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02 July 2011 @ 02:26 am
Fun with fraternization*  

*I am the king of tasteful subject lines. KING OF THEM. Also, the term "fraternization" cracks me up because it's so inappropriate for what it's often used to denote - why did I use it again? Oh, right, because it's ironic.

It's showtime! After all I've been through with this fic, I can finally say that I am pleased. I've been working on it on-and-off since February, finally declared it done and up for revisions last month, but even after that it's kept growing and basically having a life of its own. Now I'm feeling both accomplished and sad it's over.

It's yet another take on my Big Boss/Zero backstory because, yeah, I need several. This one doesn't go as far pre-canon as my previous take on it; it starts shortly before MGS3 and continues during its timeline, but it's still an established relationship from the start. Not sure why that's my default mode of writing them, though it might just be because it's how their interaction comes across in the game ("We go back a long ways, but I just realized I never asked you why you're called Zero..."). I also seem to have a fetish for writing fic where I can't call BB anything but Jack most of the time (I think "John" as an address is more Ocelot's thing, not Zero's), but at least I got to use Snake in this one eventually.

And I have a lot of feelings, so bear with me.

First off, this fic is a monster. When I came up with the scenario, I just wanted to have something dealing with the dubious morality of shagging a member of your super special team you're about to send on a mission he doesn't even know in detail yet by having him do the first ever HALO jump. Somehow, this tied in with the idea that Zero would like BB to be his complete equal, but the circumstances make that difficult in practice. I got caught up in the various meta aspects, got Zero talking in the back of my head demanding I let him have his point of view in the story too, used the various little scenarios I had lying around (including one that started as a request, incidentally), decided that I really had to troll the military because that's what MGS does, did some other things that show better from reading it, and whatever porn I might've planned became more like a frame of reference. Apparently context porn is where it's at for me. Context is hot. So is subtext. In a way, I went for slice-of-life realism with the two of them too, even if none of the POVs used is completely "objective" and let's not lie, it's about the characters more than anything.

In case that wasn't tl;dr enough, the unifying principle is that this is all backstory to a single conversation they have in the game, right after BB's nightmare. (It's here starting at 4:03.) It's perfect enough to inspire fics.

Let me tell you, LJ, I have such a thing for these characters. Zero in particular is fun to write because there's enough of him in canon for personality to shine through, but not enough to result in some static idea of what he's like, let alone what he's like behind the scenes. Or what cheesy music he might listen to, haha. That's not to say there shouldn't be a degree of consistency, but at the same time, the wiggle room is obviously nice. And I will shut up now. Enjoy, if you can.

Title: Mission Control
Pairing: Big Boss/Zero (for ease of naming in the summary as he's not BB here yet)
Rating: NSFW
Word Count: ~3,000
Summary: Days before the Virtuous Mission, time to enjoy small luxuries like intimacy is running short.
Warning(s): Brief references to injuries/torture once the time has run out.
Notes: Dude, haven't you rambled enough? I'd just like to thank cherrytruck and athenemiranda for repeatedly enduring my rants while I was writing this, as well as certain Pchat people for random pieces of encouragement. <3 On another note, the conversation partly quoted in the last section of the fic is directly lifted from MGS3 (check the video linked above for the whole thing).
Disclaimer/Credits: MGS belongs to Hideo Kojima & Konami; the song referenced is this 1930s version of "Dream a Little Dream of Me" and won't get me any profit either.


Mission Control


Everything about Major Zero's bedroom was neat: the files set aside on the desk; the sparse but elegant furniture; even the remainder of the evening's refreshments seemed to fit seamlessly into the scene, empty cups and dishes swept into the corner of the desk otherwise occupied. The only concession to chaos was the heap of discarded clothes, a worn leather jacket its most striking component. Atop one of the cabinets by the wall stood a gramophone, playing a tune from decades past that implored anyone who would listen to “dream a little dream of me”.

Had Jack fancied himself smart just then, he would have innocently asked if nostalgia could make a man feel younger—but when you were on your knees and craving touch more with each passing second, you thought twice about taunting the one you were hoping to get it from. The bed creaked as the two figures on it moved, the intrusive sound concealed somewhat by the music.

Zero had observed Jack while the latter undressed, only to quit the task midway and climb onto the bed. Half-naked, he looked inviting and supremely careless. He was twenty-nine; not the cliché youthful ideal some would suppose at all, but to Zero he was only starting to get most interesting. Better yet for the moment that he was interested, as his hand completed its descent to the older man's crotch. Zero would have tried to shove him away—this was supposed to be embarrassing—but it was the thought that counted, wasn't it? That, and a bit more time.

“No one's keeping tabs here.” Jack's voice was that strange mix of exasperation and respect it would always assume just before they did anything. Perhaps it was the unconventional fact of sleeping with a superior. Zero had never slept with a superior, nor did he intend to start now; none of the dignitaries he still answered to made as pleasant a company as Jack on the best of days, which spoke volumes of the system. But, instead of dwelling on that further, he grabbed the younger man by the back of his head to draw him into a kiss, demanding, hoping it was confirmation enough.

None of them came out unscathed and Jack's body itself was a testament to that, marred with scars of varying shape and intensity. Zero traced one that curved over his hipbone and trailed off below the waistband of his jeans; the touch made Jack shiver and he kissed harder, while Zero set out to dispose of everything there was in the way. The jeans were only bunched up around Jack's knees when he lay half beside, half over Zero's body and pinned his hands to the headboard, the challenge playful and plain.

Scars meant nothing next to a clear face. It showed that, even now, Jack didn't suffer from nightmares every time he slept.

They turned over in the sheets, their contact somewhere on the boundary between passionate fondling and languid wrestling where either option was equally probable, but the fabric still binding Jack's ankles was quickly becoming more trouble than it was worth. “Just a moment,” Zero said, planting his palm in the centre of the other's chest, gently immobilizing. As soon as he had pried the offending garment off for good, Jack opened his thighs gratefully and pulled him back down, into another kiss, moulding together everything else too. It was a pleasure to see how single-minded arousal made him, concentration wound tight almost to the point of what he showed in combat.

Properly naked now, his body felt oddly snakelike. Not because he'd try to wriggle away, but his skin slipped in Zero's arms even as their lips met again, the kiss sloppy and entirely unlike what either of them was supposed to be. What they
were, only not in a situation that stole one's breath and hacked at the precious chain of command until there was nothing left of the links except wanting. Their legs meshed like a jigsaw—if it was usual for jigsaws to slide in and out of place slick with sweat, that is. Jack's face was a near-perfect profile relief as he pressed his cheek to the pillow, letting out intermittent little gasps, grinding against him with abandon that bordered on uncanny.

A remark about the impatience of youth would have been apt, but that wasn't how either of them liked to play it, even if the truth of it could hardly be disputed half the time. But then again, Zero thought, what use in teasing a man who was making you feel better than you had believed possible, at this point? Zero had never been one to indulge. He was now. And he wasn't that old yet. There was so much to savour in this alignment: threading his fingers through Jack's hair, the hot exhales right after they kissed, the criss-cross of the scars that made Jack's skin feel like a badly repaired vessel held together by sheer force of will. Or technology, but Zero pushed that thought aside.

Jack's hand had begun to stroke him again, with purpose this time, and it was the closest Zero had come to dismissing reason in a long, long while. The enthusiasm Jack was treating him with was infectious, but at the same time, rushing this would be a disgrace.

Apart from that, he didn't intend to dictate the proceedings and was more than happy when Jack seized the opportunity to do so, taking Zero's wrist and bringing his fingers to his mouth. His tongue curled around one, two of them; he gave them the frantic attention of someone who wouldn't wait longer than absolutely necessary to get his way, making his intent tonight blatantly obvious.

That was a good job, too, because Jack never asked for these things out loud.

Breaking apart for a few moments, Zero put on the gramophone and rummaged in the drawer.


Some time in consequence, all Jack wanted was to crash and burn. His hands clenched on the pillow as he braced himself for the onslaught that never came; instead, Zero eased inside him as though they had all the time in the world and could only be expected to use it up. A hand alighted on Jack's chest, teasing a nipple before moving to trace an invisible string downwards, across his abdomen and lower from there, stopping just short of where it would have counted. The moan was out of his throat before he had a chance to choke it down.

It wasn't like he had no experience. For want of a diversion, he had fooled around with a few of his peers—and more than just fooled with one of them—but he couldn't recall those clumsy favours between comrades ever making him so frustrated. Some of his short-lived partners had been older than him, too, though not by much. They probably wouldn't have been able to deny themselves in the first place, let alone invent elaborate schemes to delay gratification for him.

With Zero, this was different. Even, measured. Leaving Jack to scramble for control he no longer had, to learn “patience”.

Should he beg? No, that'd be pathetic; maybe he was desperate but he had to save some dignity—oh damn that felt good, keep doing that...

Zero murmured back something that might have been affirmation, but in the end just sounded amused. What the hell, Jack thought, he better not have said any of that out loud. He gave a rough sigh as Zero's hips drew back, again, the slowness of it agonizing more than anything; how much longer was he supposed to stand this? How long—it didn't matter when the next thrust shook him down to his bones, just like (better than) he had wanted it this entire damn time. Finally. Finally, his mind repeated in a daze, finally, the friction and the heat, finally the angle was just right, finally, finally...

And it didn't matter how long it had taken after that, with a familiar firm hand clasping over his cock, no restrictions now, he could let go. Had to, was invited to. He embraced the sensation and surrendered to it like he never could, never would to an enemy.

He thought he heard his own name moaned, quiet, but he could have imagined it.

The music had stopped. Jack couldn't even say when for sure, but must have been a while. The afterglow was like white noise. He noticed through his sensory haze that he was being clutched to Zero's chest, close enough for it to feel like shelter. Huh. He didn't need coddling. Wasn't he the best they had to offer in FOX?

Carefully, he made to disentangle himself after a minute or two, finding Zero had enough sense to let him go; he flopped onto his back to stare at the ceiling and beyond. His breathing was still ragged, but controlled at this point. In, out. Easy. From the corner of his eye, he saw that Zero had sat up to take off the used condom, dropping it to the floor to be cleaned away later.

“'S not like you,” Jack observed, attitude suitably lackadaisical, “making a mess.”

Zero just shook his head, settling down beside him like it was the most ordinary thing in the world for the two of them to do, lying together naked behind the scenes. “You've never been tired?”

A question so rhetorical it was sickening: it wasn't exhaustion that was ever remarkable, only the opportunity to indulge it. Jack turned his head so that he could look at his commander in that rare dishevelled state he hadn't been privy to until fairly recently. Unguarded. What struck him was the hair, grey strands not neatly slicked back for once, but matted and falling in front of Zero's face. That, at least, no one else on the job got to see.


“What was it you called me earlier, plunker or...?”

It had been an unexpected and bizarre scene, not only because it was so uncommon for Zero to resort to bad language—if the word even qualified for that, because Jack sure as hell hadn't heard that insult in his life. Well, he hadn't until tonight, and all because he'd expressed disdain at being offered tea earlier in the evening instead of some decent non-ration coffee at long last. To his relief, it turned out Zero had some at his place, though how long it had been sitting neglected in the pantry was better left unmentioned. He'd take it over rations.

Either way, Zero must have found it funny too, what with his laughter just having interrupted the question. For someone who wasn't likely to burst out laughing without some significant provocation, that bordered on alarming. “You mean plonker? It's nothing, really, never mind.”

Jack didn't trust these nothings, and since his opinion mattered for a change, he pursued it. “Why say it then? Come on. It has to mean something.”

“All right,” Zero's voice assumed the businesslike quality Jack was more used to hearing in settings of authority than during the times they were actively turning officialdom on its head, “the word plonker has been a constant in English slang since at least the first quarter of the century. In 1949, it was recorded in A Dictionary of—

“Major, that's not what I meant!” Jack groaned. It was the first address that had come to mind, and it was only the short silence afterwards warning him that, for the first time tonight, a line had been crossed somewhere.

So, relatively speaking, it's nothing to get excited about. And what did I give you my name for?”

It was hard to decide if he should apologize or not; in the end, Jack took the path of explanation with a dash of regret on the side. “Sorry, I...it doesn't seem sensible to drop it altogether.” Just imagine the trouble you'd be in, he wanted to say; he couldn't begin to contemplate what would happen to him if the brass got wind of this. He didn't doubt that Zero—David, was it really so hard to remember they had names?—would pull any and all strings to soften the impact, but that scenario was the last thing Jack wanted to be the cause of. Besides, how would you even pull strings like that if you already were, what was the word again, discredited—

“Of course we cannot drop it. The in and out of uniform rule would apply.”

Stated so bluntly, that helped. Jack couldn't resist a chuckle, nuzzling to the warm expanse of skin under the covers. There was little doubt as to where the current situation fell—and that it'd stay that way, however many blunders he made here.

They dozed for some time, both too wrapped up in this rare inaction to disturb it, but neither ready to fall asleep quite yet. The muted lamplight painted the room, seemed to flicker along the drawn curtains like a candle would. It made the outside world, late summer 1964, easy to forget.

Zero sighed, stretching towards the bedside table to switch it off. The instant before the light went out, the lines in his face were so noticeable that it caught Jack off guard, and he wished for a second that he could turn the lamp back on without looking like a complete moron, just to make sure Zero wasn't as weary as all that.

“We'd better not get too used to our comforts, that's for certain,” came the deceptively calm voice in his ear.

“You mean the mission?” The plan dictated that they leave in a week, and although Jack had been informed that there was an operation looming, that was about the extent of his understanding of the matter. When he tried asking, Zero would have none of it.

“I will give you the briefing as usual.”

“But now would be—”

“What's that, are you really so eager to be out there with a knife again?”

Well, that was a new one. Zero was the last person to show sympathy for laziness, and Jack would likely have stared at him had there still been light. “You're the one who keeps saying the battlefield's never too far away.”

“A week from now on is not far.”

“Patience, right,” Jack muttered under his breath. It was heard anyway, and so refreshing that he didn't need to stifle his voice or mask his words.

After all, the real point of exchanges like these always lay in their silences. They had the moment, but who knew if there would be another? Jack made a mental note to stick with some harmless pillow talk if—or, as he hoped, when—that next time came.

*


Nightmares.

Realistic ones were bad all right, but what did reality mean when he was locked up in a prison cell, his entire system an overwrought conduit for pain and electricity, his mind a near-palpable mess as consciousness returned, ripping him from the landscape and the strange body he'd inhabited even as one last time he tore the encroaching monsters into shreds, vision tinted red—

Was it a dream?

It had been a reflex far more than a deliberate decision, reporting to base after an unforeseeable event, albeit not a strictly real one. The line was secure and working, even after all that—don't go there, Snake; focus. The frequency 140.85 was answered almost instantly.

“Major...what year is this?”

Best conversation-starters of the decade, volume one. It was like he was trying to provoke Zero into a lecture of some sort, though how getting mocked about this was gonna help he couldn't for the life of him tell.

“It's 1964. You're in a cell in Groznyj Grad. What did they do, Snake, make you drink an entire keg of vodka?”

Between the codename and the tinny echo of the receiver, only Zero's trademark sarcasm sounded genuine. Funny to think that was what anchored him to reality now, but with a broken body and his eyesight suddenly alien, it was no surprise that he clung to sound.

Snake—you are not to mention your real name—could tell that Zero was trying to be reassuring; that alone was a serious thing. He shouldn't have been able to notice this, for one. Then again, nothing was in its usual place here; not even his uniform, if he could still call these battered fatigues that. No clear-cut distinctions to use as guidelines, but only shades of grey. Grey was all it was going to be from here on out, most likely. It hurt to think about.

So he pretended to hear that voice elsewhere (anywhere else would do), first memory come, first served: arms wrapped around him as if to keep his heart from hammering out of his chest. As sweaty then as he was now, just not disgusting-cold. Static. Sanctuary.

He didn't mean to need that, goddammit.

Fast-forward to the moment. Why on earth were they talking about 98-proof vodka?

Why on earth was it helping?

“Snake, are you okay? You're not going loony on me, are you?”

“Not at all. I'll make it back no matter how much of that sulphuric acid they make me drink.”

It was always something like that, keeping him in his right mind on this mission gone haywire. He would never have guessed he'd appreciate Zero's talk of James Bond or afternoon tea, but they all combined in a welcome diversion regardless of the annoyance Snake made sure to display whenever these topics came up. Between himself and Major Don't-Name-Names, they spent more time bickering over the radio than they had in bed now that words were all they had to go on. Of course, no one suspected a thing. It was just not done, what they did, and if someone did have the gall then it better be kept in silence.

“Good show! I'm sure you'll find a way out of there.”

Sound. Always a presence between them; steady, reliable. Just as he was about to cut the connection, Jack remembered the song.

“Yeah. Dream a little dream of your own while you wait for word from me.”

If a person could ever hear a smile, this was it.

 
 
Current Music: 'Pillow Talk' - MGS3 Soundtrack
 
 
 
Cherry: Big Boss Naked Camocherrytruck on July 2nd, 2011 10:57 am (UTC)
D'AWWW this was so cute, I miss reading your fluff about BBZero and I'm so glad you finished this after working on it on Februrary. Has it been so long already? I can't believe so much time has passed since then!

Anyway, onto the fic...nice intimate opening there, just exactly what I anticipated after you showed me all those previews. >B) also very in-character for Zero to be using protection unlike SOME other characters who get it on with Snake xD I like the tiny bit of OOC you gave to Zero afterwards, but hey, isn't that what being in a scene of hotness does to you >B)

ASJKHDFKHG YOU INCLUDED THE PLONKER THING AND the thing about being offered coffee instead of tea and the whole explaining the history of the slang, DID YOU MAKE THIS PART META ON PURPOSE? XD Either way this made me laugh a lot and I absolutely love it! ;3;

TURNING AN INNOCENT CANON SCENE GAY ARE WE :| But it was very sweet and nicely done and now when it comes to playing MGS3 in HD I'll be thinking of this, SO I HOPE YOU'RE HAPPY XD
See you later, instigator: Big Boss/Zero - drunk nightoudeteron on July 2nd, 2011 12:05 pm (UTC)
I can't get over the fact that I keep writing what amounts to fluff about them, but I suppose that's why I have the whole pre-MGS3 obsession. One day I'll go back to the depressing, maybe. XD And I don't know where all that time went either, but that you missed my BB/Zero fic of all things is very flattering to hear. <3

Heh, there would've been no fun in writing exposition for this fic without making it some sort of intimate scene-setter. >B) HAHAHA YES, but honestly I like to mention it in fics from time to time, when it doesn't break the flow. I mostly thought it worked here because I was going for realistic anyway; also to challenge the assumption I sometimes see in fandom that being realistic is inherently unsexy. I don't see the unsexy in minimizing the resultant mess, LULZ. And yeah, Zero deserves at least one moment of not being precise... >B)

FUN FACT, THE PLONKER THING WAS THE BIT I WROTE FIRST. The tea/coffee and trolly factual tl;dr at times BB isn't interested in hearing it were obligatory canon injokes (oh Zero and his useless knowledge), so in short, EVERYTHING HERE WAS ON PURPOSE. I could make "director's cut"-style commentary about all the purposefulness I've exploited in this, but I doubt anyone would want to sit through that. XD Glad to have made you laugh <3

HARDLY INNOCENT IF IT INSPIRED ALL THIS :| (don't worry, I get the joke!) and I'm convinced now that was a song lyric on purpose if they've even managed to quote "Space Oddity" that hadn't been recorded until several years later in the game. I don't even, Kojima. This is all your brilliant doing.

Thank you for this comment! I'm really happy you enjoyed it and if you're actually gonna recall it later, my job here is done. XD
...Oh hell, you did not just remind me there's going to be MGS3 in HD. brb jizzing AT THE VERY IDEA AAA
missmonkeh on July 2nd, 2011 05:51 pm (UTC)
THIS MADE A BAD WEEK TEN TIMES BETTER
and my icon seems very appropriate right now XD

Okay, where to start? You had me from the first paragraph, really; the gramaphone, the compulsive tidiness and the almost dreamlike sequence that follows. I love BB's character, he's got this endearing almost-awkwardness that marks him out as being younger, which contrasts beautifully with his stoicism later on. Meanwhile, Zero seems to remain the same throughout. Masterful contrast <3
See you later, instigator: Zero - teaoudeteron on July 2nd, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
THAT'S AWESOME TO HEAR
/uses coordinated tea icon

I'm glad the exposition-y part was that catchy - I'm not a fan of exposition for its own sake, so I tried to use it to establish the preliminaries. (Zero's compulsive neatness, apart from making sense in canon re: The System, was also influenced by one time Che and I looked up the Chinese zodiac for MGS characters and Zero's fit eerily well. The emphasis on organization was in there too.) I like that you described the Zero-POV sequence as almost "dreamlike", since I wanted to show how infatuated he actually is with BB under it all (and given that his behaviour is so reserved all the time, the best way to get it across clearly was to tackle it from his perspective).

As for BB's awkwardness, it certainly amuses me to play up the age difference a bit - not to overshadow the rest of their dynamic, but just to show it's there. And I see BB as a lot less adjusted to human interaction that isn't about fighting than Zero is. Not to say he's totally socially inept, but he just doesn't have a chance in hell of outperforming Zero at that kind of thing. TL;DR: glad to know the contrast worked for you <3
missmonkeh on July 3rd, 2011 10:22 am (UTC)
Re: THAT'S AWESOME TO HEAR
Exposition is tough to get right. My personal preference is that there should be only enough to give us what is absolutely necessary, and in this case, that worked just fine; snippets of detail that set out who Zero is, and why what follows might seem unusual within that context.

I like that you address the age difference. It makes sense that BB would act differently around someone so obviously his senior, both in terms of age and professionally. BB isn't socially inept, but he's hardly your standard extrovert, and by contrast Zero seems like the master conversationalist.

That zodiac thing is uncanny, by the way XD
See you later, instigator: Tea - transparencyoudeteron on July 5th, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC)
I'm the same way! Or, to put it generally, exposition works but needs to be interspersed with something of interest to hold my attention. Which is more or less the approach I took here, so I'm glad you think I've pulled it off.

Agreed. And also, just look at their jobs: Zero's always in some position of leadership and/or diplomacy (I imagine the last time he would've done dirty work was during WWII; then it's likely he was more in charge and hey, the scar wouldn't make blending in exactly easy). On the other hand, BB only seems to have done unpleasant covert ops by this point (when he wasn't training with The Boss or getting test-nuked). So I'd be very surprised if he were as well equipped for talking and being universally confident as Zero. Which just goes back to the part where they're on unequal ground despite being so close, isn't that ironic...

That was my reaction to it too. XD
missmonkeh on July 2nd, 2011 05:51 pm (UTC)
ALSO, PLONKER. XD
See you later, instigator: Caution Sparta (by: SOURCE WANTED)oudeteron on July 2nd, 2011 07:43 pm (UTC)
SPOILER: I wrote that bit first. Make of that what you will.
pudding: keyboardmash zeroikipud on July 5th, 2011 02:22 pm (UTC)
(Okay so it's taken me a while to comment >> YOU SAW NOTHING)

I really loved this <3 Being a music geek, I liked how the start and end link like exposition and recapitulation in sonata form which I suppose fits with the music referenced at the start and end. You already know I make weird connections sometimes haha.

Their pillow talk was adorable - you write their characters so well <3
See you later, instigator: Kaz Miller - shadesoudeteron on July 5th, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC)
(WHAT WAS I SUPPOSED TO SEE AGAIN)

Thank you~ The connection with music you've made isn't out of left field at all; I totally use some music-style approaches in writing and the notion of flow/coming full circle is among them. In this fic, it was all on purpose, so actually I'm glad you noticed!

And thanks again - they're incredibly fun to write. <3
Thene: jackathenemiranda on July 14th, 2011 03:12 pm (UTC)
/has read all of this, finally XD

I agree that the sex is dreamlike (ngl, I got bogged down in it on my first couple of reads) - it's intimate, they're negotiating their differences, and it does come across as very patient. The music is a sweet touch and I like that you brought it back again at the end - it allows the whole fic to meander around while keeping its mood and remaining cohesive. That mood really does run all through it; the negotiating over names is part of it, I think; it's uncertain, BUT IT CARES.
See you later, instigator: Big Boss/Zerooudeteron on July 14th, 2011 04:41 pm (UTC)
My heartfelt thanks <3

Haha, I hope it wasn't derailing too much because that italicized sequence originally wasn't even meant to be there; it was the result of Zero wanting some spotlight on his precious feelings and I couldn't figure out a way to do it without singling out the whole passage (given that I was already writing in third person limited for BB) while not even attempting to hide that he's in over his head. Mindfuck porn > regular porn. XD (Also he's being kind of a hypocrite to Jack since he's clearly thinking of himself as Zero at this point. Whoops.)

Anyway, I'm glad the rest of it worked for you, especially my little "keeping it together" strategy with the music/coming full circle, and the mood. And yes, I wanted to show that they care, even though they should probably be negotiating A HELL OF A LOT MORE. XD