Iwanu ga Hana (Better Left Unsaid)


If she'd been asked, at seventeen, Kaname would have commented, or perhaps complained, that nothing that Sergeant Sagara Sousuke could do could possibly surprise her anymore. He'd blown up their school more times than even a valedictorian and honours student could count. (The budget for school repairs, she'd been informed—as if it were her fault!—rivalled the GNP of an impoverished nation.) He shadowed her footsteps—by her side, if she let him; slipping through the shadows, if she didn't, in a way that even she had to admit was rather impressive—without complaint, and without surcease. He didn't know how to relax, how to laugh, or how to enjoy himself; when he lied, it was rare and poker-faced and often so utterly unbelievable that she found herself wondering exactly why he'd bothered at all.

And for all that, she was fond of him—well, perhaps a bit less, or perhaps a bit more, if she had to quantify it—in the way she was fond of all the constants in her life. He'd been around her for almost a year, after all. They would—luck and lack of explosions willing—perhaps even graduate together. Maybe someday he'd be normal enough that there would be a bit less of the less, and a bit more of the more.

That was what she told herself. It didn't matter that sometimes, so rarely, the look in his surprisingly beautiful grey eyes made her wonder if she should be blushing: she knew very well that that was preposterous, since Sousuke always looked intense. It didn't matter that she wore white bikinis, waiting for his eyes to skim her curves in a way she'd have found insulting from any other man; she knew from experience that he was unlikely to even notice her bikini, much less her curves, unless it was to tell her how impractical they were. It didn't matter that now and again, when he walked by her side, she felt like she could take on the world—she knew that if she ever told him that, he was likely to assume that she meant it literally, and start lecturing her on the dangers of falling into terrorist-like thinking.

Chidori Kaname knew her bodyguard. When she didn't want to kill him, they were friends… but she also knew that he simply… didn't see her that way. The only thing that assuaged that ache was the awareness that Captain Clueless didn't see anyone that way.

Then he kissed her, on his way out to a mission, and she realised that with all she knew about him, there was still more to learn.

She'd always thought that if it happened at all, it was going to be because he'd been hit by the concussion wave from one of his own grenades and fallen on her, or something equally ridiculous. In the end, though, there wasn't the threat or necessity of CPR—no plans, no dares, no plots, no roundabout comedies of errors. It was farcical in its simplicity, when her life these days seemed to be nothing but twists and turns and too much BOOM for her comfort.

All she remembered doing was looking at him, and murmuring, "Come home soon, all right, you big idiot?" Perhaps she blinked, once, and added, her voice almost pleading when she reached out and touched his wrist, "Safely, okay?"

(She was… fond of him, after all.)

"Home?" he said it like the word surprised him, and she didn't quite know what to say to that. Instead, she found him simply looking down at her with those steady, intense eyes, wrapped in a silence too substantial for the whup-whup-whup of the helicopter blades. It was a thick, heady heartbeat, or an eternity, before Sagara Sousuke dipped his head towards hers—quickly enough that she was just too startled to use the harisen in pure reflex.

(Or perhaps, just perhaps, she hadn't wanted to.)

It wasn't a serious kiss, just a tiny little brush across her cheek, maybe the faintest hint of it touching the corner of her mouth. His hair smelled of Bioré, to her shock, clean and a little floral. The touch of his lips was soft and sweet and tangential. It was all so fleeting she'd have thought she'd imagined it if not for the fact that the instant of pressure left a tingle moving all the way down her spine, her vision wavering as if that contact were taking apart her world.

In a way, maybe it was.

He pulled back from her, from her wide-eyed expression and shocked moue, murmured, "Affirmative, Chidori," and fled—there was no other word for it—into the helicopter that was taking him to his next mission. It was an incongruous sight, a lanky young man dressed in full fatigues and body armour, bolting like he'd spotted a fully armed AS at his tail. She was sure she'd have laughed. On any other day, she would have laughed.

When he returned, he looked tired, new lines around his eyes that she didn't think any seventeen-year-old should have. There was a bandage just in front of his ear, and another like tattered snow wrapped around his wrist. She met him at his door, and when he caught sight of her—he went scarlet, gaze flying to somewhere over her head, pulse beating in his throat with enough force that she was willing to swear that she could hear it echoing in his hallway.

The blush, she thought, wiped out the lines and the tiredness and the war. It left behind a teenaged boy who stood very, very straight and murmured, voice hoarse and a little broken, "Chidori, I…" she saw his Adam's apple jump, and the way he wouldn't meet her eyes. "It was extremely inappropri—"

Chidori threw herself on him for the real kiss she'd been craving the whole two weeks he'd been gone. His lips were softer than she remembered; they were dry, too, and scratched against hers until she pulled him further down to her with a hand on the back of his neck and nipped, very gently, on his bottom lip.

It wasn't her first kiss. It shouldn't have mattered so much. It shouldn't have.

The uncertainty, she'd discovered, could bore holes in her composure, tick through her mind at the most inopportune moments—have the teacher calling her name until she flushed with embarrassment, placing another small check mark in her box of things that Sousuke was to be blamed for. Perhaps he was alive, or dead; perhaps he was wounded and in pain, or perhaps he was watching Melissa and Kurz with that pained, oddly fond expression. Kaname did not deceive herself into thinking that she would know, just know, if anything happened to him, Whispered or not: technology might have been wired into her brain somehow, but Sousuke, no matter how she teased him about it, was not a machine. She'd seen him bleed, and been shocked by the fact that blood—so much blood—could possibly be such a colour.

Kaname found that at that moment, she didn't really care why he'd kissed her in the first place (okay, that was more of the self-delusion working; she cared, she cared far more than she thought she should.) For just an instant, she was young, and he was young, and the sight of him walking back down that dingy little hallway, safe and sound and there, had mended a piece of her heart that she hadn't even known could break.

"Your lips are chapped," she complained, unable to wipe the absolutely idiotic grin off her face. He'd responded to her kiss—tentatively at first, and she'd expected that… but… but enthusiastically. She'd never seen him respond to anything enthusiastically that didn't have to do with, well… the military.

But then, she'd certainly never seen him kiss anyone of his own volition before, either.

He looked down at her with something like shock, and something like wonder; he had good instincts, his hands had gone automatically to rest at her waist when she'd leapt at him. He'd left them there, too. That was a good sign, she thought. Encouraging.

His tongue flickered over his lips, surprisingly pink, and when he replied, his voice was oddly unsteady. "I… the air on military planes is moisture-controlled, to prevent condensation damage to sensitive equipment, and—" he caught himself just as she felt the storm—never far from the Plains of Sagara—start to drift in his direction. To her outright shock, he dipped his head in a shy little bob, and his hair fell to shadow his eyes. "I apologise. Is it… uncomfortable for you?"

The storm dissipated into soft white fluffy cumulus, and she found herself with her cheek pressed to his chest, her nose full of his warmth and his scent and his safety, arms tight around him, and no real knowledge of whether he'd pulled her closer, or she'd pulled him. She wasn't even sure she cared—just as long as he didn't call attention to it. "Stupid," she murmured, closing her eyes, drinking him in. "Of course it isn't."

She was very certain that it was him, though, who dipped his head, lips just barely brushing across her hairline, and murmured, "That's good, then."

Kaname opened her mouth into the silence, when he didn't show any signs of trying to escape, or draw a gun on someone, or examine his apartment for any traps which might have been set while he was gone—and, after an instant, closed it. She didn't know where that first kiss had come from, after all their dancing around each other… and Sousuke, as far as that went, was not a graceful dancer. Sometimes she'd wondered, before that brief instant of contact had begun unravelling the neat little tapestry of her world, if Sousuke was dancing at all, or if she were simply twirling around him like a music-box ballerina, lost in her own music.

She didn't like uncertainty; she was discovering that the fear of certainty, though, could be worse.

She thought she had her answer, maybe, hopefully, when his entire body heaved in a sigh, and she felt his cheek come to rest on the top of her head. When he finally spoke, it was so quietly she wondered if she had been meant to hear it at all. "Ah, Chidori. Tadaima."

Chidori… I'm home.



Start: April 14, 2007
End: April 15, 2007

A/N: Oh, God, the sap. Kill me. This is my first FMP fanfic (in fact, it's my first ff dot net post, ever) and yes, I know it shows. That said, I hope you hang in there—at least until this current muse gets her darned spurs out of my darned spine!

It must seem to you that Sousuke making the first move is highly unlikely. (I'm sure it seemed unlikely to Kaname, too!) There's reason to the madness, though… I hope. That muse had better hang on long enough for me to tell—er, show—you what it is.

By the way: "Iwanu ga hana" is a Japanese kotowaza (proverb) that means, as the title implies, that silence is golden—and some things are simply better left unsaid. For now, at least. -grin-