Jared was pacing the engine room, biting his nails and muttering, "It's OK, they've done it a million times. Don't you worry." Truth was, though, he was worried. He was more than worried, he was a nervous wreck.
"Yeah, have a whole conversation with yourself, that's not crazy, not crazy at all." he shook himself, "Calming breath, Jared, calming breath." As he breathed in, the intercom came to life and Captain Jensen Ackle's voice floated out in that cracky faraway intercom way, "We are in. Things look good. Back in five. Over."
His breath out was a huge sigh of relief, "See? It's just retrieving crates from a shipwreck. We've done this a million times, it's our trade. No biggie." Jared shook himself again, "Now you're just repeating Capt'n Ackles's last words. Shit, not last words, the last thing he said before he went on the mission."
He took a few more calming breaths, "Shit, you need to calm down. Just because your family didn't come back, doesn't mean bad things happen whenever someone goes out in the space..... Especially not Jensen and Chris, they've been doing it for... for ever."
When he was 16, Jared was left by himself, with the promise of supervision from a friendly neighbor, while the rest of his family went to help an uncle with the harvest. The two families lived on planets where one's summer was the other's fall, and the uncle had a series of unfortunate incidents in the year and was out of money to hire temp workers for the harvest. Jared was down from a broken leg, so he argued that he wouldn't be of much use hopping around; besides he wasn't interested in farming anyways, he was going to be an engineer and build the best space engine known to man.
His parents agreed after much convincing, promises of best behavior and him pointing out that it was good to have someone, albeit limping, to hold the homefront. His family left with his mother fussing over his broken leg, his dad impatient to be on the way, his older brother resigned envy, and his younger sister's pouting. Jared was enjoying the life on his own, where he could have icecream for breakfast if he wanted to, secure in the knowledge that his parents and siblings were coming back in a fortnight, when the very distressed uncle called, bouncing between timid and annoyed, wondering when they were going to make it over to his farm. By that time, they had boarded the passenger shuttle for two weeks, and they should have arrived for a week already.
The space swallowed Jared's family whole. What was supposed to be a taste of the life to come became his actual life in the blink of an eye. He loved the taste, but hated the main course. The irony was not lost on Jared, when he had time to think about it, which he rarely did, out of sheer instinct of self-preservation. He didn't become a farmer like his parents wished, he also did not have the resource for the education required for an engineer. So he became a mechanic, and jumped on the first offer as a crew member on a spaceship.
Space terrified and fascinated him in equal measure.
It soon became clear to him that Serenity partly ran on shady business. That didn't bother him though, he felt at home with ex-soldiers and mercenaries turned space voyagers. They were hard men and women, but they were also good people. Of course it helped that Jared's family had always been sympathetic toward rebels. The crews had treated him as one of their own, and respected his expertise in all things mechanical, which Jared knew that was more than he could ask for on any ship.
On his 21st birthday, they got him drunk as a passage to adulthood sort of thing. He slurred his story to a very sympathetic audience, then he said: "You know, I'mmma thinking maybe one of those days, maybe, when you board a wreck,' he turned his eyes on Jensen, whose eyes were so very beautifully green that he wanted to drown in the gaze, "it's gonna be theirs, and yeah, maybe, I can... I dunno, get them a proper funeral. 'S.. supposed to be a big deal... Ya'now." He finished with tear prickling his eyes.
Jensen's face was an inscrutable blank; he nodded, lips pulling down into a little frown, and said, not unkindly, "I hope not." He then patted Jared on the shoulder, and kept his hand a beat longer than a simple manly pat strictly required.
Jared broke right then and there; he had hold himself so tight since his family went missing, for fear that he wouldn't be able to piece himself back together if he broke, and it had been so tiring. Somehow he buried his face into Jensen's shoulder; and Jensen hold him tight. Uncontrollably and inconsolably, his flood of tear flowed, wetted the shoulder and the front of Jensen's shirt.
The next day, suitably mortified, he went to Jensen to apologize and offered to wash his shirt at the very least. Jensen waved his apology off nonchalantly, as if being cried on was part of his life. Chris sniggered nearby though, muttering something unintelligible but sounded a little like "if it's up to Jen, he'd never wash that shirt." Jared felt a vague sense of hope. Everybody on the ship knew that he had the biggest crush on the Captain, except, maybe Captain Ackles himself. However, when Jared thought about making a move, so to speak, he froze with the irrational fear of the possibility of losing his adoptive home, Serenity.
So he kept quiet, looking longingly at the Captain and blushing furiously when the Captain looked back, sometimes even winking at him; and battled his panic whenever Jensen and other crews left the ship and ventured into space.
The intercom suddenly came to live again, this time it was Danneel, their pilot. Her voice shrill the way it got when she was spooked, "Shit, alliance ship! It's coming toward us."
"Fuck!" Jensen said, "crates are loaded, we are heading back. Go dark, and hope to whatever the fuck out there that they go away."
"Jay, you hear that? We go dark."
Jared jumped on the rail to flip the button, replying, "We are dark." The following quietness in the engine room was deafening, everything was shut off except for the life maintenance core. Jared hold his breath in the near complete darkness.
"They are slowing down, they might not come after us." Danneel reported.
"Good. We are coming back." Jensen said curtly.
Jared breathed another sigh of relief.
"Good, get your asses back in here. They're coming toward us!" Danneel's voice definitely was a pitch higher than her usual sultry timbre.
"Al'right." Jensen's voice went a little tight, though he deliberately let a bit drawl creep in, "Jay, we are going full throttle soon as we're in."
"Got it. Full throttle. Soon as you are in. Captain."
"You know, Jay, you'ould've just went 'aye aye Captain'. " Jensen's voice through intercom somehow sounded like it was right in his ear.
Jared said "Aye aye C'pt'n" instinctively. While from the intercom, came Chris's "Oh, for the love of .... " and Danneel's "Stop flirting with our mechanic and hurry your and my husband's asses in here, or I swear I will... "
Before she could finish her threat, Jensen's voice came through intercom again "We are in. Hatch closed."
Jared flipped the on button, blinking in the sudden light, and pushed the lever, "Do me proud." he patted the protective shield of the engine then reported to Danneel, "Full throttle engaged."
Danneel started her own standard sweet talk to the engine: "Yeah, come on, baby, show them what you can do."
The engine whirled into life, purring as Danneel drove the ship to supersonic speed and accelerated to its full capacity.
Jared couldn't help but feeling thrilled.
This part, Jared knew; this part, he wasn't and would never be afraid of. This part he could do, for ever and ever, on this ship.
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