The heels of Teela's boots left a hollow echo in the Palace corridors. She had no particular destination in mind, having just finished writing up her observations from this morning's flood emergency. It was now in the hands of those better trained for such situations and Teela was now left with an unusually free evening. The main guard station reported business as usual, the tedious but necessary task of weapons inventory had already concluded, and all other signs pointed to a quiet, uneventful night. Not even Orko was around to liven things up. Teela's meandering stroll lead her to the vicinity of the hangers, where a rhythmic metallic clanging could be heard from behind the closed entrance. Once inside she saw that the main hanger gates were open, providing a spectacular view of the gleaming state buildings below and the Fertile Plains behind them. The noise had momentarily stopped and Teela looked around perplexed at the stationary Wind Raider fleet. The clanging finally made sense when to her great surprise she saw Adam's head pop up from inside a Wind Raider's engine.
"You know if word gets out that the Prince is handy with a set of tools you might find yourself in another line of work. In case the whole King thing doesn't work out."
"I think you're on to something," remarked Adam with an easy smile. "But you know, it doesn't say anywhere that I can't do both. Rule Eternia by day and make repairs under the cover of darkness. No one will ever be the wiser."
As Teela came closer he signaled with his chin to a piece of equipment just out of his reach.
"Hey can you hand me that gauge."
Spread out before her in her father's tool kit Teela correctly picked the proper gauge used to run scans on the Wind Raiders.
"Lt. Krislin was the last person to take out this Wind Raider. I was with Duncan when he brought it back complaining of some faulty sensors. Given as how your father's been preoccupied lately I figured I'd give him a hand here with repairs and take some things off his 'To Do List'
"Between the Porras delegation and his new project I really haven't seen much of him lately," Teela confessed.
"Well you know how your father gets when he starts tinkering with a new invention. Everyone and everything becomes a distant second. I bet when he gets done we'll all be wondering how we got by without it. Any idea what the big secret is?"
"Something to do with mining, I think. He's got samples of every kind of rock and soil found on Eternia in his lab. Ram Man's been helping out as well."
A companionable silence fell between the two as Adam continued to use the gauge Teela had handed him. It was obvious to Teela that whatever the problem was Adam had fixed it and was now just double checking his work. Still, the very fact that Adam was in here working rather than elsewhere was very odd. It quickly dawns on her why exactly that was.
"So where is her ladyship? During dinner I was under the impression that you were going to escort her to the observatory tonight."
"Since my father had generously offered me up as official escort so did I but apparently Velora has become quite the study on Eternian architecture. She's with her mother and Melathka going over old building plans."
"Oh really," she said in a voice that poorly veiled her incredulity. "Architecture, huh, I would have never guessed she had her eye on some old buildings given as how pushy she was earlier."
At this Adam had to laugh. "Velora is looking for a husband Teela. I just happen to be in the way...this week."
"No, Adam...really? Do tell," Teela deadpanned.
"I wouldn't write her off completely, though. She's got a good head on her shoulders."
"And you came to this conclusion when? After she batted her eyes at you or during the time the two of you 'caught up'."
Teela noted that Adam at least has the decency to blush at her comment but he recovered from his embarrassment quite quickly before he made an observation.
"You never used to have a problem with her before. What's changed?"
"I don't know. I guess she hit a nerve earlier today when she insinuated that the Guard had to fight dirty to keep up with Skeletor. Too many good men have died to have someone who's ill-informed tarnish their memory and what they stood for."
"She could have phrased things a little more tactfully," Adam said diplomatically as he looked up from his work.
"Is there a tactful way to tell someone that their way of life is 'corrupt' and 'evil' because if there is I'd sure like to hear it."
His work now forgotten Adam turned to Teela and gave her his full attention.
"She was a little overzealous in her approach but at the same time put yourself in her position. Right now she's probably seen more of Eternia than either one of us. Meaning that from a young age she's also seen the effects of war on Eternia. In her mind war causes nothing but death and destruction. Given the impact warfare has had on her personally, diplomatic discourse is far more favorable to her then combat. Besides, we all can't make our mark in the world with a sword in our hand. We work with what we were given."
And with that Adam turned his attention back to the unexciting job of buffing the Wind Raider. Teela played with one of Adam's discarded brown gloves, mulling over what her friend has just said. It was annoying when he made sense like that. Leave it to Adam to put a stop to her little tirade. He's no soldier but he'll make one hell of a diplomat. Velora will be pleased she thought begrudgingly. Teela knew she was acting like a petulant child but she couldn't help it. The five year old in her didn't want to let the matter go. Last time she checked the Captain of the Royal Guard shouldn't be acting like a child she thought mirthlessly.
"It still doesn't give her the right ...broad sweeping statements ...it's arrogant."
Adam simply smiled and nodded at her.
"Just try not to be guilty of the same thing you're accusing Velora of...Captain," finished off Adam to punctuate his point.
Not liking the sour note that their conversation had headed towards, Teela desperately wanted change gears but accidentally blurted out the first thing that popped into her head.
"Well just be careful because those stars in her eyes will have you married so fast you won't know what hit you...unless of course if that's what you want then..." Teela trailed off with a slight cough. She never said the first thing in her head was a sane thought. Today's just wasn't her day.
"Well you don't have to worry about losing your whipping boy. I'm not getting married anytime soon despite what everyone says."
It happened only for a second and if she hadn't been paying attention she's sure she would have missed it but in that moment an indescribable something crossed Adam's eyes.
"When I do decide to marry, the woman I'll have by my side will be more than someone who can only by physically pleasing in private and politically," said Adam obviously choosing his words carefully.
In recent years his attraction towards Teela had grown from a mere curiosity of his late teenage years to the realization that Teela could potentially be more than the childhood playmate and best friend she'd always been. Captain of the the Royal Guard and personal body guard notwithstanding.
"I have a feeling she'll more than likely be a little unorthodox and probably ruffle a few feathers with her opinions," he finished as he locked eyes with Teela and held her gaze.
To her credit she didn't back down at his blatant display of interest.
It was in instances like these that Teela sometimes did the unexpected and it left him taken aback for days. Her attraction to He-Man was no secret. It wasn't overt by any means but at times there was an undercurrent of sensuality when they conversed. She's confident in her abilities and that confidence gave off a heady concoction that left him transfixed. He-Man was viewed by Teela as an equal. He's someone who could watch her back and she his. As He-Man, Adam kept his interactions with Teela, the Guard, and the rest of the Defenders on a professional level but it wasn't lost to Adam that he, as himself, couldn't stand by Teela's side in combat. He saw his attraction to her as unrequited. He hoped that it would one day loose its potency when another woman captured his heart. So far that hadn't happened so instead he bid his social time trying to hurry the process along. Velora was lovely, interesting to talk to, and fun. He's certain his father would love for him to find a bride among the cultured ladies of Eternia and Velora certainly fit that mold. Then why did he set himself up for potential disappointment by trying to gauge Teela's interest in her childhood best friend? Because sometimes it provided interesting results, like right now. They were circumstances that provided him with enough fodder to try his luck.
He-Man may be gifted with unparalleled strength and weapons prowess but Adam needed to work at it. Recently, after Teela had returned from a session with some new Guard recruits, she'd stumbled upon one of his early morning staff practices with her father. However it wasn't her unannounced arrival that had Adam pleasantly surprised. It was the odd look in Teela's eyes as she watched him maneuver the staff against the seasoned soldier. But perhaps most telling, in the early morning sunshine, was when she raked her eyes in a blatant and uncharacteristic way over his sweaty and naked upper torso. Adam found himself unabashedly amused when a concerned Man-at-Arms approached his flustered daughter. Apparently Teela was quite embarrassed to have been caught staring by her own father. It was completely superficial and later on he did feel a little guilty but at the time his male pride enjoyed the scene.
"I never realized how completely uneventful the evenings can be. It's so quiet," said Teela, knocking Adam out of his little daydream.
At some point Teela had decided to give him a hand in shining up the Wind Raider because when Adam looked her way she stood there, rag in hand working on a smudge underneath the wing.
"So what you're telling me is that you're bored?"
Adam knew the answer to his question long before he asked it but he enjoyed watching Teela squirm as she tried to find a less condemning way to confirm his suspicions. She failed. Any manner of time off was a novel concept for Teela and Adam knew this.
"Well yeah, can you blame me. All the little details that normally keep me busy have been taken care of. The uploading of the guard rotations for next month, done. The orders to replace lost weapons, also done. Oh, and the background information on the new guests for the summit with Liatia..."
"But that's still a year away."
"So where are you finding the time to do all those things?"
"That's just it, I'm not. It's that new assistant, Olan. He's a little overeager."
"Olan? Lt. Avi's cousin? I'm sure he's just trying to make a good impression with you being Avi's superior officer. I'm sure he'll ease off, eventually."
"To be honest I'm sure there's something I can dig up that needs doing to keep me occupied. There's never really a shortage of tasks. They're just low priorities."
For all her abilities to remain cool under pressure over the years Adam had noticed that Teela, like everyone else, had her share of quirks. She liked to wipe down all the training weapons before she put them away. Messy weapons lead to messy soldiers she'd say. And when something was brewing in her head she had the habit of strumming her fingers at frantic speeds just like she'd been doing for several minutes now. She was up to something and Adam knew it.
"Well that's enough of this. I've got something to do."
"You're not going to hunt poor Olan down and make him see the error of his ways are you?"
"Adam you make it sound like I'm going to dunk his head into a water trough until he does what I say. We're merely going to have a little chat before his extreme efficiency drives me crazy with boredom. But after that's settled, and you'll appreciate this, I'm going to pick out a short book and relax," she stated with a self-satisfied smile.
Adam couldn't help but stare at her, dumbfounded, after such a bold statement from the notoriously workaholic Captain.
"I'm sorry but I thought I heard the word 'relax' in there somewhere."
"You mock me now but I'll have you know that I am fully capable of taking some time off. Granted it'll be at least another ten years before I do this again, but it can be done."
Teela left her rag on the wing and turned to leave. The hair gathered at the crown of Teela's head in a half pony tail swung around as she made an abrupt stop half way to the door and turned around to leave Adam with some parting remarks.
"Oh, and don't think the presence of our esteemed guests are going to excuse you from your early morning conditioning. 'Royal duties' are no longer a convenient excuse. Just so you know. Good night!"
A look of mock annoyance crossed Adam's face,"Hey Teela! Has anyone ever told you you're bossy?"
"All the time," she responded with a grin. "It's one of my better qualities."
And with that Teela exited the hanger for good, leaving Adam alone in the vast room. The rag Teela had been using to help him laid discarded on one of the wings next to his own. He picked one of them as he stifled a yawn. A quick final run through with the rag and this Wind Raider should be ready to join the rest of the fleet stored in this hanger.
"Adam," So faint and weak was the Sorceress' mental call that he almost couldn't hear it.
Prior experience dictated that when the Sorceress called Adam should never hesitate. There was no time to collect Cringer. Battle Cat would no doubt have to make a late appearance. Adam cleared the tools and rags he'd been using and jumped into the now repaired Wind Raider.
No one but the night guardsmen witnessed the Prince's hasty departure from the palace and into the horizon.