Hi this is Benji Himura. I am now starting a new fanfic, is a Sakura Taisen story. I don't own Sakura or any of the characters of the series. Some anime or manga characters might show up in the story I also don't own then. I own Benji Himura and others original characters that will show up in the story. It might be violence and sex in the story so if you are underage of seventeen are warned the content might be too improper to your age. Read by your own will and risk. Anyway enjoy the story.

Signed: Benji Himura.

"Text"= Talked sentences.

'Text' = Thoughts.

-Text- = Sounds effects.

(Text)= Talked sentences in a foreign language as English when everyone else speaks Japanese.

: Text: = Messages show in an electronic screen or written.

Text: something being recalled, flashbacks, scenes being replayed.

Text: a detail found in a location, scene, person, recording and images that originally wasn't there.

Author notes: This story an altered version of Outcast 2 Alternative world, that story branched out and this is the branch, the events here aren't connected to the main story.

Chapter three: Departure

Benji's arm was fully healed now, he and Maria were picking the slack on the koubu training that was halted thanks to the wound, the simulator was very realistic, specially when simulating hits, more than once they got bruises from being thrown around the cockpit, hence why the inside is padded, training would endanger Benji's healing arm and setting back his healing time.

Maria is overall pleased with the results, Benji didn't forget anything that he was taught, he was just a little rusty, but that was forgivable, in few minutes he got back to the swim of things and was back in the point where they stopped, which is steam aided long jumping.

It was a particularly hard skill to master, the bursts of steam gives the koubus more jumping power, and when landing another burst of steam eases the landing, getting the timing right as well the amount of steam in the right chambers was complex, the koubu did the brunt of it, but more delicate and precise touches were in the pilot's duties as the koubu tended to use much more steam than the needed, and more steam it is used shorter is your effective fighting time.

Benji was particularly hating this skill, there was too much math involved on it even though Maria doesn't seem to realize it, she only marked the key PSI in the markers in the cockpit and told that Benji had split seconds to get on the right marks, too much and he would waste vital fuel, too little and the koubu could get damaged, and there was also the risk of blowing the chambers.

Kohran was observing the training, Maria was a strict teacher but fair, she pointed out mistakes rather harshly and doesn't really say much when you do things right, but was patient and could go over and over a lesson until the student learned what she is trying to teach.

Kohran also could tell that Benji was trying, his results were pretty consistent, he could hit the release just right before the mark or just after sometimes, but most of the time on it as well, his jumps were on the right side, but he was still making mistakes sometimes, releasing too early or too late, and Maria was there silently watching, knowing that Benji was trying his best, sometimes pointing out the simulated damage or the amount of wasted steam in bad jumps.

"You really should explain him the heart of the koubu theory." Kohran said to Maria in a light serious tone. "He is already aware of it." Maria replied. "He just dislikes piloting a lot, not that I blame him, is way too complex to be mastered as fast as the manager wants."

Kohran could understand that and Benji wasn't really using a koubu now, even though the result is the same. "Maybe when he gets more experienced in piloting he will open up as you want." Maria added. "But for now he is too focused in trying get things right." "I can see that." Kohran answered. "Maybe I should add some automatic release for jumps when they reach the mainly used pressures."

"And what about in longer jumps? Wouldn't the steam be released before reaching the desired higher levels?" Maria asked seriously. "That can be solved." Kohran answered. "I will consider few solutions for this, maybe having the injection measured to a pressure and then automatically stopped and released."

Maria can tell that Kohran got excited with the idea, it was another possibility to thinker around the koubu to improve it and Kohran was always looking for new ideas of making the koubu better and better.

At the end of his third month in Teito Benji was fluent enough in Japanese to handle most situations, his koubu piloting was still far from the level of the other members of the hanagumi, but was on acceptable standards, read above Sakura's level when she first tried to fight with a koubu.

However Benji's koubu was still being altered in full speed, the wanted changes were taking time to be completed, new parts are being made and fitted, Kohran was overseeing that with joy. Now Benji was having tea with Maria, Orihime and Sumire, another little exercise of Japanese.

"So you are Brazilian." Sumire said understanding, she wasn't all that sure of Benji's heritage. "Yes." Benji answered, his accent was a little rough, but the girls found it quite enjoyable to hear. "It is a really complex mixture, my grandfather is Japanese, in my mother's side my grandmother is from European heritage, I heard that there were native Brazilians in the mix there as well, my father's side my grandfather is son of a Lebanese couple born in Brazil, my grandmother has European heritage as well, I am not all that sure of which countries, but a great-aunt of mine is rumored to have a title back in England and some heirloom there as well, but she can't claim it since there is some law forbidding people from taking it out of the country."

"Indeed complex." Orihime said with a nod. "Brazil is a country where immigration is has a large incentive." Benji explained. "So the resulting mixture of immigrants from all over the world creates this pot of different cultures and ethnicities." "Sounds rich." Orihime commented.

"It is." Benji replied. "Is far too much to recall by memory, but the list of cultural things that we took from other countries ranges from Oktoberfest to Japanese ramen." Maria nodded trying to picture the vast Brazilian culture, it was interesting to learn more about a new country.

"So why you left?" Sumire asked casually. Maria cringed at that question, Benji's background wasn't explained in detail to them. "Forces beyond my control." Benji answered casually. "Hard to explain so I won't even bother." Sumire and Orihime nodded at that, they could fill the gaps with whatever they wanted.

"What are you finding of the theater?" Orihime asked, she was also new to the theater so she felt close of Benji because she is on the same situation. "I could live without any of you girls entering on the bathroom when I am trying to shave." Benji answered lightly rubbing a new cut on his face, courtesy of Iris barging on the bathroom.

Orihime smiled sympathetically, it happened at least once a week, she also accidentally entered on the bathroom when Benji was shaving once. "Why you shave anyway?" Orihime asked seriously, she didn't saw any reason for that. Maria and Sumire in the other hand knew why.

"Because he doesn't want to grow a beard." Sumire answered to the Italian. "That requires daily shavings or the stubs will grow and give him a dirty appearance." "And why you know that?" Orihime asked confused. "My father saves everyday, I can remember few times when I was a child where he was sick and couldn't shave, his beard was starting to grow." Sumire explained, Maria nodded confirming, she saw from her father, Yuri and her other friends in her old battalion that shaving was a daily chore.

"I guess that I can understand that." Orihime commented, but she stares at Benji's chin, the she reaches to his face and runs her hand on it. "I don't see anything unusual here." "Wait until late afternoon." Benji pointed out. "I shaved just a couple hours ago." "I will do it then." Orihime said with a nod.

"Why you are so curious anyway?" Sumire asked to Orihime. "I never had a father figure in my life so I am a little curious." Orihime answered. "And since Benji-san isn't a Japanese man I am fine with him." "I have Japanese blood you know." Benji said to Orihime. "That may be true, but you have plenty of other countries as well to be tolerable." Orihime replied casually.

"Changing back to grooming." Sumire said looking at Benji. "I noticed that you use some sort of perfume, what is the name of it?" Now Benji was unsure of how to answer, he has a small spray bottle of Obsession by Calvin Klein on his belongings, when you are going to an anime convention with heavy clothes in a hot country you take stuff to mask the scent of the sweat, but how he could explain the perfume.

"Yeah I noticed it as well." Orihime commented. "I like the scent of it." Even Maria nodded a little at that. "It is named Obsession." Benji answered, that much information wouldn't be harmful. "But I have very little of it." "I know this very good perfumer that could be able to make more of it if you give him a sample." Sumire said to Benji.

"I guess that I could do that." Benji replied. "I have to wait for my next paycheck to arrive." Maria had to nod to that, while Benji wasn't expending his money recklessly he needed to purchase other things that weren't on the initial shopping, as more shoes, a suit, a coat, most of it had to be custom made or fitted, which made the prices go a little up, it was the problem of being tall in a country of short people.

"What you use to shave anyway?" Orihime asked to Benji. "A safety razor." Benji answered. "There is no way in hell that I trust in a straight razor. And you, what you use to shave your legs?" "I use wax." Orihime answered. "I prefer it to razors, less chances of getting nicked with it."

Sumire changed the subject because they are getting on an area that was a little too personal for her liking, she can't blame Benji for the question they were the ones who started to ask such stuff, so he felt that was okay to ask them as well. "Now why you have tea with us when you don't seem to enjoy warm tea?" Sumire asked to Benji.

"It is a good way to train my Japanese." Benji answered. "And I am trying to get along with everyone." Maria sipped her tea silently, at first she had tea with Benji so he wouldn't be alone, then Orihime and Sumire decided to join their usual tea time with theirs, in the end the group ended like that, with an occasional addition now and then.

"And is a break from training." Benji added with a sigh. "I have calluses over calluses on my hands and feet from sword training and piloting training." "Well if you are having tea with us certainly you aren't practicing." Orihime commented teasingly. "How despicable of you using the excuse of getting along with us to slack off your training." Benji just shrugs playfully at the barb.

Yoneda seriously scans through the most recent progress report on Benji's koubu, everything was in schedule, everyone what guessing that it would be the most powerful unit in terms of sheer power output thanks to the changes on it. The massive sword of the koubu was already finished, it wasn't too hard to make when compared to the unit itself.

In the dinning hall Kaede looks at the hanagumi, including the new faces of Orihime, Reni and Benji. "You might not be aware of but Maria-san will be leaving to New York shortly." Kaede says to everyone. Benji could recall something about that trip, he wasn't sure of the details of it. "It is business related, her job will be mostly the same that she did for Himura-kun, translating English to Japanese and Japanese to English."

Noticing that Benji is about to say something Kaede stops him. "And yes Himura-kun it is related to that." Kaede said seriously, not wanting to let the others know about that too soon. "What is that?" Orihime asked curiously. "I meant that the departure was delayed because her previous assignment in teaching him enough Japanese to get around without her." Kaede answered with a little truth bending. "Since it was something that needed to happen I don't want to hear him apologizing."

Orihime nodded understanding. "What about the enemy attacks?" Benji asked seriously, it seemed that the trip was too badly timed to work. "We have you now." Kaede answered. "While we aren't expecting the best combat efficiency from you yet, we are pretty certain that we can expect a performance around sixty percent as good as everyone else's from you, in case of an emergency Maria-san agreed in letting you borrow her old koubu until yours arrives, so you can make up for her absence in long range fighting."

"Well if is firing support then I am pretty sure that I can be of some assistance." Benji commented, then he sighed realizing that he will need to go over the firing training for koubus since Maria's koubu is a full long range type. "When Maria-san will be leaving?" Sakura asked seriously.

"If nothing happens, one week from now." Kaede answered. "Plenty of time for everyone saying your farewells." There is some chatter between the girls, Benji is still pondering on this sudden turn of events, Maria herself isn't really pleased with it, without her around Saki could easily snake around Benji, she makes a mental note of asking Kanna to keep the nurse/secretary away from Benji.

Maria isn't surprised in finding Benji in the simulator, the selected mode is her koubu's mode. 'Well he is being diligent with his duties that for sure.' Maria thought seriously, less than two hours had passed since they were told about her departure and Benji was already getting ready to replace her.

Maria held back her laughter when she called Benji through the microphone, she could see the simulator jumping in surprise, well also how it simulated a very bad crash because the sudden action made it unbalanced. "You don't have to be so surprised." Maria said with mirth on her voice, inside the simulator, rubbing his eyes Benji had to admit that he liked how her voice sounded like that.

"I thought that you would be busy packing." Benji commented from the cockpit. "I have one week to pack, and I have already separated, ironed and folded what I will be taking." Maria replied seriously. "Today was the public announcement of the news, I was told this one week ago."

"So is this trip related with the New York kagekidan?" Benji asked seriously. "It is the only reason that I can think why you would be going there." "Yes it is." Maria answered. "As Kaede said earlier, I will be going there since I speak fluent English and know the most about the defense force. I will be helping to be drawing the foundation of the kagekidan there."

"You are sure that you have time to waste with me?" Benji asked. "Don't you need to prepare?" "Done that already." Maria answered casually. "Besides it will be a long plane trip, any further preparation will be done in route." "I thought that at this time the most common long distance way of travel was ships." Benji said seriously. "Planes are new." Maria explained. "It can't take many people and the autonomy is rather short, so there will be plenty of stops along the way to refuel, only the trip across the Atlantic will be made by sea, so the overall time spent on this trip will be greatly shortened."

"If you say so." Benji commented thinking about the great lengths that airplanes fly in his time. "Why are you here?" Benji asked seriously. "I thought that you weren't on duty of watching over me anymore." "I no longer am." Maria answered. "It is habit now, besides you still can't read Japanese all that well, you just imitated what I did with the controls haven't you?"

"Can't deny that." Benji replied with a sigh, he had purchased a lot of children books to study ideograms, but he was still far from being good reading and writing them. "So I will oversee the results as usual." Maria said sitting down on in front of the control console. "Let me see how well you did until now…" With that the duo continues with their usual routine.

Two days had passed since Maria's departure was announced, Benji was there when the other hanagumi girls discussed about getting something to give to Maria as a farewell gift. It struck Benji that Maria had done a lot for him, maybe he should look for a present for her as well, something to say thank you for everything. 'It wouldn't be bad.' Benji thought with a nod, and it was that nod that got Orihime's attention.

"What you thought about Benji-san?" Orihime asked bringing Benji to everyone's attention. "You had an idea haven't you?" Benji is too embarrassed to admit that he was thinking on buying a present for Maria for different reasons, so he dodges it. "I was thinking of how nice you all are thinking about Tachibana like that." Benji said knowing that it would stroke the girls' ego and likely shift their attention from him.

The girls blush and chuckle in embarrassment showing that his tactic worked, looking around nervously the girls think in what to say next, Benji was thinking in what he could give to Maria, they would have a day off before Maria leaves, he has until then to think about something.

Orihime stared at Benji, she really couldn't believe that he was going out carrying his sword, even inside the fukuro. "You really can't be serious about taking that around with you?" Orihime said in disbelief. "What?" Benji asked casually, he felt uncomfortable without the sword, he was used to carry it up and down the theater.

"You are going out!" Orihime exclaimed annoyed. "Why you are taking that humongous sword with you?" "In case of something happening." Benji answered, Sakura had to agree with Benji on that, in the past there was incident when they took day offs. "You don't see anyone else carrying their weapons!" Orihime protested. "Besides that thing is too big, is almost as tall as you are!"

"Now, now Orihime-san." Sakura said trying to calm her friend. "It is okay for Benji-san carrying his sword." "No it isn't Cherry-san." Orihime replied seriously. "Not that I think that he is a violent person that would randomly attack people with it, but there isn't a need for him to carry that sword."

Benji noticed the minor gesture from Sakura and quietly takes off while Orihime is distracted. Sumire smiled a little at that, it would get Orihime so miffed when she discovers that Benji slipped from there, it was another fun filled day at the theater. Benji heard Orihime's cries when she realized his escape, but he was too far for her to stop him.

Walking around the busy streets Benji ponders on what to give to Maria, he narrowed it down to maybe a pair of gloves since around half of the time Maria wore gloves, or some sort of small thing to decorate her room, but he still wasn't all that certain of anything, specially the gloves, Maria's hands were slender so gloves that fit him would be loose on her, and just a random glove might be small on her hands.

Benji stops in from of a glass store, in there many beautiful pieces made entirely of glass, from colors ranging to crystal clear to red. 'Checking this won't be bad.' Benji thought idly while entering on the store, making sure that his sword won't hit anything by accident.

Benji finds a middle aged man behind a counter, the man noticed Benji and greets him. "I am looking for something to give to a lady friend." Benji said to the man. "You have any suggestions? Please not anything like house ware, don't want to give the wrong impression."

"I have a large selection of finely made glass items that you can choose from." The man replied politely. "From intricate crystal vases to small statues." "I think that I want something in the small side." Benji said seriously, gesturing to something around the size of an apple. "So it won't be bulky or inconvenient."

The man nodded gravely, it seemed that Benji had some idea of what he wanted, or wanted to please as much as he can the gift receiver. Benji is show a large display of glass items, from colorful glass balls to intricate statuettes. The colors were amazing so the artwork of them, choosing was hard.

Benji learned a little about Maria on their time together, but was still hard to guess what she would like or not. Benji smiles while picking up a small blue statue of a cat sited, it was positively cute, now if Maria would like that is a question that he isn't sure of the answer.

Benji hands that small statue to the man and continues browsing, after selecting some he would decide on something. After several minutes Benji narrowed it down to a glass rectangle with intricate colored patters cased in crystal clear glass, the blue statue and mixed colored coin shaped pendant of blue and green glass.

Benji buys the three of them, the pendant for himself, the statues for Maria, the pendant seemed a little too much for comfort, specially since Maria still wears her pendant. The two statues are carefully stored in a neat box filled with protective strips of paper and neatly wrapped by the clerk, the pendant is placed is a smaller box also with paper strips, but as requested it is simply closed with a string.

Pleased with the purchases Benji makes a metal note of visiting this glass making store in regular intervals, the two statuettes seemed like a nice present to thank Maria for helping him so much, deciding to buy a pair of gloves as farewell present Benji moves to a department store, he knows that the farewell gifts will be given in a party, so a safe present was the best choice.

Benji returned to a quiet theater, he was about to move to the kitchen when a worried Kasumi enters in the hall, her face lights up when she sees him. "Benji-san thank god!" Kasumi exclaimed grabbing his hand. "Hurry! Hurry!" Without giving him time to explain Kasumi runs pulling Benji.

Kasumi takes Benji to the command room where a very worried pair of Yoneda and Kaede are. "Benji-san is here!" Kasumi exclaimed. "Good!" Yoneda said seriously. "Perhaps a lucky break on this disaster." "What is going on?" Benji asked confused. "There is a fallen attack." Kaede said in a somber tone. "But we can't contact the others, we were afraid that the situation would get out of control."

"Go get your armor, we are sending you there as soon as you are ready." Yoneda told Benji. "We have no moment to lose, once done go to the garage." Benji nodded and runs to his bedroom, in there places the furoshiki over his desk and grabs his armor, putting it on in a hurry, then he races to the garage where Kasumi is waiting with his sword. As soon he is in the car Kasumi drives away.

Benji could see why Kasumi was panicked and Yoneda was so worried, it was total chaos, the tsukigumi is trying valiantly to keep contained a group of fallen while trying to keep the citizens safe, but the panic ridden people are running around without looking where. Kasumi stops the car unable to get through without hurting anyone. "I will walk the rest of the way." Benji said leaving the car. "Go back if you can." Kasumi nods and watches Benji pushing his way through the crowd with violence.

Running through the fear ridden people is hard, Benji is often hit by someone as he tries to make way, but he managed to reach the tsukigumi who promptly recognizes him. "In the building with the broken window!" One of them shouts to him. Benji nods acknowledging that, but first he kills the fallen who escaped the building, four fallen fall dead in few seconds.

"Can you deal with the remaining three?" Benji asked to the tsukigumi officer who spoke with him. "Now we can." He answered confident, less fallen it will be easier. Benji nods and runs to the building, the inside was a broken mess, he could see few corpses scattered around.

Benji moves through the room with his sword in hands, a growl makes Benji react, his sword impacts in a charging fallen splitting it in half. 'Those racks are in the way…' Benji muttered as the cloth racks are blocking his line of sight, the worse is that if he isn't careful his sword will get tangled on them.

Benji progresses slowly and then feel the scent of smoke, not a weak scent, but a strong one, the type that signals a massive fire, then something shakes in the building, Benji hears a livid pain filled scream, it wasn't anything that came out of a throat of a fallen, Benji runs to the source, the second floor.

The floor is filled with smoke, hard to see far ahead and suffocating. "Is there anyone here?!" Benji shouted. "Is anyone alive?!" "BENJI-SAN!" Benji heard Sakura shouting in pain. "BENJI-SAN OVER HERE!!!" Benji runs to the voice. "Keep screaming Sakura!" Benji shouted back. "I will follow your voice!"

A group of fallen appear and Benji attacks with rage cutting them with ease, Sakura's pain filled shouts in the background, once all of the fallen is dead Benji races to Sakura. "Benji-san!!" Sakura shouted trying to keep a pair of fallen away from her, she is trapped under a pile of rubble.

Benji darts to Sakura and with a swift strike the two fallen are dead, Benji kneels next to Sakura, clipping his sword in his back. "Thank god…" Sakura said in relief, but her voice filled in pain, Benji looks at Sakura, her right leg vanished under a massive beam, Benji can see that it was crushed flat, her left leg had a better luck, while it is bent in an unnatural angle it isn't trapped bellow the beam or the rubble, but bellow Sakura's body, there was marks of something hitting her in the chest, her torn kimono shows that.

Benji gently cradles Sakura's upper body against his body, carefully moving her left leg, it was painfully limp and moving unnaturally. "It is bad isn't it Benji-san?" Sakura asked with her pain distorted face filled with tears. "I won't make it will I?" "I will get you out of there." Benji said seriously, pulling his belt from his pants. "But my legs…" Sakura whimpered in pain. "I can't do anything now…"

Sakura screams when Benji tightly wraps his belt around her right leg, up to where it joins on her body. "Pain means life, life means hope." Benji said seriously. "I won't let you die Sakura." "But I won't be of anyone's use anymore…" Sakura cried clinging on his clothes. "I can't act…I can't dance…I can't fight…Benji-san I can't even walk…who would want a damaged woman…?"

"If comes to that Sakura I will gladly take you." Benji said moving her arms to his neck, Sakura is surprised with his words. "Hold on tight." Sakura nods and does so, Benji finds her arataka. "Benji-san…?" Sakura asked meekly. "Sorry Sakura." Benji said seriously. "But I can't move that beam, it is pure concrete and steel, your leg is also crushed beyond repair, the only way for you get out of here alive is for me to cut it."

"Benji-san…" Sakura cried holding tightly on his neck, Benji wraps his left arm on Sakura's waist and pull her. Sakura shrieked in pure agony at that, holding tightly against Benji, her hands grabbing on the back of his neck, filled with his shirt's collar, Benji saw the wound opening, then he cut.

There wasn't any resistance there, he felt the sword grazing the tip of the bone and that was all, muscle, flesh, sinew and skin, it all gave away under Sakura's very own sharp blade. Benji felt her body moving once the cut was done and she was freed, thankfully the tightly wrapped tourniquet lessened the flow of blood, but that wasn't enough.

Benji finds a piece of burning wood from the ceiling, he knew that he had to do and thankfully Sakura fainted, her mind shut off all the pain, so he could burn the wound, sealing it. The blood stops flowing from her severed leg, Benji finds the arataka's sheath and sheathes the bloodied sword with utter care Benji ties the sheathed sword on Sakura's broken leg, so it won't hang loosely and hurt her more.

Then Benji picks the unconscious girl up, and just then he realized that he was surrounded by fire, Benji grits his teeth and covers Sakura's upper body with his jacket, then he runs through the flames, the heated air is hard to breath, the sweat on his face helps a little to protect his face, but his eyes ache with the smoke, running down the stairs Benji races through the flaming racks and finds the door blocked, he looks around and finds the display window clear, he runs to it.

Outside the tsukigumi sees Benji jumping out of the flaming building carrying someone, blood staining his clothes from that person, but what shocks them is Benji's frightening roar. "MEDIC!" Benji shouted violently. "MEDIC!" A tsukigumi agent runs to Benji. "You are a doctor?!" Benji asked grabbing him by his collar, Sakura still cradled on his left arm.

"Ah…no…but we have cleared a path…" The agent said scared. "We have a car ready…" "Good!" Benji replied. "Take me there now!" The man nods in fear and takes Benji to the car where Kasumi was waiting. "Hospital now!" Benji shouted to her. "But…" Kasumi started. Benji uncovers Sakura's face. "Now." Benji ordered, Kasumi who pales up does so, flooring the gas and burning rubber, Yoneda would forgive her for disobeying the order of staying there until he arrived, for that he would ignore that.

Using his fingers Benji seeks for Sakura's femoral artery, the likely source of the bleeding, he finds it leaking the precious vital fluid and Benji plugs it shut with his finger, Sakura doesn't even respond to that.

Kasumi wasn't discreet on the arrival, she breaks through the door of the military hospital before breaking, Benji jumps out of the car with Sakura on his arms. "Get a doctor here now!" Benji shouted to the nearby attendants. "She is dying here!" The nurses react fast and tell Benji to follow, Benji chases them, there wasn't time to wait, Benji is taken to the surgery room, all the way carrying Sakura.

A middle aged doctor runs to them while Benji sets Sakura on the table, he even sees Benji once again plugging shut the bleeding artery to lessen the blood loss. "Get clean clamps!" The doctor orders a nurse. "What happened?!" he asked to Benji. "He right leg was crushed, her left leg is broken in several places." Benji answered swiftly. "There are signs of chest trauma, she also inhaled smoke."

The doctor nods and barks orders to the surrounding nurses, then he makes Benji remove his finger and then clamps down the artery. "Who amputated her leg?" He asked seriously. "I did." Benji answered. "Her right leg was crushed bellow a concrete beam, trust me it wasn't salvageable, and it was the only way to free her."

The doctor could see the damage on her leg, it was horrible to see, there was bone shards mixed on the crushed muscle and the skin was torn badly, and then there was a clean sliced part that showed that a blade finished the sinister task of severing her leg, above everything he could see the burnt flesh, it was something deliberate, looking at Benji he could see that he was sealing the wound as much as possible, added to the tourniquet and plugging the artery when not moving her, it was what saved Sakura.

The hanagumi arrives and finds Benji and Kasumi sitting grimly in the front of the surgery room. "How is she?!" Ogami asked worried. "Not good." Kasumi answered seriously. "Sakura-san's state is very critical, her left leg was broken in four places, dislocated in two, her right leg…" Kasumi couldn't continue, Benji gently holds the once again sobbing girl.

"Sakura-kun's right leg…?" Ogami asked actually afraid of hearing it. "It was crushed bellow a concrete beam." Benji answered in a firm voice. "I had to cut her free from there so she could make it." That hits the hanagumi even harder, no one could believe on his words.

"You did what?!" Ogami asked grabbing Benji's collar and pulling him up. Benji glares deeply into Ogami's eyes, what he saw there no one will know but Ogami let go and back away in fear. "I cut her leg to save her life." Benji said seriously, his voice with a cold edge that made even Maria shiver. "Sakura wouldn't make it in any other way."

"He likely saved her." A doctor said leaving the surgery room, his clothes covered in blood. "Himura-san we need some more blood, you are pretty strong, you can make it some less despite the burns." "Take as much as you like." Benji replied moving to the room. "What you mean by he likely saved her?" Yoneda asked seriously.

"He delivered enough emergency care on her in site and then rushed her here fast enough so she could be treated." The doctor answered. "I never saw such level of emergency field first aid before outside a field surgeon, he had enough spirit to immobilize her broken leg, make a tourniquet in the crushed leg, cauterize the wound, then plugging the artery that refused to stop the flow. I highly doubt that she would make five more minutes if left alone."

"Now excuse me, we are still trying to stabilize Shinguji-san." The doctor said seriously. "We will do everything in our power so she can live." The doctor then enters in the room. Ogami falls sited in a chair, his minds refuses to believe in what just happened, he isn't the only one, as the entire hanagumi feels confused and frustrated.

"Kasumi-kun how long it has passed?" Yoneda asked seriously. "When it started?" "I am not sure." Kasumi answered wiping her tears. "B…b…benji-san…was calmer…he was the one…who is more aware…I gave blood too…they took a lot…from Benji-san too…" A short while later Benji returns holding a cotton ball to the inner part of his left elbow.

"How is she?" Maria asked worried. "They are sealing the wound." Benji answered. "The shut off the circulation, removed dead tissue and are now trying to close the wound, leaving no flesh exposed. They believe that she will make it" "Sakura-neechan will be fine?" Iris asked hopefully.

"Sadly Iris fine isn't the best word for this." Benji said seriously, he was really feeling tired. "Sakura will have to redefine what fine means to her after this." "You curse magnet!" Ogami shouted rushing to Benji, Benji back steps with the punch. "It is all your fault!"

"Taisho!" Kanna exclaimed holding Ogami before he hits Benji again. Benji spits the blood from his mouth on the floor. "Feeling any better?" Benji asked in a cold voice. Ogami feels that even more than a punch. "It must be pretty nice to be able to blain someone else."

Benji picks his sword and leaves, then they notice something on his back, how his shirt is burned and his back is covered with bandages. "What happened?" Orihime asked in horror. "Benji-san covered Sakura-san with his leather jacket..." Kasumi answered in a shaky voice. "He protected her the best that he could before he ran into the fire, something hit him and then set his back on fire…the…the burns are extensive…not serious but most of his back…"

"Is badly burned…" Maria said in horror, Benji wasn't unscathed, he was just so focused on Sakura that nothing else mattered for him, not even his wellbeing. "I will go too…" Kasumi said standing up. "I can't…" no one says anything about Kasumi running away, she took it heavier than they did, she drove Benji and Sakura there, she saw how desperate he was, seeing Ogami acting like he did hurt her a lot adding to the grief and anxiety that she was already feeling.

"I thought that he would still be here." The doctor said when leaving the surgery room. "I thought that he would like to hear that she isn't in danger anymore." No one says anything about Benji's departure. "There was a little of a situation." Yoneda said seriously. "Then what is Sakura-kun's state?"

"As it must be clear for everyone, she won't walk anymore." The doctor said seriously, in a clinical tone. "Her right leg is gone, we barely managed to save her left leg, even so rehabilitation will be long, painful and very unrewarding, in the future she might be able to walk using an artificial leg and a walking aid as a crutch or a cane."

"Then dancing…?" Sumire asked somberly. "She won't ever dance again." The doctor answered. "Nor act, is highly unlikely that she will even walk again." Hearing those words only make the reality sink in heavily on their minds and hearts. "Then what will she do?" Kanna asked in tears. "What is left for her in life?!"

"She is still alive." The doctor answered in a level tone. "It may not sound like it is much, but she survived, there is much that she can do, writing, drawing, composing, marriage, Shinguji-san still have a lifetime ahead of her, her life isn't over yet." "It should be!" Ogami exclaimed. "How can she be happy as a cripple?"

The hanagumi gasp at the outburst, then something hits Ogami hard in the face, Ogami stumbles backwards and falls, the attention is turned to the fallen object, a long black rod with a dirtied wrapped hilt, the familiar image of Benji's rebar sword, looking to the direction where it came they see Benji's rage filled face as he stalks his way to Ogami.

Ogami coughs and spews blood, the impact of the sword turned into spear was massive, among the blood Ogami spits a broken tooth. Benji grabs Ogami by the collar and slams him violently against a wall. "That is how deep your feelings for her are!" Benji hissed angrily. "That is how much you love her? She is only good when in one piece? You good for nothing son of a bitch!"

Kanna holds tightly on Benji's right arm and on his neck. "Benji stop!" Kanna exclaimed. "You will kill him!" "Let go!" Maria shouted holding on Benji's left wrist, Benji's left hand as tight as a vice on Ogami's neck, squeezing his throat, choking the lieutenant. The doctor gets a syringe from a nurse and stabs Benji on the neck with it.

Benji cringed at that, he can feel the drug going straight to his head, his strength fading, then he collapses, but Kanna doesn't let Benji fall, however Ogami falls down gasping for air in bloody coughs. "That dose would put a grow man into sleep in less than one minute." The doctor said impressed. "It took almost two to put him down."

"What a mess." Yoneda said looking at the hanagumi, no one was aiding Ogami, a bright contrast of the worry show to Benji, it was natural, after all when it truly mattered, when Sakura was in her most vulnerable moment Ogami shunned her away when she needed him the most, their trust on him was shattered, if he did that to Sakura he could do it with any of them. However in Sakura's most vulnerable moment Benji, the newest and less likely one to show such devotion and strength was the one who displayed the most.

Benji wakes with his back aching badly. "Who is the idiot that lays on his back a man with extensive back burns…" Benji murmured reaching for his throbbing head as he sits up. He recalled what happened, he nearly killed Ogami and that felt really good after what he said, but he was injected with something that put him into sleep, he recalled that much, after that darkness.

Looking around Benji discovers that he is in a private room, he locates the nurse call button and presses it. A nurse and a doctor enter in the room shortly, Benji recognizes the doctor. "So what happened?" Benji asked holding his head. "Did I kill him?" "You would say that you weren't lucky." The doctor answered. "But you shook him good before I sedated you."

"How long it passed?" Benji asked. "Six hours." The doctor answered. "It is nighttime now, you are here for both sleep out the drugs and for observation." "However?" Benji asked sensing that there is more on that. "Unofficially you are here to wait the dust settle a little in your headquarters." The doctor answered seriously. "If the situation wasn't tense enough with Shinguji-san's situation, the skirmish with Ogami-san made the situation even worse."

Benji let out a long sigh. "I figured as much." He said annoyed. "They must be itching to kick me away now." "Actually it seems that is the other way around." The doctor said seriously. "Ogami-san actions, his response to Shinguji-san's injuries badly hurt the trust of the others, they are more sympathetic towards you."

"Now that is surprising." Benji commented. "I felt that they hated me because of what I did." "They do resent." The doctor replied. "But they also understand why you did, you know the building collapsed shortly after you left, if you haven't acted as you did, in the worse scenario the two of you would be crushed."

"I guess that it is a lucky break out of a disaster." Benji said with a sigh. "Anyway how you feel?" The doctor asked. "My back and head hurts, and I am hungry." Benji answered. "Though I am sure that the head is thanks to the shot." "I will arrange for you to get some food." The doctor said with a nod. "Try to sleep a little, if you can't I will prescribe you a mild sedative for you."

However Benji didn't sleep, a mix of pain, heat, discomfort and uneasiness kept him awake for the entire night, with a yawn Benji finishes his breakfast, which was as bland and flavorless as the dinner.

After the nurse leaves with the empty tray Kayama enters in the room. "You don't look any good." Kayama commented casually. "Well you are in a hospital, you wouldn't be good if you are here."

"Why are you here?" Benji asked. "You are Ogami's best friend." "Because of that." Kayama answered. "As a best friend I am supposed to apologize, he acted out of hand yesterday, he made a bad situation worse, I know what happened, I red the reports, you frightened some of my best men, they were scared and impressed with your calls for aid for Sakura-san, I could feel your intensity through their reports, you did the best that you could. And you are pretty emotionally involved too."

"I suppose." Benji commented. "But he was supposed to love her, I saw how they looked at each other." "I supposed that it wasn't meant to be." Kayama said in a sad tone. "Perhaps he was just infatuated with her and doesn't want to take care of Sakura-san now that she is impaired."

Benji grits his teeth in anger. "Anyway I am also here to tell that thankfully no one else was hurt." Kayama said seriously. "Sakura-san is the only seriously wounded victim, now I will take my leave, I have to investigate this incident even further." Benji nods and watches Kayama leave.

A couple hours later Kaede arrives with Kasumi who is holding a bag. "I brought you a clean set of clothes." Kasumi said to Benji in a dispirited voice. "What happened?" Benji asked them. "There were plenty of arguments back in the theater yesterday." Kaede answered. "Everyone was tense and the argument with Ogami-kun made it worse, they lost the trust on him, they knew that Ogami-san had special feelings for Sakura-kun, but if he acted like that with her, he would even faster to cast them away if hurt."

Benji sighed at that. "The mood is terrible." Kasumi added. "Ogami-san locked himself on his room, Iris-chan cried all night holding on Reni, everyone is pretty shaken up." "Which brings me to why I am here." Kaede said seriously. "The manager decided to move you away from the theater for a while, I have rented a house for you near the theater, Kayama will move your belongings there discreetly, it won't be for long, just until the dust settles."

Benji nodded understanding, he had seen that coming. "I am also letting available for you a steam bike." Kaede added. "I thought that you would like, it will make easier for you to visit Sakura-kun." "You guessed as much." Benji said with a smile. "After what you did yesterday was pretty easy to guess." Kaede said with a sad smile. "You seemed really serious about what happened."

"I won't let Sakura's life end with this." Benji said seriously. "If I have to I take care of her until one of us die." Kaede smiled a little with that, she felt that Benji was serious, that he meant his words.

Kasumi takes Benji to his new house after he changes and the doctor releases him. "It isn't a bad place." Kasumi commented while they enter there. "It has a big backyard, there is a bathroom and a toilet too, two bedrooms in the first floor, four in the second, and a restroom in the second floor too."

"Yeah, a bit too much." Benji commented taking out his shoes. "This is the kind of place that can fit a sizable family on." Kasumi nodded agreeing, it was the type of house that she would love to live in the future, which saddens her because the reason that she is there today.

Benji is once again in the hospital, this time visiting Sakura, as well having his bandages changed. "She is still sleeping off the drugs." Doctor Matsuta, the same one who treated Sakura said to him. "The wounds are severe, you know it as well as I do, the surgery was also very damaging, we will be keeping her in a induced sleep for at least one more week, that if not a little longer to make sure that we have aligned her left leg bones."

"You guys bolted the bones?" Benji asked seriously. "Wow, you are pretty knowledgeable." Matsuta commented. "Yes, we did use bolts, pins and bars to repair the damage, the preliminary x-rays show that it is aligned, but we are still wary." Benji nodded understanding, still was impressive that they performed such intrusive and dangerous surgery in a greatly weakened patient.

"You can keep coming, we will inform you of any change on her state." Matsuta said to Benji. "Out of curiosity, are you a medical student? You know a little too much for a regular person." "I just have some knowledge." Benji answered. "It turned to be useful, that is all, I am no doctor." Matsuta nodded understanding.

Back in the theater Yoneda is unsure of how to deal with the situation, in front of his are two swords, Benji's rebar sword and Sakura's arataka, the two swords were returned to him, Sakura's after the surgery as it was used to immobilize her leg, Benji's after he was sedated and the confusion of the argument passed.

"Now what do I do?" Yoneda asked to himself, the sake bottle on his desk feels alluring and seductive, but drinking wouldn't help, he needed to keep her mind clear. Kaede enters in the office with a file in her possession. "Here are the reports of the tsukigumi." Kaede said while placing the files on his desk. "Inside there is also the declaration of the hanagumi about the reason for the leave, Sakura-kun was caught in the wrong place in the wrong time when shopping."

"A strike of bad luck?" Yoneda asked. "No, I don't believe that was just that, I just can't rule it like that." "We got Himura's report of the incident." Kaede added seriously. "Certainly it isn't a pretty picture, right now it is only left to hear what Sakura-kun has to say, but that might take some time as the doctors wish to keep her sedated until the wounds close a little more."

Yoneda nodded agreeing. "Did anyone find it?" Yoneda asked seriously. "Sakura-kun's leg?" "The tsukigumi is still looking for it, but is unlikely that is in a good state." Kaede answered trying to keep herself calm and firm. "The building collapsed because of the fire, even if we find her leg it will be either a carbonized mass, or burnt bones."

Yoneda nodded grimly. "Now about Ogami-kun." Yoneda asked somberly. "His reaction is far too negative, the team is also shaken badly by it, if he had responded to it better maybe this situation wouldn't be so bad, I won't be surprised if he decides to leave." Kaede answered seriously. "There is a growing animosity around everyone, the team is broken badly, I fear that Ogami-kun might fully shatter it if there is another argument with anyone, he can react to anything."

Yoneda sighs depressed, the close team that took so long to get together was falling apart so easily instead of becoming closer with the tragedy. "Where it went wrong?" Yoneda asked to no one, leaning back in his chair feeling not only his age but the full burden of his years and position.

Kaede doesn't know how to answer that, Ogami shoved the blame on Benji, but she knew that wasn't true, yes Benji's arrival was a marking moment on the hanagumi, but he was getting along well with everyone, if anything the cause is the fallen.

Benji is surprised in finding Maria waiting in the front of his newly assigned house, her face rather dark and tired. "Anything wrong?" Benji asked after parking the steam bike and walking to her. "I came to say bye." Maria answered in a level voice. "I am leaving tomorrow and because what happened I don't think that it will be a merry departure."

Benji nodded understanding. "The hanagumi is falling apart." Maria told him seriously. "Taisho's actions shook everyone pretty badly, we all knew that there was something between him and Sakura, but when it mattered the most he turned his back to her, we can't help in thinking that if was one of us in this situation he would do the same."

Maria looks at him, she can see some of the damage of the day on him, his hair is shorter, cut shorter because the heat singed part of his hair, the left corner of his lower lip cut by Ogami's punch, and how tired he looks because the pain of the burns on his back. "You will keep visiting Sakura?" Maria asked.

"Even if she doesn't want me to." Benji answered seriously, Maria nodded to that, it was what she hoped that Ogami would do, not this stilly a little unfamiliar new member that came from a different world. "Give her our love." Maria said holding back her tears. "All of it, don't let her die, give her something worth to live for."

Maria clings on Benji's shoulders, the burden of the tears that she didn't shed finally became too much to bear, Benji holds Maria gently and the blonde cries with her face buried on his chest. Maria hates herself so much, when Sakura needs them the most she had to leave for New York, she wasn't any better than Ogami.

Benji hugs Maria tightly, letting her cry her heart out, he runs his right hand on her hair, comforting her in the best way that he can. Because the house was in a secondary street no one saw them, no one watched Maria crying on him for long minutes, once cried out Maria wipes her tears away and leaves without any parting words, the damp warmth on his chest and the redness of her cheeks for rubbing on his shirt are enough, a silent goodbye that will linger for a while.

Benji watches her retreating back until it disappear behind a corner, part of him wanted to chase Maria and stop her, but he couldn't do it, not after doing what he did, he felt that he had no right to pursue her, then he pushes his bike to the garage and enters on the empty house.

Kayama and Saki knock on his door by the evening. "I brought your clothes." Kayama said carrying two suitcases. "And her to treat your back before we return." Benji nodded and let the duo in. There isn't much conversation between them, the mood was still heavy, yet Saki is the most talkative one.

"This will do for now." Saki said once she changes his bandages. "I have a good family medicine that will help to speed up your healing, I will fix it for you and tomorrow I will bring it for you." "Thank you." Benji replied putting on his shirt. "Sorry to bother." "It isn't a bother." Saki said with a smile. "It is part of my job and my personal interest as well, besides it is good to leave the theater these days, the mood is terrible there."

That wasn't what Benji wanted to hear, but he said nothing, neither did Kayama, both of them let Saki chat away, at least casted off that dark cloud from their heads when she did, it was a tad little refreshing.

One week had passed when Ogami enters on Yoneda's office with a resolute face, handing him a letter. "Why this?" Yoneda asked seriously, while he was expecting a second resignation letter from Ogami it was too soon for his liking. "I don't believe that I am fit for this unit anymore." Ogami answered in a flat tone. "I can feel that I am no longer welcomed here and that I will never be again, besides what I truly wished was pursuing my carrier in the Navy, therefore I wish to continue where I left of when I first arrived here."

Yoneda doesn't say anything to stop Ogami, he can see that this time Ogami won't change his mind, likely his bags are packed and waiting for him, besides the hanagumi girls had expressed their disapproval for Ogami's current actions. "What about Sakura-kun?" Yoneda asked in a level voice. "A few months back you told me that you had feelings for her."

"They no longer matter." Ogami answered seriously. Yoneda signals to Ogami to stop taking, if he doesn't he would hit the young officer. "Leave." Yoneda said somberly. "Go back to the Navy." Ogami nods and leaves the office, and without being stopped the theater.

Yoneda sighs heavily, this incident was a devastating blow in the hanagumi and they aren't likely to recover anytime soon. "If the enemy attacked now…" Yoneda murmured somberly, foreseeing dark and stormy times ahead of them.

End of the chapter three:

Author explanation corner:

No flames regarding what happened in this chapter, this idea of Sakura losing her leg was with me for a while, it came out a bit different than I expected, but I liked the result of it, originally Benji would be hated by everyone other than Sakura and later they would accept him and what he did as Sakura would be happy in being alive, even if crippled. As mentioned in the other story, the events were heavily altered for this, and will be even more altered from this point on.

About Ogami's reaction: Based in the knowledge of how most Japanese males of that time would act in the circumstances it was the natural reaction, then again any male of that time would likely reacted like that. Ogami and Sakura had feelings for each other, but never got deeper, now that Sakura lost her leg Ogami didn't want to be stuck with a broken woman. Japanese are very fussy about appearances, so Sakura missing a leg and badly scarred would be object of ostracism.