Doctor Harris watched the little sperm on the monitor, tucking a red lock of hair behind her ear before clicking to the next slide. "The problem with reproducing in zero gravity," she said, addressing the auditorium, "Is propulsion. Though it's only a few inches, covering the distance to the womb was impossible in Omega test subjects and all of the sperm tired out before they could fertilize the egg."

A scientist rose from his chair. Now that NASA had discovered the planet Bowie orbiting Alpha Centauri, Washington was eager to colonize. "We could freeze the embryos here and then implant them once the astronauts reach their destination."

Another man stood up. "Even with jump-ships you're talking five years. We ought to be using uterine replicators, grow babies during the long space voyage."

A general rebutted, "Those things are two million a pop, just use a turkey baster!"

Ideas pinged across the room, a bristling forest of folders and hand-waving until Doctor Harris clapped and they fell into silence. "We have considered all these ideas and more. The biggest hurdle, oddly enough, is biochemical."

Click. A naked young man lay strapped to a gurney, nervously watching a needle sink into his abdomen. "Any undue stress on the omega, such as trying to reproduce under laboratory conditions, will release the wrong kind of hormones and toxify the womb, so instead we've focused our efforts on closing the gap between the sperm and the egg."

"What do you propose?"

She clicked to the last slide. "Gentlemen," she said, smiling as one hundred folders slid to cover one hundred erections, "I'd like you to meet Jared Padalecki."

(*)

Jensen reached up and adjusted the air pressure on the nav console. Butterfly cages fluttered behind him, one of the many species he hoped to test over the next five years. "Houston we are clear on my end, any word from the clinic?"

Crackle. "Beaver's being held on medical leave. Probably pneumonia, but they can't risk you both getting sick until the results come back. We're sending up his alternate."

Jensen's mouth formed around a dirty word, but he said nothing. A good friend and jack of all trades in the engineering department, Jim Beaver had been an ideal candidate for space travel, and Jensen kept his eyes averted as someone else dropped into the co-pilot chair. A long gloved hand extended to his field of vision.

"Hi, I don't think we've met."

Jensen looked over. The other man was already suited up, his face hidden behind the tinted glass of the helmet, but he sounded young. He shook hands. "Professor Ackles."

"You don't look old enough to be a teacher."

Jensen bit his lip, his youth a frequent embarrassment in the old man's world of academia. "That's just what researchers call each other."

"I thought you were the pilot."

Jensen gestured at the control panel. "This thing flies itself once you reach escape velocity, after that I'll be in that back room staring down one end of a microscope."

"Ten years is a long time away from home."

"It's even longer, you think how fast we're going. At the speed of light," said Jensen, thinking of his parents, the arguments, the arranged marriage he'd torpedoed once the scholarship money arrived, "There won't be much to go home to."

Houston counted down and the engines fired, the earth falling away until they passed the cloud-line and the sky was white with stars. Something loosened in Jensen's heart, finally free of the planet's pull, and he unlatched his helmet. "I'm gonna check on my specimens, hang here for a bit in case base command calls."

The other man gave a thumbs up, his helmet still affixed, and Jensen floated along a handrail to his private quarters.

The shuttle was cramped, the kitchen wedged against the shower with a common area no bigger than a school bus, but Jensen had his own room with the lab's pick of cutting edge technology and fifty gigs of digital music. He selected a song at random and bent to his task.

"Fly me to the moon...Let me play among the stars..."

"Are you getting hungry?"

Jensen looked up from his microscope. "Uh..."

"You've been at it for hours, you oughta take a break."

Jensen's eyes skated over him. Five years had changed a lot since that one night, lying in the grass bombed on cheap bourbon and watching the moon come out over the manicured lawns of Stanford, not touching, just enjoying one another's company before core classes sent them their separate ways, before Jensen had become too busy to think about calling him back. In his cotton shirt sleeves Jared looked more like a bouncer than an engineer, muscled arms crossed over his chest as he slouched in the doorway, tan features punctuated by dimples when he smiled.

Jensen cleared his throat. "I'm not...are you hungry?"

Jared's hand locked on his wrist, his face suddenly very close. "Come on, I brought us something."

"But..." Jensen gestured helplessly at his experiment.

"You on a time table?"

"Well...no, it'll be a few hours before the RNA extraction is ready..."

Jared pulled him along and Jensen did not protest further. Jensen watched the back of his neck, a corona of brown hair about his head, and the end of the galley opened into a wide windowed vista with the rings of Saturn gliding past them in silence. The nearness of it hypnotized Jensen, and he'd all but forgotten Jared until he set something down on the table between them. "My PA sent it. Dig in."

Jensen looked down at the cake, small and round with a picture of a cartoon shuttle rocketing toward a star. "Oh I dunno, regulation's got us on a pretty strict diet, if one of us got food poisoning..."

But a spoonful of butter frosting popped into his open mouth and he stopped talking. "This is, wow, this is really good, but seriously..."

Another spoonful, Jared stropping it clean on the end of his tongue before taking a bite himself. "You like it?"

Jensen swallowed, finding himself relax as he took a seat on the corner of the table. Took another long look into Jared's expressive eyes. "Yeah I think it agrees with me."

"So what are you working on in there?"

"Oh," said Jensen, perking up, "So I published this paper last year, on how insects adapt during the pollination process? And I was thinking..."

He rattled on, drawing shapes in the air as though this were another powerpoint presentation, but Jared listened attentively, occasionally asking questions but mostly forcing more cake into Jensen's mouth whenever he got to the end of a sentence. By the time the cake vanished, Saturn was long gone and Jensen realized he hadn't asked Jared what he did for a living.

"I'm in research as well."

"Really?" asked Jensen, eyebrows raised, "Whose lab are you with?"

"Doctor Harris."

Jensen's brow furrowed, he rarely ventured outside entomology. The cake settled in his stomach like a hot brick, his whole body warm and sleepy, and he found it hard to focus. "What does she specialize in?"

"Kinda the same thing you are."

Conversation limped along after that, and Jared went to sterilize the dishes. "So is this your first time?"

Jensen blushed, memorizing the lines of Jared's broad shoulders once he had turned away. "You mean...what do you mean?"

"This is my eighth jump-trip, back when they started doing day-flights to the moon. First one's always the best though. When the engine starts going, when you're busting through the dark with nothing but hope and a tin roof over your head, everything seems...alive. It can be scary," said Jared, his hand resting inches from Jensen's, "Do you need to be alone for a while?"

Jensen swallowed, the labwork and the music and the meter-thick plexiglass suddenly thin armor against the vast ocean of stars. Against the beating of his heart. "No. Not really."

"Good." said Jared, and without warning slapped a white sticker on Jensen's upper arm.

Jensen looked down at it uncertainly. "What's this?"

"Bio-reader. We wait for it to turn blue."

"What does it mean when it turns blue?"

Jared smiled, his hands gently landing on top of Jensen's knees. "It means you're pregnant."

(*)

The general looked over Doctor Harris's schematics. "Are you sure this alpha is certified?"

"Oh don't worry, I've had him checked out, the boy is..." she said, lingering on Jared's photos with the nib of her pen between her teeth, "...thorough."

(*)

Back in the engine room, gearage turned and lights blinked and hydrogen fuel cells heated to thousands of degrees and a small seismic tremor passed through Jensen as Jared's mouth closed over his. His kiss was gentle, questioning, in no particular rush. It had taken five years to get there.

Jensen's hand slid inside his shirt, tentatively running across warm skin, around his waist to the small of his back and pulling him close with the barest touch. A voice wearing his mother's cardigan told him to stop, to step back and punch Jared on the shoulder and say joke's over, but the cake shouted over it and he breathed into the kiss until Jared made a satisfied noise in the back of his throat.

Jared broke off, his voice low. "Do you trust me?"

Jensen touched his burning lips and nodded, spellbound as Jared stripped off his jumpsuit and his cock bounced off his flat belly, twelve inches of Stanford's finest pointing straight at Jensen like a compass needle.

Necessity is the mother of invention, and after several false starts and a lot of budget cuts, Doctor Harris had come to the conclusion that the easiest and cheapest solution to zero gravity conception was to hire astronauts with longer dicks. To close the gap. Jensen let himself be undressed, a firm hand on his chest pushing him down as velcro straps emerged from under the table.

Jensen looked on nervously, his thighs anchored in place. "I don't remember installing these."

"You didn't. This was all kept under the hood in case you...had any reservations."

"They're paying you for this?"

"The other guys are, NASA's got a dozen ships to test for margin of error, some of 'em are just out for a month and coming back millionaires, but when I saw you were on the list," said Jared, finger tilting Jensen's chin toward him, "I volunteered."

His mouth trailed along Jensen's jawline, burrowing in the hollow of his throat, his teeth a hard edge against his pulse. Jensen thought of the wedding tuxedo in his closet at home, hanging in silence like a funeral director, but Jared forced his mouth open with his own and the closet closed forever.

Their clothes drifted away together, locked in a sloppy embrace, and Jared's cock ran along Jensen's, along the wet pink ache hiding between Jensen's thighs. He fell to the floor, teeth gleaming white as he cupped his hands under Jensen's knees. "You're close."

"No you don't have to-"

"It'll make my job easier," said Jared, eyes dancing with a wicked glitter, "Besides, I've been waiting for that look on your face since I stepped onboard."

"What look?"

For answer hot breath ghosted over Jensen's cock and Jared's plush lips wrapped around it, swallowing it, taking it until it hit the back of his throat. Held it there, cheeks hollowed, hair sticking to his face in sweaty ringlets as he drew back on a long hungry suck and stopped on the last inch as if asking permission to do it again.

Jensen's nails dug grooves in the table and he did not recognize his own voice. "Fuck fuck don't fucking stop, why did you stop?!"

Jared looked up through his bangs, victorious, and lapped a slow circle around the end of Jensen's cock, his teeth lengthening in anticipation. That was all it took, and as they passed Sputnik, the last antique of the Cold War Space Race speeding across the window and vanishing into the ether, Jared sucked the innocence out of him until Jensen collapsed in a heap of limbs.

Jared wiped his mouth. Leaned over Jensen. "We can take a break. Just let me know. But once we start we can't stop til we get a positive reading, not without compromising your bio-metrics."

Jensen's eyes opened and closed, chest caving and his whole body gleaming with sweat. He wondered how long the sticker would take to turn color. He wondered if this, as Jared's weight pressed on him and an expert finger opened the ring of his virgin ass, was how his butterflies felt when they were pinned to the velvet.

The fuel cells cooked, speedometer needles climbed, and the room filled with the perfume of Heat as Jared slid a second finger inside of him and sucked possessively at his mouth, body ridged with muscle as he breathed in his mate, his skin, his need, his every little noise.

When enough time had passed and Jensen was panting for a second time, nearly coming around Jared's fingers, Jared ran a wet hand along the length of his cock and pressed the head against him, big as a softball and more than Jensen thought he could take or deserved.

"Let me in."

They left the galaxy behind them. The jump engines began to sing, a million lines of code calculating the shortest distance between here and there, and Jensen looked up at Jared silhouetted against the stars in love and despair. "You don't even know me."

"I know I'm not going home. Not this time. I know a man's odds out here, against sickness, against bad engineering, against the sound of your own voice when you're all alone, and if I die on the rocks of some nameless shore," he said, Jensen's throat locking as his body was opened and a warm knot touched him deep inside, "I wanted to take one thing with me."

In some forgotten pocket of the universe, Frank Sinatra got to the end of the album and circled back round, 'Fly Me to the Moon' unspooling as a schoolboy confession rose up in Jensen and Jared kissed him again, mercifully cutting him off, cock swelling inside him until Jensen clamped around the base in mute permission. Watched Jared's beautiful face twist on the first thrust, his body taut.

The table rocked beneath them, bolts rattling with every snap of his hips, and Jensen was about to reach for his own cock when Jared pinned his wrists to the cold steel. "No," he croaked, "I spent too long staring at your picture, getting ready for you, holding it back." He leaned in, words pitched so low Jensen felt more than heard them. "You're gonna milk it out of me."

The engines howled, dangerously close to jump speed, points of light lengthening into the horizon as Jared stood framed against the melting stars and Jensen rode the razor edge of orgasm with Jared pumping between his legs, knot scraping deep inside, wringing out Jared's thick cock with every desperate stroke that did not bring him closer to the end.

Every doubt, his thankless career, his ex-fiance, his disappointed parents, turned to ash under Jared's kiss. Jensen bent his head and tore away the sticker with his teeth. "I don't need this," he said, spitting it away contemptuously, "I'll know when your baby's inside of me."

Light speed. The ship jumped through a fold in space and time uncoiled, a single moment stretching so far that worlds formed and burst inside of it, until Jared gathered him in his rough embrace and fucked him til it hurt and choked on Jensen's name and didn't stop saying it until he'd pounded the last drop into him, until they'd stolen the air out of each other with their kisses, until they'd filled the darkness with their love.

Back in the bedroom, Mister Sinatra finished up for the night, and the song went on without him.