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When The Moon Hits Your Eye

Posted on 16 Jul 2022 @ 11:44pm by Lieutenant Isabel Castillo & Liam Knight

Episode: Our Path
Location: Bremerton, WA
Timeline: February 14, 2025

"Come on man, You've seen me before here," Liam said to the Marine guard who had asked for his driver's license. The young marine stared back at him frankly, hand outstretched to take Liam's ID. With a sigh, Liam pulled his wallet and handed over the driver's license and waited as the guard walked back towards the guard house. Liam drummed his fingers on the steering wheel of his truck as he checked his watch again. He was dressed in black slacks, a black dress shirt open at the neck, and his sports coat was draped over his back seat. Tonight was a special night, it was Valentine's day. And while Liam normally did not dress up for the occasion, he had made a promise to Isabel that he would take her out for a nice romantic evening. He was not going to complain however, especially since he had been feeling something within him stirring when it came to Isabel. Something about the way she looked at him made him feel lighter than air. He smiled to himself as he thought of her then.

Isabel was, as her father would have described her, dressed to the nines. She'd never really known what that meant, but she had gone all out for the evening opting for makeup and a little black dress that hugged her curves, leaving little of her form to the imagination. The sweetheart neckline accentuated her chest and a pair of strappy red heels finished the effect accentuating the brilliant red of her lipstick. She didn't bother with a red lip often, but when she did it was to make a statement and tonight the statement was for anyone who cared to notice her on Liam's arm. She was his to show off and she wanted to make sure that anyone who even darted a look in her direction would not only know who she was with, but would envy him.

Tan hands smoothed down her thighs, a bit of a nervous tic. Dresses like this always brought out her confidence, but still, this was the fanciest she had ever been in front of Liam and over the last month she found herself more and more drawn to him, eager for him to notice her, to appreciate her, to want her. If she was honest, she'd developed an affection for him that threatened the casual part of casual dating.

"Your clear to proceed sir. Please keep your visitor's pass on you at all times," the marine said returning Liam's ID and the familiar pass. Liam nodded he understood and pulled through the gate as he drove the familiar route towards Isabel's place. He could feel his nerves starting to make themselves known the closer he got. Liam was skilled in the area of romantic evenings, but he hoped that Isabel would enjoy herself. He had made reservations at one of the well known Italian restaurants in town. He figured the best meal for Valentine's day was Italian. He checked his watch and noted the time. It would be close to make their reservations, but he was punctual as usual. When he pulled up in front of her building, he left the truck running and stepped out, grabbing his jacket and putting it on as he did so. He crossed the sidewalk and walked up the steps before he found himself outside her door. He reached up and knocked before stepping back and waiting, thrusting his hands in his pockets to keep from fidgeting.

The door to Isa's small dorm-like room in unaccompanied housing drew back a second after his knock and, for a moment, she just stood there and stared. Her eyes lit and, making no attempt to hide it, they roved from his face to his feet and back again. "Damn," she said quietly, the appreciation in her tone mirroring the look on her face. "¡Qué apuesto eres, Liam!" She seemed to catch herself then and ducked back inside, snagging a small clutch purse.

"Hi," she said, reaching behind herself to pull the door shut. She leaned in, kissing him quickly. "Ready?"

"Of course," he said blushing slightly at her comment and being warmed by her kiss. He took a moment to admire her in her dress. She looked incredibly beautiful, and he stuck his arm out for her to loop hers into. "You look stunning," he said in genuine admiration as they walked towards his truck. He couldn't wait to show her off when they got to the restaurant. "Not that you don't look stunning no matter what you wear," he said hoping the cheesy compliment conveyed how he felt. He felt almost giddy, like the time he took Bernadette Long to his junior prom, though Bernadette did not hold a candle to Isabel.

She shot him a grin that was both warm and teasing. "No matter what?" she asked slyly. "You should see me in my work coveralls. Then you can decide if that's still true." The coveralls in question were a singular article of clothing--literally a sort of jumpsuit in navy blue that were effective for the submarine, but quite possibly one of the most unflattering things she'd ever worn. Of course, they weren't meant to be anything more than useful and it wasn't as if you wanted anyone to look at your figure that way when you were underway.

Isa pulled closer to him when they stepped outside. It was still cold by her standards and the little black dress she wore offered no real protection from the cold. She had her jacket on, but that didn't change that her legs were getting the full treatment of the Washingtonian winter weather. "So where are we going?" she asked, a twist of excitement curling in her belly as she thought about being anywhere in public when he was dressed like that. The idle thought that he'd be awfully fun to unwrap ran through her head only to be quickly shut down by the reminder to herself that this was, indeed, supposed to be a casual romance.

"La Fermata," Liam answered as he wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her closer. He could feel the curve of her hips beneath her dress. She truly looked stunning, and he felt as if he was walking on air. He also felt something else, feelings he had been getting towards her for a while. He struggled to push those feelings aside. They had agreed this was just a casual thing, but he was finding it increasingly difficult to keep things casual. But, he would not do anything to risk losing her, so he just pulled her close and kept the grin on his face as they walked. He would take tonight to show her off, and he wouldn't apologize for it.

"I'm not sure I have heard of that one," she commented with a smile. His arm around her waist felt natural. It always did. And she melted into him a bit, appreciating the feel. Casual she repeated in her head before reminding herself that this had been her idea after all. Maybe some part of her was willing to acknowledge that casual was quickly becoming a poor descriptor. She was quiet as they let the building, wrestling with that thought.

Reaching his truck, he opened the door and felt the heat hit them. He had learned to leave his truck running when picking her up on base now. He helped her in before checking her dress wouldn't get caught on the door before closing it and making his way over to the driver side. He slid in and looked over at her with a grin, "I figured I can leave my truck running on a Navy base and not have to worry about it getting stolen."

An honest to god snort escaped her at that. "You're not wrong," she quipped, though her eyes sparkled with amusement. The heat of the cab was welcome and she rubbed her hands against here knees, her dress pulling slightly up and revealing them as she sat. It was fitted. Form fitting was probably a better term. She'd chosen the dress when she bought it a year ago because of how much it revealed while still managing to appear classy. The black fabric smoothed along every curve and stopped just below her knees, the skirt curving along her hips to her thighs after the fashion of a pencil skirt. She loved it.

As he put the truck in gear, he snuck a look at her with a grin before pulling out of the parking lot. He reached over and took her hand in his as they drove. It was what they did now the more they were riding together. He felt her fingers start caressing the palm of his hand as they drove. "You'll like this place. I've never been there myself, but the yelp reviews said it was one of the best places in Bremerton for a romantic evening," he said as they pulled up to the base exit. He rolled his window down and handed the visitor pass to the young marine who took it and waved them through after saluting Isabel. Even though she was not in uniform, Isabel had explained to him that the marines still rendered a salute out of respect for her rank. He watched in admiration as Isabel returned the marine's salute and he drove on.

"What?" she asked, catching him staring. She'd returned the salute almost entirely out of muscle memory. Even distracted by Liam her training kicked in when it needed to. But, though it was a matter of protocol, it was a common thing in her world. Formality.

He smiled, looking back out the windshield as he drove out through the gate and onto the road. "Oh, I just like watching you salute these guys," he said giving her a look of admiration. He knew she thought it was no big deal, but the thought of seeing her perform that act always filled him with a sense of pride in her. He knew it was a difficult feeling to explain, but he never apologized for feeling that way.

The conversation on the way to the restaurant remained light. They talked about their days, about work. Isabel was working down a list of supplies the submarine would need, making sure any orders that would take any length of time were placed. She'd learned that an opportunity for leave was a possibility before they received their orders and had put in a request for late March into early April to visit her family. She knew it would help her parents seeing her again and, truth be told, spending time with Liam somehow made her miss them more. She knew if they were dating each other in San Antonio that there would be no end to the speculation amongst her family members. Commentary about his appearance, his manners, his Spanish. All done in the loving overbearing manner of a Hispanic family that was deeply embedded in each other's business. Hector liked to say he couldn't shit without someone commenting on what he must have eaten the night before.

Thoughts of her family--of her family meeting Liam--were usually kept for late at night. When she took them out and gave herself a minute to think of the maybes. The what ifs. All of those things that could be. They were like something she collected. She let them out then and then packed them back up and tucked them away. Something she loved to look at though she didn't want to risk losing what they did have by asking him to go through what all of the others left behind on a deployment went through.

That was the thought echoing in her head as they parked and she turned her eyes toward him, studying him and, for a rare moment, letting herself consider the what ifs while he sat there in front of her.

As he put the truck into park, he felt her eyes on him then. He turned to face her staring at him. "What," he asked, a smile coming to his face as he saw her eyes looking him over as if appraising him. He could tell there was something behind those eyes, something she was thinking about. He was struck again by the sense of normalcy that he had been getting lately when they spent time together. As if it was perfectly natural for them to be together and doing what they were doing that evening. This feeling made him feel warm and inviting. He had felt this way before, but it had been awhile since then.

She was quiet for a moment, making herself pack the what ifs away in their box and tuck it up on a high shelf in her mind. For a moment she had been tempted to tell him, but with that came the image of Liam waiting for her, growing dissatisfied, deciding it wasn't worth it. This. Right here. This was perfect as it was. She didn't want to mess that up.

"Nothing," she said shaking her head slowly and offering him a small warm smile. "You just look really handsome tonight."

"Come on, we don't want to miss our reservation time," he said indicating the popularity of the restaurant that evening. After helping her out of the truck, they walked close together up to the entrance, her arm wrapped in his. He held the door open, and they entered the warm restaurant, the sounds of people talking and laughing with a slight Italian music playing in the back ground. After checking in with the hostess, they were escorted to their table. On the journey, Liam made sure that he emphasized Isabel's presence, and he could see her getting a few looks from the other patrons. He felt her eyes on him though, making her intentions known. She was his to show off, and he would take every chance he could to do that.

La Fermata was intimate. Not terribly big and on this night the lights were low and candles were lit. Not so low that you couldn't see. But enough that a couple could feel like they had a small bubble of romance to themselves. Still, Isabel didn't miss the eyes that turned toward them. She realized that the two of them dressed in all black made a sharp image. Liam got as many looks as she did and she felt the urge to puff up a bit at that, proud to be seen with him.

They arrived at their table and Liam pulled her chair out for her. Rather than sit down right away she came around beside him, snaking one arm around his shoulder, hand up into his hair, to kiss him firmly and fully. It wasn't a long kiss, but it was passionate and when she pulled away she grinned and fixed him with a coy look before taking her seat.

Taken aback by her kiss, Liam gave her a wide grin as she sat before he took his own seat across from her. "I take it that was you staking your claim on me," he offered with a grin before their waiter approached to take their drink order. Liam pulled the wine menu from its place on the center and ordered a bottle of red after consulting it. He then looked back over at her and took her in fully. With her jacket off, he could appreciate her in her dress more. It made his breath catch in his throat, she truly was stunning. His mind went back to the thoughts he had been having of her more, how he wanted this to be a regular occurrence with her.

"Consider my claim staked," she said and when she said it there was something more to the statement than a bit of flirting. That flustered her and she looked down at her menu, worried that he would catch the extra depth of that statement. For a moment she forced herself to think through some of the stories she'd heard. The sadness and the loss and the grief of her fellow crew members as they recounted missing spouses, the births of children, milestones, anniversaries... the list went on. It wasn't that it was talked about a lot so much as an unspoken acknowledged thing in their line of work. If you belonged to the Navy so did the rest of your life and those you loved might suffer for it. The thought of Liam being on the other end of that suffering sobered her and saddened her all at the same time. It seemed unfair to even contemplate the thought.

She'd been so lost in thought that she'd barely noticed the return of the waiter with the bottle of wine until Liam, having done the appropriate tasting of the bottle, indicated that he should pour her glass first. She looked up, blinking and gave him the warmest smile she could think to muster. "So when was the last time you were out on Valentine's Day with a Valentine?"

Pouring his own glass, he looked back up and saw her smiling at him. He returned it before thinking about her question. The last time had been with his ex, though it wasn't the best memory he had. Not too long after that dinner, he had caught her cheating on him with his best friend. He had not discussed that with Isa since it was an especially dark time in his past. Liam had taken it particularly hard, especially since his ex and he had been engaged to be married at the time. He laughed slightly before answering, "Oh it was a long time ago." he took a sip from his wine glass, admiring the taste before looking back at the menu. "What about you," he said keeping his eyes on the menu hoping he could deflect her original question.

It wasn't that he wanted to keep secrets from Isa, far from it actually. But he kept this part of his past close to his chest. He had gone through an extremely rough time dealing with the fallout from his experience, and each time he talked about it it was harder to let go. He was also worried that sharing a detail so intimate with Isa could jeopardize their current status. He cared for her, and he knew his feelings were going far beyond the casual boundaries they had set. But, he would rather keep the status quo than risk sharing too much and jeopardizing his current status with Isa.

There had been something in his tone that made her ears perk in concern and for a moment she debated whether to press him further or let him off the hook. She couldn't imagine, though, that whatever it was that it could change her opinion of him in anyway. Her own last Valentine's date had been back in high school her senior year.

"You don't have to tell me," she prefaced, "if you don't want to I mean. But I assume you've seen other people. At least you sure kiss like I'm not your first..." Her cheeks darkened slightly as she said it, but her eyes flashed a touch of mischief. She was serious. He was a good kisser and some part of her had been lingering on the thought of what that could be like if she'd just take away the barriers. "I'll trade, of course." She lifted her glass to her lips tasting the weight of the red wine on her tongue and, grinning encouragingly as she swallowed.

Liam smiled and felt himself blush slightly at her comments. He looked up and felt reassured by her eyes. The look she gave him was one of trust, and he felt his heart flutter slightly. "Well, it is a long story, but five years ago my ex was the last woman I had a nice Valentine's Day evening with. Since then, I...haven't really partaken in the holiday," he said before looking down at the menu again. It wasn't that he didn't want to tell her the whole story, about how his ex had really been his fiancé. He also didn't say that his fiancé had been cheating on him with his best friend at the time as well. He just wasn't sure he was ready to retell that story. It made him feel vulnerable, and he wasn't sure how she would react.

"Now, your turn," he said looking back up at her and giving her a slight grin.

She watched him as he spoke, noting that he seemed hesitant, almost shy about the question. She'd noticed there was a humility to him, something she particularly liked, but this felt like something more. Still, when he redirected the conversation she didn't press further. "High school," she said with a self-deprecating laugh and a shake of her head. "I dated a very nice boy named Joel," she pronounced it Jo-El, "from the end of my junior year and all through my senior year. My parents adored him. And he adored them. And mostly adored me, but in the end he did not adore the Navy and was very adamantly vocal against my choices. I think my parents thought he might convince me not to join. Instead I graduated, told him thanks but no thanks, and left."

Isa shrugged at the memory. It had been 10 years since that date and she didn't regret leaving him behind. "It was a nice Valentine's Day dinner though. I mean... by high school standards anyway."

"If I remember my high school days, just remembering to take a girl out for Valentines day set you ahead of the curve," Lim said as he laughed with her. Liam had never been a romantic back then, preferring to work on his old beat truck his grandpa had given him when he turned sixteen. "Joel's loss is my gain then," he said giving her a big grin.

As the waiter reappeared, Liam glanced back at the menu before ordering, "I'll have the chicken marsala." He then looked to Isa as she bit her lip pondering her own order. He wished he could take her picture then, the way she did that when she was thinking. He wanted to tell her more of his story, to tell her about his true feelings for her. It was Valentine's Day after all, and what better time to confess that he was falling for her more than just as a casual romance. He wanted more nights like this, but he knew at some point she would be going to sea. He also wasn't sure of her own feelings towards him, and he just wasn't ready to make that leap yet. When she looked back up at him after ordering, he smiled at her catching him admiring her.

"What?" she asked softly, catching the look on his face. There was something in her gaze that almost made her squirm, like there was more going on than he was saying. She pushed the thought back, though, worried she was making more out of things than she should.

"Oh nothing, just thinking how beautiful you look tonight," Liam said with a smile before taking another sip from his own wine glass. What he didn't say was how much he cared for her, how he wanted to be more than just someone she was seeing. But, he decided to hold that thought to himself as she smiled back at him.




By the end of dinner they were both full of good food and good wine. Generally speaking Isabel prided herself on her ability to hold her alcohol, but she'd left her guard down and was enjoying the pleasantly warm buzz of an after dinner digestif on top of the wine they'd had with dinner.

As they approached the passenger's side of his truck she whirled on him, impulsiveness coursing through her. With a quick tug of the hand he had settled around her waist she directed him until she had backed him up against the door and then, without waiting for him to say something, she found his mouth with hers and kissed him until the activity drew a wolf whistle from someone else walking to their car. She pulled back, grinning, eyes scanning for the culprit who was, as it turns out, being drug to his vehicle by a clearly embarrassed woman.

"Sorry, not sorry," she said as she turned back to look at him.

Liam had been taken off guard by her sudden move on him, and as he was pressed against the side of his truck he looked down at her with a smile. "I wasn't complaining," he said after watching the other couple quickly enter their own car and start pulling out of the parking lot. He turned his attention back to Isa and gave her an upraised eyebrow, "Think we got him in trouble?"

"I think he got himself in trouble," she said making a face before laughing. "He's got a couple hours left to get out of the dog house though."

Liam laughed before leaning back down and pulling her mouth back towards his. He kissed her softly as he wrapped his arms around her waist, feeling the curve of her hips under her jacket. Time seemed to slow in that moment as they stood there, no doubt being seen by more restaurant patrons out the windows, but Liam could care less. He was focused on her, and the longer they lingered, the more time seemed to stand still. As they separated slightly, he smiled and indicated to his truck, "Why don't we take this somewhere more private?" He gave her a wink before stepping aside and helping her up inside the truck.




The drive back felt long and electric as if there was some unspoken thing building that neither of them put into words. When they pulled onto the base Isa directed him to park rather than pull up to the front. He gave her a bemused look, but did as she asked. After they had both sat for a moment, quiet tension still mounting she turned to him, worry and want twinned on her features.

"Do you want to come up?" She asked quietly.

The weight of the question sat there between them as the seconds went by. He knew what she was asking of him, the hidden meaning behind it. While Liam and Isa had their fair share of steamy moments together, many in his truck, they had never gone past a certain point. He looked over at her and saw the worried look she gave him. He could tell she was weighing the options herself, but her worried look is what he took note of the most. He gave her a slight smile before nodding. "Sure, besides I just realized you've never shown me what fine living arrangements you have," he said trying to inject some humor into the moment but all the while hearing his heartbeat in his ears. He stepped out of his truck and crossed around to the passenger side and opened her door for her to step out.

Her heart was pounding as she stepped from the truck and she almost felt jittery. She offered him her hand, saying nothing, as she led him from the parking lot into the building and up the few floors to her room. The small white board on her door read Lt. Castillo, identifying it as her room. She dropped his hand only long enough to fish out her key and open the door and then threaded her fingers back through his before giving him a nervous look. "Ready?" she asked.

He squeezed her hand and nodded before smiling at her. "Of course I am. Please tell me you left the heater on," he said letting his little spot of humor melt some of the tension away. He felt her squeeze his hand in return before she led him through the threshold and into her home.

The door swung wide and she led him inside. Her room was a simple space, neat and organized. A laptop sat closed on the desk with a small stack of books next to it. The bed was the main piece of furniture, neatly made with perfect 45 degree corners to the blankets and sheets where they were tucked. A brightly colored quilt stood out in the blandness of the space. Next to the bed was a lamp, and a glass half full of water, one of the only things that made the room look particularly lived in. Uniforms hung neatly on one side of the closet while Isabel's off duty attire, much more colorful hung on the other side. A surprising number of shoes were set in perfect pairs at the bottom of the closet and could be seen through an open door. In all it looked like a dorm room--the personality of the occupant only being displayed in those personal touches that she brought with her. Once they were inside Isabel dropped his hand again, shrugging out of her jacket and slinging it over the desk chair after setting her clutch on the desk next to her laptop. "So..." she said, heart still pounding as she watched him, trying to read his reaction, "this is me."

He took in the space surprised at how small it was once you were inside with the door shut. He could see her watching him, so he decided to have a little fun with her. He removed his coat and placed it over hers before her rolled up the cuffs of his sleeves. He placed his hands in front of him mimicking a window as he scanned it around the room. "Hmmm, I must say I'm loving the beige on white paint scheme here. Very art deco," he said before looking at her and giving her a wink as he grinned. He crossed over to her and wrapped her up in his arms before kissing the top of her head. "Just be thankful you don't have to pay rent for this," he said softly.

She was too nervous to laugh at him, but a smile tugged at the corner of her lips. When he wrapped her up, though, she felt like she might melt. He was here. In her room. Liam. Was. In. Her. Room. Suddenly the space felt much closer than normal. More intimate. Like she was back in college inviting a boy back to her dorm for the first time and still feeling like her parents were about to poke their heads in and insist on a foot of space between the two of them. "It's a place to sleep," she murmured back, winding her arms around her back and tucking her head in the crook of his neck. She breathed him in, letting the feel of him and smell of him take over her senses and, not thinking, she shifted so that she could press her lips to the skin just inside his shift's collar. She lingered there a moment before pulling back. "I..." she wanted to tell him that she didn't bring people to her room. Not since she'd graduated college. Normally she went to them... when it was men who she was just going to enjoy a bit of fun with. She'd rather they not be in her space for those things. She didn't want them to get comfortable or assume more was happening than what it actually was. Liam was different though and she wanted to share this with him.

Liam had closed his eyes when she had kissed him, but he sensed there was something troubling her he pulled back slightly and looked down at her. "Hey, what's wrong," he asked softly a look of concern on his face.

"Nothing," she said with quiet urgency, ducking her head slightly worried that if he looked at her he'd see the truth in her eyes. "Nothing is wrong and that... that kind of scares me."

He reached out and gently turned her head to look up at him. "Isa, I don't want to ever make you feel uncomfortable in any way. I'm happy you've shown me where you live. Just being here with you is enough for me," he said softly. He could feel his heart pounding in his chest as the silence seemed to almost overwhelm them. It had been a long time since Liam had been intimate with someone he cared about as much as her, and there was a tiny part of him that was still not sure if he was ready to step over that line with Isa. He knew once they did, it would change things between them.

"It's not enough for me," she finally breathed, breaking the silence that had fallen thick and dense between them. "It's..." She wanted to tell him. She wanted to warn him. That getting attached to her would hurt. That she was already aware of how much she was going to hurt when she went to sea. That they shouldn't no matter how much she wanted more. That it wasn't fair to him. But she couldn't make the words come and so she tilted her head up and closed the distance between them.

He watched her eyes as she approached him. Soon they were standing close together, mere inches from each other. As their gaze stayed locked, Liam reached out and put his hands around her waist. He pulled her closer and pressed his forehead to hers. He could feel her arms wrapping around his neck, her fingers tracing the line of his hair. They stood there holding each other as his eyes were closed. He wanted to tell her that he didn't want to let her go, that she meant the world to him. But there was still a part of him that made him hold back. Instead, he leaned down and kissed her softly. She didn't resist, and he felt her relax slightly in his arms as he did so.

It was a slow kiss at first--gentle and searching as if they were trying to find their way without words. Eyes closed, it was easy for Isabel to let everything else around her drop away -- to allow herself, for just the moment, to simply be without thinking about her job or leaving or what was fair or unfair. Her grip on him tightened though, as the kiss went on deepening to something less soft, more urgent, more expressive. As the intensity of it grew other thoughts took over, wiping away her worry in a flood of wanting. not breaking their kiss she drew her arms back, fingers fumbling for the buttons on his shirt.

Liam felt her fingers undoing the buttons on his shirt as he held her. He let her continue before she reached his waist. He used his own hands to find the zipper of her dress. It was small and started high around her neck. Instinctively he started to unzip it, the sound soft and metallic as he did so. When he was finished, he pulled back and kept his eyes on her as he pulled his shirt off. He was wearing a white tank top underneath which he also removed. His heart pounded in his chest as he watched her pull the dress over her shoulders and let it fall to the floor. The sound of the fabric brushing against her was amplified by the silence around them. They stood there for a moment, looking at each other, before he stepped back and reaching out pulled her towards him as he kissed her hard.

Her heart was pounding in her chest and she was suddenly unsteady. This wasn't new and yet... at the same time... it was. There had been a point where she planned to stop them, but that point had been met and crossed and at this point Isabel was prepared to throw caution to the wind. Fair be damned. What's right be damned. Surely they could just have this one beautiful thing? Even if that was all they'd get. His lips were rough and insistent on hers and after a moment her hands shifted down his sides, reaching between them until she found the button of his pants and began, urgently, to unfasten it.

 

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