The bar was dark, dim lighting softly glowing above them from the ceiling structures they dangled from, a pleasing combination of pearl, sapphire, and royal purple.

"Oy, Hikaru!" Roy's rough voice rang out, his deep tone even scratchier from the whiskey. A fist pounded the bar table, making everyone's drink shake and his free hand pointed at his black-haired friend. "Your problem is you're too up tight! Look at you. Fallin' in love is like goin' to battle. Don'tchu understand me? If you love a woman, you need t'a be prepared to fight for her and make her yours by whatever means possible!"

"Roy!" Claudia hissed, knocking him on the shoulder with her knuckles. "Stop that drunken banter. You're annoying them." She averted her dark eyes towards Misa and Hikaru who sat across from them, neither looking too comfortable about it.

The blond cracked his neck and rolled his head to the side, facing Claudia. He looked directly in her eyes as the hand previously pointing at Hikaru came up to her cheek and cupped it. He pulled her lips in for a quick kiss. Breaking it, Roy's mouth trailed down to her chin and he raised his eyes to Hikaru.

"Take notes, kiddo. Live for today, but don't forget who's gonna be there for you tomorrow."

"Oh shut up!" Claudia retorted in a playful manner as she pushed him away. "You talk too much."

"I take it you prefer me using my mouth in other ways?"


Hikaru's blue eyes opened then, the green numbers of his LED clock informing him it was just after 3:30AM. He stared at them as he realized he was just now dreaming. A slight movement from Minmay reminded Hikaru that she was right next to him in the same bed. After all this time, it finally happened. To his disappointment, he didn't feel like the testosterone-high superman he thought he would years ago. The good feelings from before had dissipated like pretty bubbles floating in the air. The dream he had didn't help matters.

Roy had spoken those words to him, or something like them, in the same bar and in front of the same people as in that dream. Now he was revisiting Hikaru with that advice. Why?

Hikaru kept staring at the clock. The time changed to 03:33. Why was he thinking of Misa now, especially at a time like this when Minmay of all people should have been filling his thoughts? He closed his eyes. This guilt was so heavy.

He had nothing to fret over, he reminded himself. He wasn't dating Misa. It seemed every time he felt his heart begin to open up to her, some kind of interruption drove him away. Maybe it was a sign. His relationship with her never seemed to elevate to a more advanced stage. It may have been his fault actually, but he couldn't help keeping distance at times... Sometimes, he got cold feet but he didn't understand why. With his eyes closed tightly, Hikaru tried to silence his thoughts to no avail.

His arm was raised and dropped across his forehead then, followed by yet another deep exhale from the pilot before he pushed his torso up and quietly slipped out of bed. Silently, his feet slid into the slippers resting on the floor and he walked through the darkness into the kitchen. As he extended a glass below the faucet and filled it with water, Hikaru told himself he was being stupid. Certainly, he of all people should be appreciative of this situation now with Minmay. The glass was raised to his lips and he drank all of it in several gulps.

Hikaru turned his back to the sink and leaned against it, empty glass still in his hand as he crossed his arms and gazed out into the darkness of his quarters. He had told Minmay she was overreacting the night she showed up, shivering and sobbing. Perhaps he needed to take his own advice. His own thoughts were making waves on what seemed to be smooth sailing waters. But were they really? Because at the same time, that feeling of something just not being right was still present. It sincerely bothered him. Maybe it had to do with his inability to resolve the situation with Misa. Maybe the issue lied elsewhere.

After several moments of these thoughts, he began thinking of his long and arduous shift that day. The tears streaming down the faces of children and adults, desperation, confusion, destruction, injuries, and death... All of those memories stimulated a weary feeling in his brain and his body succumbed. Most welcoming of that, Hikaru placed his glass into the sink and made his way back to bed sans a noise. His eyes fell closed as his nude skin hit the sheets and he fell back asleep soon after.

Minmay's eyes squeezed together and opened as a loud noise brought her to consciousness from her sleep. She turned her face suddenly as she became aware enough to know the culprit was Hikaru, snoring loudly next to her. Looking at this man beside her, she could see he slept on his back, mouth wide open.

She reached up with one hand and rubbed at the inner corners of her eyes, removing crust that had formed and tried to fall asleep again, but that proved hard thanks to Hikaru's mouth. Her blue eyes opened again slowly. …It was annoying.

Minmay rolled over on her side facing away from Hikaru as she pulled the blanket up to her chin, staring at the white wall before her. Hikaru as a lover was different than what she had imagined; not terrible, not amazing. The singer found herself comparing him to other men she'd been with – including Kaifun. Kaifun, as much of a terrible person he turned out to be in later years, thrilled her to no end. When they became intimate, Minmay found herself feeling liberated: free, like she was flying and empowered by a strong love she had for him.

It wasn't anything to do with Hikaru physically. No, it must have been her fault trying to force an emotional connection with him that simply wasn't there. Even that one time she wound up going back to a bartender's apartment, she found herself feeling fresh and new again, even if it lasted only a few hours. But tonight granted her no such luxury.

Minmay pushed the side of her face into the pillow then. She knew she was being terrible to compare Hikaru to other men. As the dark-haired man continued to snore away, the woman next to him wondered just what it was that felt so wrong.

She had feelings for Hikaru. She believed she could be happy with him... but not at the expense of her own sanity, sitting in a chair and staring at a wall for hours wondering if he was alive or dead, healthy or injured. After hearing about the labors of his day, Minmay realized every day would carry the same burden. Hikaru could be called in for duty at any time and he would have no choice but to respond, leaving her to face all the same anxiety over and over. She recognized she was foolish to assume otherwise; this day would probably be repeated many times.

At the time, Minmay had no imminent desire to go on singing so worries of traveling wasn't a problem, but it would be nice to get to see the recovering cities through the eyes of a normal person. She'd been all over, but never had the time or energy to walk around and really appreciate all of the culture being restored. How she would have liked to see that with someone... Hikaru could be that person, if only he weren't in the military.

The woman's eyebrows suddenly furrowed then at the inner corners as she pondered the conclusion she was headed to. If Hikaru quit the military... and she stayed away from performing... and if they had this relationship that surely wouldn't be broken... it would make sense to seal their happiness with marriage.

...Marry Hikaru? Minmay's large eyes remained open, almost doe-like, as she thought hard about that possibility. To never be alone again, to feel young and sexy and desirable and loved... To have someone who cared about her and would look after her and treasure her... To finally have the stability in her life she longed years for...

...Marry Hikaru? Was it true that she honestly never wanted to sing again? For the time, it was a much needed break. Perhaps she could land a gig performing in a bar or club regularly after things settled down and she was happier. That happiness would be delivered from Hikaru, of course... Of course, it would come in time.

Marry... Hikaru...?

Hikaru snored particularly loudly at that very moment, and his breathing suddenly shifted to quiet.

To be continued.