This isn't the right time...
Gregory P. Wong
Chapter 1: Dreamers
"Damn..." Nouhime Oda heard her husband mutter.
"What is it?" she asked, sidling up closer to her husband, sitting in front of a computer.
"Their CEO is still opposing the merger," Nobunaga growled, pointing at the offending email. "Why can't he see that there's no future for his company? The only way his company can avoid bankruptcy is to merge with ours!"
He was getting tense again. She could sense it.
"Nobunaga Oda, it's nearly midnight," she scolded, rubbing his shoulders. "It's a three-day weekend for you. Work on it later. You have plenty of time."
"This is too important..."
She sighed. "More important than me?"
Her husband didn't answer for several moments. "Perhaps. I-"
He stopped when her nightgown landed over his face. He pulled it off, and stared straight into her eyes with his gray ones. She smiled as his eyes flicked down to look at her other... aspects.
"Noh, how will I ever get any work done with you around?" her husband sighed.
"Easily. I'm just keeping you from working to death," she retorted, running her hands over his beard.
He shrugged. "I guess it can wait..." With a couple button taps, the computer deactivated.
As she padded back to their bedroom, she reminisced over their last several years together.
Their marriage had been a rocky on, in the beginning. But, several years ago, they had come to an understanding, and she thought she had one of the most stable marriages she had ever seen.
In their mid-thirties, she thought they made a beautiful couple.
She opened their bedroom door, entered, and heard Nobunaga enter after her.
She didn't worry about their marriage's stability at that point.
Liu Bei watched from the deck as his wife gracefully dove into the water of the competition sized swimming pool. Sun Shang Xiang powered gracefully through the water, and he caught a glimpse of her athletic body as she pulled a flip turn on the opposite side. As she came back towards his side of the pool, he slid into the water, and apologized as he accidentally bumped into an obese man floating on his back.
California... home of the sunny skies and overcrowded swimming pools.
He powered after his wife, and caught up with her at the halfway marker.
"Yeah?" his wife asked a she smoothed the wet hair out of her eyes. Her boyishly short brown hair looked really nice with her green eyes and red one-piece.
"Nothing. I just wanted to catch up with you. The water looked so good I decided to join."
Shang cocked an eyebrow. "Are you sure? I could have sworn you were checking out the other women..."
He mussed her hair. "Why would I do that? You're more than enough woman for me..."
"Bei, when will you learn that flattery will get you nowhere?" his wife asked jokingly.
He was about to reply, equally jokingly, that it had got her married to him, but Shang leaped forward and tackled him.
"Hey!" he yelped before he went under.
After a few moments of scuffling, his larger form allowed him to pin his wife's arms.
Giggling, his wife slipped out of his grip and tripped him underwater.
As he went down again, he thrashed and probably splashed a lifeguard because he heard "Hey! Quit the roughhousing!"
Grinning, his wife surfaced and stuck her tongue out at him playfully.
Right before he was going to lunge after her, a long whistle blew. The pool was closing.
He swam over to the side and climbed out. He looked behind him, and noticed that Shang wasn't in the water.
"What took you?" he heard a voice behind him say.
He just spun around and saw his wife grinning at him.
Giving a huge laugh, his wife started off towards the women's locker room.
Moments later they were heading towards their car.
Fun day, he thought as he started up the car.
Ten minutes later, they were home again.
/Smack smack smack/.
Meng Huo laid another series of powerful hits to the punching bag as it rocked back and forth.
"Ready?" his wife asked from behind him.
"Naw...Gimme a few more swings"
He heard Zhu Rong sigh.
He stopped the swinging bag and looked back.
His wife was the epitome of a kickass beauty. Nicely tanned flesh, silky blond hair-bleached, of course-and arms, abs, and legs that told she worked out quite a bit. She was pretty good-looking, and had enticing green eyes.
And she had a nice rack. Which she insisted on displaying with low-cut tops. Maybe that's why she worked out so much: to keep the drooling boys at bay.
He leaned to the husky side, but the flab was mostly gone. He was still wide, but muscled wide, not fat wide. He had biceps bigger than the average man's thighs.
He was okay-looking, he supposed, but not I'm-gonna-giggle-over-him good-looking. But he had really wild, curly hair that must have some chick-magnet value.
"Hello?" He heard his wife say impatiently.
Damn, must've daydreamed.
"Oh, yeah. Let's go."
They had been invited to some grand opening of the new gym. So, being one of the best weight-training coaches out there, he had been invited.
He ambled out of the gym and took a quick shower. After getting dressed in slacks and a jacket, he sauntered past his wife, who was wearing a low-cut-big surprise- knee length cocktail dress. While she was applying makeup, he waited at the bedroom door
Rong came out of the bedroom, looking like a diva.
Grinning, he held out an elbow. "Shall we go now?"
Rong laughed. "Lead the way, Mr. Hulk," she said as she hooked her arm through his.
They walked towards the front door.
"Keiji! Could you help me with this?" Okuni Maeda called as she tried to reach a high-up piece of glassware in the cupboard.
Her husband stopped his task of meat-tenderizing and ambled over to her. He reached up and snagged the pitcher.
"Here ya go." Keiji said, handing the pitcher to her.
"For you baby, the world."
She giggled when his lips pecked her cheek. Then he walked back over to the kitchen counter and began thunking the meat again.
A traditional Japanese dancer marrying a rough, tough, and gruff law enforcement officer... how odd.
But they loved each other, so who cared how odd it was?
"How do you feel for next week?" Keiji asked her.
"I think we're pretty prepared." She was the star of a troupe of Japanese dancers who performed at world-class events. They would be performing for an Asian Festival next Thursday.
"That's good." Thunk, thunk. "But you're the best dancer ever, so what should you be worried about, sweetie?" Thunk, thunk.
She blushed at his compliment.
"Just tellin' the truth, Okuni."
Her husband chuckled.
She finished prepping the salmon. Shooing Keiji away from the stove, she opened the oven and popped in the salmon. That gave them an hour to barbecue the steaks.
She loved salmon, and Keiji loved red meat. So she cooked the fish, he did the steaks, and they would have a romantic banquet for two. She smiled.
"Almost ready?" she asked as her husband hammered away.
"Almost. You know me... I only take my meat brutalized."
They both laughed.
He gave one last thunk and put the tenderizer aside. He transferred the meat to a tray and carried the meat to the waiting grill, outside.
She watched through the glass sliding door as Keiji opened up the grill and began to lay slabs of meat on the hot iron. With a smile, she turned away from the view and went back to the kitchen, intent on preparing the salad. She caught a glimpse of their favorite picture.
It was a photograph of their first day married. Her husband, to whom she only chest-height, was behind her, hugging her, and she was holding his hands. They were both smiling that smile that only newlyweds seemed to have.
She gave a little happy sigh and went towards the deck, intent on asking Keiji how the salad dressing tasted.
"How do I look?" Zhou Yu's wife asked him, modeling a rather nice russet knit sleeveless blouse and tight khakis.
"Sexy," he replied. Really, she was.
Xiao Qiao chuckled and slowly rotated, giving him a full view of her.
"I'm telling you, it's great."
Qiao mock-pouted. "Just a second ago it was 'sexy'. Now I'm only 'great'. Did I do something wrong?"
They both laughed.
"Hold a sec," his wife said, and went back into the fitting room.
A minute later, Qiao, now in a red miniskirt and tan tube top, came out, holding the new clothes.
She purchased the clothing and walked out of the store with him.
He draped an arm over his wife's shoulder.
"Want me to carry that?" he asked, gesturing towards the bag.
"I'm fine. You hungry?"
"Yeah. Food court?"
They ordered some chicken sandwiches and sat down at an unoccupied table.
"How's the Anderson project going?" Qiao asked him.
He sighed. "It's doing okay, I guess. The only problem is that we're having problems with bandwidth management. I'm not completely sure of it, but I think the automated mail services are eating the bandwidth. Maybe we'll have to reconfigure the central units if we're going to keep that mail automation. Maybe a system-wide drive defrag."
"Yu... you know I have no idea of what you've just said, right?"
He blinked. He had a tendency to forget that she was an architect whenever he got into "tech-explanation" mode.
Qiao grinned. "Don't worry. I know you feel the same way when I talk about buildings and stuff."
He shrugged. "Well, let's just say we're puzzling to each other."
His wife leaned across the table and slugged him on the shoulder. "No, we're not. I think we fit together pretty well."
"Yes..." he murmured.
They finished their food, and took the escalator that would take them out of the food court.
They walked past some stores. Qiao stopped and tugged at his sleeve.
"I really think you need some new shoes."
Again? What was it with women and shopping?
"Well, I..." he muttered as he spotted a computer hardware/software shop. "How bout you find me some shoes, and I take a look around for that building program you need?"
Qiao rolled her eyes. "Men..."
"Well, I'll help you with-" He stopped when Qiao tiptoed and kissed him.
"Go ahead. I'll meet you there in twenty minutes."
Grinning at his wife, he stepped away, and took off for the computer store.
After thirty minutes, they met up again and exited the mall.
He and Qiao talked about clothing and computers all the way home.
"The night sky is so beautiful," Oichi said to her husband, Nagamasa.
"Not as beautiful as you, Oichi," her husband replied, squeezing her hand.
She was about to make a jab at his Romeo-talk, but she withheld.
So she responded by drawing closer, allowing her to put an arm around his waist. Masa draped an arm over her shoulder and drew her closer.
As they walked along the beach in front of their Texan beachside cottage, she looked up into the full moon, and then back at her husband's scarred face. He had received those crisscrossing lines of scar tissue when a burglar had botched his entry.
Those scars actually made him more handsome, come to think of it. His nicely tanned skin, sandy hair, brown eyes were accented by the marks. Not that she liked that he had had his face sliced by some bastard's switchblade.
He was still one handsome dude, though.
"What's on your mind, Masa?" she asked him.
"Several things. The majority of which will require us to go back to our room."
She made an exasperated noise and elbowed him in the ribs. "Do men always have such a one-track mind?"
"At my age we do. Some study a couple years ago concluded that teenage males think of sex every fifteen seconds. And I only turned nineteen five months ago. Marriage at a young age is nice thing, isn't it?"
She laughed, and they continued their stroll through the warm night air.
"Have you ever wondered what was out there? Out beyond Earth?" her husband asked suddenly.
"Once in a while..." she replied. "It doesn't really matter, one way or the other, does it?"
"I guess not," Masa murmured, rubbing his chin. "You're what matters, Oichi."
She hugged him closer.
They began to walk back to their cottage. She thought for a moment about her husband's joke about teenagers.
She let go of her husband and walked in front of him. She stopped and planted a hand on his chest.
"Nagamasa Azai..." she said.
"Yes, Oichi Azai?" he asked, grinning roguishly.
She plowed forward. Caught off guard, her husband fell onto the warm sand. She fell on top of him. She looked into his moonlit face.
"Masa, take off your clothes right now, or I swear I'll do it for you."
Several long moments later, they arrived back at their house, a little sandy, a little tired, but pretty satisfied.
After taking a nice shower-with Nagamasa, of course-she got ready for bed.
She took one more look at the moon.
Yue Ying watched her husband stroke his beard as he contemplated the chessboard. Wind rustled leaves in their back yard.
Zhuge Liang's hand floated over the knight, and moved it to a space that threatened her rook and queen. She frowned. The space the white knight had just occupied could be attacked by her knight. She forked the knight to take Liang's.
With a smooth, purposeful motion, Liang streaked his bishop past the space the knight had formerly occupied. She was in check. She moved her rook out of position to capture the piece.
Liang's queen streaked across the board and brought her under checkmate.
She smiled and tipped her king over. Nine times out of ten, he won.
"That was too quick," she said. It had been too quick. Eight moves...
"I agree. You seem distracted."
She didn't say anything. Her gaze drifted towards the ground.
She bit her lip and looked into her husband's eyes.
"You know me too well."
"As you do me," Liang responded. His face grew serious. "Are they the same ones again?
She gazed into his face. Her husband didn't have that virile, vital look "attractive" men had, yet he wasn't unattractive. She herself wasn't exactly a super-beauty, but she kept in shape. They had been more attracted to each other's personalities than their looks, anyway.
She was stalling... she didn't feel like discussing this.
She sighed. "Yes... the same ones." She shuddered.
Almost every night now, she dreamed... of battle. A scythe-like battle spear of some sort was clutched in her hands. All around her, others, their faces shrouded, fought with swords, spears, and other types of weapons. Liang, wielding some type of fan, was blasting off rays of blinding blue energy.
A warrior in red armor was slashing away with a spear that had blades forming a cross shape. A young girl in a shorts used her maneuverability to slay opponents with her knives. A huge man with wild hair batted away foes with a fork-bladed polearm of some sort, covering a young woman who was using an Eastern-style umbrella to knock back enemies. A man in green armor kept the enemy at bay with twin swords as he fought back to back with an athletic young woman who wielded bladed discs. Another young woman fought back to back with another girl, one using ornate fans, the other some type of weighted string. Two men not far off, one wielding a long saber in a beautiful, deadly dance, and another stabbing and slashing with a long battle spear. Another woman wielded what looked to be a bladed boomerang, while a gigantic man in wild garb used his own gloved hands and hefty bulk as weapons.
What they fought against was horrible.
She shuddered again.
She almost didn't notice her husband sit down beside her on the bench. He laid a comforting arm on her shoulder.
"Ying, do you think these dreams you've been having have significance?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Because I've learned to trust your dreams," he replied.
"I don't know. I might be having problems."
"I don't think so," Liang said, shaking his head. "You don't seem unbalanced in any way."
She shrugged. "I guess not... but these are getting persistent."
Liang looked like he was about to reply, when a flash of blinding white light flashed behind her. She turned around.
...And Yukimura and Makie awoke as white filled their room...
...And Nouhime and Nobunaga stared at the white luminescence...
...And Bei and Shang gaped as they walked through their front door...
...And Huo and Rong stopped as white flashed behind them...
...And Keiji and Okuni whirled around as a light burst out...
...And Yu and Qiao covered their faces as white light dazzled them...
...And Oichi and Nagamasa sat up as their darkened room was illuminated...