Title: Rules of Engagement
Rating: T
Disclaimer: I do not own Macross Frontier or anything related to the Macross franchise.
Summary: A prequel to The Longest Battle. Ten shots where Saotome Alto attempts to propose to Sheryl Nome.
Author's Notes: Alto/Sheryl is canon!

"I just don't understand! H-How could Derek do this to me..? We've only dated for a month…but I thought he loved me…and when he did that romantic proposal in the sky, I thought…we'd be together forever—but then he broke things off with me! WHY?"

"There, there, Shelby, hang in there. The same goes for you viewers at home. More to come with 'Horrible Exes' after these messages. Stay tuned."


"The nerve of some men!" Exclaimed Sheryl, with the urge to throw the remote at the TV. Then, with a voice loud enough for Alto to hear in the kitchen, said, "That's the problem with your species right there, Alto! Making promises that can't be kept and playing with emotions! That Derek shouldn't have proposed in the first place if he wasn't sure about his feelings. What an asshole!"

But he really never did intend to propose in the first place, Alto wanted to answer but didn't. It was already bad enough that he failed with his proposal…err, proposals. But knowing that you dragged somebody with you made things worse! That Derek guy was going to be a marked man and hated by women for eternity, and that's way worse than having a horde of Vajra at your doorstep.

Sighing, he focused once more to chopping vegetables when the phone rang. He picked up the receiver from the kitchen wall phone.

"Saotome, here."

"Ah, Saotome! Is Sheryl there? I can't reach her on her cell. It's me, Elmo. I have big news!"

"Oh, Elmo. Yeah, she's"—

"Alto, buzz off! I got this."


Alto promptly hung up, leaving Sheryl to conduct her business call on the phone in the living room. He wasn't the least bit curious what the conversation would be about—because he would hear it, with Sheryl repeating every detail in the loudest voice possible.

"Elmo, Sheryl here. So are the preparations good and done already? Really? That's wonderful! Uh-huh, uh-huh…What? You got Basara, The Basara, to play the opening number? …What? …An impersonator? Geez, forget him then. I have a reputation here! Blah blah blah blah!"

Alto rolled his eyes, as he started peeling the potatoes, drowning out the noise when something Sheryl said perked his ears.

"…a galaxy-wide broadcast? Everyone will see it? Every fleet? Even Earth? Blah blah blah..!"

And almost instantly, a plan hatched inside Alto's head.

"But Elmo"—

"I'm sorry, Saotome. That's very romantic of you to want to propose to Sheryl at her concert, but I simply can't squeeze in a last-minute-proposal plan into the schedule. Everything's tight as it is."

"It'll only take about five minutes!"

"And do you know how much a minute costs with the very expensive broadcasting I secured?" Elmo frowned, tapping his foot with impatience. "It's not just Sheryl, but other guest star celebrities, we can't compromise their time as well."

"Well…yeah, but…"

"Look, can't this wait? I have to go over the lights and screen the"—

"Elmo, c'mon! Even just a minute! Half a minute even! I'm begging you."

The manager sighed exasperatedly, "There's just simply no way, Saotome. No way at all…absolutely no way at all! Sorry. Nada! –unless…"


"Well, I don't want any interference with the set-list. But in the second encore number to the last, I could have you as a stage extra. After the song , you can propose. She gets emotional, yadda, yadda, yadda. After saying yes, she'll then sing the closing song dedicated probably to you…That's brilliant! It will make headlines everywhere, big news! …Glad I thought of it."

"Great," Alto smiled, "what do I have to do?"

"You should, like, add more glitter on your skin. It will make your eyes pop." The blonde back-up dancer suggested to Alto, handing him her tube of glitter gel. They were somewhere backstage, preparing for the number before the big finale.

"C'mon, Altonia!" Hearing this, Alto immediately wanted to slap himself. It was a crappy name, but it was the best he could think of when the other dancers bombarded him.

He twitched, unsure whether to accept the offered item, but was forced into his hand anyway without his say.

"You know, you're really pretty, but it would show even more if you smiled." She giggled. Alto could only groan inwardly, while forcing himself to do as she said…with much difficulty.

"By the way, don't you think that skirt is a little too long?" She pointed to Alto's silver pleated skirt, the same thing she wore, albeit his billowed a couple of inches below his knee.

"I-It's fine…" He answered in a rather strained—but still convincingly-female voice.

I want to kill myself right now…

"Two minutes until we go on stage!" Another fellow dancer announced, as the final verses of Sheryl's 'Northern Cross' could be heard.

"Oh my gawd, while waiting, lemme redo your blush, Altonia!"

Alto could only hope his grimace looked like a smile.

Alto wanted to puke. He had effortlessly mastered the dance routine with the other girls a couple of days ahead, but doing it on stage with the seizure-inducing lights made his stomach flop. Sure, he had performed on stage before, but the lighting had been done as artfully as the dances, very much unlike this one.

I think I'm gonna be sick…Alto thought, as he did a synchronized turn. The other girls seemed to be immune to dancing under high temperatures enough to turn your skin into jerky, so it was no issue to them. Hell, they were even smiling!

"Everyone, go 'MOTTEKKE!'" Sheryl urged, and the audience followed their singer.

Now's my chance!

As the crowd went into a frenzy, the cross-dresser carefully slipped out to the stage exit, and extracted his male attire from a hidden duffel bag to quickly change.

"I'm glad that everyone could make it here," Sheryl uttered in between deep breaths, her skin glistening with perspiration. "It's always such a pleasure to know that every"—

Suddenly, horrified gasps and screams filled the stadium.

Sheryl staggered back in confusion.

"Huh—what's going—Alto?" She had spun around to see Alto, with a rather unreadable expression—and was that glitter?—on his face. His hand was also reaching for something inside his trench coat.

"Alto, what are you doing here?"

"Sheryl," he spoke with a caress in his voice, "I"—


A dozen security guards came down on Alto before he could finish his sentence.

There was an uproar, as security carried off the suspicious man. What made things even crazier was how Sheryl Nome was running after them, looking angry and concerned.

Elmo could only shake his head at his big error.

"Yeah…I guess I should have informed security."