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seaQuest: The Dawning
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Once we were all settled on the couches, drinks in hand, I asked Jim whether his leave was unexpected or what. He looked at Tim, confused.
"Didnít you get my letter? I wrote you to tell you that I had 2 weeks off this month. Tim, I asked you to mail it." Tim shook his head.
"I mailed it, Jim." Manda reached over and smacked the back of my head lightly.
"Iím sure you did. Brain-dead over here never checks her mail." I glared at her and then looked at Jim.
"I just got a letter today. I havenít had a chance to open it yet."
"Oh, sorry. So you really werenít expecting company then."
I shook my head.
"No, but itís fine. Itís been a long day, we could use a little party."
"Long day?" Miguel asked. I sighed and explained about the backlash that Jasper and I had been receiving.
When I was done, Jim leaned back against the couch.
"Damn, Iím sorry, Jo. Where is Jasper anyway?"
"Heíll be back a little bit later." I stood up. "In the meantime, how long can you stay?"
Miguel glanced at Tim who stared at Jim. I knew what they were thinking and smiled.
"You guys want to crash in the spare rooms?"
"If itís not any trouble."
"No trouble at all."

A bell sounded within the house, and the three guests jumped. Manda smiled.
"Itís just the alarm that sounds when the garage door opens. The boys must be home."
A moment later, we heard the sliding door open and two male voices locked in heated conversation flowed from our kitchen.
"Hey!" I called. "Could you either keep it down or come in here? Weíve got company!" The voices stopped, and two men appeared in our doorway. Manda grinned and walked over to Alex. He smiled and looked at our guests.
"Itís ok." She assured him, and kissed him on the lips quickly before turning around.
"Jas, you rememberÖ"
"Jim! Hey, howís it going?" He said, walking over and gripping my brothers hand.
"Not too bad. Yourself?"
"Eh. Not bad."

The rest of the introductions were made quickly as I explained that Miguel, Jim and Tim were going to be visiting for a few days.
"Right on. Maybe youíll stick around to see Sky Wars then?"
I looked at Jim and signaled that Jasper didnít know about the competition yet. Jim nodded, understanding.
"Sure." I cleared my throat.
"Yeah, weíll have to talk about that later, Jas. Whatís the deal with the car?"
Alex groaned.
"Stupid-ass Drew was supposed to turn over the pinks this afternoon. He never showed up." Manda looked up.
"You guys think he bailed on the deal?"
Jasper nodded.
"Yeah, kinda looks that way."
"Car?" Jim asked. I turned to him.
"Yeah. We got a new car last week, but evidently the seller isnít holding up his end of the deal." I cast a warning glance backwards at the boys. No need to tell my brother exactly how we had obtained the car. I doubt that he would approve of street-racing in any form.
"So what are you going to do?" Manda asked.

"Probably go up there and take it tomorrow." Alex said, his grin smothered by her wicked stare. "Weíll be good, I promise." he assured her.
"Iíve heard that before."
"Anyway!" Jasper said, eager to change the subject. "In honor of your brother being here, we should do something special."
"I donít want to put you guys to any trouble." Jim protested, Tim nodding in agreement. Jasper grinned.
"What? A party? Trouble? Nah." He wrapped his arms around my waist. "Why donít I run to the store and get some food. You guys can make some calls, and start the barbecue. Itís a nice night out side." I nodded.
"I uhÖ" Tim said hesitantly. Everyone turned to look at him questioningly.
"Iím a vegetarian." He said finally. I grinned.
"Kindred!" I walked over to him and gave him a hug. "Iíve been the only vegetarian around these carnivores for a long time!" Alex and Jasper  made wolf howls behind me, and I rolled my eyes.
"See what I mean?" I asked. Tim grinned.
"Damn, you better be careful Jas. Now that she found another veggie, she might run away with him." Alex teased.
"Nah. Iíll just keep her supplied with her soy burgers and rice milk, and sheíll never stray." Jasper smiled.
I rolled my eyes.
"Yeah. Just keep telling yourself that, hon." I picked up the phone off of its cradle and threw it at him. He caught it one handed and tossed it to Manda. I seized the opportunity.
"Manda, why donít you call around, see what the groupís doing tonight. Jas, I need to talk to you for a minute."

A wrinkle of concern etched his brow.
"Everything ok?" He asked. "Is this the Sky Wars thing?" I nodded. I knew that he hadnít missed my earlier subject shift. I walked over and grabbed his hand, pulling him towards our office. I saw Alex exchange a look with Manda, and realized that he already knew, but hadnít told Jasper yet.
"Come on, letís go outside and Iíll get some stuff out of the garage." Alex said.
"What can we do to help?" Miguel asked. Manda smiled.
"Can you light a fire?"
"I think I can handle that."
"Oh, God. Please keep him away from the matches, or there might not be a house left when heĎs done." I heard Tim say as the group stepped out onto the patio, shutting the door behind them. When they were safely gone, Jasper pulled me close.

"Whatís going on, Jo?" He asked softly. Looking down at my hands, I explained what Isaac had told me about Admiral Hastings. When I finally looked up, Jasperís lips were pressed tightly together.
"What?!" He sputtered. "They canít do this!"
"They can. They are." I said, lightly touching his chest. "And I donít think itís the worst of our problems."
He looked down into my eyes.
"The new assignments at the end of the rotation." He said flatly. I nodded.
"Yeah."
Jasper sighed and sat down onto the back of the couch.
"Look, Jo." He said, taking both of my hands in his. "I would quit flying if they tried to transfer me. Iíd take a job doing some low-level security somewhere on base, just to keep us removed from the same chain of command."
"Iíd do the same."  He reached up and touched my cheek.
"I know you would. Weíre not going to let them split us up. There is nothing that can manage to do that. We lasted through the academy, through our time here at Miramar East, even when we had to keep our love hidden. Weíll survive."
"I know we will. But it doesnít make it fair or right for them to hassle us like this. Captain Arrington let us fly together because he knows that when we are in the air, weíre pilots and nothing more."
"But Admiral Hastings is from the old generation of soldiers. He doesnít know us, and he has his own ideas about battle and what should be allowed among his officers. As long as heís on base, thereís not much we can do." I knew Jasper was right, and I sighed.
"I know. But, Jas, flying is a part of you. Thereís nothing you like more than being 2Gís in combat. You couldnít give that up."
"But I would." He said. "The same way you would. Being a pilot means as much to you as it does to me, but Iím not going to choose between you two. Itís not even a consideration. Itís you." I leaned forward and kissed him.
"Love you, Jas."
"Love you, Jo."

"And I love you both!" Alexís voice made us both jump, and he laughed. "Now, if this love-fest is over, we need to go and get some grub. The barbecue is hot, and Manda is on the phone, trying to round up the crew." Jasper stood up, kissing me lightly on the cheek.
"Iíll be back soon." He said. He grabbed Alex by the shoulder and dragged him to the garage as I walked onto the deck. Manda was on the swing and the boys were resting  on the railing.
"So, youíre a pilot as well?" Tim was asking. Manda nodded.
"Yep. I graduated from Annapolis with Joey, and luckily we both got stationed at Miramar East." She looked up as I walked over to her.

"Scoot your ass over." I teased and she reluctantly sat up.
"Why? Then youíll sit next to me."
"Itís my swing."
"Yeah, but who helped you hang it?"
"Alex did. You just watched."
"I was management." She grinned.  I plopped down on the bench, pushing it back and making it swing with my feet. Jim was grinning.
"What?" I asked. He shook his head.
"If I didnít know any better, Iíd still think you were sisters." He said. Manda moved like she was going to throw her glass at him.
"You better watch it, Iím going to be your sister-in-law in a few months."
Miguel smiled.
"Hey, thatís right! Congratulations!" he said.
"Thanks." I smiled.
"So have you guys decided on a day yet?" Jim asked. I rolled my eyes.
"Well, we were thinking December 12th, but thatís assuming that we can get everyone together. Manda and Alex might be getting re-stationed, and we canít very well have a wedding without our best man and maid of honor. And of course, I donít know when youíll be on tour again either." Jim nodded.
"Just let me know. Iíll go AWOL if I have to. I dare my security teams to stop me."

Manda laughed out loud.
"Oh, God, now I see where she gets it from!"
"Where I get what?" I asked.
"Your continual challenge to authority." She rolled her eyes and I laughed.
"Yeah, I guess so." I said. "Must be a Brody thing."
"No, Lieutenant Brody? Challenge authority? Never." Miguel teased. Tim laughed. The both of them were enjoying Jim blush red. As amused as I was, I decided to rescue my brother.
"Hey, Jim, have I sent you our photos yet?" Jim shook his head. I stood up.
"Well, follow me. Iíve got the packet upstairs. Manda, can I trust you to behave with 2 sailors?"
She glared at me. "Of course." Jim tapped my shoulder.
"Uh, maybe you should be asking if you can trust them to behave around her."
"Hey!" Miguel protested. "I resent that." I laughed and stepped inside.

TO AT THE SPEED OF LOVE