A/N: Well here we go, the home stretch for Yorktown now…
Part Five – One more round
The sun was shining and no clouds as far as the eye could see, it had been a perfect day to take up my F4U, I conduct a wing over roll and look at the ground that was above me during the roll. From where I was I had a clear view of the base down below, all the ships in tight little rows.
Since getting back to the base, it was moments like this that gave me a bit of a break from the onslaught of questions I had been being flooded with after news got around that Yorktown had an engagement ring on. My radio crackled to life and I heard the voice of Yorktown speak through it, "James, we're picking up an aircraft on approach, IFF has it tagged as an Azur Lane VIP transport…. If it stays on course you should be landing in five minutes."
"Alright, I'll bring her in, be on the ground A.S.A.P.." I say back to her and turn towards the runway and start to get into the glideslope.
Just as I get lined up I see the transport is already in the slope ahead of me, the long white body, twin outboard engines on the fuselage at the rear, the high T-tail. I sigh inwardly; looks like I'm not going to be on the ground before them.
I break off from my approach and get into the slope behind them, making sure to show off the skull and crossbones on the nose as well as the kill count on the side of the cockpit. It might not be my kill count, but this bird is a vet and should be shown the respect she is due. To my surprise, the pilot of the transport dips her wings as I go past.
It's not long before it's my turn to put down, I drop my airspeed to just above stall speed, lower my flaps, landing gear, then just before touching down I pop the nose up to enter a controlled stall to put my landing gear onto the runway. I taxi my F4U over to where the transport had stopped and started to offload the passengers, once I come to a stop I shut down the massive double wasp engine and slide back the canopy. Once I'm on the ground I pull off my helmet and run a hand through my hair before I stretch and walk around the port wing to greet these unexpected guests.
I'm stopped in my approach by what I guess is the pilot of the transport as she had come over and started to inspect my bird, the first words out of her mouth being, "She's pretty, is she a replica?"
I shake my head and pat the squadron logo on the nose as I say, "Nope, she is one hundred percent real. My great grandfather flew her during the second world war."
I hear someone clearing her throat; I look over and feel a cold shiver run down my spine, Fleet Admiral Green. The last time I talked to her I had woken her up in the middle of the night, her blue eyes have a hard edge to them, causing me to gulp, I know I'm in trouble… I wonder why though?
Once we're in my office, I let her take my desk and I stand at ease in the center of my office, I see her pinch the bridge of her nose for a moment before reaching into her bag and tossing a folder on my desk. When it hit the desk I saw what looked like a photo starting to peak out of it and she said to me, "Go ahead, take a look and then explain to me, just what the hell you are thinking."
I pick up the folder and open it, looking at the picture, it looks a little strange, and clearly, it has been zoomed in on the background. The background showing me and Yorktown walking around Everett, hand in hand, but it was the red circle around her left ring finger. I flip to the picture behind it, showing her without the ring, but she was snuggled up against me. My mind starts to race with trying to figure out how to talk about this, yet the Admiral speaks first, "Do you need to get your head examined?"
Great… She's of the camp that Yorktown is hardware.
I close the folder and look down and away, there has to be a way to bring her around on this subject. After a moment I finally speak, "Hardware or Person?"
"Excuse me?" she asked me.
"Are the kansen just hardware or are they people?" I ask the question again.
She's silent for a little longer so I press my attack, "If they are just hardware, then why did we build a town for them? Why are we collecting data on how they interact with humans? Why are we collecting data on how humans react to them?"
I put the folder back down on the desk, returning to standing at ease as I continue, "In my time here, I've come to see them as people, better people than I've seen out of a lot of humans. Is it surprising that I'd develop feelings for one of them?"
After a moment, I see that the admiral folds her hands into her lap, she's taking time to choose her words, I know it. I brace myself for the onslaught and possible dismissal from my position. I hold my breath as I sense she is about to speak, "You make a good point. Azur Lane has spent considerable resources on seeing if they can be integrated into human society. It is however troubling to me to see that one of my officers has developed an emotional attachment to one of them, however."
I watch as she stands and walks to the window to overlook the port and she says, "But this does present Azur Lane with an opportunity… Sooner or later we are going to have to announce the existence of kansen to the world and having a union between a human and a kansen might help the integration process."
I wonder what kind of options I have here, not that I'm against the idea of being used like this, but it'd be nice to know my options so I ask, "And if I or Yorktown refuse to be used like this?"
She sighs and her shoulders slump before she says, "Then you will be charged with violation of article 134."
Damn. She isn't playing around.
I hang my head, technically I have violated article 134 by being in a relationship with a direct subordinate, and I made a case for me to be in violation because I just pressed the idea that Yorktown is a person and not hardware. I take a deep breath and ask, "Can I talk with Yorktown and see how she feels about this?"
I see the Admiral nod as she says over her shoulder, "I expect an answer in the morning Commander Stennis."
"Aye, aye ma'am." I say to her, snapping to attention and saluting.
Again she nods and tells me, "Dismissed Commander."
Later that evening I hear the door to my quarters open and close, I know who it is with even needing to go and look, I get my confirmation shortly afterward when I hear her voice ask, "James, what's wrong? You made it sound like it was a matter of life or death…"
I sigh and put down my beer on my kitchen counter as I call back, "It kind of is."
I hear her footsteps enter my kitchen, as she asks, "How so?"
"How soon do you want to wait for a marriage ceremony?" I ask her back.
I can almost hear her eyebrows arch up at that question so I follow up with, "I shot myself in the foot with the Admiral. While making the case that the kansen are people and not hardware, I put myself in violation of article 134. I have a way out of it, at the Admiral's suggestion, but…"
"We'd have to be married." She finishes my thought.
"Sort of…" I say as I turn to face her, her blue eyes are so beautiful, I see a touch of worry in them so I continue, "Rather they want to use it as a way to show the world the existence of the kansen and that they are nothing to fear by having a human marry one."
Yorktown leans forward against the kitchen island as she says, "This isn't funny, James."
I shake my head and agree, "No, it's not. If we refuse I'm going to be charged under article 134 for fraternization with a subordinate."
Yorktown's eyes narrow as her lips press together, I can tell she's mad. I put my hands up and add, "It's my own damn fault, and I'll be the one that gets punished if we refuse, so don't worry about it."
She gets up and walks over to me before placing her forehead against my chest as she says, "Of course I'm going to worry about it. I chose to let you fully into my heart; this choice affects both of us."
I put my arms around her waist and pull her close as I whisper to her, "I know it does, but I just want you to understand that I made this mess and I'm willing to deal with the fallout."
I feel one of Yorktown's hands on my chest as she sighs, "But I'm not ready to let you do that."
Her hand moves down my chest and around my waist along with her other hand while she moves her head to look up at me as she says, "Besides I already agreed to be joined to you, perhaps we can force Azur Lane to pay for it this way?"
I give her a sideways glance as I move my hands to her stern and squeeze it, a smirk coming to my lips as she squeaks in surprise while I ask, "When did you get so devious?"
She smiles and laughs before telling me, "I read that magazine cover to cover, those dresses are expensive!"
I laugh as I tease, "I bet you've already got one picked out too."
"I wish, but it's hard to find one that I think would look good with my figure… those women the magazine had in those dresses all had such small boobs." She pouts back at me.
I force her to back up before I lift her onto the kitchen island and kiss her. Once the kiss breaks I touch the side of her face as I say, "Good thing I like bigger breasts."
I lean in and kiss her cleavage causing her to giggle and lean back pulling me over with her.
It was shocking how fast the actual day came, we had elected for a beachside wedding. By having it on the beach, it would let my bride make one hell of an entrance with her rigging in full display as she came skimming up to the beach. Speaking of Yorktown, it'd been nearly a week since I last saw her, she had said something about making sure that her hull was ready for a honeymoon cruise, it made me wonder just what she had planned.
I looked around the beach, I in the front row of seats I could see my parents, then rows and rows of dignitaries, reporters, and cameramen. I sigh inwardly; this had turned into such a spectacle… I felt a nudge from behind me and I turned to see Cleveland grin at me, I'd been happy to hear that she was willing to take on the role of 'beast girl' for me, across the makeshift altar from me I could see both Hornet and Enterprise in dark blue dresses. Looking past those two I could see something… no someone skimming along the water, a smile on my face, I knew who it would be after all. Apparently, everyone else wasn't so sure, that was until I heard someone call out, "Look!"
As soon as that was said, all of the cameramen turned and started to snap pictures of Yorktown, holding her dress out of the water. Once she reached the shore, she bowed, still displaying her rigging, letting go of her dress, I got to see the details of blue roses that had been stitched into it. Just before she reached me, Hornet handed her a bouquet of blue roses, fitting, that was the flower she always wore. She stood across from me and I was mesmerized by her, I knew the words I needed to speak when I needed to speak them, but I just enjoyed the sight across from me. The only words that I actually paid attention to were when I heard the Chaplin say, "You may kiss the bride."
I reached over and lifted her veil and stroked her left cheek with my right hand before I brought our lips together. Behind me, I could hear cheering and clapping, but I paid attention to the sounds that Yorktown was making, I loved the little noises she made when we kiss. When the kiss breaks, she leans her forehead against mine and says to me, "I love you, James…"
She paused to bite her lip before adding, "We've got some time before the reception, should we take some private time on my hull?"
I smile and whisper back, "Sounds like a plan to me."
A/N: I'm ending this one here, as I feel it's a good spot…. And well the idea of the next one is already starting to build in my mind. On another story I got a suggestion that actually sparked my interest a bit, but it's left me in a difficult spot as I'm having trouble narrowing down the right kansen for the job, I need to find one that has at least two out of the following four traits:
Is easy to relate to
Big sister type
Sweet and charming
For me the first ones that came to mind for me were NC, Atago, and maybe Algérie might work too, but some input would be welcomed.