Hi all! So I had a crazy week. My furnace went out... and my well... and I found out my deck is all rotted... but on a more interesting note, I discovered a cat living under my house. My kids named it "The Communist" and now I find myself feeding the little thing.

But I'm sure you don't care about all that! The real question is did I get time to write? I did!!!

So here is my next chapter on this Off-The-Rails Ice Era Chronicle.

Thanks for reading!

Be Well,

~M. From C.M. Moore

Chapter 10


Rain pelted the windows, and Brice watched the drops splatter.

About twenty minutes ago, Brice had utterly tuned out Gears' speech as he talked at the front of the lecture theater. As the doctor went over what the recruits would be learning in the Standard Life Saving Couse, Brice tipped his shoulders against the back wall. Ponce's platoon sat listening and taking notes, but for Brice, he'd heard this stuff a thousand times. After shifting from foot to foot, Brice's mind began to wander. Before long, he was back to thinking about Claymore Wicks.

This morning Brice had watched Clay wrestling without his shirt. Brice stood there for so long he was late for a meeting. It was at that moment that Brice knew he had to do something. But after Brice spoke to Keith, he didn't trust himself. Every time he thought about Wicks, he pictured kissing the man until Brice floated on clouds. He had to get the attraction under control and figure out what to say. When he got those things in alignment, then he could see his shepherd.

Tonight was the night. His dick would stay in his pants.

This evening Brice planned to explain that he wanted to hang out with Wicks but not date. Maybe if Brice could get his head out of his fourth point of contact, he could help Recruit Wicks train. Brice could teach him more complex maneuvers. They couldn't be a couple, but they could be friends.

"Are you ill?" Luna whispered and placed her hand over Brice's. She leaned next to him as she waited for Gears to finish his intro to the class. "You look sick."

"I'm fine." Brice pulled his fingers away and crossed his arms over his chest.

"My mistake." She tucked her hands into the pockets of her skirt. "Love and sickness sometimes look alike." Luna turned and headed to the exit. Brice wanted to correct her, but she was gone before he got the chance.

When Brice glanced back at the room, Zoey ended the day's training and gave the trainees permission to head to dinner chow. Waiting, Brice watched the recruits file out of the room with Zoey and Dallas-Dean corralling the crew.

When the room was empty, Brice clicked off the light and locked the door. He marched down the hall toward the elevators. Thinking about Luna's comment had him wondering if maybe he shouldn't see Wicks. A better idea was to get some sleep before he talked to Clay. He changed his mind. Tonight wasn't a good time.

Punching the elevator button, Brice then unsnapped the radio on his belt. With a flick of his wrist, he turned the volume back to medium. The chatter of the trainers met his ears.

"We are getting pissed on out here. The rain isn't letting up," New-Dean complained. "Nancy, how many laps did you say Abdul and Claymore had to run?"

"Ten." Nancy's reply crackled over the speakers.

"Ten? Then you should be out here," Dean barked. "You owe me."

"I caught Janis smoking in one of the labs," Nancy explained. "I'm handling that."

"Dean." Brice brought the radio to his lips. "Why are Claymore and Abdul doing laps in the rain?" Clay would freeze out there, and he knew one lap was a mile. Ten miles after the kind of training exercises they had was quite the punishment. What happened?

"Nancy found Wicks and Bahri in the bathroom with Claymore's pants down around his ankles." Ponce's voice cackled. "Abdul was getting some."

There was more laughter on the radio, and then Nancy's voice came across again.

"If they didn't want to do ten miles in the rain, then they shouldn't have been playing grab-ass in the locker rooms. It's training time, not sexy time."

Brice's vision narrowed as his stomach lurched. Was Abdul fucking Claymore? His Clay? Rage surged. How dare Abdul touch his shepherd. No one was allowed to do that but him.

"Have them do twenty laps," Brice seethed into the microphone. His hands shook so hard he could barely hold the button on the radio.

"Twenty?" Nancy asked, but Brice didn't respond. He didn't trust himself to speak without yelling.

Spinning on his heel, Brice headed to the stairs. He couldn't take the elevator with the kind of boiling fury gurgling in his gut. He was afraid he would punch someone or something. Right now, Abdul was the one he wanted to flatten. He would beat the shit out of Abdul and then pin Clay to the floor and remind him where his ass belonged.

Brice took the stairs at a neck-breaking speed. He pictured murdering Abdul all the time he ran to the bottom floor. When he reached ground level, Brice snapped on his radio once again.

"What track are Clay and Abdul on?" Smashing the button, Brice considered that he might've broken his radio.

"No hay problema, Brice." Essie's voice came over the speaker. "We are at track two. I took over for Dean. Now he owes me."

Brice ignored the comment about it not being a problem and stormed to the building's back outlet.

"No problem?" Brice spat at the exit. "It's a fucking problem."

Slamming the doors open, Brice stepped out into the rain. He headed straight for track two. As soon as he turned the corner of the headquarter building, the wind picked up and blasted him. Cold rain turned into the fluttering of new snow. The flakes beat at his body. Brice welcomed the ice sheet slapping his face. He was so angry his blood had reached a few degrees less than white phosphorus.

Brice jogged to the tracks. Up ahead, through the rain-snow mixture, he spotted the short gate and the red oval with the field in the middle. After he let himself into the running area, Brice spied Essie standing by the supply shed under a blue umbrella.

"Hola." Essie waved him over.

When Brice reached Essie's side, he caught the sight of Abdul and Clay. They shuffled on the inside of the track a few feet from each other. They were on the farthest side. Clearly, they had both been running for a while. Both men were fatigued. As they loped, Clay swiped at the white flakes clinging to his nose. The weather's moisture and their sweat had made their gray shirts and camo pants stick to their muscles. Their boots looked blacker, and their hair stuck to their forehead.

Essie offered Brice cover under his umbrella, but Brice shoved the shelter away.

"They ran this morning as well. The whole platoon had a five-mile run," Essie said when Brice crossed his arms over his chest. "And they had a long day of outdoor exercises after. They have done eight miles of Nancy's punishment with no coat." Essie shivered under his umbrella. "Amigo, ten more laps is not the proper penance for..."

Essie's words died on his lips when Brice's eyes speared him.

"What they should have is a hundred more laps and a beating," Brice snapped. "Are you questioning me?"

"No." Essie took a step back from Brice. "I see how it is."

Essie took a long skinny brown cigar from behind his ear. He lit the end as Abdul and Clay came around the bend in the track. When they got close to Brice, without thinking, Brice lunged for Abdul.

"You fucked him?" Brice growled as he gripped the recruit by his narrow shoulders. Abdul didn't fight. His eyes widened in surprise, but his shocked expression didn't faze Brice. Using his muscles mixed with his violent jealously, Brice threw Abdul to the grass field. The recruit landed in a muddy spot at the side of the track. Since Abdul was shorter than Brice and Brice outweighed him, he didn't have to put his back into the throw. The toss didn't make Brice feel any better. The uncontrollable frenzy under his skin still longed for blood. He was going to rip off Abdul's dick.

"Brice." Clay stepped in front of him. His shepherd placed a hand on Brice's chest. The pressure forced Brice to take a step backward. "Head Instructor Brice."

"What?" Brice's eyes finally flashed to Clay's. The muscle on his jaw clenched hard enough to cause a migraine.

"We weren't having sex." Clay's aqua eyes captured Brice's, and he shook with his need to kiss him. Planting his feet, Brice stared at Wicks. The man was so cold his lips had a blue hue. More rain-snow-wetness pelted them. "Instructor Brice, please." Clay shivered. "I swear he didn't fuck me. It wasn't like that."

Abdul got to his knees and mumbled under his breath. Brice's eyes swung from Clay to the man in the dirt. His rage returned and multiplied. Abdul shouldn't even look at Clay. Grabbing Clay's arm, Brice shoved Wicks behind his back. He took a step toward Abdul, who still knelt by the track.

"What did you say?" Brice hissed. He knew he had to get his anger leashed, but seeing Abdul wasn't helping curb his murderous side. Curling his hands into fists, Brice battled with the monster inside of him. The only thing that seemed to cool his wrath was Clay's clarification and the icy rain. Abdul had better not have touched Clay.

"I said," Abdul enunciated. "I think you love Claymore Wicks." Abdul wiped the mud off his hands as he stood. "We didn't have sex. He doesn't want to have sex with me." The words sliced through the sleet. Clay didn't want Abdul. Brice knew who Clay wanted.

Taking a settled breath, Brice ran a hand through his wet hair. For Pete-sakes, he was acting crazy. They could all see him losing his mind.

"Right. Of course." How would explain this? "Sex is inappropriate during, ah, important training." Brice swiped at the snow fluttering in his eyes. "Especially in the locker rooms." He sounded dopy. "You should stay focused."

"I will take Abdul to dinner chow." Essie stepped next to Brice and exhaled a cloud of smoke into the sleet. "If it is bueno with you, Abdul can finish his punishment by working KP duty." Essie jerked his head toward Clay. "If I remember right, Brice has a huge crate of weapons from the last raid on The Originals." Essie shared his umbrella with Abdul and wrapped an arm around the shorter man. "Recruit Wicks can finish his punishment by helping you clean rifles. That would work, Si? Head Instructor Brice?"

Brice nodded and swallowed hard. Clay looked so cold and weary. And here Brice was trying to punch a recruit in the rain. Essie probably thought he'd cracked.

Maybe he had.

"Good suggestion," Brice managed. He had no idea how Essie knew he was going through a container of weapons, but he didn't ask. He had to get away from everyone and take care of Clay before his head exploded. "I did get a crate of weapons to clean and check over." Brice nodded. "That seems like a more fitting idea considering the change in the weather."

"Thank you, Trainer Essie," Clay muttered as he wrapped his arms around his torso to hug some warmth into him.

"Recruit Wicks." Essie grinned. "Instructor Brice will make sure to set you up with proper sleeping arrangements when you're finished." Essie returned his expression to neutral as his eyes swung to him. "I will tell the other trainers that you took care of this situation."

"Yes. Do that." Brice felt the current between him and Clay spark at the simple words sleeping arrangement.

"Excelente." Essie blew out more smoke. "And I'm sure that Abdul will never make this mistake again. You will not be messing around with Claymore Wicks." Essie blew smoke at Abdul. "Do you comprehend?"

"Oh, I comprehend." Abdul crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm not going near Wicks."

"Then this is settled. Let's go inside." Essie tossed his cigar to the ground his crushed out the red tip. "I never did like the snow."