daylight_darknight: (Earth Sunrise)
[personal profile] daylight_darknight
Title: Old Time Ships and Grease Monkeys
Characters: Rip, Jax
Rating/Warnings: G
Genre: Angst, Friendship
Word Count: 1700
Spoilers: None unless you haven't even watched the first episode.
Summary: As Rip gives Jax a hand making repairs to the ship, he finds himself haunted by memories of his son.


Considering Rip had just spent the past ten minutes trying to explain to Rory, Snart, and Sara why attempting to have a martini with Al Capone had been a really, really bad idea, it's not too surprising that when he saw Jefferson 'Jax' Jackson hesitantly approaching his study with a guilty look on his face, Rip had rolled his eyes and cried, "What now!"

Jax winced and stopped in his tracks looking like he would very much like to run in the opposite direction.

Rip immediately regretted his outburst. "Sorry," he said. "Sorry. I've just been dealing with..." He waved his hand vaguely in the direction the trio had left.

"No worries," Jax said tentatively stepping forward once more. "Did they really try to..."

"Yes," Rip replied in a world-weary tone. "Only there wasn't so much drinking involved as brawling and shooting. I just pray they haven't started another gang war."

"Right," said Jax.

Rip waited for him to say something more but he just stood there fidgeting. "Can I help you with something, Mr. Jackson?"

Jax bit his lip and shifted his weight from foot to foot. "Um..."

Something about the way he looked, the guilt on his face, reminded Rip of his son. Jonas had worn the exact same expression just before he had admitted to breaking his father's prized 17th century telescope, the one that used to belong to Galileo himself. Jonas had been so sorrowful about what he'd done, so worried about how his father would react, it had taken him several long minutes to actually confess to what had happened, and then it took twice as long for Rip to convince Jonas that he forgave him.

The familiar feeling of grief started to well up in Rip's chest and he quickly pushed the memory aside.

"Out with it, Jefferson," the Captain said to the still fidgeting young man. "Whatever it is it can't be worse than causing chaos and mayhem in one of the most notorious dives in 1920s Chicago."

Jax took a deep breath. "I think I might have trashed the cloaking system."

"Ah," said Rip. That was admittedly pretty serious. If the cloaking system really was irreparably damaged, it would put a major crimp in their ability to safely track down Savage.

If possible Jax managed to look even more guilty. "I was just trying to fine tune it. You know the thing's been acting up recently. But I must have done something wrong because now the whole thing's kaput. I've been trying to fix it for the past couple hours but..." He gave a helpless shrug.

"Not to worry," Rip said trying to be comforting. "I'm sure it's nothing serious. I'll have a look at it with you."

Jax's shoulder's slumped with relief. "Sorry I screwed up. I know you've been counting on me to fix things while you look for Savage."

Rip put a hand on his shoulder. "Jax," he said. "You're dealing with technology a hundred times in advance of your own. I don't expect you to get everything absolutely right every time. Besides you've already by far exceeded my expectations."

That managed to get a small smile out of Jax. "Thanks, Captain."

The two walked down to the engine room where the main controls for the cloaking system were. The access panel was off and Jax's efforts were plainly visible. Wires, tools, and circuits were scattered everywhere. The actual circuits and mechanisms which controlled the cloaking system were ominously dark, but it didn't take too long for Rip to survey Jax's handiwork and figure out what was wrong.

"I see..." he said half to himself.

"Well?" asked Jax nervously.

"Not a problem," Rip replied. "I'll have it working in just a second. Hand me that..." He waved in the direction of one of the many tools piled nearby.

Jax handed him the tool and watched carefully as Rip set to work.

Another memory suddenly struck Rip: Jonas peering over his shoulder as Rip tried to fix the broken telescope. He managed to do it, mostly. The telescope was never quite the same, but he let Jonas polish it up afterwards. The boy polished it until it gleamed. He'd been so proud.

Rip swallowed and refocused on the task at hand. As he had said, it didn't take too long. He simply moved a few things around and reconnected them. When he had done so the once darkened systems seemed to spring to life as light pulsed through them once more.

"Cloaking system now at one hundred percent," Gideon declared.

Jax frowned. "I don't get it. It shouldn't work like that, at least according to the instruction manual it shouldn't."

"Well you see, Jefferson," Rip explained, "the instruction manual is more of a guideline. It explains how things are supposed to work on your typical, brand new time ship. The Waverider, however, is rather old, at least by time ship standards, and has developed a few eccentricities over the years."

"Like Gideon?" Jax suggested.

"I'm not at all sure what you mean Mr. Jackson," said the A.I.

Rip snorted. "Gideon is a bit beyond eccentricities," he said. "I was speaking more of certain quirks in how the ship works like how the time drive won't activate properly unless you clear the secondary manifold first or how the bulkhead door to the cargo bay always sticks." He gazed at the now pulsing circuits. "I can't tell you exactly why but the cloaking system only really works when things are in this configuration."

Understanding dawned on Jax's face. "I've known a few cars like that," he said. "They get all finicky and refuse to run unless you put everything just where they want it even when it doesn't make any sense."

Rip nodded. "Exactly."

"I bet you know all the Waverider's little quirks by now."

"The Waverider's been my ship for over thirteen years. I doubt there's a single thing I don't know about her," Rip said with a hint of pride in his voice. "And I'm sure you'll learn it all too soon enough. In the meantime, feel free to ask for my help anytime you need it even if you think you've trashed something."

Jax grinned. "I will."

Something twisted painfully in Rip's chest. More memories pushed their way to the surface despite his efforts. He'd only brought his son onto the ship a few times, but each time Jonas had been absolutely enchanted. He'd gazed at everything with a look of pure wonder on his face insisting on seeing every nook and cranny. Rip had dreamed of one day teaching Jonas all about the Waverider, teaching him how to fly it, how to fix it, showing him all of the ship's many quirks. And now...

He cleared his throat and turned away from Jax. "I should probably go check the timeline, make sure the chaos triplets' little adventure hasn't caused too much damage." He headed for the exit. "I'll leave you to get on with the repairs."

"Wait," Jax called after him.

Rip stopped, and taking a deep breath, turned back around.

"I've been meaning to thank you."

Confused, Rip frowned."For what?"

"For having faith in me," Jax explained. "For believing I could actually fix this stuff."

"You're a mechanic," Rip said with a shrug.

Jax shook his head, a self-deprecating smile on his face. "I'm a grease monkey," he said. "I fix cars not stuff like this." He gestured to the time ship's engines. "And there are plenty of people around here who are a hell of a lot smarter than I am. One of them has multiple PhD's and another built his own super suit. You could have asked them but you chose me."

Rip gazed at Jax, surprised to see the self-doubt he hadn't realized was there, surprised that his simple act of faith in the young man's abilities had had such an impact. "You don't give yourself enough credit," he said. "You are a very intelligent young man."

"Not like Stein or Ray, not by a long shot."

"Yes, but Ray and Stein are scientists."

Deep lines creased Jax's forehead. "What does that have to do with anything?"

Rip gave him an amused smile. "Have you heard the one about the scientist and the mechanic?"

"Huh?"

"It's an old saying, or at least it is where I'm from," Rip explained. "They say if something is broken, a scientist will spend an hour trying to figure out what's wrong before even trying to fix it. A mechanic will give it one swift kick in the right spot and have it fixed in seconds." He went over and placed his hands on Jax's shoulders, a small part of him wondering if he'd ever have the chance to give such words of encouragement to his own son. "I chose you because you are the right person for the job. You have the right instincts, the right know-how. I sincerely doubt anyone else could have simply read the instruction manual and figured out how to fix the Waverider so quickly."

"I guess," said Jax.

"The Waverider's very important to me. She's one of the few things I have left. She might not be the fastest time ship or the most state of the art, but I wouldn't trade her for any ship in the Time Master fleet. Do you really think I'd put her in the hands of someone I didn't have full confidence in?"

Jax lips twitched upward into a real smile. "The Waverider is pretty awesome," he said gazing about the engine room with a familiar look of wonder on his face. "I promise I'll take good care of her."

For some reason, this time the reminder of his son didn't hurt Rip quite as much. It was almost comforting as if part of Jonas was still with him. He patted Jax on the shoulder. "I know you will."

Moving away, Jax resealed the access panel over the cloaking system and began cleaning up the mess he'd made. "Don't tell Gray," he said as he did so, "but I'm kind of glad he rufied me onto this ship."

"Me too, Jefferson," said Rip as he watched the young man work, a sad smile on his face. "Me too."
Page generated Sep. 23rd, 2017 12:17 am
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