Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex Fan Fiction ❯ Waiting ❯ Waiting ( Chapter 1 )

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The plan was mapped out, every detail discussed and agreed upon. The only thing left was to wait.

She lay on the bed, head hanging off the side, staring at the featureless ceiling. She liked this apartment. It was one in a long string of places, abandoned after months or weeks. She was hardly ever here. Only now, gazing at the blank, white ceiling, did she realize she would miss it.

A flicker of movement snagged her attention. Batou had been at the window all night. She'd explained the plan- what he needed to know- hours before. Since then he'd stood in the same spot, staring without expression at the smoldering remains of their headquarters thrust into the night sky like a broken lance. Every quarter hour he stepped away from the window, beyond the abrupt blinding light of the sentry helicopter.

Batou. At her meeting with Aramaki they'd both avoided mentioning him until the end. The others could be kept out of the way, arrested and locked up for a few days- or, in Togusa's case, arrested and sent home.

"They'll believe the information we feed them, more or less." Aramaki's forehead creased as he unraveled the scheme in his head for the hundredth time. "The only problem I foresee is-"

"Batou." She'd interrupted him. "I can't imagine the disaster if they tried to drag him off to prison."

Aramaki's lips quirked as if the image amused him. "I hate to say this, Major, but he has to be broken. He won't stop fighting until he has nothing left to fight for."

She'd guessed then what he was going to propose, but she waited for him to say it.

"He has to see you die."

"I know."

The silver watch on her wrist felt very heavy. Damn it! He didn't deserve this. None of them did. Her men- her loyal, hardworking men. And here she was, deceiving them. She was doing it to save them. She was securing a future for the unit they'd built together. It was true. And they were all safe now. Even Batou was safe, if not whole.

Then why did she feel sick?

Batou glanced at her, unsmiling. The faint light from the window painted the angles of his face with whitish-yellow light. She gazed back, suddenly transfixed by the play of light and shadow over his skin. Batou's forehead wrinkled in concern. His lips parted as if he might speak. Then he seemed to think better of it. He turned back to the window.

A few hours before, she'd thought he was going to kiss her.

It had taken her only an instant to realize what he was doing- pushing her gently away from the blinding beam of the relentless patrol helicopter. The confusion had descended a moment later. They stood close, so tense the air between them trembled. The bitter smell of cigarette smoke, the faint tang of exposed metal. His chest rose an fell evenly. If she moved her hand just a little she would touch him, the skin stretched taut over the muscles of his chest, warm but with a stream of coolness running just below her fingertips. No heartbeat, just the barely-felt vibration of the complex, delicate machinery that kept them both alive.

Batou shifted his weight at the same time she tilted her head back to look at him. A sudden thought struck her. His feelings concerning her were no secret; she would have to be blind and deaf not to notice. What if he took these moments of forced intimacy as an opportunity to express them? They were in the perfect position for an embrace. Or perhaps he would try to kiss her? Would she push him away? Or lean into him, wrap her arms around his waist, kiss him back? She didn't know. She couldn't know what she would do until she felt his lips on hers. Not knowing what to do frightened her.

Major Motoko Kusanagi hated being afraid.

Her body reacted to the chaos in her mind, and she began to tremble, just a little. The helicopter had long since passed. Perhaps Batou sensed her confusion, because he drew away, fumbling awkwardly in his pocket for her watch. The metal band was warm where he'd touched it. Such a silly trinket, to nearly get himself killed over. Yet she couldn't deny she was grateful. She hadn't thanked him. There didn't seem to be a need, just as there had never been a need when he held doors for her or pulled out a chair. That stubborn, archaic chivalry was his choice. She had no part in it.

She sighed and climbed off the bed. She felt that she should stretch, to banish the muscular stiffness that came with lying down for a long time. But there was no stiffness, so she didn't stretch. She crossed the distance between them swiftly. Batou was lost in his own thoughts; he only looked up when she was beside him.

She touched the watch. "Thank you."

If he was surprised he didn't show it. "You're welcome."

She sighed and leaned her head against his shoulder, barely touching him. He tensed, the fingers of his remaining hand flexing automatically. But he he made no move, and after a moment he relaxed, accepting this sudden gesture of affection with perfect calm. He didn't understand her, she thought. He didn't understand, but he wanted to, and that was good enough. A wave of guilt nearly choked her. She swallowed hard.

Tomorrow was going to be worst day of his life.

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