1. a. A swelling or enlarging.

1. b. A swollen condition.

2. A swollen part or organ.

The quality or state of being tumescent; especially readiness for sexual activity marked especially by vascular congestion of the sex organs.


The lights are low.

Sousuke and Kaname sat in the latter's apartment.

It is not a problem, really. Sousuke's scratched his head as he thought. This level of intensity saves electricity, and makes it more difficult for anyone to see us.

That train of thought was obviously a distraction. The curtains were closed. He was painfully aware that Kaname was pressed up against him, as they sat on the couch together watching television.

We have sat in this fashion, before. It is nothing new. There really is no reason for me to explore my feelings. Naturally, that claim had the opposite effect. Sousuke was very much aware of his confusion, and his conflicting urges. Watch the television. That is my mission now. Having not been given any orders, I should merely do as Kaname does.

What exactly might constitute an order under these circumstances?What if Kaname ordered me to be more… friendly?Sousuke began coughing.

"Are you alright, Sousuke?" Kaname turned her head to look at him.

"I… I am fine, Kaname. There is no reason to have concern…" Sousuke got his words out in a rush, causing him to wonder why. He swallowed hard. Kaname's eyes looked luminous in the reflected light from the TV. They looked so large. Large and intriguing. Negative, there is absolutely nothing intriguing about the eyes. Other parts of the anatomy… perhaps… but… not…. His thoughts became all tangled up, as he began thinking about which parts of Kaname might be worthy of closer study.

"Are you sure you're OK?" Kaname leaned over to place her forehead on his, checking his temperature. "Well… you don't have a fever or anything…"

"Uhhh." Sousuke went stiff as a board. Kaname's lips were not too far away from his. She had kissed him the other day, after he had brought her safely back to Tokyo. It is safer to look away from those lips. Uhhh-hh-h…. Looking down, he caught sight of Kaname's cleavage. He closed his eyes tightly at first; but, being male, he soon opened them and stared, even though he was trying not to. It would be a good idea for Kaname to move her hand. She was pressing down on his leg with one hand, not realizing that her proximity had caused the beginning of a normal male reaction. It is not my fault! Sousuke began to sweat.

"I'm really happy to be with you Sousuke… you know?" Kaname took a pillow into her lap and began fluffing it. "I really missed you when I was with Leonard."

"I see." Sousuke made a face, hearing Leonard's name. But, it did serve a purpose. The tingling he had felt in his groin area immediately vanished. The early tumescence began to go down. He actually sighed in relief. If Kaname had realized that I was having a 'stiffy' as Kurz puts it, she would have probably struck me, or driven me from her home.

"Is that all you can say?" Kaname looked somewhat hurt. She bit her lip, obviously beginning to wonder how Sousuke felt about her. "I thought… you know…"

"I do not know what to say." That was honest. There are so many things crossing my mind. How do I know which ones to trust? Many of them are unexplored territory. I have not been briefed on any of this! "I believe…" He blinked rapidly. What do I believe? Should I tell her how I felt, looking for her? At one point, before Nami was killed, I thought I might be happy living that kind of life. But, when I found Kaname again, I felt as if my purpose in life had been restored. "I like being here with you… in Tokyo… and…" He took a deep breath, not realizing he had done so. That scent. Perfume. Body wash. Kaname. "Uhhh…"

"Here tonight?" Kaname's lips parted for a moment, before she smiled. Her face looked so alive. "Great!" She snuggled closer to him. "We will be doing this more often." It didn't sound like a suggestion or a request.

"If…" Sousuke twitched. Kaname's hand was on his leg again, but barely touching this time. "If that is what you wish." The look on his face had left him feeling funny. She was content to be near him. Who else feels that way? Will anyone else ever feel that way? What does it mean, having someone care about you in that fashion? He thought back to the days before Kaname's voluntary abduction by Tessa's brother. He had begun coming to terms with his relationship. He had made efforts to tell Kaname how he felt. She had reciprocated. But, those were not binding commitments, were they? "I think I would like that, too." He looked down at his arm. He felt an urge to wrap it around Kaname. His hand. He was very aware of that too. What should he do with it? If he did something inappropriate, he might upset Kaname. She might indeed ask me to leave. But, maybe that would be safer…

"Good. You're smarter than I thought!" Kaname laughed, and then looked into his eyes. "I think…" She smiled again, and then quickly tilted forward, kissing him on the cheek. Looking Satisfied, she tossed her hair and resumed watching the TV program. "It was a miracle they let us back in school." The way she said that made it sound as if it was an even bigger miracle, his finding her and rescuing her. "But I'm glad they did." It was clear that she was happy, having as much as her old life back as she could.

"Yes," Sousuke replied. "I am glad to be back, too." He was. School had come to mean something to him before. He had been angry when he had been ordered to cease contact with Kaname, back before that business in Hong Kong. When that mess had been cleaned up, he had stood before General Ammitt, saying that he would take half of his usual pay, if he was allowed to return to Jindai High School. That bold move was not only about the girl he had come to care for. I feel like the school is part of me too. I am not certain why. Having friends my own age. Doing what teenagers are supposed to do. Learning something that is not required for combat or covert operations. Being near Kaname. Yes. Being near Kaname.

"Just don't ruin it for us, mister." Kaname sighed and placed her head on his shoulder.

"I will try not to." Sousuke looked down at his chest. Long lustrous hair covered part of it, almost as if he were wearing a fine blue vest or military dress sash. The urge to touch it had him raising his hand for a moment. Why should I do that? He also felt the urge to run his hand over that hair, the way he had done when she ran to his arms, after he finally defeated Leonard and Belial. There were no classmates to make me hesitate that time. He had refrained from putting his arms around her after they returned from Hong Kong, even though the perfect moment had been presented to him. Kyouko, Maya, Ryo, and the other girls had come upon them, scolding him for making their friend cry. There is no one here but us, tonight. That had him feeling more and more on edge. Why should he hesitate now? Didn't Kaname's actions suggest that she might like some kind of physical contact. "Uhhh…" He spoke that last part out loud by accident. He realized how nice it felt, Kaname's head on his shoulder that way.

"Something on your mind?" Kaname pressed down on him again, as she turned to look at his face. He couldn't read the look in her eyes. Was she curious? Worried? Expectant? It was so confusing, and exciting at the same time. Why? "You're not bored, sitting like this with me, are you?" There was a touch of concern that time, for sure. Her eyes went wider. Her lips trembled.

"Negative. This is exciting…" Sousuke went stiff again. He had chosen the wrong word! Baka, as Kaname was wont to say. "I mean… this is very pleasant…" He felt his throat going thick. Even that word had him feeling somewhat light-headed. This is ridiculous. This is not combat or something! I am being foolish. I should be in control of the situation. I'm a Specialist. Maybe. But not in interpersonal relations. "It is better than being in one of Cmdr. Mardukas' lectures, or one of Lt. Mao's briefings." Why had he chosen those examples?

Kaname's face went blank. Her eyes narrowed. The rise and fall of her chest caught Sousuke's eye, as her breathing quickened. "It's that good, huh?" She moved away from him. Her voice no longer sounded soothing or comforting. "Makes you think about Mithril again. Wonderful." She put her hands on her hips. That also accentuated certain aspects of her posture. Her eyes looked sad now. She had told him in no uncertain terms what she felt about his involvement with secret organizations, back when they first put foot on Japanese soil. "It is not a problem. I will sit and protect the Whispered girl. It is what my superiors would want me to do."

"They have not ordered me to do so," Sousuke answered by reflex. In fact, I have yet to receive any orders. Even though I am the only one to have successfully used ARX-8 Flamberge. I have not been removed from the ranks of the SRT. But, Mithril is in no shape to resume its prior activities. Also, Tessa is aware of my preferences.

"You were probably thinking of her, weren't you?" Kaname tugged at her hair with one hand, probably unaware of the fact that she did so. "Maybe that red-haired girl, too." She had told him how she had gotten a strange message from Nami, after the girl had already dies. "I guess you only came after me because of duty and obligation!" She was holding her breath now. There was water in each of her eyes.

Sousuke blinked rapidly. He had indeed been thinking about Tessa. But, not in that way! It would be wise not to even mention the other girl to Kaname. Did she really think he didn't care? Or, was she fishing for some answer she very much wanted to hear? Girls were complex enough. Whispered girls were even higher on the scale of inscrutability. Kaname must be at the top of the list! "It was not my duty to rescue you… even though I had given Ms. Kagurazaka and our classmates my word…" At the time, he wasn't even certain if there was a Mithril any more, or if any of his comrades had survived. The only person unaccounted for was Lt. Cmdr. Kalinin. "I came because…" He hesitated. Her lips. They are parted again. Why should that draw my attention like this? Why do I find myself leaning forward ever so slightly?

"Because you were bored?" Kaname tried to look contemptuous, but failed. She still looked worried. No. Vulnerable. She looks vulnerable. "Because you had nothing else to do…" She slid closer to him, if only by a fraction of a centimeter.

"No…" Sousuke shook his head. He almost felt as if his feelings were mixed up with hers. She is feeling fear. She is predicting abandonment, to frighten herself. To bring herself in contact with her greatest fear of all. To have someone tell her not to be afraid. He could feel some of that himself. Even more strange, was the fact that he was empathizing with her. That he could empathize with anyone. That was not something he could have done prior to his enrollment in Jindai High. Do not be afraid. I am here. I will protect you. I care. "I…"

"Because you think of me as a friend?" Kaname slid a bit closer. Her eyes were impossibly large now. She pushed the hair out of her face.

"It…" Sousuke slid a slight bit away from Kaname. He blinked rapidly again, and moved closer than before. He could feel the faintest caress of her breath on his neck. "I do consider you to be a friend…" But, she was more than that. Much more than that. "But… you are more than a friend. You are someone…" He could put it into words before. Why couldn't he do it now? Was he afraid of something different? Was he afraid of getting too close? Was it his past? Was it the fact that he was convinced fate would carry off anyone he grew too close too? I do want more! But…

"Someone you like?" Kaname's tongue peeked out between her lips for a moment. A smile graced her lips, and then vanished like a phantom. Her eyelids drooped down just a touch. He weight shifted forward some, as if she were putting weight on a spring. She plated her shoeless feet on the carpet.

"I…" Sousuke got the impression that he was at risk of attack. Why? Her postural change could indicate her intention to strike in some fashion. Does she expect me to say something stupid? Does she believe I will do something to ruin the moment again? I suppose history provides her with many precedents. "You are someone that I like… very much…" He could feel beads of sweat breaking out on his face again. "But… I would have to say…" He saw the look in her eyes. It had changed again. There was a look of anticipation there. That perfume is distracting me again. Why? It is just another scent. Alluring? Yes? Why did I think of that word? "My feelings are more than liking…" She is moving her hands further apart. Her breathing has quickened again. He had to get his words out."As I said previously…"

Kaname sat quietly. Her eyes were intense. She mouthed the words "Say it." A few moments later, she mouthed the word "Please."

"I believe that…" Sousuke gathered up his resolve. At that moment, he was nothing more than a greenhorn, afraid to fire the rifle he had been handed for the first time. He had never experienced that kind of fear as a young child, thrust into battle by circumstances beyond his control. Why should he be so inept and cowardly now? It is a good truth. It is a real thing. It will not vanish into thin air. "No… I am certain that…"

"Yes?" Kaname put even more weight on her knees. Her pupils were huge in the near darkness. The colors on her blouse and slacks were hard to make out; but, almost against all reason, the redness of her lips seemed accentuated.

"I wish to stay by your side because… I love you," Sousuke said. The world did not end. His lips did not fall off. Kaname did not turn to ash and blow away. As best I understand that word. "I…" He had no opportunity to add anything else. What!

Kaname launched herself onto him. She did not immediately start kissing his face, or lock her mouth on to his, the way the woman had done on the show they had been watching. Instead, she wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed herself firmly against him. Tears fell down from her eyes, one after the other, in large numbers. Sousuke could feel the wetness on his skin.

Sousuke was somewhat startled, even though he had predicted action of some sort. Kaname's grip tightened. Her weight did not cause him any discomfort… at least not in the standard sense. He was somewhat uncomfortable, however. No. Intrigued. Distracted? More than that. It was the excitement again. Maybe even anticipation. Her softeness. It is… her breasts are… my unmentionable is… "It is the truth." Why did he feel compelled to say that? Kaname made a strange little noise when she heard, burrowing her face deeper into the junction of his neck and chest. He jumped. She had kissed him there, ever so lightly, like the touch of a cool breeze or the brush of a butterfly's wings.

They sat that way for a few moments more, before Sousuke boldly followed through on yet another urge. He placed his arms around Kaname. That had her sighing, and redistributing her weight. Part of her was pressing down on a certain part of him, even though she didn't know it. Sousuke, in contrast, was very much aware. "Uhhh…"

"Am I hurting you like this?" Kaname pulled back some. Then, she sat up, pushing away a lock of Sousuke's hair. It needed cutting, in the worst way. She looked to be staring into his eyes, even though they must be hard to see in the darkness.

"I feel no pain," Sousuke admitted. "I feel…" He swallowed hard. Now was not the time to be too descriptive. What might she think of me, if I was colorful in my truth? Might she be disgusted? Repelled? Or, might she wish for more? Could she? Do girls think that way? Why am I thinking that way? "I feel very… content…" He rarely used that word. But, it was apt. He did feel content. Almost as if he could sit with Kaname in this manner forever.

"Content?" Kaname's voice had a touch of humor, but also a sound that Sousuke had trouble identifying from personal experience. "You? Sgt. Major Sagara?" She smiled for a moment. It was a smile of amusement, and a smile of great relief. "I'm happy too, Sousuke." She pressed herself against him again.

"Good." He nodded his head. It was good. Moving by pure instinct, he began stroking her hair. That had her sighing again, and shifting her position so that she could look up at him. Before he knew it, she had reached up and pulled his head down. Their lips met. He was drawn into a long deep kiss.

"How about that?" Kaname asked. "Was that good, too?" She reached for the TV controller, but it was out of range. Wriggling some, she tried again.

"It was very pleasant," Sousuke said. His eyes went wide. She was putting weight on that part of him again. He was feeling tingly again. "Here." He reached over and handed Kaname the controller. She will turn it off. It will be very dark. But, she will remain as she is. There will be more kissing. He found himself hoping there would be. Something had awakened inside of him. He didn't know what it all meant, but was not ashamed of his ignorance.

Sure enough, Kaname picked up where she had left off. Things followed the same course for a fair amount of time, before Kaname made a satisfied noise, sat up, and turned the TV on again. "I think we will need to practice that," Kaname said, as if she were discussing some skill in gym class, or commenting on Sousuke's homework. "Whenever we can." She stood up, turned around, and sat down again. She was directly in front of Sousuke. Sighing, she leaned back and pulled his arms around her.

As they sat in that fashion, Sousuke was swarmed by countless emotions, as well as a healthy does of physical awareness. He continued to sweat, wondering what Kaname would have done, had she noticed his rather prevalent erection. That was the most self conscious he had ever felt in that regard. He had gotten the slightest 'bit of wood,' as Weber would say, when Tessa fell on top of him, during the time he was training her to use an A.S., for her match with Melissa. He had similar feelings on a number of occasions, when Kaname ended up tight against him. There had been moments with other girls as well. But this time, it hadn't been a bit of wood… it had been a whole damn forest!

"Happy… happy… happy…" Kaname spoke very quietly, muttering to herself. She ran one finger of Sousuke's hand. She leaned back firmer, as if she were looking for the most comfortable position on a somewhat stiff chair. "I deserve this… yes, I do…" Her voice was so musical. So free of anger, fear, resentment, or disappointment. It was like looking at a perfect sparkling diamond, after getting used to those with subtle but definite flaws. No, in Sousuke terms, it was more like seeing what a weapon could do in the hands of an expert, after watching the same weapons mishandled by a gang of ham-fisted newbies.

Sosuke took a deep breath, purposefully drinking in Kaname's scent that time. Somehow, he felt at peace. But, there was a war of sorts in side him, despite that feeling of wellness and bliss. I want to touch her. I never felt this urge quite so strongly before. My hands feel good where they are… but… I feel some need to place them elsewhere. Where? Why? To what purpose? With what results? But… I do not wish to destroy this moment… what if it never comes again

That which does not kill one, makes him stronger. That was a fact of life, was it not? Yes. But, there were other truisms worth considering.

'If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.'

Sun Tzu. The Art of War. In admitting I wish to do this, is that knowing myself? I believe so. What about Kaname? What would she want? How well do I know her?

Sousuke swallowed hard. He made another bold move. Keeping his hands on Kaname, he moved them up an entire two centimeters! Cringing ever so slightly, he was glad to see that Kaname did not punch, kick, or bite him. Since it was wise to follow up a victory in battle with a quick exploitation of the situation, he made it three centimeters.

'Opportunity in war is usually of greater value than bravery... Terrain is often of more value than bravery... Bravery is of more value than numbers.'

Flavius Vegetius Renatus. Celebrated Roman military writer of the 4th century author of the treatise, Epitoma rei militaris. Do your words have merit at this moment? The opportunity was there. The thought of 'terrain' translated to the topography of the female body, almost causing him to begin coughing again. All that was needed was bravery.

I can do this! Yes. It is possible. Perhaps it is my destiny. Sousuke felt his hands tremble. When Kaname shifted ever so slightly, he hesitated. No. Wait. What if I'm mistaken? Should I be doing this? No, should I even be contemplating doing this? He almost jumped out of his skin when Kaname placed her hands on his. Was that approval? Can I take that as a non-verbal order? No. But, it was not a reprimand. She did not tell me to cease and desist. Opportunity. Bravery. Terrain. Looking up at the ceiling, he slid his hands up even more. He was getting close to the swell in her clothing.

'Ihr Racker, wollt ihr ewig leben?' Translated as 'Rascals, do you want to live forever?'

Frederick the Great. King of Prussia from the Hohenzollern dynasty. 1757. When the guards hesitated to move against the Austrians at the battle of Kolin, during the Seven Years' War

The saying was inspiring. But, he remembered something. At the Battle of Kolin,where a Prussian army of 32,000 men fought an Austrian army of 44,000 men, the Prussians lost nearly 14,000 men, and the Austrians lost 9,000 men. It had been Frederick's first loss. His main force turned toward the Austrians too early and attacked their defensive positions frontally instead of outflanking them. Uhhh… frontally… The disunited Prussian columns all blundered into a series of uncoordinated attacks. Uncoordinated? Blunder? Frederick blamed his defeat on his generals; but, the greatest blame must be laid in Frederick himself. He chose a risky strategy for the battle. Risky?

Sweat rolled down into Sousuke's eye, causing him to blink. The salt in his perspiration caused his eye to sting for a moment. He took a deep breath and let it out. It was true: Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. But, couldn't that work both ways? There were numerous battles where victory required capture of one or more hills! The thought of two particular hills had him coughing.

"Sousuke?" Kaname turned to look up at him. "Are you catching a cold or something?"

"N-N-Negative…" Sousuke tried to look nonchalant. He felt his face growing warm. This was unacceptable. He was a man! He had fought in many different nations, and in some, there had been men younger than him who were fathers already. That thought did not comfort him. Rather, it had his mind leaping ahead to even more perilous missions. "I am fine…" Why did his voice come out in a squeak? It was almost as if he had inhaled helium.

"OK." Kaname wriggled a bit, and then returned to watching her show.

'Got a chance to grab some ass? Go for it! Grab whatever you can, while you can! Life is too f-cking short.'

That quote came from Melissa Mao. During one of her many drunken moments, headed off to shore leave with a beer in one hand and a cigarette in the other. I have no doubt what she would say if she was here now. The same goes double for Kurz. Maybe they are right. I should do what I see fit. Let the chips fall as they may. If things are not meant to be, then they are not meant to be. But… Kaname is a good girl… do good girls want this? It is not bad for me to want this, is it?

He moved his hands upward. They brushed against the bottom of Kaname's clothes-covered breasts. He felt one of them lift up, ever so slightly. When she didn't respond one way or another, he slid his hands around the roundness that waited above them. He blinked rapidly again. He held his breath longer than he should. He felt Kaname flinch, and then tremble some. But, she didn't move, and she didn't say a word. I'm doing it! He was starved for air, but couldn't care less. Before he knew what he was doing, he was fondling Kaname with strong motions of his hands. He resumed breathing.

"Mmmm-mmm-mm-m…" Kaname's moan was low and long. "What brought this on, soldier?" She leaned full back against him, dropping the TV controller.

'Veni, vidi, vici.' Translated as 'I came, I saw, I conquered.'

Julius Caesar. After defeating Pharnaces II of Pontus near Zila, in 47 BC. Sousuke was very cognizant of his anatomy again. He wondered if Kaname was? How can she not feel that? It must be like sitting on a pole! He began coughing again. That made Kaname bounce on him ever so slightly. That in turn left him cross-eyed. If she kept moving that way, the saying may need to be changed to 'I saw, I conquered, I came.'

"Don't stop… you big jerk…" Kaname put her hands on Sousuke's and pressed against her bosom even more firmly. She led him through circular motions. "Wait… what's that… am I sitting on the controller…" She moved her hand over Sousuke's lap, looking for the missing appliance. Closer. Closer. Closer.

"I'm sorry!" Sousuke felt a sense of inevitability. No, not just because his physical faux pas had been discovered. He had been excited past the point of no return. Any moment, his gun might fire. I have no control over it…

"Oh… Sousuke…"

His mind snapped back to reality. Something had jarred his fantasy and caught his attention.

"Oh… Sousuke… Mr. Sagara…" The teacher was standing at the front of the class room, tapping her foot against the floor. She held an open book in her hand. But, his attention didn't rest on her for too long. In reality, as in his daydream, he was sporting a woody. Suddenly, he felt as if the entire world must know. No! That wasn't the crucial issue. Did Kaname know? Had she seen? Would she know what he was thinking? We were indeed sitting on the couch last night. She did hug me like that. I had urges when she leaned back against me, and when she kissed me that way. But, things never went any further than that.

"M-M-Ma'am…"Sousuke could barely hear his own voice. He glanced quickly at Kaname. She seemed perplexed by his behavior. Good! His uncharacteristically erotic thoughts could have spelled disaster. What had gotten into him?

"Mr. Sagara… did your success on yesterday's test go to your head or something?" Sousuke had gotten an 'A+' on his Classic Japanese History exam, stunning everyone, himself included.

"Uhhh…" Why did the teacher have to use those words! Sousuke accidentally knocked his book off the desk on purpose, causing it to cover his groin area. He said a short prayer. It felt as if he had a very sensitive trigger down there now, so to speak.

"Come on, Sousuke…" Kaname had her usual wry expression on her face. "Don't keep us waiting. Fire away!" She smirked, thinking that a military reference might prove effective at that moment.

"Teacher… my apology… I need to use the restroom." Sousuke practically leapt out of his seat, book held in front of him. "It is an emergency…"

"Don't be too long, Mr. Sagara!" The teacher called out. She had no idea of the appropriateness of those words at that instant.

"A… firm… a… tive…" Sousuke's voice grew fainter as he ran full speed down the hallway.




1. a. the part of an area that lies at the boundary.

1. b. a point that marks the extent of something. The point where something ceases to exist. The extreme or last part lengthwise.

2. cessation of a course of action, pursuit, or activity.