Facts of Life
An OAV/BotP story
By Becky Rock
Ken pulled Jun into his arms. She settled against him, her head on his shoulder, her leg draped over his. He reached up to stroke her short brown hair.
“Are you sure about this?” she asked running her hand across his bare chest.
“Are you?” he asked in return. June nodded, her chin bumping against him.
“We know the war is still a few years off. If we don’t do this now, we’re never going to get the chance.”
Ken tightened his hold on her. Chief Anderson had been adamant: if June and Princess were going to be on the teams, they had to get fertility implants right before the war started.
“As long as you’re sure.”
“But you have to be sure, too.” June said and twisted to be able to look at his face. His pale blue eyes were fixed on her green ones.
“I’m not the one who has to be pregnant and give birth,” he responded, still petting her. “At that point, I’m just along for the ride. You have to do all of the work.” Ken kissed the top of her head.
June smiled at the image his words gave her. “But it’ll be worth it. This is the only chance we’ll have to have our own family.” June searched his eyes and found full agreement there. She laid her head back down on his shoulder.
Ken slowly moved his hand down her hair to her neck and began to massage it. June sighed contentedly.
“I’d love to have a little girl just like you,” Ken murmured and turned towards her so they were facing each other. His smile was almost shy as he stared into her green eyes, his love for her a naked thing in his. June smiled back and gently kissed his lips.
“You’re going to be a wonderful father,” she said as she swung her leg over his hips.
Rocky walked out onto the balcony, surprised to see a form sitting on the balustrade, straddling it. The moon was full and bathed the mansion in enough light that he could see well enough to recognize the form was Joe.
There was a slight breeze, rustling the leaves on the trees, blowing Joe‘s shoulder length auburn hair about. Rocky knew better than to try and sneak up on him, so he walked over to stand next to him.
“Nice night huh?” he asked conversationally. Joe’s gray eyes glinted in the moonlight as they settled on him. Rocky immediately knew from the look in them that Joe was angry about something. Rocky shifted his weight and stuffed his hands into his short’s pockets. “It’s not a nice night?” he ventured.
“I can’t believe he’s that stupid,” Joe spit out as he returned his gaze to the moon. Rocky rocked back on his flip-flops.
“What’d Jason do this time?” he asked. Joe turned to give him a scowl.
“Not Jason. Ken. And June.” Rocky frowned and had to think. As he thought, Joe’s scowl deepened. “There’s a war coming. You don’t purposefully have a kid when a war’s coming.” Rocky’s blonde eyebrows rose in understanding.
“They decided, huh?”
“They decided to be idiots.”
“It’s their lives, Joe. They’ve been married a year now.”
“What does that have to do with it?” Joe crossed his arms over his chest. “What kind of life is a kid going to have in a war? What if one of them gets killed?” Rocky’s normally congenial features hardened.
“Why are you being such a pessimist?” he wanted to know.
“I’m being a realist,” Joe countered. “June knows what it’s like to be an orphan and Ken might as well have been one the way Washio acts. We’re going to be on the front lines and there’s a very real chance we could all be killed.”
“You’re orphaning their kid even before it’s born,” Rocky said indignantly.
“They’ve got no business having a kid.” Joe swung his leg back over to the balustrade and strode away, his back ram rod straight with tension. Rocky watched him, disheartened by Joe’s negativity.
“Life goes on, Joe, even in a war,” he called after him. Joe waved a hand in dismissal and disappeared back into the library.
One Year Later
June couldn’t keep the beaming smile off her tired face as their family came into the room to meet the bundle in her arms. Ken was sitting on the bed beside her, his eyes fastened on his new son.
Princess was the first to the bed and she awed immediately.
“Junie, he’s beautiful,” she said, leaning down to give her older foster sister a careful hug and kiss. “Congrats.” She gave Ken a hug and kiss, too.
“Thanks, but she did all the work,” Ken said proudly and leaned over to kiss the top of June’s head. She smiled up at him.
“Show her your arm. He’s got war wounds from this.” Ken pulled his sleeve back to show the numerous red welts on his forearm.
“She tried to draw blood,” he teased as Keyop came over to get a good look.
“Wow. You should have stayed out of her reach,” the boy said. Everyone laughed and crowded in to get a look at the newborn. Everyone except Joe.
June noticed how tightly his arms were crossed over his chest and tried not to sigh with frustration. Instead, she nodded her head towards him.
“Joe, you can get closer. He doesn’t have any teeth yet so he can’t bite you,” she told him. When all eyes turned to stare at him, he didn’t have much choice. He dropped his arms to his side and slowly walked over. Princess moved so he could get closer.
Joe wouldn’t meet June’s or Ken’s eyes as he looked down at the baby.
“He’s red,” he commented. “And where’s his hair?”
“The doctor said the redness will go away in a few hours,” Ken advised, trying to ignore his best friend’s aloofness.
“And he does have hair.” June pulled the tiny blue hat off to show a dusting of dark hair. Joe’s eyes widened and he drew back a bit.
“His head’s crooked.” Groans issued and Jason smacked his older brother’s arm.
“Jeez, Joe,” he reprimanded but June laughed.
“You try squeezing ten pounds through a hole the size of a lemon and have a perfectly round head emerge!” She reached up to smack his arm as well, but her laughter remained in her eyes. “It’s normal. His skull is soft right now to make birth easier and will become a normal round over the next few days.”
“Oh,” Joe murmured, sufficiently chastised as he took a step back. “Then I guess he looks okay.”
“What did you name him?” Kozaburu Nambu asked from the foot of the bed, Chief Anderson beside him. The two men looked as uncomfortable with the whole scene as Joe.
“Tyler,” Ken said and then fixed his eyes on Joe. “Tyler Joseph.” Ken smiled as Joe’s mouth dropped open. Jason groaned and smacked himself in the forehead.
“Oh man. You cursed the poor kid,” he said and received punches in the arm from Princess, Rocky and Tiny.
“I think it’s a wonderful name,” Mark said and gave his older brother a hug in a rare show of affection.
“Why don’t we let June get some rest?” The Chief suggested, motioning towards the door. More congratulations sounded and more hugs were given as the group slowly made their way out the door. Nambu squeezed June’s shoulder and shook Ken’s hand before leaving. Chief Anderson stared for a moment and then moved around the bed.
“I got word to Kentaro,” he informed them. June watched the emotions play over Ken’s features and reached for his hand.
“And he said?” Ken asked, his jaw clenched. It was bad enough that Anderson and Joe hadn’t agreed with their decision, for the same reasons, but his own father hadn’t so much as addressed the issue.
“He said don’t follow in his footsteps.”
“I have no intention of it,” Ken fervently assured him. The Chief nodded.
“None of us intentionally try to hurt those we love. Sometimes, it just happens.” The older man stared hard at June and then Ken. “That includes me. Tyler’s going to be a very lucky child.”
June swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat at the Chief’s admission. She could feel her eyes burning as she smiled at their former guardian.
“Thank you, Chief,” Ken said, his voice full of emotion. Anderson nodded and smiled just a little, leaving them alone to bond with their son.
Eighteen Months Later
“For goodness sake, would you sit down?” June asked, her eyes flashing at Joe as he stalked across the room for the twentieth time. She bounced Tyler on her knee, trying to keep the toddler entertained while they waited for Anderson, Nambu, Ken and Mark to return from the United Nations emergency session.
“The longer we wait, the more people are going to die,” Joe growled, glaring at her as he turned and started across the room again.
“Why do we need their permission anyway?” Jason asked for the tenth time. He was leaning against the wall, chewing on a feather shuriken. It was a compulsive, nervous habit that didn’t even register with him anymore. “The ISO is an independent section of the UN. They can’t order us around.”
June took a deep breath and blew it out. Now she knew why Anderson had split them up the way he had when forming the two teams. Joe and Jason were too intense to be on the same team.
“What good would it do us to fly in and have the UN forces shoot at us because they don’t know we’re on their side?” Rocky asked, saving her the effort. The scowls he got from the Asacura brothers would have scared anyone else’s pants off, but he was used to it and he was a helluva lot bigger than they were.
“They couldn’t say anything about our existence before now,” June reminded them. “It was too much of a security risk.“ Jason rolled his bluish-gray eyes but then pushed off of the wall as the door to the Ready Room opened. Everyone turned to it as the four men walked in.
June stopped bouncing her knee and pulled Tyler into her arms as she stood, ignoring the boy‘s cry of protest. Her heart caught in her throat at the look on their faces.
“What’d they say?” Jason demanded.
Ken walked over to June’s side, his eyes showing both resolve and regret as he looked at his wife and son. She didn’t need to hear what the Chief was going to say. She already knew and hugged Tyler tight.
“Gatchaman and G-Force have been activated.”