By: Missfortune
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters or the song.
Pairing: Gene/Jim
Summary: Jim and Gene have been denying their feelings. Then Jim has a breakdown and Gene doesn't know what to do.
Notes: The song is Breakdown by Melissa Etheridge.
~....~ ~~....~~ indicate song lyrics single for Jim, double for Gene.
//....// indicate thoughts and while in the tank is the only means of communication so while they are saying these things they are not directly speaking rather their minds are touching and trading dialogue. You'll understand, just read the fic.

~ How could I stay? ~

Jim looked up from his records suddenly. He couldn't do this anymore! He couldn't handle all these problems. Gene went along getting them into more debt with each move he made and Jim just couldn't handle it anymore. His cheek tickled and he reached up to scratch at the annoying sensation traveling down his face. His hand came away wet with tears. Jim looked at his own reflection in the computer screen. A broken boy stared back at him with haunted eyes. Jim reached out and touched the screen and began to laugh. It was like he told Melfina, whenever he couldn't handle things he just had to laugh. It was so funny. So funny but he couldn't remember why. And this time there was no one to put a hand on his shoulder and reassure him. Now it was just him and his reflection and the laughter that echoed off the walls tauntingly. He had to get out of there. He couldn't stay he had to get away.

~ How could I breathe? ~

He couldn't breathe. He was choking on the laughter that consumed him. People were giving him funny looks and stepping out of his way. He didn't care. He didn't care about anything. He just wanted to get away. He just wanted to stop laughing. He wanted everything to be okay. But how? Gene made no effort to do anything about their situation. Gene put all his faith in Jim. He was only a kid! Sure he acted more mature then Gene but he was only 11! What could he do? What was he supposed to do? He could only take so much!

~ There had to be something more for me ~

Why couldn't Gene see what he was doing? There was so much more in the world if only he'd open his eyes. He needed a plan. He couldn't just run off after the dream. Dreams were good, everybody had to have one, but you need a plan too. Jim had a dream. But it had nothing to do with making it big or getting rich. It had everything to do with Gene though.

Jim's dream was to love Gene and have Gene love him back. Not like brothers or partners, but as lovers. He wanted Gene to kiss him and hold him at night. He wanted to be rocked while his tears flowed he wanted to be reassured by the gentle touch of a lover. He wanted all those things but knew he couldn't have them. He knew they were out of his reach and it hurt.

Gene would never love him as anything more than a little brother. Gene didn't even look at men that way. He was a ladies man. Jim had long since lost track of how many women Gene had slept with. Besides even if Gene were interested in men surely he would have taken up Fred's not so subtle offers long ago. Fred was an attractive man and as willing as they came.

And then here he was little Jim Hawking 11-year-old computer genius, just a kid. A cute little kid in Gene's eyes. One to mess up his hair and pinch his cheeks as if he were a toddler. Jim dragged his arm across those same plump cheeks trying to rid himself of the tears that were freezing on his face in the cold night.

~ Promises gone ~

No one had ever made Jim a promise that life would be kind. No one had ever taken him aside and said "Kid your life will be easy." But then again nobody had ever told him it would be this hard. He felt betrayed. Betrayed by the universe that had given him life. It had taken away his parents when he was still too young to understand death. Then when he finally realized that they wouldn't be coming back, that was the day he found Gene. That day had seemed like a promise, a promise of a bright future. He thought that with Gene around nothing could ever go wrong again. He had been so wrong. He felt betrayed. He felt as if the universe had broken some sacred promise. But how can one break a promise never made?

~ Plastic and stone ~

All around him were the dreams of others. Built in plastic and stone. Blood and tears. All around him there was evidence of dreams come true, but not his. Never his. He was destined to be alone. He may be a computer whiz but that didn't mean that he only needed machines as friends and companions. He needed more. He needed flesh and blood. Heart and soul. He needed it, but it seemed denied to him. No, there was no one for little Jim Hawking. Just hollow metal. A hollow heart. Just emptiness.

~ I'm doing fine all alone ~

He didn't know when he'd stopped. Couldn't tell where he was. He had no idea how he'd even ended up there. Wherever there was. All he knew was that he was curled up in a dark wet alley sobbing and rocking and trying to keep the chill from sinking into his bones. He just sat staring off at the blackness that was trying to swallow his heart. He wanted to fight it, but he didn't know how. He needed help, but he couldn't ask. There was no one to ask. He was alone. Always alone. He'd been alone before, he did it then, and he could do it now. He was fine. Just fine.

His eyelids were dropping. His sobbing was slowing. His heart was heavy, his soul was tired. Maybe if he just curled up for a little while. Maybe the darkness wasn't so bad. It was sort of numbing. Sort of nice. Jim yawned and his eyes slowly fell shut.

~~ So you're having a breakdown ~~

"Jim!" Gene called. He'd been searching for his partner for the last hour but still hadn't found any sign of him. He wasn't answering any comm. signals and Gene was getting worried. As a last ditch effort he was searching the Outlaw Star. "Gilliam have you seen Jim?"

"Not for hours Gene. I am worried. He was crying and laughing and he ran out by himself. My exterior temperature gauges indicate that it is not very good conditions for him to be running around." Gilliam replied.

"He was crying and laughing?" Gene asked.

"Yes Gene," Gilliam replied.

Gene's mind whirled. Crying and laughing? What could that mean? Something must be very wrong. Last time Jim had been laughing for no reason was that time he freaked out. That couldn't be good. Jim was always so level headed. That's what he loved about his young partner, he was so young yet so mature without loosing any of his childish innocence.

"Gene would you like to use the tracker?" Gilliam interrupted.


"I have taken the liberty of placing tiny undetectable tracking beacons on all of the crew," Gilliam admitted.

"You did?! How can I use that to find Jim! Tell me!" Gene cried frantically.

"Tune your watch to frequency 477beta2987designatecrewmember-JimHawking-8989. That will allow you to track him down." Gilliam explained.

"Thanks Gilliam! Wish me luck!" Gene said as he ran out the door.

"Good luck Gene. Bring Jim home safely."

~~ So you're loosing the fight ~~

Gene shivered even though his jacket provided him with some small protection, the cold air still soaked into his bones. He knew that Jim's jacket was thicker than his was but Jim had also been outside much longer. Gene raced through the streets chasing the elusive signal. Luckily it seemed to have stopped moving some time ago. At least he hopped it was luck and not something else. If anything had happened to Jim he would never forgive himself. If Jim was hurt or injured or broken in any way somebody would pay. He just hoped it wasn't too late because it may have only been his imagination but the signal seemed to be getting fainter.

~~ So you're having a breakdown ~~

Gene could not ever recall a time when Jim had lost his cool. He may have lost his temper but he was still Jim when it came down to it. Even the time on the bridge with Melfina, his little fit had lasted only a few seconds, barely the span of a few breaths. It had been quickly forgotten, which was probably a big mistake on his part. Apparently it had been a preview of things to come.

Gene was afraid for Jim. Jim was the only constant in his crazy life. Jim was the anchor that held him down, the voice of reason when his head said jump. Jim was everything to him. He couldn't possibly explain or describe his feelings for Jim to anybody. He always kept them locked inside for fear that life might take Jim away from him as it had taken his father.

He couldn't bear to loose Jim. He loved him. Loved him with all his heart. They were partners, friends, and brothers and on a deeper level they were something more. Although it was never spoken aloud. Never discussed. Never even hinted at other than in their hearts. There was something between them, something stronger then life or fate or destiny. But he never spoke of it out loud just in case life could take it from him. He kept it all inside. It was hard. But he managed.

~~ And I'm driving and crying ~~

The signal was louder now, but still slightly weak. Gene walked into a dark freezing alley. He shuddered as the walls seemed to magnify the chill in the air.

"Jim?" Gene called.

He got no response except for the scurrying of rats through the filth that lined the walls. He listened closely for anything else. Straining his ears. And then he heard it. A harsh labored breathing issuing from between to large and looming dumpsters. Gene shone a light between the stinking metal monsters. And there he saw a sight that froze his heart.

Jim was huddled between them looking so small, like the little boy he truly was. His lungs were struggling with the biting cold air. As Gene watched a harsh coughing fit wracked his small frame. Pulled from his inaction Gene rushed to Jim's side. He knelt down beside Jim and shook him frantically.

"Jim?!" he asked shaking the suddenly fragile seeming body. "Jim wake up!"

Jim sighed softly but his eyes remained closed and shivers ran through his body. Gene took his coat off and wrapped Jim in it. He ignored the cold that attacked his expose fleshed and picked up his precious burden. "Hold on Jim," he whispered.

~~ Unraveled and flying ~~

He ran out of the alley and burst onto the street pushing through the crowd. Looking around he noticed an idling car by the side of the road. He ran to it getting behind the wheel and immediately taking off without looking. Jim lay curled in his lap as he flew through the streets at speeds well over anything legal or sane. Jim suddenly seemed so small.

Gene looked down and was shocked to see tears on Jim's cheeks. But they weren't Jim's tears. They were his own! He was crying. Jim was sick, he was hurt, and there was something very wrong. Gene didn't know what it was. He didn't know how to help and for the first time in a long time he was scared. All it took was for one little thing to happen to Jim and he just seemed to unravel. That's what happened when you based your existence on one person, the slightest problem and the whole castle falls with the foundation.

Looking down at that beloved pale face Gene's heart skipped a beat. What would he do if Jim didn't make it through this? Gene shook his head trying not to think such horrible thoughts, the car wavered slightly and he barely missed the turn off to the spaceport. He ditched the car nearby and ran the rest of the way to the Outlaw Star.

~~ I'm coming to your breakdown tonight ~~

He'd never before attempted to step into Melfina's tank without her but if it would help Jim then he was going to do it. He sped through the ship making his way to the bridge.

"Gilliam open Melfina's tank!" Gene yelled as he made his way onto the bridge.

"Why Gene?" Gilliam questioned.

"Just do it!" Gene yelled as he made it through the door.

The hatch opened just as he arrived and he stepped onto the platform. The platform moved downward and Jim and Gene were swallowed by darkness. Suddenly they were surrounded by warmth. He could sense that their clothes were gone, to where he didn't know but they were naked in the fluid that cushioned them. He felt strangely comforted as if he were in his mother's womb. There was motion and then slits of light appeared. Gene peered out from the tank to look at the bridge. Jim shifted in his arms and Gene turned his attention to the task at hand.

He let Jim settle in front of him with their foreheads touching. Gene stared as Jim's face willing those eyes to open. Frown lines marred Jim's smooth face. Gene moved a hand up and brushed it gently across Jim's forehead. Slowly Jim's face relaxed. Slowly color began to flood his cheeks and his eyes began to flutter open.

~ I cannot run ~

Jim opened his eyes to find himself staring into Gene's concerned face.

//Where are we?// he wondered.

//We are in Melfina's tank// Jim heard Gene's voice echo through his head, but his mouth never opened.

Jim's eyes widened and he looked around. They were indeed floating in a greenish tinted liquid in the tank on the bridge.

//W-we're in the tank?// Jim's mind stuttered.

//Yes// Gene's voice confirmed what Jim already knew.

He panicked. He couldn't get out! This fluid was transmitting their thoughts directly to each other! His secret was bound to be discovered. Jim flailed uselessly and found himself caught in a strong pair of arms. He closed his eyes but he couldn't escape. He couldn't run.

~ I cannot hide ~

There was no place he could hide in this tank, not even within his own mind. If tears could be distinguished from the liquid that surrounded them then they were surly flowing from Jim's eyes.

//G-Gene// his mind whimpered.

Gene's hand caressed his cheek gently. He lifted his chin so that they were staring each other in the face. There was no way he could hide now. He daringly looked into Gene's eyes and was shocked by what he saw.

~ It came with me locked inside ~

The same feelings that were locked within his own heart were staring back at him from Gene's eyes. It was just too good to be true. It didn't seem possible. He must have died in that alley and now he was locked in eternal torment. That was it, this was hell and he was destined to be tortured for the rest of eternity. Gene shook his Jim's face, snapping him out of his spiraling thoughts.

//That's not true// Jim's mind spoke echoing through his own.

//But . . . you can't . . . it's not possible!// Jim said in disbelief.

//Isn't it?// Gene asked pulling Jim's face closer.

Jim shook his head slightly but froze when Gene's lips gently touched his own.

~ The bough will break ~

Jim's eyes widened as his dream came true. It was so much more than any simple kiss could ever be. Floating in this liquid that caused their thoughts to flow their hearts traded secrets. Jim was shocked to learn of Gene's true feelings for him and in return the depth of Jim's emotions and his pain surprised Gene. Since breathing was not necessary within the tank they stayed frozen like this for an indeterminate amount of time just absorbing this new knowledge, letting it wrap around their hearts.

~ Cradle will fall ~

//I'm sorry Jim. I didn't know// Gene finally said breaking the silence.

//It's not your fault.// Jim replied.

//Yes it is. I should have realized but I was too busy being afraid. Jim I love you. I want you to know that. You are my world! Without you I have nothing. I am nothing// Gene said, finally saying out loud what he had always kept hidden.

//Gene I . . . I love you too. I've always loved you, you are my . . . . You are my strength, the reason I keep going despite all the stupid things we get ourselves into// Jim admitted.

//I'm sorry Jim, I just never realized. You hide it so well.//

//As do you.// Jim replied. //I never knew what you had hidden in here// Jim said bringing his small hand to rest on Gene's chest, directly over his quickly beating heart.

//Let's make a promise then. Let's never hide from each other again. I don't think I could stand it if you locked it all up again and had another breakdown. From now on let's tell each other everything// Gene said.

Jim nodded some weight within him seemed lifted. //Yes, let's not hide.// he agreed.

//All right then. Jim Hawking, I love you// Gene said softly bringing his lips to meet Jim's once more.

//Gene Starwind, I love you too// Jim replied pressing his lips to Gene's. And in that moment they both knew that they'd never be alone again.

~ It only takes one call ~

The End!

Wow! *stares in awe at the fic* Thanks to my muse Mou-chan the whale who let me snuggle him the whole time. ^_^

Feedback please!! Pretty pretty please! With a cherry on top of Gene?!

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