Often Told in Silence
alternately titled, six times Alto gave Sheryl a quiet 'I love you', and the one time he didn't
Sheryl knew that the most important things in the world don't always have to be said, but it was nice to have it spelled out once in a while.
A/N: I'm a total Alto/Sheryl fangirl – there's no use denying it (and not that I want to ;D). This is my first time trying to write anything for this pairing but I tried to stay true to their characterizations (but it's very biased to my perception?). By the way, I'm a firm believer that Alto is no flake \o/ go go Alto-kun! I apologize in advance if certain details about the Macross universe and maybe even some events in the series are a little off. I should really start rewatching the series, which I will do over the Christmas break :D. Oh, and beware that this fic is filled with all sorts of fluff that can probably cause massive cavities and face-palming to the unaccustomed. Enjoy the fic, and standard disclaimers apply. :D
Oh, and this is set post-finale but doesn't really have any major spoilers outside the progression of Alto and Sheryl's relationship.
She told him they would talk after it was all over, and it seemed to her that he was avoiding that conversation at all costs.
He soared the atmosphere until the bright blue sky turned to swirls of purple and orange. It was an odd sight, seeing a genuine dusk for the first time while sitting on genuine soil.
A soft breeze from the sea blew past her as she saw him grow closer from a distance.
Like the veteran he now was, he lands on the ground almost soundlessly. Despite that, she feels herself tense as his leather boots crunch against the grass. He's wearing a boyish smile, a smile that spelled both anticipation and a certain degree of playfulness, and she has things she wants to say.
"Alto..." she begins, but doesn't end. She doesn't finish her sentence because he suddenly walks up to her, back straight and serious-faced, like he wants to say something, but doesn't. Instead, their two frames collide, his chest against hers.
To be honest, Alto smelled of sweat and having her face pressed against the surface of his EX-Gear was less than comfortable.
"Don't say anything." he whispers, his arms carelessly wrapped around her frame as they stood under a real night sky for the first time.
She thinks she should be pissed that Alto cut her off just as she was about to say something important.
But, she guesses, he's finally learning to be romantic and this was better than some flight analogy only he understood.
She's no longer sick. There's no longer a war. They're no longer playing lovers. And she's pretty sure they're still in high school.
It's probably common knowledge that it was inappropriate for them to live together.
When the war was going on, it was easy to look past a boy and a girl playing house. Now that peace was regained, it wasn't. Even if he was Sagitarius-1 and she theGalactic Fairy.
Yet to be honest, she tried bringing up the subject countless times before, only to be expertly avoided.
And to be perfectly honest, she wasn't exactly looking forward to getting her own apartment and living alone when his provided her with good company and good food. Alto. Alto. Even she didn't expect how big a part of her life he would become.
The comfortable plainness of his apartment, the few enka records he owned, and the unfashionable plain shirts in his closet - somehow, it was all a part of her life now.
Most of all, she likes saying "I'm home." when she comes home from a concert, and him saying "Welcome back.". She also likes it the other way around - but not as much because sometimes he reeks of sweat and leaves trails of mud on the perfectly clean floor.
She likes it, coming home with the lights already on.
She thinks maybe she'll put off moving for a bit longer. He seems to agree, keeping every ad page from the newspaper away from her. After all, she finds them crumpled in the trash bin everyday.
She always leaves a seat open for him in her performances. He comes occasionally. Sometimes, it's evident that he just came from a sortie as his long blue hair is a bit messy and his jacket put on lopsidedly; sometimes, she can see the nuances of care from his appearance - the neatness of his ponytail and the fact that he actually tied his necktie right.
From every performance he attends, he walks her home - to their home. And sometimes, he twines his fingers with hers. She likes that.
That night, the cicadas were chirping quietly and the weather was too warm for a jacket. He was wearing a plain white blouse, her work bag was slung over his shoulders, and his hands were buried in his pockets. She ambled on beside him, humming the tune to a new song she wrote about midnight strolls and constellations.
Alto was never one to talk too much. Thinking back to the time they've spent together, almost every conversation and every spontaneous moment between them was initiated by her. And for someone who led a life of a soldier's, Alto was oddly non-confrontational.
Maybe, that's why neither of them has said 'I love you' to the other, or defined exactly what their relationship was.
But Sheryl Nome is Sheryl Nome, and she doesn't like keeping things in dotted lines and uncertain terms.
Maybe, that's why she's says it. 'I love you' that summer night, with her voice still kinda throaty from her performance.
She tries to keep it nonchalant and light, laugh it off. Like it didn't matter, when it did. Their footfalls against the asphalt of the sidewalk slowed as she stalled herself to be a few steps behind Alto, watching his shoulders tense as he looked for an answer.
She knows it's too much to expect Alto to make a moment so romantic it would have been fit for a novel. And honestly, she's fine with the way he stretches out his left hand, weaving his fingers with hers while mumbling something unintelligible.
"I too…" she catches from his garbled slur of words, and she thinks that was what really mattered
A little later, he finally tells her 'I love you.' in a form of an embarrassed whisper.
It was autumn, and it was her first time seeing trees so flushed with color and the world look its warmest. Caught in the moment, she tells him she loves their new world, their new home, and the two of them spending time together amongst all these new things.
In an attempt to finally man up, which he thinks he hasn't because he still hasn't told her how he felt, he motions to her to come closer.
He then whispers it in her ear. Those three words. Quickly and shyly. Very characteristic of him.
The words make her shiver despite her thinking that autumn looked so warm.
The way days pass in this world that was so different from the fleets she once inhabited, was different too. In fact, if she were to think of one way to describe it, it would be that days passed too quickly.
It felt like it was only yesterday that the entirety of Frontier migrated to this planet. Now, things resumed from where they were halted when the war began. Government was reestablished. Shops reopened. Schools rebuilt. Lives renewed. Now, she spends days peacefully in the comforts of a two bedroom apartment she's come to call home as days come and go like fleeting moments often do.
She doesn't know how to feel about that. On one hand, she wants time to fly by quickly, excited with what the future holds in store for her - she who once thought there was no future that awaited her. On the other hand, she fears that the speed in which all these precious moments of hers fly by will make her forget them all the easier. And she doesn't want to forget, especially when time comes again that peace is taken from all of them.
Sometimes, when she thinks of these things, she stays silent and contemplatively pours over her thoughts by the window. She looks out it, lazily watching the shapes of the clouds change and the colors of the sky transform as the hours pass.
He can easily identify these moments with just the look of her eyes and the sigh in her words.
Oftentimes, he pulls up a chair and sits beside her. He's never really been an expert in the ways girls think, and he's always considered her a step more complicated than normal girls. That's why he doesn't really say anything and just watches the sky with her.
And those times, with him and her by the window and with no words exchanged, would always pass quickly but end in the same way. In the presence of his two favorite things, he would always take her hand, stroke in gently, then fall to a peaceful slumber soon after. She would then smile, tear her eyes away from the seemingly endless sky and run to the linen closet for sheets to keep him warm.
He hopes she will take that as a sign that no matter how fast the hand of time may turn sometimes, there will still be the sky and there will still be him sitting on a chair right beside her.
The sensation of long strands of hair between her fingers was strangely calming. She thought this as she combed through Alto's long dark hair one lazy Saturday afternoon. A free Saturday afternoon was something they often didn't have the luxury of, especially considering his stint in the military and her obligations as an idol. Despite that, they decided to spend this particular one idling in their apartment.
Alto, in particular, dozed off in an instant with his head cushioned by the softness of her lap. Sheryl, with nothing else to do and feeling particularly affectionate, decided to weave her fingers into her hime's dark locks, running her hands through them with a certain fondness.
The 'in and out's of Alto's breath drew her in, and she couldn't help but compare it to the 'one and two's of her heartbeat.
As she used her hands as makeshift combs, she couldn't help but notice how Alto's hair almost seemed endless. Of course, she had always noticed his hair's unnatural length. Who hasn't? But it wasn't until today that she realized how long it really was. In fact, he hasn't once taken a haircut in the span of time she knew him. Not even a tiny trim off of his lengthy bangs.
She once heard Yasaburo say that Alto's mother adored his hair. They would spend hours combing it to perfection and there was a certain intricacy in tying it up to be just right. She guesses that that's probably the reason Alto keeps his hair this way. Either that or he carries some obscure phobia of haircuts, which isn't really quite as endearing.
With a smile, she couldn't help but imagine a Saotome Alto who sported a boyish cut. The image was odd, but it was an idea she enjoyed entertaining. She wondered if the day would come he would cut his hair again. She wondered if the day would come that she would see it.
The afternoon passes, like all afternoons do. She finds that she too had fallen prey to slumber, and that she was now the victim of yet another serial comber.
"Hey," he says from her lap, his raised hands making their way from her hair to her cheeks. "Did you sleep well?"
She nods before letting out a yawn, "You did as well."
He finally gets up from his very comfortable position on her lap and takes the spot beside her. His arms somehow snake their way over her shoulders, and her head finds its place below his chin.
"I've been thinking." he starts and his voice is the one thing that resounds in their quiet apartment.
"That's a surprise." she teases, prompting a sneaky hand to do something to make her jump.
"They're saying my hair is awfully impractical for a soldier. Something about getting it stuck on machines and it catching fire." he's saying this all in such a matter-of-factly tone that Sheryl couldn't help but only give it half the attention, especially with his hand not ceasing its... activities.
"You don't have to listen to them. I like your hair the way it is." she tells him before letting out a high-pitched squeak. She eyed the dark-haired pilot darkly and quickly tried to wriggle away from his grasp (with no success).
"I know, but doesn't change the fact that I need my hair cut." He shrugs, and she suddenly notices that his voice was in that tone of his he always used to ask for favors. He stutters a little before adding, "And I was wondering..."
Sheryl paused, and even though Alto didn't say anything yet, she somehow knew what he was thinking. Ignoring his wandering hands, she raised her bright blue eyes to look at his amber ones then asked to confirm her suspicions, "If I could have the honors?"
His lips curl into a smile, "Yeah."
That night, she stood in the middle of their living room wielding a pair of scissors while he sat casually on a wooden chair. Unable to resist the urge to tease him, she suddenly started spouting out names of obscure hairdos she knew about like 'mohawk', 'perm', and even 'afro'. Alto shifted nervously in his seat.
"Just start already!" Alto barked with apprehension evident in his voice.
She giggled before taking some strands of his hair into her hands. And like it was earlier that afternoon, the feeling was strangely calming. Without even thinking about it, she began to hum a song. It was a new song – another one of those melodies that came to her naturally and unexpectedly. This particular one reflected saying goodbye to yesterdays and idle afternoons. Alto hummed along and without even realizing it, his shoulders were no longer tense and he was lulled by the music.
With each trim of the scissors and each strand falling on the floor, Sheryl Nome couldn't help but feel that this was what it felt to be loved and to be in love.
This is probably one of our milestones. Sheryl thinks.
Their bed was a mess of crumpled sheets and scattered pillows. Neither of them were what you could describe as peaceful sleepers, and the way they kicked and turned could never be considered typical. But they got accustomed to the way each other slept like they got accustomed to everything else.
In fact, despite the mess that was their bed, the two of them were perfectly entangled. Arms around each other, feet a tangled mess, and soft lips on the nape of the other's neck.
The moment sunlight started entering the room through a crack between the curtains, Saotome Alto's eyes fluttered open. There wasn't really a need for him to get up at 5 am every morning; it wasn't even a school day. But it was a habit of his that dated back from his days as a professional actor and carried over to his stint in the SMS during war time.
He pushes himself up the bed, careful not to stir Sheryl who just completed a particularly tiring performance the previous night. Her sleeping face was probably one of his favorites – it was simply just peaceful, and while he also enjoyed her trademark coquettishness and dynamism, there would always be something special about peace and quiet.
He makes his way to the bathroom, humming a song of hers that got stuck in his head. He had a smile on his face, looking forward to whatever was ahead in his day.
Sheryl stirs to the smell of breakfast wafting in from the dining room and begins to rub her eyes to clear her vision. She gets the shock of her life and screams when the first sight that greeted her was Alto's face, only inches from her own.
Alto quickly backs away upon hearing her scream, hand over his heart. "God! What's wrong with you? I just came to see what was taking you so long."
"Your face scared me to death!" she exclaims, her face forming a scowl. She felt her face flush because despite their intimacy, such close proximity early in the morning could give anyone a shock.
"I-It's not like I did anything!" he retorts defensively, slowly making his way towards their bed once again. His face was in a scowl too, but arguments like these were just a part of their relationship – something they even enjoyed to a certain extent. "And what's wrong with my face?"
The expression on his face as he asked her this question was defensive, embarrassed, and a little self-conscious all at the same time. His face was in a scowl but there was a blush tainting his cheeks. His eyebrows were in a weird-shaped arch too.
Before she knew it, she began laughing uncontrollably leaving a clueless Alto speechless and even more embarrassed.
"W-What… Seriously, you're unbelievable." He mumbles under his breath, meeting his palm with his face.
As she continued to giggle uncontrollably, he watched her laughing through the space between his index and middle finger. She was laughing at him, yes. She does that all the time, yes. She mocks him for fun, yes. But she looks so breathtakingly beautiful as she does so. And this breathtakingly beautiful person loves him, which made all the difference.
And he loves her too. Undeniably. Yet, he's always felt inexplicably reluctant to tell her that - something he's not particularly proud of. Maybe it's because to a man like him, there was no use to saying the painfully obvious.
But today, it felt like it needed to be said.
"God, I love you." He states simply and his words are sharp and clear. He begins chuckling the moment her laughter fades.
Sheryl ogles at him, rendered completely speechless (and don't tell anyone, but he completely relished that fact).
All of a sudden, their roles were reversed as Sheryl turned red and shrank in embarrassment while Alto continued to chuckle. Sheryl's always known that Alto loves her, but she didn't realize how good it was to have it spelled out.
Her throat was dry of words to say back, but she knew that sometimes the most important things don't have to be said.