Prelude to a Fish
Kaname looked over the perfectly calm ocean horizon and at the scattered trail of down feather clouds that hung motionless in the glowing orange sky. A slow, gentle breeze stirred her long hair, and caused scattered strands to fly up and mingle with his. She stole a quick glance over to where he sat, so close, and checked his expression. As always, his thoughts were not immediately discernable. There was a mix of stern concentration and anxiety, but still he looked content somehow, and it almost looked as though a small upward curl had formed at the corner of his mouth.
She watched as he waited patiently for a fish to bite. His silhouette against the setting sun was statuesque. Certainly, he cut a handsome profile against the sky, and even the scar on his cheek lent him some distinguished charm. She smiled secretly to herself. After their ordeal with Gauron and the hijacking of the Danaan, Sousuke had brought her here to his favorite thinking and fishing spot for some quality time together. Kaname only had thirty minutes to spare before the helicopter came to pick her up on Meridia Island Base. For the first time in their relationship they were alone for a long moment without words; without interruptions, or school, or explosions, or Kaname's halisen, or crazy people trying to kidnap her or ask him out.
This was the first time he had ever shown any sort of interest to take her out on a date. Of course, Kaname could think of hundreds of other places he could have taken her, but in a way, this secluded part of the island base had a hundred fold more charm than anything else. For his standards, it was quite impressive. Not bad, Sousuke, she thought to herself. This was a relief because Kaname was beginning to think she wasn't at all attractive to him. She was beginning to wonder if his type was more towards someone like Tessa, a slender, willowy girl who was like a princess in Mithril's rank and file. But no, he did not bring Tessa here with him to this spot. He had never brought anyone here. Suddenly, where they were sitting became sacred ground to Kaname. This was a memory that belonged only to them.
Would it bother you if I said…Even when my mission to protect you is over, I'd still like to stay by your side…? Kaname blushed deeply to think of what he had told her when they were in dire straits on the Danaan. Not at all, she thought to herself. In fact, it was quite the contrary. Though he had said those words at a time when Kaname was at a crossroads, ready to cast him aside into a turbulent sea on his own because of all the grief he had brought to her, those tender words, the touch of his hand on her bleeding skin, the warmth of his breath against her cheek had led her heart back to him. She was in love with him, and convinced that her eyes would only ever see him as the one she cared for the most for as long as there was light in them.
She never did respond to his inquiry; nor did she tell him how much pleasure his words had brought. He had never been so frank with her. He had never told her how he felt about her, but now she knew that he liked to be by her side, apart from his duty that put him there. Kaname wished that she could be just as frank, just as bold.
Coward, she thought to herself. Even now, their silence was amplified by the crashing waves on the rocks below the sea cliff. Still, she said nothing, but this seemed to be fine with him.
In the past, whenever he did speak, it usually pissed her off somehow. There were moments when Kaname thought she might have died from an aneurism or a heart attack out of frustration but then, there were quiet moments like this of intense thought and feeling, and few words, that made her wish it would last forever. Almost naturally, she scooted closer to him, and leaned her head against his shoulder. His attention turned towards her.
"Are you tired, Chidori?" he asked. Kaname smiled at the thought that Sousuke would probably never stop calling her by her last name.
"Nah," she answered. "Just really relaxed."
"Good," he replied with a satisfied smile. It was the first genuine smile she had ever seen on his face.
After a moment, she asked, "What are you thinking right now, Sousuke?"
"Nothing," he answered. He paused a moment, and continued, "Well, I was thinking of something."
"I was thinking that I'd never actually had a moment like this with a girl before."
"Have you ever had one with a guy before?" asked Kaname with a wry smile.
He coughed nervously. "Well, back with my comrades when I was in Afghanistan…."
"Never mind," laughed Kaname. "I really don't care to know. Really, I was only teasing. I guessed that you've never actually sat fishing with a girl, under an orange and pineapple sunlit sky like this one…. I guess this technically counts as a date," she giggled.
"Kyoko will be so disappointed for not having access to this moment with her mini cam," she continued. "When I tell her about my summer trip, I think I'll just omit this part. And the part about almost dying. And also the part where I melded with the advanced AI of a massive nuclear submarine, heh, heh."
In fact, there isn't much about this trip that I can tell Kyoko…thought Kaname to herself. No one would even believe her if she did.
"A date…" repeated Sousuke. For a moment, he looked a bit nervous.
Kaname reached over and squeezed his hand. "Don't worry, Sousuke. There aren't any written rules. Just don't pull out a gun and shoot the fish or anything like that. We'll just soak up the sun, and just be content sitting here, OK?"
"Affirmative," he replied. She laughed at his formality.
"I never thought I'd be doing this," she said.
"Doing what?" he asked.
"I don't know how I got to this point, being here, like this, with you. I'm not honest with myself like Tessa."
"I don't understand, Chidori. It took us approximately fifteen minutes to get here together, up the mountain trail due north from the base…."
"No, I was speaking figuratively, Sousuke, not literally. I'm not really good at showing my emotions. A lot of the times I feel like they're a liability," she said.
"This is true. In battle, showing emotions can often lead to the wrong decisions," agreed Sousuke. She clunked him over the head with a fist.
"You're such a military nut, Sousuke. But yeah, it is kind of like that. Showing your emotion means showing your weakness. I promised myself I'd always be strong, especially after…after my mom died." He looked over at her with an expression that was almost like empathy.
That's right. You've lost people dear to you too, haven't you, Sousuke? she thought.
"My dad is currently working with the U.N., and has very little time for me. When my mom was still around, we used to travel everywhere. I've lived in France, Italy and even Argentina before. He pays for everything here, my tuition at the Academy, my rent and my spending cash. I do part-time to pay for video games and stuff he wouldn't approve of, but generally, my dad supports me. But I'm not really close to my father, not now anyway, after she died. And, as you know, my mom's side of the family shuns me like a red-headed step child."
"But your hair isn't—" he began
"It's a figure of speech, silly. They don't like me because I'm the fruit of an unacceptable marriage. My father is very smart and graduated top of his class in University but he comes from a poor family. My mother married him without permission from my grandfather, whom I think used to be very strict. I have no real connections in Japan to speak of, and I might as well be an orphan. A lot of times I wake up feeling that way."
After a silence, Sousuke added, "I am an orphan. I never knew my parents. I think my father was in the military in the JSDF. My mother was a nurse, I think who died before I could remember her. I was raised at an early age by family friends in Afghanistan until their village was burned to the ground and everyone died. The most detailed, earliest memories I possess are of explosions, poverty and guns. I have no idea where I come from, aside from the name my father left me."
"A lot of times, it isn't about where we come from," smiled Kaname. "It's all about what we make of ourselves. That's what really defines who we are."
"Is that why you excel at everything?" asked Sousuke. "Even classical Japanese literature?" She thought she saw him cringe inwardly.
Kaname smiled. "Yeah, that's a part of it. A lot of times, it comes naturally to me. I'm not sure where this talent comes from. Most of the time, I want to prove myself to everyone. Prove to them that I'm okay…on my own. Sometimes, I'm not though." Her voice became smaller. Sousuke looked at her inquisitively, and almost instinctively, he put a hand on her shoulder.
"Especially since I've been targeted by those people." Sousuke felt her suddenly stiffen.
"I'll never let anything happen to you, Chidori. I will protect you," he said simply, staring straight ahead, unwavering, into an uncertain future. His look was so honest and solemn that it forced a smile from Kaname.
"I know you will. And I know that I'm not supposed to tell you, but I think you've figured it out already….I'm a Whispered," she said. The word tasted foul on her lips. Sousuke looked at her incredulously as he recognized the word. They had been debriefed by Kalinin about the term. It was the knowledge of the Whispered that gave birth to "Black Technology." To him, it was something only slightly above hocus pocus. But to hear Kaname's confession at that moment made him believe that it was something incredibly profound—something that he could not even begin to fathom.
"But there's something scary about being a Whispered," she continued. "I'm afraid of it because it feels endlessly dark; fathoms into a deep unknown. I hear voices sometimes like chanting and sometimes a single voice of an angel or a demon. I'm afraid that if I give in to the voices, I won't come back as myself. When it talks to me, I feel something trying to pull me down into a pool where I'll drown. It's unnatural to have the knowledge that I never learned stored in my head. It's also terribly lonely, because no one else other than the Whispered can sympathize or would believe it. Every time it comes over me I fight it in my head. I only dip into the knowledge that I need and then I run away." She sighed and hugged her knees closer to her chest. Her confession was honest and canded. She had never been so frank with him before, and it took him aback. For a moment, he wanted to hold her, comfort her as best he could and tell her that he would be the one to protect her from everything, even herself. But he couldn't find the courage.
"Coward," he thought silently to himself.
"I'm just afraid that if I get caught again, and they try to extract it from me, I'm not gonna be the same afterwards. It almost felt like my mind was being invaded and stripped away with the help of the drug they gave me. It was so scary last time," she sighed.
"That's not going to happen again, Chidori," said Sousuke seriously as he let her lean on him again. He recalled the pale face of a pretty girl in Russia that he rescued from 'experiments' the former KGB were performing on her, who had later hung herself in the snow from a tree to escape from the madness of being a Whispered. He could only conclude that there were some like Chidori and the Captain who did not give in to it and others who did not fare so well.
"When you say it, it almost seems true," she said. "I'll depend on you then." A smile crossed his lips again, as if he had taken her words as a compliment.
Kaname added, "But if that time should ever come, and I don't know if I'll make it, Sousuke," she said with a shiver. "Even if you do manage to rescue me again, won't they just try again? If they caught me...what would you do? Would you take them all on? If I started to go insane…would you put me out of my misery?" she asked tentatively. Sousuke looked at her, his eyes questioning what it was she was asking of him.
"You'll make it, Chidori. You're strong like that. That's what I have always admired about you."
"You can be sweet, sometimes, Sousuke—even if you don't realize it. I hope that you'll never be reassigned. I take a lot of pleasure in beating you up for acting like an idiot."
"I know you do," he said, rubbing the top of his head where the latest bruise remained. "I have no objections," he replied.
Kaname laughed a little. "We're such a strange couple."
"Couple?" asked Sousuke.
"Of people," added Kaname shyly. She hoped she wasn't presuming too much, but…What the hell, go for it, she thought to herself. Kaname leaned inward and kissed him on the cheek ever so softly. She looked up and almost laughed when she saw the total shock and utter devastation of all of Sousuke's defenses. He had turned bright red. I guess he's never been kissed like that before, laughed Kaname inwardly.
"Kaname," whispered Sousuke. Her eyes went wide as her name rolled softly off his tongue. She was so giddy that she fought the urge to hug him tightly and bury her face in his shirt. The way he said her name for the first time made her feel like it was the most beautiful name in the world.
I want to remember this moment forever, she thought.
Stay like this with me forever, thought Sousuke.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: They were having an online DVD box set sale for Christmas 2007…hehe. I had almost forgotten my passion for FMP. Nearly one year later, I come back to this story after having read all the Tokyopo releases of the first three novels, and all the way through Burning One Man Force through fan-lations. Subsequently I read part of the next novel as well, which is kind of slow in the beginning. I just know that he has to rescue Kaname from Amalgam, or else he isn't much of a hero, is he? I can't wait for the US release.
But in the end I didn't want to take away from where the author is going with the story. So then I stopped writing. As I revise it now, I realize I didn't want Kaname and Sousuke to get too cozy together, even though I want them to, because it's inconsistent with the novels. But to be consistent with the novels, the writing is restricted. Hmmm…I'm still working out my dilemma of loyalty vs. tale spinning. I just want to write about the unwritten time in between with a little more fluff since their relationship is really understated in the novels.