Publicity 3: Unharmed by Diinzumo
Summary: This story takes place right before the other two "Publicity" stories. Jun muses over her public relationships as Ken mooches lunch.
Categories: Gatchaman Characters: Jun, Ken Washio, Other Canon Character
Genre: Character Study, Vignette
Story Warnings: None
Timeframe: Mid-Series
Universe: Canon
Challenges: None
Series: Publicity
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 969 Read: 2959 Published: 05/26/2007 Updated: 05/26/2007

1. Chapter 1 by Diinzumo

Chapter 1 by Diinzumo
Author's Notes:
Time frame: directly after the events in Gatchaman #79, "The Stolen Gatchaman Information"

Utoland, where we live, is supposed to be a progressive, multicultural city, filled with enlightened minds and students open to new ideas (some of the more narrow-minded folks call them "hippies"). But sadly, even these hippy minds aren't open enough to get past the stereotypes that have stuck for centuries.

Now I'll admit, I'm a very girly girl. I like makeup, flowers, the color pink, the latest clothing fashions and cute, fuzzy kittens. I'm also an expert at creating and defusing bombs, deciphering codes and cracking computers. And I wield a mean roundhouse kick. The public, however, chooses to define me only by the man whose arm I hang onto. Who could be the Swan's boyfriend? Does she date mere mortals? Has she hooked up with the Gatchaman? The Condor? The Owl? The kitchen sink? I think the public would have matched me with Jinpei or Nambu if those weren't felonies.

Speaking of which, there's the issue of sexual harrassment. Reporters want to know if I suffer from harrassment or discrimination within a team full of males. Back when we first started training together, I was quite the tomboy, which I think got the others accustomed to thinking of me as "one of the guys." So no, the others know better than to grab or comment, other than Jinpei's typical efforts to tease me. I find it ironic that I stand most in danger of it from the public itself. Two little boys meet us in person, and the first thing one does is look up my skirt. I should have smacked the little twit.

I've had boyfriends, casual flings. Movies, walks in the park, motorcycle rides, kissing beneath the moon. I won't offer details--a lady never tells--but a few dates, and then they're gone. That suits me just fine. To be honest, it's not hard to play dumb, to bat my eyelashes while the guys pound their chests and brag about accomplishments I'd achieved before breakfast. But it's not the best way to spend my precious leisure time.

I guess the public is right: I'm better off tightening my relationship with those who understand me, who know and respect what I go through. That limits my dating pool to the ISO, to men twice my age, and to the team. But Ryu is too young, too goofy. Joe acts like my older brother, and the Gatchaman is simply out of reach. I like to pretend I have a chance with Ken sometimes; that a dinner or a movie could lead to more. But I won't know for sure until the end of our war with Gallactor.

The lunch crowd has just cleared out of the Snack Jun, and the radio plays softly as I wipe down tables. Jinpei is off running errands. Ken sits at the bar with the newspaper. When he puts it down, I see the headline: "Researcher's Daughter Rescued." There's a picture of Rumi Boronbo standing with her father. I pick up the paper.

"Lucky girl," I say.

Ken looks sharply at me.

"To have a father who loves her so much." I leave off the part about his handing over key secrets to Gallactor as ransom and later pulling a gun on us.

The sharp look fades, and I wonder what Ken had expected me to say. I skim the article. It mentions Rumi had been rescued by Gatchaman, and there's a quote. "It happened so fast," Rumi says. "I don't really remember much of what happened." I bet the reporters were disappointed by that. Any chance to paint Ken as more of a knight in shining armor was lost.

"And she wasn't hurt." Such a pretty girl being held by those goons would have been raw meat for the wolves.

"Just bruises," Ken says.

Now it's time for me to give him the sharp look, and his cheeks go pink.

I know better--I do. I have no claim on Ken. I shouldn't be jealous. I see other guys and he's certainly free to see other girls. But the look on his face is... guilty? That little bit of hope flares up in me again.

"Ken?"

"I... ah, I kicked her." He cradles his forehead in one hand and his voice drops to a whisper. "It was dark, she was behind me and wearing a hood. I just reacted. I could have killed her. "

Oh, is that all?

"Bruises heal, Ken." I pat one shoulder, feeling the muscle solid and tense beneath my hand. After a moment, he raises his head. A few emotions pass through his eyes, like the fast-forward motion of clouds in a stormy sky. "You'll get over it."

He snorts, then stands up, leans over the bar and fishes a bottle of water out of the freezer beneath the bar. Hardly good behavior for a customer. "Put lunch on my tab?"

I roll my eyes. "Because I'm made of money. Where are you going?"

"Joe's qualifying for a race this afternoon. Thought I'd go watch." He flashes me a breezy smile and a wave, and I swear the room goes a few degrees warmer. And then he's gone.

The newspaper lies unfolded on the bar, and for a moment, I sit on the stool and look at the photograph. Rumi leans against her father, smiling. She's smaller than me, more petite. She has enormous green eyes and a lush mouth--a knockout by anyone's standards. If she has any bumps or bruises, I can't see them. I wonder if she really doesn't recall her rescue or if she was coached by the ISO. In my mind's eye, I see Ken holding her hand. Ken struggling not to apologize.

It's hard not to hate her.

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