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Sousuke's Last Stand

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(Whispered Facility... 1 hour after Kaname sent her message)

"Uh, Miss?"

Kaname glanced up from her reading to see the shy young soldier at the door of her new temporary quarters.

"Telegram for you, Mam. Sergeant Sagara said you'd understand if it was in Morse code," the Private quickly said and handed her the folded paper.

She beamed – he had at least received her message and had been well enough to send one back. "Yes, I do. Thank you very much. I'll decode it." She winked at the messenger, putting her book down.

A few minutes was all it took to decode. Memorizing the cypher with her abilities was easy. It read, "Msg received. Love you. No more msgs that way – almost had heart attack. Returning. Need kiss." She covered her mouth as she giggled and decided to frame this first love letter from Sousuke.

...

On the plane ride back, Sousuke was thinking. He'd have to give Kaname a better way to communicate with him. He couldn't afford to let that bracelet keep distracting him on the battlefield. Looking at Hagen sitting next to him, he ventured, "Uhm, Hagen... Did you say you could communicate with the spiders in the Whispered State?"

"Yes URZU-7. That's possible."

"You can call me Sagara, Sagara Sousuke," he offered. "Would it be possible for you to make something smaller that would communicate a Whispered's thoughts if they wanted?"

"Yes, what are you thinking of?"

"Something for my girlfriend..." Sousuke blushed slightly as he used that word for the first time.

"YOU have a girlfriend? One who's a Whispered?"

"Yes, it's hard to believe for me, isn't it?"

"Uh... No! For me! A Whispered actually dating – that requires trusting a Whispered! ...This means I have hope." Hagen stammered and tucked his knees up to his chest smiling contentedly.

Musing aloud Sousuke admitted, "Well, I didn't think it was possible for me either, two months ago. Didn't think she trusted me at all, even after guarding her for 2 years. Then, when I had to leave – she let me know she didn't want me to go. Now, I'm on my way back home – to her."

Afterward, Sousuke described what he wanted Hagen to make. Nodding, Hagen yawned and laid down to take up more than his share of the uncomfortable bench. Crossing his arms, Sousuke tried to get some sleep too. He didn't want to be dead tired when he arrived. Closing his eyes, he imagined the kiss he’d requested.

...

(Whispered Facility)

Everyone was anxious to get out of the debriefing. They'd just finished discussing Anton and the rest of the former A21 group's upcoming trial and likely sentence length. An unwilling victim in the plot, Hagen was granted special consideration. He also had talents that Mithril deemed useful.

Distractedly, Hagen doodled on his scratch pad. Kurz twiddled his thumbs in his lap, hoping to keep them out of site. Constantly switching positions in their chairs, Mao and Sousuke were restless. Mardukas rolled his eyes. Three of the four were soldiers and the other had expressed interest in joining, they ought to be able to sit still through one debriefing.

Kalinin none too discreetly looked at his watch and wondered why Mardukas seemed to be stalling the end of the meeting. Out of the corner of his eye, Mardukas saw it. Grumbling under his breath, he assented, "Dismissed."

The herd stampeded to the door only to stop as he added, "Sergeant Sagara – A word with you."

Anxious to go see Kaname, Sousuke turned around with disappointment scrawled all over his face.

"I'll be quick boy, I know you have things to do."

Sousuke nodded and prepared himself for the blast, remembering what happened previously.

"I pride myself on my professionalism. Before you left on the mission, I had lambasted you unjustly. I apologize." Mardukas left off there.

"Understood, Sir. It's not a problem," Sousuke chanted his mantra.

"Hagen seems to look up to you. ... Dismissed," Mardukas couldn't make himself say that he respected the young soldier. That grated his professional side - and he still wasn't sure what to think of this unusual Sergeant. At least Tessa had stopped going on and on about him.

"Thank you, Sir." Sousuke saluted and bolted out of the room, booking it for Kaname's temporary quarters.

...

Peeking into her quarters, Sousuke's heart sank to see the void where she ought to be. On the desk lay a note with his name in big kanji at the top. He stepped over to read the note, "I went to help Tessa and Dr. Shou with the other Whispereds. Waiting for you there. Love, Kaname"

Off like a shot, he booked it – she was waiting for him...

Slowing his pace, he gulped when he saw her standing there next to a Whispered victim. Tessa was standing next to Dr. Shou with another. He'd have to wait a few more torturous minutes to hold her, but he'd sneak up behind her and surprise her when she was done.

Kaname's head tilted back as she came out of the Whispered State. Stepping back to keep her balance, she reached for the bed behind her. Bumping into someone, she stumbled forward to avoid falling on the person behind her. Startled, she started to apologize. Sousuke's arms just wrapped around her, helping her keep her balance. Wide eyed, she turned to make sure it was him, "Sousuke?"

Her surprise transformed to a huge smile and she threw her arms around him, refusing to let him go. "Have you come to collect what you requested?"

"Affirmative."

Standing on her tiptoes, her lips gently touched then pressed into his. Feeling a wily urge, she tapped out a message on the back of his neck.

.. / .-.. - ...- . / -.- - ..- / - - - .-.-.- (I love you too.)

She pulled back from the kiss, grinning and winked at him.

"Message received." He swung her around and kissed her again.

"Awwww – get a room you two!" Dr. Shou teased as he held Tessa in one of her dizzy spells. The couple was oblivious.

Laughing, he carried Tessa out of the room, "It should be a few hours before the Whispereds wake up." Soaking this up, Tessa contentedly snuggled in his arms. How could she mind the attention from the dashing Dr. Shou?

The day before, Dr. Shou had confided to her why he became a Whispered specialist, while they waited for Kaname to wake up. He understood Whispereds well, since his brother had been one – before he had been kidnapped and killed. His brother's death had prompted him to help the Whispereds in any way he could. Now, Tessa admired the young doctor – in more ways than one. Not paying attention to him before, she'd only had eyes for Sousuke. The new perspective helped her to see Dr. Shou in a very favorable light.

...

(1 week later)

Sousuke held the door at Kaname's apartment open for her and helped drag in the bags from her shopping trip with Kyouko. "I need a nap!" Plopping on the couch, she was exhausted from all that frivolous spending. Granted, she could justify it – especially the clothes for Sousuke. He needed more civies now.

Mithril had cut them a deal to pay for their college and living expenses, if they would agree to a few terms. On the other side, Mithril would never again use anyone – especially a Whispered - as bait without prior consent. Sousuke and Kaname would have to be special ops throughout college, on call when they were needed.

Claiming a piece of couch next to her, Sousuke pulled a small box out of hiding. "Can you wait a minute for the nap? This arrived yesterday and I've been waiting to give it to you."

Kaname gawked at him in surprise. She was the proverbial cat, and curiosity was now killing her as he held the suspicious little box covered in black velvet. "Well?" She prodded, since he seemed to be taking his time.

"I had this made especially for you. I'll explain after you open it." His voice quavered as he picked up her hand and gently placed the gift in hers.

A gold ring with an opal set in the top of it gleamed against the black velvet background.

Astounded, Kaname gasped and tried to utter, "Sousuke, it's beautiful." But, all that came out was the last word. He'd even known that she didn't like diamonds. Where’d he get his intel?

"Kaname, would you..." Sousuke started, but she cut him off.

"Wow! This is so sudden Sousuke. But, yes! Yes, I will marry you," she interrupted, put the ring on and gave him the most passionate kiss he'd ever had.

Bug eyed, he sat there quite shocked but thoroughly enjoying this unexpected reaction to his gift. He'd expected to finish saying, "...wear this instead of your bracelet. It's a much improved version." The ring wasn't supposed to be an engagement ring – it was the disguised transmitter that Hagen had made.

Now, the last two years had trained him well, he'd be a fool to tell her otherwise. Those halisen slaps had been effective in the past – he didn't want to ruin a perfectly enjoyable moment. Besides, if MORE OF THIS was involved in marriage, it couldn't be that scary could it? Another advantage was that she'd be protected 24 hours a day by a live in bodyguard. He didn't even ever have to work up the nerve to ask her. Not a bad prospect, all in all. Maybe the ring should just have some "added features", that he'd tell her about...LATER. Putting his arms around her, he returned the affection relishing every second.

After several lingering kisses, Kaname asked, "So where are you going to take me on our honeymoon?"

Sousuke thought for a moment, a Kurz-like answer was all that would come to mind and he cleared his throat as he said, "Uhm... to bed?"

"Moron!" She tickled him mercilessly, pinning him down on the couch and they both laughed until they could hardly breathe.

...

Chuckling, the wrinkled old manager of Sousuke's apartment building took off his headphones and turned off the receiver. He didn't need to pry into Sousuke's business anymore. His mission with Mithril was now complete. Packing up, he'd call Kalinin in a bit. Sousuke would now guard Kaname permanently. Friends had made sure he had an arms stash for emergencies. The Sergeant was even beginning to act normalish.

It had been hard to stand back and not rush to Kaname's aid when the attack call came in – but he'd been ordered to stand down. Sousuke had come to her aid instead. He'd done well. He’d stood up well under all that he'd been through. But finally he fell – in love.

Tomorrow the old man would inform Sousuke that he'd be getting a new landlord. It would be hard not to tell the Sergeant congratulations on his engagement after watching him for two years.

THE END!