Angel Standing By
Minmei  

Now at last we can talk in another way

And though I try

ďI love youĒ is just so hard to say

If I only could be strong and say the words I feel...

- Kokoro -

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I was...shot...

No, wait...this pain in my chest, it...

Ahh...yes...I remember now. The Gnosis swarmed us in that last battle. One of them caught you off your guard, so I stepped in to shield you...only to be completely skewered by the thing. Iíd be lying if I said it didnít hurt like hell...but my desire to protect you gave me more than enough strength to bear the pain.

I remember the look on your face when the basilisk released me and you caught me. Okay, maybe not voluntarily; I pretty much lost my balance and fell against you. But you looked horrified and...even concerned. That much was definite. It was similar to your reaction when the original KOS-MOS took Kevinís life. But imagine that. You, showing concern for this wimpy subordinate. Iíd been waiting a lifetime for such attention...pity it only came when I nearly lost my life.

But...thatís...thatís not what I want. I think thatís why I never pushed too hard all those times I couldíve asked you out. Maybe I was scared...thinking that you would never express feelings as strong as the ones I feel for you...at least, not until an extreme situation called for them. Sure, it feels nice for the moment, but if Iím going to be with someone, Iíd want her to care about me no matter the situation. But...I also know it would be selfish of me to expect this of you. After all, Iím just a subordinate to you.

It feels so strange...the bubbles in the tank brushing up against my body endlessly. I donít know where I am, but I suspect Iíve been transferred to some kind of life support tank...like the kind they use for constructing Realians. Perhaps this means I was fortunate...the painís getting duller by the minute, so unless thatís a sign Iím slipping away, it sounds like Iím being given extensive nanotreatment. Maybe in a few hours, Iíll even be in good enough condition to complete my recovery in bed.

That would be nice...maybe when I wake up, Iíll have taken the ďlife is too shortĒ lesson to heart and finally be honest with you about my feelings...the feelings Iíve been too scared to share with you. Iíve been thinking...why? Why hold back? Doing so only leads to regret. So what if we canít have the one thing we want at that moment? That doesnít mean there arenít other opportunities down the road. Having experienced what I did...I think Iíd want to know my chances. There are enough mysteries in life as it is.

It feels good in here...the liquid warm and nurturing, the bubbles humming to a soothing rhythm. I finally drift into consciousness...only to find myself face to face with the unexpected. There you are, Chief, right before me. You stand in front of the tank, and though your eyes are turned elsewhere, I see your face is full of worry. Is that...for me, I wonder? Youíre worried about me, for once? Again, I feel a brief joy from this. Especially after all those times I whined about you caring about everyone else more than me...even though that was just for show. In fact...a lot of my whining, wimpy tendencies are just an act. Everyone else takes me at face value, but you...you seem to know that Iím a lot stronger than I seem.

I think I understand now. Thatís got to be why you never worried about me in the past...you always knew I could handle a lot of things. Thatís why you never concerned yourself with my well-being until something terrible happened. Thatís why youíre here now, standing before me...you know personally how close Iíve come to death. But...strangely, even in this critical hour, I wish you wouldnít worry about me. Even if I passed away, Iíd just be one of the millions of casualties in this war against the Gnosis. And mourning would not bring you any closer to defeating the Gnosis, to finishing all that weíve worked so hard for.

Ahh, Chief, look at you there, trying to blink back your tears. Itís ironic...I tried so hard to take away your tears, but in the end, I was the cause of them. I hope you can forgive me.

Your tears...the ones you never share with anyone. Itís easy to share them now with me, because youíve assumed Iím incapable of responding back or even being cognizant of the fact theyíre being spilled...and given the situation, you would be right. And somehow, you feel secure this way...I see your mouth moving, but even I canít hear you over the tank. I wonder what youíre saying. From the look on your face, you appear to be expressing regret or guilt, but Chief...

Chief...

Sh-Shion...

The oxygen mask muffles my words, but it is enough to grab your attention. You stare up at me, tears and all, stunned by the fact that Iím awake. Somehow, you seem more embarrassed than me, someone who floats helplessly before you, naked in every sense of the word. Granted, the golden bands around the tank and the angle of the light provide some modesty, but this definitely isnít what I have in mind when it comes to speaking with you one on one. Still, Iím glad for what little I can get. If I could smile at you right now, I would...just being in your presence feels like a blessing sometimes. And above all, Iím just happy to know that...

Chief...youíre all right...

Your face reveals momentary shock at these words. Is it that, in spite of my own injuries, Iím still concerned about you? Actually, Iím a little surprised by that myself. All those times I spent whining about how you never cared about me, or about how you never concerned yourself with the fact I worry about you...how odd that I would not be demanding more of you now. But I canít lie; seeing that youíre okay makes me forget my own situation. Maybe thatís what love means...to never think of yourself, to think only of others, and to be caring and considerate no matter the situation.

Yes, itís true, Chief. I...Iím in love with you. I canít make my mouth say the words at the moment, but itís true. Shion Uzuki...you are the woman I want to be with. Itís a dream within a dream...but right now, I can accept that. But when I wake up from this dream, I want to tell you everything...everything, Chief...no matter the outcome...

But before that...my exhausted body requires much rest. And after seeing your face...I can definitely do that. I can wait just a little while longer. Iíll be okay now. The nanotreatment steadily continues to reconstruct my ravaged flesh, but a single look from you has healed me beyond any advances in modern science. As I saved you, you, in turn, have saved me...

So please...donít burden your thoughts with this. Subordinate or friend, Iím not someone you should worry this much about...not right now, anyway. Go and rest...save your strength. And as you do, please take my peaceful expression as a good sign, and rest assured that I wonít die today. Iíll be all right. Itís over...for now. Iíll be able to rest.

Chief...I canít wait until we see each other again. Until then, please take care of yourself. No matter where I am, or how I amÖno matter whatÖIíll do my best to look out for you.