An explanation: This is all highly spoilerific for Ghost in the Shell: second gig. I'm creating this story as a spot for reflective pieces on the happenings. They will happen in no particular order, at no particular time. Part of it is also that it's really good distraction from nanowrimo while not letting go of the muses.

Uh. Yeah.

"Damn it, you look just like a kid who's met 'the one'."

"Really."

He knew when to back off. Years of service under her had taught him to read her actions well. It wasn't that she was actively avoiding his questions, or firmly telling him to leave it.

Just… he had never seen that far away look on her face, especially in the midst of such a case. Sure, when they'd been doing things like the Cash-eye bit, she'd space off sometimes – but there was always that underlying danger radiating from her, like a fire.

It wasn't there now; something had distracted it. It made him want to take her by the shoulders and shake her, because he didn't feel quite right without her there. She chewed on her thumb again, another strange action. He'd been watching her closer and closer as the years went by, deliberately convincing himself that it was his duty as a subordinate, and not because he was fascinated by her.

He frowned, realizing this was the longest amount of time he had ever studied her. Under normal circumstances, she would have felt his gaze by now, glanced up and asked him what he wanted.

He would be lying if he said nothing, now.

But she didn't look up, and he had already said his piece.

Batou sighed as quietly as possible. Who is this guy, Major?