Jun was incensed. She had been so worried for Joe that she had followed him to that damn mountain. She had been there for him when he poured out his soul to her. They had slept wrapped in each other’s wings. She had told him she cared.
And now, when they were found by the rest of the Kagatu Ninja Tai, he had handed her to Ken. Ken! The same ken who, after sleeping with her for six months had told her that he was sorry but he just wasn’t interested anymore. Too add insult to injury, he had started to see Rumi Boronbo, yet at the same time he came across as the extremely jealous lover any time she showed interest in another man.
She had found herself surprised at her reaction to Joe’s return. The first time that she had thought she saw him, her heart had thumped. When she thought she heard his voice, the sound of it had sent thrills through her.
Then he had returned, and the team had been made whole again. It was the same Joe – and yet different.
Even for Joe, he had been moody and secretive. Yet, Jun had found herself drawn to him as she never had been before. She found herself remembering times in the past. It had never been Ken who had been there in her darkest hours. Always Joe.
Joe had fixed her broken doll. Joe had comforted her when something had gone wrong. Joe had listened to her agonise over Ken. Joe, with unending patience and love had always been her rock.
Joe who she had always trusted with her deepest secrets, her greatest dreams. Joe, who had loved her unconditionally. Joe who she finally realised was the man she loved.
Ken – he had been a young girl’s dream. Joe, on the other hand, she knew with the certainty of a woman was the man she loved with all her heart.
She tried to show him, but he kept pushing her away – not as much as the others, but still...
And then Dr Pandora had let slip the secret – Joe was a cyborg. His secrecy and confusion was now explained to Jun, and she tried even harder to get closer.
Which left her on the damn mountain, with Joe handing her to Ken.
Nobody could say, however, that the Swan wasn’t determined. From that moment on she decided to do everything she could to show Joe just how much she loved him.
Frustration over the months grew and grew. Ken was in depression half the time – mostly because he had fallen deeply in love with an Andean girl and wanted nothing more than for her to be with him, but it was not possible.
Joe – well Joe kept falling for girls who tried to kill him. And each time, Jun was there, listening, comforting.
Until it was her turn.
Joe found her crying – he just didn’t know that she was crying over him. That she had finally decided that she had to give up her dream, just as she had give up her dream of Ken.
He kissed her. Not just any kiss, but the kiss of a lover. A desperate kiss that told of pent up emotions, of desperation and one that completely opened his heart to the woman in his arms.
“I... I’m sorry Jun. I didn’t mean...”
She blinked. “To kiss me? Why? I’m not sorry. I’ve been wanting you to kiss me for ever.”
“No. You love Ken. I can’t take advantage of you.”
“You fool, Joe. Are you as blind as Ken?”
“I don’t understand. Before... well, before you were always saying you wished he’d noticed you. I’ve seen you looking at him.”
“Joe, I did love Ken. I loved him as some sort of ideal. As... well, as Gatchaman. He never loved me, and for a while, well, we found comfort together. But he never loved me. It only lasted about six months before Ken broke up with me. I wasn’t the only woman in his bed, just the handiest.”
Joe growled. “He used you? I’ll kill him.”
Jun put her hands on his chest. “It’s over Joe. Over a long time ago now. I certainly am not sorry you kissed me. In fact, I’d like to be kissed again by you. This time, though, I’d like to kiss you back.”
“Didn’t you listen to anything I told you on K2? I care for you Joe. I had a long time to think about my life after Ken and I broke up. I wanted to understand why he did. Why wasn’t I good enough? It was a hard lesson to learn that he never did love me, at least not enough to make a sexual relationship work.”
“I’m sorry, Jun. Truly sorry.”
She shook her head and kissed his jaw line. “I’m not. Because in the self-evaluation I realised something else. That there was always somebody there for me. Somebody who listened to me, who held me when I needed, who made things better. It was you, Joe. All my life. You’ve been there for me.” She twisted and looked him in the eye. “You’ve loved me a long time, haven’t you?” Her voice was low, hesitant.
Joe nodded slowly. “Since I was sixteen. But you were out of my league, Jun. You loved Ken. Belonged to him, and besides... Nambu told me to keep away from you.”
“And you did.”
“Because I knew what he said was true. I’m so fucked up, Jun. Even more now. I’m not even really human anymore.”
“You felt human to me on K2 Joe. Your body was warm. You feel human to me now.” She moved her hand and felt his hardness. “If you weren’t human, Joe, you wouldn’t have this.”
“I’m a cyborg. My skin is artificial.”
“Joe, you’re still human. Only parts of you are artificial. Your heart and soul are still yours. You still love. Still care. When we kissed, your lips were soft and warm. You’ve reacted to me like a man who desires a woman. Not like a machine.”
He thrust out his arm and pulled back a flap of skin. “Is this human, Jun? This is where I get recharged. Not from sleep. Not from food, but by being plugged in and powered up.” His voice was bitter.
She bent down and took his arm, kissing the outlet. “It makes you special, Joe. Not a monster. You could never be a monster to me. I love you.” She pulled his head down to hers and this time, she initiated their kiss.
This time, she took charge, removing their clothes, letting her mouth and hands prove to him her love, and when he entered her, he found that her love was enough. She welcomed him, opened herself to him fully and her cries weren’t those of a woman who was being satisfied by a machine.
They were the sounds of a woman being loved by the man she loved. And he responded the same way.
Finally, in the arms of the woman he had loved for all of his adult life, Joe Asakura finally realised that, in spite of the cybernetics that gave him life, he was just as human as she wanted him to be.
He collapsed next to her and held her close, kissing and caressing her, and being caressed by her in return.
“Now do you believe me?” she asked.
“That I love you. That you’re still human?”
He kissed her. “Yes. I believe you love me. But the human... I think you’ll have to keep working on that.” He nuzzled into her neck, and put her hand on his cock.
Jun smiled and wriggled until he was under her. “More proof?” She smiled. “And just how long do I have to prove it?”
He smiled up at her, feeling himself harden, desire rushing through his veins. She loved him. Finally, she was his. “How about a lifetime, love?”