Disclaimer: Battle of the Planets belongs to Sandy Frank. Gatchaman to Tatsunoko. I'm only borrowing the birdies.
Author Note: This one is a little different to the previous 2 "On My Watch" vignettes. That's deliberate. This is set some time after the end of the Battle of the Planets series.
It's been a hard mission, and I'm thankful to be home. Really home. The flat above the snack bar.
Centre Neptune's great, don't get me wrong, but there's always people there. You can never just curl up and be alone to think.
Well, Jason can, but that's just Jase.
When I'm there, I'm always busy with the team. Even in our ready room, I'm always being asked to "participate". And sometimes, to be honest, I don't want to.
That's why I love it here. Keyop understands that when I've closed my door, he's not to intrude. To his credit, he doesn't. But I know it's hard for him, and try not hole up too often.
But today; today I need to be alone. This mission has been a disaster. The concept of "team" had pretty much gone completely out the window by the time we took off. God knows why. I certainly tried, but sometimes it seems as if Mark and Jason are determined to antagonise not only each other, but the rest of us.
Keyop was right that day when he said we needed a referee.
That job usually falls to me, and I'm usually the one taking the mental blows that Mark and Jason dish out. Fortunately, they confine their physical beatings to each other.
I've taken them out again. Copies of the reports Anderson gave me a few years ago, when we were deemed "combat ready".
We thought we were, but we soon found out otherwise. Teenage egos were deflated, but it made us better for it.
Anyway, Anderson gave us these reports. Apparently we weren't the first team. Thank the gods, I say. There was some other poor woman who had to wear that bloody pink dress. I've always wondered about that. I have the least protection against what the enemy dishes out. Let's not even talk about how short it is. I swear, if I had a dime for every male who's been the recipient of a flash of my undies, then I'd be a rich woman.
I'll never forget the day that I deliberately wore a pair of black lace knickers instead. Neither will Mark. It was the first time I'd ever seen him truly speechless. His mouth moved, but only choking sounds came out.
I thought Jason would piss himself, he was laughing so hard at Mark's predicament.
But it had a really good outcome in the end. I landed my Eagle.
That other Swan – Jun. She was different to me. But then, the whole team was formed for a different reason. Yeah, they could (and did) perform as a combat team, but their first priority was to gain information.
When I first read these, I was amused. I wondered if it was deliberate, that they made sure we matched our counterparts so closely. Then, as time went on, I wondered what Anderson would have done if we hadn't shown the same aptitudes?
Back then, those reports terrified me as I read. Their lives were so affected by being part of the Science Ninja's – the Kagatu Ninjatai. I had thought no, we're different. It won't be like that for us.
But I copied those reports. And I kept them secretly to re-read.
Because it did become like that for us.
But I'm different to that Swan. Our team is different.
Her reports include her diaries. Those, well, I kept the originals of those. I didn't read them for a long time, though. And when I did, her "self" started to come through.
I read as she fell in love with Gatchaman, read how he didn't return that love. Read about the loss of their Condor (it's actually made me more protective of Jason. Especially when he was so ill. I was terrified that history would repeat itself), and his return.
I read how she finally fell in love with somebody who loved her back. I've read all her secrets, how much she did love Joe Asakura. How she grew up, learning to differentiate between her idealisation of Gatchaman and the reality of Ken Washio.
Her reports are dry, cold statements of fact. Her analytical self tears apart each mission with deadly accuracy. Those reports, only seen by Dr Nambu, are quick to show where each member of the team (including her) fell down.
But her diaries. Her diaries reveal the woman. Sister, mother, lover, companion. She was all those and more, but I can still see our differences.
I know I'm more "girlie" than she was. I can see that diplomacy wasn't easy for her, but she tried. I love it. When G-Force is no longer needed, Anderson has promised that he'll make sure I'm given a diplomatic posting.
But what it comes down to is that I know I'm a different person to Jun.
On the surface, we seem the same. But I know we're not.
Contrary to popular belief, I do see the dross under the gold. Mark isn't a shining hero. He's human, and it's that humanity that makes me love him as I do.
He's - well, he's real. I know that he means what he says – from Jun's diaries Ken was so different, and that was where her heartbreak started and ended.
Mark and I talk. We know exactly where we stand with each other.
Our war isn't over yet, but Mark and I decided we wouldn't wait.
One thing we've learned is that if you put things off, there's a likelihood they won't happen at all.
So I know what time my husband will be home. And whether we make love or not tonight, I know that I'll sleep in his arms, and wake to him by my side.
Each time we go into battle, we'll be together.
He's confided in me long ago about the contents of Ken Washio's reports, and, on our wedding day, the whole team re-affirmed our vows to defeat Spectra.
This G-Force, for all our conflicts, for all our quirkiness is determined.
And so am I.
I am not that Swan. I am myself.
I put the diaries away as I hear Mark's footsteps coming up the staircase, am ready to receive his loving embrace.
Yes. I am myself. Princess. The Swan.
And I will not fall.