A/N: My sequel to the "Jealous" fanfic I wrote.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Uchuu Keiji Shaider. Just borrowing the characters for this story.
A SECOND GLANCE
Two weeks after the defeat of Fuma, Dai Sawamura (Shaider) got an invitation from Commander Quo. Annie, his sidekick, gave it to him when they rode in the Vavilos. Upon seeing the square-shaped white envelope, he opened it and read the contents written in the card.
"Space Sheriffs' Ball?" Dai looked at Annie, who sat beside him. It was once in a blue moon that the Space Sheriff Society held events like this.
"It's going to be held the day after tomorrow," Annie explained. "It's a thanksgiving ball for the defeat of the evil forces and at the same time, an awarding ceremony for us."
"That sounds nice," he commented. Dai shifted his eyes downwards. Below, it said, Attire: Strictly Formal. "Annie, have you got anything to wear?" he asked her.
"That's not a problem for me," she said. "What about you?"
Dai wasn't able to reply to her. "Why can't we just wear our uniforms?"
"Come on, Shaider. Be open to the idea of dressing up even just for once."
"Ugh," he winced. Annie snickered at him. "Looks like you really hate to dress up," she giggled.
"I have nothing to wear. And I don't know how I'll start shopping. Please accompany me," he requested.
She shook her head, a mocking smile curving on her lips. "Sorry. I made plans with Marin to go shopping."
"Hey! That's not fair. Why didn't you join me in your plans?" Dai complained.
Annie stood up from her seat and folded her arms. "It's only for girls," she remarked. She walked out of the cockpit, adding, "You need to increase your shopping quotient!" Dai heard her laughing heartily behind him.
He leaned back in his seat. What do I do now? It was the first time Annie didn't gave in to his request. What kind of a sidekick is that? She abandoned me for some trivial girly pursuit. He was secretly pissed at her for not helping him out. Dai closed his eyes and tried not to think about it. Tomorrow, Shaider would be on a mission, doing one thing guys hated the most: shopping.
The next day, Dai woke up early and started his hunt to find the perfect outfit for the Sheriffs' Ball. He never owned something formal for events like this, and decided that a black coat and tie will do. He went around the metropolitan district of Tokyo, to the different malls and men's boutiques, hoping to find something suitable. He found some formal outfits that he liked, but were way too expensive for his budget. He searched around some more and found cheap suits, but it's either they didn't fitted him, or if it fitted him, he looked tacky in those suits. He breathed a sigh of relief as he went out the last men's boutique he visited. Only then did he realize how much he hated shopping.
I wonder how Annie's been doing with her shopping. To enjoy himself, he tried to think of what Annie would be wearing for the Ball, and how she would look in it. He secretly wished that she won't be wearing a yellow dress. He'd always seen her in yellow, and please, just this once, he hoped that she'll wear something in another color. He felt like calling her once he gets back to the Vavilos, but he'd rather not. She's probably enjoying the time with Marin. It's no problem for girls to get all primped up for a ball.
He decided to search for an hour or more, but still, he didn't found anything that he liked that will fit his budget. Dai was starting to feel frustrated. At the last hour, he was about to give up, when he happened to meet Keiko, the assistant of Dr. Koziro, his friend. "Hey, Dai!" He broke out of his thoughts as he heard her voice.
"Keiko! Nice to meet you here," he said, trying to sound happy.
"I can't believe you're here in the shopping mall," she kidded. "So, what brings you here?"
"I need to find a formal outfit. I'm having a high school reunion tomorrow." He lied about the last part, because up to now, none of his earth friends knew that he worked as a space sheriff.
"Is that so? Good thing you met me!" she exclaimed.
"Why?" He looked quizzically at her.
"I have a friend who works as a saleslady in this mall. She's in the men's department. She can help you out."
He felt the heavens opening up and singing Handel's Messiah. Salvation had come upon him.
Keiko poked him in the ribs. "Hey, what are you waiting for? Let's go!" she urged him.
"Sure." Dai started to run towards the men's department, with Keiko trailing behind him.
(The next day)
Two hours before the Sheriffs' Ball, Dai stood in front of a full-length mirror, looking at his reflection in a black coat and tie. He thought he looked dorky in his new suit. It was the kind of clothes he never thought of wearing, the kind actors wore for an awards night. He was able to get it at a discounted price, and he was thankful to Keiko and her saleslady friend who helped him out in choosing an outfit.
Yet he felt embarrassed at the thought of facing the Space Sheriff people wearing a suit. He was afraid they might laugh at him. What if he didn't really looked good in it? Will his outfit blend with the five star hotel where the ball was going to be held? A cruel thought came to his head. He wished Annie would also look dorky in her gown, so that he won't be alone in his agony. How mean of me. He decided not to think about it anymore. Shaking his head, he erased the thought from his mind. It was getting late now, and he had to be there on time.
The Space Sheriffs' Ball was to be held in a five star hotel located in Planet Bird. Dai got there by riding the Vavilos. Annie wasn't with him. She slept over at Marin's house (in Planet Bird) the night before and probably went shopping together. It had been two days since he last saw her.
As he arrived at the hotel, he went to the ballroom where the event would be held. Dai searched for Annie among the crowd, but she wasn't there yet. He didn't saw the other space sheriffs, Gavan and Sharivan, so he decided to take a stroll in the hallways to get rid of his boredom. He looked around as he walked back and forth. The hotel wasn't different from the other five star hotels he saw in Japan. The ambience was the same; elegant, something he could feel in the air. The kind that held him in awe, but at the same time, the kind that made him feel that he didn't belonged here.
He watched the people around him. Most of them were wealthy hotel guests. He could see some other people going to the ballroom, who were dressed formally. Most of them were the Space Sheriffs he never met, and some were the officers. Commander Quo passed by him, and they greeted each other. Dai thought he looked formal and more respectable in his all-black ensemble.
He stared at the hallway. The walls were pearly white, adorned with paintings made by the prominent artists of Planet Bird. There were sparkling marble pillars, and lush-looking sofas used as waiting chairs. A grand crystal chandelier hung on the ceiling, with a thousand tiny lights illuminating it, giving a warm golden glow to the surroundings. There were also miniature versions of the grand chandelier that lighted up the long stretch of doors that opened to hotel rooms. Everything around him looked as if it cost a fortune, and this made Dai felt more out of place in this hotel.
He looked at his wristwatch. It was ten minutes before 8pm, the starting time of the ball. Dai wondered why Annie had not arrived yet. Maybe she took too long in fixing herself up. Her looks won't change even if she spent an eternity in the beauty parlor. It was one thing he hated about girls; they take too long to dress up.
As Dai lifted up his head, something caught his attention. An elegantly dressed young lady walked slowly towards his direction. She certainly looked wealthy. She was dressed in an off-shoulder dark periwinkle gown with rhinestones scattered across her ball skirt, which billowed out, hiding her shoes. Her hands were covered in black gloves that reached out to her elbows. Her hair was swept up in a bun, with bangs framing her face and a strand of wavy hair falling on the side of her ears. Her face was made-up for a formal event. From afar, he could see that she had pearl dangling earrings on her ears with a matching necklace around her neck.
Dai was taken with the sight of this lovely lady, and as she came closer, he saw more of her face and thought she looked strangely familiar. He squinted and tried to recognize her. No, it can't be her. The lady walked right up to him, smiling. "Good evening, Shaider," she greeted him.
His doubts were confirmed. "Ah… Annie?" It was indeed her. He never saw her looking like that before. She transformed from being a girl to a young woman. The make-up made her look a bit older and more serious-looking, but nevertheless, she was still stunning. He was dumbstruck at the sight of her. You look beautiful. He felt like saying it to her, but was too tongue-tied to blurt it out.
"Wow, you look so neat in your suit!" she exclaimed admiringly, slapping his arm. "How about me, Shaider? How do I look?"
"Ermm… you're…" Dai couldn't bring himself to say it.
"Beautiful? Amazing? Awesome?" She laughed. Annie was in a bubbly and excited mood that evening, while Dai felt the complete opposite, except that now, his negative feelings were starting to disappear within him. He felt excited now at the thought of being with Annie, looking so gorgeous.
"Yeah, you said it right," he said. "Awesome." He smiled at her. "Are you sure you're Annie?"
"It's me!" she exclaimed, laughing at his disbelief. "I was held hostage by a group of ferocious stylists," she joked. "This gown, I only borrowed it at a lending boutique. Marin's gown is also borrowed."
"How come you're not with her?" He asked. As Annie was about to answer, Marin showed up together with Gavan and Mimi. The three of them were garbed in equally beautiful clothes; Marin, with wavy long hair and strapless emerald green gown; Gavan, in a dark ensemble with a red tie, and his wife, Mimi, in a strappy red gown. It seemed as if everyone transformed that night.
"What happened to all of you?" Dai joked. "Wow, we all looked so formal!" he exclaimed.
"Hey Shaider, I never thought you actually look spiffy in a suit!" Gavan commented.
"Of course! I have to match how Annie looks like!" he replied.
"Both of you looked good together," Mimi stated, which made Annie smile. "Thanks," she said, her cheeks flushed pink.
"What are we waiting for? The ball's about to start!" Marin reminded. "Let's go!"
The five of them entered the ballroom, all of them expecting to enjoy this one night. Dai felt more at ease now, smiling to himself. He hoped things would go smoothly. But unknown to him, this night will change his life… and that of Annie's.
The ballroom was filled with people from the Galactic Police Force, all dressed in gowns and suits. The five of them entered, and they were led to a circular table near the stage. Annie and Dai were seated in front, while Gavan, Mimi, and Marin were behind them. There were fine looking cutlery on the table, with white napkins folded in a triangle, and there was a dance floor in the middle surrounded by the other tables. The ballroom was softly lighted with three chandeliers, similar to the one Dai saw in the hallway. He could feel again that elegant and formal ambience in the air, and reminded himself to watch his actions, so he'll appear to be well-mannered.
The program had not started yet. Dai inched closer to Space Sheriff Gavan, who was seated beside him. "Where's Sharivan?" he whispered. He was the other space sheriff.
"He's bound to arrive anytime soon," Gavan replied.
Just then, a young man in a black tuxedo approached their table. "Sorry, I'm late," he said, sitting down in front of Gavan. He was Sharivan, the one they were waiting for.
"You're not late yet," Gavan said, smiling.
Sharivan looked around at them, from Gavan, Shaider, Annie, Marin and Mimi. "I can't believe I'm actually looking at you guys," he quipped in amazement. "Girls, you all looked like ladies tonight!" He took the hand of Annie, Marin and Mimi and kissed the top of their hands. "Beautiful, so beautiful!"
"Thanks," Annie and Marin said at the same time, nodding their heads.
Gavan shot a piercing glance at him. "Hey, not my wife. Keep your hands off her," he reminded sternly. Sharivan turned to him and said, "Oh sorry. I forgot she's married. Congrats to both of you." He grabbed his hand and shook it, which made the others laugh. Gavan couldn't help but laugh too. "Looks like you're the only one who doesn't have a date."
"That's no problem with me," Sharivan said coolly, waving his hand. "I don't plan to dance tonight. I'll be watching from here."
"You can dance with Marin," Mimi suggested.
"You're welcome if you like," Marin told him in encouragement.
"Never mind." Sharivan felt as if the spotlight was on him, and wanted to shrink down in his seat.
The lights dimmed, indicating that the program was about to start. The people were silenced as Commander Quo climbed up the stage and settled in front of a podium. "Good evening to the entire Galactic Police Force," he greeted, smiling. "I believe that all of you are expecting to have a good time here at this Thanksgiving Ball," he started. "You all look so sophisticated tonight." The crowd clapped their hands and he continued, "For this one night, let's enjoy ourselves, for we don't have to worry anymore about the evil forces. Thanks to Space Sheriffs Shaider and Annie." He gestured his hand towards them and as the spotlight fell on the two, there were more clapping and cheering among the crowd. "I would like to congratulate the two of you for your hard-earned efforts. Please come up the stage."
Dai and Annie stood up at the same time and walked up the stage, with Dai ahead of Annie. She had to hold on to her skirt as she climbed up, and as she reached the top, he gave her his hand, which she held on to. They walked up to Commander Quo, with Dai still holding her gloved hand.
They bowed their heads down and Quo did the same. He pinned a tiny gold medal adorned with tiny sapphire stones on the upper left corner of their chests, near their hearts. As the pinning ceremony was finished, the two turned to the crowd, who gave them a standing ovation.
"Anything to say?" Quo asked them.
"Thank you for recognizing our efforts," Dai spoke. "Thanks also to all of you, who helped with our mission."
"Again, thank you." Quo allowed them to go back to their table, in the midst of the entire crowd cheering at them. Gavan and Sharivan were also awarded with an honorary medal, as well as the other space sheriffs who were commended. After the awarding ceremonies, dinner followed. The food served was sumptuous, and as the meal was about to be finished, ballroom dance music started to play.
Some couples had started to fill up the dance floor as they swayed to the typical instrumental music played at balls. Gavan and Mimi left Sharivan and Shaider, while Annie and Marin excused themselves for a while to go the ladies' room. The two men were left alone at their table.
"Look at that." Sharivan turned his head to the direction where Gavan and Mimi were losing themselves in a waltz. "I feel squeamish at the sight of them."
"Don't be a sour grape. I don't have plans to dance also," Shaider told him. "You can dance with Annie or Marin if you like." The two girls arrived and sat down. "We're done retouching," Marin said. She turned to Sharivan and asked, "Want to dance?"
"No, thank you," he said, trying to smile.
Marin stood up and dragged him by the hand. "Come on! Don't be such a killjoy!"
"Let go of me, will you?!" Marin continued to drag him towards the dance floor. "It's okay if you can't dance! I'll teach you!" she said.
Sharivan looked at Dai and Annie flinchingly, as if to say, Get me out of here! Dai only laughed at him. "So cute," he muttered.
An hour of dancing passed, with music shifting from slow waltz to modern dance music. Shaider and Annie were still in their seats. Annie was starting to get bored, and was tinkling the water goblet with a teaspoon. He felt like asking her if she wanted to dance, but he was timid at the thought of it. Since he met her at the hallway, he had not spoken a word to her. He stared at her, and he felt like as if he was looking at her for the first time since he saw her. He regretted thinking that he wanted her to look frumpy in her gown. He never thought she was this attractive, all the more when she got dressed up for this ball. He felt like as if he had Cinderella in his midst. Surely, he won't let this opportunity slip by. It was a rare moment when he could get closer to her.
Dai summoned all his courage to get those words out of his mouth.
"Annie, would you like to dance?"
She shot a look at him. "What?" she asked. He stood up from his seat and approached her, offering his hand. "Would you like to dance with me?"
Annie looked away, blushing. The she turned to him and said, "I would love to."
She held his hand and as he led her to the dance floor, they started to sway along to the tune of a well-known love song. Dai wrapped his arm around her waist, as Annie placed an arm around his shoulder. The two of them were looking at each other, both feeling so awkward. They had never gotten this close to one another in such a different situation. In spite of the awkwardness they felt, they decided to concentrate on their dancing. They soon caught up with the music, and totally forgot their discomfort at being so close to each other. As he held her tightly, Dai realized how warm and soft her body felt, as if she seemed to have no bones. Without much thought, he pressed his cheek closer to her face. His heart felt like bursting; all his suppressed feelings for her were now resurfacing, wanting to come out. Yet he felt that he needed timing. Not now. He was afraid that he might ruin this moment with her.
Not a word was said as he held her for much longer. When the dancing stopped, and the music changed, Dai whispered to her ear. "Annie, let's get out of here. I'm starting to get bored with dancing." She started at him, nodding her head. They broke away from each other and walked through the dancing couples. As they arrived at the door, they slowly made their way out unnoticed.
As they arrived in the hotel hallway, Annie asked him, "Where do you want to go?"
"I have no idea," Dai replied. "I want to get away from the crowd… someplace quiet."
"There's a grand balcony on the third floor. Let's go up there," she encouraged.
He agreed with her. They went up the marble staircase and upon reaching the third floor, made their way through a row of doors. The balcony was at the far end of the corridor. Dai opened the door and stepped out to find that it overlooked the entire city of Planet Bird, the skyline a lovely sight against the dark sky littered with stars and two moons. There were two lounging chairs next to each other. Annie followed and shut the door behind her. She sat in one of the chairs and Dai sat beside her.
Annie bent over and took off her silver high heeled shoes. "My foot hurts! Awfully bad!" she exclaimed, massaging the balls of her foot. "These shoes are killing me!" She looked up at Dai, saying, "I practiced walking in those shoes for two days. I promise myself I won't wear high heels anymore!" she remarked smilingly.
"I never noticed that you're a beginner," he said. She only smiled at him, which made his heart melt.
"When I first saw you in the hallway this evening, I really didn't recognize you. I thought you were some wealthy girl from here."
"What you want to say is, you were taken with my otherworldly beauty." Annie raised an eyebrow at Dai and said, "Don't lie to me. You've been noticing me ever since I could remember. I know those stolen glances at the Vavilos cockpit," she stated knowingly.
Dai was taken off-guard. Have I been that obvious? He looked away from her, turning red. "Excuse me, I wasn't staring at you!" he reasoned out. "If ever I did, I only happened to shift my head to your direction." He tried to maintain a poker face expression.
"Admit it, you're so smitten with me!" Annie teased in a squeaky voice.
"Hey, what's with you saying that?" Dai asked.
She smirked at him. "Nothing!" She laughed, enjoying his reaction.
"I think you're pretty, but that's just it! You're the one who likes me!" Dai got back at her. "You should have seen your face when we fought about Vivian!" He was referring to the daughter of Planet Bird's mayor, who had a crush on Dai.
"That was before!"
"Look who's talking!"
"You liked me, huh?"
Dai fell silent. He was half-hoping that the truth will come out, but instead, it became a teasing session for them. Annie frowned at him and turned away. A long silence followed, until Dai spoke up.
"You know what, it's been boring lately after we defeated Fuma. Same routine each and every day."
"Yes. Everything feels like routine. I missed my fights with the Girls' Army. But it's better this way. We don't have to worry anymore about people being in danger, especially the children." Annie looked up to the stars, smiling to herself. Dai noticed that she shivered a little because of the cold night air. Without hesitation, he took off his tuxedo and wrapped it around her bare shoulders. It surprised her, but tried not to show it. "Thanks," she said, smiling at him.
Annie wrapped the coat tighter around her shoulders and continued. "What do you plan to do now?"
"What do you mean?" he asked vaguely.
"You know, what you'd like to do in the future."
"Hmmm…" He thought for a while and answered, "I want to continue being a space sheriff. Or be an expert in archaeology and teach at a university."
"That sounds nice. I want to do the same thing. Continue my studies in Egypt and be a great archaeologist. Travel the world and see lots of nice places. Add to that, have a love life."
"Have you found someone you like?"
Annie shook her head. "I've got suitors, but I turned them down. I don't like any of them."
Dai looked astonished. "Why didn't you tell me?"
"You never asked. And even if you didn't ask, I was too shy to tell you."
"I wouldn't mind if you tell me."
"You won't like any of them. And I'm afraid you might get jealous."
"I won't," he lied. Right now, he was already feeling jealous at the thought of Annie being with another guy.
"Never mind," she said. "They're not bothering me anymore. What about you? Are you courting some girls?"
"Nope," he replied with a smile.
"I think we'll end up together," Annie said wishfully. "You know, Marin and Commander Quo were teasing me about you."
"I didn't know that. You like the thought of it, huh?"
Annie only smiled at him. Both now felt that they now knew that they were feeling more than friendship for the other.
"Since we're both alone in life, and you're the only person I know so well, why don't we give it a try?" she suggested, smiling widely.
A shooting star streaked across the sky. Annie closed her eyes and wished for something. "What did you wish for?" Dai suddenly asked her.
"Secret!" she replied.
"Why don't you tell me?" he demanded.
"I said it's a secret!" she insisted.
"If you don't tell me, I'll kiss you!"
"Go ahead! I won't feel a thing!" she urged him, inching her face closer to him.
Their eyes met. Next thing she knew, the space between their lips was gone as Dai drew closer to her face and kissed her. Time stood still, and there was no need for words, thoughts, and explanations. He couldn't hold it in any longer; everything was so perfect and she looked so beautiful that night. The only feeling he had right now was her lips against his own. He had waited for this for a long time, and now, he got his reward. He felt Annie kissing him back. Her mouth opened slightly and kissed him harder, feeling her teeth pressed on his own. He never expected that she actually knew how to kiss. It lasted for 30 seconds or more, and he pulled back from her. They looked at each other, speechless, now understanding all of it.
"I've waited for this," Annie whispered. "It's what I wished for."
"I couldn't imagine myself being with other girls except with you. I woke up one day and realized that… that I love you."
Her eyes misted. "I love you too," she said. "When I got jealous of you and Vivian, that's when I realized it."
"I thought I was never going to live to see this day," Dai confessed. "I made a promise to myself to tell you my feelings after we win our battle against Fuma."
Annie cupped his face and kissed him again. "I've waited so long for this."
"You don't have to wait anymore."
He threw his arms around her and embraced her tightly.
A year and a half later, after she finished her archaeology studies in Egypt, Annie became Mrs. Dai Sawamura, with the blessing of Commander Quo, who was the principal sponsor at their wedding. Present at the wedding ceremony, and among their well-wishers, were Marin, Gavan, his wife Mimi, and Sharivan. Dr. Koziro and Keiko were also present, and Vivian, the girl from Planet Bird, together with her boyfriend.
Five years later, they were blessed with a son and a daughter named Connie, named after Annie's younger sister, who died in their home planet.
Changes are constant, but strong love always remained.
And so, this ends the story of Shaider and Annie.
A/N: To end their agony (and also mine), they ended up together in this story. Okay, it's a happy ending for them. ("Shaider, Shaider love Annie…")
Dedicated to the fans who wanted them to end up together. I think it's just natural for them. Thanks for reading. RR!
Hmmm… I think Annie had to be around 19 or 20 years old. I wish I could draw how she looks like in the gown.