A/N: I do not own Full Metal Panic, nor do I own the copyrights to any vehicles and/or equipment mentioned in this story. I only own the plot… and that's still up for debate.

A/N: I know it's been nearly a year since I posted and alot of things have changed. I've finally have been able to get back to writing and working with a very good editor (Glockbabe) to make sure my stories are the best that they can be. I hope you all enjoy the re edited chapters I've posted. R&R are always welcome.

Full Metal Panic! Road Trip

Chapter: 1

Assumptions are the Mother of All…

November 1, 06:45 (Japan Standard Time)

Chofu, Tokyo, Japan

Maison K apartment 404

The morning sunlight filtered through the pale lavender blinds, softening the stark white walls with a warm, golden glow. The alarm clock, which resembles an odd, bug-eyed white chicken, shattered the post dawn stillness with its persistent squawks, "Que..., Que... Get up, Kaname! If you don't, you'll be late!" The plastic bird continuously repeated its call until a blue and white striped arm reached out to silence the annoying chicken. The blue haired maiden slowly pushed herself forward into a sitting position with a wide yawn before climbing out of bed.

Sleepy-eyed, she stumbled toward her bedroom window. Opening her curtains a little, she looked out her window toward the apartment building across the road. Bringing a hand up to shield her eyes from the bright fall morning sun light, she could barely make out the shape of someone on the roof of the building across the way. Upon recognizing the figure of her other protector, Kaname smiled slightly to herself and softly whispered "Wraith…"

Realizing that things were finally back to the way they were before those frightful days last week, Kaname's smile brighten. Her main protector hadn't been there during the dreaded mid-terms or when she had discovered she was being followed. Those were the days when she found herself truly alone for the first time in six months; in danger, frightened and needing him more than ever. He had been recalled, his mission to protect her had been terminated, and worst of all he had simply followed orders and walked away without even telling her good bye. She shook her head, not wanting to dwell on those nightmarish events anymore. She was glad she had been able to bring him back, to have her classmate and protector, back at her side.

Stumbling into the bathroom, she started the water for her morning shower before unbuttoning her pj top to place it in the wicker basket by the door. She removed her pj bottoms and panties in one motion, sliding them down her firm athletic legs and then tossed them on top of her pj top.

After taking a few precious moments to wake up completely under the shower's powerful spray, she continued her morning routine of cleaning herself and washing her long blue hair. Once finished, Kaname towel dried her hair before vigorously rubbing the towel over her lithe limbs. As she exited the steam-filled room, Kaname dropped the towel into the wicker basket and gracefully moved toward the bedroom to dress for the day. Stacked neatly atop her dresser were the matching pink panties and bra which she slipped into with a sigh before reaching for the winter uniform hanging behind the door. Satisfied that she was as prepared as possible for the day, the girl reached out to pick up her mother's picture. With a loving smile, she spoke in a confident tone. "Wish me luck today, Mom!"

Upon entering the main living area, Kaname picked up her school bag to make sure she had everything ready for the day. "Notes, check. School books, check. Trusty harisen for beating some sense into a certain stupid military maniac, double check!!" Closing her bag with a snap, Kaname headed for the door and slipped on her pink and white trimmed tennis shoes over her black socks. With her head held high, a warm smile gracing her face, keys and school bag in hand, the girl left her cozy apartment.

After making her way down the concrete stairs and through the front doors of the lobby, Kaname spotted a dark brown haired boy with deep steel grey eyes and a cross shaped scare on his lower left cheek, standing on the side walk. He was standing there in his normal place awaiting her arrival. Dressed in a black wool uniform jacket of their school's male winter uniform, his white shirt collar peeked precisely one half inch over the still wool collar and the black slacks were perfectly creased down the center of each long leg. No speck of lint would dare sully the military precision of his attire! With his black school bag at his side, loaded with god only knows what. Kaname mentally shook her head in wry amusement. He truly is back…

"Good morning Sousuke," she sang as Kaname greeted him warmly. Her smile brimmed to point that her pearl white teeth shown as bright as the morning sun.

"Good morning, Chidori. Are you ready to proceed to the train station?" At her nod, Sousuke turned sharply on his heel and led the way down the street

At first, Kaname walked just a little behind him for a bit. Then she noticed the faint outline of his Glock 26 and two spare magazines sticking out of the waist band of his slacks. Pondering how to broach the subject that weighed heavily on her mind, Kaname moved up along his left side and asked in a concerned tone, "Is everything alright?"

"Affirmative" he replied in his normal rigid way while his wary eyes scanned the people and buildings ahead of them for any possible threats to Kaname or himself.

Lowering her head a bit, Kaname worried her bottom lip a moment before breaking the awkward silence. "You've been kinda busy after school these past few days. Is there anything I should be worried about?"

"No, there's nothing for you to worry about. I've been doing some research concerning a mission for Mithril. Kurz has been aiding me in this process to make sure it goes well. I've got a few more details to work out with him, but everything should go as planned," he answered her.

"Oh..." Kaname breathed, not wanting to think about Sousuke possibly leaving her yet again to go on another dangerous mission. It had only been a little over a week since those events in Hong Kong, and since then he had been gone for a day and half to go to Merida Island. She had tried to put on a happy face, but her feelings on the matter made it very difficult. She hated the idea of him leaving, not knowing when or if he would return to her. Her emotional attachment for this teenage Mithril Specialist had grown quite a bit over the past few months and the thought of losing him now was simply heartbreaking! However, she also knew that if she were to verbally object to his deployment that he would simply say 'It's not a problem', or 'It's nothing for you to worry about, I'll return as soon as the mission is over with', or some other idiotic statement that was meant to set her mind at ease. As if…

Besides, it's not like he would ever take my feelings into account when he leaves. Then again, it's not like I have told him how I feel about him. Every time she had a chance to say anything about her feelings for him, the words would get stuck in her throat. She had hinted at it and danced around the issue, but she had never just come out and said it. It was so frustrating to her that she hadn't been able to summon up the courage to share her true feelings with him at all.

xxxxx

08:02 (Japan Standard Time)

Chofu, Suburbs of Tokyo, Japan

Keio Line, Sengawa Station-Bound Train

Throughout the peaceful train ride, Kaname pondered on her feeling for Sousuke. Well, that's not entirely true. She already knew how she felt; the real problem was how to tell him in a way that he would understand. He wasn't stupid or anything, but when it came to affairs of the heart he wasn't exactly quick on the uptake. This was just too important for him to confuse what she so desperately needed to express with some damn militaristic nonsense! The idea of spelling everything out so that he actually got it the first time was beginning to give her a raging headache and she absently tried to rub away the building tension in her neck.

"Is everything ok, Kaname?" Sousuke became concerned after noticing the strained look on her face.

She jumped a little at his words. "Yes!" she answered quickly and adopted a false face of happiness. Damn it Sousuke, how could you ever comprehend what I go through when you leave.

He looked forward again; his gut told him that something was worrying her. I wish she would tell me what it is that's bothering her. She trusts me, doesn't she? Instead of asking her, he just sat there and moved his right hand slightly, resting it next to her hand so that they barely touched each other. Sousuke knew that she was worried about something, and it weighed heavily on her mind. But he was also aware that if he pressed her, Kaname would simply deny it. The only course of action left was to let her know that he was there for her. When he felt her pinky rub along his briefly, the young soldier released a sigh before setting back to enjoying the rest of the ride to school.

xxxxx

08:21 (Japan Standard Time)

Chofu, Suburb of Tokyo, Japan

Metro Road 114, 300 feet North of Jindai Municipal High School

As they approached their destination, they were greeted by Kaname's long time friend, Kyouko Tokiwa.

She had noticed the disheartened expression on her friend's face. "Is anything the matter, Kaname?" Kyouko asked.

"Why does everyone keep asking me that? I'm fine, perfectly happy!" Kaname replied with a nervous laugh, just as Sousuke knew she would. She would have answered the same way no matter who asked her this morning. She was obviously putting up a front. Anyone that knew or cared about her would have noticed it, but both Kyouko and Sousuke let it go on as though they hadn't.

Kaname smiled as the trio resumed walking toward the school's main gate. Peaceful mornings such as this were starting to become more common since that night in Hong Kong. So far, Sousuke hadn't blown anything up, nor had he pulled his Glock or any other weapon from his personal arsenal to threaten, interrogate, or terrorize anyone. She could definitely get used to this newer, calmer Sousuke.

The soldier walked beside her, lost in his thoughts. There's so much I want to tell her, things she should know! But how would she react knowing that I sacrificed half my salary just to stay by her side? What about the fact that even though I did that, I still have to report when ordered? Would she laugh in my face? Or would she attack me and call me an idiot? Every time he even thought about broaching the subject his throat would constrict and the words refused to come out. He felt like a coward. As a soldier, he could face almost anything without a second thought. Finding himself surrounded by armies of terrorists? Not a big deal. Outnumbered by Venoms five to one? Not a problem. Facing down a large group of teen age gang members? No sweat. Going toe to toe with General Amit about his humanity and his own future? Well, that had been a fight that he wasn't about to back down from one bit. However, when it came to telling Kaname about his growing feeling for her, BIG PROBLEM! He hoped that sometime soon he'd be able to find the courage to tell her about these feelings that had been confusing him over the past several months. It's something he had been working hard on, yet the ability to carry through continued to elude him! Sousuke ground his teeth in frustration. There has to be an easier way!

xxxxx

08:32 (Japan Standard Time)

Jindai High School, Tokyo, Japan

2nd floor of the North Building, Class Room 4

Shinji waved at his three friends as they walked into the classroom; the group exchanged greetings and started chatting between themselves. As Kyouko made small talk with a reluctant Kaname, Shinji engaged Sousuke with the latest Arm Slave information that he had gotten off the internet. Being the Arm Slave pilot that he secretly was, Sagara already knew these things his bespectacled friend was machine gunning at him. Instead of correcting the errors in Shinji's facts, Sousuke merely nodded his head absentmindedly in agreement as he repeatedly glanced over at Kaname. Shinji was about to ask him if there was something wrong with her when Miss Kagurazaka entered the room. Everyone took their seats before Kaname, as class rep. called the class to attention with the standard command of, "Rise and bow." So began another routine day for class 2-4.

Kaname surreptitiously peered back at Sousuke occasionally throughout the morning to make sure that a certain someone was still there in his seat behind her. She knew all too well how it tore at her heart every time he left on a mission and this morning wasn't any different. Yet somehow it was completely different. Her heart ached more whenever she thought about the idea of him having to leave her side again just before 'fall break' next week.

It really wasn't a normal school vacations, it started off with the cancellation of this Saturday's classes for the first and second year students. Then next week would start with two half days of school and then the students would be off till the following Monday. It was the school's way of giving the students a little break before the grueling task of studying for the end of term tests at the end of December.

Kaname had planned on working some part time jobs with her friends, and try to spend a little more time with Sousuke. But if he was leaving for another mission, she had no clue how long he would be gone. Will I get to spend any time at all with Sergeant Serious next week? That's the question that had been haunting her for most of the morning.

The students kept checking the minute hand on the clock, bored out of the skull by the teacher's monotone voice. Just as the bell rang for lunch, the teacher finished the mind numbing lecture, and Kaname lead the class in the traditional standing and bowing half hearted. Once they were finished, most of the class rushed out of the classroom in the daily stampede to the pastry vendor. A few of the students had brought their own lunches, not wanting to be trampled by other students and settled in groups to eat with friends. Kyouko turned to Kaname and asked "Are you going to get something to eat?"

"I guess so......" she replied, almost mentally exhausted.

Kyouko glanced over at Sousuke, silently hinting that he should get her something to eat.

Sousuke stood up, uncertain of what to do. Nervously, he asked Kaname "W-would you like me to get you something to eat? Maybe a croquette sandwich and a custard pastry..."

She turned slightly in her seat with a faint pink blush coloring her cheeks and looked back at the uneasy solider, Damn it, Sousuke, why do you have to be so damn sweet right now? Before she even realized it, the words slipped from her lips, "Sure, I would like that."

Sousuke snapped to attention, "Yes Ma'am!" as he sharply turned and headed out the door. Shinji smiled at the two girls before following his friend, giving the two girls a chance to talk.

Shinji quickly caught up to Sousuke and asked, "Is Kaname alright? She seems kinda distracted today."

Sousuke sighed, "I think she's worried about something, but I haven't been able to figure it out."

Seeing how lost Sousuke was, Shinji took pity and explained, "You know, Kyouko says Kaname acts like this every time you leave school. I've noticed it too, but the last time you left, I think was the worst I've seen so far." As they walked down the hallway together, Shinji saw Sousuke's increasingly confused look. He added, "I mean, usually Kaname seems like it doesn't even bother her that you're gone, but something was different that time. It was like she was trying really hard to act like she didn't care."

He thought for a moment about what Shinji had just said, "I wonder if that's it?" he quietly pondered aloud. I know she doesn't like it when I leave on a mission, but ever since Hong Kong, I have made sure to let her know when I'm leaving. Even if Mithril had ordered me not to say anything to her, I still would tell her. After everything we've been through together, I owe her that much.

He started reflecting on the past week since the mission in Hong Kong. How he had hated being recalled back to the De Danaan, with orders not to say a word to Kaname! Orders that had made him lose his temper and smash his laptop to bits with a single punch. Orders that had him screaming top secret information to anyone that had been in hearing range, all in an attempt to get answers from the intelligence operative codename: "Wraith". Orders that had sent him spiraling into a deep depressed; so much so that he hadn't even been able to focus when he was dueling with Clouseau. It had been an abyss of darkness that had kept his mind drifting back to thoughts of Kaname, until the point he just couldn't take it anymore and had simply walked away from his mission and comrades.

Kaname had been all he could think about, all he could ever care about. Everything else seemed suddenly meaningless and unimportant.

Why had he felt this strongly about being pulled away from her at that time? He had known for a while now that he cared for her beyond the protector/protected boundaries. Ever since the school's class trip to Okinawa had been hijacked and Kaname was taken away by Gauron, he had suspected that Kaname was different. It had been those feelings that had made him disobey his orders to protect the students on the plane. Instead he had felt compelled to find and rescue Kaname.

But now this feeling seemed to be telling him so much more. Now it wasn't that he simply cared for her; it was much stronger than that. It felt like a raging fire in his gut, starting off small at first, and then slowly growing to the point where it consumed him.

Maybe it's some strange reverse form of Stockholm Syndrome…

Was that the reason why he had felt compelled to kill Gauron in Hong Kong? His emotions had gone haywire when Gauron gloated about Kaname's death. Even though he emptied his Glock in to Gauron's body and escaped from that room, he had felt lost, as though life wasn't worth living without her in it. Nothing seemed to matter at all.

However, all of that had changed once he had seen her again, striding confidently down that deserted street toward him. It hadn't mattered that she was mad and hurt; neither had it been important that she had punched, elbowed, and kicked him. It had been the fact she was there, alive and safe that had finally brought him back from the emotional abyss he had fallen into. She had saved him again, brought him back to life, more so than he'd ever felt before.

Could this really be love? Never having known what love really felt like, it was little wonder he was so confused. If so, he had to talk to her about it. If he could get the words out, before any more time was wasted..............

"Earth to Sousuke…?"

Sousuke snapped out of his musings and glanced over at his friend with a puzzled expression. "What is it, Shinji?"

Shinji cleared his throat, "You're not going to start shooting if there's a large crowd at the lunch stand, are you?"

He thought back to the time Shinji referred to. The idea had briefly crossed his mind, but only if it was necessary. Recalling how angry Kaname had gotten that time, followed by the vicious beating he had received from the dreaded harisen, he changed his mind. "I think I will keep my gun in its place this time. I wouldn't want to get Kaname angry today. I suppose I'll just have to work my way through the crowd like a normal civilian." That will be for the best since Kaname hasn't been herself today. No need to upset her by over doing it, as she called it, just to procure her lunch...

xxxxx

Back in the class room, Kyouko pulled her chair up to Kaname's desk and sat down next to her. Kaname seemed to be lost in thought. I hope he's not being called back again. I know after we got back from Hong Kong, he'd told me when he left for Merida Island. He did say that he'll tell me every time he has to leave, whether he tells me in person or on the phone. But he's been so damn secretive about what he's been doing after we get home from school these past few days. I really don't want him to leave, not now....

"That was sweet of Sousuke to get you lunch, Kaname. Especially since you seem so distracted today." Kyouko teased with a playful tone in her voice.

Kaname took a deep breath, holding it for a moment before releasing it. She looked over at Kyouko and said, "Yes, I know..." Looking forlornly down at her desk, she sighed heavily. "You see, fall break is going to be starting next week and I'm pretty sure Sousuke is going to be leaving again just as it starts."

Kyouko nudged Kaname with her elbow and casted her a sly grin, "Why don't you ask him if he is leaving soon? You'll never know unless you ask him, Kana."

Kaname nervously worked her fingers together, causing Kyouko to giggle. "You've been worrying about that all morning long, haven't you? No wonder you've seemed so distracted!" A playful glint sparkled behind the wide spectacles. "If I liked a guy, I would be asking what he had planned for fall break instead of dwelling on whether he's leaving or not."

She quickly turned toward her pig-tailed friend, "Who said I liked him that way? He needs to study during this coming week so he can do better in school! Honestly, he's making me look bad as class rep with all these absences and the poor grades!"

Kaname was obviously still trying to hide her feelings for this military nut job of a Sergeant, but Kyouko wasn't buying it this time. She knew her best friend all too well, "Uh-hun, sure Kana, you're just worried about his school work, right?"

Kaname's head dropped like she was just hit with a harisen herself. "Is it that noticeable......" she asked in a defeated tone. Maybe she's right, I should ask him if he is leaving or not.

"I don't know…" Kyouko pretended to play dumb, "only if someone is looking your way."

Kaname frowned in frustration. "I wonder if he even noticed. I mean Sousuke can be so damn dense at times. I doubt that the idea of us doing something fun together has crossed that military otaku brain at all."

"Oh....." Kyouko grinned, "You're telling me that Sousuke doesn't think about you all the time? I wonder…"

Kaname rolled her eyes dramatically, "I'm not saying he doesn't think about me at all, it's just that his mind doesn't work that way. He doesn't have a romantic bone in his body. I mean, I could throw myself at him, and he wouldn't have a clue to the meaning of it."

"So your saying that Sousuke hasn't figured out that you like him yet?"

Kaname dejectedly hung her head, looking at floor under her desk, "Not one bit." That idiot, can't he tell I like him... maybe… even love him?

Looking straight into Kaname's eyes, Kyouko said in a very serious tone, "Maybe you're not trying hard enough for Sousuke to notice."

That's when Kaname sat back up in her seat with a disgusted look on her face, and snapped "How would you suggest I DO THAT??"

In an innocent tone and with a mischievous smirk, Kyouko teased, "Oh.... I don't know..."

Just then Sousuke and Shinji entered the class room. Talking on his cellphone, Sousuke placed Kaname's sandwich and pastry down in front of her before turning away. Kaname flushed a light shade of red after seeing what Sousuke had bought her. He got it without shooting anyone or blowing anything up! Shinji took the seat next to Kyouko and placed the food he was carrying on Kaname's smiled sweetly and thanked him for getting her some lunch also.

Sousuke stood in the rear right corner of the classroom, continuing to talk on the phone. "Yes... Yes... Yes, Sir... Understood, Sir... Thank you, Sir. Urzu 7 out." As he removed the earpiece, he noticed that Kaname was staring at him with an odd look. He met her coffee gaze with a questioning tilt to his head, causing Kaname to blush a darker shade of red. Sousuke walked up to her and asked, "Kaname, I would like to ask you....." He swallowed hard, sweat beginning to bead on his brow.

At that moment, a large boom is heard throughout the school, followed by a tremor which shook the school itself.

Kaname paused for a moment. Her eyes grew wide as all the rose color drained from her cheeks. That wasn't what I think I it was... Sousuke, you idiot, you jerk!!!

Sousuke looked around intently, senses on high alert. Kyouko and Shinji looked at each other trying to figure out what Sousuke had done now. The classroom speaker came to life with Miss Kagurazaka's voice yelling, "Sousuke Sagara, come to the down to the teacher's office immediately young man!"

Sweat began to pour like a waterfall down Sousuke's face after hearing this and the fire in Kaname's eyes didn't help things either. Kaname quickly pulled out her harisen.

SMACK!!!

The force of the blow to his head sent him cart-wheeling across the classroom and crashing into a wall, knocking him out cold.

You military otaku moron, can't you go one day without blowing something up? "What the hell did you do this time, you stupid IDIOT!!!" she roared as she grabbed him by his shirt collar and dragged him out for the classroom.

Kyouko rolled her eyes with a sigh, "Kaname really does like him."

Still unable to comprehend the magnitude of Kaname's wrath Shinji just saw, "If that's how Kaname expresses she 'like' him, I'd hate to see how she would treat her enemies."

xxxxx

Moments later

Jindai High School, Tokyo, Japan

1st floor of South Building

Miss Kagurazaka stood in the hall next to the teacher's storage room, shaking the unconscious Sousuke while yelling at him. The door to the teacher's storage room was blown completely apart, splinters of wood and pieces of glass laid scattered across the floor. Along the wall opposite from the room door below the blown out window, two male students lay sprawled out on the floor, unconscious, but alive nonetheless. Kaname stood nearby with her arms folded across her chest, her foot tapping angrily at a rapid pace and a scowl of disproval on her face while watching the furiously irate teacher screamed at Sousuke's limp body.

Just then, Student Council President Atsunobu Hayashimizu appeared with Ren following closely on his heels. With a pleased look on his face at the sight before him, he smiled politely at the teacher. "Miss Kagurazaka, would you kindly stop assaulting the Student Council Security Officer."

Miss Kagurazaka dropped Sousuke down on the floor, pointed to the obliterated door and said, "Mr. Hayashimizu, we are growing very tired of Mr. Sagara's antics. He cannot be allowed to continue destroying school property! His reckless acts are becoming quite bothersome to the staff at this school."

"On the contrary, Miss Kagurazaka," the student council president smiled before opening a small fan with that Japanese symbol for 'victory' on it. "Mr. Sagara actions this time are in accordance with the Student Council's wishes."

Miss Kagurazaka's and Kaname's jaws both drop wide open in utter shock. Kaname recovered first and spat," Senpai Hayashimizu, I don't remember anything being said about Sousuke blowing up the teacher's storage room."

Closing his fan with a snap and using it to push his glasses up on his face, Hayashimizu authoritatively stated, "Of course not, Miss Chidori, this matter was kept in secret between Mr. Sagara, Principal Tsuboi, and myself. As Mr. Sagara pointed out, there was a chance that the word would leak out about our clandestine operation."

Kaname looked dejected for being left out of the loop on this one. Since when is the student council vice-president left out of important meetings? "A clandestine operation?"

Hayashimizu turned to look down at the two immobilized students on the floor. "Yes, it was brought to my attention that some of our senior class students had a copy of the answer sheet for the National Senior Mid-term Exam. That they were planning on redoing their exam with those answers to increase their scores. I informed Principal Tsuboi of this information immediately. She told me that if this information was indeed true, it would be devastating to our school's reputation if any word had leaked out about our students' actions. And she would have no choice but have the entire senior class retake the exam during the first days of 'fall' break. So I discussed the matter with our Principal and asked her to give the Student Council time to catch these students in the act, which she agreed to, but only gave me to the end of business today to apprehend the guilty parties." Pointing down at the still unconscious Sousuke, Senpai Hayashimizu continued, "I had a meeting with Mr. Sagara, which he advised me that setting a trap and releasing false information about where the exam books were located would be the most effective way of catching these students in the act."

Kaname looked down at Sousuke, the feeling guilt starting to overtake her form for knocking him unconscious. I hope I didn't hit him too hard, he's been out for while already. She knelt down beside him to check on him. Placing her hand on his forehead, I really did hit him hard this time. Damn it............

Miss Kagurazaka was also feeling a bit ashamed of how she had treated Sousuke. She looked over at the Student Council President and said, "I can understand the need to capture these students red handed, but this is still a bit excessive."

Senpai Hayashimizu knelt down to looked over the two male students lying on the floor and picked up a set of lock picks from one student's hands. Returning to his former stance, he showed the lock picks to Miss Kagurazaka and stated, "If these students had achieved their goals, the teachers with the lesser tenure would have to be here with the senior class while they retook the Mid-term exam during the fall break." Hayashimizu's words flowed from his lips smooth and evenly, to drive his point home toward the teacher.

The Student Council President's implication wasn't missed by Miss Kagurazaka. The unpleasant thoughts ran through her mind, the idea of having to spend the first couple of days during the fall break working long days instead of enjoying her precious vintage little Mini Cooper.

Senpai Hayashimizu followed up by affirming, "Mr. Sagara's actions are well within the boundaries stated to him by myself. Capture the perpetrators red handed in a nonlethal fashion. Besides, don't you think a few broken windows and a door are better than blowing up the whole storage room, shooting up the lunch line, or dismantling a teacher's car?"

Both Miss Kagurazaka and Kaname realized that the student council president was correct in his statements.

Sousuke slowly parted his eyes as he started to regain conscious thought. Things were fuzzy at first, but he could tell Kaname was knelt down beside him, with her body facing him. As his eyes began to focus he caught an unexpected sight. Pink…?

"Are you alright, Sousuke?" Kaname inquired.

With a hard swallow, "I'm fine." Sousuke quickly leaned forward and surveyed the area around him, only to find that he was lying on the hall way floor outside of the teacher's storage room. Grimacing at the dull pain throbbing in his head, it became clear to the solider why he didn't remember leaving the class room. Ouch... that still hurts. Kaname quickly helped him to his feet. Sousuke then turned with a snap to Hayashimizu, "Our clandestine operation was successful from the look of evidence here, your Excellency. Although, I wasn't exactly confident that six concussion grenades would be enough without prior knowledge of the size of the enemy forces."

"Yes indeed Mr. Sagara. You've done a fine job with capturing the culprits red handed." Senpai Hayashimizu told Sousuke proudly, and added "I will have these students brought before the Student Council and conference with Principal Tsuboi on how to punish them."

Miss Kagurazaka entered the storage room and began opening the filing cabinet. "I'm just glad the exams are safe and sound."

Realizing what Miss Kagurazaka was doing, Sousuke screamed "Not good!!" before tackling Kaname to the floor.

Senpai Hayashimizu raised his arm to gently guide the Student Council Secretary, Ren Mikihara, back a couple of steps.

Flocks of birds took to flight while every car alarm in the surrounding area sounded as the second explosion rocked the school… its foundation... and the other buildings on the school grounds.

"Interesting." Senpai Hayashimizu simply stated.

xxxxx

13:26 (Japan Standard Time)

Jindai High School, Japan

2nd floor North Building

As Kaname and Sousuke walked back to class, she still feeling little embarrassed for her outburst earlier and not being one to admit to it when she wrong. She was having a hard time getting the words out since they left the first floor. The conflict within her finally came to a head when she turned to him and said, "Look, I'm sorry for the way I acted back in class earlier. I know you're not as bad at destroying things as you were a few months ago. But that second trap was a still little over the top."

Sousuke pondered her words for a moment, I only used six concussion grenades on the door, and the shape-charged explosive in the draw was to catch any one that made it pass them. Maybe it was a little over the top, just… maybe... a little... He turned to Kaname, "Still... the traps were very effective, the perpetrators were caught without the exams being compromised and the school's reputation will remain intact."

"I guess so.... even if the school's foundation won't." Kaname replied mildly annoyed by the soldier's comment. I really wish he would stop splitting hairs.

When they entered the class room, they saw that Maya and Mizuki had joined Kyouko and Shinji in eating their lunch. Kaname took her seat, looking down at the croquette sandwich that Sousuke had bought for her, still sitting in its wrapper.

Kyouko looked over to Kaname, and asked, "Is everything OK?"

"Yes..." Kaname said with a smile on her face. Then she remembered that Sousuke was going to as ask her something and turned suddenly to face him. "What were you going to ask me earlier, Sousuke?" she asked with a curious tone in her voice.

Sousuke stiffened up in his seat, "Oh yes... I wanted to ask you..." he gasped out. I can do this. Breath, I can do this.

Still curious, she smiled while tapping her toe impatiently. "Yes...?"

Snapping to attention, he pushed his chair back some and stood, sweat forming on his brow, hands clenched at his side, and looking forward to the front of the class, he said in a rushed military tone, "I wanted to ask you what your plans were for fall break next week, Miss Chidori!"

Kaname's jaw dropped in sheer shock before quickly recovering to answer, "I… I don't have anything planned as of yet."

Flash. Kyouko managed to get a picture of Kaname's gasping face.

Sousuke was still standing at attention, a little less stiff, and now gazing down into her deep chocolate eyes. "I'd like to invite you to accompany me on a road trip!"

Flash, another picture.

Kaname jumped a little in her seat, the thought of them getting away from everyone and everything sounded wonderful. But thoughts of the last time he had asked her to go away to a 'south pacific island', crept into her head. "A road trip....?" she muttered skeptically.

Shinji couldn't believe his fellow otaku's question; Maya and Mizuki were as taken back by the boy's request.

Sousuke relaxed a little bit more. After seeing that she hadn't started to object to the idea, he explained, "Yes, it will be just the two of us this time. No one else, I promise."It will be just us this time, no Weber, no Mao, no Mithril. Well...., he thought to himself.

Kyouko and the other girls all squealed excitedly, "How romantic!!!" Shinji was still bewildered by Sousuke, but smiled for his friend's brave question.

Kaname, almost red at the idea, whispered softly "Sousuke and me, alone..." She fought back the negative thoughts and let her mind wonder. Has he figured it out finally? Is this his attempt at showing me he finally put two and two together and really got four? This could be the chance I've been waiting so long for! She turned toward the window before telling him, "Yeah... Sure... I would like to go with you. This could be fun", with a smile of approval she ran her fingers through her hair, pushing it back over her left ear. The last thing she wanted to do was give everyone the impression that she was about to jump around like a kid at the carnival! The memories of their last 'trip together' began to flood back into her mind again as Kaname started a low nervous laugh, hiding her negative thoughts.

Sousuke sat back down in his chair, feeling like a ton of bricks had just been lifted off of his shoulders. Feeling more confident and at ease, he stated, "Then it's settled, I'll pick you up this Saturday at 9:00 am."

"What about school next Monday and Tuesday?" she asked. She knew those were half days, but she still wondered about them.

With a strong feeling of confidence, he simply answered, "It's not a problem."