He said "I'll love you till I die,"
she told him "You'll forget me by and by."
As the years went slowly by,
she still preyed upon his mind.

"What's going on?" asked the Hamster.

"I don't know." replied C-kun as they drove to the Church of Miho. "Manta called me, said Izuko was drinking. Drinking hard."

He kept her picture on his wall,
went half-crazy now and then.
He still loved her through it all,
hoping she'd come back again.

Mariko made a small sound of surprise, and the Hamster gave C-kun a sharp look. "Drinking! Izuko doesn't drink!"

"I know. That's what worries me." answered C-kun.

Kept some letters by his bed,
dated nineteen sixty-two.
He had underlined in red,
every single "I love you."

Thirty minutes later, with Mariko and the Hamster behind him, Caduceus stepped into the Cave of Evil. He looked past the mass of ravers, finding Izuko, and for once was able to keep from being caught by the techno's beat. "That's a lot of booze," he said quietly.

I went to see him just today,
oh but I didn't see no tears.
All dressed up to go away,
first time I'd seen him smile in years.

Still seated, Izuko slowly and deliberately turned around on his barstool. Seeing three of his subordinates, he said in a slighly slurred voice, "I don't remember calling for a staff meeting. Certainly not at this hour."

The Hamster shouted to be heard over the pulsing bass of the music. "There's something we should discuss. Why don't we go some place quieter?"

Izuko frowned and began to look mulish, then with a grimace of distaste, said, "Fine."

He stopped loving her today,
They placed a wreath upon his door.
And soon they'll carry him away,
He stopped loving her today.

As Izuko got up and paid his tab, the Hamster signaled Mariko to lift him closer to her ear. "Mariko-san, I think you should go home. I am unsure what has driven him to drink, but he will be less open if you're around, being that you are still in a junior position within the company. Caduceus-san can carry me around."

"Hai, Hamster-sama. An observation if I may. Only great personal trauma could get Izuko-sama to break from his usual habits. A woman may be involved here." Mariko stated quietly.

You know, she came to see him one last time.
Aww, 'n' we all wondered if she would.
And it kept runnin' through my mind-
"this time he's over her for good."

"Ah. Good point. I hope Caduceus has more experience in these matters: I do not understand human concepts of courtship, romance or sexuality. Well, we will see what troubles him."

With that, Mariko handed the Hamster off to C-kun, who in turn placed the Hamster in his shirt pocket. The Hamster said to C-kun. "Let's go to Carmina Burana, and we'll get a private booth."

Fifteen minutes later, Izuko, C-kun and the Hamster entered Carmina Burana, the tavern in the Bardic Circle emtertainment complex. C-kun asked for a private booth in the back. Once seated, and once the three had been served, the Hamster asked in very formal Japanese, "Excuse the presumption, Izuko-sama, but your behavior is unusual, and has caused us great concern. May we know what is troubling you, and perhaps render assistance?"

He stopped loving her today,
They placed a wreath upon his door.
And soon they'll carry him away,
He stopped loving her today.
The song is He Stopped Loving Her Today {Words and Music by Bob Braddock and Claude Putman, Jr.} My recommendation is the George Jones version.

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