Disclaimer: I make no claim to the series, ideas, or characters of Full Metal Panic.

Defining Normalcy

Chapter 1: One that is Regular

By Adam Lakewood

A red light filled the room as an electronic ringing sound went off as a warning to those who may pay mind to it. Addressing those who may be initiating input to confirm that which had already been confirmed several times before. Most of the people in the room liked to call it the 'dummy alarm.'

"Captain, from best I can tell, that decision would not be quite efficient." said Sousuke, trying with actual success to keep the agitated tone out of his otherwise supportive voice.

Sousuke straightened the sleeve on his uniform only half interested in what was going on. This bombing was actually of great interest, but he had been through almost the same ordeal at least two other times in the past three weeks. It aggravated him to know that despite his being entrusted with this position, there was still no one willing to take his suggestions to heart. Also, despite his having worn this suit everyday for the past three weeks, the grey, stiff uniform still did not feel at all comfortable to him. He couldn't help but feel that he would be much more comfortable in it if he were much taller, older, and probably had a grey to accompany an aged, experienced, and wise face defined by a few wrinkles of time.

Unfortunately, he had none of those qualities.

He would prefer his fatigues any day. But, such would not work, not for a constantly ignored advisor.

"Madam Captain, for once I would have to agree with Serg†Lieutenant Sagara." added Mardukas.

He did that on purpose, Sousuke couldn't help but notice.

Sousuke smiled over at Lieutenant Commander Mardukas. The older man smiled back at him, thinking that his young, naïve, barely subordinate, subordinate may have considered his comment to have truly been a mistake or perhaps even a possible attempt at humor.

What he didn't know was that the young Lieutenant was smiling at the mental image he was having of walking over to the smart-ass, withering, old zombie and kicking his head off like a football during kickoff.

At least he was finally agreeing to his suggestions†for once†and possibly the only time.

"I completely understand that you want to take down the entire arms factory with as few casualties as possible, but sending a SCUD to those coordinates will only result in us having to send another; thus resulting in more casualties than expected."

The woman sitting in the chair between the two men looked on as if contemplating. She twirled her platinum hair between her fingers as she scanned the large monitor before her. She calculated the numbers in her head, and they seemed to match up.

"But, my calculations are correct, and"

"The buildings are of" interrupted Mardukas.

"German make." finished Sousuke.

Captain Testarossa pulled at her hair again as she stared at the monitor once more coming up with a new set of calculations in her head.

"Then, in that case, adjust the trek by an additional 3 WATS LT. That should suffice."

"No, Captain, I'm afraid that still will not do. The major factories are too far spaced out. It would have to be adjusted by at least 13 WATS." Mardukas added in quickly.

"No! That would be back at the original position with the same amount of casualties. I trust in my calculations!" she said in a stern voice to the Lieutenant Commander.

She quickly put back on a smile and turned in her seat to look unnecessarily at Sousuke who stood stiff as a board with a stern look on his face looking directly at the monitor.

"What do you think, Lieutenant Sagara?" she asked making sure it was clear that she said 'Lieutenant.'

Without warning two outstretched hands of one Lieutenant Sousuke Sagara shot forth and wrapped themselves around the petite woman's neck. Sousuke smiled sadistically as the Captain's face went through many different shades of blue. Commander Mardukas and everyone else in the room smiled on with great satisfaction displayed across their faces. No one bothered to make a move to save their egotistical Captain. Besides, they didn't hear her calling out for help. She had lectured Sergeant Major Mao a while back for giving her assistance when she hadn't asked for it. Well, she wasn't asking for help, now. Never mind the fact that she wouldn't be able to in her current predicament.

"Lieutenant Sagara?" called the worried voice of Captain Testarossa.

Sousuke blinked in surprise and looked down at his Captain who was to his surprise, still breathing and not being strangled by his hands. He looked away for a moment to clear that image from his mind. He took in a deep breathe for four seconds in and four seconds out before he turned around once again to look at the source of his frustration.

Sitting there was that holy image that constantly haunted him. The image that always plagued his mind and ensured many a night's restlessness. That grand, beautiful, image that would not let him live in peace.

Kaname.

Oh, how he hated that image. Not the person, but the haunting memory of what he could have had. He would love nothing more than to have never had that prolonged encounter that now only subsided as a memory of something forever forgotten; unattainable. But, since he did have the damnable memory and couldn't redo the past, he would hold on to that memory for all he was worth. He would not ever let that sacred image disappear from his life.

He closed his eyes for a moment in memory of what he had.

Once again he was sitting on that bench after having jumped out of the window of a moving subway. The words had already been exchanged and he was left sitting on the bench looking up at her as she laughed.

That laugh.

That smile.

He did not take long for him to start feeling strangely toward the girl he was assigned to protect. He said strangely because he had did not know how he felt; he just knew that at that point he would gladly give his life for that girl.

If he had fallen for her personality and beauty, then he had probably tripped, stumbled, fell, and rolled down a very steep hill because of that smile and that laughter.

He did not know what he felt for the girl standing there laughing at him. For the first time in a long time, he seemed to have made someone happy, and he loved that feeling. She also made him feel happy. Ever since that moment he held that girl in a different light other than his duty. Her smile was more addictive than any drug imaginable. He would have done anything to see that smile or hear that laughter.

He loved her.

There was no doubt. But, to him, that single syllable, four lettered word seemed to be lacking in the way he felt for her. Love was not a strong of enough word.

Sousuke opened his eyes again, hating to dwell on those joyful, yet painful memories. The sounds of the room returned to him first as his sense registered themselves again. He looked down where his Captain should have been to make sure it was still his Captain in that seat.

"What do you think, Lieutenant Sagara?" she asked once she realized that he was once again paying attention.

Sousuke roughly rubbed his fingers across his temples in an agitated manner, not caring if others saw or not. Just to make sure that everyone knew that he was not pleased, he let out an aggravated sigh.

"Do as you will, Captain. Your wisdom would truly exceed mine on the matter. What would I know about this anyway? I only assisted in the construction of the building materials." he said with sarcasm evident in his voice.

With no other comment or warning, he turned around and left the room, leaving everyone staring at his departing figure with their eyes wide and mouths gaping open. Everyone knew that the Lieutenant must have been angered at times with the 'free will' of his Captain; they all had. But, never would anyone have expected Sagara in any way to show his displeasure. It was an unspoken fact that everyone would be marking their calendars that night.


Sousuke walked down one of the long corridors of the Tuatha De Danaan, not entirely certain as to where he was going. It did not matter where he was going, as long as he was going somewhere besides the room he had just came from.

What was wrong with him? He was definitely not acting by himself. And, either he was going insane or his imagination was just being a little bit over-active†or maybe it was just fatigue. That's it; he was probably just being cranky because of his recent insomnia. Three days without sleep will do that to a guy†or so he had heard.

Or, stress could just be getting to him.

Or, it could just be the cruelties of reality finally catching up to him.

Probably, it was a combination of them all. But, he knew that the later would be a major cause for the others.

He stopped for a moment, leaning against the side of one of the corridors. Yes, it was true that the corridors were rather spacious for a submarine, but it seemed that the walls got closer and closer together with each passing second.

The feeling was now to be expected under these circumstances, yet the feeling was never any easier to deal with.

He felt as if the temperature in the room was rising, but he was starting to get a cold feeling in his stomach. He felt sick.

Frankly, this was starting to become a pain in the ass†or stomach actually.

He could kid himself or make excuses about what had him feeling this way all he wanted, but he knew why he was feeling this way. And, no, it hadn't just started recently.

For lack of a better way of putting it: he was homesick.

This dreaded feeling had been spontaneous for almost an entire year now, ever since he was pulled out of Tokyo. And, there was no one left here for him. There was no one to talk to him; to support him; to care for him; to take care of him; or in any way to just be there for him. There was

"Sooooouuuuuusuke!" exclaimed a playful female voice in warning.

There was her. She fit that bill perfectly; how could he have overlooked her? She would always support him no matter what.

Sousuke looked to his side to see a girl walking towards him with a beaming smile displayed across her face.

His wretched mood vanished as soon as he saw her. Her joyful nature always seemed to have that affect on him.

The girl was tall for her age of seventeen, but she still stood over half a foot under him. She had very distinctive Korean features. She had neck length, straight black hair. Her eyes were of a sparkling blue color, and her entire body seemed to fill out and tone down in all of the right places. In a word, she was beautiful. Even he would have to admit to this.

Her eyes sparkled when she made eye contact with him, as they always did. She quickly ran over to him and immediately latched her arms around him.

"Sousuke! I've been waiting for you to come out of there! I was getting bored!"

"Well, if you were getting bored, then maybe you shouldn't have waited for me." he said as he pulled his sleeve back and looked at his watch.

"You know, Jin, I would have been out for dinner in at most another half hour."

"Yeah, I know buuuut, I just HAD to tell you about my mission!"

Sousuke looked absolutely stunned by Jin's statement.

Jin looked at him once again with her beaming smile. She waited to hear him say something, but the words never came. He smile faded some as she continued watching him. She saw a look of confusion cross his face, and her smile dropped. She turned away from with a disapproving grunt as she crossed her arms and stuck out her lower lip in a pouting manner. She looked at him out of the corner when she heard him sigh.

"Don't tell me; you forgot?"

"Affirmative. I am very sorry. I've just been†occupied."

Jin uncrossed her arms and looked back at him. There was a sympathetic look on her face now.

"You've been thinking about Kaname again?"

Sousuke blushed and scratched an imaginary itch on the back of his head. Was he really that translucent? Or predictable?

"Uh, yes. Yes, I was. But, that is no excuse for me to forget something so important."

Jin walked over to him with a smile once again on her face. She let out a short lived chuckle as she straightened the collar of his uniform.

"Oh, Sousuke, it wasn't really that important!"

"Don't say that. It was your first mission; I should have been there! Or, at the very least remembered." he said as he bowed his head.

"But, you're right. There's no use in worrying about that now; is there?"

"Nope! Well, I can at least tell you about it, Sousuke." she said as her smiled expanded.

Her smile dropped as she looked over at him once again.

"It is okay now if I call you 'Sousuke?' now, or do I still need to refer to you as"

Jin straightened her back, stuck out her chest, and tried her best to put on a stern face.

"Lieutenant Sagara." she said in a sarcastic, deep voice.

Sousuke smiled at the Jin's over-exaggeration. He really loved how she always managed to make him smile. She reminded him of Kaname in some ways. Sousuke was about to retaliate with something witty, but he decided he wouldn't bother. Instead he straightened his index finger and poked her in the rib while her back to him and she was in the middle of doing a mock salute.

She let out a short squeak followed by a short-lived giggle and jumped like she had been shot. She quickly turned around with a flustered look on her face.

"Sousuke! Don't do that; that tickles!"

"Yes. I am quite aware of that."

"Well, I wish you wouldn't do that!"

"I am also quite aware of that. And yes, of course you can call me Sousuke. Just don't give any of my other subordinates the idea that they can also."

"Allllrighty! You got it."

"By the way, did the Lambda Driver function well?"

"Yes, or at least for me it functioned perfectly. Brian and Marx had a bit of trouble, but they said that it still worked quite well for them. It definitely worked much than it did last time thanks to the little bit of input you gave the R&D department. You know, you're a genius when it comes to that thing!"

"Well, I have been told that."

Jin turned her head towards him and gave him a questioning look.

"You know, you're an expert with that thing. Why don't you pilot anything with the Lambda Driver anymore? Everyone would be able to do much better with it if you were out there in the field giving instructions and advice."

"Maybe so, but I will never go back to relying on that thing for as long as I can help it. Besides, you can use that thing much better than I can. I've taught you everything I know about it, plus you have learned about twice that much on your own. I guess being a Whispered really helps in that field doesn't it?"

"Yeah, I guess so." she said as she lowered her head.

"You†really don't like the Lambda Driver do you?" she said as she looked further away from him.

"I hate that contraption." he said. "The thing was never all that reliable in the past, and because I was the first to be able to use was the reason I was pulled out of Tokyo."

"Yes, I know that. But†because of the Lambda Driver, a lot of lives have been saved. A lot."

"I'm aware. But, if we didn't have the Lambda Driver, troops would be better trained before they were sent out into the field. We also wouldn't have to rely on something so unreliable. That thing almost got me and my entire team killed once because we were relying so heavily on it. It's almost as if it has a mind of its own, and that mind is utterly evil." he said as he let out such a deep sigh.

"Yeah, we can really thank the Whispered for such a despicable machine of death and chaos. If I was able to" he stopped and his eyes widened as soon as he realized once again who he was talking to.

He looked over at Jin who was looking at the floor with a saddened look on her face. He didn't know what he was saying until he had already said it. Now, the words repeated themselves over to him, and he knew how they must have sounded.

He wasn't clear on what he had said. He made it sound as if he hated the Whispered and blamed a lot on them. And, he did. But, he didn't hate the Whispered as people; he hated the abilities of the Whispered. It was because of those abilities so many of the Whispered were put through Hell before they were killed. It was because of those abilities that Kaname had been targeted. It was because of those abilities that the Lambda Driver and so much other advanced warfare weaponry had been created.

He walked slowly over to Jin and rested his hand on her shoulder. He brushed a few strands of hair away from her face.

"I'm sorry, Jin. I shouldn't have said that. I didn't mean it the way I made it sound. I don't blame you or any of the other Whispered for anything. I just"

He was interrupted when he heard a short lived, quite chuckle from the girl. She looked back up at him with a slight smile back on her face. Sousuke felt quite relieved; he was afraid he had managed to hurt her feelings again with his ramblings.

"I know you didn't, Sousuke. Don't worry about; you're just upset again. I've learned to take nothing you say when you're upset for face value." she stated matter of factly.

"Well, that is still no reason for me to say something like that without making certain that I mean no offense."

"Don't worry about it. I know you don't mean any offense by anything you say. It just†bothers me sometimes that I am a part of the development of something that you hate so much. But, you know, it doesn't make sense to me that you support the production of something that you detest so much. Why do you do it?"

"I don't know. For old time's sake I guess."

Jin laughed a little bit before she turned back around and beamed another smiled at Sousuke.

"You're pretty weird; you know that?" she said with another chuckle.

Sousuke looked over at the beautiful angel beside of him on the bench. Her laughter was like music to his ears. He wished time would just stop and replay itself so that the moment may never end.

"You're friend's a funny guy; you know that?"

He looked at her with a confused, yet surprised look on his face. At the time he did not get the joke.

"You know what he means?"

Kaname looked over and smile at him.

"Yeah! I mean, you are a bit of an odd bird, Sousuke." she explained.

He was even more confused by her statement. Perhaps compared to other birds he was odd, but that would be because he wasn't a bird at all. What was the relation? He almost felt insulted.

"Odd... bird?" he questioned seeking an explanation to the previous statement.

"Yes, I am aware of that. I have also been called an 'odd bird.'" he said with a light chuckle of his own.

"You might even say 'extremely odd.'" Kaname said with that beautiful chuckle that he loved so much.

"I have also been called 'extremely odd.'" he relayed as his memory played out for him.

After her bout of laughter she stood up beside him, looking down upon him.

"But, maybe... even with that rare personality of yours, you might just find someone nice who will understand you." she concluded with a smile.

The wind in the area picked up a bit, causing the limbs of the cherry blossom behind them to shake and release their pedals to the wind. Kaname brushed her hair out of her face as the wind fluttered it about. She saw the pedals falling and turned around to look at the cherry blossom from which they were falling.

She looked stunning. He did not know why. He was sure the cherry blossoms in the wind were a beautiful sight, but there was no way it could have been better than the beautiful portrait of the lady standing before him. The girl's words for some reason seemed to be rather enlightening and uplifting. He had heard the words paraphrased to him before by Kalinin, who also spoke of marriage, but he had never known quite what to make of them until now. Now, he was able to put two and two together. Coming from the young lady before him, he could almost make perfect sense of the words.

"You think so, huh?" he asked with a spark of hope in his voice.

"Someone... nice." he repeated the words and mixed them with the words he had heard from his Lieutenant.

"From what I can gather, you seem like a nice person." he stated while somewhat question and suggesting at the same time.

Kaname had a bit of a confused look on her face which soon changed to one of slight embarrassment.

"Uh... now wait a second. I wasn't trying to be all serious or anything." she ended with a sound that he could understand as one of disgust.

Well, there went that idea.

"Very well, I will disregard what you've said."

That comment oddly enough made her let out a sound of surprise. She chuckled again before turning back around to face him. She was once again smiling that beautiful smile at him.

"You're pretty weird alright." she stated with another laugh.

Sousuke's smile widened again as he heard her laughter replay itself in his head.

"I have also been called 'pretty weird.'"

"Make that REALLY weird. Really, reeeally weird!" she said before she finally let her beautiful laughter completely break free.

"I have also been notified that I am of many different degrees of weird." he said with a laugh as he remembered one of his and Kaname's first conversations.

"Well, you sure do seem to find it rather funny that you have been labeled every word the Thesaurus has for 'strange.' I guess the only thing you haven't been called is normal."

"Yeah. That's about how it goes. The person that sees me as normal must truly be as normal as I." he said as he let out another laugh.

"Well, enough about that. If I recall, you have just come back from your first successful mission; I think that calls for a celebration."

"Do I have to remind you that I'm not old enough to drink, yet, Sousuke?"

"Well, neither am I, so I guess we'll have to of about something else. We'll be going on land tomorrow, so I was thinking we could probably go to that fancy restaurant you've been saying you would like to go to?" he suggested.

"Kalamarones?"

"Yeah... that one... if that's what it's called."

"Sousuke, you don't have to do that for me."

"I'm quite aware that I don't have to. It's a matter of wanting to."

Without further word, Jin had latched herself to him once again. She squeezed him tightly in her embrace.

"Thank you so much, Sousuke! I love you!"

"Yes. I am aware of that." he said trying his best to hide a smirk.

With that she let go of him and gave him a playful shove.

"Well, fine! Act like a tough guy if you want to; I know better."

Sousuke let out a small laugh as he walked up to the smaller girl and threw his arm around her shoulder. He squeezed her to him as they began walking down the hallway.

"Just so you know, I didn't forget about your mission. I was just feeling strange while ago. It's been on my mind all day long."

"I know." she said as she looked up at him with a smile.

"I'm also really proud of you."

"I know."

"And, I'm truly sorry that I wasn't there today."

"I know."

"I was very busy trying to deal with our†free spirited Captain."

"I know."

"189 in binary code is 10111101."

"I didn't know that."

"I was just making sure you were still paying attention to me."

"I know." Jin said as a smile slowly made its way across her lips.

Sousuke stopped in walking for a moment until Jin was a couple steps ahead of him. He brought his leg up and kicked her playfully in the rear. She stumbled forward a few steps before she turned around and looked at him.

"Hey! Watch it!" she said pointing her finger at him.

"No, you better watch it, smart-aleck." he said as he reached out and ruffled her hair up as he walked past her.

"Also, I'm pretty hungry. Why don't you go make us something to eat and you can tell me about your day while we're eating."

"Well, after you've decided to literally kick my butt, I may feel like cooking you diner anymore."

"If that's so, I can always satisfy my appetite by digging into that box of chocolates you seem to cherish so much."

"You wouldn't dare to eat my chocolates." she said, her voice dripping with venom.

"I don't dare to eat them; I intend to eat them if I don't smell food when I get back to the dining room in about twenty minutes." he said with a smile.

"So, what do you make of" he said as he slowly turned around to look at the girl behind him.

The only thing behind his was a dark hallway with the sound of hastened footsteps on the metal floor getting further and further away by the second.


Sousuke stretched above his bed with a loud groan. After multiple popping sounds came from his back, arms, and legs, he uncharacteristically fell onto his bed. He rolled over on his back and let out a tired sigh.

Dinner was delicious and now he felt as if he could lie down and sleep forever. He looked over at his clock to see that it was only a little bit before seven o' clock. It was a little bit too early for even him to go to sleep, so he needed something to occupy himself with. Jin was in the shower and would probably be for a few more minutes, and if he were to just lie there he would surely go to sleep. So, he started contemplating.

He remembered back to his memory of Kaname he had while standing in the hallway of the submarine.

"You're pretty weird alright!"

For some reason this brought worries to his mind. He had to come to accept that he was weird. But, his being weird seemed to bring a lot of displeasure to Kaname while he was around her. True, he had been becoming more of what people considered to be normal as he spent time in Tokyo. Kaname was to think for that. He had actually started to act a little bit more like someone his age should have. He could have possibly been a normal teenager by now if he were still going to school in Tokyo instead of being aboard a battle submarine. That led him to ask a few other basic questions.

What exactly did it mean to be normal?

He wasn't exactly sure himself, but he knew how he could find out.

He reached under his bed and pulled out small, thick, well worn, paperback book. In his professional opinion, it was the most useful book ever published, and quite possibly the best seven American dollars he had ever spent.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary.

He stiffly lay back down on his bed and began quickly flipping through the pages in search of his word.

Normal nor-mal adj 1 : one that is normal

Sousuke sighed out a breath of frustration. That search didn't prove very fruitful. He looked again to find another definition.

Normal nor-mal adj 1: REGULAR, STANDARD, NATURAL

Well, that was a little bit better. It still didn't help his understanding, but it certainly did give him some more synonyms to look into. He flipped through the pages again looking for his next word.

Regular n 1 : one that is regular

Sousuke sighed once again as he slammed the dictionary closed and returned it to its place under his bed. Wow! He learned something new everyday!

He once again returned to his previous line of thought, trying to imagine how his life would be today if he were still in Tokyo. If he were still with Kaname.

Damn Mithril!

His hand rose up into the air and struck his bed harshly on its descent, thus making the bed shake, and its frame squeak and creak in protest of the harsh, unforgiving force.

Damn Tessa!

His fist slammed into his bed again.

Damn Mardukas!

The metallic wall felt his wrath that time.

Damn

No, Kalinin would have had nothing to do with his withdrawal from Tokyo. If anything, the man would have tried his best to keep him there even longer. He knew that the visit was doing him good, and he always tried to do what he figured would be best for him.

He finally rested his hand by his side, his hand throbbing in pain.

It just seemed as if everything had been falling apart for him for the past year.

First, he was pulled out of Tokyo after being there for over a year. He had made acquaintance with several people that he could have called 'friends.' He was starting to develop a life outside of the military. He was making great grades for school, and was already starting to be informed of scholarship and college referrals from his instructors. Most importantly, he had developed feelings that he didn't even know he had. ... Thanks to Kaname. She had grown greatly on him, and he on her. They had something special. Something that could have been made even better over time. He had finally found that special someone that Kalinin had been preaching to him about. But, it was all pulled out from under him by Mithril. He hated them for that, but at least he did still have a life with the military. Perhaps a normal life was just a fantasy that was foolish for him to ever have thought about. At least he still had Kurtz and Melissa aboard the TDD-1.

Then, they transferred out of there. Life in Mithril was completely acceptable. Life aboard a submarine beneath the water was not. They started to complain a little at first, and then a little bit more as time went on. Finally, four months ago, they transferred to a different division that was on land. They had offered, even begged him to come along with them; they were a team after all. Not only that, but they were great friends. He refused. Sure, he would have loved to remain with his friends, but that would be all he would have if he left the TDD-1. He would not be able to deal with that, especially if the most important thing still remained aboard.

Lieutenant Kalinin. When he thought about it, he treasured Kalinin more than he did anyone aboard the TDD-1 or all of Mithril. Kalinin was like the father he had lost. That meant a lot to him. After a while, even Kalinin started to act strange and complain a lot. He constantly complained about getting old and how the military was no place for an old foggy like himself.

Three weeks ago, Lieutenant Kalinin resigned permanently from Mithril and the military life. He talked about the time that he and the Captain were in Tokyo. For the short time he was there after the terrorist attack, he had loved it. It was going to take his savings and build himself a store in Tokyo and live out the rest of his life there. Everyone was devastated to hear about his leaving, especially Sousuke, even though he didn't say it while everyone else did. Sousuke was a Sergeant Major at the time of Kalinin's resigning. Kalinin had left in a good word with some of the higher ups. The following day, Sousuke was promoted to the position of the Lieutenant of the TDD-1. He would be taking Kalinin's place.

That should have thrilled him to death. But, it didn't. No one could replace Kalinin. He didn't want anyone to replace Kalinin. Kalinin was the only thing he had left in Mithril. Now, he didn't even have that, and the stress of the job was worse than being out in the battlefield. There was nothing left for him in Mithril.

Well, that wasn't entirely true.

He had once again managed to forget about Jin.

He had rescued Jin about four months ago on a slave ship heading from South Korea to Germany. She was going to be made the property of the KGB. She was one of the Whispered. The mission didn't go exactly as planned and they both ended up spending a couple of weeks on a deserted island waiting for Mithril to track them down. They had to do many different things to finally get the attention of one of the search planes.

He felt like Gilligan.

Survival has an odd ability to build bonds between people. Two weeks doesn't seem like a long time, but it is when there are only two people and nothing to do. It is surprising how much two people can find out about each other, especially when one is not supposed to know anything about the other.

He found out that Jin had no family. She had no friends, and he was the only friend that she had after only their first day stranded. He was somewhat shocked when he found out that she was willingly going to the KGB. It actually made a world of sense when viewed from her retrospect. To the KGB, the Whispered were important, so she would at least be important to someone. Never mind the fact it would be because of her abilities; at least someone would care about her existence.

Sousuke could identify with her more than he wanted to. Their lives were so painfully similar and not too drastically different. She would have joined the KGB for recognition; he did join Mithril for that same reason. He started to feel greatly for her in only a week. It wasn't the kind of feeling he had felt for Kaname. He felt as if he had a sister... again. He would not let her go anytime soon.

Mithril wanted to put her under protection; Sousuke wanted her by his side. He presented a reasonable argument when they refused. He could train her as an A.S. pilot; she had already showed attribute in being a fast learner. Plus, she was Whispered. What better combination could a military organization ask for? The Whispered knew everything there was to know about Black Technology, and that included the Lambda Driver. So, it only made sense to have one operating it. Even Mardukas supported his plan. And, rightfully so. Jin soon became their greatest asset to the A.S. Squadron, being able to use the Lambda Driver to an unbelievable 163 efficiency. Even the scientists were surprised. They had not idea that the Lambda Driver had such power.

So, even after Kalinin left, he still had one thing left that made him want to remain in Mithril. But, he felt horrible. Today was her first mission. It didn't bother him that he wasn't there. What bothered him was the fact that it was her first mission. That meant that she was almost officially a Mithril soldier. Soon, she would have her first kill under her belt. That would be something that she would not want. That would be something that he would not want.

That would be something that he would not allow. He would not allow them to turn her into a killing machine like they did him.

"Never!"

His fist connected with the metallic wall once again, rattling a couple of books off of his book shelf along with a picture frame.

In a hurried panic he dove to the floor in an attempt to catch the picture which was tumbling towards the metallic floor. He caught it right in time as the wind was knocked out of him from the impact of his body splash on the floor. He rolled over on his back, held the picture to his chest, and let out a sigh. If he had to choose between letting that picture or a vial of a dangerous biochemical that would kill everyone aboard the submarine shatter on the floor... it would be the picture that shattered on the floor. But, anything less than that... the picture would come first.

He held the picture above him to look at it and stop the overhead light from shining in is eyes. He saw the picture he had seen every night he went to sleep for the past year. It was a picture of Kaname with a camera held up to her face. He let out a slight laugh remembering the moment. Kaname might still have the same picture, except in her picture it would be him holding the camera up to his face. They had taken each others picture at the same time, thus making for a very laughable memory with the pictures.

The picture made him think back to the school that the picture he was taken at. That made him remember all of his friends and all of the memorable things that happened while he was there. He remembered what could have been the ultimate life in Tokyo.

He heard the door to the bathroom beside him creak open. Jin stepped out with a towel wrapped around her. She looked down at him with a curious expression on her face.

"What are you doing down there? And what was all the commotion?"

"Nothing. It's just much colder here on the floor than up there on my bed."

Jin walked around Sousuke and took a seat on his bed. She began combing her hair.

"Then, if you aren't making any use of your bed, then I suppose I will."

Normally he would have told her to go on ahead just out of politeness, but this time he did not and his silence bothered her. She looked down and saw the picture that he was holding cherishingly to his chest. She was reminded of many of the romance movies she had seen before. But, this was not at all like Sousuke, and it bothered her.

"Soooo, what you got there?" she feigned ignorance.

There was once again no response.

She crossed her foot over the other and propped them up on Sousuke's stomach.

"Well, then, if you're just going to lay there like a piece of furniture, I suppose I'll use you like one."

Not a sound. Not a flinch. He just lay there staring up at the green, metallic, ceiling without even blinking. Still she waited for a couple of minutes like that before speaking again.

"Sousuke, are you alive?"

Suddenly, she felt something cold wrap around her bare foot. She almost shrieked in surprise until she noticed it was Sousuke. He lifted her feet off of his stomach and placed them on the floor. He then turned his head around to look at her. His eyes looked tired.

"Let's go to Tokyo." he stated out of the blue.

She didn't know what to say about that. That statement came out of nowhere and it was totally unexpected.

"T... Tokyo?"

"Yes. You know, that place in Japan I'm always talking about and you're always saying you would like to go to?"

"Well... y... yes. I know, but why?"

"Because I want to lead a somewhat normal life, you also, and I want to see Kaname."

"You're leaving Mithril?!"

"No, not at all. I'm just leaving the De Danaan and will station myself on land for when they need me. You can do the same if you wish."

"They'll let you do that?"

"They have no choice in the matter. I will go to Tokyo either as a Mithril soldier or as a civilian. There is really nothing left here for me except for you, and I don't want you to start leading the life I did. You aren't a soldier yet, so you still have a clean conscious."

"Well, Sousuke... I would love to... but"

"I will not leave if you won't."

She smiled at that comment. Sousuke really was a sweet person, despite what other people might think. The real kicker was she knew he meant what he said.

"Sousuke, how can I say no to that."

He smiled like the Devil.

"Well, I was kind of hoping you couldn't."

"Of course I'll go with you. When are we leaving?"

Sousuke let out a tired groan as he lifted his arm above his head and looked at his watch.

"How about... in six hours?"

Jin almost choked.

"Six hours?!"

"Jin, these walls are closing in on me fast. I don't think I can spend another night here."

Jin smiled at the man on the floor. She loved him dearly. He truly did feel like her older brother. Whatever made him happy, made her happy. And, she had been hoping for the day he would be doing this. She knew he would want nothing more than to get back to his life he started in Tokyo. She knew he also wanted to get back to get back to Kaname so bad he couldn't stand it. ... Whatever he wanted, she wanted.

"Sounds great!"

Sousuke sat up quicker than a blink of the eye and looked at her as if he couldn't believe what he had just heard.

"Really?!" he said as his eyes widened like a little kid being told he could go to the candy store.

"Yeah!" she said shaking her head like it should have been obvious.

He was on his feet and pulling on his leather jacket before she even knew what was happening.

"G... Good! Great! I'll send some men to help you pack my and your stuff! I... I'll be back a little after midnight!"

In the blink of an eye he was out the door and it was slammed shut. Less than a second later the door swung back open and Sousuke quickly ran back in with the biggest smile beaming across his face she had ever seen on him before.

He quickly walked back over to her, brushed her hair away from her forehead, and kissed her on the forehead.

"Bye! And, thank you. Thank you, so much!"

He took her in a tight hug, picked her up, and swung her around before he finally set her back on the floor. Once again he was gone and the door had been slammed before she even looked back up at him.

She had NEVER seen him this happy before. That being so, the only time she had been happier was when she found out that Mithril would let her stay with Sousuke aboard the TDD-1. All of these drastic decisions had been made so quickly, she could still hardly believe what was going on. She was still very excited.

She would get to live in Tokyo!

She would get to meet Kaname!

Sousuke would get to go back to Tokyo!

Sousuke would finally be able to see Kaname again!

TO BE CONTINUED