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Life's Sweetest Reward

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Jared was with his back to the wall, literally. He growled loudly, swishing his tail through the air and trying to not let his fear show.

Of course he was scared. There were at least a dozen crew members brandishing any objects suitable as weapons in front of him and cutting off his escape route. He couldn't be sure what would happen if he surrendered; all the stories he had ever heard about stowaways being thrown out of airlocks were bouncing in his head and made him bare his long fangs.

There was no escape from a starship travelling through deep space, except in a rescue capsule, and he wouldn't be able to reach one.

The crew was screaming and yelling at him, making his ears twitch in a bid to understand. He could discern at least four different alien languages that he only knew one of. Then a voice exuding authority boomed through the narrow hallway and the crowd keeping him in check gave way to a tall humanoid.

No, it was a human, a genuine human, the first one Jared had seen from up close even though that race was scattered all over the star system.

Jared knew who that man was. During the past few days he had learned a lot about the chain of commands from his hiding places, and this man was at the top – the captain.

If he ever wanted a chance at surviving, he had to grovel now and beg for mercy.

“Easy, boy,” the captain said, using the same tone of voice Jared's mother used to soothe one of her pets when it was upset, but he was clearly poised to draw his blaster.

Jared slowly sank down to his belly, curling his tail around his legs and flattening his ears. Groveling wasn't something he liked to do but if he had to, he did it right.

“I'm begging for your mercy. I submit to your wisdom and superiority,” he said through his long fangs.

“Whoa, whoa! Easy, boy, easy!” The captain backed away, his hand jerking towards the blaster at his hip. The crew were raising their weapons in alarm.

Jared was confused. That was a correct submission, why was everybody ready to strike?

Oh wait. Vocal cords!

Blue-striped Naveran cats didn't have vocal cords, they communicated by growls and hisses.

A vocal tract was the first thing he formed so he could produce human noises.

“Refuge,” he croaked in the captain's language that he was lucky enough to know. “Asylum.”

It hurt to form his human body after being a cat-like creature for weeks. It must have been startling for onlookers to see the huge beast squirm and whine, shedding its coat in tufts until pale skin remained, and rearranging a feline spine and limbs into human ones.

When Jared was finished, he was a tall, lanky human with long fingers and big feet; malnourished from weeks in hiding.

Ugly, he knew.

“Holy fuck,” the captain said.

Jared was huddled on the floor at the captain's feet, shivering not only from the cold in the hallway, but also from fear, waiting for his verdict.

~~~~~

The captain's office was cluttered with things, mostly semi-finished models of star cruisers and cargo vessels. Jared didn't know much about ships and technology, his education had focused on raising children, but he knew that those models were not store-bought. Apparently, the captain used his free time to build starship models out of cogs and strips of metal.

While the captain was reading the doctor's report, Jared was standing in front of the desk, shifting from one foot to the other and fingering the too long sleeves of the plain shirt he had been given to wear. He took the few moments to eye him.

The captain was handsome, even for the standards of Jared's species. He had been taught that appearances were irrelevant, but he liked looking at the human.

There were little brownish dots on his face, mostly across his nose and cheeks. His eyes were the kind of green the plants on Jared's home planet showed during the winter period, and his hair was short and brownish, too.

The first thing the captain had ordered after Jared's capitulation was a medical exam. It was thorough and, of course, nothing was found except that Jared was malnourished, which was to be expected after hiding three weeks between storage containers and stealing food whenever possible.

When the captain was finished reading, he dropped the hand-held onto the desk and looked at Jared.

“All right,” he said. “You're healthy, that's something. And since you obviously understand me, we can start now.” Leaning forward, he propped his elbows on the desktop. “Who are you? Where do you come from?”

Jared was torn between telling everything and lying through his teeth.

The captain was looking at him expectantly, though, his green eyes not unkind.

Jared decided to tell as much of the truth as he dared.

“I'm... my name's Jared. I'm from Metal Una 4. I had to seek refuge on your ship from pirates on Moon 44. I'm asking for passage until your next landfall.”

A frown on the captain's face made Jared's insides knot in anxiety.

“There are pirates on Moon 44?” he asked, his voice cold.

“Yes. But I don't think you would have noticed them since you and your crew are heavily armed. They don't go after people that are able to offer resistance.”

The captain's gaze went far away for a moment, then snapped back to Jared, piercing him with his bright eyes.

“So, obviously, you're not human. What do you call yourselves?”

“I'm a Padaleckian, I'm a shifter.”

“A shifter?” The captain's eyebrows rose until they almost touched his hairline.

“Yes.” Jared's gaze was drifting to the floor. He couldn't talk about himself while proudly looking into someone's eyes. “I can shift my body into different forms for different reasons. I've been a Naveran cat for the past few weeks since they need the least sustenance.”

“You mean... there was a huge-ass cat on my ship for weeks and nobody noticed? Looks like I need to kick some asses.”

The captain cleared his throat.

“All right. Now listen up.” Oh crap, here comes the airlock. “I don't tolerate idleness on my ship, everyone that's not a paying passenger has a job. So do you know what a cabin boy does?”

So he was talking about the other option. Jared sighed.

“I want you to clean my ship. The mess, the galley, everything that needs cleaning. I'll give you a schedule and a bed. There are neither free rooms nor bunks aboard, so we'll set up a cot in the corner over there since the other cabins are too small for another bunk, and I can't accommodate you on the supply level, now can I?”

Jared was flabbergasted.

“You mean... no sex?”

The captain stared at Jared, slack-jawed.

“What do you... I'm... what? ” He seriously looked horrified. “I won't take advantage of a person that's at my mercy, on my ship! Do I make myself clear?”

Jared nodded, looking at the ground. He was relieved, and the tiniest bit disappointed.

“All right. Now that's clarified, let's get you settled.” The captain stood, then seemed to remember something. “Oh, by the way, I'm Captain Ackles.”

~~~~~

Jared had a problem with calling the captain Captain .

For one thing, he had to submit to his dominance and didn't want to be reminded of his weakness every time he addressed the captain. For the other thing, he wanted to use other terms, like, of endearment.

So in order to avoid a slip of the tongue, Jared didn't talk much and kept to himself, and since no one paid attention to the guy with the mop, he soon found out a few interesting things.

The captain's first name was Jensen. Apparently, he was on good enough terms with a few crew members for them to call him by his first name, and wasn't Jensen just a great name?

He gave off authority in waves. Whenever Jared was mopping the bridge, he was leaving with a serious boner, just from the aura of authority and competence.

Jensen... the captain packed some muscles. Jared could see the leg muscles working when he was mopping under the captain's chair on the bridge and Jensen... the captain was lifting his legs.

His arm muscles weren't half bad, either. Jared's mouth went dry when he saw Jensen's... the captain's bare torso after a fight in the galley. He didn't know what it was about, though he had the uneasy feeling it was about him. Mostly because the troublemaker was the crewman that was openly leering and making lewd comments whenever Jared was near. Anyways, that was how Jared knew that Jensen could throw a punch.

Still, he didn't use brawn to master his ship and crew.

After the fight, the captain... Jensen was sitting on a table, his feet propped on a chair, his tunic and shirt discarded, while Jared was mopping up the blood from the other guy's nose. The ship's doctor was dressing a cut on the captain's arm and Jared was checking Jensen out. NOT.

In the night hours, when he was lying on his quite comfy cot in the office, he was fantasizing about the human in the next room, of Jensen's strong thighs and hands, his perfect pale skin.

He was dreaming of the things Jensen would do to him, and when he woke, his body was hard and his heart hollow.

Jensen was so different from all the alphas Jared had ever met at home. They had been pushing and violent, and Jared didn't want to be owned by someone who considered him a breeder.

Jared was pretty sure that there were no human alphas but if he ever met one, it was Jensen. He knew he was pining, but he didn't dare act on it.

He also knew how pathetic he was. A pathetic, ugly failure of an omega.

~~~~~

A couple of weeks later, things changed.

Jensen was working at his desk, and Jared was cleaning the bedroom next to the office when he felt like he was being watched.

When he turned, he saw Jensen watching him, his chair turned so he could look straight through the connecting door. The captain looked pensive.

Jared swallowed nervously.

Jensen peeled off the mind-held from his temples, dropping it on the desk, and said, “Come here, Jared.”

Jared approached him cautiously. He only ever talked to the captain when he got assigned tasks, using as little words as possible, but Jensen didn't look like he wanted to talk about cleaning the floor.

Jensen looked... nervous.

“Someone told me, I mean, it was the first mate, the cook, and the doctor, and when more than one person tells you, then it must be true, right? I mean, I didn't notice but they did, and they just told me, so I think chances are good it's true, right? So, is it?”

Jared's mind was on the brink of exploding. “What?” he croaked, completely confused.

“You know,” Jensen rambled on, “there's no rule against relationships between crewmates as long as they don't interfere with their work. It's just too lonely here in deep space when you're gone for weeks or months. And since I wouldn’t be taking advantage of you when you're into it, and like, three people told me you might be into it. It could be great, you know, we could have a great time, no strings attached?”

Jared still was not processing all those words correctly. “What?”

“Sex?” Jensen asked, looking hopeful, his face flushed pink. “You wanna have sex? With me?”

Jared's breath hitched. “Yes. Oh Stars, yes!

Jensen's bearing changed. Gone was the nervousness and uncertainty.

“Come here,” he said, and there it was back in the growl of his voice, the authority that had been affecting Jared for weeks.

Two little words made his dick twitch and his brain melt.

He walked over and dropped to his knees between Jensen's legs.

“What if I wanted strings attached?” he asked.

“Even better,” Jensen replied and bent down, claiming Jared's lips. His strong hands cupped Jared's face, and Jared supported himself on Jensen's thighs.

They kissed until they had to stop for air, both of them breathing hard.

Jensen looked down on him. The green in his eyes was almost completely swallowed by the black of his pupils.

“Suck me,” he said, and Jared's finger immediately went to the fly of Jensen's uniform pants, opening it and taking out his gorgeous cock while Jensen's fingers slipped from Jared's face into his hair

Jared changed his human tongue into a cat's one, that was puckered and abrasive. He licked a stripe from the root to the crown, making Jensen suck in a breath.

“Holy-!” he muttered breathlessly, and Jared grinned.

Working Jensen's dick was easy, even though Jared had never done it before. He recalled the lessons about male human anatomy and imagined what he would like if he was the one being blown.

He licked long stripes along the shaft and sucked just the head, dipped his tongue inside the slit and swallowed the whole length until he almost gagged. It seemed to be good, though, concluding from Jensen's labored breath and the curses he uttered.

The fingers in his hair tugged at some strands but before Jared could act, Jensen came down his throat, and Jared swallowed all he could.

A bit of come trickled down his chin, and looking up, he saw a look of wonder on Jensen's face.

“Well, I can shift only parts of my body, too,” Jared explained, inexplicably feeling a bit shy.

His dick was straining against his pants’ fabric but his hand was pushed away when he reached for it.

“No,” Jensen growled. He took Jared's hand and guided Jared's finger through the come on his chin, then held it in front of his lips. “You come on my cock.”

Jared opened his mouth and licked his own come-covered finger.

“Can't,” he said, wishing it wasn't so. “I'm compatible to your species. I need birth control. Protection.”

“What do you mean, compatible?” Jensen's voice was raspy.

Drawing a deep breath, Jared took a leap of faith.

“I'm a male Padaleckian omega,” he said. “I can get pregnant.”

“You mean, with a child? You can bear children?”

Jared nodded his head and Jensen looked at him in silence for a moment. Then he said, “You're amazing,” and claimed Jared's mouth in another searing kiss.

For a minute, Jared was lost in Jensen's scent, his taste on Jared's tongue, his body heat against Jared's torso. His knees started to hurt, but he forgot about them the moment Jensen's fingers wrapped themselves around his dick.

Nearly taking Jared's pants off, Jensen rubbed his aching member through the thin fabric. He squeezed and stroked expertly while muffling Jared's moans with his mouth and tongue.

Jared came embarrassingly fast and when he came down from his high, he found his head leaning against Jensen's chest and his hands propped up on Jensen's knees.

“Amazing,” Jensen whispered against his ear.

~~~~~

Jared sat curled up so he could fit in Jensen's lap, his long legs drawn up almost to his chest, Jensen's arms holding him close to Jensen's body. It was a tight fit for both tall males in the chair but they managed.

Jared's head was resting against Jensen's shoulder. He wore clean clothes and felt safe in Jensen's embrace.

“I can take the form of four different species,” he said in a low voice, “including my own. It's the perfect mimicry, you can't tell me from a human being except for my reproductive organs. It's a rare feature in Padaleckian males, that's why my family wanted to marry me off to someone I had never met before. Commercial interests, you know?”

Jared knew he sounded bitter. He was raised to be a husband or consort, not a slave. He was expecting to have a say in who he was going to marry, not be sold to the highest bidder.

“That's why you ran?” Jensen asked in an equally low voice.

“Yeah. I ended up on Moon 44 and almost in the pirates' hands. It would have meant the same fate I was trying to evade, so I hid on your ship.”

“I'm glad you're here.” Jared could feel Jensen's arms tighten around him. “ I- I never felt the need to get closer to someone like I do with you. Being a captain on a deep space ship is hard. I told you about relationships between crew members, but it's still different for a captain. And you're in fact not part of the crew, you're a stowaway.”

Jensen's breath hitched with shock. “Oh Nebulas, I didn't pressure you, did I? I'd never...”

“No.” Jared chuckled and blew a little kiss on Jensen’s jaw. “I actually was quite unhappy I couldn't find a way to approach you after the speech you gave me. If I had known, we could have done this weeks ago.”

“Weeks! Stars, I can't wait to get my dick inside you and fuck you senseless,” Jensen growled.

Jared's dick twitched. Holy Fuck.

“Need to check my condoms first,” Jensen added, nuzzling at Jared's throat, “I think they might be expired.”

~~~~~

They weren't, at least not all of them.

Jensen was a considerate lover, as far as Jared could tell.

He had never had sex before; only knew about the process in a detached way through visual instruction. There had been no fun in watching two shifters screwing each other in different forms so he could learn. His parents wanted him to know what to expect but sex education had been, well, boring.

It was galaxies away from Jensen opening him up with his fingers, whispering dirty promises into his ear until Jared begged pleasepleaseplease. Then he was turned onto his stomach and being manhandled into the position Jensen wanted, a pillow shoved beneath his stomach.

“So gorgeous,” Jensen sighed, kneading Jared's ass cheeks. “And now let me make it good for you,” he added when Jared could feel something blunt prodding at his hole.

He flinched with a small choking sound. He was scared it would hurt, but at the same time he wanted to have Jensen inside him at once.

“Shhh,” Jensen breathed into his ear, “trust me. You rather face me?”

Jared shook his head. “No, I'm good, I'm good.”

Jensen's breath ghosted over Jared's neck and then Jensen bit into his ear lobe, distracting him for a moment when Jensen pushed inside.

Jared gritted his teeth. It was not quite painful, more like extremely uncomfortable.

“Relax,” Jensen said. He still waited for Jared to get used to the feeling before starting to move. And then- holy fucking Nebulas, Jensen hit that spot that made him see clusters of stars.

Jared came embarrassingly fast, followed soon by Jensen.

He was laying on Jensen's bunk, sweaty and unable to move, while Jensen stood and threw the condom away. Jared could hear him rummaging around in the small en-suite and wondered where the hollow was, the nothing that used to be lodged between his lungs.

For the first time in years he felt whole, safe.

The mattress dipped under Jensen's weight, Jared was pulled against Jensen's chest, and arms wrapped around him.

Jensen pressed a tender kiss against Jared's neck.

Jared knew Jensen would never hurt him, and falling asleep, he knew he could be submissive to this human.

~~~~~

Jared had to ensure the ship's doctor that his biology was close enough to a human's so drugs would have the same effect on him. Finally, the doctor prescribed him contraceptives, warning both of them it would take nine days to take effect, which made Jensen steal the biggest box of condoms he could find.

Jared could see the smug grin on Jensen's face on his way out, thinking the theft went unnoticed, though he also noticed the muffled chuckle the doctor gave, who did notice, and Jared couldn't help smiling.

They put the condoms to good purpose for the next six days.

Jared never felt happier. He got a new job as the doctor's assistant and nurse when she found that Jared knew how to care for fifteen species; the crew stopped eyeing him suspiciously and he tentatively started making friends; and the sex with Jensen was great.

But it was Jensen who made him happy. Jared felt cherished, even worshipped at times when Jensen tied his hands to the bed, kissing and touching every inch of Jared's body, and Jared trusted him.

When Jensen entered him after prepping him thoroughly, it felt like home. Jensen was home, and Jared avoided thinking past the next couple of weeks when they reached their destination and what would happen after.

They had six days until the perfect life they had shattered.

The crew was extraordinarily bustling. Jared was sticking his head out of the infirmary where he took stock, noticing the shortage of condoms.

“What's the matter?” he asked a crewwoman hurrying past.

“We have a rendez-vous,” she replied. “In fifteen minutes, Ambassador Gort will enter the ship.”

Jared paled. It can't be.

Returning to the infirmary, he crawled under a desk in a corner, trying to make himself as small as possible and vanish into thin air.

Some time later, Jensen's voice floated through the infirmary over the intercom, commanding him to come to the bridge.

But Jared couldn't.

He couldn't obey, couldn't even move his legs in order to stand, and walk, and flee.

There was no way to escape from the ship except through an airlock, but before the thought could take roots, Jensen's voice called him again, just one word, “Jared!” It sounded angry and scared, and Jared unfolded himself and stood.

He was walking in a daze, his feet moving of their own volition, his body drawing breath automatically. Somehow, he found the bridge though he couldn't remember getting there.

The crew on the bridge were wearing their full dress uniform. The captain looked pale and tense, his eyes shining when his gaze found Jared. But it was the person that didn't belong on the ship who drew Jared's eyes.

Gort.

He was humanoid enough to be compatible to Jared even though he looked more like a robot with his smooth, metallic skin that was completely hairless. He was huge and looking weirdly emotionless.

Jared stopped next to Jensen. He couldn't suppress the quiver running through his limbs, and Jensen's hand on his shoulder intensified it. Jensen's gesture surely was meant as supportive, but it only reminded Jared of what he was about to lose.

Gort was standing there for a few moments, staring expressionless, then he took a deep breath. Over his features flashed emotion that looked like anger?

“I think,” Gort said in a metallic sounding voice fitting his looks, “congratulations on your successful mating are in order. I will contact your parents regarding the bride price's refund, Lord Jared. Have a good day.”

And he left.

After scaring the living shit out of Jared, Gort turned, and clomped to the exit, and left.

So Jared did the next best reasonable thing, passing out.

~~~~~

When he came to, he was on an examination couch in the infirmary.

Jensen was sitting next to him, holding his hand. Noticing Jared was awake, he put a hand on Jared's head, rubbing his thumb over Jared's scalp.

“You need to come clean, Jared,” he said. His voice sounded brittle and tired, and Jared tried to detect the rejection that must have been there, and found nothing. “Why did the ambassador call you 'Lord'?”

Jared sighed. He should have told him everything from the beginning.

“I-I'm the fourth prince of the House of Padalecki. I won't be able to succeed to the throne, though, as I'm an o-omega.”

“Wait,” Jensen interrupted. “You mean you're royal?

“Uh, well.” Jared was scrutinizing his fingers, he just couldn't look into Jensen's face telling him what a failure he was. “You could say so. But in fact, I'm as royal as anybody else.”

The words got stuck in his throat, he had to force them past the lump in there, and they hurt. “I was raised to be a p-prize, to be bartered off to the person my parents thought to get the most out of, and I was okay with it, to some degree. But then they chose G-Gort and I just couldn't be obedient, not to him. H-he has twenty spouses and most of them are dead or m-mutilated by now.”

Jensen's fingers on his cheek made Jared notice that he was crying.

“That's why you ran away?” Jensen asked, no trace of derision or disgust in his voice, to Jared's amazement.

Jared nodded, snuffling. “Gort's- he's a powerful man. He owns a fleet of cargo vessels. That's why my parents chose him, he was supposed to transport mineral ores from our planet. But I-I looked into him and found that he m-marries once a year, sometimes twice.” Lifting his head, Jared looked into Jensen's eyes, trying to convey what he couldn't say. “Please, don't make me tell the stories I r-read about those poor people.”

Jensen cupped Jared's cheek with a warm hand, soft fingers trying to soothe his troubled mind.

“Jared, it's okay, he's gone now.”

“No, it's not. ” Jared's eyes grew wide in dawning horror. “It's not okay. He's going to reclaim the bride price from my parents and tell them where I am. They'll try to get me back home, they'll try to find another suitor.”

Jensen stopped him from jumping off the couch. “Jensen, I need to go. Now.”

“You can't go, not in your condition.”

“What? My- ?”

“You're pregnant.”

Jared's heart skipped a beat or five; when it resumed work, it went into overdrive. “I'm... I can't...”

“You're pregnant. Just a few days along, but there's a new life growing inside you.” Jensen was looking earnestly but still not repulsed. “My baby.”

Jared stared at him. This couldn't be true.

“But h-how?” He knew the answer before Jensen could reply. “The blowjob. The first one, before we had condoms and the pill.”

That was when Jared lost it. He slid down from the couch onto his knees and wrapped his arms around Jensen's feet.

“Jared? What-?”

“I'm sorry,” Jared breathed, fighting the sobs and tears that threatened to drown him. “I'm sorry, I didn't know. They never told me I could conceive that way. I'm sorry.”

Jensen was kneeling down next to him, cradling him in his arms, soothing him.

“It's okay, Jared. It's gonna be okay.”

Scrambling backwards, Jared untangled himself out of Jensen's strong, comforting arms and wiped at his eyes. There wouldn’t be tears, he wouldn’t be weak anymore.

“I'll be gone in a minute,” he said, “I swear you won't see me again, ever.”

Jensen's hand darted forward, grabbing Jared's wrist. “Jared! Wait!”

Jared froze. He stared at Jensen with wide, wet eyes.

“Jared, I don't want you to go. I'm- I want you. And the baby.”

Jared's eyes grew even wider. “Y-you want... me?

“Of course,” Jensen nodded. He took both of Jared's hands in his, cradling them. He looked serious, and Jared couldn't avert his gaze from those beautiful green eyes.

“Jared, I’ve always wanted to have a family. I grew up on a deep space freighter with my mom. My dad managed our company from our home on Planet X and I met him a few times a year. I never wanted that for my family, but it's hard to find a companion in outer space.”

Jensen drew a deep breath. “Honey, you're a gift from the stars. You're amazing. You're kind, and big-hearted, and strong, and most of all, you can give me the family I’ve always dreamed of.”

Jared was flabbergasted. He didn't resist when Jensen pulled him close, wrapping him in a tight embrace. Hesitantly, Jared raised his arms to hug Jensen back.

“You want me?” he asked under his breath.

“Of course I do, you oaf.” Jensen sounded amused. “I want you, I want the baby. I was so scared you'd leave me in ten days. But now, we can go home and take over my dad's business if you want. We can go to your home and strike deals with your family to transport their goods with his twelve cargo ships if you want. We can go to any planet and have a farm if you want.”

Pulling back, Jensen held him at arm's length. He was... beaming, his brilliant smile contagious. Jared could feel the pull at the corners of his mouth.

“If you want,” Jensen said, “me.”

“Yes,” Jared replied, “I do.”


~fin~