Title: Flying With You
Beta: Alex/Odysseus, Nox/BJ
Fandom: Bones, but very AU.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Flight Lieutenant Jack Hodgins shifted his weight on his bar-stool, one hand propped on his chin, the other curled around his glass. He shot a crooked smile at the bartender, a fresh-faced Corporal, and shook his head when the man tipped the bottle at him in a silent question. He was meeting his new navigator tomorrow. He sighed, staring into the glass as if it would give him the answers. That was not an experience Jack was looking forward to.
His new navigator. A rookie, fresh out of flight training. He shook his head. At least they'd found someone who would fly with him this time. A wry grin curled his mouth as he glanced towards the door, picturing his plane, his baby, his Helldiver. Quite possibly the biggest piece of crap in the hangar. Held together by curses, patchwork and prayers. The wry grin grew wider as he thought about all the planes he could be flying, given his name and his heritage. The Irishman shook his head again, wondering how long this one would take before either fear or frustration drove him away.
The redhead scooped up his hat, "I'm out for the night, Charlie…" he shot a cheeky smile at the Corporal, "Can't be meetin' my new navigator with a hangover, now, so I can't."
The Corporal smiled back, "OK, sir, take care…" then carried on polishing the glasses.
Next morning found Jack standing at a pathetic imitation of parade rest in front of his CO's desk. Wing Commander Goodman shot Jack a filthy look, which the redhead returned with a raised eyebrow. The Wing Commander sighed and shook his head. Both men looked up as the bell above the office door jangled impatiently. Goodman called a terse 'enter' and looked back at Jack, shooting him a warning look, as the door edged open.
A tousled, curly head poked through, "Sir?" followed by a lean, slim-hipped body and nervous hands, tightly clutching a hat, "Fly… Flying Officer Zackary Addy, reporting for duty, sir."
Jack fought the urge to roll his eyes as Goodman gave the young man a genial smile, "Come in, son… This is Flight Lieutenant Jack Hodgins. One of the best pilots in Her Majesty's Air Force. You'll be flying with him," the smile gave way to a curious look, "They tell me you're good, damn good."
The nervous looking Flying Officer shifted uneasily, "Yes sir. I'd heard that too, sir," he blushed furiously at his comment and the Wing Commander's raised eyebrow.
"Yes…" Goodman drew out, still eyeing off the blushing young man in front of him, "Well, I'll let the two of you get acquainted. Hodgins, Addy… you're dismissed."
The two moved out of the Wing Commander's office, Jack raising an eyebrow at the bags outside the door. His new navigator had obviously just arrived; poor bugger hadn't even been shown his barracks yet. He watched as the boy, Zack, he amended, scooped one rucksack onto his shoulder, grabbed the other one in his left hand, gathered together a small pile of maps in his right and sighed in frustration as he realized he had no hands left to pick up his suitcase. Jack bit back a smile and reached down, picking up the suitcase himself and heading for the door, leaving Zack no choice but to follow. Zack blushed and hurried after him, embarrassed.
"Sir, you don't have to… I mean… I could've…" he stammered out.
"For starters, lad, you couldn't have…" the pilot shot him a grin, "You'd run outta hands," Jack replied, stopping in front of the barracks the navigator would be sharing with him and nudging open the door.
"Sorry, sir… I mean…" if it were possible, Zack's face went even redder.
"Another thing…" Jack sighed, dropping the suitcase by Zack's bed and carefully helping the other man unload some of his other bags, "Don't be callin' me 'sir'… I've seen your file, Zack, up until maybe 3 months or so ago, you were a Flight Lieutenant yourself. As far as I'm concerned, we're as equal as it gets."
"But… sir…" the young Flying Officer protested.
Jack sighed, "No sir… I'm Jack… Hodgins if you're cranky with me," he grinned, "So, most likely, I'll be Hodgins a lot of the time. People tell me I'm not an easy man to like."
Zack broke into a shy, unwilling grin, "People can be wrong. But if it's any consolation, they tell me I'm not an easy person to like either."
The rather unlikely friendship begun, the two set about unpacking Zack's bags. They worked in companionable silence for a while, before Jack asked the question that had been bothering him since the tousle-haired young man had eased his way into the Wing Commander's office and into Jack's life.
"What was that, s… Jack?" Zack's answer was muffled, his head buried in his second rucksack.
"You went from Flight Lieutenant to Flying Officer in the space of, what, two days?" the redhead said, hanging the other man's dress uniform up in the small wardrobe next to his own, "What happened?"
He winced as Zack abruptly went still, "Ah lad, I didn't mean to pry. If you don't want to tell me, you don't…"
Zack interrupted him, rocking back on his heels, the bitter smile curling his lips at odds with the innocence of his face, "I was too good at my job…"
Jack frowned, "They took away your rank and your job, coz you were good at it?"
Zack shook his head, "I was a codebreaker. A good one. I've yet to come across a code, either enemy or friendly, that I can't break in under an hour," a shy smile curled the corners of his mouth at Jack's impressed whistle, "And most of my superiors appreciated that."
There was a raised eyebrow from Jack, "Most?"
"Yes, there were a few who believed that the only way I could break enemy codes so quickly is if I wrote them," he rolled his eyes in exasperation, "Those same few accused me of being a double agent when I pointed out that I could also break friendly codes written by other codewriters in the department."
Jack shook his head sympathetically, "'Tis true… put some costume jewellery on a man's shoulder and he thinks he can piss Cognac," he grinned at Zack's surprised snort of laughter.
When their laughter died down, Jack waved a hand at the other man, "So, why'd they ditch ya, Zack? Seems to me, you shoulda been the one they held onto with all they had," a small smile curled the redhead's mouth, "Not that I'm complainin' a' course… I get myself the best navigator the world's ever seen, by the looks…"
Zack sighed, "Codebreaking was too easy. It became repetitive. Then after I was accused of being a double agent, they began giving me fewer and fewer assignments," he gave Jack a wry smile, "Quite frankly, Jack, I got bored."
The redhead gave another snort of laughter, "In the middle of a war, in the middle of the greatest intelligence service in the world, breaking enemy codes, learning enemy secrets… and you got bored?"
A sheepish look was his answer, before Zack continued, "I tried to bribe other codebreakers to let me in on their assignments with little to no luck, I was just too fast. So, in the end, I tried writing codes of my own," his eyes widened, making his face look younger than it already did, "Not to use or sell or anything like that, of course…" he added hastily.
Jack shook his head, astonished, "And they let you outta their sights?" he shook his head again as Zack nodded, "Are they mad?! Not only do you break code, but you write it as well? You're the fastest there is… and how do they repay you?" Jack ranted, eyes glinting dangerously on behalf of his new friend, "They not only throw away the best thing that coulda happened to this country's intelligence service! They knock you down a peg and put you in this hellhole!"
Zack stared at him in shock as Jack scowled and shook his head, "Bloody English… present company excluded, so they are…" he added hastily, accent growing broader with every word.
Zack could only blink for a few moments in the wake of his pilot's outburst, before he blurted out the first thing that popped into his head, "So, it's true what they say about the Irish, then?"
At Jack's raised eyebrow, he bumbled on, "I mean, sir, Jack… yes… with the tempers and the feisty… oh no… I shouldn't say that!" the younger man blushed crimson.
Jack bit back a laugh, "The tempers? Aye, that's true Irish," a wicked gleam caught his blue eyes, "And what was the second one? I heard somethin' about feisty in there…"
Zack ducked his head, growing even redder, "It was nothing, really…"
"No, no, lad, come on, I'm interested now…"
Jack leaned in to catch Zack's embarrassed mumble, "I heard the Irish were… that is… um… they were feisty… um… feisty lovers…"
Jack let out a great whoop of laughter, doubling over as tears of mirth rolled down his face, "Ah Zack-lad, don't ever change…" he wheezed out, between guffaws.
Finally getting his laughter under control, Jack gave the still-blushing Zack a saucy wink, "As for my allegedly feisty nature…" the saucy wink turned into a full-blown grin, "Only if you're lucky, lad… only if you're lucky…"
Zack was still muddling his way through that particular comment the next morning when he and Jack were called before Wing Commander Goodman. The two stood at their equally appalling attempts at parade rest. The Wing Commander gave them a look and they straightened self-consciously. Without a word, Goodman handed Jack two folded pieces of paper, waiting until the redhead had taken them and begun reading before he spoke.
"These are your orders, follow them to the letter, do you understand Flight Lieutenant Hodgins?"
Zack watched as Jack's eyes grew steadily darker as he read, hands tightening on the papers. He surreptitiously shifted his weight onto one foot. Watching Jack out the corner of his eye, he waited until the fiery-tempered Flight Lieutenant had lifted his head to speak. Then he quickly shifted his foot over onto Jack's and leaned his weight onto the other man's foot. Jack gritted his teeth, glancing down at the orders once more, and speaking quietly.
"I understand perfectly, sir."
The Wing Commander's eyebrows flew up into his hairline, "Hodgins, Addy… you're dismissed."
The two walked out of the room and headed back to the barracks. Staying quiet, Zack moved to his own part of the barracks, opening his trunk and pulling out his table maps, spreading them out across his bed. He got up again, digging through his rucksack, pulling out his smaller travel maps and tucking them into their waterproof casings. He tucked his compass and various other bits into their own casings, pausing only when he heard Jack speak softly.
Zack blushed and inwardly cursed himself for it, "I… it's nothing, really…"
Jack gave him a wan smile in return, prompting Zack to quickly change the subject and ask, "What are the orders?"
Jack handed them to him. Zack took the slightly crumpled pieces of paper, smoothing it in his hands. He read the orders quickly, eyebrows flying up into his hairline. He blinked, looking up at Jack, who was scowling, then back down at the papers and re-reading them just to make sure. Without a word, he handed the orders back to the redhead.
"France?" he said softly.
Jack nodded, "France. Behind enemy lines too," he separated the second piece of paper from the first, holding it out to Zack, "Here, you'll need these. Co-ordinates for the drop and the flight schedule."
Zack gave him a slightly offended look, "I don't need that," he looked scornfully at the piece of paper and blinked big eyes at Jack, "I memorized them."
Jack blinked at him for a moment, "Wow," then he grinned, "Faith, but you're a treasure. Come on, you should at least see the plane you'll be flyin' to France in."
Zack followed him out to the hangar, marveling at the all the pristine aircraft surrounding him. A small smile crossed his face as he mentally ticked off the planes he recognized. TBM Avenger. B-17 Flying Fortress. B-24 Liberator. He frowned as Jack walked past all of these to the very end of the hangar. Zack's eyebrows flew into his hairline for what seemed like the hundredth time that day as Jack stopped by the aircraft he called his. He blinked up at the patched and peeling paintwork of the SB2C Helldiver that Jack stood under, still a head shorter than its nose cone.
He blurted out the first thing that popped into his head, "Good God, do they still let people fly in those?!"
Jack snickered as Zack looked utterly mortified, "Sir… Jack… I mean… I'm sorry… it's…"
He was saved as Jack said, "Go easy, lad, go easy," the redhead smiled up at the plane, "Allow me to introduce you to 'Patches and Prayers', affectionately known as 'Patch', a SB2C Helldiver, better known as a 'Son-of-a-bitch, Second Class'," the Irish-born Londoner snorted, "Though if you ask me, this piece of crap is a first class son of a bi…"
"Language, Hodgins!" came a bellow from the other side of the hangar.
"Aye sir, sorry sir," Jack called amiably back.
Zack ducked under the nose cone, walking around the plane, carefully running a hand over the tail, up one side and down the other of each wing, then along the side of the plane until he reached Jack again. Jack gave him a smile, but his eyes belied his nervousness. He didn't know why he was nervous. He hadn't been so nervous showing Patch to his previous navigators. Hell, some of them he hadn't even bothered showing her to until the day of the mission.
Zack looked back at Jack, "We should fly across the Channel to Calais, then head South-Southeast through to Abbeville, then take a more easterly course across the River Somme. If we run into trouble we can cut Northeast into Belgium and swing back around."
Jack stared at him, "How? You haven't even looked at the maps yet!"
Zack shot him another slightly offended look, before turning back to the plane. He ran his hand over the nose cone again. He looked back down at Jack, then glanced back down the line at the newer, shinier aircraft. He gave Jack a look, then raised an eyebrow. Jack gave him a sheepish smile in return, running his own hand over Patch's nose cone.
"Are you familiar with the name Hodgins?" he said wryly.
Zack thought about it, "The merchant traders?" he guessed.
Jack nodded, "Sir Alfred Hodgins, CEO?" he waited for Zack's nod of recognition, "That's my father."
Zack's jaw dropped, "Your…? Then why…?"
Jack sighed, sitting down on a step ladder, "Because I want to be someone other than Sir Alfred's son. I joined the RAF so I could do that," he scowled, "But himself couldn't even let me do that on my own…"
Zack pulled up a crate and sat with him, "What happened?"
Jack gave him a wry smile, "My dad bought my commission. Six months ago I was still a Sergeant."
A small frown creased Zack's brow, so Jack hurried on to explain, "I wanted this," he gestured around the hangar, "to be something that Jack Hodgins, pilot, did, not something that Jack Hodgins, son of Sir Alfred, did. But dear old dad couldn't have an enlisted man for a son, Lord no."
Zack still stayed quiet, but his gaze traveled up to Patch's peeling paintwork, making Jack smile, "Aye. And that's why they gave me this old girl. Apparently, I'm," the redhead rolled his eyes and affected a deeper voice, obviously mimicking the Wing Commander, "'insubordinate, arrogant, selfish, lackadaisical… Hodgins, so help me, God…" he grinned as Zack giggled, trying to smother it with a hand.
The grin lessened somewhat, "Because of my father, they can't demote me, can't dishonorably discharge me, can't court-martial me, can't even discipline me too harshly. My father donates too much money to the war effort now, and the Air Force in peacetime, for the brass to even consider annoyin' him enough to withdraw it."
Zack sat quietly for a moment, processing his newfound information, before standing up quite abruptly, looking down at Jack with mirth in his eyes, "Does your list of people with grievances extend to the Supply Sergeants? Because if we want to leave at dawn tomorrow, we should probably begin to make ready now."