Disclaimer: I didn't create Nadesico. I didn't write it. BUT IF THEY MISS ONE
EPISODE I'LL RAISE HELL!!! ^_^ Seriously now, I'm told that Xebec created
Nadesico, so I'll go with that.

Lime Warning: As the warning states, there's limage in this fic. If you don't like it, I
suggest you not read it.


Stepping Back


Jun Aoi checked over his display at the command terminal one more time and
sighed before checking his watch again. Yurika was late for her shift again. He tapped the
edge of the panel and shook his head. Why did he even bother?

He knew why.

He knew that in somewhere between five and fifteen minutes, Yurika was going to
walk onto the bridge, oblivious of the fact that she's late and smile at him. Then, he was
going to melt.

And then she'd tell him what a great friend he is and how she's so lucky to have
him around.

He sighed.

His shift was ending, and the day crew was being relieved as he stood there. He
could overhear Minato and Megumi talking as they wandered towards the lift, waiting for
the next available car.

"So this time," Megumi was telling the helmswoman, "I slipped a note under his
door and asked him to meet me at the Officer's Club after his shift."

Jun sighed. Ah, yes. Akito. The greatest cook in the universe. Our hero!

The putz…

"Do you think he'll show up?" Minato asked. "What if he doesn't see it?" The lift
doors opened, and the two women entered the car.

"I don't see how he could miss it," Megumi told her as the doors closed. The rest
of the conversation was cut off.

He shook his head. What did they see in him? Megumi, Franssenge,
Subaru…Yurika… It was always, Akito! Akito! Akito!

It's not that Akito wasn't a good guy. Jun actually considered him something of a
friend. What bothered him was the constant worship every woman on this ship seemed to
afford him. All he was was a cook who occasionally got shot at! And all he ever seemed
to do was bitch about how he wasn't a pilot!

"I'm just a cook," Jun muttered sarcastically.

"Something wrong, Lieutenant?" Ruri asked from her station.

"No, Ruri chan." Jun went back to looking over the panel again.

True to his prediction, fifteen minutes later, Yurika dashed onto the bridge and
smiled. "Ah! Hi, Jun kun!" She blinked when he didn't smile back. "Is something wrong,
Jun kun? Are you sick?"

"No, Yurika," he told her. "I'm fine."

Yurika smiled broadly. "Why don't you take the rest of the shift off?"

//This is YOUR shift,// he thought almost bitterly.

"I'm having Akito come up here anyway."

He blinked at this. "Huh?"

Yurika nodded happily. "I thought it'd be nice for us to work more closely
together, so I told him to come straight up here from the kitchen. This way he can learn
how to be a bridge officer and we can work together every day!"

Jun's eyebrow twitched. "He's already a cook AND a pilot, Yurika," he told her
calmly.

"Then this should be a snap!" she replied, snapping her fingers in emphasis.

He rubbed his temples. Why bother? Really…why?

Suddenly, Akito came rushing onto the bridge, his apron still on. "Yurika! What is
it!? What's the emergency?!"

"A-KI-TO!!!" Yurika cried, stars forming in her eyes.

The cook looked from side to side, half expecting to see the bridge in flames.
"Yurika…" he began, his eyes drooping as he realized he had been had.

The young captain took the cook/pilot's hand. "Akito! Today you officially start
your cross-training on bridge operations!"

"THIS IS THE EMERGENCY?!" he cried. "I ran straight from the kitchen! I
didn't even get a chance to shower!"

"You can do that later!" Yurika pouted. "Please, Akito?!" she begged.

He growled and relented, and Jun sighed and wondered what exactly he did on this
damn ship anyway. Executive Officer? Babysitter?

"Yurika, I'm leaving," he said quietly, starting for the lift.

She didn't even notice he had gone.

Figures.



"Deck Four," he announced as the lift doors closed. The lift began to descend to
his level. "Stop," he said almost immediately afterward. "Deck Six," he corrected. He
didn't need to go to his quarters. He knew what he needed. He needed to something he
had never done before. He needed to drink. He needed to get
wasted…blitzed…sozzled…drenched…drunk off his commissioned ass…

Why not? The ship certainly didn't need him. Yurika and Akito could handle any
possible danger that might pop up. Nobody would miss him if he got drunk and stupid for a
few hours.

The lift doors opened and he started down the hall towards the Officer's Club. He
reached up and undid the first couple of buttons on his uniform shirt.

//Damn, stuffy thing,// he complained in his head. //Never liked this uniform
design…// He entered the O-Club and looked around. He didn't spend much time here
except for formal occasions and ceremonies. There weren't that many people here. A part
of him was surprised, but what the hell did he care?

He thought about getting a table, but waved that idea off a second later. He didn't
want to eat. He wanted booze. Lots and lots of alcohol, and the closer he was to the
source, the less time he'd have to wait for it. He started for the bar, taking a seat at the
corner.

"What can I get for you, Lieutenant?" the well-dressed bartender asked.

"Um…What do you recommend?" he asked. He wasn't a very experienced
drinker, after all…

The bartender chuckled. "Guess that depends. What are you look'n to do?"

"Pass out," Jun told him seriously without missing a beat.

Without a word, the bartender put a glass on the bar and filled it with an amber
liquid from a bottle with a black label.

"What is that?" Jun asked hesitantly.

"It's called, 'Escape from Nadesico.' Remember when Uribitake had that
unauthorized barbecue on the flight deck?"

"Yeah?"

"This is what he used for lighter fluid."

"Make it a double," Jun told him.

The bartender finished pouring and pushed the glass to the officer. Jun didn't
hesitate in the slightest, picking up the drink and downing it in one swallow. He put the
glass down and quickly grabbed his throat, gasping in pain and trying to cry for help. His
eyes were watering.

"Helluva kick, huh, Sir?" the bartender asked with a smile.

"Smoother," Jun rasped out. "Something smoother."

"No prob, Sir. I'll make you a screwdriver." The bartender went to the other side
of the bar to get the ingredients, leaving Jun to recover from the effects of his first drink.
He took a deep breath and shook his head, trying to clear his vision.

He decided the best way to make the room stop spinning was to rest his head on the
bar and close his eyes. Doing this seemed to help, and he took a deep breath.

That's when he heard it.

**Clickclickclickclickclickclick…**

His eyes opened and looked outward down the river of mahogany that made up the
bar to the source of the noise. Megumi was sitting a few stools down, dressed up in a
black cocktail dress, her chin resting on one hand while the other tapped a well-manicured
finger on the bar-top.

**Clickclickclickclickclick…**

//Oh yeah,// he thought.

He placed the palm of his hand on the bar next to his head and pushed, lifting his
head from the mahogany. The bartender returned a moment later and deposited an orange
drink on the bar in front of him.

"Here you go, Sir."

"Thanks," Jun said, taking the drink and swallowing a little bit. This was much
better. He could drink it and NOT have a schizoid embolism…cool…

He looked over at Megumi, who had taken a time out of her clicking to check her
watch. She sighed at the time-piece and reached out, taking another sip of whatever drink
she had ordered.

Damn, she didn't deserve this any more than he did. He knew what she was doing.
Waiting around, hoping on a gamble that was doomed to failure. And all because the
object of her affection was an idiot.

God, that sucked.

//Less think, more drink,// his brain ordered. He took another sip of the
screwdriver.

//Oh, jeeze,// he thought, looking over at the communications officer, who was still
waiting for cook boy. //She's going to wait here all night, I bet.//

//Hel-LO!// his brain fired back. //I'm not intoxicated here!//

He took another, longer drink.

Megumi was still waiting.

He sighed. //Look, just because I'm in a sour mood doesn't mean Megumi should
be forced to wait here for hours because Akito's too busy with Yurika upstairs. I'll tell
her, and then we can go back to getting drenched.//

//Fine.//

He stood up and grabbed his drink off the bar, making his way down to the comm
officer. She looked up as he approached and blinked, genuinely surprised at seeing him
there.

"He's not coming," he told her.

She blushed a bit and cleared her throat. "What do you…"

"Yurika dragged him up to the bridge," he explained, cutting her off. "He didn't
even see your note."

Her face fell. "I…see," she said. He could see the real meaning of her words all
over her face. She had WANTED to say, "Yurika?! AGAIN?!"

Through his bitter mood, a bit of sympathy shined through. "I'm sorry," he said.

She shook her head. "I'm not surprised, I guess," she replied. There was silence
for a moment, then she seemed to notice him again. "Oh, please!" she said, suddenly
remembering her manners. "Sit down. I'm sorry."

"It won't do any good to wait," he told her, taking her offer and sitting down on the
stool next to hers.

"I know, but what else am I going to do?" she grumbled. "It's not like there's a lot
to do on this ship after the man you THINK is your boyfriend blows you off for…for…"

"Yurika," he finished, swallowing the rest of his drink in one shot. He tapped the
bar and pointed at his glass. The bartender nodded and set about making him a new drink.

"Um…Jun, are you okay?" she asked, noticing for the first time his embittered
state.

"What the hell do you see in him, anyway?" he suddenly asked her accusingly.

Megumi blinked, taken aback by his tone and the unexpected question both.
"Well…I suppose…" she stammered. "It's just that he's very kind…and…well…cute…
and he's actually very brave."

He snorted. "Oh, yeah, he's brave all right." He rolled his eyes.

Megumi's expression darkened. "Now wait a second!" she began hotly. The
bartender put a new drink in front of Jun. "Do you know how much courage it takes for
someone to go off and fight like that?"

Jun held up his hand, showing the comm officer the neural interface there. "Gee,
give me a minute," he said sarcastically. Megumi blinked. She had forgotten that he was a
qualified pilot. He chuckled and shook his head. "I can't believe I was that stupid," he
muttered. "No med scan, no pre-screen, just pushed the button on the plunger and injected
myself with six million nanites." He looked at the tattoo. "Three out of every eight people
are immediately disqualified as pilot candidates because their body chemistry rejects the
nanites and they die. I injected myself with them with a three-eighths chance of having a
seizure and dying right there on the table. A thirty-seven point five percent chance of
immediate death, but hell, I didn't care! Oh no! The only thing I cared about was saving
Yurika!"

He slapped the tattooed hand on the bar-top and shook his head.

"Thirty-seven point five percent chance of instant death…Probably even worse
odds after climbing into a Dauphin and taking on an Aesti…And it doesn't even phase her."
He shook his head again and faced her. "But hey! At least Akito was okay!"

"Well, what do you see in Yurika?" Megumi fired back. "She's a total ditz who
can barely walk and chew gum at the same time! I mean, yeah, she's a tactical genius, but
when it comes to anything else, she's completely clueless!"

"She has her good points," Jun muttered, taking another drink.

"Oh please!" Megumi scoffed. "They are so obviously fake it's not even funny…"

"Not them," Jun told her seriously. "She's…well…nice…and beautiful…"
Megumi waited for something more substantial; some clue as to why the EXO of her ship
turned into a puppy dog whenever Yurika was around. "And," he finished slowly, "She
was willing to give a geeky…shy…midshipman the time of day."

She stared at him dumbly as he took another drink. "Is that why you're in love with
her so much?" she asked incredulously. "Because she was NICE to you?!"

"No!" he told her almost angrily. "It's what I noticed about her. She's incapable
of being cruel. At the time, I found that VERY appealing."

"Sounds like you didn't have a very good stay at the Academy," Megumi
commented.

He chuckled under his breath. "When you're the runt, you don't have much of a stay
ANYWHERE." He took another drink. "But you know what? I didn't care. I was going
to serve and protect my planet the best way I knew how. The other midshipmen didn't
have to like me, but I tell you this, by the time I left, they DID respect me."

"Respect," Megumi breathed. "I'd settle for that right now." She took a sip of the
purple beverage in front of her and signaled for a refill.

"What do you mean?" he asked. He noticed his glass was approaching the
forbidden 'Empty' Zone and pushed it towards the bartender as he refilled Megumi's glass.

"You don't honestly think I'm respected here, do you?" she asked bitterly. "They
hired me because I had a nice voice. Kanchou looks down at me because I like Akito,
Ryoko looks down at me for the same reason. They BOTH look down at me because
they're a head taller than me…"

"That has nothing to do with it," he said, dismissing her remarks with a wave of his
hand. "This entire crew is a few bananas short of a bunch. Jeeze, just look at the people
running them."

"You run them too, you know," she pointed out.

He laughed out loud at this. "Me?! I'm a doorstop! I'm there to make sure that
Yurika remembers to pick up her crayons after recess!" He chuckled again and took
another sip of his drink. "I'm no more useful on this boat than Munatake."

"Stop putting yourself down," Megumi told him. "You look out for us, and we all
respect that! Your problem is that you don't see that because you're too busy looking for
approval from that woman!"

"Yeah? Well you're doing the same thing!" he countered. "'Akito! Akito!
Akito!'" He snorted. "You know, if you stopped going on about how wonderful he is and
actually looked farther than the kitchen, you might actually discover that there are a lot of
guys on this piece of crap battleship who think you're something special! And guess what!
They aren't dragged off by Yurika every five seconds or leave you hanging in the O-Club!"

"It's not his fault," she seethed.

"Yeah, well I don't see him helping matters any," he retorted, finishing off the
contents of his glass. "Kami sama, don't they make bigger glasses?!"

Megumi sighed. "We're both pretty pathetic, huh?"

"'Pathetic' doesn't begin to cover it," he muttered.

"So what do we do?" She finished the contents in her glass and signaled for a
refill. The bartender hopped to oblige her.

"Well, I'm done," he told her. "From now on Yurika can pick up her own god
damn crayons. Or she can get her freak'n Akito to do it for her. I'm officially finished
with her."

Megumi put her glass down. "You know what? You're right! Why should I be the
one impressing HIM?! If he's going to keep leading me on, why should I bother?!"

He held up his glass. "To Yurika and Akito!" he said in toast. "Screw you both!"

"Cheers!" Megumi cried, clinking her glass against his and downing the contents
with one gulp. She put her glass down. "Now what?" she asked.

"I'm getting there, hold on," Jun told her, steadying himself on the bar. "In the
meantime…" He tapped his glass.

"Um…Sir?" the bartender began. "Don't you think you've had enough?"

"Hey!" Megumi snapped. "Do you know who you're talking to?! This is the
Executive Officer of the Mobile Battleship, Nadesico…..Dammit!" she added for
emphasis. "So if you don't want him to throw your ass in the brig, I suggest you make him
another drink!"



Jun hit the far bulkhead with a thud and tried to blink the inebriation out of his
brain. A second later, he heard Megumi squeak as she, likewise, was tossed out of the O-
Club. The doors shut behind them.

"Wow," Jun remarked dazedly. "Give those bartenders a little power and
WHOOSH!" He threw his hands in the air to emphasize their obvious unfairness.

"Yeah," Megumi agreed, standing up.

Jun squinted at his watch. "Almost midnight and I'm still conscious…..That is SO
typical…"

"What do you want to do now?" she asked him.

"Well," he said, "Unless this ship has another O-Club I wasn't made aware of,
that's it for drinking. I don't have a drop in my quarters."

"I THINK…I have a bottle of champagne in mine," she confessed. "I was saving it
for a picnic with Akito…"

He laughed and leaned up against the bulkhead.

"Would you… like to share it?" she asked tentatively.

Jun stood there and pretended to pout. "I dunno if I want AKITO champagne…I
might catch something…"

"Will you knock it off?!" she giggled. "I promise! I'll disinfect it first!"

"Oh!" Jun replied. "Shure, why not?" He turned and walked right into the
bulkhead. "Hey, did you know they put a wall here?" he asked.

Megumi took his hand and started leading him down the corridor. "This way, Jun."

The EXO followed along, content to let the comm officer guide him down the
corridor. As they walked, his eyes fell onto the young woman. Her dress was tight in all
the right places, and he found himself gazing downwards at her rear end and the back of her
thighs.

//Kami sama, what a moron,// he thought. //Akito could have this woman just by
speaking up, and instead he just strings her along.// He continued to gaze, admiring her soft
curves. Her dark purple hair, arranged in a braid, hung down her back and bounced along
as she walked. He leaned forward a bit and could detect the faint scent of violets.

Megumi turned her head abruptly and noticed how close he was. She blushed a bit
and continued to lead him down the corridor and into a lift. A short, silent ride and they
were on another deck.

"You live too far away," Jun complained with a short laugh. He leaned against the
bulkhead and took a breath.

"You okay?" she asked, smiling.

"Yeah, I'm fine," he told her. "Just peachy…"

"Come on," she said, taking his arm. "My quarters are just a little farther. You can
rest there."

True to her word, Megumi's quarters were no more than two or three doors down.
She keyed the lock, and the door opened revealing the comm officer's small, yet
comfortable living space. It was more like a small studio apartment, with a bed in the
corner, a desk, and a tiny kitchen space.

Megumi went to the wall and worked a latch about chest level, pulling on a secret
compartment. A small couch folded out. She turned back to Jun and helped him into it.

"There you go," she said as he sat there dazedly.

"This place is nice," Jun commented, looking around.

The young woman went to the tiny kitchen, and Jun could hear the sound of glass
clinking. She returned a moment later with a bottle and two glasses in her hands. She sat
down on his right and set about opening the bottle, pushing the cork up with her thumb.
Finally, with a loud POP!, the cork shot straight up, hit the ceiling, and landed on the couch
next to her.

"Whoops!" Megumi cried. She quickly poured the liquid into a glass and handed it
to him before pouring her own. She reached down and put the bottle on the floor and
turned to him. "What should we toast to?"

"To…." He took a breath and thought. "To having enough steel to finish the last
round."

"Cheers," she said, clinking her glass against his and sipping the contents slowly.

He took a drink and swallowed, savoring the taste. Then…it happened. Almost
like a General Quarters klaxon going off in his head, he heard his own voice in his mind.

//Jun, listen very carefully! This is the RATIONAL part of your brain talking! I've
temporarily taken control of you, but I don't know how long I'll have it! Here's the
situation… You are intoxicated. You are in the quarters of one of your junior officers, and
that junior officer is looking VERY hot right now. It is time to leave. Get up and…Uh
oh…I'm losing control of the main…I…//

Alcohol-induced static returned to his brain.

It was enough, however. He took a breath and turned to Megumi. "Um…I've had a
good time," he told her uneasily. "I…think things are going to…you know…work out
for…me…now…and I'm glad to see that…um…You're feeling
better…about………stuff…."

"Oh," she said quietly in reply. "Leaving?" she asked.

"Yeah," he said, finishing the champagne in his glass. "I…have duty tomorrow."
The two shared an uneasy silence.

"Me too," she said finally. She started looking around herself. "Did you see where
that cork went?"

"Yeah, it's over there," he told her, pointing.

"Where?"

He leaned across her to pick it up himself. "It's right over…" That's when he felt
it. She had placed her hand on the back of his neck. He froze, the cork in his hand.

"Jun," she said quietly. "Maybe…Maybe you shouldn't." He said nothing. "I
mean…You ARE the EXO…And it wouldn't be right for the crew to see
you…um…drunk…walking back to your quarters…in your condition…"

"Um…"

"I was thinking," she continued. "You could…um…Stay here tonight," she
finished.

He swallowed nervously but said nothing. Did she just invite him to stay for the
night? He was still leaned across her, their bodies dangerously close to one another, and
the hand on the back of his neck had started to move up, gently stroking his hair.

Now, Jun wasn't very good at picking up signals, but this was a no-brainer even for
HIM…

"Megumi," he whispered, sitting up again. Her hands went to his chest, and he
covered them with his own. "You…You have no idea how…how attractive you are right
now…But…you're drunk…And it wouldn't be rig…"

She kissed him. The sensation of the petite comm officer's tongue entering his
mouth caught him completely by surprise. Without realizing it, he started kissing back, his
hand going to the woman's face and caressing her cheek. Reluctantly, the two parted a
moment later.

Megumi placed her hand on the side of his face. He had been on duty all day, and
she could feel the stubble from his five o'clock shadow scrape the skin of her palm. "Let
me decide how drunk I am," she whispered.

In response to this, he leaned forward and kissed her again. This time she was the
one caught off-guard, but the petite woman recovered quickly and wrapped her arms
around his neck. As he leaned forward, she gave way and leaned back until she was lying
on the couch, their lips not having parted once.

Finally, the kiss broke, but words weren't wasted. She moved down and kissed his
neck as his hands reached around and fumbled with the zipper on the back of her dress.
She leaned up a little to afford his hands room to work, but moved too much too fast,
catching him by surprise. With a cry, they both rolled off the couch onto the floor, Megumi
landing on top of him.

She didn't seem to notice. She kissed him again and began undoing the buttons on
his uniform shirt, pulling the folds of white cloth apart to get to his bare skin. They both
heard the sound of her zipper coming down. The comm officer broke the kiss and sat up,
straddling him as she pulled the dress down, exposing her pert breasts before falling back
down on top of him and kissing him passionately. His arms encircled her, pulling closer,
smashing her breasts against his chest.

"Jun," she whispered, breaking away. He tried to kiss her again, but she moved her
head. He contented himself by kissing neck. "Jun," she tried again, her eyes closed as she
treasured the feeling of his lips on her soft skin. "Let's move this to the bed," she
suggested.

He didn't acknowledge the suggestion, too busy working on her neck. His hands
roamed up and down her back.

"Jun," she whispered again. "Come on. The floor's too hard for this." She moved
her hips slightly and felt something, causing her to giggle. "And that's not the only thing, I
guess." She sat up. He tried to follow her, but she placed her hands on his chest and gently
pushed him back down again. "Come on," she coaxed him with a giggle, rising to her feet.

The staff officer rose slowly to his feet, all too aware of his inebriated state and
likewise aware that if he moved too fast he'd likely regret it. Finally, he was upward and
mobile again, and he turned. Megumi was standing nearby, slowly backing towards her
bed, staring at him. Her arms were crossed over her chest, concealing her breasts and
trying to hide the slight blush that suffused her chest, neck, and face.

"Jun chan," she coaxed with a smile. She took another step back towards the bed.

He followed slowly and carefully, not wanting to trip over his own feet like some
kind of buffoon.

"Jun chan," she called out, giggling. He finally reached her and wrapped his arms
around her, kissing her softly. Her hands went back to work on his shirt, undoing the final
button and pushing the uniform top off of him. She reached down and found the end of his
white T-shirt, pulling that up and over his head, exposing his bare chest.

Megumi had to admit to being surprised. He was more muscular than she had
thought he'd be. She rested her fingertips on his chest and slowly trailed them down.

Jun, meanwhile, was running his hands down her back, pushing her dress further
downward until the black dress finally fell, pooling around her ankles.

She took one last step back and sat down on the edge of the bed, pulling Jun down
with her…



**BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!**

Megumi blinked and yawned as she sleepily rolled over, slapping her alarm clock
with the palm of her hand.

"Good morning, Megumi!" the clock replied. "It's oh-five-thirty!"

"Yeahwhatever…" she mumbled sleepily. She rolled back over and bumped into
a warm, muscular someone sleeping in the bed next to her. She put a hand on that
someone's chest and cuddled up to him.

He stirred next to her and opened his eyes, moaning in pain.

"Good morning," she whispered, following it with a yawn.

Jun winced painfully and blinked. "Hmmm?" was all he could get out.

"How do you feel?" she asked quietly.

He looked from side to side in puzzlement as if stalling long enough to remember
what had happened.

//Welcome back, Jun,// a familiar voice in his head greeted him. //That's right.
I'm the rational part of your mind again. Tell me something…When you and I worked out
that plan for you to leave before this happened, were you even PRETENDING to pay
attention to me?//

"Megumi chan…"

"How's your head?" she asked.

"It's okay," he told her. "Yours?"

"I'm fine," she whispered, giving him a quick kiss. "But you look awful. Are you
sure you're okay?"

"Yeah," he said, not believing it himself.

//Sleeping with a junior officer,// his brain listed. //Drunk and Disorderly,
Conduct Unbecoming an Officer…all that is bad enough, but do you know what's worse?//

He really didn't want to hear this…

//Tough shit!// his brain fired back. //Take a look at that poor girl! I wonder how
she feels about getting drunk and letting the EXO of the ship…//

"Okay, I get it," he muttered tightly.

"Jun?" Megumi asked.

He took a breath. This wasn't going to be easy… "Megumi chan…"

"Jun…" she began, interrupting him. "I…I know what you're going to say.
We…both went a little overboard last night." She paused and bit her lip, looking at him
sadly. "If you'd rather just forget what happened…I'll understand."

He blinked in shock. She was giving him a way out? Why?

And did he really want one?

She sat up and pulled the blanket around herself modestly. "It was nice," she said.
"And I don't regret it in the slightest. We were both…well…out of sorts last night…And I
won't hold you to anything." She smiled and shook her head. "I've tried that before."

So this was how it was going to end. He felt a ball of ice form up in the pit of his
stomach. It's what he should have expected. What did he think? That a night of alcohol-
induced foolishness would cause her to forget all about Akito and come running to him?
He should have known better.

Her comm beeped. She blinked and stood up, wrapping the blanket around herself.
She answered it while Jun stared up at the ceiling, deep in thought. He could hear HIS
voice speaking to Megumi.

"Oh, Megumi chan," Akito said sheepishly. "I'm sorry, I just now got your note.
Yurika had me on the bridge all night. I'm sorry."

"That's okay, Akito," she told him with a sigh.

"Look," Akito went on. "How about we have lunch. I'll make it up to you."

Her answer surprised Jun. "Actually, Akito, I don't think that's such a good idea."

Akito was blinking in surprise. "Um…Okay. Well…I'll talk to you later then."

"Okay." The comm blinked off. She turned and looked at him sadly. "Well…I
guess…"

"Megumi chan," he began, cutting her off. "Would you like to get some coffee
before our shift starts?"

She looked at him in surprise. "Jun…You don't have to t…"

"I want to," he told her.

"What about Yurika?" she asked.

"What about Akito?" he countered.

She looked down at the ground. "I think you were right last night. It's time I
stepped back." The comm officer looked up at him and smiled. "Jun, you're a very kind,
gentle man…Yurika's stupid not to see that. I'll be honest with you. I really needed last
night. I needed…a kind, gentle man…to treat me the way you did. But I'm not going to let
you guilt yourself into pretending you feel something you don't to make me feel better just
because we didn't know any better. I don't want that."

"Neither do I," he told her honestly. "Maybe we did move too fast last night. But
I'm not asking you out for coffee because I feel some kind of obligation. I'm asking
because I want to know about…the kind, gentle woman I spent last night with."

She smiled. "I'd like that."



"How's your head?" Megumi asked him as they entered the O-Club.

"Still pounding," he told her.

She smiled. "I'll get us a table if you get us the coffee."

He agreed and made his way to the bar. The same man was behind the counter as
last night. Jun took a breath and walked up to him.

"'Morn'n, Lieutenant," the man said with a smile. "How's the head?"

"Um…Fine. Look, about last night. I'm really sorry…"

The man waved it aside. "Don't worry about it. You were pretty sozzled.
Happens a lot in here."

Jun sighed in relief and smiled. "Thanks."

"At least you had enough sense to let Miss Megumi walk you home. After an
Escape From Nadesico, most guys can't find their ass with both hands and a hunting dog,
let alone their quarters."

Jun threw a look over his shoulder and saw Megumi just sitting down at a table.
"Yeah, guess I lucked out."

"Yeah. At least one of you was clear-headed."

He blinked. "What do you mean? She drank just as much as I did."

"Maybe, Sir," the bartender told him. "But I've been serving drinks for a long
time, seen a lot of strange stuff. Even so, I ain't NEVER seen ANYONE get drunk drinking
straight cranberry juice."

His jaw dropped. "Wait a second…CRANBERRY JUICE? Are you saying the
woman I was with last night was…"

"Dry as a bone, yes, Sir," the bartender told him.

Jun looked over at Megumi and blinked. She looked up and smiled at him.

"Here you go, Sir. Two coffees."

//She wasn't drunk. She knew what she was doing the entire time.//

Meaning that she was with him last night because she WANTED to be…

"Sir. I think your girlfriend's waiting for you."

Jun smiled and picked up the beverages. "Thanks," he said. He walked to the table
Megumi had found for them and sat down, passing a cup to her. "So," he began. "Where
should we start?"

"I don't know," she confessed. "Where would you like to start?"

"How about your favorite drink," he suggested.



Author's Notes:

Okay, flame at will, but I can think of worse couples. ^_^ \/

Doscher009@hotmail.com