Title: Slipstream
Fandom: Sentō Yōsei Yukikaze
Rating: PG
Contains: Fix-fic. Possible man on man on jet.
Notes: Will be posted in increments.




Super Sylph B-503 is a box of secrets with wings.

Jack knows that, doesn't need a file full of blackened out text to tell him that, doesn't need the cloak and dagger hand-me-down or the way the techies couldn't seem to get away from it fast enough, doesn't even need the half-mad Japanese kid — all he needs is to look, and listen, and see.

Whatever the rather loveless paintjob is hiding, it's not an ordinary titanium hull, because he can hear the echo of his footsteps fading the closer he gets, the material itself swallowing the sound. The weld seams, so neat and clean Jack is sure no precision laser in the world could have made them, the shape of the wings, slanted in the closest imitation of an albatross he's ever seen. They don't have the means to make wings like these, the fine structure meant to alternately cut or caress the air, or they would have made them years ago, and by the thousands — more difficult to control, but man, just thinking about this plane in flight is enough to make his heart beat faster. He's read all the stories, da Vinci's flying machines, the brothers Montgolfier, and Lilienthal, but now he knows that all the vehicles that resulted from their dreams are imitations, crude and unfinished, just means to get a chair into the sky.

When he looks at the Super Sylph, he thinks of Icarus, and how he had the right idea. Give a bird's wings to a man.

Someone on the design team must have thought the same, perhaps stood where Jack is standing now and stared with a certain kind of awe at the blueprints come to life, and only remembered at the last moment to slap a military project number on the only fitting name for such a plane — Sylph, the spirit of the air.

All of this only leaves the certainty that under normal circumstances, he wouldn't even have been allowed to catch a glimpse of it. Technically, he doesn't even know what the normal circumstances would have been.

Anti-JAM weapon is pretty much a given, because that's all anyone ever does these days. Drones, missiles, bombs. The JAM adapt, whether it's tactical nukes or kitchen sinks — nothing long-range that works for more than one hit, nothing short range that hits hard enough to stop a battle from turning into a massacre.

Anti-JAM weapon flown by a half-mad kid, not so much.

Rei Fukai has settled down on the left wing, cross-legged, nearly wolfing down Jack's bagels whole. He looks less mad when he does so, and more like some kind of feral child they picked up in some podunk town, friendless, motherless, godless. Barely capable of speech, nevermind manners, but even though he tears into the raisin cinnamons like they've got a neck to snap, there's hardly a crumb that gets spilled.

Jack's spent the last half hour inching closer to the jet, fully conscious that the food doesn't even qualify as a moment's distraction, that Rei Fukai or whatever is behind Rei Fukai's eyes is registering his every move, but has, for some unfathomable reason, decided not to try and kill him with the cellophane wraps.

Some part of him, the stupid part, is wishing he had the gun ready, even though he only takes it with him when he leaves the base. There's seven feet of electrified wire fence around the base, and enough soldiers with MPs, though the only thing to shoot out here are the on-and-off jittering vagrants, diseased and crazed like something out of a zombie movie.

A precaution, the higher-ups call it. Bullshit, Jack is tempted to call it, the illusion of security. He supposes he shouldn't begrudge them the rhetoric, though, when the truth is so hard to face.

Guns don't even dent the JAM, and guns won't help him negotiate a truce with Rei Fukai.

Right now, the only thing he's got going for himself is the fact that he knows the lockout code, and the kid doesn't. Rei, it seems, has surmised as much himself, following Jack's movements to see what he's going to do.

"So, where you from?"

A stupid thing to say, really, but the alternative is talking about how he's going to touch the plane now, just the wing, juuust the wing, he won't do anything else, and that just sounds ludicrous.

Rei regards him, head cocked to the left, food pushed into his right cheek, incomprehension written all over his face.

"Well, I'm from Chicago," Jack offers. "Back when it was still Chicago. You know, up north."

Can't be sure these days that people still know where Chicago used to be, or NYC, or anything. There's stretches along the East Coast they lost contact with sometime after year three, with holes were things used to be, with places like Colorado suddenly finding they have a couple of thousand inhabitants more than they thought they had, because telling anyone you're from Massachusetts is the fastest way to find yourself out of a job and out of friends. Nobody's sure what happened, because there are places on this Earth that just tend to go, but rumor has it one of the generals panicked, called in a tactical strike, and if there's one thing people are more afraid of than the JAM, it's radiation.

It's become the standard greeting, "Where you from?", even though everybody knows nobody's going to tell the truth if they can help it.

Rei has tilted his head to the other side, still wearing the same look of puzzlement. "Here."

"Really? You mean 'round here?" Jack's keeping the tone casually inquisitive, not too much, just a little in hopes of keeping a conversation going as he pats down the wing, feeling the foreign material under his fingertips. Rei doesn't look one bit like someone from around here, or anywhere, but why not? If any part of the world is going to produce a guy like that, it's probably this one.

"Just here," Rei repeats, shrugging, and hell, maybe that's it, maybe they grew him on base in a vat, who is Jack to be surprised at anything these days?

"I see. You're a test pilot, then?"


"You like that?"

Another shrug.

"What do you do off the job, Rei?"

"I wait."

"Wait for what?"

"The next day." His eyes twitch over to the cockpit.

"Just that?" Grabbing a hold of the wing with both hands, Jack decides to go for it. It's not like Rei Fukai is the sort of guy who looks like he has a cool-down mode, something about him giving the impression of a human live wire, always tense, always on the lookout. He pushes himself off the little stepladder and onto the broad expanse of white, all the while aware that the five seconds of graceless dangling would give Rei ample time to leap across the hull.

He doesn't, though he's turned to face him, studying him with a keen interest that wasn't there before.

"You will open it?"

Eyes trained on the keycard at Jack's belt.

"Maybe," Jack says. "I'd rather you tell me what the deal is, here."

"You read my file."

"I did. But that might as well be Greek. C'mon, Rei, help me out here. That file says you're part of an interface. What does that mean?"

"I talk." He's picking at the bits of wrapping now, small, nervous jerks of his fingers.

"You talk?"

"Yes. You won't open it?"

"Even if I did, I wouldn't be able to let you back in there if I don't know what's wrong," Jack says, resisting the urge to sigh, resisting the urge to feel creeped out at the realization that he could be anyone, that hell, maybe Rei isn't even seeing him, but just a talking parking meter with the keys to the jet he's willing to commit murder for. With one hand, he reaches out to scratch the back of his neck. It comes away damp.

"Do you know what's wrong, Rei?"

"No." A blatant lie, his gaze sliding once again to the cockpit.

"Who are you talking to?" Jack asks, and tries not to fiddle with the card. He's going to have to open up the plane at some point, but right now, that doesn't seem like such a good idea.

A shrug.

"Who are you talking to, Rei?"

"...yukikaze," the kid murmurs, and at first Jack thinks he's talking gibberish now, the syllables thick and foreign.

"...What is yukikaze?" he repeats, tripping over the strange sounds.

A smile, so faint that he could take a picture of it and it wouldn't appear in pixels, like the question is stupid, like Jack couldn't understand it if he tried.







A/N: Was meant to be longer, didn't want to be. Ah, well. Next up: Jack takes a crash course in Japanese, and yells at people a lot. C&C is appreciated.