Disclaimer: Gatchaman belongs to Tatsunoko Productions. No money, etc.

Everything You Want . . .

I feel a little bad about this.

All right, I feel very bad. Iíll feel even guiltier tomorrow, I think, for using him like this. But I still went through with it. It wouldnít have been fair not to, after all.

And heís everything Ken isnít.

That makes it all better, doesnít it?

Weíre lying on my bed. He fell asleep hours ago. For some reason, I canít. Not that Iím surprised at all.

The worst part is, he knows why we did this. But Ryuís such a good man, he put his own feelings aside to help me.

Carefully, I sit up, trying not to wake him.

I used to think Ken was everything Ryu wasnít. Ken is lithe and graceful, able and intelligent. Ryu looks heavy and clumsy, and his accent makes him sound like a hick. Ken has such strong character, and he feels such pain for those who suffer under Galactor, turning it into anger to use against them. Ryu would fall asleep in the God Phoenix, and while he, too, sympathized with the victims, he was almost soft-hearted about it. Ken is so handsome, while Ryu, well, isnít.

Ken is gay.

And Ryu isnít.

All this time, I wondered if there was something wrong with me. Wasnít I pretty enough? Alluring enough? Was I not smart enough, did I not fight well enough? Why wouldnít Ken notice me?

For a while, I thought that he was being noble, that he did like me but wasnít saying so out of respect. I thought . . . I thought all kinds of things to give him the benefit of the doubt, while each one made me feel even more inadequate.

But I couldnít make Ken take any blame for it, so it all became my fault.

It had been weeks since Ken had finally decided to spell it out for me. He took me aside in Crescent Coral, into a room that had a table and chairs and not much else. I guess he was afraid of how I might react. And then. He told me he loved me like a sister, but that he wasnít interested in me. When I asked him why, in a hurt little voice I couldnít even recognize as my own, heíd blushed and tried to dance around the issue, but finally stammered out that he was gay. There was a m an he was involved with, whom he loved very much and so on and so forth.

I know he was expecting me to explode, to brain him with the table. But I couldnít move. I just sat there, staring at the floor. I couldnít even tell him to go to hell like I wanted.

I guess I unnerved him more with my silence than I would have had I gotten as furiously angry as he expected. Finally, his tone quite worried, he asked if he should get Nambu Hakase.

That brought me back a little bit, and I shook my head no. Then, to my own surprise as much as Kenís, I got up and left him.

I know he followed me to the door, and even some way down the corridor, but when I went into the practice room, he stopped. I guess the sound of things breaking and a madwoman screaming deterred him.

And as for our ladiesí-man second in command . . . what am I, stupid?

I didnít know then what had really prompted Kenís stuttering confession. I guessed it had something to do with one night at the Snack when, with the help of a few drinks, I was a bit more forward than usual. I pushed him up against the wall, after everyone had left, draped my arms around his neck and asked that he dance with me.

Our fearless leader became a blushing, babbling idiot. He kept looking over my shoulder, like he expected someone to save him. Or, considering what I now think was the fear in his face, perhaps execute him. I donít even remember now how he managed to get away; I suppose the hangover I had the next morning took care of that.

It was a few days later that he gave me his little ďtalk.Ē

I know it was only a crush, but damn, thereís such a thing as letting a girl down easy.

Iím getting angry again. Thereís a sharp pain in my palms. Iíve clenched my fists so hard that my fingernails are digging into my flesh. I take a deep breath and try to steady myself.

To be fair to Ken- a habit I canít seem to break myself of- he did try. And in truth, a lot, if not most, of my anger was at myself for not seeing the truth earlier. Not that heís a swishy-sissy-boy or anything, but really. How many times did I practically throw myself at him? How dense can one man be?

How dense can a woman who thinks sheís in love be? I smile bitterly at the thought.

And the hits just kept on coming . . .

Yes, like thousands of other girls out there my age, I had a great big crush on Gatchaman. Unlike that multitude, however, I hadnít a ďrealĒ boyfriend to take away the sting of not having him; I had pinned all my hopes, my dreams, on Ken. I was still wandering around in a haze of hurt, just starting to come around to accept the fact that Ken would never want me. Thatís when I was confronted with the proof that, perhaps subconsciously, Iíd wanted, proof that he was gay.

Again, it was Crescent Coral. I was passing an intersection with another corridor, and happened to glance down. Iíd carried on three steps when what Iíd seen registered in my brain. I snuck back and peered around the corner.

Someone had Ken pressed up against the wall of the corridor. Ken was blushing, as he had when Iíd done the same, but he was smiling at his . . . attacker? His partner?

His second in command?!

I nearly went into shock when I realized it was Joe, with his arms braced on either side of Kenís head, their faces just inches apart. Joe was . . . leering at Ken, then slowly, he leaned in, bent his head, and began to kiss Kenís neck. Ken shuddered, his eyes closed, and pulled Joe closer, until there was no space between their bodies.

And all I could do was watch, hand over my mouth to keep from making any sound. Ken . . . and Joe? Joe? Iíve-gotta-tell-you-about-my-latest-conquest-Joe?

Did I step into another universe and someone forgot to tell me?

Joe worked his hands under Kenís shirt somehow and did . . . something I couldnít quite see, but whatever it was made Ken writhe in his arms almost wantonly.

Thereís a word Iíd never associated with Ken before . . .

No matter how I wanted to deny it, I couldnít. Joe was not forcing himself on Ken. If Ken really didnít want him to do that, it would be easy for him to get away. All right, not too easy, because Joe was a ninja as well, but still . . .

Joe slipped his hands from Kenís shirt to cup his rear. At the same time, he stopped suckling on Kenís neck- I could easily see the mark heíd left- to kiss him. Hard. Ken unclenched his fists from the back of Joeís shirt, and tried to slide them inside the back of his jeans. Their hips ground against each other.

I couldnít tear my eyes away. How far would they go . . .? Surely they wouldnít go any further . . . not in a corridor in the base . . . where anyone could see them . . . ? But they showed no signs of stopping.

I think it was the sounds that finally got to me. Ken was moaning quietly into Joeís mouth, and, when Joe resumed kissing his neck, he made breathless little gasps of pleasure. Joe growled low in his throat, the deep bass rumbling through me. Suddenly I couldnít bear to watch any more, and turned away, my hand still over my mouth. But I could still hear them, soft groans and wet kisses, and the image of what they were doing was bright in my mindís eye. I couldnít escape, even when I ran as fast as I could.

I wrap my arms around my legs, resting my chin on my knees. It was only after I saw them together in the corridor that I understood why Ken suddenly had to tell me. Joe. Joe was there that night in the Snack. He must have been lurking in the shadows. Ken had seen him over my shoulder. And Joe was possessive.

Iím sure he didnít lay it down that way to Ken, though. He probably decided that it was past time to clue Ken in that I was mooning after him, and it would be kinder to tell me, to let me down easy . . .

Thanks ever so much, Asakura. Remind me to do you a favor sometime.

If Ken sees me as a sister, why is he with Joe, when the two of them were really raised as brothers? That doesnít make sense.

I know thereís no ďcureĒ for being gay. I know Ken will never be more to me- or I to him- than he is right now. But that doesnít help.

I stare off into the darkness. So. Ken is gay. Joe, though probably bi, is involved with Ken. I suppose I ought to be happy that theyíve found each other . . . itís just awfully hard not to be bitter over the whole thing.

And itís not that I decided that if Ken didnít want it, my virginity was just a burden. Itís actually been a burden for some time- ever since I really understood what was likely to happen to me if I were captured. I just needed to work up my courage to ask Ken.

Or Joe.

Or . . . Ryu.

Because those three comprise almost the whole number of guys of my acquaintance around my own age, and the total number of guys with whom Iím intimate . . . no, not intimate . . . with whom Iím really close.

Ryu didnít even blink. He just looked at me with those eyes that are just far too wise for his years, faintly crinkled at the corners from the years he spent on his fatherís fishing boat staring into the sun. He didnít ask the question I dreaded: why him. I couldnít even look at him.

ďKenís gay,Ē he stated softly.

I nodded, staring at the table.

ďAnd Joe is . . . well, not available.Ē

Biting my lip, I nodded again.

ďAnd Iím the only one you could ask.Ē

I felt myself turn bright red, and closed my eyes in shame. Put like that . . .

ďItís all right, Jun,Ē he said, still in that same quiet voice. ďI understand.Ē

ďIím sorry, Ryu . . .Ē

ďHave you kissed before?Ē

Startled, wondering why he asked that, I replied, ďYes . . .Ē

ďAny of them any good? Start to make your knees weak?Ē

ďYes . . . why . . .?Ē

He smiled. ďWell, before you reconsider, why donít you kiss me, and decide if I know what Iím doing?Ē

So I did. And he did. And we did.

Iím not fooling myself that Iím in love with him, nor that he is with me. Thereís a difference between loving someone and being in love with them.

I know I love Ken. Maybe I really was in love with him, maybe not, but I do love him- and Joe- regardless.

I yawn, and blink, surprised. Maybe now I can sleep. I lay down, and snuggle into Ryuís back.

Maybe Iíll still feel guilty tomorrow, but I wonít regret this. How can you regret a friend helping you out when you need him?

And someday, Iíll find someone who is everything I want and need, and he wonít expect me to have waited for him.

Everything I want and need . . . I just have to keep looking.

***

June 17, 2003

© randi (K. Shepard), 2003