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STILL ALIVE BELOW
Emby Quinn (savageredhead@aol.com)
(Timeline: post-Gatchaman Episode #82, "Aim At Crescent Coral!")

Line me up in single file
With all your grievances
Stare but I can taste
You're still alive below the waste
Ripples come and ripples go
And ripple back to me

Condor Joe was in a phenomenally foul mood.

He prowled the curving corridors of Crescent Coral Base in full BirdStyle, hie eyes cold and forbidding beneath the tinted visor of his helmet. Everyone who saw the dark, brooding figure approaching gave the Science Ninja a wide berth, and that suited the Condor quite well, thank you.

It had been two days since Galactor had come perilously close--too close--to destroying the underwater base that was the heart and soul of their operation. As things stood, Katse knew what Crescent Coral Reef was hiding. The camouflage that had kept their base secure for a year and a half was now not only useless, its distinctive shape could give them away at any moment.

Crescent Coral Base still had its mobility; the base was now moving on a regular schedule, and the Science Ninja were on high alert status, remaining on the base and abandoning their private lives for the duration of the current crisis. They had to be ready to mobilize at any moment, and Nambu wanted them to stay close in case an attack came after them personally.

Two days, and already Joe was beginning to go stir-crazy. He hated being caged up. He hated being surrounded by cold metal walls. He hated being trapped underwater like a bug in a tin can. He hated not being able to get in his car and drive off anytime he wanted, go anywhere he wanted. He hated being in BirdStyle sixteen hours a day, looking at the world through a smoke-tinted visor. He hated hiding when all he wanted to do was go out, find Katse's secret base, and blow it to hell and gone once and for all.

We don't know where Galactor's main base is, but they came too damn close to finding ours. Next time we might not get lucky. And there will be a next time.

Only this morning Joe and Ken had come, quite literally, to blows over the problem. Joe had wanted to go out and find something to attack, in order to draw Galactor out of hiding. Ken insisted that they follow Nambu's orders and wait. By the time the "discussion" had reached its inconclusive end, Ken sported a bloodied lip and Joe was nursing a nasty bruise on his jaw. Only their visors had kept either man from earning a black eye or a broken nose, and only Jun's intervention had kept them from inflicting more serious injury on each other.

The threat to their secret base was just the latest in a series of upheavals in Joe's life that had been coming too hard and too fast of late. The discovery--or rather, the recollection that his parents' murder had been because they were defecting from Galactor--that he, himself, was the son of a Galactor official--had nearly destroyed him. He had gone to his birthplace, BC Island, to discover the reasons for his parents' attempted defection, but had found only more pain and tragedy, culminating in the death of his only friend from childhood, Alan--by Joe's own hand.

Joe rounded a bend in the corridor--and stopped. The stretch of hallway before him sported a long observation port that looked out on the reef, from the same point of view as Nambu's office several levels above. The view wasn't quite as spectacular this far down, but it was still more impressive than the flat featureless metal of the interior walls. From time to time those who worked at the base would linger before the long observation window, watching the play of sunlight from above the surface through the lacework of coral far above, watching the fish dart in and out of sight in the dappled, shifting patterns of light and shadow.

At the moment there was only one person standing in the hallway, and she was neither a technician nor a scientist. In fact, she didn't really belong on the base. She had no reason to be there except for the fact that she had begged to be allowed to stay with the only friends and family she had, rather than be alone. Nambu, in an uncharacteristic show of compassion, had relented.

She hadn't noticed Joe yet, and he stood very still where he was, watching her as she watched the constantly shifting, moving scene outside. Miyae Washio was the one recent change in his life that Joe did not consider unwelcome. She was Ken's older sister, only recently rescued from her lifelong Galactor captivity, and her lack of experience in normal society made her uncommonly vulnerable in spite of her self-sufficient demeanor. She was nearly as tall as her brother, a hand's breadth under six feet, long-limbed and slender. Her hair hung down just past her shoulders, dark red in the overhead fluorescents. She had her hands behind her back, and her small breasts rose and fell softly with her breathing. Joe could just make out the shape of her nipples through the thin material of her shirt.

His foul mood drained out of him, abruptly receding like ebbing flood waters. Rushing into the space left behind was a tidal surge of desire so sudden and intense he could have almost drowned in it. Before he realized he had moved, he was heading for her.

Miya heard his footsteps and turned to face him. Her face lit up at the sight of him, as it always did, but at the expression he wore she faltered. "Joe? What's wrong?"

Joe was scowling still, but for entirely different reasons now. He didn't bother with explanations. His gloved hand closed firmly around her wrist, and he pulled her away from the window. Ignoring her questions, he dragged her after him, looking for somewhere, anywhere, he could be alone with her, away from curious eyes.

The darkroom--it would have to do. Joe opened the door, hauled Miya inside, and shut it firmly behind them, the lock clicking into place. He flicked on the light, which glowed dull red above them.

"Charming," Miya said, folding her arms and looking around. Ken was something of a shutter-bug, and this room had originally been a storage area before Nambu had ordered it set aside for Ken's private use. It had certainly proven useful on occasion, justifying any minor inconveniences. At the moment, the work table was bare, the pans stacked neatly in a corner, the chemicals carefully stored away. Ken seldom kept the shack at the airstrip this neat, but when it came to his photography equipment, he was meticulous.

Joe approached Miya, who looked at him with a mixture of concern and mild impatience. "Mind telling me what we're--mmf!" Joe quieted her by pulling her against him and covering her mouth with his. The edge of his visor pressed against her cheek, but after a moment she didn't seem to care about that. Her arms went around his neck as she responded to the kiss.

Joe's erection surged, so hard it was painful. He put his hands around Miya's waist and lifted her up to sit on the table. She broke the kiss and gasped as his gloved hands slid under her shirt and found her breasts. His fingers sought out the sensitive nipples, already taut and erect, and he rubbed them with his thumbs, listening to her soft moans.

Her hands went to his chest, tracing the lines eagerly. She was trying to find some way to open his bodysuit, he realized, and smirked. The seams were carefully concealed, of course, to prevent them being stripped in case of capture by the enemy. Even their helmets had special catches that had to be disengaged before they could be removed.

One hand kept tweaking her nipples while Joe reached down with the other and opened her jeans. Gasping, she helped him strip them off, and they slid to the floor at his feet. His fingers probed past the springy tangle of curls between her legs, finding her center, and she bit her lip to stifle a cry as he stroked her insistently.

He wanted to use his mouth on her nipples, but he hadn't taken off his helmet, and he didn't want to take his hands off her long enough to disengage it. So he contented himself with squeezing her breasts, one after the other, flicking the rosy peaks with his fingertips as his other hand teased the swollen bud between her legs. She caught hold of his arms and gasped his name as she climaxed; Joe grinned as he felt her muscles contract around his fingers.

Keeping that hand in place, he reached with the other and unseamed the lower front of his jumpsuit. He shoved the protective cup aside, releasing his throbbing erection. Taking it in his hand, he shoved himself into her waiting warmth, sliding in easily all the way up to the root of his shaft.

She was tight around him, so tight, deliciously tight. Her legs wrapped his waist as he reached for her breast again, tweaking the nipple, watching her face as he thrust into her, as deep as she could take it. Within seconds she was coming again, her fingers clawing at his caped back. He heard his own voice muttering, telling her how good it felt inside her, how much he wanted her, how he loved making her come...but she couldn't understand him, he was speaking Sicilian, and in any case she was too far gone to care. She fisted her hands in his cape and screamed with another orgasm, screamed his name, begging him not to stop.

He couldn't have stopped. Not for anything. He plunged into her again and again, savoring the feel of being inside her, moving with her. He pumped against her, thrusting into her hard and fast, so hard the table underneath them rattled on the floor. He groaned as he felt her contracting around him again, she was coming again, coming hard this time, and this time she was taking him with her, he couldn't hold back, didn't want to hold back, he was going to come hard and Christ it was so damn good--

He growled in his throat, a feral sound, as he erupted inside her, filling her with his seed, pulsing in her, his body wracked with spasms of bliss. He felt her fists beating on his back as she came with him, and that only prolonged his own climax. He thrust up to the hilt in her, pushing hard and deep and quick, groaning with the sheer bliss of it, the perfect ecstasy that only they could share, caught up in the timeless rush of release.

He covered her mouth with his, crushing her against him, trembling with her as their shared orgasms ran their course. Her fingers locked at the back of his cowled neck as their tongues met, teasing and caressing. He cupped one breast and squeezed it softly, rhythmically, as his thrusts slowed inside her, becoming almost gentle, comforting. Her hips moved lazily with his, riding him down.

A stern knock at the door made them both freeze. "Who's in there?"

Joe lifted his mouth from Miya's with a bitten curse. He didn't withdraw from her. He glared at the door as though it had personally offended him. "It's me, Ken."

"Joe?! What the hell are you doing in my darkroom?"

Fucking your sister. Why do you ask? "Do you need it?"

"No, the light outside was on and I was just wondering--never mind. Just be sure to clean up before you leave."

Miya bit Joe's caped shoulder in an effort not to burst out laughing. "Sure, Ken," Joe said, barely able to keep from chuckling himself. "You'll never know I was here."

"Hmp."

Once the sound of footsteps walking away had faded, Joe let go. Miya's laughter joined with his as they continued clinging to each other.

"At least he didn't walk in on us," Miya spluttered.

"Ah, it would've just given him one more reason to beat me up." Joe nipped at her neck, pondering the fact that no matter how grim the situation was, it was impossible to be completely morose after a good, healthy fuck. Whatever happened tomorrow, or next week, or next year, was beyond his ability to control. Right now, this moment, he had the woman he loved in his arms, and quite simply, he felt too good to be in a bad mood.

And he was getting hard inside her again...Joe grinned savagely as he began to move, savoring Miya's gasp of astonishment and rekindled desire. He reached up and popped the hidden catch at the base of his neck. The helmet dropped to the floor with a metallic clatter and his shaggy hair fell around his sharp features. Ken had better not need his darkroom for a while yet, he mused as he kissed his way down to her breasts.

I am not asking you to believe in me
Boy I think you're confused
I'm not Persephone
She's in New York somewhere
Checking her accounts
The Lord of The Flies was
Diagnosed as sound

--Tori Amos, "Pandora's Aquarium"