The peace and quiet in one of Tokyo's many suburbs was interrupted by a rather loud groan of frustration. "Ugh! I can't believe today!"
Kaname Chidori moaned sullenly as she skulked home. Slinging her heavy book bag over her shoulder she glared at the boy responsible for all of the extra assignments weighing it down. He blinked back at her, his naturally serious face completely un-phased by her menacing stare.
"Just what the heck were you thinking Souske? Attacking Mrs. Toshiro like that?"
The part she still couldn't understand was exactly how she'd been roped into detention in the first place. I wasn't even there! she fumed silently. I mean how the heck am I supposed to watch him every minute of the day?! With fists clenching and unclenching at her sides she turned her back on him and resumed her furious march home.
The soupy air was thick and muggy and did nothing at all to cool her temper. The scorching heat of the afternoon sun lingered in the smoggy air and clung to her skin like a too-warm blanket. Today had been horrible…there was no other way to put it. It'd been horrible and frustrating and reminded her of exactly how little progress they'd made together.
It was just one thing after another at school; first a pop quiz which she hadn't been able to review for because she'd lent him her notes, then they'd run out of all the good rolls at lunch, and on top of all of that, she'd been given detention because Souske attacked a teacher. Souske, Souske, Souske…I'm going to KILL that boy!
With shoulders squared and eyes staring level at Kaname's back, Souske defended his actions with all the precision of a seasoned military officer. "If you'll remember, Mrs. Toshiro was wielding a dangerous weapon on school grounds. The safety of her students could've been compromised. Had a terrorist…"
"How many times do I have to tell you? NO TERRORIST IS GOING TO ATTACK JINDAI HIGH! Besides, she was only showing us the properties of sulphuric acid. It was Chemistry!"
Burying her face wearily into her hand Kaname sighed with defeat and felt her scowl soften into a look of sympathy. He'd been enrolled at Jindai High for nearly a year now and he was still so clueless. She was well past the point of wondering if he would ever fit in. He would always be a complete military nut, but fortunately one with a very endearing soft side.
As they strolled past a local playground the sound of children laughing wafted to them through the heavy air. Here the smell of freshly gut grass and gasoline was strong and sweet, the perfect reminder that summer was just days away. With the thought of summer vacation fresh in her mind, Kaname slowed her pace slightly and waited for Souske to catch up so she could link her arm with his.
She was surprised to notice that he didn't stiffen when she touched him anymore. Apparently they'd made some progress after all…in fact she was almost certain he relaxed around her every so often. Particularly on the nights when she'd cook dinner for him and they'd spend the evening relaxing on the couch watching game shows or sitcoms.
On those nights he actually cracked a smile every now and then, and when they stretched out on the couch he never objected to her lying with him. They fit well together – like they'd been designed for each other all along. On those nights she liked to picture what their future together might be like and every time she did it brought a smile to her lips and made her heart beat just a little bit faster.
But things weren't that way now, at least not yet. They had fun together and were the closest of friends, but that was all they were. Despite how badly she wanted to slide her hand down his arm until her fingers entwined with his, her hand remained frozen. Though she desperately wanted to kiss him at her door whenever he left, bleary eyed after a long session of TV watching, she always hesitated.
A part of her wanted to tell him how she felt, but her fear kept her voice silent. What if he didn't feel the same way? Hearing those words from his lips would shatter her dream for their future together. For now she wanted to hold onto it just a little bit longer, even if it was just a fantasy.
"So…did you want to come over for dinner tonight? We've both had kind of a rough day. I was thinking of making some teriyaki chicken. You in?"
Kaname swallowed convulsively and made a point to look away so he couldn't see the hopeful expression on her face. The last thing he needed to know was just how badly she wanted him to come over. She was already feeling guilty for yelling at him earlier, as she often did after giving him a good tongue (or otherwise) lashing. He hadn't exactly had the easiest day in the world and she hadn't made it any easier. Poor guy…she really did feel bad for him sometimes.
He seemed to contemplate her offer for a moment longer before nodding his head in agreement. "Yes I believe my schedule is free. Teriyaki chicken sounds appetizing."
"Great!" Kaname couldn't keep the cheerful lilt from her voice. "You know, I heard they're going to be playing re-runs of White Tower tonight!"
"Is that the sitcom about the two doctors?"
"Yes! You liked it remember? You said the storyline, 'while simple in structure is quite entertaining'."
Kaname erupted into a fit of giggles after re-enacting of Souske's first review of the show. He stared at her in confused silence, oblivious to what was so funny, until the persistent beep of his mobile phone brought their conversation to a standstill. Retrieving it from his breast pocket he flipped it open and brought it to his ear in one fluid motion.
"Yes? This is Sergeant Sagara…"
Kaname dropped his arm and slinked away to wait for him against the guard rail. It was another mission from MITHRIL no doubt. They had the horrible habit of ruining every date she ever made with him. A part of her secretly wondered if Tessa had them under extra surveillance so anytime they got close she could separate them. While it seemed a little far fetched and even paranoid, she wouldn't put it past the fair haired captain of the Danaan.
She watched expectantly as he snapped his phone shut and tucked it back into his jacket pocket. He turned to her and gave her the same look he always did before he left and she found it infuriating.
"You have to go don't you?" She asked quietly, already knowing what his answer would be.
"Yes. I must report to the Danaan within the hour. We can re-schedule dinner for another night, right?" Seeing that he was anxious to be on his way, Kaname sighed in resignation and flipped her hand airly to dismiss his concerns.
"Yeah sure whatever. Be safe Souske."
He shot her a look of genuine relief mixed with a hint of gratitude and gave a short bow before departing. "Thank you…Kaname."
She started at the sound of her name and stared after him as he retreated down the street. Her cheeks flushed and grew hot with a gentle warmth that spread down to the very ends of her fingertips and toes. She realized then just how much she liked the sound of her name on his lips.
Thank you…Kaname. Well, she may not be getting the date night she wanted, but that line was enough to keep her going until he got back. She just hoped that it was sooner rather than later.
Turning around she braced her hands atop the warm metal of the overpass guard rail and stared out at the dying sun. Suddenly the thought of returning to a dark, empty apartment seemed offensive and she instantly shook her head as if rejecting the idea. With nowhere to go and a persistently growling stomach, Kaname decided there was only one option left. Stealing her mobile phone from her book bag, she flipped it open and dialled Kyoko's number with practised ease.
"Hey Kyoko, it's me. You wanna grab something to eat?"
Time: 1730 hrs
Location: Classified (somewhere in the South Pacific)
Pen scratched loudly against paper and ended with a pronounced flourish. The Captain of the Danaan, Teletha Testarossa, stared gloomily down at the elegant signature in front of her. Yet another approval, yet another dangerous mission. How many men and women have I sentenced to their deaths this time? Being a Captain weighed far too heavily on her conscience at times; it was little wonder why she never slept.
Her violet eyes lifted to the clock hanging over the door. It was almost time. She wondered if there would ever be a day when he would find it in his heart to forgive her for robbing him of the life and happiness he deserved. He'd known nothing but war and violence from childhood, nothing but death and destruction since then. There was finally someone who could take him away from all of that, someone who could offer him a chance at living a normal civilian life, someone who wasn't associated with secret agencies or government groups and she envied her immensely.
She could see it in his eyes, how badly he wanted that life, yet he never once set aside his duties to MITHRIL to achieve it. Every time he was just the slightest bit comfortable they called him back to do their bidding, leaving her to be the harbourer of bad news.
He always returned without complaint but there would come a time when he learned to despise MITHRIL and everything they'd taken from him. He had to hate her by now and if not, then he would soon enough.
The piercing beep of the intercom atop her desk disturbed the heavy silence filling the room and snapped Tessa out of her daze. Dropping her pen onto the desk in surprise she glanced at the device and its persistent flashing red light. With a shaking finger she pressed the receiver down.
"Sergeant Sagara here to see you Madame Captain. Shall I send him in?" came the chipper voice of the secretary through the loud speaker. Tessa closed her eyes and nodded her head before realizing that her walls were not made of plate glass.
"S-sorry yes. Please send Mr. Sagara in. Thank you."
With a loud click the speaker turned off and the heavy silence returned. With a gentle cough to clear her throat Tessa picked up her pen once more and did her best impression of a 'busy Captain at her desk doing paperwork.' When the door creaked open and clicked shut she forced her eyes to remain glued to the page in front of her. After scribbling her signature on an approval form she hadn't even bothered to read, she set her pen down purposefully and looked up at the one thing she could never have.
"Good evening Mr. Sagara. How is Ms. Chidori?"
"Madame Captain! Sergeant Sagara reporting. Ms. Chidori is in good health and sends her regards."
He was so rigid, his back straighter than a ramrod and his hand frozen to his forehead in salute. Just once she wished he'd greet her with a "Hey Tessa!" and a casual wave, but if he did that he wouldn't be the same Mr. Sagara and she wouldn't be his Captain.
"Please be at ease Sergeant. I'm sorry for calling you back so soon-"
"Not a problem."
His reassuring interruption sent a warm blush to her cheeks, which she quickly hid by bowing her head and re-shuffling the papers on her desk.
"We have another mission for you Sergeant," she explained in her most business-like tone of voice. Without further delay she pressed a button on her desk intercom and requested Mr. Kalinin's presence.
The well-seasoned commander entered the room without delay and stood dutifully at her right. He handed Souske a manila folder and waited patiently for him to glance over the material inside.
Souske's grey eyes darted left to right across the page as he read the documents in front of him. Classified, Classified, Classified…everything is classified! He glanced up expectantly at the Lieutenant Commander and his Captain but their faces held no answers.
"We are sending you to eastern Europe for a rescue and retrieval mission," the Commander explained matter-of-factly. "One of our agents has been taken hostage by a rogue terrorist group and we need her returned to us for questioning. You will lead a small team of soldiers to retrieve her from the terrorist base in Berlin. You are pre-approved to bring along any light-weight arms you should require. The plane departs at 0400 hours. Do you have any questions Sergeant?"
Souske's grey eyes found Tessa's and she hastily looked away, unable to meet his gaze. Though he was troubled by this he answered his commander with a perfunctory "No sir!" and waited to be dismissed.
With a nod from the Commander he saluted both he and the Captain, who still would not glance his way and marched towards the door.
"Sergeant Sagara!" He paused at the door when she called out to him, the desperation in her soft voice unmistakable. He turned towards her, more casually than he should have, and waited.
"Please be careful."
It was such a simple request and so like Tessa to be worried about him. He smiled briefly her way and nodded his head before responding with, "Not a problem."
When the door closed behind him the Captain of the Danaan turned to her subordinate with a grim expression.
"Are you absolutely certain there's no one else we can send?"
He shook his head, his frown mirroring hers. "They asked for him specifically. Besides, if anyone has a chance of getting out of this alive it's Sagara."
Tessa felt her head nod up and down but her ears refused to accept what they were hearing. Of all the people they could've asked for…why him? Clenching her fists against her thighs, she fought back the tears brewing in her eyes and dismissed Mr. Kalinin in a shaky voice.
Understanding her need for privacy he left immediately from her side. The moment the door closed behind him Tessa let out a cry of frustration and grabbed the closest thing to her, in this case a crystal paper weight, and heaved it at the wall. Despite her lack of athletic ability, she heard it shatter into a thousand tiny, glittering pieces.
Staring at the mess on the floor she realized that there were just about enough crystalline shards covering her carpet to match the number of tears she was going to shed if anything happened to Sergeant Sagara.
Author's Note: Something I was thinking about and decided to scribble down. I think this might actually go somewhere, well I have an idea anyway, so please stay tuned. If you like it so far let me know so I'll be inspired to keep going. Think of it as a continuation following FMP! TSR. Until next time…