Disclaimer: Full Metal Panic is owned not by me, but rather – the nice people over at Studio Gonzo animation.  Furthermore, if they say to, I'll happily remove this story from the web.  One final note, since events may not be clear enough to tell – this story takes place between episodes 14 and 15 of the first season.  Just so you know when.

Code of Conduct

Chapter 1

By Random1377

Melissa Mao eased back in her chair, a beer stein resting in her palm like a familiar friend, her eyes drifting closed as one of her favorite songs came on the lounge's jukebox.  "I'm not on duty right now," she informed the young woman sitting across from her, "can we talk later?"

"This isn't related to work," Tessa Testarossa informed her quietly, a faint smile on her lips, "I wanted to talk to you about something… personal."

"Well," Melissa said, taking a long pull of her beer, "unless it's about drinking, fighting, or men, I'm probably not going to be that much help – and I probably won't listen anyway, I'm not good at little girl stuff."  She grinned abruptly, "Did you just get your first period or something?"

Tessa sighed, knowing that the older woman was trying to get a rise out of her, and that the best defense was to be as flat as possible so she would lose interest.  "I've been getting my period regularly for nearly four years," she said smoothly, "I'm sixteen, not ten, and I-"

"Yeah, yeah," Melissa cut in, waving a hand in annoyance, "I get it."  She sighed, chugging the last of her beer and waving the waiter over to order another.  "Alright," she grumbled, "what 'advice' do you need?"

Tessa's eyes sparkled.  This should pique your interest, Sergeant, she thought proudly.

"I wanted to ask you how to get a man's attention."

Melissa only looked surprised for a minute.  "Show him your tits," she snorted, "unless he's gay – he'll notice."

Tessa coughed delicately.  "I was kind of hoping that you might have a more… tactful method."

Melissa took a drink, watching the younger woman over the rim of her mug.  "You're serious," she said quietly, setting the stein down and leaning closer, "who is it?"

"No one in particular," the gray-haired woman said casually, blushing slightly as she thought that there was someone very particular.  "I just want to be prepared to deal with any situation, that's all.  Knowing how to get a man's attention could be useful in a hostage or infiltration scenario."

"Oh," Melissa shrugged, "well it kind of depends on the setup."  She leaned back in her chair and yawned broadly.  "If you're in a bar or something, I think my first suggestion would actually be most suitable.  You don't just yank your shirt open, but unbuttoning a couple of buttons and dropping things can work wonders."  She shrugged.  "Going braless also gets attention pretty quick, but depending on the guy, that could get you on your back a little faster than you'd planned… unless that is your plan, in which case you should just walk up to him and hand him your panties – I guarantee no man will misunderstand that."

Tessa nodded, her blush growing slightly at the straightforwardness of the conversation.  "Go on, please."

"If it's subtlety you're after," Melissa mused, slowly turning her mug around in circles on the table, "then I'd say letting him get a little touch would work."

"A little touch…?" Tessa echoed, looking down at her lap, "Like… here??"

"No, no!" Melissa shook her head emphatically, then paused for a moment and grinned, putting a hand on her head.  "Woo… can't do that too fast."  She rose to her feet and walked around to the back of the younger woman's chair.  "A little touch like this…"

Tessa blinked as the AS pilot leaned over and picked up her beer, her full breasts brushing Tessa's shoulder.  "O-oh…" she whispered.

"See," Melissa yawned, "guys love boobs – they're fascinated by them – and even just a little touch like that will get them all worked up… unless they're really in the zone about something, but it should at least get them to notice you."

Tessa looked down at her chest doubtfully.  Not as big as hers, she thought skeptically, but not TINY.  Men aren't really that shallow, are they??  She smiled softly. I don't think Sagara's like that, though… and it seems like he's ALWAYS 'in the zone.'

"So there's no particular guy, huh?" Melissa said dryly, catching the smile on the younger woman's face as she walked around and retook her seat.

"N-no," the captain said quickly, "but – if there was, and it wasn't… a pressing issue, where you'd have to get his attention right away, how would you approach that?"

Melissa pulled out a pack of cigarettes, sticking one between her grinning lips and replying, "Just like any other military action."

"Ummm… huh?"

"It's simple," the older woman murmured, lighting her smoke and taking a long drag.  "S.P.E."

"Study, Plan, Execute?" Tessa asked, her brow furrowing slightly.  "Treat him as… an enemy??"


Melissa exhaled through her nose, flicking some ashes into the tray on the table.

"Relationships are like combat," she said after a minute, her face showing no hint of humor.  "You study the enemy… you plan how best to approach him – the goal being to get what you want with the least amount of pain… and you execute your plan."  She shrugged.  "Simple."

What a pessimistic view, Tessa thought sadly.  Out loud she asked, "And this works for you?"

Melissa grinned.  "Do you see any guys around here, Captain?"  She stretched and yawned.  "You see, my problem is that I don't spend enough time studying and planning – I just go for the kill."  She put her cigarette between her lips and inhaled deeply.  "So if you're serious about engaging in a relationship," she paused to blow a ring of smoke into the air, "even for practice… you should make damn sure that you're prepared, you know what I mean?"

Tessa nodded.  She's right… she thought, just approaching without knowing anything about him would be stupid – but I know him already, and I know that I want to be with him, even if it doesn't end up working out, I want to try… but I'll need to find out his habits, because he's not the kind of guy I can just walk up to.  She squared her shoulders, determined to begin learning about her target ASAP.

"Of course..." Melissa said slowly, bringing Tessa's attention back around, "if it's anyone around here…  you'd have to make sure you don't get caught, because not only will it raise eyebrows – it could get you stripped of your command…" she took a sip of her beer, emphasizing her next word, "Captain."

Tessa averted her eyes.  She doesn't know who I'm thinking of, does she? She thought suddenly.

"Of course.  Thank you for your input, Sergeant…"

"Anytime," Melissa said easily.  She waited until the younger woman rose and bowed before whispering, "Go get him, Tessa…"

Tessa bowed again and departed.

"Why was the Captain blushing?" Melissa's fellow soldier Kurtz Weber asked as he stepped into the lounge.

"Just girl stuff," Melissa grinned, "nothing a muscle-head like you would understand."

"Maybe you could explain it to me," Kurtz said amicably, sitting next to the woman and dropping a hand lightly on her knee.

Melissa casually reached down, taking the man's wrist between her thumb and forefinger and squeezing, triggering four pain points simultaneously.  As the man yelped and yanked his hand away she shrugged.

"Maybe another time…"


Sagara Sosuke entered the bridge precisely at 8:00 on Tuesday morning and gave his commanding officer a smart salute.  "Captain."

He's always on time, Tessa thought, returning his salute, especially for duty.  He wakes up at 6:00 every morning… works out for an hour… takes a short shower… has a very light breakfast… then he's on duty – every morning.

It had taken her the better part of a week to gather this information – and it had not been easy.  The young man was very attuned to the world around him, it seemed to her, as he would abruptly stop and turn, staring intently at the corner she had just ducked around to avoid being detected… though when it came to her, it seemed that he only saw her as 'The Captain.'

And that was going to change, damn it.

"Sergeant," she said, trying not to sound too warm, but not too commanding either.  "Miss Kaname is well?"

"Yes, Captain," Sagara confirmed crisply, "she's staying home with the flu for the next few days."

"I thought you said she was well," Tessa smiled.

"She's uninjured and safe at this time," Sagara said levelly, "a slight illness is not noteworthy."

"Melissa and Kurtz are watching over her, correct?" Tessa asked, her heart beating a bit faster.

It's not like I'm abusing my power, she told herself reasonably, she doesn't need constant surveillance from three officers.  Certainly she has the most rapport with Sosuke, but he needs some time off… She blushed faintly. Just a few days…


Tessa tilted her head to the side.  "Is something wrong, Sagara-san?"

"No, Captain," Sagara shook his head.  "I was simply wondering… if there are any other assignments I'm being reserved for."

Tessa considered this for a moment.  Why are you so anxious to get back to fighting? She thought sadly, is it because that's all you know, Sagara?

"Well, we don't have any operations that require your particular skills… but Major Anders might need an extra hand on guard duty…"

"Sir," Sagara saluted.

The gray-haired woman sighed softly.  "Carry on, Sergeant."

She watched him walk away, glancing at the clock briefly.  Well, she thought tiredly, I can't really expect him to hang around the bridge all day while I try to figure out what he likes and how to get his attention.  At least guard duty shifts run the same as my normal schedule, and since nothing's going on right now, I should be able to see him more often.  She frowned suddenly as she realized something.

"I really, really want to be with him…"

Taking a quick glance around to ensure that no one heard her, Tessa leaned back in her chair.  I know where he'll be, too, she mused, abuse of power?  Me??  Never…

The rest of the day crawled past as she pondered the ethics of her decisions.  On one hand, no one was being endangered by what she was doing.  On the other hand, she had deliberately arranged an officer's schedule to correspond with her own – ensuring that her free time was his free time as well.

But done was done… so she decided to make the most of it.


"Captain," Sagara nodded as the young woman brought her tray over and sat next to him, "good evening."

"Good evening, Sagara-san," Tessa said brightly, smiling as she noticed the arrangement of the table.  "Was your day alright?"

The young man nodded, methodically skewering several green beans onto his fork's tines.  "It was uneventful," he said softly.

"Good," Tessa said, slowly building up her courage and eyeing the saltshaker.  "Do you have any plans for the weekend?"

This caught Sagara off guard, she could tell, as he blinked rather hard.  "Ummm… no," he said quietly after a moment, bringing the beans to his mouth.

"I see," Tessa nodded, gauging the distance and feeling a slight thrill run through her as she estimated it to be perfect.

Wish me luck, Melissa! She thought giddily, unaware that she had unconsciously made her subordinate into somewhat of an avatar for feminine wile.

"Excuse me…"

Quickly, she leaned over, reaching across the young man and grasping the saltshaker… allowing her breasts to brush his right wrist as she went.  Sagara, however, was unfazed by the move, and carefully, discretely slipped his arm down into his lap.

So much for that… Tessa thought disappointedly.  I don't even think he looked at me… She salted her food, biting her bottom lip and stealing a careful glance at Sagara from the corner of her eye.  Handsome… she thought wistfully, I wonder if he HAS noticed me, and just doesn't like me?? She relaxed slightly as she remembered the way he acted around Melissa and Chidori.  They're both prettier than me, she reasoned, but he doesn't look at them either. She shook her head sharply. I'm pretty too, she told herself firmly, refusing to fall victim to self-defeating thoughts, he probably just… doesn't think about stuff like that…

This last thought felt very… proper to her, and as she stole another glance at the young man, she decided that she would need to be a bit more creative in getting his attention.

"Captain," he said politely, rising to his feet and picking his tray up.

"Have a good evening, Sagara-san," Tessa murmured quietly, inclining her head as he bowed.

I don't think your advice applies to him, she thought, watching him empty his tray into the garbage and walk briskly from the room, what now, Melissa?  I can't really ask you again, now can I?  You already know… I know you do – but if I keep asking for advice, you'll try to step in, and I cannot allow that.

An idea struck suddenly, and she quickly picked up her tray and emptied its contents into the trash.

"He'll take a shower," she muttered excitedly, "then head to his room… so if I time it right…"

She walked at a casual pace, trying not to attract attention and pausing to speak to a few subordinates along the way before finding herself in the hallway to Sagara's quarters.  Perfect! She thought happily, spying him coming down the other end.

Pretending to be focused on the corridor in front of her, Tessa waited until Sagara was almost beside her before making her move.



Sagara stooped, quickly catching the woman as she started to tumble forward.

"Th-thank you, Sagara-san," she whispered.


She leaned upwards, her heart racing as she closed her eyes and brought her lips to his… or tried to, anyway.  Seeing that the danger had passed, Sagara released his captain and took a polite step backwards.  Since she was leaning forward, and had her eyes closed, Tessa failed to notice this.


Tessa's eyes opened just in time to see the bulkhead rushing to meet her forehead.

Sagara winced as a dull, metallic 'thunk' echoed through the hall.  "Are you alright, Captain?" he asked, putting a steadying hand on her shoulder as she wobbled slightly.  "Do you need to go to the infirmary?"

"N-no," Tessa muttered, rubbing her forehead with a pained expression, "I'm fine… carry on, Sergeant…"


Tessa walked away quickly, still caressing her tender forehead.  Stuuuupid, she berated herself, that was so stupid I can't even stand it!

Making her way to her quarters, she plopped down on her bed.  "Maybe I should have unbuttoned my shirt, too," she groaned, "just to make sure that he noticed… what a moron!!"

She closed her eyes.  Tomorrow's Wednesday, she thought, I've got that meeting in the afternoon with the head of the UN, so I can't really do anything about this tomorrow…  She rolled onto her side, too disgusted with herself to indulge in the luxury of undressing.  So Thursday… in the gym… yeah, I think that will work…

With a sigh, she tried to get to sleep, wondering if Sagara would ever notice that she liked him.  After a few minutes, she rolled onto her back, a soft, miserable whine filling the air.

"Ow… that really hurt…"


Sagara did not look up from his crunches as the door to the gym slid open, then closed.  He was used to working out alone, as (for some reason) no one else used the facilities at that hour of the day.  Why, he was not exactly sure, since he figured it was best to start the morning with physical activity, but in his time with Mithril, he had only shared the gym six times.

"Ohayo, Sagara-san."

And this was the last person he expected to hear from.

"Captain," he exclaimed, quickly scrambling to his feet and saluting.  "Ohayo."

"We're off duty, Sagara-san," Tessa smiled reassuringly, taking a quick look at his sweat shorts and tee shirt combination.  "Please continue your work out… don't mind me…"

Clean and in order, she thought with some amusement, wondering idly if he pressed his workout clothes to get them so neat, how very much like you, Sagara…

After a brief hesitation, Sagara nodded.  "Hai."

Tessa wandered over to one of the weight machines, setting it for a low weight and starting to do a light workout.  I can be more open here, she thought, trying to stay calm, especially since I locked the door.  She frowned, wondering what he would think if he tried to leave before she worked up enough courage to try to make him see her again.

"No good," she whispered, her voice barely audible, "it has to be now."  She took a deep breath, getting off the machine and moving to one of the inner thigh exercises.


The young man got to his feet, saluting again.  "Captain?"

"We're off duty, Sagara-san," Tessa teased brightly; "you don't have to salute."  She glanced at the machine.  "Can you show me how to use this one, please?"


Tessa looked away, smiling happily as he approached her.  He'll have to get close, she thought excitedly; oh don't let me chicken out!

Sagara walked up behind the young woman, waiting for her to move so he could demonstrate the machine.  When she stayed where she was, he blinked.  "Ummm," he said slowly, "Put your leg up into the cuff," he instructed, realizing that she wanted verbal direction.

"Like this?" she asked innocently, deliberately putting her foot in the wrong place.

"No," Sagara said patiently, leaning down at her side and rearranging her leg until it was properly situated.

Tessa's heart leapt as she thought he spent an extra second or two glancing at the leg of the tight black impact shorts she was wearing.  "And then I just go?" she asked, proud that her voice was still even, considering how loud her pulse was beating in her ears.

"You'll fall," Sagara warned quickly.  "Put this hand," he took her left hand and placed it on one of the balance handles, "Here."  He paused for a moment, trying to find a way to tell her where to put her other hand… but since the machine was so complicated, and had so many different functions (thigh exercises being one of thirteen) he decided that showing would be easier.  "And put your other hand here," he said finally, reaching around her body and taking her other wrist carefully in hand.

Now! Tessa thought, turning sideways against him and tilting her head, her lips grazing the corner of his mouth.


For the first time that she could recall, Sagara looked stunned.  Gently freeing her right hand from his suddenly loose grip, Tessa hooked it around the back of his neck, pulling his lips down against hers in a soft, unmistakable kiss. There was a moment of absolute silence in the gym, then a soft sigh filled the air as Sagara slowly pulled back, looking into the Captain's light gray eyes for a moment… then leaned forward and kissed her very carefully.


Emboldened by his reciprocation, Tessa deepened the kiss, turning to face him fully and draping her arms over his shoulders.

Now that, she thought with some satisfaction, is more like it…

Though it was not quite what she planned, Tessa was more than happy with the outcome.  Moving carefully, she pressed herself against him, trying to get more of his mouth over hers, and though neither of them had ever kissed before, the slow tempo of the exploratory give and take gave them ample opportunity to learn at first.  However, passion being what it is, it was not long before they were caught up in the embrace, aggressively vying for greater depth of contact as their lips parted almost simultaneously and their tongues met for the first time.

This is… Tessa's thoughts would not quite focus, seeming scattered and diffuse as Sagara abruptly brought his right hand up to the back of her head, holding her firmly in place and sliding his tongue deep into her mouth.  I…don't want this to end…

This thought is what precipitated her next move.

"Captain…" Sagara gasped as the young woman abruptly broke from him, sitting on the edge of a nearby weight bench and grasping the front of his shirt.

"Tessa," she panted, laying back on the bench and pulling him with her, "Tessa…"

Their lips met once more, the intensity of the kiss tripling as Sagara knelt over her on the short bench, his hands planted precariously on either side of her narrow waist.  "T-Tessa…" he whispered, unused to being so personal.  He appeared to want to say more, but chose instead to resume kissing her, exploring her willing mouth with the tip of his tongue until a needy jerk at the bottom of his shirt forced him to pull away.

Breathing hard, Tessa drew his shirt off, lifting her back slightly to enable her to keep kissing him as he drew the garment the rest of the way off and threw it on the floor. Like this, Melissa-san? She thought dizzily, Inappropriate like this?

Their mouths collided again as Sagara shifted, trying to find a more tenable position on the bench, a muffled gasp filling the air as his right knee accidentally slipped between her thighs.  Tessa moaned passionately, pressing herself against his knee and gasping as he shifted again, generating an unimaginable sensation of pleasant friction between her legs.

She raised her arms up over her head as his hands grasped the bottom of her shirt, tugging urgently until the tight fabric slid up, exposing her body.  "Keep going," she panted when he paused, "Sosuke-kun… keep going…"

Sagara nodded, his eyes too clouded with desire to take more than a passing glance at her chest as he threw her shirt to the side and began working on her shorts.

Too long, she wanted to scream, shimmying her hips to allow the shorts to slip off, you're taking too long!!

The idea of 'second thoughts' never entered either of their minds.

Tessa lay back on the bench, once again stretching her arms over her head and wetting her lips as the young man slipped his thumbs into his own shorts.  Hurry, she thought frantically, I only want to do this with you… hurry, Sagara…

Time seemed to blur as the two made love first on the bench, then on the floor, losing all sense of control and self as they succumbed to their passion, finally ending up breathless on the floor, dozing lightly in each other's arms.

Tessa woke several minutes later, roused by the sound of quiet movement.  "Sosuke-kun?" she whispered, rubbing her eyes as she found the young man pulling his shirt on.  Her clothes, she noticed were in a neat stack at her side.

"I'm on duty in fifteen minutes," Sagara whispered, "I need to go."

Tessa nodded, unsure of how to react to his quiet, even tone.  Nothing, however, could have prepared her for his next comment.

"Thank you," he said hesitantly, bowing with an unmistakable air of respect and deference.

Tessa averted her eyes, covering her chest with her arms and trying to think of a proper response.  Never in her life had she felt so cheap – or so naked.  She wanted to run, to bury herself in her blankets and never show her face to the world again.  Summoning the last scraps of her dignity… pushing away at the horrid certainty that she had just made the biggest mistake of her life… she lifted her chin and gave the only reply she could think of.

"You're welcome…"

Silently, she slipped her shirt and shorts back on, rising carefully to her feet and stepping past the young man to open the door.

"Captain," Sagara said slowly.

"Yes sergeant…?" Tessa whispered hollowly.

"It's nothing."

Nothing, Tessa thought dully, that's what all of this was.  Oh God why am I so stupid?  Why did… why did I give myself away without knowing if he cared?  I'm so stupid!!

"Make sure you're on time…" she said quietly as Sagara stepped out the door.

"Yes ma'am."

As he walked away, Tessa closed the door and reengaged the lock.  Then she slowly sat on the floor… rested her head on her knees… and cried.


"So you can see," Marioka was saying, "we need to move on this as soon as possible, wouldn't you agree Captain?"

Tessa nodded, rubbing her eyes for a moment before replying, "Of course, you're right – make sure that it's done…"

There was an awkward pause.

"Are you ok, Captain?" the man asked finally, glancing around at the concerned faces of the other bridge crew members, "you've been looking a bit… tired since your workout this morning."

"It's nothing, Marioka-san," she said soothingly, giving the man a soft smile, "I think I just… did more than I should have."  She shook her head, covering a yawn with her palm.  "If that was the last piece of business, though, I believe I will turn in a bit early… is that alright?"

"Of course," Marioka assured her quickly, "rest well, Captain."

"Thank you."

Tessa rose to her feet and gave him a polite bow, then started for her quarters.  What is it I read about rejection? She mused, making her way through the Tuatha de Danaan's narrow corridors, No, it wasn't about rejection – it was about pain.  Time heals all wounds…

"Even a few hours makes it easier," she whispered, opening the hatch leading to her quarters' area, "now if I can just make it through a couple more days without seeing him, this might just be survivable…"  She focused her eyes on the floor, concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other as she trudged to her room.  "What would you think of me now, Mao-san?" she muttered, "You used to look up to me – to envy me, even… if you knew what happened, would you think I was so-"


She stopped, too tired and worn to feel surprised.  "Sergeant," she muttered.

"May I speak with you, Captain?" Sagara asked, pushing away from the bulkhead he had been leaning against.

"You'll have to be brief, Sergeant," Tessa said quietly, turning to the entrance to her quarters and opening it.  "I'm very tired."

"I understand," Sagara said calmly, following her in and standing at full attention.

Shaking her head at his stiff posture, Tessa sat at her desk and folded her legs.  "What can I do for you, Sergeant?"

Incredible… she thought as the young man collected his thoughts, you must be the coldest person alive, Sagara-san… ARE you alive inside that cold shell you wear?

"There is some research I require your assistance with," Sagara said finally, staring respectfully at the wall behind the Captain's chair.

"Regarding what, Sergeant?" Tessa asked softly, rubbing her throbbing temples.

At least he's not gloating, she thought suddenly, or trying to take advantage of me…

"About… relationships, Captain," the young man said slowly, looking briefly to her face before returning his gaze to the wall.

"Relationships?" Tessa repeated.  "I don't understand what you mean, Sagara-san."

There was a very long silence as Sagara brought his eyes down to meet hers.  "I'm not… skilled in dealing with people," he said carefully, making sure she was listening as he explained himself, "I don't know how to interact with others on a personal level, and I… apologize… if my ignorance hurt you or offended you…Tessa…"

The Captain stared at him blankly for a moment, refusing to allow herself to hope that she was hearing what she thought she was hearing.  "So," she said quietly, "why are you asking my assistance if this is a personal issue, Sagara-san?"

Sagara blinked; his back straightening as he gave a stiff, formal bow.  "My apologies once again," he said slowly, "it seems I… mistook your intentions."  He straightened and turned to the door.

"Wait," Tessa called, rising to her feet.  "What did you think, Sagara-san?"

"It isn't important," Sagara shook his head, "I've already embarrassed you several times today, Captain, so if you will excuse me…"

"I will not."

Sagara turned to face her once more.  "Yes ma'am," he said crisply.  "Forgive my rudeness."

"Tell me what you thought my intentions were," she said flatly.

Sagara nodded, clearly reluctant, but unwilling to disobey.  "I was mistakenly under the impression that you were interested in pursuing a relationship," he said bluntly, "and I wanted to explain my earlier actions by informing you that I simply…" he took a deep breath, "do not know how to behave in situations like that.  Being… with you was amazing, Captain… but it is not something I have experienced before, nor have I learned how to-"

"That's enough," Tessa cut in, raising a hand and slowly closing the distance between them.  She circled him, stopping when she was facing his back.  "Have you told anybody about what happened this morning?" she asked quietly.

"No ma'am," Sagara said immediately, "it was between us – private."  He raised his chin slightly, seemingly on the verge of turning to face her, but unwilling to move without her authority.  "I won't ever tell anyone about it, Captain."

Tessa nodded.  "I see…"

For several minutes, neither of them spoke, the clock on her nightstand quietly ticking closer to eight PM.

"Sagara-san," Tessa whispered finally, "Your interpretation of my feelings was correct – I do want to be with you.  I know you didn't have any real intentions of… making love to me this morning…" she paused, considering her words for a moment before asking, "but now that you know my feelings, and… we've already been together – what would you like to happen next?"

Sagara cleared his throat.  "I admit that I hadn't considered you as anything other than my superior before this morning," he said carefully, "and I am not sure if it is… appropriate for us to be involved that way, but if it is acceptable to you, I think pursing a relationship would be enjoyable."

"The way you talk is so cold," Tessa murmured.

"I know," Sagara countered, "I don't know how-"

"That's enough."

Sagara nodded.  "Yes ma'am."

There was silence again, and Sagara closed his eyes as he felt a soft touch on his right shoulder.  "You made me feel dirty this morning," Tessa whispered, laying her free hand on his other shoulder.  "Thanking me – for sex… you made me feel like a whore, Sosuke-kun."  Slowly, she slipped her arms around his waist and laid her head on his back.  "Since you said that you don't know how to act in a situation like this, and since I don't know either," she took a deep breath, "I think that we need to agree that making love is mutual, and doesn't require thanks afterwards… alright?"

"Yes," Sagara nodded, not sure what else to say.

"So," Tessa said softly, "next time…"

Sagara blinked as she trailed off, finally turning to face her.

"I don't have much experience with these kinds of things either," she reminded him gently, "and you're right – it probably isn't appropriate for us to be involved this way."  She offered him a tentative smile.  "But if you're willing to try it…"

Sagara nodded slowly.  "Is that an order?"

"No," the young woman shook her head seriously, "that's something I would never command you to do, Sosuke-kun.  This needs to be your choice…"

"I see," Sagara murmured.  He studied her face closely for a moment, finally asking, "You're sure you want this?"

Tessa gave him a bright smile… but it faded slowly as she stared into his eyes.  "Yes," she said seriously, "and… I'd like to make love to you again."

Sagara averted his eyes, blushing for the first time Tessa could recall.

"Not tonight," she said quickly as he glanced around her narrow quarters, "it's really late, and I think… I think I'd fall asleep as soon as we were done – and that would be really hard to explain, ne?"  She sighed, resting her head on his shoulder.  "But I want to be your koibito, Sosuke-kun, not just your kareshi…"

"This is… going to be complicated," Sagara said quietly, carefully embracing her.  "Since you're… the captain, and we both have other assignments that need our attention."  He averted his eyes, certain that he had said something wrong.

Slowly, Tessa turned his head to face her and brought his lips down to hers, kissing him tenderly.  She held him for several moments, just enjoying the contact, before breaking away and whispering, "We'll take things as they come, Sosuke-kun.  It… might be complicated, but I think it's worth it." 

She closed her eyes, letting herself be swept away in the moment as – for the first time – he took the initiative and kissed her, holding her slim body tight against his chest.

After several minutes of soft, gentle kissing, Sagara broke away, stepping back from her until she was forced to release her.  "Goodnight, Ca- Tessa-chan," he bowed formally, "rest easy."

"I will," Tessa smiled radiantly, "I will, Sosuke-kun… goodnight…"

Stepping closer to him, she took one last, lingering kiss, grinning almost foolishly as she thought, We might have started a bit faster than most… but now that we've begun, we can go as fast or as slow as we want – and only the two of us will ever know how close we are.  Her smile faded slightly.  Only the two of us can EVER know…

Opening the door and taking a quick look around, Tessa whispered a final goodnight, waving timidly as he bowed and moved quickly away from her door, watching alertly for any other late night hall-walkers.  With a sigh, she closed her door and leaned against it, looking down at the floor for a moment before slipping her skirt and blouse off.

"Yes," she whispered, sliding wearily into bed, "I think I'll rest fine…"

She was asleep almost as soon as she closed her eyes, feeling too worn from the stress and exertion of the day to even think about what the morning would bring… though her dreams hinted that it would be bright… and warm.


Author's Notes:  Continuation?  Yes.  I have at least two more installments on this story planned – well, one more and a kind of a side story, but I don't know if I'll get around to it.  This story feels pretty rounded to me.  I started this story on a whim, for anyone that cares, and it just kind of grew from there.  I was just in the mood to write a Sagara/Tessa kiss, and like the scene in the lemon version of this story, it just went farther than intended.  Hey, it happens sometimes.  *Shrug*

Both versions of this story were pre-read (and largely egged on) by LeperMessiah, whose exact words, if I recall correctly, were: "Dude… go for a second chapter – and have more sex in it!!"  So, ummm… thanks??  O_o

Feedback is always welcome at random1377@yahoo.com