A/N: Hey all! My first fic, and I'm a bit nervous. But this idea's been poking at me since I got the movie, and it won't leave me alone. Um, I won't pretend to be good at writing accents, so if it helps, picture Aubrey with a semi-Scottish accent (I imagine her softly rolling her r's, and any "-ly" turns into "-leh", so that may help.). I sincerely apologize to any Scottish readers out there.

Disclaimer: Not mine, never will be. 'cept for Fletcher, but I usually keep her locked in a shed out back.

*****

James Pleiades Hawkins stood patiently in front of a large desk, nearly holding his breath in anticipation.

"Absolutely not."

Behind the desk, Aubrey Fletcher regarded him with an air of incredulity. She leaned forward in the large chair and rested her right arm heavily on the polished surface of the desk. There was a long, heavy silence. Jim watched her patiently. He had been a pupil of hers for the past four years, and knew that she would elaborate when she was ready to.

Fletcher had been one of his favorite professors at the Academy. Most of the students liked her immensely. She taught 'Geography of the Etherium', which would have been an otherwise boring subject, were it not for the fact that she had been to most of the systems, and had fantastic stories to tell about each. Any that she hadn't been to, she relayed tales to the cadets that she had heard from her friends and crew.

In some ways, he supposed his liking of Fletcher stemmed from her resemblance to the cyborg pirate he had become friends with a few years ago. She was the same species as Silver, and he often wondered if the whole species was created with similar personalities. She had a talent for making you feel like her best friend, and knew how to charm you out of a bad mood. On days when class with her had been first thing in the morning, she always had some sort of snack and a hot pot of tea ready for them. She had even taken a liking to Morph, and allowed Jim to bring him to classes, where the little blob danced around her head and mimicked his heart out as she re-enacted a run-in she and her crew had with a bunch of filthy Hob- Gottlas in the Gregarion System.

Her deep brown eyes always carried an undercurrent of mischief, but today, she seemed difficult to read. Slowly, she leaned back in her chair, and arched an eyebrow at him. "What even makes ye think Ah'm really leaving the academy and going back t' the etherium?"

"I saw your resignation on the Dean's desk this morning."

She chuckled; a deep, resonating sound that couldn't be anything but genuine. "Nothin' does slip past ye, does it, Jim?"

He grinned. She was also one of the very few teachers to call students by their first names. He always hated the sound of Mr. Hawkins coming from a professor or a superior. For Fletcher (she insisted her students not make her out to be too high and mighty - "Ah'm not part of yer grandmother's knitting circle!") to call them something other than 'Mister (or Miss) Surname'. well, it was almost like a vacation.

She sighed, and the sound brought Jim back to reality. His smile faded.

"Lad, ye've graduated top notch in yer class. Why in all the universe would ye want t' ship out wi' my crew?"

Jim made a face and scratched the back of his neck, completely dropping out of his formal posture. He realized it immediately, and snapped back to attention. This drew another chuckle from Fletcher, and she gestured for him to sit down. "At ease, Mister Hawkins. Ah thought ye knew me well enough by now."

He smiled sheepishly, and though he was still quite tense about explaining himself, he relaxed visibly.

"Well, ma'am," she smirked, but he ignored it - he needed to show her he was capable of respecting a superior if she was going to hire him. "Most of my classmates already have jobs waiting for them now, and when I he- saw - that you were resigning, I thought that maybe you'd need to put together a crew."

He met her eyes unwaveringly. She was the first to look away, and looked straight up at the ceiling, sighing again.

"But that doesnae answer m' question, Jim. Why me? Wi' grades like yers, ye could have yer pick of any crew! Ah'd wager ye could even cap'n yer own ship."

Now Jim smirked. "Yeah, well, that'd be nice, 'cept my record before the academy isn't exactly spotless." Fletcher nodded understandingly.

"Well, barrin' that. What about Cap'n Amelia? She was th' one who recommended ye for th' Academy, right?"

Jim nodded. "Yeah, but she's got four kids now. And we never exactly got on until I saved her life - and even after that, we weren't exactly best buds."

"Right."

"I'm not gonna change my mind, Fletcher."

"But Jim, all Ah'm doin' is dragging cargo around the etherium. Surely ye'd be more interested in signin' up wi' an explorer? Or protecting some wealthy royals? Ah'm sure ye'd meet some fine girls that way." She winked.

Jim smiled and shook his head. "No, Fletcher. I've heard you have a fantastic reputation as a spacer - " Aubrey smiled and looked away " - and you're the kind of Captain I want to work for. I'm going to apply for your crew."

She smiled at the boy's conviction and leaned back in her chair, folding her hands across her belly. "All right then, lad." Jim sat up and grinned lopsidedly. "Exactly what position were ye planning to apply for?"

"First mate." He didn't miss a beat.

Aubrey's eyebrows arched high up on her forehead. "First mate, eh?" Jim's jaw tightened and he nodded the affirmative. She snorted and shook her head. "Well, do me one favor?"

Jim sat up straight and his eyes widened with excitement as he nodded vigorously. "Anything!"

"Apply to these Cap'ns as well as me." she scrawled four names down on a small piece of paper and handed it over to Jim. "Mention I sent ye. An' then we'll see if ye still want t' sign up wi' me."

Jim tucked the note into his pocket and stood quickly, grinning from ear to ear. "Thanks, Fletcher! You won't be disappointed at all." He reached across the desk to shake the hand of his former professor, who also stood up. She let out a hearty laugh and slapped her left hand against his right arm as they shook hands.

"Ye ain't been hired yet, boyo."

*****

A/N: So, yeah, a bit short, but I hope I can make up for that by posting semi-often. It will get longer, I promise. Oh, and if anyone wants to smack me upside the head until I get Jim characterized right, do feel free.