Author's Note: It's been a while, FMP fandom. Have you missed me? :D
Explanations: For those of you who don't know this, a "dear John" letter (or call or speech or whatnot) is a note that a solider receives from a significant other during his term of duty, in which a romantic relationship is (abruptly) terminated. That is to say, it's dumping someone by way of the post. I dunno if the phrase is "in vogue" anymore—as I believe it originated during WWII?—but I use it anyway. Because I can. :3
There were three things that a soldier never, ever wanted to hear. The first, of course, was word that a comrade had fallen: died on the field, perished during a mission— sacrificed his or her own life in order to save countless others. No matter the reason, there was no greater sadness than having to say goodbye to a colleague… a friend.
The second was equally horrible, but in an entirely different (and more terrifying) way: to discover that you, as a combatant, had made some sort of grievous mistake, and as a result had put others at risk. Never mind the verbal abuse that resulted; never mind the punishment from superior officers. Just hearing the words "miscalculation" or "error" or "carelessness" was enough to make one's stomach drop and heart turn to lead.
The third thing, while perhaps less dire from a militaristic standpoint, did a horrendous number to an individual's morale, and could thus inadvertently result in situations one or two: "dear John." In writing, in speech… Euphemistically or literally, depending on a soldier's given name. In Sosuke's case, neither format would have made for a very pleasant experience.
But of all three of these terrible things, the last one troubled him the least. That was to say, the third was the one that he felt he was least likely to encounter in his own life. After all, the first had already happened to him—more times than he cared to think about. He had also made mistakes in his career, and recognized that (no matter how hard he might try), he was bound to screw up again. Even if he wasn't consciously aware of his slip-ups, or if a certain reaction didn't seem (in his eyes, anyway) to be an error of judgment, others would undoubtedly point out his blunders to him. "Others" like his wife, for instance.
And yet, for all of his faults— and he did have many of them, or so Kaname assured—he never thought that they'd be enough to rip them apart. Indeed, if there was one thing that he was sure of, one thing that he was positive would never change, it was that she loved him, and that he loved her. Perhaps more than it was healthy to…
Which was why Sosuke was fairly certain that he stopped breathing when Kaname shot him that pity-filled, wholly-guilty glance.
"…Kaname?" His hand was still on the door knob, his body half-in and half-out of their little apartment. He'd been gone for six months on active duty—he'd been certain that she'd be happy to see him. He'd rather expected a hug, if nothing else; hell, she'd been known to attack him with a flying glomp after only having been gone for a few days. But no— instead, she watched her husband from the distant kitchen, seated stiffly at the table, content to keep a hallway's worth of space between them. "Kaname, is something the matter?"
Sosuke would be lying if he said that he wasn't hurt by her apparent apathy— they hadn't seen each other for half a year! What was with the cold shoulder?— but it was his nature to act on suspicions, rather than personal feelings. And he found the entire situation very, very suspicious… Was a terrorist around the corner? Was there a firearm being pointed at her, at that moment? Was she being restrained in some way? If that was the case,she didn't seem overly worried… Rather, she was watching him awkwardly, manicured nails clicking against the porcelain of her coffee cup. She had set a mug out for him, as well.
"…Sosuke," Kaname cleared her throat, biting down on her bottom lip. Now she seemed a little anxious… Perhaps there was a threat in the vicinity, after all? He carefully maneuvered his hand around the handle of his Glock, just in case. "Sosuke, we need to talk."
"…and get your hand off of that gun, there's no one dangerous around for miles."
The soldier felt himself relax slightly, reassured by the familiar, steely glint in his charge's gaze. But the biting irritation brought about by his antics was soon replaced by another embarrassed glitter of ignominy, and she looked down into her drink again as she waited for him to shuffle into the room. After double-checking for bombs or gunmen or who-knew-the-hell-what, Sosuke eased himself into the chair opposite his wife, and lightly folded his hands. It was a pose he often took when awaiting measures of peaceful reconciliation with Kaname, post-argument. And when his wife was looking as shamefaced as she currently did, he assumed that he would be apologizing for something, and fairly soon.
But oddly, Kaname seemed to be the repentant party, this time. "I'm sorry," she whispered, nibbling nervously on the very tip of her tongue. "I… Looking back, this is definitely not the way that I… that is… I didn't— don't— want to hurt you, but I…"
She trailed off feebly, leaving Sosuke more bewildered than ever. His state of befuddlement was only perpetuated by the fact that her nerves were catching; the more she bashfully avoided his stare, the more her fingers clenched and unclenched, the more she generally looked uncomfortable, the more Sosuke began to feel the same. And his mind started to drift into dangerous waters, remembering the third thing that a soldier never wanted to hear…
"Kaname, what's going on?"
"I—" The young woman hesitated, wincing. Screwed her face up. Tried again. "Sosuke, I don't know quite how to put this… I really should have said something earlier, but I… I didn't know what this news would do to you, you know, emotionally, and I didn't want to put you in danger because of it… I mean, you needed to keep your wits about you out there, and I knew that a change like this… well…"
He waited patiently as she continued to babble, looking close to tears.
"Plus, I… I didn't want to say it over the phone, or in a letter. That just seemed… I dunno, tacky, and… and—"
His voice was quiet, somber. Understanding. It caught his wife temporarily off-guard. Startled out of her ramblings, she looked up to find that their roles had revered: now he was the one who was averting his gaze, trying to hide the emotions that his metal-gray irises would have reflected. "Kaname, it is not necessary for you to say any more. I realize that being the spouse of a Mithril agent must put you under a great deal of unbearable stress… it is only natural to wish for a more stable life. If… if it is a divorce that you are looking for…"
He swallowed painfully.
And she, in return, offered a loud snort. "…what?" Kaname gawked, nothing but pure, unadulterated puzzlement in her response. Well, puzzlement and a note of startled laughter— the sort of uncontrollable amusement that one often found in the aftermath of an atrocious misunderstanding. And what a welcome sound it was… The irrepressible giggle perked Sosuke's ear; he found the courage to meet his wife's eyes again, heartened by the small smile forming on her face. "No, Sosuke, that's not what I'm saying at all—!"
But the sergeant was no longer paying attention, for his very attentive ears had picked up another noise, as well: and this one was disturbingly out-of-place. Two yards down the adjacent hallway—concealed by the darkness that lurked beyond the cracked door. The small guest bedroom, previously assumed to be unoccupied, as there had been no unfamiliar shoes in the well. Nor had he seen a foreign jacket in the closet. No, nobody should have been in there… Yet, he had distinctly heard the shifting of cloth, followed by the faint, wooden groan of settling furniture.
He was on his feet in an instant, shielding Kaname from view. "Quiet!" he hissed, his trusty gun in his grip in record time. "There's someon— urgh!"
Apparently, Sosuke wasn't the only one who had achieved record time. Kaname rested her large paper fan against her shoulder as she glared down at the crumpled form of her husband. "Of course I know there's someone in there!" she snapped, placing her free hand on her hip and gracing Sosuke with a glower. "That's what I was trying to tell you!"
…that was somewhat unexpected.
"A visitor?" Sosuke's head popped up from the linoleum, as nonchalant as if he had never been assaulted. He straightened his battered body, and (though still wary) grudgingly consented to put his weapon away. "Is it someone I know?"
The question was innocent enough—or so the soldier thought—but even still, it made his wife blush and stutter. How curious. What was so upsetting about company? What did a guest have to do with his emotional state? And where were this person's shoes? This was all quite mystifying. Perhaps further investigation would still be required, despite the so called "safety" of the situation.
"…fine, then. I shall go look for myself," Sosuke decreed after a fruitless moment of waiting for an answer. If Kaname didn't want to tell him who their guest was, it could hardly bode well for him. Perhaps an old lover? No, that was hardly likely… Maybe one of their friends had fallen on difficult times, and she didn't want to say anything that might hurt their feelings? That seemed probable, the economy being what it was…
So deep in thought was he, the soldier didn't fully register the pleas of "Um— no, wait, Sosuke! I should really explain, first! After you le—!" that echoed from behind him, nor the scampering scuffle of slipper-covered feet as Kaname rushed after.
He pushed into the spare bedroom without a problem—apparently Kaname had disarmed his booby traps while he was away; he'd have to talk to her about that later— and only paused briefly when he noticed the change in décor. It was hard to make out through the nighttime shadows, but there was a strange box in the middle of the floor, like a little wooden cage.
"—ady been for a few mon—"
The Mithril sergeant squinted, head cocked as he tried to distinguish the strange forms that lurked in the gloom. He could discern a dresser with a fair level of certainty, as well as a spare chair. But there were other outlines that he could not classify; blobs in the corners of the room—blobs that had definitely not been there before he'd left. And he was unsure what the strange contraption dangling from the ceiling was, or what to make of the dangerous-looking silhouettes atop the drawers. That cage, too, caused him some degree of concern. Cautiously, he took three steps towards it, twitching fingers inching over the head of his pistol…
"—re you even listening to me?"
A sharp click; the room exploded with rosy lamp light.
And Sosuke found himself staring owlishly around a room that he no longer recognized. From the ceiling hung a mobile of different colors and shapes; atop the dresser were lines of toy ASes, a battle tank, and a miniature submarine; the blobs had transformed into stuffed animals and Bonta-kuns. And the cage that the trained soldier had so carefully approached wasn't a cage at all—it was a crib, filled with pink blankets and a teeny, tiny, brown-haired newborn.
For a full minute, the mercenary couldn't speak. Couldn't move. Couldn't breathe. The spell only broke when the little body in the cradle decided to roll over (again), curling more tightly around the toy gun that she held in her chubby baby arms.
Sosuke turned slowly to face his wife, the pieces rapidly coming together in his mind. "Um… Kaname…?" he choked, tanned cheeks pinking adorably as realization finally set in. "Is this child… is she my…?"
Kaname smiled sheepishly, even as she blushed and nodded.