Warnings: Jared whump
Word count: 1230
A/N: Day 1 of my August fic challenge! First up is a timestamp from To the Stars and Back for cassiopeia7 who asked for an adventure beyond the Barrier because SPAAAAAACE. These are going to come in no order whatsoever, by the way. Funnily, this one kind of also fills one of dugindeep's requests, but I'd already started this one, so whatever. I've got another thing in mind for yours, dugindeep, don't worry!
Also available on AO3.
Summary: The idiot's guide to how not to see the universe.
This really wasn't how Jared had planned on seeing the universe.
He hit the ground with a bone-jarring thud that went almost unnoticed amidst the screaming ball of pain already ricocheting around inside his head. The door hissed shut almost silently behind him, which Jared still couldn't help but find unfair, even while he was lying in a shaking, shuddering mess on the floor. If he was going to be locked in a cell and routinely tortured, he should at least get an ominous clang to go with the actual reality of being imprisoned.
He wasn't going to complain about the lack of torture methods that involved putting holes in his skin, though. The neural tasers that his captors used brought agony to an all-new level, but at least he wasn't lying in a pool of his own blood on top of that.
He kind of wished they weren't so fond of breaking bones, though.
Jared lay on the floor for some fuzzy, indeterminate amount of time before the pain receded enough to let him drag his way over to the food tray that had been left for him in his absence. Between the pain radiating from every inch of his body and the frankly disgusting excuse for food they provided, eating was a torture all its own; Jared still forced down the lot.
The next place Jared dragged himself was much more pleasant.
His captors had very kindly given him a cell with a window, and Jared had taken to sitting there when he wasn't busy being tortured. Because this might not have been how he wanted to get his first look at the universe beyond the Barrier, but that didn't make it any less beautiful.
Unsurprisingly, the planet outside the window looked nothing whatsoever like Earth: desolate and eerily silver, it reminded him of pictures of Jupiter's ice moon and wasn't actually all that far from what science fiction had told him a barren, mostly deserted planet would look like. Well, except for the floating rocks. They were a little unexpected.
It wasn't really the terrain that interested Jared, though. Rocks were still rocks, even if they had some personal vendetta against gravity. What he really cared about was the sky.
The stars were there, naturally, although Jared highly doubted that he could have identified any of them even if he'd been an avid astronomer. He'd gone far past the point where the night sky could look familiar. They shone big and bright and seemed so much more numerous here where there weren't enough lights on the ground to contest the ones in the sky.
And right smack dab in the middle of them was the most beautiful thing that Jared had seen in his life.
The first time he'd seen it, Jared had thought that all the neurological torment had dislodged something in the vision centre of his brain, because all he'd seen was a riot of colours smeared across the inky black of space. Purples and blues and whites and reds, all spooling out in ribbons of sparkling light that pulsed with a life all their own. They filled the sky in a giant spiral that dragged light and stardust in its wake.
It was a lightning storm, a towering pillar of cloud, a rip in the fabric of reality itself. It was Fourth of July fireworks suspended in the heavens in all their glory. It was a distant galaxy burning with the light of a thousand suns.
Jared had no idea what it was, but he could have happily watched it forever.
Jensen would have been able to tell him what it was, Jared knew. Jensen knew all sorts of stuff about space.
Jared sighed at the thought, well-worn and familiar after so many days (weeks?) staring out this window and missing his husband like a missing limb (and he knew firsthand how much that sucked: he'd lost his arm from the elbow down once in a sword fight. Growing it back had been a bitch). Being so completely on his own made this whole helpless captive routine even worse.
Next time, he'd actually listen to Jensen when he told him not to walk into an intergalactic smuggling ring's headquarters without a clear exit plan in mind. Probably. Maybe. He'd definitely think about it, at least.
Jared stared out the window until he felt almost like himself again, and then started wondering if he ought to try and get some sleep. It was something of a luxury for him, these days; the way his body kept twitching made it difficult to find a comfortable position.
He should probable sleep. Jared sighed and slid away from the window, moving slowly to keep from jarring his broken leg.
Then the door exploded and Jensen appeared on the other side, looking like an avenging angel carrying a railgun.
If Jared could have lifted his arm, he would have waved. Or thrown himself at Jensen. One or the other. "Hi," he said instead.
"I," Jensen said, slowly and deliberately, "am going to kill you."
Jared had to admit that Jensen did actually look about thirty seconds away from shooting him in the face.
He tilted his head towards the window. "You should at least come look at this thing in the sky with me first; it's really pretty."
Jensen's lips thinned in displeasure. "I came here in a spaceship, idiot. I've already seen it. You would have too if you hadn't been drugged and locked in a cargo hold."
"Wow," Jared said. "You are really well informed."
"Sam," Jensen growled.
"Sorry, sorry," Jared said. "So are you here as my knight in shining spaceship? Cause I think I kind of need one."
"Only because everyone else was busy," Jensen said, but Jared could recognize the concern in the look Jensen threw over his injuries. "You ready to get out of here?"
"Thought you'd never ask. But, I, uh…" Jared offered him a sheepish grin that was more uneven than he would have liked, "can't really walk right now, though." Honestly, after all the tasering and bone breaking, Jared would be lucky if he was walking in a month.
Jensen said something in a language that Jared didn't know. Wasn't hard to guess what it meant though.
"Shit like this never happened to me when I worked solo." Jensen slung his rail gun diagonally across his back and walked towards him. "If we get killed because I can't reach my gun in time, I'm going to hate you forever."
"If you don't tell me that you're at least a little glad I'm not dead, it's going to hurt my feelings," Jared said, forcing his body to move with the guiding press of Jensen's hands.
"Right now, the only reason I'm glad you're not dead is so that I can do it myself when we get home." Jensen took a deep breath, and Jared could hear the fear in it when he added, "Christ, Sam, don't scare me like that."
"Sorry," Jared said softly, hooking his arm around Jensen's shoulders. Jensen hauled him to his feet and it felt like needles and ice in his brain. Jared gritted his teeth and held on.
"Next time," Jensen said, with a lightness that couldn't quite mask the tension around the edges. "I pick the vacation destination, okay?"
And Jared smiled into Jensen's neck. "Okay."