Emby Quinn (

Author's Note: This story takes place more or less between the first two chapters of "Little Earthquakes". Yes, I finally finished it. Enjoy. Ken and Jun belong to Tatsunoko Pro, not me.--eq

if you don't treat me better
baby, i'll just run away
baby, i don't know what drives you
to play all these silly games
c'mon, baby
i'm much stronger than you know
i'm not afraid to let it show

"Jun--did you know that Halainese take off their shoes when they enter their houses? It's so they don't track sand into the house, because of course sand is everywhere on Halai..."

"Mm." Jun responded to this factoid the same way she had to the other eleventy-million unusual, amusing, fascinating and utterly useless tidbits Ken had read about from the tourist guide he'd picked up at the airport. Much more of this torture and she'd be seriously contemplating the joys of widowhood.

The taxicab pulled up in front of the vacation house they'd rented for the week. It was small, little more than a cabana, really, but it wuited both their needs and their budget perfectly well.

Ken offloaded their luggage, paid the driver and started carrying their suitcases inside. He smiled up at the deep blue sky overhead, a color perfectly reflected in his wide eyes. "The weather's supposed to be perfect this time of year," he said as he set the bags down and hunted in his pockets for the front door key. "It seldom rains, and even when it does it's little more than a brief shower."

"Mm." Jun waited patiently until Ken had opened the door. He carried the bags in set them down and looked around at what would be their temporary home for the next week or so. "It's more spacious than it looks, really. I think we'll be quite comfortable." He looked back at Jun, who was still waiting, perhaps slightly less patiently, just outside. "Aren't you coming in?"

"A-hem." Jun folded her arms and tapped her foot.

Slowly the light dawned. "Oh. Oh, sorry." Hastily Ken hurried back out to the doorstep. He grinned sheepishly before giving Jun a quick kiss, scooping her up in his arms and carrying her across the threshold.

After being set on her feet, Jun paused to take a look around the room while Ken bustled their bags into the bedroom. The main room of the bungalow was, indeed, rather more roomy-looking that it would have appeared from the outside. There was a wet bar set up against one wall, and opposite the front entrance stood a pair of sliding glass doors that framed a breathtaking view of the beach. She stepped out of her sandals and wandered barefoot over to the glass and looked out on the sunlit seascape of pale white sand, blue sky and bluer water.

She sensed Ken behind her, rather than heard him, but she didn't move. His arms wrapped around her from behind and he rested his chin lightly atop her head. "Beautiful, isn't it?"

"Mm-hmm." Jun leaned back against her husband (lovely word, that) and folded her arms over his. "How did you ever find this place?"

Ken chuckled against her hair. "I had a little help. I was kind of stuck at first--I didn't really know what you liked to do on vacation. Not for certain, anyway. So I asked your kid brother, and Jinpei told me how much you love swimming. Not that that wasn't a 'duh' moment for me..."

"I would think so," Jun said, smiling.

"Okay, so I'm thick sometimes. Joe points that out often enough." Ken kissed the top of her head. "So I did a websearch and came up with Halai. It's reasonably isolated, fairly unspoiled, reachable by private plane and blissfully quiet."

"That'll make a change."

"Mm-hmm." Ken checked the watch he wore on his wrist in place of his long-lost bracelet. "We have a few hours before dinner. What would you like to do?"

Jun looked at Ken's reflection in the door glass. She honestly couldn't tell from either his expression or his tone of voice whether he was being coy, suggestive or just deliberately dense. So she gave him a smile of sweet innocence and said, "Let's go shopping!"

* * *

Jun had never been much of a traditional girl growing up--raised by a single man with four foster brothers, it wasn't surprising that she never did many "girly" things in her formative years--but she did have a love of shopping. And clothes. And especially shopping for clothes.

Ken muttered something about being her "leg man" as she happily explored the possibilities of the streetside markets. She made him wait outside the small boutique, not allowing him to see or even peek at the contents of the armload of boxes she pressed him into carrying for her. She bought silly souvenirs to take back home and several postcards to address and mail over the next week or so. She even bought a large floppy palm-frond hat and made Ken wear it.

They got back to the bungalow just around six, and Jun excused herself to shower and dress. Ken pulled off the silly hat and left it on the bar, then went to unpack and find something suitable for dinner.

Thankfully there was a second bath--a half-bath, really--and he was able to shower and shave (not that the latter made much difference; Ken wondered if he'd ever be able to grow a mustache like his father's). He put on a pale grey dress shirt and charcoal slacks, combed his hair into something resembling order, and went out to pour a couple of drinks.

It took Jun about another twenty minutes to finish getting ready, and when she emerged from the bedroom Ken caught his breath at the sight of her. Her hair was swept up into a loose chignon, brushed to a shining gloss and fastened in place with a bunch of small orchids of a delicate pink that matched precisely the color of her halter-top dress. Cut on the bias, the asymmetrical skirt clung to her long dancer's legs, the soft fabric caressing her flat stomach and the smooth curves of her hips with every step she took. Her slender feet wore pink sandals with thin straps, and a double strand of pink quartz beads and tiny shells encircled her left ankle.

"What do you think?" she asked, her voice soft with mild shyness. She was a bit self-conscious and obviously hoping he wouldn't think she'd gone overboard.

He took her hand and kissed her. "You look splendid," he said, and meant it. The drinks he'd poured were forgotten; he didn't offer her one and Jun didn't seem to notice them waiting on the bar. He held the door for her as they went out, admiring the curve of her long white neck under the dark sweep of hair. She smiled over her shoulder at him as he followed, and his mouth went instantly dry. Jun looked more beautiful at that moment than he'd ever seen her, lovelier than any woman he could remember having seen, and he wished he could find the words to tell her so without sounding ridiculous.

The restaurant was called Makiki's, and the tropical motif was atmospheric without being completely over the top. The chairs and tables were woven wicker, the servers wore tropical-print shirts and shorts, and on a hanging perch near the bar rested a colorful bird--a parrot or a macaw, Ken wasn't sure which--who regarded patrons with a round suspicious eye and clacked its beak threateningly at anyone who ventured too close. A small hand-lettered sign dangling from the perch confirmed that "YES, HE BITES!"

Ken ordered an appetizer sampler tray with a little of everything. Jun politely refused the server's suggestion of a drink and opted instead for soda water. Ken ordered a dark beer for himself.

"How about the lobster?" Jun suggested as she scanned the menu. Ken didn't know if he even liked lobster--he'd never had it--but he agreed willingly. When it came, Jun had to show him how to crack the shell open, but it was indeed quite good, particularly with the butter sauce provided.

Ken regarded the bulk of the carapace and looked slyly up at Jun. He turned it around to face her and waved its claws menacingly in her direction. "And just how many of the mecha we destroyed looked like this?"

Jun laughed. The butter sauce shone on her lips, and Ken wondered what they would taste like if he kissed her right then and there. Only the fact that they were in a public place held him in check.

He reached across the table and covered her small white hand with his. "You're really beautiful tonight," he told her. "You're the most beautiful woman here."

Her dark lashes lowered and she blushed a bit. "Ken..."

"Can you forgive me for being a complete idot? For not responding to you as I should have, for all those years?"

She giggled and her green eyes met his. "Silly. You make it sound like we're forty or something. We grew up together; we fought together, we were like family. We were family. To be honest...I never really expected you to think of me as anything else."

"I would have had to have been dumber than Joe always thought I was." His hand tightened on hers. "I wanted you to be happy, Jun...I didn't think I could make you happy. I always expected to die on some mission or other and I certainly didn't want you to mourn me as more than your leader."

"Idiot." Jun's eyes glimmered. "If anything had happened to you, it would have hurt just as much if you never even looked at me. I fell in love with you when we were children. I had just about convinced myself you weren't interested in me when you started showing me that you were."

"I know. I damn near left it too late. Can you ever forgive me?"

"Wait till we've been married thirty years." She winked. "Then ask me again."

* * *

They walked back to the bungalow in a strangely comfortable silence, arms around each other's waists. The sound of the ocean was never far away, and the sky above them was scattered with jewel-like stars of more colors than Ken could have imagined seeing anywhere but outer space.

Once in their bedroom, Jun picked up a small overnight case and excused herself to the bathroom. Ken forced himself to take his time undressing and changing into the sky-blue silk pajamas that were a honeymoon gift from his sister Miyae. He busied himself straightening the bedroom, putting away stray items, checking to make sure the air conditioner wasn't set too low, then turned down the edge of the coverlet on the double bed and sat down to wait for Jun.

And wait.

And wait some more.

Ken glanced nervously at the clock. At his bachelor party Kamo and Ryu had made jokes about brides locking themselves in the bathroom on their wedding night; those jokes didn't seem so funny now. Was Jun having second thoughts? Had she already slipped out the window and headed for the airport to catch a charter flight back to Utoland?

Hesitantly he stood, walked over to the bathroom door, and hesitated. He didn't want to rush her. If he pushed too hard, maybe she would sneak out and run away. It was important not to seem overeager.

He paced between the bed and the bathroom door, pausing now and again to listen. A faint rustle from time to time, a quick sound of running water, assured him that the room was still occupied. He couldn't help but wonder what in the world was taking her so long.

He heard the doorknob start to turn, and by the time the door swung open Ken was sitting casually on the bed, looking as if he hadn't moved at all. His nonchalance lasted just until he got a good look at what Jun was wearing.

Her hair was loose now, falling softly around her shoulders in a silky curtain of pure black. Her torso was clasped by a white satin corset that laced down the front. The corset fit against her supple body as closely as a second skin and pushed the soft mounds of her breasts up and together, forming a deep cleavage. Her panties were also white, consisting of little more than a triangle of satin in the front covered with fine lace and attached to a pair of slender straps that rode high on her hips. Attached to the bottom of the corset were garters that held up the white silk stockings that encased her long, shapely legs. A pair of transparent slippers--glass? acrylic?--were on her delicate feet. She wore a sheer filmy white robe over her ensemble that floated softly on the air behind her as she walked slowly forward.

Ken stood up, slowly taking in the sight of her. She was like a vision, a wholly desirable angel, lovely beyond any imagining he could have conceived. "Jun..."

She smiled and held out her arms to him. "Ken. I love you."

He went to her willingly; he wouldn't have been able to keep himself from doing so if he'd tried. He took his wife in his arms and kissed her lingeringly, savoring the press of her body against his. Her arms locked around his waist, holding him close.

He coaxed himself loose long enough to slide the diaphanous robe off her shoulders. It pooled softly at her feet. She stepped out of the slippers and Ken picked her up in his arms and carried her to the bed.

He fought himself hard, holding himself back, wanting desperately to take her but wanting to be sure she was ready, and not entirely sure how he could be sure. He didn't want to ask her; he was fearful of breaking the sweet magic of the spell that was weaving itself softly around them. He wanted this night, of all nights, to be beautiful and special and perfect. For Jun especially. He knew her dreams, or at least imagined he did, and he desperately wanted to not fall short of them.

As it turned out, Ken's patience outlasted Jun's own. She waited for him until she was shaking with need and desire. Finally, she gave him a determined kiss and reached for him. From there, instinct took over, and Ken thankfully gave himself over to it. When it was over, he collapsed atop her, keeping his weight off her with his elbows. She kissed his neck and shoulders, the side of his face, while stroking his hair. He slipped his shaking arms underneath her and held her close against him.

"Kimi wa..." His voice broke; he swallowed and tried again. "Kimi wa totemo taisetsu ni yo."

'You're my most precious treasure.' It was the strongest declaration of love a Japanese man could make, more powerful even than 'I love you', and it was what she had always longed to hear from Ken's lips. Jun's eyes filled with tears as she wrapped her arms around his neck. "You're everything to me, Ken," she whispered. "You have always been, and you always will be."

* * *

when will you wake up
i want you more than the stars and the sun
but i can take
only so much
cool on your island
is it cool on your island

--Tori Amos

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