Title: Signals
Summary: Togusa's wife interrogates Batou. (Batou/Togusa, yaoi)Warnings: Non-graphic yaoi, between the events of the movies, possible spoilersDisclaimer: I do not own Ghost in the Shell or any of its characters.

"Do you love my husband?"

Batou looks everywhere but at Mrs. Togusa. He doesn't even know her name, he doesn't want to tell her all the secrets he worked so hard to keep from her. A part of him whines, complains, says that she deserves to know. He ignores it. Signal blocked.

He switches gears and tries to change the subject,"This couch sure is... stripy." He's not sure 'stripy' is a word, but the couch is a mass of overlapping stripes and it's all that comes to mind.

"Do you love my husband?" she repeats, voice firm and monotonous. Her eyes give away her sadness, seemingly ready to cry at any second. A time bomb about to explode.

Batou sinks down into the striped couch, his large hands clutching the fine china teacup with almost comical care. He doesn't quite feel like pointing out that this tea is organic and he can't have it. He can hear one of the children-Togusa's children-dawdling from the bathroom back to bed. He hopes Mrs. Togusa will leave to tuck it in for the third time.

His prayers are answered when she does indeed get up and go to put the child to bed. She casts him a sharp glance before going up the stairs.

Batou uses his few free minutes to wonder how he got here.

When Togusa first joined Section 9, Batou knew he had black hair and liked to use a magnum, much to the Major's dismay. He knew this from looking at him for two seconds and talking to Kusanagi, respectively. He later learned that Togusa was a family man, and a renegade philanthropist. Most of Togusa's body was organic, not cybernetic.

All of this meant that Batou had absolutely nothing in common with the rookie cop.

He was able to work well with the rookie, but he couldn't bond with him the way Batou bonded to the rest of Section 9. They were all a family, and Togusa was the cousin from a different state that Batou saw every two or three years.

Then, after the puppet master episode, things changed. The Major was gone and in her place was Togusa. Batou wasn't good with words, but he could admit to himself that Motoko's disappearance left a gaping hole in his heart. She was alive, but he couldn't find her, couldn't touch her, and it broke his heart.

That was probably why Batou immediately took Togusa with him to get 'drunk' when the chance arose.

Togusa's exact words after being shoved into the car and told where they were going were,"You can drop me off here."

Batou had looked at him, and Togusa had, of course, looked back at him and they just looked at each other for a few minutes. Until Batou almost hit a car, and Togusa flinched and said he'd go if only Batou would watch the road, please.

The bar was large and was not full of smoke. Batou disliked it, but figured Togusa might like it more than an intimate, heartfelt little bar. They got a table where the most people were, just in case they couldn't think of anything to say to each other and wanted some background noise.

Batou asked how the rookie liked the 'ball and chain', by which he meant marriage, and Togusa said he liked being a cop very much, thank you, although Section 9 was very different from his other team.

Signal blocked.

Togusa didn't understand why Batou was laughing so hard. Batou laughed even harder when Togusa tried to order a soda. The sulking rookie wound up with an imported American beer and the cyberized man wound up with an earful about someone needing to be the designated driver.

"If you're worried about me getting drunk, you shouldn't be. My prosthetic body breaks down the alcohol faster than I can drink it." Batou said this, all the while thinking of how much he missed Motoko.

Togusa flushed and seemed to get embarrassed by his lack of knowledge. He took a generous swig of the American beer, paused to cough, and said,"You know, when my mother died," He drained the rest of the bottle before continuing with a slur,"When my mother died, she told me she forgave me. Well, no, just before she died, I mean. She forgave me."

"That's nice,"Batou replied, gesturing for two more beers. His objective changed from getting himself 'drunk' to getting Togusa drunk.

Togusa shook his head, coarse black hair shaking with him. "No," he said sadly. "Ever since, I've been wondering what I did that needed her forgiveness."

Batou decided Togusa would be a good partner, albeit no replacement for the Major.

Batou liked commercials. He would watch TV, or listen to the radio, or read the newspaper, and enjoy the advertisements. When he liked an advertisement, he would usually tell it to Motoko.

Signal blocked.

He used to do this at any time of the day, and got used to channeling clever marketing schemes. When things slowed down, Batou would hum a jingle to himself and wonder if anyone got it. On really slow days, Saitou or Burma would stay and try to guess jingles.

"If you need a hand, come to..."

Togusa grinned at his desk, still filing reports as he answered,"Spradley Prosthetics."

Batou grinned, too. He just found a new outlet.

Togusa wouldn't stop twitching. Batou hovered over his partner, his large hand pressing the lithe form down to stop the twitches, and slow the blood flow. He couldn't stop either very well. The more he pressed on Togusa, the more the injured man yelped in pain. The less he pressed, the more Togusa unintentionally made the wound worse.

Flashes of the puppet master and Motoko came to mind. Signal blocked.

He had 'yelled' his distress into the minds of all of Section 9 ten minutes ago. He made sure to 'yell' very loud. Time was moving very slow for Batou, so a minute became a year. Years of Togusa whining and grunting and just hurting were driving Batou mad.

At least Batou was content knowing he'd gotten the one who had hurt his partner. The body lay a yard away, mouth hanging open and brains decorating the wall.

Togusa made a particularly ugly sound. Batou placed the rookie's head on his lap and tried to make soft, cooing noises. Togusa lifted his hand and pawed at his jacket pocket. Batou reached into the pocket and pulled out a picture. Togusa's wife and two kids smiled at the two policemen. The rookie weakly took the picture and brought it to his lips in a soft, delirious kiss.

Batou couldn't understand his unshakable jealousy.

Togusa was young and resilient-more so than Batou anyway. He bounced right back after a couple of days in the hospital and a few weeks on paid vacation and came back to work. Batou was there to greet him; he hadn't had the guts to visit him in the hospital or at his home.

As soon as they were alone in a room, Batou tackled Togusa in a giant bear hug.

"You scared the fuck out of me,"Batou said, mentally comparing the incident with Togusa to the Puppetmaster episode.

His partner, as Batou was only recently coming to accept, grinned and pat the arm around his neck fondly. "I didn't feel like dying there, with you hovering over me the whole time."

Batou released the bear hug and punched Togusa lightly in the shoulder. "I hope you didn't get too used to home cooking,"he prodded. "Let's stop and get some food."

Togusa laid a hand on the larger man's shoulder, stopping him from leaving. "Hey, listen, Batou..." He met a pair of cybernetic eyes and refused to look away. "I'm going to try harder, alright? I don't want you to... lose another partner. That's all."

Signal detected.

Thoroughly embarrassed, Togusa cleared his throat and led the way to his car, a very touched Batou following behind.

"This isn't the Olympics; it's not very exciting, Batou."

The cyborg grunted and sat on the edge of the bathtub. He watched the shirtless Togusa floss after brushing his teeth with a travel-sized mint toothpaste. Batou couldn't remember the last time he had done something as simple as brush his teeth.

"I'm serious," Togusa continued. "Don't you have better things to do than watch me floss?" He wiped a chunk of food off the floss and started on his upper teeth.

"If the Chief thought this was such an important mission, why order us to stay in a hotel room?" Batou grumbled and untied his leather boots, pulling them off numb feet.

"It's only for-ow!- tonight. We'll catch the bad guys tomorrow, cowboy." Togusa tossed the string of floss away and made a face at the mirror to grimace at his bleeding gums. "Anyway, it's not everyday we get to stay in a nice hotel like this, so let's not complain, huh?"

Togusa left the bathroom, so Batou stood in front of the mirror and bared his teeth. They were perfect, as they should be for something with a warranty on them. The cyborg sighed and went to find Togusa.

The smaller man was spread out on one of the two beds, staring blearily at the news on the hotel television. Batou hadn't realized his partner was so worn out. He looked at the remaining bed, empty and perfectly tucked and folded. Then he looked at Togusa's bed, so much more inviting. He sat at the edge, springs protesting under his weight, waiting for an indignant protest.

Togusa rolled over to the far side of the bed and fished under him for the covers. "I uh, don't mind if you wanna sleep in one bed. I don't know if I could sleep without someone at my back." He let out a nervous laugh, though neither knew why he was so nervous.

Batou lay down by Togusa, on top of the covers. He watched the news until it ended and only infomercials were left. With the television turned off, all he could hear was Togusa's peaceful breathing. He listened to it before entering his dull sleep mode.

He startled awake hours later when he found a a slender arm slung across his chest. The warm body at his side was restless, fingers wandering the width of Batou's chest. The cyborg felt a hand brush his nipple and his eyebrows-what he had left of them anyway- shot up in surprise.

Shifting onto his side, facing Togusa, Batou said softly,"Togusa, wake up."

The cyborg expected the other man to be hard to wake up. However, Togusa's eyes opened instantly.

"You weren't asleep,"Batou stated, mind reeling.

Togusa licked his lips for whatever reason-Batou told himself it wasn't meant to be seductive. The natural man leaned over, hovering just above Batou's face. "Maybe you're dreaming, Batou." Togusa grinned and acted as if to kiss his partner.

Batou stopped him in a flash, grabbing his wrist and reversing their positions, the cyborg's weight bearing down on Togusa.

The cyborg blew a strand of hair from his face. "I don't dream. Take some responsibility, huh?" With that, Batou sealed their lips together.

Restless child successfully chided and in bed once more, Togusa's wife descends the stairway with all the appeal of an angry Goddess. Ina masochistic way, Batou can see why Togusa married her. She is beautiful, their children are adorable and their home was the envy of the block.

Perfect? Not quite. Togusa cannot begin to mask the restlessness behind his eyes. Batou saw it in an instant, like a small flame to kindle; he is somewhat responsible for Togusa's so-called fall from grace.

The woman sits back down across from him, waiting for an answer. Her fingernails are a bright red, but are worn and need to be repainted. The same must go for her soul, Batou realizes. She has the posture of a cow sent to slaughter.

But this is the path they-Togusa and Batou- chose, and it is time they lightened their burden. Batou looks into his challenger's eyes with no eyelids to hide behind, and he speaks:

"Yeah. I love him."

"Does he love you?"

Batou doesn't hesitate. "Yeah."

And the end comes crashing down. Togusa's wife, the pitiful woman who no longer can hope, she grabs her teacup and throws it. It barely misses a picture of her wedding day sitting on the mantle. Her throat contracts, no words can be uttered but choked sobs. Red fingernails bury themselves in hair as she holds her head mournfully.

She mourns as if Batou had told her her husband is dead. To her, he ceases to be from one minute to another. This is her eulogy to her dear, sweet, forlorn love.

Right at this perfect moment of chaos, Togusa comes home.

The sobs from the living room silence anything he would have called from the doorway. He runs into the room, hand ready to make for his gun. But things aren't so simple. Togusa comprehends in a second, eyes shifting from Batou to the shambles of his wife.

Togusa's shoulders relax in defeat. He is only witnessing the end, not the precise moment that his wife snapped. He walks to her slowly, like approaching a wild animal. He wraps his arms around her and Batou is jealous. He kisses the top of her head and Batou wonders if he should leave.

Togusa forces his wife to look at him, hand on her delicate chin. He looks into her eyes and says,"You will survive."

And then, he is gone from her and into Batou's arms. They both stagger backwards, Batou's balance thrown off. The cyborg looks down and Togusa looks up and they kiss.

Batou may not know why Kusanagi left him and disappeared, but he suddenly realizes that the only answer to anything in life is patience. He waited, and now he is Togusa's and Togusa is his, and the universe is so clear.

Signal definitely detected.

Author's Note to Ruin the Mood: About this signal business. Since it began with Kusanagi, you could take it to be a cyborg thing. A whispering in their ghosts, right? But since it is later shared with Togusa, it becomes a bit more complex. Although it started with ghosts, Togusa is a human and has what... A soul? Somehow they managed to find each other, even though I don't even think they were looking! How lucky of them. I hope that maybe you can find your signal, too. Thank you.