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Your life... was over . Ruined. There was no coming back from this. 

Well, perhaps it was actually just your day that was entirely ruined, the motionless computer screen still refusing to show the frantic shaking of your mouse, but it felt like your entire life in that moment.

This always happened. You always let this happen. These ancient computers had their limited disc spaces, and a high probability of shutting down the second it logged in a bit too much memory. No amount of key bashing or screen smacking was going to bring you back from this one. 

Three hours. Three hours put into some shitty project sent down from your boss. Three hours since you last saved your work. It had become a bad habit, something you always kicked yourself in the ass for whenever it slipped your mind. It was practically a cause of anxiety at this point, making your stomach drop whenever you realized it had been awhile since your last save... but sometimes, like today, when you were so focused... 

Sometimes, like today, the entire computer decides to let out a weird humming noise as it freezes all of your work, letting you stare at the lines upon lines of freshly written code. Code that you were going to have to write again. From the beginning. 

You hit at the side of the computer, knowing it won't help, but even so just praying that the bit of rough treatment will cause it to blink back into life. Of course, it doesn't, the only bit of movement coming from a flicker of the computer screen, wobbling on its base from the shock of your smack. Fuck these computers. You'd think Hyperion would give their programming department better computers to work with, given that it's literally all they work with , but no. No, you just got these old pieces of shit. 

The sound of someone sitting in the office chair next to you almost manages to distract you, but you don't look up, putting all your focus into the panic inducing job in front of you. You begin to try and press a few strategic buttons. Backspace? Exit. Maybe one of the Function keys...

"I bet if you hit it a few more times, it'll work," you recognize the voice of a friend, even if it's muffled by a full mouth. You turn your gaze away from the computer, making sure your stare to him is fully shows every ounce of your disdain.

"You can't eat in here, John," even though your tone is riddled with absolute loathing, you know full well he'll take it as a joke. Which is good - you weren't actually all that bothered. Everyone snuck food into the offices.  

He grins, of course. "And yet ," whatever it is he was eating, it's the last bite. He even makes sure to make all the best and obnoxious eating sounds, as if the cafeteria food was anything to act excited about. 

"John, please just..." You let out a sigh, feet dragging on the floor in a way to make you swivel back and forth in your office chair. Usually his over the top antics and crude sense of humor would help you through these boring days. But right now, your frenzied mind isn't allowing you to fixate on anything else. You gesture to your computer, which is still refusing to do anything but sit frozen in time. "Three hours! Three!" 

He laughs now, leaning back in his own chair, arms sitting high on the arm rests. "What were you working on?" 

You make a move to your computer then, usually able to bring up an email or two to show your current project. But you stop, eyes closing for a moment, since you can't really do that right now. You quickly begin to talk, "a few of the Hyperion shields - the new wave that just came out last month? Remember all that junk about them short circuiting and basically electrocuting the user to death?"

John begins to nod, a snort beneath his breath, "yeah, but I mean, what do they expect when they send shit out that early?" 

"I know, I know, but the other divisions couldn't find a problem, so it looks like we have to rewrite the source code from start to finish. To ensure whatever error there was shouldn't be there again." You hear John blow a whistle, and you quickly give a nod. It should have been something the Head of Programming dealt with, since it was something that had lives on the lines. But your current head didn't seem to care too much. So it went to you, and a few other unlucky programmers that shared the small office space. 

John's leg began to cross over his other, hand holding his chin as he seemed lost in thought for a moment. "Wait, so you were using Cobra then, weren't you?" 

There, he got it. " Yepp ".

A laugh begins to boom from him, but you can't entirely blame him. Even if it's at you. "Oh - Cobra's auto save never fucking works. You're fucked!" 

"I know ! That's why - Look. Just..." Your hands begin to cup into fists, eyes closing as you compose your thoughts just a bit. "Can you just grab my files for me?" You open your gaze to stare at him, watching the way one of his eyebrows begin to arch upward. As good as you feel you are with your code work (you did land a job at Hyperion, after all), you knew that John was light years ahead of you. He could have finished this project in under an hour, you bet. There wasn't an ounce of shame asking him for some help. 

"You could have done it yourself," he begins, holding a hand out to gesture to his own computer desk, "My desk is literally right next to yours." 

"Uh, yeah? But that's totally rude, not asking," you pause, hands pressing together as you stare back at your frozen screen, "I was also really hoping it would just... go . You know?"

He gives another laugh now - this one entirely different. Something about it fills you with an old sense of being teased - a bully laughing at someone smaller than them, or maybe just an adult laughing at a stupid child. Luckily, his movement distracts you from feeling too offended, digging into his desk and soon coming back out with a thin, long wire. 

You scoot your computer chair back to give him room, wheels loudly chugging across the hard floors. It's easy to lose yourself watching him, sometimes. Even if it's as simple as plugging into another computer. His fingers are fast, his coding is even faster. It always has been, as far back as you can remember. 

At this point, you've known John for a small handful of years, though it felt like an eternity at your current Hyperion headquarters. You didn't always work together - seeing as Hyperion had a few different branches here and there. But eventually, your desk found it's way next to his. It struck you as odd, at times. He was higher up on the corporate ladder than you. He was an engineer, programmer, he could write entire programs in a single day. But, offices here were sort of lumped together based on similar sections. You both currently held jobs in programming, so this is where you ended up. 

Every day that you saw him, it was a surprise. At some point, he'd be promoted. You were sure of that. Something bigger and better, something not so grueling, something that gave him a better view than some cubicles and the constant clicking noise of countless keyboards. But he seemed dedicated, at least, in whatever his current projects were.  

The vision of your computer's screen going completely back was enough to jar you away from watching his skilled fingers type away. For a moment, your stomach feels like it has hit the floor, but John is quickly unplugging wires with a satisfied look on his face. With a quick and  suave movement, he tosses a small circular drive into your lap, making sure to do so with a wide grin. 

You hold the small drive like it's a quest item, fragile and glowing and worth a lot of money. "John, you're my savior!

He is still holding his grin, but you're positive it begins to grow. "Compliment me more, babe."

You laugh. You always laugh off his weird little pet-names, or random come-ons that seem to pop in out of the blue. He's a joking sort of guy, and the last thing you'd ever want to do is misinterpretation a joke, take him seriously, and then never be able to look at him again. Your desks are right next to each other, for god's sake.

But that's fine. It never bothered you before, and it doesn't bother you know. Coding buddies is just perfect, just enough. You’re totally not in denial. 

You quickly begin to drag your feet against the floor, causing your office chair to roll and swivel back to your desk. "I really didn't want to redo all of this. I wouldn't have even been able to finish it tonight!" 

John begins to laugh again, "why the hell do you still have a job here?" 

You share the laugh, fully catching onto his usual joking tones, "I think the same thing almost every day." With a happy hum, and pretty much all of your worries from the day washed away, you press the main power button for your computer. You can get this squared away, save it immediately , and get finished before--

Oh. 

Well...

The screen is blue. 

Once again, you hear John whistle beside you. "Damn, you really did a number on this one." 

You can't answer, feeling your body just grow old. This job adds ten years to your life, every single day. Yes, yes a blue screen can be dealt with. Yes, there's a chance your files are okay, and the important one is on the drive in your hands. But you can forget finishing your project today, that's for sure. 

There's a pat on your upper back, John's hand soon beginning to grip tight onto your shoulder, "Come on, princess, let's get you some lunch." 

"You just came back from lunch! " You shoot him a glare, but are nothing but thankful for the silly distraction. Looking any longer at that damn screen would have probably caused some very shameful reactions. No need to cry over spilt code, after all. 

"Yeah? Your point is?" John is already pulling your chair away from the computer desk, and you let out a final sigh as you listen to him. You haven't taken a break yet today, anyway, and food could serve as a good refuel after everything. 

You pocket your small flash drive, switching your computer back off, turning to see John with a wide grin and arms out. Doesn't he have his own work he should be doing? Whatever he may have on his own quota list, it doesn't seem to be bothering him, walking quickly away from the office cubicles and out of the main room, and making you walk even faster to catch back up with him.

Whenever you walked with John around the building, you always stayed a pace or two behind him. It wasn't due to any sort of rude or arrogant reasons. He was just a fast walker who enjoyed greeting or randomly chatting with those around him. John was sociable in every way that you weren't, which made watching him all the more amazing. 

John was... probably your closest friend on at Hyperion. Which is a little funny, in that tragic sort of comedy way, since you were positive that you weren't his . He's a people pleaser. Confident. Made friends easily, or at least was the type to act chummy with just about everyone he met. 

You don't know a whole lot about him. That realization struck every now and again. He wasn't the type to talk about his past - even if he was the type to love talking about himself . Even then, a few things had popped out in conversations over the past few years. 

You're pretty sure he had a wife at some point. Had . He didn't wear a ring. You never asked. 

You were also mildly sure he had a child. But only mildly. The quick sentence 'if you think coding is hard, try having a kid,' came from him one day, during casual talks of the usual crappy jobs sent down by your bosses. But he quickly changed the subject, and never spoke of it again. You weren't entirely positive, but he seemed thankful when you accepted the subject change, and never acted curious. Even if you were. 

He did know a lot about you, though. He knew a lot about everyone . You never did quite figure out how he could learn about so many people in so little time, but he just had that way with people. You could barely keep track of your own extended family, and somehow John knew the families of most of your coworkers. 

Maybe it was just his ease at mingling. Even now, as you sit in the small cafeteria, silently eating your sub-par (and oddly textured) lunch, John was leaning over the table of a few members of the science division, effortlessly chatting away with a large grin on his face. 

How the hell could he do it so easily? 


Helios changed things. 

It happened quickly. In fact, saying 'it happened overnight' wasn't too far off. One minute, you're happily (or, at least not unhappily ) working on your usual slew of programming tasks, and the next you're being transferred to a giant space station that sat over one of the most blood thirsty planets in this star system.

Not that it was a huge deal. You practically lived at Hyperion already, and the pay actually went up a bit. Part of it may have been luck, or at least knowing the right people. John had a hand in Helios, somehow convincing the higher-ups that it was a good idea. You had no idea how he actually got them to say yes, but damn did he seem excited about it. And, because he had seen your work (and, part of you hoping, simply because you were friends), you were one of the first of the programming department to be offered the transfer. So of course you took it. 

Work continued as usual, for a good while. Until the major parts of construction were finished, allowing groups of people to move to the space station. It was actually breathtakingly beautiful on the inside, as were the apartments. Sure, they weren't huge, a bit compact actually, but the view . The view was almost worth the long trek back and forth between the living quarters and the working offices. 

Once on Helios, you were expected to get back to your usual work as soon as possible. Sadly, your old computers seemed to have been transferred as well, looking clunky and out of place in the new and high tech office space. You supposed they had to cut corners somewhere.

John continued his work as well. At least, you think. He's been gone a lot lately. Projects, his own work. You no longer sat directly next to him, but he was still in the same area, and still seemed to check in on you rather often. It was nice to see him, even if it somehow caused you to feel a bit out of place. 

With the new location brought a new girlfriend. 

For… John , that is, not for you. 

And you were happy for him! Even if the rumor mill quickly, very quickly, caught wind and spread the news that he was dating Moxxi. The Moxxi. The Moxxi that had... quite a good collection of videos on the EchoNET, and was known for some rather... intense things. But John seemed happy. And so were you!

See, it brought some clarity. He still used his silly pet names on you. Not as often, but still sprinkled in at times. Proved your thinking right, that the names didn't mean much. He was just that sort of guy, you supposed. But, it let you put away the silly crush for good. Cleared the air. Let you focus on the important things, like a proper promotion that would get you out of these damn cubicles and into a real office. 

Let you laugh and blow off his stupid nicknames. Made it so that your stomach didn't fill with butterflies whenever you saw his stupid, cocky grin. 

At least, you kept telling yourself this. 


Work was grueling. Even if the pay on Helios was better, the life on a space station was definitely not a paradise. The common areas of Helios were made to look like the 'outside' just for this reason. Illusions with screens, mist, and well placed plants could give the feeling of being out in the world. Fresh air. The sun. But you could only sit next to the ponds full of robotic koi for so long before it all just felt too stagnate. The air you breathed was the same air you've been breathing for months, now. 

Luckily binging TV in your apartment for hours on end helped that. A bit. 

But you can't do that right now. It's work time. Time to go and dig through countless emails from your bosses about all the errors in other people's codes. God. Finding the single error in a giant block of code was literally the worst possible thing. 

Which is why you need coffee

The coffee at Helios is... well, disgusting. Most of the food and drink that can be bought from around the station sucked, to the point that you almost didn't notice anymore. It was all automated, allowing you to simply press a small green button on the large vending machine that sat next to the automat food dispensers. You took a moment, strategically selecting a few extra flavors that would cover the taste of burnt coffee beans, the sound of chattering soon coming in behind you. 

Some ladies, not from your department, though you believed them to work in the science division. Which meant you didn't have to talk to them, or feel bad about taking a bit more time in your coffee selection. Their voices were hushed as they spoke behind you, waiting for their own turn, most likely engaging in a round of that good ol' Hyperion gossip. 

"-a famous woman, I think."

"Wasn't it that Moxxi girl?" 

Okay. 

See, you weren't really one to get dive too deep into the rumor mill that covered Helios. But that name, at least, piqued a bit of curiosity. 

"I think? Was it?" 

"Yeah, pretty sure. Wonder why?" 

"I mean, what would you expect?" 

"Still."

Ugh. By this time, the machine was spitting out the dark colored roast into the styrofoam cup. If they were going to gossip right behind you, couldn't they do it in a more interesting way?

The small glass door opened, allowing you to take your coffee. Any normal person would have just walked away at this point, and usually you'd be that person. But this was the name of someone you... sort of knew? Or, at least, knew someone who knew the person...

Whatever. You didn't need to convince yourself. 

With your coffee in hand, you moved only slightly away, close to the automat food machines, pretending to look at the very interesting selection of ready-to-grab pizza and cakes. 

One of the women began to make her own coffee, softly speaking more. It was a bit harder to hear, but you were only listening for details. Maybe something happened? Maybe there's some huge scandal? Maybe she got robbed of... circus money? God you knew nothing about her. 

"Kyle from accounting said it was her that did it." 

"Kyle's full of shit. But that also sounds about right - I mean, why would someone like that date some low level programmer?" 

They shared a laugh now. The machine made it's usual clunky noises as it began to dispense the coffee. 

"What was the guys name? The guy who got dumped?"

"Jim or something?" 

"Kyle knows. No, really!"

"I wonder if the Moxxi girl will begin posting stuff on the EchoNET again, now that she's single." 

"Did you SEE that one - the one with the..." 

You can't hear the rest of the conversation, the two of them walking away from the food vendors and off to wherever they must have worked. 

Silently, you take a sip of your coffee, not even registering the heat or taste. Damn gossip circles. A part of you wondered why something like this was even rumor-grade, but that part of you was pretty small compared to all the other loud voices in your head. 

John was single. Which was horrible for multiple reasons. One, of course, that someone you considered a friend was probably feeling like shit right now. The second reason, the one that upset you the most, was that a part of you somehow feels relieved. It disgusts you, almost more than the coffee. An emotion you bury deep as you walk towards your own offices. 

By the time you make it to your small cubicle, it's all you can think about. Setting your coffee onto your desk, you let your body collapse into your office chair, feet glued to the floor to prevent you from rocketing backwards too much. You stare at the ceiling, letting - even if just for a moment - the idea of what it would be like to date John float around in your head. 

He wasn't dating Moxxi for horribly long - not a year, but still a good handful of months. He seemed really happy. Was she happy? He was always running off to Elpis to see her, but maybe it was the long distance stuff that caused it to go bad? Was he a good lover, or was he the total selfish type? Did Moxxi ever learn if he had a kid or not...?

It was then that your vision was full of his face. And not on the figurative sense - his stupid grinning face looming over you and your office chair, causing you to sit back up straight. 

God he had... the most horrible timing, didn't he?

"Heeey," he begins, voice drawing out the word, holding his hands out wide as you spun to look at him. "Guess who's got some great news." 

"Uhh," you begin, unsure how to approach this. His question at least got your mind away from your stupid thoughts of before, but now you felt like a deer in the headlights. "I'm not so sure if being dumped is great news, John." 

"What? No! Wait," he gave a huge sigh, body beginning to slump, "you already heard about...? God, this place sucks, you can't tell anyone anything." 

Uh huh. He should be used to this by now. "Just yesterday you were gushing about how much you loved hearing all the juicy details about our higher ups, and something about 'all the corporate fucks you plan to fuck over'." 

"Well yeah , I mean. No," there's a chuckle in his voice. Maybe he's not super bummed about the break up after all? Or he is really good at hiding it. "Look, it's not about that. Something super big is finally happening." 

"Shit, you got dumped twice ?" Oh, there's a grin on your face now, and it's matched by his. Good, he's in a joking mood. 

"I'm about to not tell you what it is, you little shit."

You laugh now, the entire room feeling a bit warmer now, calmer. Back to normal. "Okay, okay. What is it?"

His arms opened wide one more, his grin widening, "guess who finally got promoted to Lead of Programming? "

Uh. Definitely not you. "Definitely not me?!"

He laughs, reaching out a hand to pat your shoulder, "Maybe someday, princess. But no ," his stance turns tall as he puffs out his chest, hands coming to lay on his hips, "you're looking at your new boss." 

"Huh," well. That's new. It was something you expected to happen someday, honestly. How long has he been in this division, anyway? Longer than you, longer than probably anyone here...

"Uh," John raises an eyebrow to you, and only then you realize how long you had been silent. "Not really the reaction I was expecting. Was hoping for some fanfare? Maybe a congrats? Those stupid little paper guns that shoot out confetti? Give me something here!"

" Shit , yes," you stand now, waving your hands quickly, "Sorry, John. This is really great , and you deserve it! I'm just surprised it didn't happen sooner." 

"Oh, believe me," he takes a deep breath, voice full of nothing but pride, "there's some people who aren't super happy about it. But that won't be a problem anymore." 

"That sure is a weird thing to say, John." 

There's a twist to his grin, "Call me Jack now, babe."

"Also... a bit weird? What?" 

He waves off your question, only making it more odd. Sort of a strange. Random. Does this have something to do with the breakup? Is he changing his name? Is Jack a nickname for John... which, it may be, but that's just out of nowhere.

"Right, right, moving on," alright, he's totally ignoring the name thing. "Now that I'm the head here," he begins to look around. It's still early enough that there's no other workers in at the moment, which is usually how you liked to start your day. 

"There's going to be a lot of changes around here. Man, it's gonna be great." 

"Hmm," you hum, looking around as well. What all could he really change as the Head? Most of the requests from programming still had to go through other hoops in higher areas. "So, I answer to you, now?" 

He flashes a smile to you. It's... new. A new sort of stare that you can't quite place. Perhaps it's due to him having a hell of a lot more authority now. 

"Yepp," he begins, taking a slow step towards you, "You'll have to do everything I say now, princess."

"Gross," you laugh, arms crossing, "Just... please don't saddle me with all the goddamn code-error assignments. And no more Cobra- Oh, I know, maybe you can make it so we never have to use it again. Oh, oh , or... new computers?" Okay, now you're beginning to actually get excited, balling your fists together, "Can you do that?! If you're the head--"

His laugh breaks off your words, John shaking his head. "Oh, you're thinking too small , cupcake." 

"Going really ham on the nicknames today aren't you, tiger." 

His smile flashes again, but the subject is changed, "Want to see my new office?"

"You mean the same office that belonged to our previous Head? The same office we've been in before?" 

"Well, yeah," he gives a quick eye roll, "but it's mine now."

You can't help but smile, agreeing to humor him, following him down the long corridor to the head office. He wants to show off a bit, and hey, if he's your boss, he can't get mad at you for not working right now, right? Besides, he seems happy. It must be a good distraction for him. And it's a really good one for you. 

John's arms open wide as the door slides open, spinning a bit as he gestures to the entirety of the room. "What do you think?"

"Well, it looks exactly how it looked last time I was here," you walk past him, heading to the only real amazing part of the room - the view.

Damn. You couldn't help but feel a bit jealous about that. There's no good windows in the offices outside, but John gets every inch of this to himself? There's a part of you that worries you won't see him as much, held away in this large office, doing... whatever it was the head of programming actually did. You wouldn't be able to chat with him all day, but you could probably fill his inbox with stupid memes. That'd make him happy. He's a fucking nerd like that, anyway.

The corner of your eye catches him coming to stand beside you, taking in the view for himself. 

"Did you spend a lot of time down there?" As soon as the words leave your mouth, you feel nothing but immediate regret. Damn it. That's where his ex is. Stupid. Bad timing. Oh my god

He just laughs, though it's a lot more slow and quiet than his usual ones. Something about it seems sad. God damn it why did you bring it up?!

"You'd like it down there, I bet," he starts, voice still a lot more soft and slow than you've grown so used to. "I mean, it's not much of a town, and the actual moon is full of terrifying creatures. But god, the food is better than here. And, well, anti gravity. Whew," he gives a quick shake to his shoulders, tone picking up, "now that's fun to play with."

You answer with a nod. Elpis... well, you had to have the right clearances to leave the station without a proper reason. Clearances you never worked hard to get, since you just... weren't the 'running away from bandits' type. 

But even so, the moon was beautiful. The both of you fall silent, staring out the large window. It's not much of an awkward silence, but you still feel the need to say something to break it up, knowing that sitting here and saying nothing is only going to let thoughts begin to swarm.

John, however, beats you to it, "Sooo, I was thinking. Now that I'm the head..." 

Oh. Hell. Yes. Time to talk new computers. 

You turn to him, full excitement showing in your face. You have dozens of ideas, and if he has the ability--

But he's stepping closer. Too close. Your eyebrows begin to knit as the instinct to step back flashes into your mind, afraid he will walk right into you, but there's a hand being placed on your back that prevents you from doing so. Instead, now, your first instinct is to raise your hands in front of your chest, in some sort of protection. There's not even time to register what's going on before he is talking again, voice low, rumbling.

"See, everyone here has to do pretty much whatever I say, now." You can feel his other hand. On your waist. On your waist, his face beginning to move even closer. "And, I've been thinking of a few good assignments to give my new assistant."

There's alarms going off inside your head, almost loud enough to drown out his purring voice. You're no idiot, you know full well what this is, but the fact that it's happening... The fact that the hand that was placed on the small of your back is now slowly inching its way down--

"Whoa-" you find your voice, and a surge of strength as your hands now push against his chest, pressing backwards and forcing the both of you apart, " WHOA ," you say a second time, louder, needing to simply scream but holding back the strong urge. With two quick steps back, you feel safer, more in control, a finger pointing out to him as if to tell him to not move annother inch closer. " Whoa. "

The stare he is giving you is purely dumbstruck, hands held out as if to ask 'what's wrong?'

Your eyebrows knit, watching his face, his body language, barely able to form all the thoughts in your head into coherent words. "You... you just broke up with somebody." 

"And...?" he gives a small shake to his head, shoulders shrugging, "that has absolutely nothing to do with this." 

"yes it does , oh my god-" you cut yourself off, nails digging into your palms, "John, I'm--"

"Call me Jack, honey," the grin he throws you is enough to send you from baffled, to purely furious. 

"That, that , has nothing to do with this! Also, do not call me honey right now." 

He sighs now, a hand moving up to rub at the bridge of his nose. " Fine ," he begins, voice having a quick snap to it, "It seems I've offended you somehow. Can you at least tell me why ?"

You can feel a lump in your throat, swallowing it back down. "I am not going to be your rebound, Jack ." You say his 'new' name with as much venom as you can muster, hoping it at least stings a little. 

It at least shuts him up, John going silent for a few moments before letting out a long breath, a hand running through his hair. "That... that isn't,"

His voice may be softer now, calmer, but you definitely don't feel any of that. You put a hand up, stopping him, an action that seems to surprise you both. You've never shown this sort of authority to him before, but there's a whole hell of a lot of feelings in your head right now. And pissed is the strongest one, so it's what you're working with

"It does not matter what your intent was, or is," you begin, your own voice slow and soft, but not one syllable of it coming across as calm. "You are my friend , my best friend on this damn place, and you are not allowed to treat me as some simple vessel for your lonely feelings."

You cause his eyebrows to furrow now, but he's finally fallen silent. 

"And, as for a promotion," you begin again, not letting him speak just yet, "I am going to earn one, not be handed one!" 

"Alright, alright," his hands go up, eyes breaking away from you now. "I'm..." he stalls then, taking a moment before looking back to you, eyes narrowing and staring for a good few seconds before continuing, his hand moving to his chest, "you have my deepest apologies. "  

You can feel your nose begin to wrinkle at it. A simple 'sorry' would have sufficed, but the way he is apologizing just makes it sound... scripted. Fake. But whatever - it's all you'll probably get right now, so you'll take it. 

Your eyes close as you manage to take in a deep breath, emotions still bubbling but finding them easier to control. "And if you ever want to... touch me again," you say, trying not to let your voice quiver and show any weakness to the thought, "just... fucking ask me first. Or, gee I don't know, ask me on a date ?" 

There's a grin just beginning to form on his face, but you quickly stop it with a step forward, hands on your own hips, "And not right now , either. How about later , after you process your break-up and have time to think." You let out a large huff of air, stepping away fully and turning away from him. "God, you're so smart, but you're such a fucking idiot." 

You can tell he's smiling now, you can tell from the small chuckle you can hear. But you don't want to look at him. Not right now, maybe not for awhile. 

"I hope you like your new office, John," you pause, rolling your eyes, " Jack ." Without letting yourself think on it too much, you begin to walk towards the large office door. No more from him. He's good at rebuttals, good at getting his way, which is why you need to leave right now.  "It's really big, and really empty." 

The doors close behind you, and with it goes any sounds you could possibly hear from John. Or, Jack, Whatever. It also lets you let out a large groan, walking down the long corridor and back to the offices. 

You sit at your desk, barely noticing the few other office workers that have come in, focused on their own slurry of work. Their constant typing is like white noise, letting you lose yourself to your thoughts: What the fuck just happened?

You begin to go over it in your head. Every word of it. God. What the hell is he even thinking.

Wait. Were you the asshole, just now? Did he come onto you in a time of need , and - oh god - you scolded him and then just walked out after saying a dick comment, like some haughty woman in a romance movie--

No, no, he was the asshole here, right?!

You groan as you rub your face. No one in the office pays you any mind - random noises of frustration and agony were commonplace here, after all. 

Whatever. You can talk about it later. Like adults. 

An alert on your desktop pops up, giving a chime and beginning to distract your thoughts. At least, it would have, if the chime wasn't an email. From Jack. 

Oh, he even changed his name to Jack on all his emails. What the hell was going on. 

You scoot your computer chair closer, timidly beginning to sip from your (now cold) coffee as you click through into the email. Can he fire you? He can most definitely fire you now. Your stomach twists as you hope you didn't upset him that much...

On the screen pops up an image. Two images, actually, of two different computers. Both of them were quite fancy, top of the line models, and both of them had... a rather terrifyingly huge price tag. 

Below it was some text, simply reading: 

'I'm thinking we go with the one on the right. It's specs are a bit lower, but it's way more expensive. And it's not MY money, so that's pretty funny, right?' 

You laugh. Damn it, you laugh, leaning your hand onto your chin as you re-read the text again. This stupid man. 

And what a bittersweet feeling.


 

Chapter Text


 

You never did talk about it like adults. 

But the awkward and dense air that surrounded the both of you didn't last for too long. 

Both of you ignored what happened. Never brought it back up. It seemed like the best idea, at first. You wanted him to deal with his breakup, get through that, and then, maybe... 

Well, 'maybe' didn't happen. What did happen was Jack falling very easily into being the Head of Programming. Yes - Jack . He had almost everyone calling him that now, and you too had fallen used to it. And Jack was actually a good boss, as far as you could tell. 

Better computers, first of all. God, that was... that was maybe the best part. No more constant freezing, better programs, faster RAM. Absolutely beautiful tech. The hours got a bit better too, though only slightly. Jack also ordered a few medical stations to be put up around the offices, which struck you as a bit odd, but he seemed to have good intentions with it. 

Also the... claptraps. There were more of them in the Helios these days, but you did your best to ignore them. You didn't know what the hell Jack was thinking, letting them into the office, but honestly he seemed pretty distracted these days. 

There would be no more shrill-voiced claptraps tonight, however. You were off, finally, after a long day. Off, and about to start your weekend . Which meant staying up with a nice meal, and binging a TV show... or twelve. The perfect weekend. 

A sudden rumble in the floor makes you pause for a moment, glancing around. No one else seems to notice or care much, so you quickly chalk it up to the constriction still happening on the higher branches of Helios. A beeping sound in your ear calls your attention away from any real worry, sighing as you reach up to press the small button on your ear piece. 

"This is--" 

" OKAY , Good, you're there, listen," it's Jack. He seems a bit out of breath, which strikes you as a bit off, but Helios is gigantic. Takes a lot of walking to get anywhere.

"Hello to you too," you begin your trek again, debating if you should run by the quick market or not, pick up some good, disgusting junk food...

"I need you to go into my office," he begins, and you're already rolling your eyes, "you already have clearance to get past the security-" 

"I do?! Since when?" It was, mostly, a joke. You've had the clearance since day one of his promotion, but he was just easy to pick on, especially if he wanted something. 

"Not really the time, pumpkin. Look, I just need you to--" 

"Nuh uh, not tonight. It can wait until tomorrow, I just got off Jack, after doing all the data sheets that you sent to me. I am going home." You raise your hand, ready to hang up, though not fully meaning to since you know he will start begging you to do whatever it is he wants. And then you can ask for things. Like getting off early, or buying you lunch for a few days.

But before Jack could even speak again, the ground begins to shake again, this time accompanied by a large booming sound from outside. The entire station seems to lurch to the side, the ground shifting entirely beneath your feet, causing your balance to leave you completely. You fall, right on your ass, but a good handful of others around you seem to have done the same. 

You wait until the ground stops shaking, but that doesn't seem to happen. "What the fuck was that, Jack?" You shout it, perhaps a bit louder than needed, scrambling to stand again, noticing very quickly that the ground seems to have a new permanent rumble. 

"The reason I need you to go to my office ." 

There's not an ounce of warmth in his voice, causing you to quickly listen, hurrying past dozens of other people who seem just as freaked out. There's more noises. Way too many noises. 

"Jack, are we under attack or something?" You ask it with a shaky laugh, hoping for a no. For him to laugh too, to scoff and call you an idiot for worrying that much. There's no way someone would launch an attack on Hyperion... Okay, there's many reasons, but no one would be that stupid, right?!

"Uh, yeah, actually," he says, voice quick and seeming a bit strained, "by some really weird fucking people, calling themselves the Lost Legion or some shit. Look, are you there yet?"

"Not... not yet," you let out, voice low, your pace becoming quicker. Alright. Okay. Under attack. Everyone one Helios has been trained for this, or at least shown shitty videos that counted as training. The correct thing to do was to hide away until it was over, or use the escape pods. But the pods were programmed to go down to Pandora, and...

You refuse to think more on it, quickly flashing your ID card to get past the main security of Jack's office, moving fast and not paying mind to the panicked cries now beginning to fill the halls outside. 

"I'm here," you say, pressing again at the earpiece, too terrified to look at the large window that sits at the end of Jack's office. If there's a giant spaceship out there threatening to shoot at you, you refused to acknowledge its existence. 

" Okay, good, you're safe in there," Jack lets out a large exhale, and it causes you to do the same. "That office has some crazy good security, so no one's getting in there. I mean. Unless the entire space station comes down, and then--" 

" Jack !"

" Right , right, look you're fine there. Which is great! A huge load off my shoulders, but what I really need you to do... is to get onto my computer." 

"Okay...?" A bit of a weird request, but you listen, hurrying over and taking place in the large chair. With a small tap to the desk, the large blue-tinted screen is brought up. 

"You should already be in," you hear him say, "I've overridden the password for now." 

"From... where? Jack, where are you?" There's a panic beginning to bubble in your chest, making you feel a cold tremble take over your shoulders. 

" Not really the problem right now, princess!" His quick and serious tone easily shuts you up. "There's some files on that computer that I can't lose, or let anyone else see - there's also a few overrides that only my main computer can do... I need you to do a bit of work for me, alright?"

"Alright...?" You begin to listen to his directions, finding a hard drive in his desk. It quickly reminds you of the small circular one from, god, what feels like years ago. But that memory is just a quick glint, disappearing as you try to focus on not losing yourself to panic. "I'm a bit surprised you don't have some backup plan..." 

You hear him give a laugh, "Yeah, uh, the backup plan isn't going super well right now, so you're my backup-backup plan." 

Rolling your eyes, you place the flash drive into the computer, letting it download an array of files. The names are... weird. They mean nothing to you at all, but none of them are sitting quite right with you. Giant files. Things that you don't know about, things you should know about, given that you both work in the same department. Things that probably shouldn't exist. 

"Jack? Were you... working on something?" you ask, unable to contain all your curiosity as you click into a few of the downloading files. The contents, of course, make no sense to you. Which is the weirdest part. 

"Uh," you hear him begin, but an array of shrill sounds enter your ear, nearly making you tear away the earpiece entirely. 

Your voice comes out in pure horror, " Jack, were those gunshots ?!" 

" Yeah . Uh, sorta being shot at right now, can I get back to you?" His voice seems confident, strong, but you know full well that it's just an act. 

"...are you shooting back ?" You don't even have time to ask if he has a gun - god, does he even own one? Does he have a fucking shield?!

" Trying to, pumpkin. Later. " the call goes silent with a few small beeps, leaving you alone in his office. 

You sit back in his chair, a shaky sigh leaving you, fingers tapping on the arm rests. You did pretty much everything he asked to, at least for right now, the files almost finished transferring. There was nothing else to do right now, which just let your mind wander, the worst case scenario of Jack getting shot and you going down with the space station swirling in your head. 

You needed a distraction. You glance around the room, curious on anything you could do that would even qualify as help , your eyes soon falling on a small picture on the corner of his desk. More than anything, you're shocked that you haven't noticed it before, but with everything going on, you must not have even glanced over. 

Reaching out, you grab the small frame, bringing it to you and looking close at the photo. It's a girl, a cute kid. He never had this photo sitting at his old desk. Maybe he felt it was too personal...? Either way, he has it out here now, so it must bring him some happiness... You make sure to put it back down in nearly the exact same position, wondering if this is the kid he's spoken of before. Is it an old picture? Recent? How old is she now...?

Time goes on. Still no word from Jack, making your body only feel more ill. You move back to his computer, poking around, not removing the flash drive just yet, just in case he needed anything else later. Your eyes glance past folders, files with names that seem just... secretive. It would be wrong to dig deeper, right? But he did ask you, and you're already here, and he let you get past the passwords already, so...

Whatever, you're already doing it. 

The deeper you dig, the weirder things seem to get. Nothing is laid out perfectly, but you know his code. You've seen him work. 

So much money. Way more money that he should be making, even as the Head of Programming. 

So much money being transferred to places off Helios. 

Money being transferred to some sort of Doppelganger project. The said project containing weird doctor notes and pictures of Jack's face in different angles, medical mumbo jumbo that you just don't understand. 

Something isn't right. Something is making you feel queasy. 

More files. Dossiers. Vault hunters? Contests?!

But the most unnerving thing is the dates . The dates that go back, way back. Back before Helios. Back to the days he was sitting right next to you. 

What the hell has he been up to?

Speaking of the devil - there's a sudden beep in your ear, making you quickly answer the call. 

At first, all you hear is panting. Your stomach does a flip, hands nervously pressing together. 

"Whew," his voice, albeit tired and breathless, brings you nothing but sudden relief. "alright, hey princess."

"Stop with the pet names, Jack," your voice is shaking. Which, good. He should be aware at how much he's scared you. "What's going on?"

"Well," you can hear shuffling, some grunting. Is he actually okay? "Do you want the long version, or just the quick--"

"Jack!"

You hear him give a short laugh. "Well, uh. Helios is being attacked by some really creepy broad named Zarped-" He cuts off, suddenly laughing fully, uncontrollably. As annoyed as you feel, needing to know what the hell is going on, the fact that he can laugh gives you some peace of mind. " ZARPEDON ," he shouts then, "Wow, oh my god that's... just so hard to take seriously. Also, I think there was an alien, but we can focus on that later." He's talking fast, almost too fast to keep up with. "I also just shot a bunch of vault hunters onto the moon, so. Uh. That's a thing." 

You don't answer. Not a single word is coming to your mind, brows furrowed as you stare down at his desk, taking it all in. Under attack. An alien. Vault hunters... at the moon?

"Hey, hey," his voice has turned soft, "don't be scared-" 

"Jack," you find something else to focus on, "what's all the stuff on your computer?"

"Oh, that? It's just some top secret corporate stuff, no need to worry," he says it with his usual cocky tone, "now that you're done with that, we can--" 

" Not that, Jack," you interrupt, leaning forward in the chair to browse through the files once more. "Everything else! Vault hunters, doppelgangers... Where did you get all this money , Jack?!" 

He's quick, voice harsh, " kinda rude to be pokin' around on someone's personal computer." 

"You asked me!" You snap right back, "That's the only reason I'm in here, I did everything else, and all of this is really weird, and I'm--" as if on cue, another loud booming sound erupts outside the station, making it sway and shake around you. Your hands grip at the chair, sinking down into it, voice low and very obviously shaking, "Jack I'm scared ." 

"I know," his voice is gentle, you can hear him shuffling again, sighing deeply. "I'll properly scold you later for getting into my very private files, but for now, you're going to have to listen to me. There's some bad people here. Very bad. They are pretty much maiming everyone and anyone they see, so do not leave my office. Understood?" 

You begin to nod, but quickly realize he can't see. "Understood."

"Good, now. I'm trying to get down to Elpis, but there's some fucking jamming signal..." 

"Elpis...?" 

"Yeah, remember? The whole 'Helios is under attack' thing?" 

You ignore his cross tone, " You're going there?! What about everyone else?!" 

"They are either in bunkers on different levels, dead, or got off while they could." 

His answer causes a chill to run up your spine, voice catching in your throat. "And me?! I'm stuck here, in your office, while we are being attacked?!" 

"Yes! Oh my god," Jack lets out a loud groan. "I told you it's protected! I need you to fucking listen to me for three seconds!" 

You go quiet now, enticing a slow sigh from Jack. 

After a few moments, he continues, voice calmer. "There's a blocker, coming from Elpis. I have some people down there, fixing that problem, and then I am going to go down there myself, and make sure a few things are taken care of." 

Your mouth opens to object, but he continues, cutting you off. 

"And you . As soon as I know it's safe, you're going to use the travel system right outside my office, and go down to Elpis as well." 

" What ?" You look towards his office doors, eyes beginning to narrow, "Jack, I don't have clearance--" 

" Yes , you do ... Or, at least, you do now. You're going to use it, go to Concordia, and get off Helios. Do you understand?" 

It takes you a moment to answer, soon giving a small "yes..." 

"Okay. Good." His tone seems overly agitated, so you go silent again. Perhaps not agitated... frustrated. Maybe scared. He was just shot at, after all, and there's a lot going on. He doesn't hang up, though, letting you hear his soft breaths. 

"Jack...?" 

"Yes, princess?" his voice is a bit tense. low. 

You don't answer right away, finding it hard to come up with simple words. "Are you safe?" 

"Heh," he lets out a quick laugh. "Honestly, not really, but I'm hiding out right now, so don't worry your pretty little head off." 

You can feel your eyebrows furrow again, glaring down at the computer desk. He hasn't used all these silly little pet names and flirty comments in a good while. Ever since you snapped at him. Maybe it's just the stress he's under. You decide not to mention it. 

"All right, good," you say, closing your eyes as another round of loud noises can be heard outside. It's terrifying. You'd give anything to be back down on solid ground right now. 

"Jack?" 

"Mm?" 

You shuffle in your seat, feeling suddenly silly for what you're about to say. "Would it... uh, be super childish of me to ask... for you not to hang up?" 

He laughs, but it's soft. 

"Whatever makes you feel better."

"Right," you smile. It's small, but right now the simple act means the entire universe to you. "Thank you." 

The both of you fall into a silence. It's broken at times, occasional chatting, but you don't want to make him be too loud and give away whatever hiding spot he has found. 

But there's still one thing on your mind. And the quiet is making it worse. 

"Jack...? I have one more question." 

He's back to a more stern, slightly annoyed tone, "You can ask me about that stuff later, pumpkin, when there's not the chance of people listening in." 

"N-no, not that," you stutter out, mind suddenly flying off in a million other directions. Can people be listening?! Since when? Is he just saying that to shut you up, or...?!

You gulp down those thoughts. "It's... about the picture. On your desk."

" Ah ." 

Oh. Whoa that was a tone shift. 

Shit, this is probably... bad territory. Fuck. There's a reason he's never mentioned this person before, right?! Retreat - go back, backspace, exit the conversation!

"That's Angel." 

You pause, biting your lip. Probably a bit too hard. "Is she... your daughter?" If he's talking about it... then maybe it's not a bad thing? He didn't blow you off, like he did with all the other weird computer files. 

"Yepp, quite the beauty, isn't she?" Even still, his tone is... a bit distant. Like it's still something he'd rather not talk about. 

"She's adorable," you hope he takes the complement earnestly. 

"She's smart too!" Okay, there a bit more energy in his tone now, "God, almost terrifyingly smart."

"Takes after her dad, then?" 

"God, I hope not." 

You share a laugh now. Alright, crisis averted. He's not upset. And hey, you know he has a kid now. A daughter! Named Angel... not the sort of name you'd imagine Jack picking, but then again, you still didn't know a lot about him. Today is proof of that. 

"I've,... I've never seen her on Helios," you say, carefully picking your words, trying to learn a bit more if you can. 

"Yeah, uh. She's... not here." As soon as he says it, you fall silent, a sudden dread taking over you. But he continues, voice quick and a bit louder, "Not! Not dead, no, she's alive! And she's safe, and not on the currently-being-attacked-space-station." 

"Oh! Okay," God, no more sudden stress today, please, "Good..."

You decide then to not ask where she is, not wanting to pry too much. Helios wasn't exactly full of perfect picturesque families. It was mostly overworked people and tired executives. Odds were, she lived off in a nice place. Perhaps with Jack's old wife...?

Another silence took over the conversation, but before it could go on too long, Jack gives a simple "hold on" before a beeping sound signals that the call was closed. 

You worry. Of course you worry, but Jack didn't seem too scared. 

Luckily for your overactive imagination that is constantly telling you that Jack is now dead, he soon is back in your ear, sounding a lot more excited and loud.

" YES , okay, the jammer is gone. I'm going down to Elpis," it's good news, you know it is, but god this is suddenly going very fast. "Gonna have to leave you in the quiet for awhile, but as soon as you get the okay from me, you go to that travel station. Concordia. Got it?" 

"Yeah..." Yeah. Yes. You've got it, even if your legs absolutely don't want to move. 

"Hey, don't sound so scared. Remember? I said you'll love Elpis." Stupid Jack. His voice doesn't have any hint of alarm or fear in it. Maybe it's an act, but it makes you feel better. 

"Just... don't do anything rash," you say. Plead, more like it. 

"Honey, com'on," you can hear the grin in his voice, "That's what I do ." 

There's a few beeps in your ear, ending the call. You let out a long sigh, laying back again in the chair. Elpis. God, you have nothing to go to Elpis with. No change of clothes... your ID only works on Hyperion, which means you have no money...

A whole list begins to form, actually. So many things. Oh god. If you could just get to your apartment...

No, no. Stupid. Jack said they are shooting anyone they see. Bad idea. It's safe here, in this stupid lonely huge office with nothing to do. 

Your eyes close now, trying to distance your mind from the whole attack. This entire time, you have not once had the courage to look outside the huge window behind you. There could be someone there, right now. A giant gun charging. How safe was the glass? Could it withstand a giant blow...?

You sit there for a good while. You begin to wonder if the sounds outside can be treated like thunder, perhaps if you count down from the booming noises to the shuddering beneath your feet, could that tell you how far away it's happening? A few times, you tell yourself to stop thinking about it, stop trapping yourself in these anxious thoughts, but they always come right back. There's literally nothing else to dwell on. 

There's a sudden beep - not from your ear piece, nor from Jack's computer. Instead, it came from your watch. It's the usual Hyperion grade watch, the one that let you check emails or view simple messages. You press the screen, bringing up messages, heart suddenly pounding through your chest when you see the message is from Jack. 

It only says one word, in all caps: GO

Adrenaline bubbles inside you. Is it urgent? Why all caps?! 

No time to worry about it - you grab the flash drive, shoving it into your pocket and hurrying to the main door. You don't open it right away, gulping hard. There's... security outside the main offices too, so things should be fine, right...?

With a quick movement, you open the door, dashing to the side of it as it opens. There's no noise coming from the outside though, tempting you to look around the corner. 

No one to be seen. Just the roomba slowly moving up and down the corridor. 

You want to feel relieved, but your blood hasn't cooled down just yet. With a deep breath, you break out into a run, nearly tripping over the roomba as you near the travel station. Your fingers are quick as you press through the screens and menus, scanning your ID and finding your destination. It wasn't your first time using it, most everyone used these things so they didn't have to walk all over Helios. But as for going off Helios, well, you had to have high credence for that. 

The last button is staring at you, and you pat your pocket one last time to make sure you have the flash drive. You have nothing else, nothing at all. Concordia better have a clothing store. 

You press your thumb against it, taking the customary deep breath and closing your eyes. 

God these things always felt so weird. 


Gross. Icky. 

And then just really, really cold. 

You feel the ground beneath your feet, signaling that it was now safe to open your eyes. You didn't have to keep them shut - it just felt better that way. Less nauseating. 

Elpis. You're actually on a moon . You begin to step away from the travel station, not wanting to be in that area if anyone else beams in, taking in everything you can see. 

It's, well. It's a city. But it's a city on the moon which is amazing enough. It's a bit chilly, but it's not as if you could have brought a coat anyway. There's people all around, but none of them seem to phased that you're here, most likely pretty used to random people coming in through the travel station. 

There's stairs to your right, and you slowly walk up them, feeling good to be on solid ground again. Speaking of Helios, you look up, shocked to see it's size looming over the city. You wonder for a moment how the people of Concordia feel about that, but it's a question you really don't have the time to ponder. Jack's around here somewhere, and all you want is a familiar face right now.

Oh. 

God he has perfect timing - you see him through the crowd, looking a bit lost himself.

You break out into a small run, feeling all too excited, just happy his stupid ass is alive . You weave around a few people, finally meeting up with him, just a tad out of breath. 

"Jack, oh my god ," you say, hands resting on your hips as you catch your breath. "I am so glad to see you." For a moment, you wanted to hug him. Maybe scream (maybe stress-cry a bit), but nah that's... that's a bit much, bit weird. 

" YES ," Jack then shouts, a bit... too loud. "Hello, I am Jack . It's... nice to see you again?" 

You hum softly, eyes narrowing. Alright. Weird thing to say. 

"Are you sick?" you ask, stepping forward to get a better look at him. "Did you make it here okay? Did you maybe hit your head on the way down...?"

" Yes? I mean, no-- I mean..." Jack sighs then, shoulders slumping, "Sorry, look. This is really hard. Who are you...?" 

"Uhh," you begin to look around, are you in the right dimension? "Should I be asking you that question?!" 

He seems nervous, eyes quickly glancing around the town. You watch as his Adam's apple bobs in his throat, gulping anxiously. 

" There you two are," it's Jack's voice. 

You turn to see where it came from. Which, it came from Jack. 

Over there, not right in front of you, in fact quite a few yards in the distance and walking towards you. Yes. That Jack. The other Jack. 

Well. Alright. 

"Hmm," you can only hum. Maybe your brain is just overheating. Side effect from the travel system. 

He - Jack, the far away one - comes over, looking proud. Happy. Quite accomplished. 

"See you met my other self!" He says, patting the... OTHER Jack on the back, to which the Other-Jack flinches slightly. "Jack, did you introduce yourself?" 

"Not... yet, sir" he says, voice so much lower, so much more timid. Still Jack's voice. 

Sir. Sir

You look to Jack. Answers. Answers are needed. 

Jack gives a small laugh now, "obviously this may seem a bit weird." 

"Ohhh," you shake your head now, "You have so much explaining to do." 

"Yes. To the person who just got caught digging through my personal files" 

God he is good at ticking you off so fucking fast, "I - you , you are not allowed to pin this on me, you asked me--" but a sudden file pops into your mind, the views of Jack's face, dopplegangers, doctors notes--

You point to the Other-Jack, making him flinch. 

" That .... is that ? From the file?! A body-double ?!" 

"Yes, dear," Jack speaks to you softly, a smile growing, "please don't shout, the commoners are staring." 

You put your hands up now, looking into the sky. You want to do so much more than shout right now. 

Instead, however, the sky decides to send down even more things to scream about. This time, in the form of a laser, straight from Helios, causing the entire planet to rumble with moonquakes. You keep your footing, even if you do wobble a bit, watching as everyone looks up in horror at the space station. 

"... Jack?" 

"Yeah, that's been happening." His tone is cocky, "seems Zarpe-dork took over Helios and wants to destroy the moon!" He says it so nonchalantly. You, sort of, want to punch him. Maybe right in the stomach. That seems like a grand idea right now. 

"Okay," you say, sort of shocked at how calm your voice is, especially after seeing a giant laser being shot down at the ground where you were supposed to to be safe. Maybe you're entering a state of shock. "How about we talk? Maybe somewhere more quiet?" 

"Actually," Jack begins, coming over to swing his arm around your shoulder, the other doing the same to his (very uncomfortable looking) body-double. "I was thinking somewhere a lot more... loud ." 

-----------------------

Sitting in the bar that belonged to Jack's ex felt... really weird. 

But it was a good place to talk, according to Jack. You had a small table, near the back, surrounded by loud music. 

You learned a few concrete things.

One: You lived here now... kinda. For the time being. Hotel room rented out, just for you. Jack also didn't seem worried about your lack of clothes, telling you that there were shops around, and a quick-change station right outside. 

Two: Turns out Jack felt he needed a face-double. Or body double. For reasons you still didn't quite understand. 

Three: Helios was attacked, and it had something to do with a Vault. Because, well, of course it fucking did. 

Four: Jack also hired a team of Vault Hunters. To help find said vault, which is on Elpis, which Jack wanted to open. 

Five: God, you hate your job. 

You sat silent at the table now, sipping a fruity boozy drink as you watch Jack from far away. He's talking to some people you've never seen before, and you can't make out any lip movements from this far away. It's 'business' you guessed. Whatever. You were tired. A bit irritated. Or, perhaps just way too overwhelmed.

Other-Jack was next to you. You couldn't help but stare at times, which he so obviously noticed and avoided your eye contact. He looked exactly like Jack, but was giving you countless faces you had never seen before. Nervous. Skittish. Really fucking tired.

"Why?" It came from you, out of nowhere, so the body-double's confused face was expected. You continued. "Why do it? Why change your entire face?" 

"I-I, uh..." he begins to stutter, poking the rim of his own drink that he has still not yet taken a sip of. "Kinda a hard question to answer..." 

"It is...?" 

He nods to you, shifty eyes glancing towards Jack, and then to you. "Jack, he uh. I guess, simply put... Jack has a lot of dreams. And I... have a lot of student loans." 

Your eyebrows begin to furrow. Dreams? What the hell are these dreams he's talking about? "So he paid for the surgery?" 

"Yes," there's a squeak to his voice. It's... kind of cute. "And the, uh... training I had to get." 

"Right," you nod, sipping your drink slowly. "And he's paying you, too?" 

"Well, paying off my student loans..." 

You continue to stare at him, the body-double never fully locking eyes with you. It's almost addicting. All these new timid faces, the way he would rather look down at his hands than at you. Definitely not Jack. Not one tiny bit. 

"Can you at least tell me your name? I feel rude calling you 'Other Jack'." 

He quickly began to shake his head now, "legally, no. Uhm, you CAN just call me Jack. In fact, you should, around other people..."

"Legally?" The boozy drink begins to sting in your throat, "did he actually legally take away your own name?!" 

"Well... maybe? I don't know," once again, he nervously glances over to Jack. "I don't really know if it was Jack persay, or the doctors that did it all. But, really," he shows you a smile now. A smile that is still so Not-Jack. Goofy, wide. Sincere. "It's nothing to worry yourself over..." 

Oh. He's a good, honest boy. You can tell. 

"I was a total nobody before all this, so there's not a lot I really miss," he gives a laugh now, though it's a bit stiff, "Aside from maybe... my freckles?" 

You can't help the sudden 'aww!' that comes from you, "freckles! That's so cute." 

Another laugh, this one breathy and full of nerves. He begins to scratch at his cheek, looking again at everywhere else instead of you. "Y-yeah, I always thought so too. My best feature, back then." 

You find yourself scooting a bit closer. Not too much, just enough to get a better look at his face. Jack's face, but also... not. "I bet you could draw some back on." 

"What! No way, they'd look totally fake!" 

"Nuh uh," you shake your head, smiling wide, "I've seen some videos on the EchoNET. You gotta use makeup - I bet I could send you some of the vids."

For a moment, he begins to shake his head, but a laugh catches in his throat. He seems to be all too aware of your closeness. As are you, now. 

Shit. 

Were you flirting? Is this flirting? 

You bite your lip for a moment, turning away to sip more at your drink. 

Your crush on Jack never really left. You just buried it down. Mostly under spite, a bit of embarrassment, and then silently hoping that Jack himself would bring up that moment in his office... But when he never did, you were left to assume that the whole 'just a rebound' thing was the total truth. 

So was it wrong? To flirt with the cute boy, even if he had Jack's face, who's cheeks were flushed and couldn't find the words to talk back to you?

It had been a long fucking day, after all. Really long. So maybe just... a bit of flirting? To blow off steam, feel a bit better, feel a bit normal after everything?

Fuck it. 

You begin to lean closer, shoulder able to brush against his now, your drink still in hand. "I could do it for you." 

"H-huh?" His voice stalls, cracks. You've never heard Jack's voice crack like that before. Oh no. It's cute. 

"Put some freckles on you. A light dusting?" You reach up with your free hand, your touch soft and slow as you brush against his cheeks and nose, "Here, and here." 

His eyes close, nose wrinkling just a bit. Red, stuttering, hands timidly pressed together beneath the table. 

He's not telling you to quit it, exactly, so you begin to move in, bodies becoming closer.

" LUCKY YOU ," Jack's booming voice. Real Jack. Two hands hit the table, and the both of you look up to see a wide, toothy grin. "You've got a big slew of missions, Jackie boy. Even I've got one for ya, you should check your communicator." 

"R-right! Okay!" There's a hint of relief in the voice of Jack's body double, and you watch as he quickly gets up from the table. For just a moment, he sends you a bit of an apologetic look, before giving Jack a single nod and quickly vacating the premises. 

You don't really blame him for running off. Shit. You probably made things a bit awkward for him. 

Oops. 

You give a sigh, sitting up straight now and downing the rest of your drink, slamming it onto the table when finished. 

"Having fun?" Jack asks, voice taut, not sitting down. 

"Maybe, he's super cute," oh no. You feel annoyed. Why do you feel annoyed?

"Uh huh. He has MY face, so." 

"I meant his personality , idiot. He's a cute boy." 

You watch as Jack rolls his eyes. He's obviously upset, though you don't know if it's at you, or the people he was talking to before, or just... the whole situation of today. 

"I didn't invite you down here so you can flirt with my doppelganger. That's not what he's meant for." He's lecturing you. Is he lecturing you?!

"What he's meant for, Jack, he's a human being!' 

There's another roll to his eyes, Jack staring at the ceiling for a moment and letting out a long sigh. "You're twisting my words, just let him do his job!" 

You stand then, rather quickly, right up into his face, actually making him back up just a bit. "Are you jealous ?" 

Oh. 

Whoa wait, why did you say that, that's a very stupid thing to say. 

You turn from him, raising a hand and waving quickly. "That... was the booze talking." 

"You had one drink. You're fine."

"Enough for it to talk!" You glare back up to him. Alright, he may be right on that. You could hold your liquor just fine. If anything it was just giving you the courage to snap back. "Besides, Jack isn't the jealous type, is he?" 

His chin raises a bit, looking down at you, silent. Maybe you struck a chord? Maybe it's time you just go to your hotel room for the night, go to sleep, deal with all of this in the morning...

But then he moves closer. Dangerously close, making you back up into the table, unable to move any more. It's not like the time before, on Helios. Something is... a bit more intimidating, now. 

"See. That's where you're very wrong, pumpkin," his voice is a low rumble, and you can see his hand moving up, taking your chin between his fingers. He tilts your chin up with a bit of force, making you look up to him. "I am most definitely the jealous type. I don't like other people playing with my things." 

You brace your hands against the table behind you, stabling yourself. "Well," you begin, eyebrows knitting together as you form your words, not wanting to admit that a small part of you is enjoying this closeness and his rough words. Not when he just said that right to your face. "It's a good thing you don't own me, then."

You watch as his eyes flicker between your own, watching you slowly, but backing off. His hand holds your chin for a few seconds longer, but eventually lets go, falling to his side. He's watching you. Studying you? 

"How about I show you to your hotel room?" he says then, and his tone makes you fully aware that it was not a question. 

Your eyebrow raises, trying to read his face. He's either suggesting one of two things to you. 

Either you're totally grounded. 

Or, well... the usual things that people are insinuating when inviting someone into their home...

You honestly don't know which one it is. 


 

Chapter Text


 

Concordia was already leaving a less than spectacular impression on you. You couldn't entirely help it, the city was not at all like the posters or advertisements you had seen. It was a bit rough around the edges, more than a few piles of garbage lay in the streets, and just the constant musty smell of machinery. You'd have loved to give it the score of 'well, at least I'm not going to die here', but the giant laser in the sky definitely ruined that bit. 

The hotel, though...

You pass an open room on your trek to your own hotel room. Just a glance inside shows that the amenities were a bit lacking, but you don't find yourself caring too much. You'd die for a bunk-bed right now, a soft pillow, wanting to just sleep until this was all over. 

But Jack leads you to an elevator, which moves the both of you deeper down into the moonbase. The elevator makes the silence between the two of you almost unbearable. He hadn't said a thing since leaving the bar, and you honestly had no idea what to say to him anyway. Usually your mind would be swimming with thoughts, worries of what he may be thinking. But the biggest thing on your mind right now is the time . God. You would have usually been asleep hours ago, passed out after some TV and EchoNET browsing. 

Jack doesn't say a thing as he enters the hotel room, flashing a small ID to let the door open. You got one too, but Jack took the spare without a word, and you didn't have the energy to fight it. You follow him inside, the doors closing behind you, and as soon as you get the chance to look around the room you forget all about being exhausted.

Oh... Oh , it's really nice.

"Jack, I can't afford a room like this," you say, spinning slowly in the center of the room. It's nothing like the room you saw on the upper levels, which meant there was, for sure, a price difference. Plush carpets? Two large, soft couches making up a small living room. The television isn't anything to write home about, but it sat next to a large window with quite the view of the moon's landscape outside. In a nice, tucked away corner of the room is a bed. Large. Queen? King? 

Nope , the exhaustion is back, that looks amazing to sleep on. Holy hell, all you want to do is collapse onto those pillows. 

"No, but I can," Jack finally answers, and you turn to see him watching you with a small, proud grin. You can't help but stare back at him, face going blank as you take in what he's saying to you. He quickly picks up on it, continuing, "look, you said yourself that you don't have any of your things. How the hell are you gonna pay for a place to stay?" He places his hands on his hips now, every bit of him loving this, "same with some clothes. I don't mind, just don't go insane. You have a limit , alright?" 

You're silent. He's offering to pay for a room (which probably includes food as well), and also some clothing. Before today, you would have probably told him there was no need, or that you'd pay him back somehow. But after seeing all the money he's somehow gotten these past few years, you feel rather inclined to let him do whatever the hell he wants. 

 "...What?" he finally asks, and you feel you've probably been silent for long enough. 

"You," you say, hands moving to your hips and mimicking his pose. "Just you." He's been acting very different. Not in a bad way, exactly, just... something felt off

"I'm not the other Jack, if that's what you think?" He ends it as if it's a question, his hands moving outward. 

"Oh, I know," you give a quick scoffing laugh. "He wasn't able to actually look me in the eye all night." 

He pauses for a moment. "Really...? God damn, that kid sucks at being me." 

"He really does," you can't help but laugh. Even if you don't understand the doppelganger stuff even a tiny bit, you can't deny that this kid was probably a horrible choice to act like Jack. "He's way too cute to be you." 

"Again. My face." 

You smile, but it fades rather quickly. Jack's been real good at tone-shifting today. Just now, he sounded completely annoyed again, right after sounding cocky and proud. 

"Were... you really jealous of him?" There's a part of you that knows it's probably stupid to ask that. But that part of you is asleep, leaving only this tired husk that just wants straight answers for once. 

You see Jack's eyebrow give a slight twitch downward. "I told you-" 

"No, no," you cut him off, "I mean, aside from that 'you're my boss and you think you own me' bullshit." 

His brow line begins to furrow, eyes narrowing at you. But the glare doesn't last long, Jack tearing his gaze away as he lets out a loud curse, quickly beginning to pace around the room. 

" God I really hate that you're like this!" He paces with his hands open, gesturing wildly with them both, "You're really fucking annoying, do you know that?!" 

"Uh huh," too tired to feel offended, you sit on the arm of the couch and watch him pace. "And you're really bad at flirting like a normal person." 

He turns to you now, arms out wide as he catches you in another glare, "You never once accepted any of my usual advances!" 

You match his glare now, eyebrows furrowing. "What? You've never made any!" He continues his stare, arms still out wide, seemingly at a loss for words. "No," you continue, "I do not count a hand on my ass and a promotion as a proper advance." 

"Proper--" He laughs but it has a bewildered flare to it. "I've been trying for years , cupcake." 

Years. Since when ? Your glare turns to the ground, arms crossing as you quickly try to replay any actual, real advances from him. Aside from the rather sudden one in his office, that is. Sure, he's always used pet names and was constantly coming on to you, but he did so in such a joking matter, that you never once actually believed it was real.

"I thought," your irritated tone is gone by now, "you're always joking around, making a huge deal out of everything. I'm far from the only person you use silly little names on. Is calling me 'kitten' really supposed to be enough?" 

"Yes! Well-" He stops entirely, eyes dancing around the room, lost in a thought, "it has worked, at least before."

Your eyes close as you take a deep breath, hands reaching up to rub at your eyes. Okay. Okay , you can accept it at this point, that Jack is a huge fucking idiot and doesn't know how to properly ask someone out. "Just. Ask me out on a date , Jack. Is that really so hard?"

"Oh, sure ," he gives a wide shrug, "we can go view the accountants firm and watch them work. Or how about a romantic evening with the scientists as they do weird experiments on alien plants. Kinda hard to have a fancy date up there, pumpkin."

"There's a theater !" You sit up straight on the arm of the couch, hands perched beside you, "I mean, it's small and... really, honestly nothing good is ever playing. And popcorn always has a weird taste in space..." 

His head does a quick little shake, eyebrows high as his hands are out, as if to ask 'well?'. 

"Is... Is this a confession ? Like some sort of elementary school confession?" You see his eyes roll, but keep going. "Do you want to write it all down in a little note? I'll check a checkbox on if I like you or not."

His answer is a groan, walking past you to sit on the other couch, head in his hands as he begins to rub at his face. He begins to mumble, voice muffled by his hands, "There's way too fucking much going on right now for me to deal with this." 

"Then don't?" Seems simple enough to you. Though, that's probably due to the fact that this day has sort of ruined your ability to freak out at the moment. "Just... Fucking tell me, without dancing around it." You move now, sitting normally on the couch across from him. He's silent, hands still cupped around his mouth, leaning over with his elbows on his knees, staring at you. He looks almost exhausted as you feel. 

"I mean... honestly ," you give a shrug, fingers tapping on your own knees as you look around the room and away from him. "This is still sort of a huge surprise to me. I really never thought I was your, uh," you stall, biting your tongue. "...your type?" 

"What?" It's muffled at first, but he brings his arms down, "Says who ?"

You give a hard blink. "M-... me?" 

It takes him a moment, but soon Jack is giving a low groan, "If you're basing this on my ex - which you really shouldn't - then you're way off base. I, uh, don't think anyone else has her sort of... circus clown brothel style." He gives a sniff now, leaning back on the couch and crossing a leg, "I mean, don't get me wrong, it was great for- ah," he stops, looking at you, giving a quick hiss, "Probably not the best thing to say right now." 

"Yeeaah," you draw out, "not really." 

It falls silent again, making you look down at the small coffee table that sits between you both. Awkward. Even if you don't want to think about his ex(es), you can't help but wonder if he was this much of a fool with the women before you. You've dated before - you're far from inexperienced, but damn it was never this... convoluted and confusing. 

"Fine," he sighs, "so, you want a date, then?"

Oh, fucking finally. Normal words!

"Preferably somewhere nice," you say, nodding, a bit of you actually feeling a bit giddy. "And, not the bar owned by your ex?" 

He laughs, which is a welcome sound at this point, making things incredibly less akward. "Gee, I don't know. That's a pretty big price you're askin' for."

You shrug, a smile now pulling at your lips, "I'm an expensive date."

"Good thing I'm filthy fucking rich." 

It lets the both of you laugh, breaking the rest of the tension. Your shoulders slump a bit, bringing your legs to sit criss-crossed on the couch. "Actually, speaking of that money," with the atmosphere around you less thick, poking him for information seems a lot less stressful. 

He gives a groan, but it's loud and playful. Before he can object, you continue, "are you really not going to tell me? About all of that money, where you're sending it all. Why you feel the need for a freakin' body double?" 

"Double s ," he puts emphasis on the 's', holding up two fingers, followed by a few more. "He's the first of many, if things go according to my plans." 

"Plans? Jack," your mind thinks back to everything he did actually tell you tonight. Mostly: a vault. "This stuff, with the vault, and all these hunters you hired. I've only met your... other-self so far, but... is this really something to be focusing on while Zap-" your eyes narrow. Nope. Forgot her name. " Z-lady is trying to blow up the moon?"

He sits more forward now, palms opening to you, "She's attacking the moon because of the vault. It's all connected." 

"And everything else?" 

It takes him a moment, and you notice his legs bouncing slightly as his stare is locked to your own. "The less you know, the better." 

You breathe deeply, head tilting back as your eyes roll. Fine. He wanted to stay secretive. "Mighty fine thing to say to your new--" No. You stop, nose wrinkling as you stare down at your lap. He's looking right at you, you can tell. 

" Oh ," his stupid voice is full of amusement. God damnit. 

"Go on, say it," fuck his stupid teasing tone. He's standing up, but you don't look to him, even as he walks over to you. His form begins to loom over you, but you deny him that power by standing yourself, arms crossed and refusing to look at him, "I don't have to say it, I implied it." 

"Ohhh, my god ," he just steps closer, leaning over just a bit to match your height, "Are you... actually the shy type? No way ."

"Oh, fuck off."

"This is so cute ," his hand takes your chin, forcing you to look his way, but that doesn't mean you have to direct your eyes to him! "Look at you. You're actually turning red. Com'on. Call yourself my girlfriend."

"I'll punch that pretty face of yours, don't think I won't." Doesn't fucking matter how right he is. Though, knowing his stupid face, he'd probably just look hot with a bleeding nose. Fucking hell. Even imagining it is nice.

It only makes it grin, because of course it fucking does. "Oh, oh oh ," he's moving closer now, his chest pressing against your own, "teasing you is going to be so much fun." There it is again. That tone. Low, purring almost, deep and sending a chill straight through your body. 

"How about," his arms finally make their move, and you're too lost to the moment to stop him, hands wrapping around your waist as your lower body is forced to press against his own. "I distract you from all those hard pressing questions... with a bit more teasing?" 

If he is trying to distract you from grilling him for answers, it's working. You feel yourself losing the fight, somehow succumbing to his form way too easily. You haven't even kissed, not even a simple quick one, and he was already suggesting such... lewd ideas. God, even the idea of kissing is almost too much right now.

He seems to be able to read your mind, your forehead softly knocking with his as his lips begin to hover above yours. 

God damnit. God damnit !

You try to move swiftly, arms flying around his shoulders as you close the gap between his and your lips. You! Not him, you . Stupid asshole, stupid wide shoulders. 

You can feel his smile in the kiss, which only makes it more irritating, a hand reaching up to rest on the back of your neck. It allows him to make the kiss deeper, and you find yourself breathing deep as your own hands begin to move into the back of his hair. 

You've wanted this. You sort of hate how much you've wanted this, but you'll scream about that later. For now, you can't fucking lose to this guy. He's going to touch you, he's making that very obvious with how his hand is gripping lower and lower on your waistline. He's going to make you totally buckle down and give in to him, and then he will tease you for being easy . Nope. That cannot happen, not after today.

You break the kiss yourself, catching your breath and keeping your arms tight around him. "Great," you mumble out, "I don't feel tired anymore. Thanks." It's sarcastic, but you know it only inflated his ego. You try to press out your best nonchalant tone, "I don't feel like being teased tonight, either."

"Mmm?" He doesn't listen, though you figured he wouldn't, the hand on your hip pulling your groin against his, and-- Oh

Okay, that - that's almost enough to throw you off. Jack's taller than you - though not by much, but it still lets you easily feel his groin right against your pubic bone. And that is definitely not his belt buckle you're feeling right now.

"I think I can change your mind," his voice is low and rough again, practically purring against your skin as he begins to litter small kisses to your jawline. 

Fuck. Yeah , okay, he's right on that one. Your mind has already been convinced that sleep probably isn't going to happen anytime soon, but you're still not ready to give up just yet. You have to set the standard . Right here, right now. You need to flip this whole situation into your favor.

"Actually," the words are dancing on the tip of your tongue, a quick surge of embarrassment and anxiety begging you not to say it. But Jack's teeth running along the edge of your ear quickly causes you to you push away any nerves. "How about I suck you off, instead?" 

He stops entirely. In fact, he pulls away from you, hands still placed on your waist, but a good arms length apart from you now. He seems... shocked. Actually wordless. 

Yes. Yes . You've won . No matter what happens from here onward, you've won

"I'm..." for a split second, his tone shift reminded you of his doppleganger. "Gonna be honest with you, I was not expecting those words to come from that mouth."

"Yeah, well, this mouth has a few hidden talents," oh you are on fire tonight!

There's a twitch to his lips, a grin forming. Good. You've surprised him. God , this feels awesome. 

He gives a quick lick to his lips, backing away now and holding out his arms, "Alright. How can I deny such an offer?" He turns from you just for a second, taking a seat on the couch beside you. Legs wide, amused grin...

See, this was the problem. You had experience with this. But Jack... Jack is a new challenge entirely. Something about the way he beckoned you over made you briskly wonder if you had actually won at all. 

Did he... trick you? This is entirely possible... 

You can't back down now, though. Not with his stupid eager face looking up at you. Did he even know what shame was? You do your best to look calm and collected as you take place in front of him, knees against the plush carpet, everything feeling way too real as you adjust yourself properly between his legs. 

"Ohh, princess," he hums out, but you don't look up, busying yourself with his belt. "You look so cute when you're acting brave." 

You glance up only for a moment, delivering a glare as you flip him off. He kisses the air at you, and you shoot your gaze back down to his pants. Damn it. Why was that hot? 

Whatever . Your mind easily refocuses on the task before you, now unzipping his pants. For just a moment, Jack raises his hips, pushing his jeans down a small bit, to allow you an easier time. You can see the form of him , in those boxer briefs. He's definitly awake. Though, you feel just as alert at this point as well. 

Slowly, you let your hand trace the outline of his package. There's a twitch of life beneath your fingers, and a smile tugs at your lips. This... okay, you may have a bit of fun with this. Who says you can't tease him , now? With gentle pressure, you push the palm of your hand into the soft mound, causing a deep sigh from the man above you. 

You work slowly, mostly because you can , pulling back the hem of his boxers down. You can see the light mess of pubic hair, soon followed by his shaft. Eventually you reach the perfect spot, pulling his boxers just low enough that his dick practically POPS! out in front of you.

"You are... absolutely impossible to deal with, do you know that?" Even if he is trying to sound annoyed, you can hear the heaviness in his voice. 

You hum in response, fingers light as you take him into your hand, not even daring to make any bold movements just yet. "Says the one who's already hard. I've barely touched you, yet." You begin to tap your fingers against his shaft, looking up to him with a grin. Your tension from before feels entirely gone at this point, seeing how eager he is.

"Can't really control myself when a pretty lady is begging to suck my cock." Once again, he says it so easily, but he's watching you now through half lidded eyes. 

Begging! He can believe what he wants. You refuse to throw sass back, knowing it's what he wants, instead beginning to pump your hand with a bit more grip in your fingers. This was... not where you imagined yourself this morning. Somehow going from planning a long night of TV in your apartment on Helios, to a hotel room on Elpis. Jack's dick in your hand

It's... actually a rather nice dick. Uncircumcised, which is great, since it allows you to watch the tip of his head slide out from the foreskin with each slow pump, glistening with a bit of pre. It's not ungodly huge, like his ego suggests it would be. Average, you think, but a good girth in your hand. Pretty. Handsome. Can a dick be handsome?

You know he will call you out on admiring him, so you switch your tactics, eyes closing and leaning in slow. His breath hitches when your tongue begins to slide against the underside of his shaft. Luckily you taste nothing aside from skin , a bit salty perhaps, but something you can handle just fine. You do your best to wet him, which allows your hand to slide across him easier. 

Your hand moves down on his shaft, revealing the pink head of his cock once more. You take the chance to run your tongue across the tip, enjoying the shuddering noise from Jack in response. Slow still, just the tip of your tongue dancing across the perineum, falling into the slit of his head. You can taste the precum now, but it doesn't slow or bother you. 

"God," you hear him breathe out, soon feeling his hand in your hair. "Look at you, going at it like it's fucking candy." 

You take it as a compliment, grinning a bit as you wet your lips, slowly engulfing them around the tip. The hand around his cock begins to match the bobbing of your head, still taking your dear sweet time, testing your waters, seeing if Jack is event he type to plead when it comes to sexual favors. Instead, his hand in your hair begins to take a slight grip, pulling, sending the slightest bit of pain through your body. It's not unwelcome, causing the warmth between your own legs to pulse. 

"Never took you for such a little slut, princess," he says, but you don't dare glare up to him right now, pretending not to hear him at all. "So happy to be down on your knees, god when we get Helios back... you'd fit so perfectly beneath my desk."

You have to shuffle your legs, pressing them together, movement on his dick beginning to get faster. So what if he totally nailed the fact that you've fantasized about doing risky things like that. The idea began to fill your mind. Of being beneath his desk, bobbing your head just like you are right now, all while he did his best to keep his composure. You imagined what strained noises he would make on call with someone, or if he'd start sweating if someone walked in the office doors...

His noises now were far from strained. You could tell he is the type that found no shame in being vocal, filling your ears with small moans and little comments, purring out more pet names and encouragement. There is a chance you were enjoying this a bit too much, letting your mind get lost to it, having to continuously shift and press your legs together, eager for just a bit of relief. 

You have to break, though, needing just a bit of air, breathing hot against his dick. Just a tiny break, that's all you planned, but Jack's movement suddenly throws you off. He's standing, making you have to scoot backwards, looking up to him with knitted brows. His cheeks are tinted pink, eyes half lidded as his hand begins to prod his dick at your lips, the other hand finding its way back into your hair. 

You steady your hands on his knees, looking down as you take his dick back into your mouth, finding yourself a bit less balanced now as you try to resume your previous rhythm. He's talking to you, voice low, small whispers of 'take it easy', and 'breathe deep'. His hips are now able to move against you, actually letting you stay mostly still as his dick begins to slide in and out of your mouth on it's own. 

It's a welcome break. Until the hand on the back of your head starts pulling you closer, your nose soon pushing against his lower stomach. You begin to swallow in a bit of panic - while his dick isn't giant , it is still very much invading the back of your throat. Your breaths inward were definitely strained, causing you to begin to choke around him. 

Before it's too much, he's back out, holding your head steady as you breathe deep. You can hear him still softly humming out words of encouragement, but before you can look up to him, the entire thing repeats itself. Faster now, every thrust inward causing your nose to bump against his pubic line, your hands gripping tightly at his legs in the need to steady yourself. 

You've seen porn, a good share of it whenever you feel like it, you know exactly what he's getting off to right now. It was never really something you looked for - seemed painful as hell, honestly. But maybe you're just too fucking into it right now, too horny to really care or feel much pain. Your body is on fire and weak at the same time, almost embarrassed at how much it's affecting you. Is it possible to come, just from giving head? No touching? Because god , you feel like you may be close. 

The breathing is the only true hard part, but you're doing your best. Jack keeps giving you small breaks, just enough to let you catch your breath before resuming. He's done this before.

The pace of it all begins to grow stronger, a bit more forceful, and you can tell he is getting close. You're a little thankful at this point. He's fucking lucky your gag reflex isn't shit. 

But he pulls away before he can finish, letting you breathe deeply once more. You swallow a few times, a few small coughs clearing your airway. God, you can taste him so clearly right now. His hand is brushing against your cheek, thumb beneath your eye, and you can feel the wetness slide across your face. You open your eyes to look, quickly reaching your hands up to wipe at the rest of the tears. It was just the pressure of it all, you were sure of that. 

"Do you need to stop?" 

You quickly look up to him now, staring. The question actually surprises you. Did you accidentally start giving a blowjob to his timid little doppelganger...?

You realize you must have worried him, which brings a chuckle out of you. Your hands quickly wipe more at your face, shaking your head, "No, no, I'm fine," oh, your voice is sounding a bit rough, "I think that was just a bit... overwhelming?" You clear your throat again, "though, next time you could give me a bit of warning . Kinda a bit much, out of the blue, don't you think?"

He nods to your words, earnestly. It's sort of cute. Scolding him has always been fun, but right now it's sort of making your entire night. 

You take his dick in your hand, watching his chest rise quickly with a sudden inhale. Softly, you place a few small kisses up the side, staring up at him as you do. "I'll pinch you, if it's too much."

And there's his grin. That's the Jack you know. 

"God, you're fucking hot," his words make you grin a bit yourself, fully taking the compliment and feeling pretty damn sexy.

You bring his dick back into your mouth, more prepared this time, mentally and physically. It's not long before the previous rhythm is back, Jack's hips doing every bit of the work. You focus on breathing, not gagging, and steadying your body. He's talking again, words mixed with small moans, and you can hear your name drop from his lips accompanied by some lewd comments you'd usually want to smack him for. 

Eventually, the movement stops, but your nose is flush against his stomach. His hips are jerking, trying to force himself deeper into your mouth, but that's simply impossible. You want to pat at him, warn him that you absolutely can not breathe like this, but your throat is suddenly doing a lot of panicked swallowing. Hello

You can't even pay attention to the probably amazing sounds he's making, or the way he is tugging tightly onto your hair. The only thing on your mind being not suffocating or drowning as he totally empties himself, straight down your throat. 

As soon as he pulls away, freeing your mouth, you turn away from him, tossed into a coughing fit. He sits down in front of you, sighing happily, but you pay him no mind - way more focused on breathing . You may have to scold him later. You'd take cum on your face over the feeling of drowning in it. 

Kisses meet your jawline, slowly trailing down your neck. " Fuck , you're amazing," he growls into your skin, making your body shiver. 

You smile, leaning into his kisses. "Compliment me more," you manage to say, voice still a bit hoarse. He responds by placing more kisses to your neck, causing your head to tilt backwards. "Lets, uh. Not make a huge habit out of that? Dunno of my throat can take it."

He gives a laugh into your skin, "Alright. Special occasions, though I can think of a few other things to try out in the meantime."

You laugh as well, tilting your face to litter his own with kisses. Down his cheeks, his jawline. God, you've always wanted to do this. Who knew you had to suck his dick first? "Maybe," you hum out, "Though, we should probably wait until you deal with that giant gun in the sky that's currently trying to blow up the moon?" 

He leans away from you with a groan, laying back against the couch. "Way to be a total bummer and ruin the mood." 

A smirk pulls at your lips, and you slowly crawl up onto the couch, body easily curling up next to him. You feel a ping of giddy happiness when he wraps his arm around you, pulling you closer as he digs an echo unit from his jacket. 

"Good thing you mentioned that, actually. Got someone I need to talk to in about fifteen minutes." He tosses the communicator onto the couch, shifting for a moment to place himself back into his pants, arm soon wrapping back around your waist. 

A part of you wants to complain about him leaving. He could have at least gotten you off, too, but you did offer. And you do like winning...

Though. Was it really winning? If only he got off? God, whatever, sex is weird when you get competitive. 

"And me?" You ask, though more so meaning 'what the hell do I do on the moon while you and everyone else are busy'. He still never told you much on that. You'd like to help, but... 

"And you ," he repeats, "are going to stay here in Concordia where it's safe. Have you ever held a gun in your life?" 

You begin to nod, slowly, eyes darting around the room as you try to remember the faint memory, "Yeeees," you draw it out, "I mean, not really. See, it was at this party--"

He stops you, a thumb moving up to push your chin, closing your mouth. "Yeah, no . You're staying here. Go get some clothes, sleep, do... whatever." 

You sigh, eyes closing. Okay, so you're on the sidelines for... whatever the hell he is doing. But he could at least point you to someone in Concordia you could assist. Let you work at a computer, or relay messages, or something that was actually helpful. 

"Oh, and as for this ", without even an ounce of shame, he slips his hands into your pants. Skillfully, even, pressing right into your folds, the only thing blocking skin-to-skin contact is some rather damp underwear. Oh god you didn't even realize how wet you were until you could feel him pressing against you. Of course you were still horny - and he knew it, grinning as you let out a panicked moan. 

"I can fix this later," he purrs, lips pressing against your jawline, "Or... you could give me a call. Finish yourself off while I listen?"

Oh. Your face is feeling way too warm, so you know how much you must be blushing. Nope. You take his hand, pulling it from your pants, shaking your head quickly, "No, nooo, that's not... that's not happening." Not tonight, at least. Phone sex wasn't a hard limit for you, but perhaps not when this whole dating things literally started tonight .

He just laughs, taking his hand and holding your chin, making you suddenly very aware of the wetness still on his fingers. His lips are on yours, and you effortlessly fall into the kiss, not even fighting it when his tongue begins to slide against yours. He must taste it, right? It's still there for you, the lingering aftertaste of him . But he doesn't seem to have a care in the world, licking your bottom lip slowly before he finally breaks apart. 

How the hell can a kiss make you feel woozy. 

Oh right, you haven't slept for almost twenty-four hours. That's probably it. 

You watch as he stands, picking up his communicator and fixing his clothes, running a hand through his hair to make it look a bit less tousled. "Oh," he says, digging again in his coat. He pulls out a small, semi-transparent card. He places it on a counter near the hotel door, looking back at you with a cocky smile. "Buy yourself something nice, kitten." 

You can't help but raise an eyebrow as he walks out the door. He probably feels so cool, getting the last word in. You'll let him have it. Too tired. Every bit of drowsiness you had felt before has come crashing back. You're barely even able to really process what the hell happened.

You try to play it all back, getting up from the couch and slumping over to the large (and oh, so beautiful looking) bed. 

Helios, that whole fiasco, then Elpis. Flirted with the cute shy Jack, then the real Jack got pretty pissed about that. He revealed that you're just really dense and can't tell when someone is flirting with you, or that he just really fucking sucks at it. Probably both. Then you kissed him. Then you sucked his dick

Before you even went on a real date

You groan as you let your body fall into the bed, engulfed by the soft blanket. You're supposed to wait until the third date, right? That's the rule . But does that rule even count when you've known them for years? Sure, maybe, for normal people probably. But you still don't actually know that much about him! Hell, you learned just today that he has a daughter

Ugh. 

Whatever, the bed is soft. You shuffle around in it, kicking back blankets and not even bothering to undress fully - just removing your socks and shoes. You're not even horny anymore, just tired. Sleep is the best option right now. You can think about the fact that you just gave a blow job to a dad later. 


You were having a pretty good dream. At least, you think you were, something about talking bees, and there may have been a dog wearing a wizard hat. But it becomes lost to you, waking with a slight start, something... wrong

You are still in the bed you fell asleep in, laying on your stomach and totally engulfed in the soft pillows. Around you, the hotel room is dark, quiet. Comfortable. Everything seems like it is the same when you fell asleep. But there is a pressure - something firmly pushing you further into the soft mattress. For just a second, panic begins to fill your chest, which only made it more apparent how hard it is to breathe. 

But before a true panic could set in, you feel soft lips being pressed to the side of your face, trailing from your temple and down your cheek. You let out a sigh, mixed with a bit of relief and frustration, trying to push against the mattress, but finding your captor just too heavy. The small, chaste kisses continue, soon trailing down your jawline. 

" Jaaaack ," you stretch his name out, tuning your face away from his, "get the fuck off, you're heavy ."

The pressure against your body subsides, but he doesn't move from atop you. You twist your head to look up at him, seeing him resting on outstretched hands, looming above you. 

"You didn't get my message, did you?"

"No? I was sleeping," slowly, you lean up onto your elbows and begin to look around, looking for your small wrist watch. You don't remember taking it off, but it's clunky and pretty uncomfortable to sleep in, so it was pretty common for you to rip it off in the middle of the night. 

Jack, however, seems to have other plans, beginning to press his nose between your neck and shoulder. 

"Did you know you snore?" He says it with a few more kisses to your jawline. You begin to suspect the message isn't that important. 

"Shut up, Jack." You find it near the edge of the bed, pressing on the main screen.

"It's light, but it's pretty cute,"

You ignore him the best you can, clicking once on the 'new' alert, Jack's simple message reading out to you:

'im coming back. take off your clothes.'

A sigh leaves you, your entire body going limp as you fall back into the pillows. Jack doesn't seem to mind one bit, his small kisses now running down your shoulder, his hands fumbling around and trying to remove the blanket that's covering you.

"Do you... even know how to be coy?" You begin, not bothering to stop him, but not lifting a finger to aid him, either. "Is that a skill that's just... lost to you? Do you think this is alluring ?" When he doesn't answer, you begin to push back onto your elbows, intent on turning around to face him - but you feel his hand press against your back, pushing you back down into the pillows and keeping you on your stomach.

You muffle against them, "this would be a lot easier if I can get up." 

"Oh, no no. I don't mind at all," you can hear his grin. It makes you groan. 

You don't know what time it is, but you must have gotten some decent sleep, not feeling utterly exhausted anymore. There's still a huge part of you that would rather go back to sleep than to deal with this, but you also can't totally deny the part of you that's eager to let him continue on. He continues to place small, suckling kisses to the back of your neck, swift hands easily undoing your pants. There's no time wasted, his thumbs slinking into the rim, sliding them down your legs. You can feel your underwear being slipped down at the same time, your hands quickly grasping at the bed sheets.

"Jack!" You can't help the scolding tone as he removes them entirely, leaving you bare from the waste down in less than ten seconds. Your thighs begin to close together, feeling way too revealing in that moment. He's straddling your legs now, both hands coming down quick, and you hear a SMACK! followed by a quick sting to your rear. 

"Damn," he breathes out, and you give a small hiss at the dull pain. Before you can tell him off, those hands are now lifting your hips, making your back arch to him. 

You begin to push against the bed once more. "The hell are you doing, exactly?" He cant stop you from twisting now to look back at him, but that decision is quickly revealed to be a bad one, your entire face feeling hot at the sight of him admiring, well, you . He really has no shame at all, but you sure as hell do. You tear your gaze away from the sight, gripping at the sheets once more as you feel his hands begin to slide down your thighs. 

"I told you before," you feel his thumbs sliding across either side of your lips, making your breath already hitch. "I plan on fixing this." 

Such a simple motion - a bit of pressing, pulling, and you feel your entire self being spread open. You react fast , embarrassment filling you and causing you to take back control of your lower half, ripping away from his grasp and spinning quickly to a sitting position, legs tightly locked together in front of you. 

"Excuse you!" It's the first thing that pops out, though his raised eyebrows only fill you with more distress. You shoot him a glare, scooting further back on the bed. "At least... let me look at you," it's the only good excuse that comes to mind. Though, the grin he gives makes you quickly regret ever saying it.

"Never mind. This is actually worse."

Jack laughs now, coming to crawl closer, a hand placing itself on your knee and slowly sliding down the side of your thigh. "You're genuinely cute," he says, moving in to place a small kiss to your lips. "You're acting like some virgin... Wait-

He backs off, cocking an eyebrow, "Are you...? You totally can't be, there's no way you can suck cock that good and be a virgin."

"Oh my god," you give a groan as you look towards the ceiling for a moment, " No , Jack, I'm not. You're just..." You expect him to finish the sentence, figuring he'd say some cocky egotistical string of self compliments. But when he doesn't, only staring at you for an answer, you sigh and continue. "You're a bit much , and very fast."

For a moment, you're afraid it could be taken as an insult, sitting up straight and continuing before he can speak. "Look, it's just that... all my previous partners have all been, uh..." 

"... Lame? Vanilla. One night stands? Really bad in bed?" He pauses. "... Women?!"

Of course, now he decides to start naming off shit. 

" Slow , Jack. Just..." You trail off, giving a small shrug. "Actual... dating , and getting to know one another, kissing and then making out and then really simple sex, and then maybe... stuff like that ." 

He gives a scoff, "slow", he mimics, " You're the one that suggested sucking me off right after we first kissed, soooo ." 

" Yes ," yes, touche, he did have you on that one. "But I also had to beat you, so there was an incentive."

" Beat me?" There's a seductive curl to his voice. "So we are keeping score, now?" His hand begins to slide down between your legs, causing you to let them open slightly. You watch as his fingers lay across your folds, but not moving in or against them at all. "And you aren't allowing me to eat you out in return? Sorta rude, pumpkin." 

"Oh!" His eyes practically light up, a twist to his grin, "Have you never been eaten out before? Have your slow, simple relationships ever gotten a taste of you?" 

Your cheeks are growing hot again, eyes narrowing slightly at his hand hovering over you. "Yes," you force out, though are quickly compelled to tell the truth. "Once, in college, it was... mostly really weird. No one else ever..." 

You trail, but he quickly scoffs, interrupting you anyway, "well! That settles it!" He moves fast, both hands taking your legs and pulling them apart - too quickly for you to even deny him. "I'm going to rock your world, baby girl, and then you'll be beggin' for this on the daily."

"Uhhhh, I don't know about daily ," your entire body is forced back into the pillows as Jack tugs at your legs, watching with wide eyes as he begins to leave a trail of wet kisses down your inner thigh. You manage to croak out his name again, feeling nothing but a rise of nerves. Hell, you haven't even been able to shower yet, after all of this mayhem!

He pauses to look up to you, face situated between your legs as he kneels onto his elbows. Which is a view that would probably strike you dead on any normal day. You let out a shaky breath, laying your head back entirely, staring only at the ceiling. This was... fine . You sort of asked for this anyway, seeing as you sprang oral onto him earlier. And it isn't as if you don't want him to touch you, you just never realized that this would be happening so fast , and you didn't even shave--

"You're overthinking it," Jack's words, thankfully, rip you away from more thoughts. You don't dare look down, eyes closing at the sensation of his kisses falling closer to your groin. "Just relax, babe."

Yes. Relaxing. Super easy with a pretty, stupid face between your legs. God, you wish you were as exhausted and aloof as you were earlier today. It helped battle this asshole and his never-ending charisma. 

Wet - it distracted you. Your mind forces out all the crowding thoughts, suddenly only concentrating on the feeling of - oh god - his tongue . Snaking and wet, pushing against your lips, sinking so easily between them. Every inch of your body becomes hyper aware to his touch, the feeling of his hands once again spreading your lips wide , but you can't feel much shame in that anymore. Not when you can feel his tongue, pressing skillfully against your clit, flicking and finally causing a choked moan to fly from your lips. 

His breath hits you - you know he got a laugh out of it, but there's absolutely no part of you that can feel annoyed. Your hands move up, covering your eyes entirely, breathing turning more rapid as his tongue works at you. He's mostly focused on your clit, rubbing and suckling against it, his hot breath still hitting you as he begins to breathe heavy himself. The stimulation of it nearly numbs you to the feeling his hand, fingers pressing between your lips as they begin to run around your entrance. 

You definitely feel that - your jaw clenching tight as a few more moans escape you. He teases, just for a few moments, circling your entrance before pressing deep . Two fingers, you can tell from the way he begins to twist and scissor them swiftly, mixing with a slow thrusting motion. Your hips start to move on their own, lifting, pressing into his mouth and his hands, causing only more small laughs against your skin. 

You feel close. You feel warm. No, no you feel hot , too hot, sweating and sticking to the bed sheets. Your peak is rising, but so is your temperature. Without any warning, you sit up, body scooting quickly away from Jack and his stupid, amazing mouth. He looks up at you with a cocked eyebrow, but you're already undoing the buttons of your shirt. 

"It's hot in here," you mutter out, slipping your sleeves from your shoulders, not caring where your shirt ends up. 

Jack's grin is back, wasting no time at all in raising back up, pressing a quick and rather wet kiss to your lips. "Let me help you with that," his arms are already around you, pressing you back down into the mattress, fingers undoing the back of your bra. 

The kiss is turning deep, his tongue meeting yours, and for a moment your eyebrows knit at the idea of tasting yourself . But the thought leaves once your bra lifted from you, Jack's kisses now quickly moving to your chest. Swift and hungry, hands grabbing and squeezing at your breasts as his mouth makes work of them as well. Teeth slide across your nipples, biting and tugging, just hard enough to make you call out with a whine. 

" Jack ," it's a lot more hushed than you meant it to be. He answers you with a hum, not stopping his attack to your chest. "Just... do it already." 

His bite lets go of your nipple, causing your breast to bounce back down, nipple hard and alert from it's abuse. "You're gonna have to be more clear than that, kitten." 

No, you don't . You give a sigh, though it comes out as a shuddering breath. He wants to make you say it , beg for it probably. You can only think of options, both at two opposite and intense extremes. 

Make love - which is... too soon. Also a bit too cheesy. 

And fuck , which is probably the better out of the two, but saying it to his stupid, handsome face and his eager heterochromatic eyes... 

"Take off your damn clothes," you begin, breath still heavy, "and stop delaying." Yes. maybe that will work. 

And it seems too, Jack flashing a grin as he sits back onto his heels as he makes fast work of his clothing. Only now do you note that he must have already shed his coat and shoes before getting into bed and waking you. As his arms are high, lifting his shirt from his body, you can't help but notice the body hair - more than you expected, but definitely far from intense. Sort of the perfect amount... just enough that it makes you want to run your hands across his chest. 

He's naked now - just as naked as you, but he doesn't give you much time to admire his body. He moves back between your legs, wrapping them around his hips snugly, his dick excitedly pressing into your pelvic bone. 

"Well, I took off my clothes," his voice his husky, low, staring down at you with a crooked smile, "now what?" 

"For the love of-- Jack ," you take a deep breath, past the point of caring, "just fuck me, okay?" 

"What? No please?" 

" Fuck off ." 

His grin is toothy, pulling his dick back into his hand, letting the tip run against your inner thighs, leaving small traces of pre in its wake. "I dunno. Do you have a condom?" 

" What?! " Your voice squeaks as you sit up, leaning back on your hands. You'd scold yourself later for forgetting, but you wouldn't let him know that. "When the hell would I have had the chance?! I have nothing down here, you know that!" 

"So you have some stored back on Helios? And who were you waitin' for up there?" 

You let yourself fall back into the pillows. "I liked you better when your mouth was full and you couldn't talk." 

He laughs, and you can feel the bed begin to pitch and pull as he starts to move around, " relax , babe, I already got some." You hear him digging into the pocket of his jeans, "I'm not that big of an asshole." 

You only reply with a 'hmmph' , looking up to watch as he swiftly opens it, removing the contents inside. 

"Huh," you begin, head giving a tilt, "figured you'd open it with your teeth or something." 

"What?" One of his eyebrows raise upwards, "Why the hell would I do that? There's lube and stuff in here." 

"I dunno," you shrug, "Just, uh. I always thought you would. Sorta fits your cocky M.O., I guess." 

He hums in response, slowly fitting the condom onto himself, allowing a few strokes for good measure. "So, you totally have fantasized about me." 

Shit. "No," okay, maybe, "I just - That's totally not the subject matter at hand right now." 

"That is totally the subject at hand!" Jack takes his place between your legs once more, beginning to press the head of his cock between your folds, pressing against your clit. It causes a small shudder from you, but Jack is unabashed in his own noises, letting out quite the satisfied moan. "It's fine, you're not alone. I have, too." 

Your cheeks begin to grow hot - you know he's talking about you . Thinking of you, fantasizing, maybe even using you as a means to get off. It's entirely too much to think about, which causes your snark to come out at full blast. "Fantasizing about fucking yourself? Well shit, your poor body-double... I'll have to warn him." 

It causes Jack to pause his movements, head hanging low. You can't see his face, but the laugh he is now giving makes you fear for a split second that you may have crossed a line. He begins to move slowly, towering over you as his fingers and thumb grab at your cheeks, pressing them together and forcing your lips to pucker. 

"You," his forehead is pressing against yours. The only things you can see are his mismatched eyes staring down at you. "You are the most annoying person I've met in a long while, do you know that?" 

" Awww, thanks, " your words are mumbled with the forced pucker, any fears of overstepping boundaries washing away as soon as Jack comes down to softly kiss you. 

He lets go of your face, favoring instead to move both of his hands down to hold at your hips, once again aligning himself with you. The soft kiss quickly becomes more heated, your own arms now wrapping around his shoulders, finding their way into his hair. He gives you no real warning, only holding your body flush against his as he begins to enter you.

You let out a long sigh as he fills you, Jack letting out a breathy moan of his own as presses in to his base. He wastes no time at all before moving back out - starting a slow pace against you, your hips beginning to move in time with his. Each time he enters you, he pushes deep , grinding against you, causing just the slightest amount of friction to your clit, just enough to drive you mad already. 

Jack doesn't give much time to adjust , but it's fine, you don't need it, calling out and digging your nails into his shoulders as the pace becomes harsh. Each thrust causes a smacking noise of skin and a jostle to the bed, Jack's arms tight around you to keep you still as you're fucked properly into the mattress. His mouth is all over you, your neck, your chest, biting and panting against your skin. 

He isn't allowing you much movement of your own, separating from you only to sit onto his knees, nails digging into your hips as he continues to slam into you. You can see him, watch his chest quickly rise and fall, his furrowed brows and slightly open mouth as he watches the place where your two bodies connect. 

Your hands move up, beginning to grasp at the pillows behind you. Seeing him admire you is enough to cause your peak to build quickly inside of you, releasing with a strong orgasm that forces your head back and eyes shut. You're tensing around him, a loud moan catching in your throat, walls pulsing around his dick as his pace never slows. 

" Damnit- ," you can hear him grunt, breath heavy, "I can feel you fucking... clenching, fuck ," he's leaning back down now, arms wrapped around you, engulfing your entire body. You continue to ride out your orgasm, moans soon turning to soft whines as you become overly sensitive to his thrusting. But it's becoming more erratic, his mouth buried into your neck as his moans hit your skin,  pressing himself deep as his body begins to shudder. 

You're able to feel it all, listen to it - the gentle jerks of his hips that resonate over his entire body, the hissing moan that comes out of clenched teeth, the way his arms struggle to bring you closer to him, almost crushing you. 

And then it's over, both of you falling exhausted to the bed, Jack's forehead pressed into the nook of your neck as he catches his breath. You lay with your arms outstretched to either side of you, basking in your moments of afterglow and not even shifting as Jack begins to lean upwards. You hear him shuffling, and you assume he is taking care of the whole condom business, your body soon bouncing as Jack falls next to you on the bed. 

"God... damn ," he pants out, breath still heavy, "I don't think I've slept in two days." 

You begin to twist your body now, laying again on your stomach, your arms wrapped around one of the pillows. "Idiot, you should have slept first." 

" Yeah , but. You were..." he trails, beginning to rotate his hand, which... honestly, means nothing to you. 

"Sleeping? I was sleeping too, Jack." Does sleeping count as seducing? If that's the case, you're really fucking good at being seductive. 

His hand begins to wave you off now, causing you to roll your eyes. 

You lay your cheek against the pillow, appreciating it's cool fabric against your still hot and clammy skin. It's hard not to admire him, laying back with his arms stretched behind his head, chest rising and falling a lot more slowly now, a stupid and satisfied look on his face. He's pretty. And also a pretty good lay, you'll give him that. As well as a dad , Oh my god you just fucked a father .

"What?" Jack's looking to you now, and you realize you must have had quite the strange expression on your face. "What's on your mind now?

"Lots," way too much, actually, to load onto him right after sex. 

"Uh huh ," he reaches up to itch at his jaw, a yawn coming from him, "usually people pass out after sex." 

You move to sit up onto your elbows, looking down at him, studying his own expression now. Scratch your earlier thought - maybe this is the perfect time. When he's tired and happy, perhaps more forgiving. 

"I don't know anything about you," you say, feeling like a broken record at this point. 

He quickly gives an exhausted sigh, "If this is about the--"

" No , no, not that," you quickly cut him off, the secrets on his computer far from your mind right now. "I mean... you . Where you're from. What's your family like, what schools did you go to, did you ever have a pet dog? Do you have more kids? It's just," you pause, eyebrows knitting as you look away from him, "I know you're favorite color and that you really hate the claptraps, but that's about it..." 

He's quick to answer you, as if it's some automatic response. "You know a lot more than that, cupcake." 

You sink into your pillow now, facing him but eyes downcast and not looking his way, "After yesterday, I'm really not so sure." 

He's silent. You can tell he is watching you, not saying a damn thing, but you don't want to say anything else to him. If you begin to pry at him, he'll never tell you a damn thing. 

"You... really want to know? About me?" 

" Yes! " It comes out a bit louder than you meant, making you shove your mouth down into the pillow. But you continue to watch him, seeing him sigh as he stares up at the ceiling. 

"Uh, well," he takes his dear sweet time, but you stay silent as he finds all the right words. "Grew up on Tantalus, dad died when I was pretty young. My mom, she, uh... I actually went and lived with my grandma. Had a cat for awhile, before...." he trails as he waves his hand, totally stopping that story, "Grew up, went to college, then went to Hyperion." 

"You're going a bit fast..." and leaving a lot of stuff out, but you didn't say that bit. The way he paused made you wonder if they were memories he didn't like dwelling on, let alone talking about. You'd give him that, at least. You weren't trying to make him relive bad memories, you just wanted to know more about the man you're dating now. 

"Okay, okay," he gives a sigh, rubbing the side of his neck. "I met... someone. Got married, had a kid." 

Your brows knit together for just a moment, curious on if he is actually going to name anyone tonight.

He continues after a rather deep and slow breath, arms adjusting behind his head, "wife died, and I was a single dad for awhile." 

You actually have to keep yourself from making an audible sound. Talk about a fucking bomb drop. 

It seems to be subject he doesn't want to stay on, quickly resuming, "Was working for Hyperion then, got married again ." 

"What?!" Shit, you couldn't help that one. "Two times? ...More?" More?! How many wives has he had ?!

But he laughs now, head shaking, "No! No, just the two. But we, uh... We had our... differences, so to speak. Didn't see eye to eye, so that's not really a thing anymore." 

You give a nod. There was... a lot to unpack here. A large part of you wanted to ask why , why separate, what was the huge disagreement, but once again he is continuing on and not giving you much time to insert questions. 

"Around the same time I transferred," he turns to face you now, laying on his side. "Soon shared office space with your annoying ass," he says it with a small but swift smack to your ass - nothing actually painful, making you stifle a small laugh. "And then the rest, you know." 

"Sorta," you reply. 

He gives a small laugh of his own, now. "Sorta." 

You scoot closer now, arms wrapping around his wide frame. "Do you... want to know more about me? In return?" 

"Heh," he chuckles, arms closing in around you as well, "I pretty much know everything about you, babe." 

"Uhh, that's kinda freaky, buddy." 

"Not really," his hand is slowly rubbing at your back now, not shying away from occasionally sliding down your ass and thighs as well. "I'm your boss, remember? Everyone got background checks." 

"Well, sure , but background checks don't--" Oh . You entirely push away from him now, sitting up. 

Jack gives a small hum, watching you, "What now? Don't leave." 

"I just," you look down at your hands in horror, "I just had sex with my boss ." 

"You... you're just now catchin' onto that, sweetheart?" 

Your hands move onto your cheeks now, holding them both, "this is entirely against protocols, we are going to get fined, suspended, or even worse ..." 

Jack's hands are wrapping around your waist now, pulling you back down to lay beside him, "We are literally dating, and again I'm your boss , I can call the shots. Besides, everyone on Helios is fucking around." 

"I'm pretty sure that's not how it works," even so, you can't help but melt with his arms around you, turning to lay your head against his chest. Even so, you suppose he is right. Sort of hard to not fall for (or casually fuck) your coworkers when that's literally all you have access to... 

"Just relax," he says it before another yawn, shifting his body to grab at the sheets, pulling them over his bottom half. You follow in suit, still too warm to cover your body entirely, hands resting on his chest, snaking into the sparse hair there. 

You watch as his chest slowly rises and falls, feeling his warmth on your cheek. He makes for a good pillow. You run through the things he's said, his quick little biography. It isn't a lot, but it's something for now. Perhaps in the future you can get a bit more out of him. 

Even still, there is one thing you can't shake. 

"Jack?" Your voice is soft, not wanting to wake him if he had actually fallen asleep. 

"Mm?" It's barely audible, just starting to doze off. 

"Do you think... I could meet her someday?" 

"Huh?" He's more awake now, twisting his head to look at you. "What? Who?" 

You gulp softly, finding the words hard to locate in your mind. "You're... daughter? Angel." 

"Oh-- Uh ," Fuck. There's that tone shift again. Did you overstep your boundaries already? Was meeting the daughter of the guy you're dating actually super intense...? Fuck, you don't know! You've never dated a fucking dad before!

The arm that's snaked around you begins to grip at your shoulder. "Maybe... someday, yeah," his voice is low, still holding that unsure tone that's still so alien coming from his mouth. "We'll see how things go." 

You only nod to him. Okay... so maybe things aren't super good between him and his daughter. She does live far away somewhere, according to him. God. He could at least warn you about these things so you can stop walking into landmines. 

The hand on your shoulder begins to rub softly, it's grip lessening, "Don't worry so much. She's a real good kid. She'd probably like you." 

You give a laugh, though it's a bit forced. Liking you doesn't seem like the problem here, but you can't really place your finger on it. 

"Get some sleep, princess." 

"I was trying to, before your horny ass came in." Better subject already. Less awkward. 

"Oh? And you're complaining?" 

You can't see his fucking smirk, but you know it's there. Quickly as you can, you press your teeth into his chest, biting hard enough to make him give a sharp yelp. You turn just as fast, your back to him. "Goodnight, Jack!"

The bed slowly sways as he moves, giving a sigh that turns into a small laugh. A single kiss is placed to your shoulder, arms wrapping around you, his body spooning yours. His form is warm against yours, his tight hold around you making you feel good. Secure. 

Something you could probably get used to. 


 

Chapter Text


There wasn't much to do in Concordia. Even with Jack's 'limited unlimited' cash, you found yourself very limited in actual things to preoccupy yourself. You bought a few changes of clothes (nothing too fancy, since it was far from your usual Helios trend), and some food you could take back to the hotel and prepare there. 

The only real exciting thing was the very brief moment you shared with the rest of Jack's vault hunters. There was quite the collection of them, an array of types. Athena didn't seem too keen on talking much, in fact you don't think you ever heard her voice... but Wilhelm sure as hell made himself known. Jack's body double was there as well, seemingly intent on avoiding direct eye contact with you. It made you wonder if he knew you and Jack were an... item ? Did that make... you and his body double an item when in public...?

No, no , too weird to think about. 

They were all leaving back to Helios, though, with you staying far behind on Elpis. Jack did, however, give you an Echo unit of your own. It was bulky, but it provided quick and dependable communication and radio contact. Better than your little wrist watch, anyhow. You had hoped, at the time, that it meant Jack would actually keep you up to date with what was going on. 

But the 'dependable radio' was giving you nothing but radio silence

You told yourself not to be worried. Jack had a an entire band of vault hunters with him, after all! It was a battle strategy he seemed confident in. Take back Helios. Take back the laser. Stop the Zarpey-lady, and call it good, mission accomplished. You were sure there was more, but you were quickly getting used to only hearing the simplified details. 

But when you're stuck on a moon with nothing to do besides wander the very small town or flip through TV stations back in the hotel... it became hard to not dwell on all those worst case scenarios that could be happening up in that space station. 


You're woken up that morning by the pulsing vibrations of your ear piece, which you had set on the wooden side table before sleeping. You grab at it without actually getting up at all, reaching blindly and feeling with your fingers until you feel it vibrating in your hand. Trying not to just fall right back asleep, you fit it easily onto your ear, snuggling immediately back down into the pillows.

"Hey," there's only one person it can really be. You hadn't had any contact with your Hyperion co workers since all of this started. They probably thought you were dead. 

" Heyyy ," as you thought, it's Jack. "So, new plan." 

You give a groan as you rise up, arms slumped beside you as you stare out the nearby window. Is it the morning? God, telling time on the moon was absolute hell. 

Wait, what? Did he say new plan?

"What's wrong...?" You begin to rub the sleep from your eyes, feeling suddenly very awake. He hasn't even said anything yet, and there's a restlessness bubbling inside you. "What happened?" 

"Ohhh, sweetcheeks, a lot has happened," you hear him shuffling around, definitely not standing in one spot right now. You imagine he may be pacing as he's talking to you. "Which is why I need you to come to Helios. Preferably right now ." 

It takes a moment to fully comprehend his words. "Is this going to be a new thing?" Your words come out more spiteful than you fully meant them to be, "come to here, go to there, is it always emergencies now?!" Despite your words, you're already quickly removing yourself from the bed and finding the closest clothes near you. 

"Sweetie. Pumpkin, doll face , you're wasting a lot of precious time right now. Go the back way, avoid any familiar faces, and get. To. Helios." There's a forceful pitch to his voice that immediately makes you gather your things faster. "I'd come to get you myself but there's kinda a lot going on right now."

"Okay, okay !" You get it. Finished dressing, even if it all looks rushed, you start to shove what you can into a small bag. You grab the Echo unit from the couch, noticing a long list of missed messages and radio contacts. Oops ... You must have slept through that. There's no need to mention it now, you'll probably be scolded for that later, anyway. You shove it into the bag as well, making sure to also pack the collection of snacks you had acquired over the past couple days. Those are important. 

When you hear your name softly called through your ear piece, you realize it has been a good minute or so of silence. " Yes ...?" you question, oddly terrified of what he may be thinking right now. He doesn't seem hurt, at least, you never detected any pain in his voice, but there is definitely something happening.

It takes a few more seconds before Jack speaks again, "I really mean it. Don't talk to anyone . I'll be waiting for you here." 

"Okay?" He already said that to you? But the quick few beeps in your ear tell you that the call was hung up. You slide the bag over your shoulder, hand gripping tightly at the strap. You're getting really fucking tired of not knowing anything . Even if he has the reason of not wanting others to listen in, he could give you an ounce of fucking reassurance. He can try to lecture you about not picking up the Echo communicator, but you'll have a lot of choice words waiting for him in return!

You exit the hotel room, hotel key still in your pocket, not entirely sure if you should turn it in or not. Besides, there's no doubt in your mind that Jack has more than enough money to pay for a few more nights at the hotel. The hotel manager could easily count as 'talking to someone', so you decide to briskly walk past the front room, bag snug over your shoulder. 

Finding a back way to take isn't exactly easy with Concordia being as small as it is. You still do your best to slip into the back alley, taking a long detour and staying far from any bars or shops that held people you knew inside. No one is looking your way, but it isn't shaking away the nerves that held tight in your throat. Seeing the travel station in the distance only skyrocketed your adrenaline, a quick jog forming in your steps. 

Look no one in the face - that's your mantra, repeating it over in your mind as you hurry down the steps in the center of the town. You waste no time once you finally near it, pressing through the screens in record time as you settle on the Helios destination. This better be a real fucking emergency. You'll be furious if you're getting yourself worked up over nothing.

The familiar cold feeling washes over you as you press the final button, your eyes screwing shut just as before. It's not long before you feel solid ground beneath your feet once again - and the gentle thud of the hallway roomba bumping against you. You look down to see it rotate a few times, beeping joyfully as it finds a new path and glides away.

A smile pulls at your lips - all right. Helios, you made it back. No one saw... you think . You turn back to the travel station, brows furrowing as you realize there are people who could follow you... but they would need the clearance to be able to make it into Helios, let alone Jack's office, so it was... probably fine. 

Adjusting your bag, you slowly begin to walk towards Jack's office. It's much quieter now - not just in terms of no other workers clacking away at keyboards, but also no giant explosions outside. Definitely a welcome noise! 

It takes some digging, but you manage to pull out your Hyperion ID from your bag (nestled under all those snacks). You hold it up to the reader outside Jack's office, the module beeping before opening the door. With a deep breath, you walk inside, expecting to see Jack - and you do , along with a few of the other vault hunters. But you pay them no mind, walking past them and their heated conversations, right up the stairs and to Jack's desk. 

He's standing by the window at the back of the room, silent, brooding probably. A part of you doesn't want to bother him, intrude in on his thoughts, but a larger part of you wants to know why he has suddenly uprooted you. Sure, Elpis was a temporary space, but you weren't expecting yet another nerve wracking escape! 

You prepare yourself to clear your throat, but the silence of the vault hunters around you must have clued Jack to something, since he slowly turns to face you. His entire expression changes then, arms out wide as he walks to his desk, " There you are, baby doll, glad no one spotted you!" There's a quiver in his voice, but it doesn't strike you as a scared one. It wasn't over you . To add to it, the vault hunters around you only shift uneasily on their feet. 

He looks to them, eyebrow cocking high, "Well? You all have things to do, right? Go on, then!" His hand raises high, shooing them all.

Your face can't help but flinch. That... was rather forceful. You turn to watch them go, catching the roll of Athena's eyes before she walks off to be the first one out the door. You catch the eye of Jack's body double for just a moment, and he gives you a slight grimace before following the others. Yes. Okay, something definitely happened. 

Once the door closes behind them, you turn your stare to Jack. "Well?" You let your bag fall to the floor, your hands out wide, "are you going to fucking explain?" 

"Ahh, language , sweetie." His tone is doing him no favors. He walks around his desk, nearing you, "how about I tell you about our time up here! Pretty long story, real exciting. You may want to take a seat." His hand gestures to the small chair beside you, the one that is situated in front of his desk. 

You raise an eyebrow, but listen, sitting slowly and never taking your eyes off him. 

He leans against his desk now, one hand braced against the side as the other begins to wildly gesture as he talks. Elpis, becoming split up. Having to battle their way back to his office, helping the trapped scientists, said scientists becoming whistle-blowers and having to be dealt with . Your eyebrows furrow at that idea - you know Jack was close to a good few of those in the science department... But he continues, not dwelling on that subject for long. After that came getting to the center of Helios, and defeating Zarpedon.

"She's dead?!" You cut him off, leaning forward in your chair. That... was the main part of this, right? With her dead, Helios was supposed to be safe again. 

"Yepp! And, and. Get this," Jack seems excited now, moving away from the desk as he stands in front of you, "She's been inside the vault." 

Your body feels uneasy, fingers twisting with each other. Isn't that a bad thing? If the vault had already been 'plundered', then there was no real use going inside. Unless what was waiting there wasn't treasure. You think back to Jack talking about her before - glowing eyes, crazy, sprouting weird philosophical mumbo jumbo. 

"I can see you're totally at a loss for words," Jack is grinning, "But we haven't even made it to the best part!"

You can't help but sink in your chair as Jack resumes his retelling. They had dealt with Zarpedon, which meant they could reach the center of Helios. Which contained the Eye of the Destroyer

You nearly choke. " You TOOK the EYE ?!" Since when ? How did... 

"What? Yes. That's what was producing the laser--"

No, you cut him right off, sitting forward once more in the chair, "You took the eye . Of the destroyer . A vault monster . How- How did you even... Did you have something to do with..." You trail, looking down at your hands. He's involved with these vault hunters. And he seemed to know Lilith and Roland. All this money. All these secrets , the fucking eye of a giant ancient alien monster. 

Your thoughts are paused when you see Jack waving his hands, " Yes , yes, I promise to tell you how I got my hands on the eye. Later. But it honestly doesnt really matter right now, since Moxxi fucking destoryed it!

"...What?" There's a tremble in your voice now, one you can definitely hear. Jack's pacing now, his obvious anger making you feel a ping of dread. "How...?" Moxxi... his ex? The same one down in the bar? 

"No, no," his voice is quivering again, full of nothing but rage and venom, "not with her own hands. Down on fucking Elpis, feeding me shit, god damnit I should have caught onto it sooner." You watch nervously as he continues to pace, unsure what to even say to calm him down, and doubting that there even is anything you could say. "Not just Moxxi," he continues, voice low, "All of them. All of them were fucking in on it, trying to kill every single one of us." 

" What? " It's all you can really say at this point, feeling like a broken record. But Jack doesn't answer you anyway, stuck in his own thoughts. It allows you to really take it all in, looking down to the ground as your eyebrows knit. You never actually shared a word with Moxxi, always felt a bit awkward... but she appeared to be rather nice. Same with Lilith and Roland. You never got the chance to talk with them, but... fuck

You were just down there, on Elpis. Close to Moxxi's bar. Would they have killed you, if they saw you?! 

Jack is still seething, quiet now, standing just a few feet away from you. It's not like your silences with him before, which just bordered on awkward. This was different. High tension, high risk . Like a single wrong word could ruin everything

You stand slowly, legs feeling almost numb. With a soft voice, you start, "Jack--" but quickly stop and take a step back once you see his form rushing to you. 

"And you ," both of his hands rise to your face, cupping both your cheeks in his palms, holding your jaw firmly . You wince, eyes screwing shut, entire body falling still. He hasn't hurt you, but for a split second you're unsure if it's going to stay that way for much longer. 

"I... need you..." his tone is low, though still holding the tremble from before. You can feel his hands practically shaking against you, though you can't be sure if it's fear or anger that's causing it. "I need you to tell me if you knew anything about it." 

"What?!" Shit, still a broken record. Your eyes fly open now, looking into his, skin wrinkled between furrowed brows and dark circles beneath his eyes. "Jack-... How the hell could I?!" You tear your face away from his hands, taking a step back to separate yourself from him fully, feeling absolutely... insulted . "I didn't know anyone down there on Elpis, and I was only there for maybe three days total!" His expression doesn't change, causing you to throw a glare at him, "Do you honestly think I'd want you to die?! You're the only goddamn reason I'm here right now!" 

He's silent, watching, eyes flicking across your face as he studies you. And then there's a sigh, his face turning all too soft, hands reaching out to lay on your shoulders. "Yes, okay..." the tremble is gone, but his tone still seems broken. He leans his head forward, eyes closed and forehead resting against yours, "Of course. You're right." 

You stay still for a few moments, watching him. Pissed that he'd even accuse you, but trying to tell yourself that it must have been swirling around in his head after everyone else literally just betrayed and tried to kill him. You reach up to cup his cheeks, thumbs rubbing softly against his skin, leaning up to give a single chaste kiss. 

"You're a huge idiot," you say, following it with one more kiss, "but you're stuck with me now. I'm not going anywhere." 

He answers with a smile. It's a genuine one, far from his usual cocky grins, warm and causing his eyes to crease just a bit. It's a nice look on him. 

But you don't stay for long, backing off quickly and placing your hands on your hips. "Now then!" You try to match his usual boisterous tone. "Are you going to apologize?" 

It takes him a good few seconds, "....Wait, what? For what?" 

"For suspecting me in the first place?" You place your hand over your chest, tone now mocking, "you're going to break my heart , Jack." 

He doesn't seem amused it, arms flying out. "Why?! Do you blame me? I-..." He trails when you raise an eyebrow to him. You're not saying a damn thing, waiting for an answer. Like some child throwing a temper tantrum, he begins to groan, staring up at the ceiling, " fine , I'm sorry !"

...Yes. "That'll do," you give a nod. Though, he really needs to work on his apologies. It's a bit lacking in the 'sincere' department. 

"Now then, Jack, Pumpkin ," your nose wrinkles as you walk back to him, hands reaching up to take his cheeks once more, "cupcake, kitten , sugar bear, will you please tell me how you got the goddamned eye ?" 


A few hours had passed. Jack's office was basically the current headquarters for the vault hunters, a few of them coming in from time to time, taking any chance they could get at a bit of rest before heading back out. They were doing a number of things around Helios. Zarpedon was dead, but her forces were still very active, making Jack's office one of the few safe places.

You're sitting in the small living area, a nice comfy spot on a love seat near a nice bookshelf and fireplace. Well, it is nice now , being an airlock earlier. Something you didn't ask about. Jack, however, is quite busy, either always in radio contact with the vault hunters, or typing away frantically on his computer. You did get a few details on the whole eye-laser thing, but he kept omitting things. Stuff wasn't adding up. But you were, almost , getting tired of asking for more information. 

You can't really look away from Jack, feeling numerous jolts of worry at any given action. From the corner of your eye, you can see someone sitting down in the chair next to you, but you pay them no mind at all.

"Are... you okay?" It's Jack's voice. But you know it's not him - you're watching Jack. 

"Yeah..." you eventually answer, turning away from Jack and instead looking to his body-double. Still a bit jarring how perfect it all is. "Sorry, just. Uh... worried , that's all." 

"Ah, yeah," he gives a nod as he rubs at the side of his neck. "A lot sort of... happened , all at once! It was terrifying!" He says it with large, Jack like grin. Whoever this guy really is, he's a pro at being passive aggressive.  

You give a nod, glancing back at Jack for a moment, "It's obviously rattled him a lot. And he's not telling me everything..."

"Yeahhh, that... sort of seems to be his thing!" 

"It's a really stupid thing!" Your words are sharp, but hushed, really not wanting Jack to know the two of you are talking about him. There's no need to sow any more doubts into his head. His body-double gives you a smile, though you can only read it as forced. 

"You were there, then?" You ask, "I mean, when..." you have no real idea how to say it, or if you even should . Maybe it is best not to dwell on it when wounds were still so fresh. 

"You mean when Jack's friends tried to kill us all?" He takes a deep breath, giving a single nod, " yepp ... We all were." 

"I'm sorry..." Shit. Even if they had something against Jack, tossing all the vault hunters in with it... 

It causes a look of confusion, "What are you sorry for? You didn't explode the eye." 

"No - I mean," you dig for the right words, not wanting to actually insult this guy. "I'm sorry it happened to you in the first place. You said you were just some... college kid. And now you're risking your life for... for what, for a vault?!" You quickly begin to hush your voice, leaning closer to the body-double, "a vault that probably caused that woman to go totally insane?!" 

"Oh," you watch as he gives a nervous nod, "yeah, all that ." He laughs, but there's a tremble to it. 

This kid is in no way a fighter. You know you can't talk from experience, but after seeing all these other vault hunters... His laugh only fills you with worry. He could die in this vault, for literally no reason. No true merit to himself, besides some damn college loans being paid off.  For a quick instant, for the first time, you feel a ping of disgust towards Jack. This felt really cruel. 

But the doppelganger quickly begins to shake his head, hands rising, "Really! Please, don't worry about me! You obviously have enough going on right now."

You crack a small, sad smile, "Not really, in comparison." 

He matches your smile, hands rubbing together anxiously. "We are, uh... actually about to head out! To the vault, once everyone is ready. To see if we can find the way inside." 

Oh. Already? "That... sounds, honestly? Really scary!" You had only been catching half of the conversations Jack was having. You didn't know they already had its location!

"I know, right?! Everyone is so excited and I'm just sort of sitting here, mentally freaking out and trying not to scream. They're all mad..." He gives another shaky laugh, rubbing once more at the side of his neck. 

You bite at the inside of your lip, not sure how to reassure this kid. "There may be riches inside," you state, still unsure if such a thing could be true if the vault had already been found before. Even so, this boy needed a boost of encouragement. 

" Or! " He holds his hands up, "a giant monster!"

"Oh, there's definitely a giant monster!" Shit! Okay, reassurance is hard!

He begins to laugh, a good and hearty one, but it quickly turns into a loud groan as he begins to rub at his face, leaning forward as his elbows rest on his knees. 

A small smile falls to your face. He's sweet. He better not fucking die. "So... brave vault hunter. Are you going to at least let me know your name before you go off on some life risking mission?" 

His hands slide away from his face, looking to you, "you know I legally can't do that..." 

"I mean, I'm not going to tell anyone..." Even if you're just able to think it, you'd be okay with that. You hate having to constantly think of him as the Other Jack, even if that was Jack's overall intention... 

He laughs now, fingers tapping away on his knees. "Well, uh. I think this actually worked earlier... I can't tell you my name, but I can tell you... that it rhymes with Jimothy ." 

Your head gives an immediate tilt, eyes narrowing as you stare at him. A crooked smile begins to form on your lips, biting a bit at your tongue. "There's... literally only one name that rhymes with that."

He smiles now, a sincere and warm smile. You don't see Jack in it at all, just a sweet, honest boy. A sweet boy with a really dorky name to match it. You can't help but match his grin. 

He, Timothy, stands now, taking a deep breath and looking to the group of vault hunters. For a second, his gaze flips to Jack, eyes squinting his way before looking at you. "Good luck..." 

"...Shouldn't I be saying that to you?" 

The grin he gives now is nothing but cheeky and proud, a full on act, walking backwards a few steps before turning and going off to join the other hunters. 


You feel. 

Entirely useless. 

You're in Jack's office, still. It's the only place you can be, now taking place in the chair in front of his desk, Jack sitting in the larger chair behind it. You wanted to be closer, to actually be able to know what's going on, but nearly everything is going right over your head. Shockingly enough, Jack takes the time to try and fill you in, explain a few things, but it doesn't stop you from feeling totally alienated from it all. 

If he's going to keep this up, you're going to have to do some proper research on vaults. You never actually bothered before. Until about three or four years ago, everyone was pretty much convinced they were a myth!

Hours have already passed, with absolutely nothing to do but listen in as Jack talks to his team of hunters as they near the vault. You ask a few questions from time to time, getting confusing answers in return. The only other thing you could do is spin in the damn chair, but you have no desire to puke right now. Hell, you couldn't even read , the damn bookshelf was fake! Every single book! A facade! Who does that?!

You eventually feel yourself nodding off, arms crossed over Jack's desk and your cheek resting comfortably against your arms. If only you could get to your apartment. Your own bed, soft pillows and familiar scents...

But before sleep could officially take you, you're bolting up at the sound of Jack's hands slamming against the desk. 

" Yes , Yes!  Oh my god ," he's up from his chair, hands gripping at the screen of his computer, voice trembling with excitement. 

"Yes! That's awesome," you're nodding your head, agreeing with him, not fully sure what's going on, brain still foggy with it's near success at a nap. "What's happening...?" 

Jack is quick, shutting off his computer, quickly gathering a few things around his desk. "They're there. They have it - the vault , it's done," he's giddy, a slight squeak to his voice. You'd consider it cute, if his frantic movements didn't fill you with a sense of dread. 

"They did it...?" For you, there's only relief that this is almost officially over. "They are inside? And no one died?" 

But Jack gives you no answer, hurrying down the steps, "I gotta go, pumpkin. I'll tell you all about it when I get back!" 

You have no words, watching with building anxiety as he nears his office door. This is... sudden. Really sudden, and something is off. Something is very wrong. Why the hell are you suddenly so fucking terrified?!

You stand as the panic builds too high in your chest, calling out, "Jack...! Wait!

He does stop, right in front of the door, turning and looking rather annoyed. "What IS it, kitten, I really have to go!" 

Shit. "I just..." You have no idea how to actually say it, rushing down the stairs and hurrying across the overly large office to meet him. His body is moving slightly, unable to stay still, eager to go

"Something is..." very wrong. That lady went into the vault and came out a monster, right? If Jack goes in. "I mean - Jack ... Is it even safe?" 

"Aww, lookit you! Worrying over me." Jack steps forward now, hands coming up to cup both of your cheeks, squishing them softly. "I'll be fine , princess! I'm going to go in, get whatever the hell is hiding in that vault, and be back here!" 

There's a snaking guilty feeling in your gut. The vault hunters did, honestly, all the hard work. You suppose Jack did all the planning, but that doesn't help shake the feeling that something is overly unbalanced here. But this isn't the time to prattle on about that to Jack. He wouldn't hear a word of it. 

People have died hunting vaults. People usually die before they even get close to answers. You were always under the impression that the hunters would gather whatever prize waits inside, and just bring it back! Maybe there is another fucking giant eyeball he could get his hands on. 

"Just... promise me you'll come back? In One piece?"

He gives a laugh, hands still holding either side of your jawline, "Uh, that's a given !" 

"And that's not a promise!" You hold a glare now, hands reaching up to grab at his wrists. 

There's a brief moment of silence, Jack's eyes studying your face once more, before a small smile breaks out on his lips. He leans in, giving you a single quick kiss, "I promise. Now, I really need to go ." 

He gives you no time to question him or keep him longer, turning and walking out the door. No time to wish him luck, or even say goodbye. He's left you there. Alone in his office, once again, as he goes out doing stupid things in places where he probably doesn't belong. 

There's a pit in your stomach. 

You suppose you could fill it with all those snacks. 


Jack had spoken to you a couple times, through the Echo unit he gave you. It has its uses now, you guess, since he no longer had to call you each time he needed to quickly say something. Even so, his quick reports were never very informative, only telling you that he had gotten to his destination and was about to enter the vault. They were one-way messages. You couldn't even wish him a bit of luck. 

You found your distraction in the form of some proper entertainment. It was only you in that large office once again, alone with Jack's computer, which luckily you could still log into. This time, you didn't waste your energy on digging through files that still made little sense. Instead, you wasted it on the best distraction - the EchoNET. You were never able to actually get your binge on, after everything that had happened these past few days.

But now you can! Unlimited streaming and a bag full of snacks, plus the added bonus of not focusing on the possible and probable deaths of people you care about!

It started with a few episodes. Then more, constantly looking at your Echo unit for updates. But it didn't take long for the communicator to go silent, and for you to drown yourself in even more silly shows. Each time an episode ended, the same thought would circle in your head. This is taking a bit long, isn't it? It shouldn't take more than an hour or so to raid a vault? Why has no one called in? The more episodes, the sicker you felt. And then, the title screen would play and you'd let yourself become distracted for a little while longer. 

In fact, you are nearly done with an entire season, a finale playing through its dramatic end. Sleep is pulling at your eyelids, Jack's chair too damn comfy to be sitting in it for this long without considering a nap. But before you can successfully drift, the mechanical grinding of the office door sends a jolt of energy into your body. 

The first thought in your mind is an intruder , seeing as Jack had never contacted you a single time to say they were coming home. But every ounce of your worry washes away as you see Jack's form enter the room. 

And then it's back, every bit of it, hitting like a truck. It isn't Jack. Maybe it is the slightest differences in the clothing, or the way he is holding himself, wrecked and nervous. It's Jack's body-double. It's Timothy. 

Something is wrong . Your entire body goes cold, sitting up from the desk and waving the computer off, not even caring that the wrappers and bags of your snacking venture had fallen everywhere. Why didn't Jack come though that door? Where were the other Vault Hunters? Why did Timothy look so goddamn brittle standing there, like he himself was about to break any second?

You nearly stumble down the steps of the office, racing down the center of the room and towards Tim. His hands are up, quickly, waving you down and doing his best to force a weak smile. 

"Everything's...! No one is dead, it's okay!" He begins to walk forward, meeting you halfway down the long runway. "We all made it back..." 

"Where is Jack?" You could feel your brows rising, pulling together. "Why isn't he telling me this?" 

"L-listen," there's a tremble to his voice, and it does nothing to steady your mind. "We, uh. How about we go sit down?"

"No?!" You take a step back, staring him dead in the eye, " Fuck off? What happened?" It's more a demand than a question. 

You watch as Tim winces, but feel no guilt towards it. Jack may not be dead, according to his words, but there's something that Tim isn't coming out and saying, which obviously means its bad

"He, uh," Timothy raises a hand, running it through his hair and pausing to rub at the back of his neck. He doesn't look you in the eyes as he talks, "He got hurt--  But ! He's alive , and... honestly really energetic right now, so I think that means he's okay?" 

Hurt. The rest of Tim's sentence seems far away from you right now. Your body feels light on your feet, room swaying around you. Hurt. How hurt? A few scrapes and bumps hurt, or major surgery hurt?

Timothy is speaking again, and you manage to just barely pay attention, "-so he's down in the medical science bay right n--" 

"Medical science ?" Your mind begins to dart in different directions. Why the hell the science department ? What the hell could have caused a visit to the medical science?   "Why not just the normal hospital, it's perfectly--" 

Tim's hands cut you off now, laying firmly on your shoulders. "Look, please, I can tell you everything , but we really should just sit down..." 

You refuse to listen, ripping your shoulders away from him, walking past him on shaky legs. "I'm going down there," you state, forcing your voice to sound strong, patting at your pants pocket and noting that your Hyperion badge is there, "I'm going to see what the fuck is going on." 

" No-- No, no," You hear Tim's voice behind you, but don't stop. That is, until his arms are tightly wrapped around your torso, holding you from getting any closer to the office door. You begin to pull at his arms, but Tim is holding tight. " Please just listen ..." 

"Tim-" 

"And please don't take this the wrong way, but he doesn't-" you hear his voice catch, stopping abruptly, taking a few shaky breaths before continuing, "... want to see you. Right now ..." 

Your hold on Tim's arms is still strong, but you soon stop your struggle against him, body falling listless against him. The only tense muscle in your body is your jaw, clenching tightly. How the hell can you not take that the wrong way? What the hell could have happened to make him want to avoid you? Did you do something?

Tim's arms unfurl from you, but he doesn't fully let go, walking around to your front and placing his hands once again on your shoulders. It steadies you, not letting you totally break in front of him. 

"I said I'll tell you everything I know. I won't leave out any details," he shows the most kind smile, this one not acted out at all. It makes you want to cling to him, but you instead grab at your own hands, nails digging at soft skin. 

"So, let's just... sit down and talk, alright?"