Author: Celsius009 PM
Realization hits both Kaname and Sousuke while he is deployed on what becomes his final mission.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance/Hurt/Comfort - Sousuke S. & Kaname C. - Words: 7,335 - Reviews: 10 - Favs: 20 - Follows: 3 - Published: 05-28-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8160118
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
In memory of all those in the service who gave their lives fighting for what they believed in, please take a moment to remember the ancestors that gave us today.
Happy Memorial Day!
Kyoko looked over seeing Kaname check her watch for the third time since she'd sat down in class five minutes ago. Their teacher was due to arrive any minute and the seat behind Kaname was still empty. While one could easily interpret the girl's slight frown and annoyed look in her eyes as impatience for waiting for the school day to start Kyoko had spent enough time with her best friend to know when she was thinking about something else entirely.
"Did you do the reading for today's history class?" Kyoko asked, breaking the silence as other students made idle chatter around them.
"Hm..." Kaname nodded, staring off into space. It was difficult to tell if she was responding or simply acknowledging someone had spoken.
"So..." she decided to just bring up the topic that was undoubtedly bothering Kaname. "Any idea where he is today?"
"Who?" Kaname asked too quickly to be convincing, starting out of her reverie.
Kyoko played the naïve girl frequently but instead opted to roll her eyes as her friend. A slight tint emerged across Kaname's features before she turned away. "Oh, Sousuke? How should I know? Am I supposed to be his keeper?" she chuckled voice full of false cheer.
Kyoko stared at her. "Aren't you?"
Kaname's chuckle turned real. "Sometimes it feels that way." She made an exaggerated yawn, "I dunno maybe he's home sick or something. He's always missing class."
"Well at least now when he gets better he can come over and you guys can study together." Kyoko commented, turning back to her desk with a straight face though inwardly she was grinning.
Kaname's voice rose audibly. "Yeah right if that slacker wants to study he can come to class like everybody else!"
Kyoko looked back to her friend who cleared her throat and was busying herself with her schoolbag after receiving odd glances from various corners of the room. "No need to get so angry Kaname." she said, then after lowering her voice thoughtfully asking "Did he not let you know he was going again?"
"No, he could be lying in a gutter for all he tells me. 'I just have my legs blown off and am currently dragging myself through the streets trying to reach a first aid kit and some duct tape. It's not a problem.'" she seethed, straightening her face and deepening her voice to imitate Sousuke's casual emotionless tone. "Well whatever, he wants to ditch class to travel to faraway places, plant explosives and dodge bullets he can do it without bothering me. Who knows," she continued almost breaking her pencil with her death-grip, "maybe one of these days he'll take a bullet and save me the trouble of cleaning up after him."
She felt horrible even before she said it. She knew she didn't mean that but Kyoko silently turned away, getting her class supplies out of her bag as the teacher entered. Kyoko probably knew she didn't actually want him to get shot... Right?
'Dammit Sousuke...You're not even here and you're causing me to lose it.' She thought as if this were his secret agenda all along. 'You are such a pain to deal with!'
She rubbed her face with both hands clearing her head. 'Ugh, you're acting like some love-sick high schooler.' she thought to herself, temporarily forgetting that's exactly what she was. 'Get a grip.' Kaname was a big girl, she didn't need a guy in her life and she certainly didn't need that guy making things more complicated than a kid in high school's life absolutely had to be.
As she realized she was still thinking about him she grit her teeth. 'You're so...' "Impossible!" she muttered aloud, quickly looking around to see if anyone heard her. Even in thought he only served to make her more agitated and angry than her personality normally left her.
Even when he was half a world away.
Noticing she hadn't been listening to a word their teacher said she snapped back to attention, driving all previous thoughts from her head and focusing entirely on the lecture.
"Negative, I repeat, zone is hot!" the tall blonde man panted as he ran, finger to his earpiece as he spoke through controlled exhaled breaths. The long rifle weighed heavy in his other arm. He stopped at the corner of the rooftop, bringing the rifle up to rest against his neck unprofessionally as he peered down the barren street running parallel to him and two stories down. The buildings cast long shadows as the moon set behind him and most of the dirt road was cast in darkness.
"Acknowledged. Proceed to rally point Delta. Rendezvous in thirteen minutes for ext–"
"Delta?" he restrained himself from shouting as he saw movement at the end of the road, four hundred meters ahead. Even being a trained sniper, the profession whose religion was patience, he found it difficult to keep his voice free of frustration. He dropped to a loud whisper as he silently sank like a shadow to mesh with the rooftop. "Have you been liste– Delta's no-go! That's the opposite side of town!"
A pause from the other end. His blue eyes focused through the scope of the rifle, counting the targets moving cautiously in the shadow of the row of buildings he lay above.
"...Rendezvous with Urzu seven and proceed to rally point Omega."
The eye looking through the scope widened as the orders ended. He didn't bother asking for a repeat. Gritting his teeth he lined the crosshairs over a target's chest and began tightening his finger on the trigger. At the bar soldiers grimly joked "Rally Point Omega" was synonymous with "Make Mithril Proud."
His breath caught as he felt a vibration under him and the entirety of the scope's vision was obscured with dust and debris as the storefront the bulk of the enemy forces were passing exploded.
Leaning over the edge of the building he saw a solitary figure clad in black bodysuit slip out of the shadows of an archway a little ahead of him and start sprinting in his direction.
"...I'm sorry Kurz."
He tore the earpiece out as he scrambled to his feet, making for the opposite direction of the explosion. His shadow ran alongside his team member in the street below, leaping over a small gap between buildings as both scanned the distance for escape routes.
A door slammed open behind Kurz and he glanced over his shoulder to see three armed men emerging from the stair access to the rooftop. They overcame their surprise quickly and opened fire just as he dropped to a lower rooftop. Rolling to his feet after tumbling he swiftly made for the edge of the building facing the street. Fire could be heard above and behind him as he dropped another level, almost landing on the one friendly in a fifty mile radius as he tumbled again and picked up his sprint again in a fluid transition.
"We're headin' to Omega." He stated as the younger man looked to him expectantly while they ran.
The young man's scowl became slightly more pronounced. "Roger."
"I saw a spot on the map that'll make a good location. If we're gonna hold anywhere long enough for a pickup, it'll be there." He didn't need to add the words: If they come at all.
"If they come at all."
Kurz turned to look at him. "If anyone's gonna survive this, it's the two prettiest boys in Mithril." He flashed a forced-confident grin that wasn't returned. "One a little moreso than the other but that's okay I'll leave you some when we get back, Sousuke."
Not waiting to see the default expression on the boy's face Kurz ran on ahead to secure their path, dipping around the corner.
Shouts could be heard coming from a street behind them and Sousuke removed the last grenade from his belt, pulling the pin out as he ran. An explosion erupted from the base of the building across the street and he stumbled, lever almost slipping past his fingers. Turning he counted the shapes emerging from the alley down the block, barely visible in the dim moonlight. A small clink was heard as the lever hit the ground, Sousuke silently counting and calculating, pitching it at three seconds and turning to run.
Automatic weapon fire was heard behind him as he rounded the corner of an multistory apartment complex.
The feeling of a nail being driven in by a sledgehammer hit the right side of his lower back. He stumbled forward more out of momentum than conscious effort, slumping against the cool stone wall.
At six seconds the grenade detonated directly in front of the first of his pursuers, its distinctive boom immediately followed by the cries of surprise-turned-screams of dying men.
"Sousuke you comin'?" the cocky voice of his team's sharpshooter was strained as he stuck his head around the corner of the alley. His tone indicated he knew as well as Sousuke did of their situation.
"Aff-irmative." Sousuke panted, trying to catch the breath that'd been knocked out of him. He winced silently as he jogged after the whip of blond hair back around the corner, left hand coming around to feel the damage. The AS suit had stopped the bullet from penetrating but his bottom rib was unmistakably fractured, possibly along with internal trauma.
He doubted by the end of the hour it would matter.
'…Then I'll need to do a load of laundry. That'll give me time to make dinner and prep for tomorrow's student council meeting...'
"Wow Kyoko that was amazing!" Shinji exclaimed as he peered through the chain link fence on their school rooftop. "How'd you spot them from here?"
Below them in the front of the school a young couple could be seen animatedly gesticulating in a car. It was clear a very loud argument was taking place within the vehicle, completely shielded from the outside world.
Kyoko adjusted her wide circular glasses knowingly. "It's the glasses. They can spot trouble between couples."
Kaname wanted to sigh heavily in her direction but wasn't sure if Kyoko was just being funny for Shinji's entertainment. She glanced a scowl in her direction to see Kyoko smiling widely back at her.
Nope. She was being "funny" for her own entertainment.
She did outwardly sigh this time, but more in part of how she had gone almost her entire morning without worrying about him. Thinking about him. It was just her and her friends, eating an early lunch on the school's roof, people watching. She felt like a normal girl without the hassle of secret military organizations or terrorist cells or anything else beyond homework and what plans she had for the weekend.
Shinji laughed as Kyoko pointed out something else on the other side of the school. It was odd, Shinji had never really been part of their group before Sousuke showed up. He'd never really been part of anyone's group, just sat in the corner being the shy otaku. Then once Sousuke arrived, Shinji had emerged from his shell little by little. Eventually Sousuke was his bridge to Kaname's group and people began to see him as another student, not just the class nerd.
Kaname nibbled at the end of a roll as she leaned against the fence looking up at the clouds, facing away from whatever Kyoko was pointing out now. Trying to pretend he never happened wasn't going to work. He came, he influenced, he left, and he came back again. Each time unintentionally tugging a little more at her heartstrings.
It frustrated her to no end. Why did he ever have to show up in the first place? Her life was so much... Simpler before.
...But did she regret it? Knowing him now, having been through thick and thin together, would she have preferred not ever meeting him? She was a Whispered, since she was born she was destined for trouble; would she want anyone else to have been assigned as her guardian?
"Kaname, are you thinking about him again?" Kyoko asked, annoyed Kaname wasn't paying attention to her people-snooping skills.
"No..." Kaname answered, ignoring her and watching the sky.
Dawn broke overhead. The tops of the buildings glowed orange as a middle eastern sun crested the horizon with nothing between it and the small empty city.
The morning's deathly silence was broken with sporadic gunfire. It cackled from the distance through dusty streets, echoing hollowly through deserted buildings.
From an aerial view armed gunmen converged like ants on an elevated hill near the outskirts. Choking up in alleys and corridors proved deadly and they'd begun spreading further around encircling the enclosure, probing new entrances to the arena where two soldiers lay prone atop the hill, trying to plug new breaches with bullets.
"Red!" Sousuke yelled over the sounds of whizzing bullets and clouds of dirt being kicked up. Due to their position directly in front of the sunrise they had a small window of enhanced cover.
"How you doin'?" Kurz asked in a rare break of enemy fire, throwing a glance over his shoulder to keep track of how far the enemy and progressed around them.
"Two magazines left." Sousuke responded cooly, ramming a fresh one into his rifle. "Green!" he shouted as the fire began again as if the enemy had been waiting for him to reload.
"Watch three!" Kurz yelled as he picked up movement on their right but being forced to turn his attention to suppressing a new wave of insurgents on their left.
Sousuke adjusted his position keeping low and waited until the silhouette under the balcony overhang peeked up again. He held his breath and squeezed the trigger, a spray of blood and brain matter showering the opposing wall informing him that angle was secure for now.
Suddenly from the alley directly beside it another charge of would-be-heroes took place, sprinters leaping over the body of their fallen comrade. Sousuke held his breath and squeezed again and again, trying to stabilize himself between shots and relying on pure training to pick his targets for him.
He glanced back against the horizon. No chopper could be seen in the distance. He sincerely hoped it was because ECS mode was engaged and not because he and Kurz had failed to make it to the original extraction point.
Beside him Kurz shelled another round and rolled onto his back. "Red." he said calmly, face a pale grimace as he inserted his last magazine. He rolled over onto his front. "Gree – RPG!" he yelled, instinctively going straight to his scope.
Sousuke wasn't sure who came up with the idea that adrenaline made things slower. Perhaps it was more dramatic to simply think that way and it therefore created greater embellishments on stories, but he didn't understand how something so widely accepted could be so further from the truth. All adrenaline did was make the world around him accelerate three times faster and his reflexes four times faster. But the mind was always left in the dust wondering when had the sun risen.
Kurz's rifle barked beside him, the man on the rooftop kneeling with the RPG jerked and slumped to the side as the elongated explosive left the firing tube, the man to his opposite side screaming and dropping his weapon as he was engulfed with backblast. The puff of smoke and gas pointing at a nearby building hadn't even dissipated when those taking cover under the explosion were covered in rubble.
Kurz exhaled a sigh of relief as Sousuke looked over his side, seeing another man on a rooftop take aim with another RPG.
He rose grabbing Kurz's arm and yanking him up, causing the rifle to jerk and miss his next shot as Sousuke pulled him backwards. He looked bewildered at Sousuke mouth opening for a demanding explanation when two more shots hit Sousuke's arm and torso from behind.
Three seconds after the first RPG had been called the second hit the ground meters away from where Kurz had been laying.
"I always feel bad about leaving you to walk this much of the way home alone." Kyoko said pushing her glasses up her nose as she crossed the street with Kaname right before where she turned to take a different route.
"Heh, don't be!" Kaname said lightheartedly. "I've walked myself home more times than not." She stretched as she stepped onto the curb, yawning and thinking about the small mountain of homework she had to do.
"Yeah but normally Sousuke's here to walk the rest of the way with you." Kyoko continued, stopping where she had to start walking another way.
"Please, he'll be back stalking me home soon enough. I'm going to enjoy these quiet afternoons when I just get to relax. I deserve a break too ya know."
Kyoko just smiled in response, nodding her head and heading towards her home.
Kaname sighed and continued on, looking up to the early afternoon sky.
Steel grey eyes drifted open. The sky above was dull. Clear. It drifted in and out of focus as Sousuke began blinking furiously to catch up to the present. His ears rang and was having difficulty seeing out of his right eye. A dull throbbing had begun making itself known in his upper chest and arm.
He turned his head assessing his surroundings. Buildings stretched forward into the sky, their shadows stretching up the hill behind him. Sousuke blinked a few more times, beginning to sit up as sand cascaded down his face. The remnants of dirt and smoke clearing the air told him he hadn't been out long. He scanned the area, seeing Kurz lying face down a few feet away.
He tried calling Kurz's name but his voice was hoarse and caught in his throat. Sousuke coughed, hearing something splatter across the front of his chest. He ran a thumb over it numbly, confirming it was indeed his blood. It didn't bubble however, it could be something as little as a laceration inside his mouth.
The blonde man stirred, groaning and wincing. Sousuke made to crawl towards him but as soon as pressure was put on his arm he hit the ground. He looked down, seeing blood. A lot of blood. Coming from the top of his chest. More streamed down both sides of his arm where the bullet had punched clean through his tricep.
'Clean shots...I'm fortunate...' he thought meekly as the pain began building. They were always worse after the damage was seen. He rolled onto his side, sliding within arms-reach of his teammate.
Kurz tried shaking his head but stopped quickly when an expression of pain crossed his features. He looked around, eyes moving right over Sousuke without noticing him.
"Kurz." Sousuke tried again. This time the blonde jerked his head in his direction, that same goofy smile spreading across his face as he took in his younger friend.
"H-hey bud." Kurz said shakily. "You look like shit." His eyes still held that twinkle that they always did, unfazed by the fact that this would likely be their last moments of seeing anything.
"Can you walk?" Sousuke asked, grasping for the handgun at his thigh with his good arm. The other had started the familiar burning sensation like someone had rammed an invisible metal bar through his wounds and was quickly heating it up. It was a struggle to undo the weapon from its holster but he slid the barrel free and laid it beside him.
"Nah... Can't feel a damn thing below the waist..." Kurz winced. He almost sounded cheerful about it, but his voice bit back the pain he likely felt across his body. "Maybe that's for the best though." He added looking at his legs, noting the odd angle his shin dipped halfway down.
Sousuke stared. He was calm, he'd faced what he thought would be his last moments countless times before. Only this time he knew there wasn't reinforcements or backup. But he didn't think he could have managed "cheery" on the list of feelings moments before he died.
"Looks like I'm with ya to the end." Kurz said, reaching out and ruffling Sousuke's hair with a smear-stained hand. "If you're not going anywhere, neither am I. Let's say you and I make these fuckers pay for keeping our ladies at home waiting."
He extended an arm off the ground, reaching for Sousuke's.
Sousuke managed a small half-smile. If he had to go anywhere unknown, Kurz was definitely the man to go with. He reached back with a bloodied hand.
Kurz's words finally sunk in as their hands grasped each other's forearms. The ladies at home... The girl, waiting for him. Sitting in class, waiting for him to come back. The girl who needed protecting. His protecting. He was the only one that he trusted enough to do it right.
Large brown eyes flashed in his mind's eye. Soft, strong, passionate. They looked deeply into his.
"The truth is... I feel safest when I'm with you."
An unfamiliar dampening occurred around his eyes as he realized he'd failed her. He'd never disobeyed an order before, never questioned what was asked of him. And yet he knew he'd failed his responsibility to return to her. To continue to ensure her safety. To guard her against any unknown.
Would Mithril send another to replace him? Would she be able to stand alone? Would she... Remember him?
His eyes drifted close as the burning in his chest and arm overtook him, feeling the vibrations in the cold ground as dozens of feet made their way towards where he and Kurz lay.
One pair slowed behind him. A rookie might have let fear take hold, hearing the footsteps of approaching death and would try begging, pleading to be spared. But he could only hear the labored breathing, the uneven footsteps indicating a limp on the left leg. Likely a chronic injury ailing him since long before this battle. The weapon was checked again, Sousuke knew they'd made their enemies pay dearly for this fight and the mercenary likely wasn't taking any chances.
Sousuke could sense rather than feel the barrel of the weapon inches from his head. He managed to open his eyes, rolling slightly to take in his executioner.
It was blurry, but his good eye could make out the blackness of the barrel it stared into.
His eyes slowly closed again.
'Kaname... I'm so sorry...'
Kaname hesitated before putting the key in the lock. While Sousuke had given her the key in case of emergencies, if he wasn't there it wasn't like he'd ever know.
She paused again halfway through turning the key. If there was some kind of trap waiting for her she would positively kill him. Positioning herself to the left of the door she finished turning the key and pushed it open. When no explosions went off she peeked around the corner and proceeded inside.
The apartment spelled faintly of a mix between grease and fresh laundry. "Well the man's clean if nothing else..." she muttered looking around noting the lack of clutter. Not a sign of where he was other than not-here, no indication where he'd gone or when he'd be back. He'd been gone two full weeks and not even a speck of dust could be seen on any surface.
She turned where she stood in his kitchen-living room, frowning slightly. She'd never been in his apartment without him before, now was the first time she could take in the details. The room was silent and serene, bathed in the orange light of late-afternoon sun, but... No personal effects or pictures decorated shelves or cabinets. No art, not even a tablecloth for the plain wooden table sitting alone in the middle of the room. No objects held sentimental value of any kind.
She recalled a conversation when he'd even mentioned once all his weapons were "standard issue." Even war, what he'd been raised in since childhood, the tools he used in countless situations to kill, survive and protect with, nothing mattered. One had as much utility as another. Nothing in his entire living quarters indicated a preference for anything. Were someone to walk in and make a character judgment based on what they saw, the conclusion would either be the person living here was a machine, or they simply didn't care.
Did Sousuke ever have fun? Did he ever enjoy himself? Did he even enjoy living? Or was everything he did on someone else's order?
If something were to happen to him, on his mission, right now, would she ever find out about it? Would she get the soldier appearing on her doorstep like in the movies, or would another operative simply take up residence in Sousuke's old apartment? Would anyone other than her mourn him?
The back of her throat felt constricted. Not out of fear that he might never view her as anything more than an asset, but out of pity. She spent a great deal of time knocking him around school, berating him for his actions or being furious with him over his cluelessness.
But more than anything else she called him: stupid, uptight, perverted, insane, paranoid, really he was just... Sad. Empty.
She wondered if the things he felt most passionate about were even "his." Piloting armslaves, shooting, fishing, were they were simply things he had to adapt to in order to survive the life he'd lived?
The bed squeaked as she sat down on it, not even realizing she'd walked into the bedroom. She hadn't even noticed tears were readily streaming down her face until one rolled off her cheek.
If he didn't come back one of these missions, what would he leave behind beyond her broken heart?
She rubbed a sleeve across her face and let out a small laugh. If she'd known coming to his empty apartment was going to cause her this much duress she would have scrapped the idea. She thought it could be a way of getting closer to him while he was gone, but she saw now how far away she really was.
Her hand tightened a grip on his made bed, stretching the thin sheet covering it towards her. She took a deep shuddering breath to calm herself, fighting back another wave of tears.
Her head jerked up to see Sousuke standing between her and the sliding door to the balcony, sun casting its orange glow behind him as he returned a pistol to the back of his pants, one arm in a sling. She was speechless but immediately felt the wall she'd erected against the tears breaking down. She didn't think he wasn't coming back, but seeing him after thinking about that terrible scenario made her appreciate his presence that much more.
His face held a look of concern. "Kaname are you alright? Are you inj–!" he was cut off as she thrust herself into his chest, hands holding onto his shirt as she cried ignoring his slight grunt. Despite everything the world had thrown at him, here he was, as usual, asking if she was alright. And here she was crying. She felt tentative arms slowly encircle her. One stopped and adjusted her hand slightly before it rested on her back.
Sousuke was still worried something had happened while he was gone and opened his mouth to quietly ask why she was crying, but closed it again deciding to simply hold her while she shook in his arms.
His mind was racing going through the possible scenarios that left her like this, but halted when he felt the body pushing his arms out slightly, creating distance between them. He looked down in confusion when the distance was closed again as she kissed the bare part of his chest left open by the collar of his shirt.
"Sousuke, don't go again." she said, raining kissing between words as she moved up his neck quickly. Sousuke had frozen and wasn't sure what kind of interaction this was or why she was frantically pressing her lips against his skin and was terrified if he moved he would be doing something wrong that would further tip her seemingly fragile state of mind.
"Don't leave again." He didn't think it was possible for his mind to go any blanker as she said those next words, continuing the trail up his chin and onto his bottom lip.
"Don't leave me, Sousuke." Her last sentence left his bottom lip tingling with an unfamiliar and completely terrifying warmth.
He chanced a glance down and was surprised by the look in her eyes, a bright amber color in the sun that set over his shoulder. There was an element of fear, her slight pupil dilation suggested a minor case of panic, but what he wasn't expecting was the even gaze, the resolution in eyes and pleading expression hinting she was in fact in a sober state of mind and was making a legitimate request. And was also in fact very aware of her actions. The eyes widened as what was likely comprehension swept through her mind at what she had just done, and while a prominent blush flushed her cheeks she remained where she was looking up at him.
While he had utterly failed to manage anything more than a stunned reaction, he also wasn't pulling away or removing his arms from her shoulders. Kaname hesitated a moment before making her decision. She slowly brought her hands up his neck and gently began pulling down.
His mind finally caught up to the present. "A-affirma–" he started before being silenced as her mouth caught his.
She knew it wasn't a fair thing to ask of him. She knew it was unrealistic to expect him to stop working because of her, and that the thing she feared most might one day come to pass. But right now he was here, and right now he was completely hers. And she would make the most of this time.
"Po'shyol na hui, suka." the man on the floor said through gritted teeth as the man standing over him dug his heel into the incapacitated man's hand with a yellow-toothed smile. He'd been reaching for the pistol on the ground but had been caught but the lame-man's foot.
'Kaname...' If there was one mission he wouldn't fail, one order he refused to obey, it was to leave her alone in this world. He would return to her, no matter what. And no kill-team, platoon or army was going to stop him.
Grey eyes flew open again as an automatic leg was swiftly brought up to his chest, then kicked downward with as much force as he could muster into the side of the man's left knee.
The man barely had time to hit the ground and look up to see the pistol pointed at his forehead, the next second the pain of having a shattered knee vanishing completely with a flare of light.
"S-Sousuke?" Kurz stammered, watching the boy take several deep quick breaths and bring himself up to his feet. He didn't remind him to take it easy or that he'd been shot for fear that the lack of that knowledge was the only thing keeping him going.
"Let's move, Six." Sousuke muttered, quickly looking around for the incoming enemy as he stumbled over to Kurz. He tried pulling him up but Kurz shook his head.
"It's no use, I still can't feel my legs." Kurz licked his lips uncertainly. He looked up into Sousuke's determined expression. "Grab my gun?" he asked, nodding towards where his long rifle lay half covered in dirt a few meters away between them and the closest alley.
Sousuke looked at the gun, then to him. "You're not staying here."
Kurz chuckled but stopped quickly and held his side. "I dunno where you got your second wind from man, but I'm... Not going anywhere." He pointed at the gun, "Hurry, so I can give you what cover I can from here. Maybe delay them a little–"
"Sexual relations with Urzu 2."
Kurz stared at him, doubting very much he'd heard that correctly. "What–?"
"Sexual relations with Urzu 2." Sousuke repeated, expression as serious as ever. "You haven't had them yet."
"Oh you are such a dick." Kurz winced and held his side again, leaning forward as he tried to get to a position where he could stand. But it was clear his legs weren't responding. With a defeated expression he chuckled at Sousuke still standing over him. "There, you happy now? I was all content to just die where I was for a cause and now I'm gonna have a ton of regrets. Sixty-nine of them to be exact." Sousuke shook his head uncomprehendingly as he holstered his pistol and moved behind him. "I was gonna show her the Wow-Wow, the Tribal, the – hey where'm I goin'?" Kurz leaned back as he felt himself being pulled by his suit's collar. "Sousuke?"
"Save your energy. Don't talk unless it's an emergency." Sousuke grunted, tugging at the man's body trying to get it to move. The hard part was getting a pull started. Kurz pushed himself backwards with his arm as Sousuke tried again and began sliding, leaving a clear trail in the dirt before him.
Sousuke leaned until he was almost parallel with the ground as he pulled his team member behind him, eyes scanning the buildings ahead to see if they'd been routed yet. A call was heard behind him atop the hill. Their enemies knew they were moving again. The building corner ahead of him flaked as fire peppered its exterior.
Kurz leaned over and swept up his rifle as they passed it, checking the sights and lining up a shot. Sousuke grunted as the recoil was felt up his arm and throughout his chest. "Everything alright?" Kurz called bringing the rifle up to his head again.
Sousuke didn't bother responding. It was pain or no cover-fire, and he'd prefer to be in pain than be dead. Even if he weren't alright, what were their options now?
They rounded the corner and Sousuke quickly pulled them flush with the building to maximize their cover angle and give them enough time to make it down the alley.
"H-hey, I think I'm startin' to get some feeling down there!" Kurz said between shots. Sousuke heard the voice transition from excitement to strain as he continued dragging the man behind him. "Oh man... Oh yeah. I'm f-feelin' it. I'm... Sousuke this hurts."
"Deal or trade." Sousuke panted, turning to pull with both hands walking backwards. He switched hands when he felt the grip of his forearm failing, leaning towards the ground again and focusing on just making it around the next corner.
Sousuke looked behind him and saw blood from his arm streaming down into the base of Kurz's hair. Seeing the blood pouring out of him reminded him of how much he'd lost already and he became painfully aware of the grey flecks swimming lazily in front of his vision, inviting him to simply stop and rest.
He shook his head, adrenaline pushing him beyond his limits as he rounded the corner.
"Where are we going?"
"Outside the city. If they sent an extraction... That'd be the only place we'd make it to." The thought hadn't occurred to him before now that everything he was doing might be pointless if Mithril hadn't sent their evacuation. His stomach felt like it had knots and the pain across his entire body flared noticeably. He staggered but focused on placing one foot in front of the other. It was a basic physical training technique that could trick the body into doing much more than the mind limited it to.
Just one more step.
Just one more step.
Just one more step.
He was aware of how painfully slow their progress was and his eyes scanned the length of the block wondering how close their pursuers were to surrounding them completely.
Sousuke looked up and saw silhouettes half illuminated by the morning sun on the roof of the building across the street and to their left.
He growled as he shifted his weight, legs pumping like pistons to pull Kurz across the street to limit their visibility, hearing the telltale zips through the air around him. Sousuke panted heavily as he slowed down when they were in the clear, focusing on rounding the next corner that light poured from. Something had shifted in his lower back and his injury there jabbed uncomfortably into his core.
Turning the corner he was blinded by sunlight but squinted as he made out a shadow between him and the end of the building.
"Zdyess!" the figure called and Sousuke quickly drew his pistol up to fire two shots into the silhouette. It dropped and when Sousuke didn't see movement he returned the weapon to his side, switching dragging arms again.
"We found out?" Kurz's voice called after the rifle barked one last time. The dull sound of something large hitting the sand was accompanied by Sousuke's load lightening slightly.
"It's not a problem." Sousuke muttered, putting everything he had into reaching the sun at the end of that alley. This was it, one way or the other.
He felt Kurz rotate behind him and slip the pistol off his thigh. The weapon fired rapidly behind him at unseen targets.
Just one more...
He reached the end of the alley and brought his arm up to clumsily shield his eyes from the sun as they adjusted to the brightness.
There wasn't anything before him other than an endless expanse of sand reaching as far as the eye could see.
He dropped to his knees, panting heavily as Kurz leaned on his back. That... was it. That was all he had.
A fresh wave of grey washed over his vision and he swooned on the spot as the sun's heat and severe burning sensation in his wounds combined with greater intensity. He opened his eyes, edge of the desert splitting his vision directly down the middle as sand was drawn in with shallow breaths. He didn't have the energy to cough or spit.
'I'm sorry Chidori... I did the best I could.'
He was on the brink of consciousness when he felt a new wave of sand blowing over his body. A familiar sensation of wind beating rapidly across his body. He was so tired he just wanted to sleep... But the old sense of familiarity brought his attention back to his surroundings. He forced his eyes open one last time, seeing the desert moving sideways.
He was dimly aware of very loud automatic weapon fire somewhere nearby. Looking forward he saw entire chunks of buildings blowing off. One figure that just stepped out of an alley was sheared into a pink mist as an invisible force hit him.
Sousuke looked up, seeing a body pulling him. Someone else behind him, calling orders, gesturing hurriedly.
Shade was cast over him as he was lifted over some threshold and he couldn't keep himself awake any longer.
"Hey that's no way to treat a wounded man, c'mon baby I'm in need of some stress relief."
The first thing he noticed was soft padding under him. Then a bright light against his eyelids. They flickered open, blearily talking in the room he was in.
He didn't bother wondering if he was really alive, the pain in his bandaged torso and arm made that answer very clear to him.
"Hey-hey! Boy Wonder's wakin' up!"
Sousuke turned his head, soreness in his neck reminding him how alive he was. "Kurz?"
"Today, I'm father Christmas. Did I tell you we were gonna get the girls or what?" Kurz boasted loudly from the bed beside him, leg up in a cast. He lowered his voice to a barely contained whisper, "Mithril hired some new nurses, and they. Are. Smokin'. I thought it was only right I gave you first pick." He nodded towards the end of the room where an attractive girl was writing on a clipboard deliberately ignoring him. He winked at Sousuke. "They're just playin' hard to get."
Sousuke rested his head on his pillow. "That's... Thoughtful of you, but it won't be necessary. Please take your uh... Fill."
"Oh-hoh, someone's saving himself eh?" Kurz chuckled putting his arms behind his head.
Kurz blinked, looking over at him again unsure he'd heard that right. Usually his jokes were ignored or brushed off by someone else stepping in for the oblivious sergeant.
Sousuke looked at him. "I only have an interest in Miss Chidori."
"H-hey now, watch who you say that to..." Kurz said, half torn between laughter and hushing his voice. "Keep that up and you're gonna get reassigned. Then no one's gonna end up happy."
"That won't be necessary." Sousuke repeated, closing his eyes. "I quit."
Kurz shook his head and pinched himself, positive he was mishearing everything that came out of Sousuke's mouth. "You... Quit? Wait when?"
"Well I haven't technically yet. There's a lot of paperwork I still need to do. And I imagine Command is still waiting on my mission report..."
"Yeah but, why?" Kurz asked incredulously, staring awestruck at his friend with a wide grin still in place.
Sousuke met his gaze. "I have a reason to live now."
It was the truth. One thing brought him back from that desert, and that realization made him see there wasn't a cause worth possibly never coming back to her for. "Lucky" didn't begin to describe him and he didn't intend to waste this sign.
"Oh man. Oh man you are so in love!" Kurz hooted loudly beside him clapping his hands. His expression turned to one of slight fear. "But Tessa's gonna be so pissed. She pulled some resources from another op to get us outta there."
Sousuke's mouth pulled into a lopsided smile. "It can't be helped. I think it would be fair to be honest with her. Like you said..." He looked up at the ceiling feeling Kurz's eyes on him.
"I'm in love."
Yeah. I don't do that sad stories. Sorry for those who were hoping for misery, look elsewhere hehe.
As always feedback is appreciated. What was done right, what could have been better, or whatever else comes to mind. Thanks for reading!