Full Metal Panic! - Volume 6 - Chapter Ep

The withdrawal operation went smoothly. 
Mao’s team carried out any equipment hidden in the vault room they could get their hands on, then loaded up on a helicopter and withdrew. Clouseau’s team, after apologizing politely to the passengers and crew, hurriedly left the boat behind. They had proposed to take the security personnel influenced by Harris into custody, but they took the bold step by not doing so. The security personnel knew little concerning the Amalgam organization. 
The Pacific Chrysalis was taken into the protective custody of the Coast Guard before daybreak on December 25th, and entered Yokohama Port early that morning. The Jindai High School students were impudent, facing the cameras of the journalists and reporters and giving them the peace sign, disgusting those in the school who had good sense. 
The only critically wounded person, Commander Killy B. Sailor, survived due to the “terrorists’ swift medical care”, and was a favorite child of the media. Those involved were bewildered by his claim of, “It wasn’t the terrorists. I was shot by the Captain!”, but wrote it off as an “accidental shooting”. 
Commander Sailor, though, without being convinced, tried to tell the reporters about the mysterious maid he met as well as the other events, but the Navy’s upper stratum ordered him to stop. 
Don’t think about it. Just tell them “I did my best”. Just accept this and be a hero. Sailor wanted to challenge it. However, when they dangled a “promotion” from his more-important- than-life assignment as the Captain of a ship to a desk job in the Pentagon, he had to keep his mouth shut. 
The incident remained strongly in his heart. 
The matter with Captain Harris was a disgrace. After being shocked by the “accidental shooting”, he left alone on a boat. He then got lost, and his whereabouts remain unknown. After Sousuke and Tessa were picked up by the friendly helicopter, they were carried to the Tuatha de Danaan. He didn’t get the chance to return to the passenger ship and talk to Kaname. 
Two days later, the unit held its delayed Christmas party, while at the same time celebrating Tessa’s birthday. She wasn’t expecting it at all, a so-called “surprise party”. 
Mardukas, who was sullenly wearing a pixie-hat and pince-nez glasses, gave her a bouquet of flowers; Kalinin, who arrived late from Sydney, gave her a red brooch saying, “This is from an acquaintance of mine”. Mao handed her some Dior lipstick, saying, “You’ll become a great woman. Cheer up.” 
Tessa was extremely overjoyed by what her subordinates had done for her, but- of course, she was a little sad. 
It was three days after Christmas before Sousuke had settled the details, drawn up his report, attended the party, and finally returned to Tokyo. 
There was a special attendance day on the morning of the 28th. Naturally, the classroom conversation was about the sea jacking incident. 
Because there were some students in the class who had not gone on the trip, those who had weren’t lacking for things to tell them. 
The newspapers were only moderately interested in it, probably because no one had died. It seemed that on the same day, some American cabinet ministers were killed by a terrorist bomb- and that story was far more interesting. This made the Jindai students extremely unhappy. 
Their homeroom teacher, Eri Kagurazaka, told everyone in her class, “Okay, well! I don’t know what kind of star we’re under that we’ve yet again been involved in such a dangerous situation, but the important thing is that everyone’s okay! But, if by some million-to-one chance there’s a third incident, please make sure to stop giving peace signs to the press! Everyone understand!?” 
“Yeees,” the students answered obediently. 
“Okay, then. Well, have a good year!” 
Homeroom had lasted barely ten minutes. Students complaining, “Don’t call us out if this is all you want” busily started on their way home. 
Kaname had some miscellaneous matters to attend to and temporarily left the classroom. 
She returned ten minutes later after she had taken care of business. Her classmates were already gone. 
All except one: Sousuke. 
He was leaning against the wall near the window. It looked like he had been waiting for her to come back. 
“Have you finished?” he asked in a somewhat rigid voice. 
“Yeah. And you?” 
“I’m free for now. But... do you remember what I said to you on the ship?” 
“Uh... y-yeah.” 
This was the first time the two of them had been alone since they parted on the Pacific Chrysalis. All he had said was “I have something to tell you when this is over”. 
Kaname felt uncomfortable. 
“Y... you said, you wanted to tell me something?” 
“Yeah. I...” Sousuke stammered. “How can I say this? What I wanted to tell you is... well...” 
Hanging his head, he nervously looked here and there. He wiped his brow and sighed deeply. His cheeks looked red. 
“I give up. More than one day passes, and I lose my nerve...” he muttered to himself. 
“What are you talking about...?” 
“No, sorry... anyway, since there were all sorts of problems earlier, I missed the right time, but... this is for you,” he said, forcibly changing the subject. He reached into his collar pocket and pulled out a raw gem. 
It was a rounded, smooth elliptical shape, and colored the deep blue of the ocean. 
It had the deep impression that it had enclosed the tide’s currents, or a dark whirlpool. 
“What’s this?” 
“Lapis Lazuli,” Sousuke replied. “It’s something I picked up during my time in Afghanistan. If it’s alright with you, I’d like you to have it.” 
She stuttered, “Th-thank you. But... you recently gave me a Christmas present-” 
“No. This is a birthday present.” 
“I had planned to do this. From the beginning, I’ve... how should I say this... felt that it would suit you.” 
That was probably the utmost of his courage. He hesitantly took her hand, and laid the jewel on her palm. 
“I know it’s late, but happy birthday.” 
The coldness of the stone, along with the warmth of his hand, became a contrast beyond compare. 
“And... Merry Christmas.” 
“Um hmm.” 
She couldn’t help but feel strange, looking at his overexerted appearance. 
“Thank you. It’s a little late, but a very Merry Christmas to you, too!” 
The End 

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