completely sure how this came about, but tormenting Chain (or Justin's characters in general) is one of my favorite hobbies. :)

Kay Eye Ess Ess

It was with more than a little relief that Chain made his weary way down the hallway toward an elevator that could take him to the floor that housed his quarters. While it hadn't been quite the worst day he'd ever had, his unwanted ward had been far more fractious than usual, going so far as to actually lose him for nearly a half-hour -- probably just to prove she could do it. He scowled, then forced himself to smooth away the expression. The day was over, and he was headed back to his room -- the one place no one ever bothered him. He paused in the hall, giving a long, comfortable stretch, then blinked as the sound of hurried footsteps echoed from around the corner.

In spite of their haste, they had a clipped, measured sound that marked them as belonging to someone who probably outranked him -- at least, he hadn't heard that kind of step from anybody at the base who wasn't pretty darn military. He straightened quickly, then blinked in surprise as Major Ellis Kirtland burst around the corner, looking even more frustrated and flustered than usual.

Chain lifted a hand, somewhere between a salute and a wave, when she looked up, expression going briefly blank as she recognized him.

"Oh, Chain --"

The look of sudden relief on her face threw him, but not enough to keep him from forming a quick smile. "Major Kirtland." His hand, still lost without proper orders, dropped back to his side. "Is something the matter?"

"Oh.. well.." She bit her lip, looking over her shoulder, then close the distance between them with a burst of speed Chain would not have previously given her credit for. "I -- I could really use a favor, Chain, if it isn't any trouble ..."

"Favor?" Her arm folded around his before he could prevent it, and he could only blink dumbly as she led him back the way he'd come. "I just got off duty, Major --"

"No, it will only take a moment, I promise -- just -- oh, I'm so sorry to ask this, but -- just play along, if you can."

"Um.. all right, I guess --" It was only then he became aware of another set of footsteps approaching with less urgency.

He almost missed his superior officer's grateful smile, blinking when he realized Ellis was turning him to face her, hands tucking into his and tugging him insistently toward her. He blinked at her upturned face, something -- self-preservation, perhaps -- causing a twinge of unease to wind its way through his systems.

It was when her earnest expression turned embarrassed he knew he'd lost his chance to run away. "Just -- kiss me, if you would." It was probably only through great force of will she managed to continue looking him in the eye.

"Wait -- what?"

The second word was barely out of his mouth, however, when he found his lips occupied with hers and his arms barely resisting the impulse to flail wildly in escape. In spite of this, it took him only a moment to remember his orders.

Play along.

His hands found a careful resting place against her upper arms, and, giving up his last hope for a sane ending to the day, he kissed her back. This probably wasn't going to end well.

The footsteps continued their leisurely approach, at least until whoever had been following Ellis caught sight of them, presumably, at which point they broke into a run that ended in a skidding halt. Chain made to break away from the increasingly awkward situation, but Ellis caught his shirt in an iron grip and kept him firmly in place for another couple of seconds.

He caught only a brief look at her face when she pulled away, as flushed as his, though he wasn't sure if it was with embarrassment or anger.

"Why are you still following me?" she snapped, and Chain looked at the back of her head, surprised at the venom in her tone. Then he followed her gaze to the recipient of that venom.

He was another officer, though not one Chain had ever seen, and his expression could only be described as tragic.

"B-but Ellis --"

"I told you, I -- we're -- quite happy. I must insist you leave me be."

Her hand locked suddenly around Chain's, and he felt his face heat even more. It took all his effort not to squirm.

"Him?" the other Reploid said, sounding almost incredulous. "Him?"

Chain felt a faint stab of aggravation, particularly when Ellis didn't even bother to defend her decision -- false or not.

"There's -- there's nothing I can do?" He stretched a hand out toward her, then drew it quickly back.

"Please, Roy, I've made my decision -- leave me alone!"

Chain watched the exchange with increasing awkwardness, even though there was little he could do but hope it ended soon. He felt a very faint surge of pity for Roy -- whoever he was. He wasn't particularly well-acquainted with the officers, and he didn't really want to be -- especially if this was the kind of thing they did in their spare time.

"I --"

He looked up when his "rival" began to speak again and was alarmed to see the Reploid's anguished gaze fixed on him. His mouth was half-opened to mumble out some kind of response when Roy continued speaking.

"I guess I'll leave her to you then," he said, teeth clearly gritted. "Take -- take care of her."

And then, before anyone could get another word out, he whirled and ran back up the hallway. Ellis kept her iron grip on Chain's arm until he was well around the corner, then she released him, a sigh of relief escaping her.

"Thank you so very much," she said, turning to face him with a slightly embarrassed smile. To her credit, she also looked mildly ashamed of herself.

Chain managed a very faint grunt. "No problem, I guess."

The look of shame intensified. "I'm.. I'm terribly sorry to have gotten you mixed up in this, but he was so very persistent --"

"No -- it's all right, Major Kirtland." Chain backed a step away, shaking his head. "But if it's okay with you, I'm gonna head back to my quarters, all right?"

"Oh!" She lifted a hand to her mouth. "Of course! Please. I'm sorry to have kept you."

Chain managed a brief smile and a very half-hearted salute. "Good night, Major."

That said, he hurried quickly past her, around the corner and to the elevator, his own relief quite palpable when there was no sign of Roy in the corridor. He slouched against the elevator wall, even more exhausted than he had been heading out of the prison area. There were worse things, he supposed, than getting kissed by a ranking officer, but that was hardly the circumstance in which he would have liked it to happen.

As the elevator doors swished open, he decided he wouldn't pursue that train of thought any farther than he needed to.

The hallway he shared with Ky, Remus and their remarkably motley crew was also mercifully empty, and he slipped down it as quietly as possible, slinking into his bedroom and flopping on his bed with only the slightest pause to remove his armor.

Chain heard the laughing before the lift to the base's lower regions had even reached the floor and decided that whatever its origins, it was probably a bad sign. For a moment, he considered going back to his quarters and spending the day in bed, but reason suggested disappearing would only make matters worse. He kept his expression neutral as he exited the lift, looking warily toward the source of the noise to discover several of his coworkers clustered around the security station -- apparently watching something.

It was Tony who looked up first, and on catching sight of Chain, a broad grin stretched across the black-haired human's face. "Chain, you dog."

"What?" Chain said, voice somehow staying more blank than acidic.

A series of catcalls and whistles erupted from the station as everyone else noticed him, drowning out whatever explanation Tony was planning to offer. And before Chain could make any kind of escape, one of his larger and burlier coworkers caught him around the shoulders and dragged him to the monitor, where he was treated to the sight of a grainy video of none other than himself and Ellis in the hallway, lips locked.

"So when did /that/ happen?" Tony demanded, once the noise had died down somewhat. "I didn't think you guys even met after your first day -- you're better at keeping secrets than I thought."

"'Sides, Kirtland's kind of an ice queen, ain't she?"

"Yeah, she any good at kissing?"

"She any good in bed?"

"What?! No!" Chain yelped, then backpedaled immediately. "I mean -- I wouldn't know!" The confusion of babble fell briefly silent, allowing him the opportunity to keep talking. "We aren't -- that wasn't -- look, she was just trying to get rid of that other guy! I was just the first person she saw."

Only silence met his explanation, but it was enough that he could squirm an arm around and hit the buzzer to admit himself to the prison area.

"Are you serious?" Tony called after him, but he didn't answer, walking down the hall as quickly as he could and ignoring the whistles that followed him.

It was mercifully quiet toward the end of the jail that housed his own personal prisoner, and he was just relaxing when he rounded the corner to her forcefield protected cell. He felt a twinge of annoyance that he was almost relieved to see her, though the relief was as short-lived as the annoyance when he saw her, curled up on her bed with her back coldly facing him.

He hesitated.

"Hey, Io, you ready to go?"

She shifted slightly on her cot and didn't answer.

"What? You not feeling well?"

A sniff -- almost a snort.

"What the hell did I do to get you mad at me?" he asked sharply, suddenly losing patience, but she maintained her silence, not even twitching in response. "Fine! You wanna sulk all day? I can do that, too."

That said, he stalked over to the nearest wall and slouched down until he was seated on the floor. With any luck, none of his coworkers would venture this far up the hallway.