AND THEN SHE KNEW
"I told you I'd come back."
Those were Rick's words when he came back from the last battle and found her crying and praying for his safe return. It was Christmas night and dinner was ready and waiting for him. She had been so happy when she saw him entering the house!
"My sweet Rick!"
Minmai had been very worried for Rick ever since she came into his house looking for shelter. He was constantly on duty, fighting battles, being absent in body and mind and most of the time he didn't even acknowledge her presence in the house. She didn't expect things to be that way. Wasn't he supposed to be in love with her? She had expected a warmer welcome… she never expected Rick to go to sleep in the couch.
What had changed between them? Usually Rick would do anything for her. He was always happy and excited when they had the chance to spend time together. She never had much time for him, that was right, but he seemed happy with the few minutes she could spare for him every time she remembered he existed.
Before the total devastation of Earth, when they were living in Macross City inside the SDF-1 and her career was just taking off, Rick was always eager to spend time with her. They had their little hideouts around the ship, for they couldn't go to Minmai's place not to the barracks to spend time together. Those had been the first intimate experiences for both of them and they enjoyed them thoroughly.
Time had gone by and she'd had a number of lovers over the past few years but she'd never forget those few times with Rick. He never was particularly passionate or loving towards her during their intimate encounters, then again he was a teenager back then and so was she. They were just having fun, fooling around, playing and pushing their luck. They never got caught. But one thing was for sure, Rick loved her and there was never a doubt about that. Even in his clumsiness, he cared.
And now that they both were grown ups, now that they were at his house, free to do whatever they wanted to do, Rick decided to sleep in the couch. It just didn't make any sense to her. She thought he'd be thrilled to share his bed with her. She knew it had been years, many years since the last time they were together and he was probably just being shy, but that didn't stop her from feeling dejected and disappointed.
That night, while waiting for him to come back, she had decided to quit her singing altogether. She wanted to run away, to escape from that world that was asphyxiating her. She wanted to live a normal life with a normal husband… because she knew that marriage was the only way to secure her future. She had plenty of money; she didn't need a financial security. What she needed was someone who would take care of her. Until then she had been with Kyle, but now that she was on her own, she felt lost and aimless. She needed someone to run her life, because that was something she couldn't do by herself. And that someone was no other than Rick Hunter, the man she knew had always been madly in love with her.
But if Rick was to take care of her, she had to make sure she'd be his number one priority… his ONLY priority. And being in the RDF wouldn't help. She wanted him just for herself. She couldn't afford to share him with anyone else and she knew that as long as Rick was in the Army, he'd be devoted to his work and ready to jump into his plane whenever he received a scramble order from the headquarters.
Knowing he loved her the way he did and knowing that he wouldn't dare to object her desires, that night he decided to ask him a question that was actually a suggestion… maybe an order in disguise.
"Rick, do you think you could ever give up your commission with the defense forces?"
Minmai was surprised when the only response she got from Rick was silence. She surely didn't expect that. She was sure he'd be more than happy to give her an affirmative answer right away. To give up his commission, ran away with her, settle down, live an easy life with the world's greatest superstar and his one true love. What was there not to like?
Instead, all she got was a deep silence.
"Please, think about it… because I don't want to lose you Rick… never again."
What had changed between them? Minmai knew she had him tied around her pinky. She always knew he worshiped the ground she stepped on. She knew he'd do anything for her, no questions asked. Why did he seem so changed now? He was quiet and thoughtful, nothing like the Rick she knew years ago. Time had been good to him though, for now he wasn't a cute teenager anymore. He had grown up to be a very handsome man.
"Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Rick!"
"May we have a million more like this."
Minmai took his answer as her cue to lean over and kiss him. Much for her dismay, Rick's reaction to that kiss wasn't immediate. She had seen him doubting about many things in the past few days but she never expected him to have second thoughts about kissing her. It just didn't feel right.
He did kiss her, of course… but even his kiss had changed. He was acting distant, distracted, longing. He had never acted that way with her before. Every time they were together, she seemed to be the air he breathed. She knew she was his entire world and that always gave her a sense of security she never felt with anyone else. She always knew that no matter where she went, what she did or who she was with, there was a man named Rick Hunter waiting for her. She always knew she could always go back to Rick and he'd be waiting for her. Now she wasn't very sure about it anymore.
It was a night Minmai would never forget.
For the first time in years, Rick and she shared a private time together. For the first time in years she showed him affection… for the first time in years they made love.
She always had fond memories of the time when they were young and mischievous. She would never forget the first time they made love aboard the SDF1, how fast it was, how exciting… and how embarrassing it had been for Rick. She would tease him about their first time for a long time, always making him blush.
She would never forget that Christmas night either, and the way they made love that night. She would never forget how sweet and passionate he was… how caring, how loving and how wonderful it all was.
The next morning, still in bed, Minmai was thinking about the night she had just spent with Rick Hunter. He was up already; he had been since she had opened her eyes. She saw him coming out of the bathroom, wearing his uniform even though it was his day off. She had been crying quietly into her pillow while Rick was in the shower. When he saw she was awake, he greeted her with an impersonal "good morning" and went to the kitchen to prepare some coffee.
She never expected things to be like that between them.
But now at least she knew why Rick was acting that way. She had the absolute certainty that Rick was in love with someone else and Minmai knew exactly who that someone else was.
That morning she decided to use all her artillery against Rick. She couldn't lose him now. She couldn't afford to lose him, not when she was so lost and vulnerable. He was supposed to be with her forever, waiting for her, loving her, taking care of her. She was not going to let anyone to take him away from him. She was Lyn Minmai, a legend in her own time. Any man on Earth would kill for her… yet the only man she wanted on Earth was so distant—just sitting there, looking at the window with a far off look in his eyes.
"Rick, what are you thinking about?"
"Nothing in particular." It was his cold response.
After the night they had just spent together, she would expect more from him. She was losing him, she knew it. It was time to fire her secret weapon at him.
"Oh Rick… what if you quit the Army and I give up my singing? I mean… would you be happy if we settle down and have a normal life?"
There it was… how on Earth could he say no to her proposal? Wasn't it what he always dreamed of? A lifetime with Minmai!
"I don't think we could."
Minmai was taken back by his response. What had happened with that chatty boy she knew? Now it was hard for her to make him utter more than five words in a row. He wasn't even looking at her… didn't he hear what she'd just said?
"Settle down… normal life"
"Why not?" She replied. "There's so much more to life than just this and we're missing it!"
"But so many people are depending on us, Minmai. They look for me for protection and you to give them inspiration."
Minmai was getting frustrated… it was time for the final attack, one that would be a killer.
"Life sure is funny, isn't it? Nothing turned on the way I thought it would. When we first met I was totally caught up in romantic dreams… and some of the dreams actually came true, but not the dream I had for you and me."
It was time… fire!
"Oh Rick, we still have time… let's get married!"
She remembered, years ago when they were trapped inside the SDF-1 with no way out, he never hesitated, he was more than willing to marry her. Now, years after, there she was, a shinny star, the most beautiful, famous, talented and best known woman in the world proposing to a common soldier. And he reacted as if she had threatened him with death.
"Well… at least think about it, will you?"
"Yeah… I will… I'll think about it."
Minmai had expected Rick to talk to her about her proposal, about the previous night, about anything… instead he just reached for a model plane and started playing with it absently. Minmai escaped to the kitchen, to hide the tears that were forming in her eyes. Nothing was the same in her life anymore, not even Rick… and the cause of Rick's change of heart had a name and a last name… it even had a military rank.
And suddenly there she was, standing right in front of them; the one person who had caused all her misery and her uncertainty in the last few days.
"Lisa!" Rick said, and his voice was filled with energy all of the sudden, an energy Minmai hadn't heard in days. "I mean, Captain."
Minmai couldn't be enthusiastic about her visit. She knew whatever Lisa had to say was none of her business, yet she stood still right behind Rick, trying to make it clear to Lisa that he was hers… and only hers.
Minmai was ready to put up a fight, but the next words she heard from Lisa made all the difference in the world. Suddenly her heart started to speed up and as surprised as she was with the news Lisa had, inside she was smiling and singing.
"I've come to say… goodbye." It had been hard for Lisa to pronounce those words.
"You see, new orders were handed down. I'll be going into deep space soon."
"What?" Rick said under his breath and Minmai could almost hear his heart shattering.
"It's true. I can't believe it but admiral Gloval has given me the command of my own battle fortress. Isn't it wonderful? It's like a dream come true, my own command at last. Aren't you happy for me, Rick?"
Minmai observed her. She was sad, she could tell… even if the news she had were supposed to be good ones and even if she said she was happy, inside she was falling apart. Was she sacrificing herself for Rick? Was that it?
"When are you leaving?" Rick's voice was stern.
"Tomorrow… my assignment is—"
Minmai wasn't paying attention to Lisa's words anymore. She was leaving… into deep space… tomorrow… nothing else matter.
Well, nothing except maybe Rick's expression.
He wasn't listening to her anymore either… instead he kept his eyes on Lisa, and the look Minmai saw in them told her everything she already knew. Everything she had feared since the night before. Everything she wanted to ignore now, because it didn't really matter anymore… not now that Lisa was leaving… not now that…
"… this mission could probably keep us in space for several years… I'm not fooling myself about it… I realize it's possible we may never come back."
That was all she wanted to hear. Minmai stepped forward when she heard Lisa's words. She was leaving, Rick would go back to his normal self and then they would be able to go on with their life, away from the military world, away from the show business… just Rick and Minmai, together forever.
"I'm sure you'll be successful."
Minmai had been very attentive at the conversation Rick and Lisa were having in front of her. And that look, that quick, almost imperceptible look they had shared just then, told Minmai that no matter where Lisa might be, no matter how long she'd stay away from earth, she would never be away from Rick's heart.
"It was a real honor to meet you, Miss Minmai."
Lisa's words took her by surprise. She didn't expect Lisa to talk to her… not after what she knew… but there she was, Captain Hayes, the legendary Lisa Hayes allowing herself to speak to a mere civilian. Yet, there was sincerity in Lisa's words that disarmed Minmai completely.
"Your music has been a great inspiration to us all. I hope you and Rick will be very happy together."
"Thank you, Lisa." Minmai's words came out more sincere than she would've expected.
Minmai noticed Rick… he was speechless. He couldn't come out of his shock. Lisa, the woman he loved was saying her goodbyes. Wasn't he going to stop her? No, she couldn't allow that to happen. She was not going let that happen. She was ready to fight. It was just matter of seconds, Lisa would go… and it'd be time to move on with their lives. Everything was perfect until Minmai heard those words… the terrible words she had hoped wouldn't be said in that conversation. The words she never wanted to hear from Lisa… directed towards Rick.
"And now Rick, I have just one more thing to say… I love you… I always have and I always will."
That was it. Minmai gasped, knowing that those words could mean the end of the world as she knew it. She looked at Rick, who was shocked, he couldn't even speak. She wanted to step forward and send Lisa on her way… to yell at her and tell her to stop messing with Rick's head… to get out of their lives once and for all. Her ship was waiting… what was keeping her here?
Then again, Lisa disarmed her with her words.
"Please forgive me Minmai, but I may never see him again… and I had to tell him."
"Take care of him for me."
What could Minmai say to that? She was a woman, after all and she understood very well Lisa's feelings. At that moment she almost felt sorry for Captain Hayes… she could almost see that moment turned into a very sad love song.
Even Minmai was touched by the image of Lisa, in her impeccable RDF uniform, saluting Rick as tears filled her sad green eyes. It was a scene Minmai would never forget. It was a moment that would forever stay with Rick, she could tell.
"Lisa… I… I don't know what to say… I… I mean… I—"
Minmai couldn't stand it anymore. Rick was speechless and she wanted to cut if off, to finish that dramatic pause. She was afraid Rick could find his voice again and tell her that he loved her, too. She just couldn't stand that… she had to do something to break the spell of the moment and send Lisa off on her way.
"Good luck captain Hayes." She finally spoke. "God be with you."
And with that, Lisa ran away while muttering something about her crew waiting for her.
And suddenly there he was… the knight in shinny armor, recovering from his slumber… perfect timing!
"Hey, wait a minute!" Rick sounded as if he had actually woken up from a dream. – "Lisa, wait!"
No, Minmai wasn't going to allow him to go after her. Not now, not when he was hers. Even Lisa had acknowledged it. She had recognized Minmai as the winner of that war. But apparently war wasn't over yet… now it was Rick the one who wouldn't let Lisa go without a fight. And Minmai was not going to allow that to happen.
"Rick, come back! You can't go! What about me? You've already done more than you should. How could you even think about going back into space again?"
Yeah, he had never mentioned a word about going into space or joining Lisa's mission, but Minmai knew that was exactly what he was thinking about.
"Because… they need me."
Rick's eyes were set on the road Lisa had followed. He wasn't looking at Minmai anymore. And when he spoke those words, what she really heard was: "Because… she NEEDS me… because I love her!" It was very obvious in his eyes.
"I NEED you too!" Minmai screamed.
"I need you because I'm not as strong and independent as Lisa is… I need you because I'm not intelligent and brave as she is… I need you because I'm not brave enough to let you go… I need you because you're the one who's supposed to be there for me no matter what, and I won't take that burden off your shoulders. I love you because I need you!"
And then hell exploded and the whole world was covered by that hellfire that seemed to come from the sky. Was it really an attack? Or was it Minmai's word coming to an end? Next thing she knew, she was on the ground and Rick was covering her with his own body. But before she could react and understand what had happened, Rick had already stormed out, screaming for her…
He was going to Lisa, leaving Minmai behind, not worrying about her anymore.
"Lisa! Lisa!" That seemed to be the only word that existed for Rick at that moment.
"Come back!" Minmai screamed but it was useless.
It was hard for Minmai to follow Rick's trail. Buildings were falling into pieces all around the place, everything was on fire, the alarms went off all over the city, there were people screaming for help, crying in pain, mourning their dead. Minmai didn't pay attention to any of that… she knew she should go to the shelter but she didn't. She couldn't. Not when Rick had gone after Lisa. Not after he knew she loved him just as much as he loved her.
But when Minmai finally reached Rick, the image she saw told her that all hopes were lost. Lisa and Rick were together, facing each other in silence. Rick had his hands around her waist, holding her up… or maybe just keeping her close to him… and he was lost in her eyes. He was looking at her in a way he had never looked at Minmai in his life. It had already happened… she just knew it.
Minmai knew there was nothing she could do now… but she decided to give it one last try. If she was going to be defeated, she'd go down fighting.
"Oh Rick!" She ignored Lisa. "Thank goodness you're alright. C'mon, we have to get to the shelter… oh, please Rick, c'mon… you can't leave me like this!"
Yet he did. Minmai knew he had already left her… it hadn't happened that morning, not the night before or the previous days… no, Rick had left her since the day she had became Miss Macross, when she thought the world was at her feet. She always took Rick for granted… if she could only go back and change things!
And then Lisa's words finished her off.
"If you really love him, let go of him… he's a pilot. That's his life!"
No, she was not ready to let him go. He was supposed to be in love with her… he was supposed to love her and only her… but there he was, about to run after Lisa Hayes… about to run away from Minmai's life forever. In a last, desperate intent to keep him with her, she reached to grab his hand.
"Please Rick, stay here!"
"Minmai, let go of me!"
Those were the words that finally killed her. There he was, Rick Hunter… her Rick Hunter, ordering her to let him go. Things weren't supposed to be that way. Everything was just wrong! Rick was supposed to stay with her, to protect her, to take care of her as he always did… and not running after that woman, Captain Hayes.
"If you don't understand it yet, after all that's been said, then there's no chance you ever will!"
Rick was right about that, she would never understand… she could never understand why Rick chose Lisa Hayes over her. For Minmai this wasn't about Rick being a pilot, it wasn't about Rick fighting a war… it was about Rick going after Lisa.
"I don't understand… how could you do this to me if you love me? I won't let you do it, no!"
She wasn't going to let him go… not after Lisa. Not when she was there…
"Minmai, stop it!" Rick commanded her. "Let go… LET GO!"
Minmai couldn't keep Rick's hand in hers anymore. He jerked it away from her and even if she tried to recover it, she just couldn't. She knew it had been the last fight… Rick was running off… running away from her and after Lisa.
"Some day, you'll understand!"
"I will never understand!"
She would never understand what Lisa had that made her better than her.
She would never understand why Rick wanted her.
Why he preferred Lisa over her.
Most of all, she could never understand why he loved her.
"Oh Rick, don't leave me! Rick, no!"
It was too late. Rick was gone…
During the attack, Minmai had the chance to think about everything that had happened in the previous days. About the situation between her and Rick and where did Lisa fit in all of that.
They lived in different worlds, now she could understand it.
It would never work between Rick and her.
Secretly, she still had hopes that Rick would reconsider things and come after her. He hadn't even tried to make sure she'd be safe and sound in the shelter. He just stormed off… but she could still dream.
Yet, when all the fighting was over and she left the shelter, roaming aimlessly around New Macross City, Rick never came back. It was until she saw his Skull One soaring in the sky that she knew he had survived the battle and she thanked God for that.
She went to the lake, to the place she saw Skull One landing… and there she was. She was with him… he was with her. Lisa, always Lisa… always was, always will… she was Rick's true love.
Lisa had gone to Rick's house that morning to say her goodbyes… and to tell Rick that she had just one thing left to say. Funny how the roles were reverted now. It was time for Minmai to say her goodbyes… and tell Rick just one last thing.
"I thought I'd lost you just when I came to realize how much you mean to me."
Minmai had tears in her eyes listening to Rick speaking like that to Lisa. She almost felt like an intruder, but she wanted to finish things once and for all. She needed a closure… and start a new life.
"Rick, Lisa… thank Heaven you're both alright." And somehow, she felt she was being sincere when she said that.
"I have to tell you something… Minmai…"
Rick didn't even ask if she was alright… he didn't want to know anything about her, instead he wanted to tell her something about him. And he was smiling like she had never seen him smile before. She wished she didn't have to listen to what he was going to say, so he decided to go ahead and save him those words… it'd be just too much for her to hear those words coming from Rick's lips. She wouldn't stand it.
"You're in love with Lisa? I knew that."
"Forgive me, will you?"
For tearing her heart apart?
For ending her life?
For taking his love away from her?
Or maybe… just maybe… for what had happened on Christmas night?
She just had to say her goodbyes. She didn't want to be around them anymore…she couldn't be around them anymore.
"Good bye Rick… good bye."
She walked away slowly, as snow started to fall on them. She waited and waited, but Rick never came after her. As she was getting away from Rick and Lisa, she was lost in the memories of that love she never learned to value… that love she always took for granted… that love she wasted.
"You won, Lisa… you were patient, you were sincere, you were always there for him. You love her, Rick? Of course you do! How did I know?"
It was Christmas night… they were together… they were making love… only he wasn't making love to her… lost in his own little world, he pronounced those words Minmai would never forget…
Rick was making love to Lisa that night.
And then she knew.