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I'll always love you baby
Just you and rock and roll yeah
On the brink between sleep and waking, he heard a twittering, cracked open his eyes to find that there was indeed a bird perched on his windowsill. He'd forgotten to close the window last night. The bird cocked its head, blinking at him with one dark eye, then fluttered its wings and landed on the edge of the flowerpot.
The flower he'd plucked from the ruins left by Sivil inside Battle 7 had long died, but it had scattered some seeds before it did so, and now one of its children resided in the pot on his windowsill. Ray had kept the rest of its offspring, arranged in various choice spots inside his new apartment. He'd only been over there once. Who would have known that Ray would have a knack for flower arrangement? Or maybe that was Akiko's doing.
There was something more important than the flower, though…something to do with Sivil and the war, and…the fragment of a conversation lingered in his mind like the remnants of a bad dream and he muzzily tried to remember what had been so important that he was awake at this hour of the morning. Judging from the light coming through the window, it was barely dawn.
She was leaving.
He vaulted out of bed, stubbing his toe on the edge of his guitar case, and spent about half a minute hopping about in silent agony before the throbbing in his foot subsided. The clock by his bed read 0655, and he had forgotten to ask when her shuttle was leaving. He only knew that it left early.
He should go back to bed, because nothing he did was going to make her change her mind. Even if he chased her down to the spaceport and begged, what would that accomplish?
She was only going thirty minutes away by Milky Road, but that was the same as if she were going away forever, because there would never be a Fire Bomber again.
I'm not leaving. Not till you tell me what you're going to do.
Not only did that make no sense, but who was he to make such demands from her? If she'd made up her mind to leave City 7, what right had he to take that from her? Who was he to accuse her of running away when he was only doing the same?
It was ironic, really, he thought as he threw on an old t-shirt and some faded jeans and stuck his feet into his beat up tennis shoes. She might be running away by leaving the city, but that was the best kind of running away there was, because she was going to a better place, towards a brighter future. While he on the other hand was running away by staying here and doing absolutely nothing. Wasting away.
The lines of an old song popped into his head, and for a moment, he couldn't remember exactly where he had heard it before he realized it was a Lynn Minmay song. It had been popular back on Earth when he was young, in the sudden Minmay song popularity boom that had happened when he was around eight or nine.
Toki wa nagareru
Ai wa nagareru
Kuchihateru mae ni wa...
Time drifts away…
The bird on the flowerpot twittered once, a sharp, trill chirp, and then launched like a tiny projectile into the dawning sky, vanishing somewhere over the rooftops of the stirring city. He heard the whine of the electricity generators kick into motion, and the first patrols should be leaving to fly their shifts for the day.
There were no messages on the machine. She hadn't called him back. Hadn't changed her mind. He didn't think she would, but he had had to try, because he hadn't wanted to admit that she was right.
He had to catch her before she left.
The sun was rising as he vaulted down the apartment steps, taking them four at a time with his acoustic guitar in one hand and some spare change in his pocket, and the red rays were a flaming halo around the crimson red sheen of the Fire Valkyrie's hull, parked in Gerwalk mode around the back of the crumbling apartment complex, crouching down as if she had been waiting for him.
"Please stow all your baggage in the overhead compartment or underneath the seat in front of you. If it doesn't fit, then we'll have to check it." The flight attendant's voice took on a threatening tone. "And don't think you can try to hide it either!"
She sighed, kicking her bag under the seat in front of her, a seat occupied by an elderly gentleman twice its size who should really have been taking up two seats. The seat sagged dangerously and she wondered what the flight attendant would do if it actually split open at the seams.
The window to her right looked directly out onto the viewer's platform, and she saw her mother and father standing there, tiny against the huge glass window overlooking the hangar. She wasn't entirely sure she liked this hangar. She wasn't entirely sure she liked this shuttle. She was a pilot, and riding in shuttles with civilians, tightly strapped into a small seat that gave her no protection whatsoever against the vacuum of space, wasn't her idea of safety. She'd even put Guvava back onto her shoulder for this trip, and he didn't seem to like the shuttle either, huddling under her hair and burying his nose in her neck.
In fact, she'd suggested that she just fly over in her own Valkyrie, but her mother wouldn't allow it, citing something about if she was going off to school, she'd better do it right. Meaning no flying for a while. It was amazing how persuasive her mother could be. She supposed she could have asked her father for permission, but Sound Force was no longer an active military Valkyrie team, and Max wasn't fool enough to go against her mother in matters like this.
Still, they were here. Together. At least there was that. They'd both kissed her and hugged her, something they hadn't done since she was fourteen, but she didn't mind. It was good to be a family again, even if just for this short while.
He wasn't here.
I'm not leaving. Not till you tell me what you're going to do.
What else could she do?
She felt the old longing stir up in her heart a little at the sight of the blackness beyond the hangar doors, but she squashed it firmly, rolling her eyes a bit that she was being so childish still.
You're going to school, Mylene. And that's the end of it.
Gamlin had gone with her to the terminal, but he had to leave for work. He'd dropped a polite kiss on her cheek and told her he'd come visit her soon. She'd grinned and told him she would hold him to that promise. She didn't doubt he'd find some time to make a trip to the Einstein sooner or later.
She didn't tell him about Basara. She didn't have to. She sensed he already knew.
Gamlin was like that.
The intercom crackled. "Attention, passengers. The cabin doors are now closing. Please fasten your seatbelts and prepare for liftoff. Approximate travel time to the Einstein is thirty minutes, barring heavy traffic or accidents."
She heard the heavy thump of the cabin door slamming shut, and felt her heart clench a bit. Shaking off the feeling, she looked out the window again. Her parents were still there, standing side by side. As she watched, the figure she thought was her father lifted his hand in a little wave. She waved back hesitantly, not sure if he could see her. Apparently he didn't, but her mother did, because she saw Milia raise her hand and point, and her father waved even more enthusiastically. It was the Zentradi vision, she supposed. Or maybe just maternal instinct.
She was about to pull down the windowshade when she saw her mother turn around suddenly, and saw a few figures push their way forward to the window. Her heart leapt for a second.
It was Ray and Veffidas and Akiko. Just the three of them. They waved at her too, but she didn't wave back again.
He hadn't come.
The hangar doors in front of them began to creak open, and the shuttle inched forward. She closed her eyes, turning away from the window with a sigh. She could call her parents when she got to the university.
The little unbidden hope in her heart that Basara would come to say goodbye fluttered and died.
The Fire Valkyrie's controls were molten metal in his hands, and he took her into the air with ease, feeling the fluidity of the guitar-stick control as his fingers danced along the levers and she shuddered under his touch like a skittish horse. He hadn't flown her as often as he should have after the war had ended, and this fighter was almost entirely new, anyway. Gepernitch had effectively torn apart his old one.
Not to say that there was any difference between the two. If it was possible, the new Fire Valkyrie handled even smoother than the first.
"Easy, baby girl," he soothed, pulling back on the stick, and she responded, a grinding of living gears around him as she shifted from Gerwalk into fighter mode. The sun in the false City 7 sky was almost over the horizon now and he took the fighter in a tight circle over Akusho, around to the airlock that he and then Sound Force had been authorized clearance to use. It seemed like such a long time ago.
It was a long time ago, to think about it.
He didn't want to think about it.
The airlock doors were opening in front of him and the Fire Valkyrie burst through them in a bright blaze, wheeled once, twice, and then he set her free, soaring through the space above the city, just under the shell which was lit in a brilliant parody of dawn.
Mylene would probably be on the first shuttle out for the Einstein, and hopefully it hadn't left yet. Silently cursing himself for not being more prepared, he took the fighter down towards the stretch of Milky Road from the City to the science ship. It was still empty. He could feel the guitar itching to be played, and he clamped down on the itch. Not yet. It wasn't time yet.
There was a bulky white object just emerging from one of the outer general use hangars, and he closed in, watching it on the scopes and from the cockpit as it sluggishly gained momentum, crawling forward like some big thick worm, resolving itself into large white civilian shuttle with MACROSS 7 UN SPACY painted in bright red letters on both sides.
Things like that didn't belong in space. Space was for the adventurous, the daring, the beautiful Veritech Fighters and the brave men and women who flew them. Not some monstrosity like that shuttle, where fat civilians sat in their padded chairs and read their magazines and would never know what it took to make space a part of their lives and a part of their souls.
Mylene was on that shuttle. She had to be.
He touched the controls and the Fire Valkyrie swept down towards the slow-moving craft. He heard the gears grinding around him again, and the craft leapt like a gazelle, transforming into the familiar battroid configuration. There was that rush of adrenaline, and as he opened the channel to the shuttle, hoping they'd answer, he suddenly knew that whatever it was that had plagued him, robbed him of his spirit and his song there aboard the Macross 7 was no longer here in space. He felt it lifted from his shoulders like a great weight. Mylene was right, after all.
For some reason, that didn't surprise him one bit.
"This is Shuttle C-7396. Is there a problem? Over."
"You're going to have to halt that shuttle," he said, trying not to smile as the face of the shuttle comm operator appeared on his screen and opened his mouth wide in surprise.
"You're going to have to stop that shuttle," he said again, and he couldn't hold back the itch any longer, sending the Valkyrie into a tight spin around the shuttle as his fingers launched into the opening chords of Totsugeki Love Heart. "I've got a bone to pick with one of your passengers."
"Miss Jenius? Miss Mylene Jenius?"
She had been dozing and awoke with a start to the touch of fingers on her shoulder, shaking her a little bit. It was a female flight attendant, Zentradi by the looks of her, looking rather ill at ease.
"Yes?" she said, trying not to sound like she'd fallen asleep. There was phlegm in her throat. She coughed inconspicuously.
"You need to come to the cockpit immediately."
"Is everyone all right?" she burst out, alarmed.
"Yes…just come, please, you'll see when you get there."
She unbuckled her seat belt, sliding out of her seat and following the flight attendant down the aisle, wondering what was going on. Had something happened to her family? But they had just been standing there at the window, waving. Maybe something had happened to Gamlin. He was flying patrol today. Or worse…what if…
Guvava suddenly went very still. She blinked, then realized there was a half-familiar sound buzzing around her ears, and she pushed that train of thought away gladly, trying to identify the…was it music? She wasn't sure. It was very faint, almost not-there. She heard it over her own soft footfalls as they drew closer to the cockpit, and she suddenly realized what it was.
It was Totsugeki Love Heart.
Did the pilot like Fire Bomber? Was that what this was? Just a way to get her autograph?
She was about to politely decline and make her way back to her seat when the flight attendant touched the switch to open the cockpit door, and the sound hit her full-blast. That was no radio. That was the real thing.
The Fire Valkyrie outside the cockpit was also the real thing.
Let's dance hoshitachi mo utau
Isshun datte nagaku dekiru
Tsubasa wo futtara rock with me!
"What the hell?!" she exclaimed. Her hands were frozen on the sides of the doorway and her feet refused to move. The music throbbed, pulsing around her, and the swirl of light around the Valkyrie from the Sound Energy Convertor sent a nostalgic ache into her heart.
"Didn't think I was going to let you leave without saying goodbye, did you?"
Her stunned face on the monitor was a welcome relief, and he slowed the Valkyrie, turning the music down. They stared at each other for a second. Man and woman. Guitarist and bassist. Valkyrie and UN shuttle.
"Basara, if you don't get off this road, I'm going to be late for orientation. There's a schedule, you know?"
He waved her aside impatiently. "Look, I'm not going to keep you long. I just wanted you to know I was leaving. That's all."
"Lea-leaving?" she choked out, and for a minute he was concerned that he had interpreted her incorrectly, and that she was going to be even more upset at him than she already was. But she simply leaned forward, her face confused. "How are you leaving? You told me you weren't going to go. Not until I told you what I was going to do!"
"Well," he said conversationally. "I thought about it and I realized that you had already told me what you were going to do. And that nothing I was going to say was going to change your mind."
She hung her head. "I'm sorry, Basara. I'm not saying…I'm not coming back to the band. But…we all need some time off."
"That's why I'm leaving."
She raised her head again, her green eyes intense. "Because I won't change my mind?"
"No. Because you've given your answer. And I realized that instead of trying to change you, I needed to be trying to change me instead."
"That's a good reason," she said, with a shadow of a smile. "Where are you going?"
"Who knows?" he said, and laughed, and she did smile then. "It's a big galaxy. Millions of things no one has ever seen, and I'm going to find them all."
"I've missed your laugh," she said softly, and he saw she was going to cry. "I hope you find a million things. A million and one things, even."
"Mylene," he said, and then touched his fingers to the guitar and began to sing.
Mimi o sumaseba kasuka ni kikoeru darou
Hora ano koe
Kotoba nan ka ja tsutaerarenai nanika
Itsumo kanjiru are wa tenshi no koe
"Your song, right?" he said. "Yours and mine. I'm singing it just like you wanted."
Shinjite ita mono ga aru
Baka da to iwareta keredo
Ano hi no yume
He jerked the control stick up and the Fire Valkyrie rose, hovering above the Milky Road and its myriad of lights stretching boundlessly into the distant blackness of space. She was quiet, staring at him on the monitor still, and then he noticed the tear trickling silently down her cheek.
"Don't cry, Mylene," he said. "I'll be back. When I find what I'm looking for."
"I know," she whispered. "I hope you find it, whatever it is. And I'll still be waiting."
Angel voice mitsuketa no sa
Chiheisen no mukou ni
Omae no sugata wa yume janakatta
There was no longer the Milky Road, or the shuttle, or the City in the distance with its shell tinted the color of the rising sun. It was just him and her and the Valkyrie and the color of Sound Energy – anima spiritia – that flared around him. That was all that mattered.
And someday, when they met again…
It was once again, all for the music.
Nagare nagarete yukou
10 May 2003
Itsuka mata aou ze
Itsumo kokoro no naka ni hibiku
10 May 2003