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"You couldn't just pretend to be civil for five minutes?"

Gray had exiled Rebel and I to the kitchen. At the same time, he'd told his mercenary friends to stay in his makeshift living room, while sending Team Bravo and Gunner to do a perimeter check.

I would've rather been doing the perimeter check.

Instead of directly answering Gray, I poked a finger Rebel's way, arching a brow simultaneously. "How long have you been here?"

Rebel smirked in response, his attention cutting over to Gray. "Five minutes."

Gray let out a highly exasperated sigh and shook his head. "I can't believe I almost forgot how difficult you both are."

A catty smile lifted my lips. "Good thing we're both here to remind you, then, isn't it?"

He looked between us both slowly then, his eyes narrowing as he seemed to understand the double meaning to my words. This time, the only sign of his sigh was a slow rise and fall of his chest. "You're both bitter about the stasis."

"What in the world could've possibly given you that idea?" Rebel drawled sarcastically. He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against the counter I was seated on, his green eyes focused on Gray with laser precision.

Gray frowned at Rebel's remark. "I understand you're both displeased with my decision . . ."

"If you're going to say you did it for our sakes, you can stop now," I interrupted flatly. "We both know that'd be a pathetic lie at best."

"We were your best option when Team Charlie attacked," Rebel pointed out.

"They came for us at headquarters," Gray protested.

"Yeah, and killed half of the agency," I shot back.

"You think you could've prevented that?" Gray challenged, crossing his own arms over his chest now as he leveled his gaze with Rebel and I both.

"All I know is that if we had been there, the Kinetic would no longer be an issue," I said coolly.

Gray shook his head and scrubbed a hand over his face. "You," he began slowly, carefully, "were Boss' greatest accomplishment. And he knew you worked best when you were underestimated. The stasis was a precaution; to lose you would be to lose LASAR entirely." He held up a hand before either of us could protest the unlikeliness of that. "I did what I had to do. And now you have your chance at revenge. But not if you pick apart the little help I have managed to find."

His excuse was still that -- an excuse. Claiming he put us away to preserve us was no better than if he had tried to say he'd done it for us, but it did, at least, make more sense. It was more along the lines of how LASAR -- how Gray -- worked.

So we allowed him to change the subject back to the reason we were currently holed away in his kitchen. "Right, your merc friends," Rebel nodded in feigned seriousness. "Really impressive ragtag bunch you got there."

"Your dislike of them doesn't diminish their effectiveness," Gray said calmly.

"No, but it sure doesn't encourage my feelings about teamwork, either," I said as I slid off the counter and dropped to my feet. "Charlotte's a grade-A button pusher."

"Charlotte is a highly effective assassin," Gray replied calmly. "Her history as a Marine also adds to her skills."

"She needs to learn to keep her mouth shut," Rebel said in plain agreement with me. "Her age doesn't give her superiority here."

"She'll figure that out soon enough," Gray replied. "For now, I'd rather you both refrain from attacking anyone else on the team."

"Yes, well, we can't always all get what we want," I said with a fake smile. That was as far as my arguing went, though, and before Gray could further reprimand me, Rebel spoke up.

"Why is Desmond here?" he asked bluntly, making steady eye contact with Gray.

The elder man remained unfazed as usual. "Aside from the fact that he's gifted in the area of technology?"

"You know that's what I meant," Rebel said impatiently.

Gray merely shrugged. "Boss had a relationship with a woman at some point while LASAR was growing. They never married, but she became pregnant. They completely fell out of contact, but Boss would occasionally provide money in one way or another."

"Desmond is Boss' son?" I asked with raised brows.

"If he's Boss' estranged son, how did you get him here?" Rebel asked.

"Money serves as excellent motivation," Gray said simply.

Rebel arched a brow curiously. "Black mail or bribery?"

"Bribery," Gray answered. "Black mail would've been painstaking and pointless. Either way, he is here, and he is helpful."

"For now," I responded calmly.

Gray didn't answer that. "I need both of you to get along with all of them," he said instead, giving us each a pointed look. "No more assaults."

"How about death threats?" Rebel challenged as I smirked beside him.

Gray frowned severely at that, but after several seconds said. "So long as they remain threats only, I'll allow it. But not with every passing breath."

"Deal," I grinned at him, nudging Rebel's arm with my shoulder. "Lead the way back to your goonies."

Gray rolled his eyes and muttered something akin to curses under his breath, but turned away from us and headed back that way, clearly anticipating we'd follow.

As we did so, Team Bravo and Gunner came around the corner. When they saw us trailing Gray, they all three grinned, and quickly fell into step with us. "How'd your chat go?" Sergeant asked jovially.

"Peachy," Rebel smirked.

"Oh, I'm sure it was," Legion said with a mocking nod. "Best one you've had since coming out of your stasis, right?"

"No, no," I disagreed quickly. "My best one was the one with Charlotte the Killjoy."

Gunner laughed loudly at that, the sound echoing through the halls. "It was one of the most enjoyable I've witnessed so far," he agreed while still laughing.

Gray was shaking his head, and I only barely heard him mutter, "I forgot how completely sardonic all of you are."

Those were the last words exchanged amongst us before we were back in the living room with the mercenaries.

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