“What are you doing?”
The small voice coming from nearby made Mick turn, he looked around the kitchen his eyes finally settling on the boy sitting beneath the table watching him. Other than the crew’s individual quarters the only parts of the ship Rip had banned Jonas from without supervision was the lab, the armoury and engine room, so he basically had free reign of the ship. This meant the kid kept turning up in odd places.
“I’m feeding Axel,” Mick said.
Mick stepped out the way slightly showing Jonas the rat in the cage, “That’s Axel.”
Jonas crawled out from under the table, still staying back from Mick, his eyes studying Axel intently before he asked, “Why do you have a rat?”
“He’s my pet,” Mick told the little boy.
Jonas frowned in thought and continued to watch. Mick finally turned to the kid motioning him closer. Uncertainly Jonas took a few steps forward and Mick knew he would happily pound the man who had made the kid so afraid of people.
“I’m going to sit you on the counter,” Mick told him, “Okay?”
Nervously Jonas nodded and only stiffened slightly when Mick picked him off the ground settling him on the counter beside the cage.
“I’ll be on missions at times,” Mick said, “So when I’m not here, can I count on you to give Axel his food and water?”
Jonas nodded eagerly.
“Okay,” Mick nodded back, “Then watch carefully.”
“Captain,” Gideon spoke up interrupting Rip studying the anachronism map, “There is something I think you should see.”
Turning to the screen Rip stared in surprise to see Jonas and Mick talking. Mick knew who Fielding was, and how he’d treated trainee Time Masters, so knew exactly how he would have treated the little boy. Gideon let him listen in to the conversation and Rip knew he would have to thank Mick.
Over the past few days he and Sara discussed the best way to start the team working, they checked the anachronism map Eve had provided and pulled together a plan. Part of him didn’t like the fact that he would mostly have to stay behind on the ship during missions, but Jonas was his priority and Rip was never losing his son again.
“Gideon, where’s Sara?” he called.
“Miss Lance is currently going through her daily work-out,” Gideon replied, “Do you want me to call her?”
Rip shrugged, “No, I need a break. I’ll go find her.”
Standing, and stretching to relieve his stiff muscles from sitting too long, Rip started through the ship. Passing the lab he could hear Ray and Martin discussing a new theory, loudly and enthusiastically, making Rip smile to himself. Jax was in the engine room while Nate was in the library.
Reaching the room Sara was using he paused in the doorway waiting for her to finish the sequence she was working through. She turned, catching the bottle of water Rip tossed to her.
“I have an anachronism for us,” he told her, “It should be simple to start with and allow the team to get their feet wet again.”
Sara nodded, “Give me five minutes.”
Rip opened the comm link as the team headed out to deal with the minor anachronism that they had picked to deal with first. Jonas was in the parlour doing some puzzles with Gideon to keep him occupied. They were in 1870 looking for a level one anachronism which he hoped would ease the team back into their rhythm. He and Sara had discussed the plan before sending the team out, so he hoped that experience had taught them to be less reckless.
“Say that again,” Rip demanded when Sara reported what they’d found.
“It’s a Sabre-tooth Tiger,” Sara repeated, “In PT Barnum’s circus.”
Rip sighed, “Well that is not good.”
“Ray tried to miniaturise it,” Sara continued, “But…well,” she sighed, “He sneezed and it got away.”
“I’m not even going there,” Rip noted before asking, “Any ideas how to find it without it eating any or all of us?”
“I have one,” Sara replied, “But you’re not going to like it.”
It took his a few seconds to catch up with her thinking but, when he did, Rip sighed, “This mission only. She needs to return to her own time. Her destiny is something that cannot be changed, or the consequences could be immense.”
“I know,” he could practically see Sara roll her eyes at him, “I’ll take the Jumpship and pick her up.”
“Send the rest of the team to do some reconnaissance in the town,” Rip told her, “Remind them to be discreet.”
“Other than the pre-historic cat,” Sara noted, “It is safe enough for Jonas to go out for a walk. You can let him off the ship for a while.”
Rip mused on this for a moment before he nodded, “You’re sure?”
“It’s just a small town with a circus,” Sara replied, “It’s fine.”
Glancing back at his son Rip smiled, “Maybe once I know the man-eating cat is taken care of.”
“Welcome back, Miss Jiwe,” Rip greeted Amaya as she stepped out of the Jumpship, “Thank you for agreeing to help us.”
Amaya gave a soft nod, “It’s good to be back,” she paused when she spotted Jonas hiding just behind Rip, “Although the crew seem to have become shorter than before.”
Rip smiled and motioned his son to join him. Jonas instantly moved, watching the stranger intently.
“Amaya, this is my son,” Rip introduced catching her surprised look, “Jonas, this is our friend. Amaya. She’s going to be helping us.”
Amaya gave the boy a smile, offering her hand to him, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Jonas.”
Nervously Jonas took it and shook it quickly, his eyes caught her necklace and he studied it intently.
“Daddy,” he tugged Rip’s sleeve before whispering, “That’s one of the Zambesi totems. I read about them with Mummy.”
“You’re right,” Amaya told him, “Maybe later I can tell you about this and what gifts it gives to me.”
Jonas smiled and nodded. The thirst for learning he’d inherited from both his parents shining in his eyes.
“Firstly,” Sara spoke up, joining them, “We need Amaya to help with our little problem.”
Rip nodded, “The others are waiting for you.”
“Ray says he has an idea for holding the beast until we can get it to where it should be,” Sara noted as they started out, “Want to place a bet on if it works or not.”
Rolling his eyes, Rip started back to the bridge, Jonas at his side.
Jonas wandered the corridors of the Waverider looking for a good place to read his book. Daddy was on the bridge, in a very bad mood because the others were doing something in the town that was, in Gideon’s words, extremely reckless. He didn’t like being around either of his parents in a bad mood, they tended to find him chores to do so Jonas was going to make sure there was no chance of that.
Reaching the brig, Jonas smiled to see that Sara was there but confused as there was an unknown man sitting in a chair looking worried. He decided not to interrupt her, Daddy had told him that the others had jobs on the ship, so if they were busy then he wasn’t to disturb them.
Jonas knew however there was a spot just above this room that was nice to curl up and read in, it was one of his favourites. As he started to make his way there, quietly so he didn’t disturb Sara another woman appeared through a portal.
Keeping hidden, Jonas listened to the two women talk angrily at one another before suddenly they were fighting. Dropping his book Jonas ran through the corridors to find his Daddy to help Sara, he frowned when he found the bridge was empty.
“Gideon?” he called, “Where is he?”
“Captain Hunter is currently in your quarters,” Gideon told him.
Jonas nodded thanks and began to run again. Running in he grabbed his daddy’s arm and cried, “A woman is trying to kill Sara.”
Rip was trying hard to not run off the ship and sort the team out. Nate would be getting a reminder of protocol when this mission was over for his stupidity. With the appearance of the random Time Bureau Agent who Sara was currently talking to, this supposedly easy mission had turned out to be anything but. He entered his room and nearly tripped over Jonas’ shoes making him sigh. Kicking them under the table he threw his jacket onto the bed, pushing his hand through his hair taking a few deep breaths.
Part of him wanted to just stay in here, in the peace and quiet. To forget what they were here to do.
“Captain,” Gideon said softly, “You appear to be uneasy. Is there something I can help with?”
Rip shook his head, “Just…I just need a few moments.”
Gideon didn’t reply straight away but he could feel her worry.
“Do you wish to talk about it?” she said, “I know you are doing your best to remain strong for Jonas, but you must not neglect yourself. I have seen your dreams, that you dream of what was done to you by…”
“Daddy,” Jonas suddenly burst into the room interrupting her, “A woman is trying to kill Sara.”
Rip stared at him, “What?”
“A woman is trying to kill Sara,” Jonas said again, panic and fear in his eyes.
Rip pulled the boy into his arms and hugged him, rubbing circles on his back calling, “Gideon?”
“A member of the Time Bureau has come onboard in response to our request regarding Agent Green’s presence in this time,” Gideon reported, “She and Miss Lance are currently engaged in a rather vicious fight.”
Rip sighed, “Oh for pities…” he trailed off and pulled back from his son, “I’m going to check on Sara. I want you to go to the parlour and wait there for me.”
Jonas nodded, screaming when the door opened to a full-sized sabre-tooth tiger coming towards them.
“Gideon,” Rip snapped, yanking Jonas back as the cat leaped hitting the force-field Gideon erected quickly. The door closed and Rip hugged Jonas to him tightly, “What the hell?”
“The shrinking effect Dr Palmer used on the creature appears to have worn off,” she told him.
Rip rolled his eyes as he sat Jonas on the bed, “I noticed. Why didn’t you tell me before now?”
There was a pause before she replied, “There was interference to my sensors, I believe must have been energy given off when the creature returned to its full size.”
Letting out a sigh of annoyance Rip turned to his son, “I want you to stay here…”
“No,” Jonas cried cutting him off, “Please don’t go out there.”
Rip pulled his son close hushing him before saying, “I need to check on Sara, and help her. But,” he said before Jonas could say anything, “I won’t be going out the door. Despite your mother’s insistence I don’t think things through I have a plan.”
Jonas gave him a slight smile before the fear filled his eyes again, “I don’t want you to go.”
“Okay,” Rip rested his hands on his son’s shoulders, “Gideon, please bring the ship’s schematics up on the screen,” when the requested outline popped up, Rip turned Jonas to the screen, “Alright, Gideon. Place my heat signature on the screen so Jonas can see me wherever I go.”
The small red dot appeared.
“You will see where I am the entire time,” Rip pulled him close and murmured into his hair, “And I will be back very soon. Okay?”
He could see Jonas was still worried, but the boy nodded.
“Gideon,” Rip called as he opened the entrance to the conduits running through the ship, “No one enters or leaves this room until I say,” climbing up Rip gave his son a quick nod before replacing the hatch and adding, “Keep him safe, Gideon.”
Rip crawled through the conduits of his ship, not for the first time in his career although never to avoid a prehistoric cat before. He dropped down into the brig frowning to see Sara going toe to toe with Agent Sharpe. Thankfully the prehistoric cat was now trapped inside the actual cell making him sigh in annoyance they’d worked together for that brief period of time before fighting again.
He needed a drink.
“Enough!!!” Rip snapped, both woman stalling at his order, “Sara, please go and assure Jonas that you’ve not been murdered by an intruder while I speak to Miss Sharpe. Gideon, you can allow her inside the room.”
Sara threw a look at the other woman before she nodded softly and left. He was surprised but relieved she didn’t argue with him before turning his attention to the woman standing there stiffly with anger in her eyes.
“Director Baxter told me when you were assigned to be our liaison that I could count on your professionalism,” Rip stated coldly.
Agent Sharpe frowned, “Captain Hunter, I came here to collect Agent Green from your custody where you have him in the brig.”
“I told Director Baxter we would be here,” Rip replied, “Agent Green should not have been interfering with our mission. Miss Lance was merely discussing why he was in this time period when he shouldn’t be. When I asked for you to contact us,” Rip continued, “Then you should have opened the portal to my location, not Miss Lance and you should not be acting like a child getting into a fight with her.”
“The Waverider is my ship,” Rip stopped the Time Bureau agent before she could get another word out, “And I deal with all matters relating to your Bureau. Not to mention you were fighting in front of my son and scared him that someone was attacking one of the few people he currently trusts.”
She shifted uncomfortably, “I apologise if your son was upset but my job is to ensure that your people are doing things correctly.”
“Might I remind you, Miss Sharpe,” Rip stated darkly, “I was a Time Master, the same as your current bosses. Trust me I have much more experience than you or any of your colleagues in making alterations to the timeline. If you do anything like this again, you will find out why your Bureau were so concerned that they couldn’t find me.”
“Sara,” the relieved cry sounded as soon as the door to Rip’s quarters opened and Jonas came running at her.
Catching the boy Sara was stunned by how tightly he was holding onto her.
“Hey,” she soothed, hugging him back, “I’m okay. I promise.”
Jonas looked at her intently, as though checking to see if she was hiding an injury, “Are you sure she didn’t hurt you?”
Smiling fondly at the little boy Sara pressed a kiss to his forehead, “She didn’t hurt me. I can take care of myself but,” she added quickly, “Thank you for sending your dad to make sure I was okay.”
Jonas gave her a shy smile.
“Sara?” Rip’s voice came from behind her. Jonas instantly let go of her and ran to his father, Rip automatically crouching to catch the boy, “Our friends have returned home. If you would please fetch the team, make sure everything is squared away and we can get out of this place.”
Sara nodded, she patted Jonas on the back as she headed past them turning back when Rip called her name.
He smiled amused at her, “Next time, please flirt on your own time and not during a mission.”
Before she could protest, he and Jonas disappeared heading up to the bridge. Annoyed that he had got the last word in Sara touched her comm.
“Guys,” she called as she walked to the cargo bay, “What’s your status?” Listening to the chaos on the other end of the comm, Sara sighed, “I’m on my way.”
Rip sighed, leaning back in his chair as Nate left the room. He’d tried to argue that it hadn’t been his fault Barnum had caged several of his teammates, but Rip cut him off quickly.
“You did not hold back with Nate,” Sara said as she took the other seat, a bottle of beer in her hand.
“He was reckless and childish,” Rip reminded her, “I understand the fact Miss Jiwe’s termination of their relationship was upsetting but it does not excuse his behaviour.”
Sara nodded, “I know. I added my disappointment to yours. Ray is consoling him that he got a slap on the wrist from both of us.”
Rip chuckled softly before he sighed, “It was not the nice easy mission I hoped to ease the team in.”
“We’ve been out of the way for a few months,” Sara shrugged, “It’ll take a little time for everyone to get their rhythm again.”
Rip looked at her with an amused smirk.
“I said nothing,” Rip replied, taking a drink of his tea.
Frowning annoyed at his amusement, Sara decided to change the subject, “Jonas was really upset that Sharpe and I were fighting.”
“Of course he was,” Rip shrugged, “You are basically his big sister now. You sneak him chocolate,” he chuckled at the innocent denial on her face, “I’m not an idiot, Sara. Not to mention you remind him he’s safe and I’ve seen you play games with him. He’s getting to know the others, but you are the first person I told him he could trust. Who I trusted to be around him.”
Sara smiled at that.
“You do know it’s who you are to all the team,” Rip reminded her, “Their big sister. The one who looks out for them.”
Her smile became slightly bigger but also shyer, the compliment surprising her.
“It’s getting late,” Rip noted, “I need to make sure Jonas goes to bed. Goodnight, Sara.”
“Night, Rip,” she called as he left the parlour.
Jonas was brushing his teeth under Gideon’s watchful gaze, already in his pyjamas but Rip could see he was not going to go to sleep easily after the day they’d had.
“Time for bed, Little Man,” Rip smiled, once Jonas had finished.
Jonas looked up at him, wide-eyes and adorable innocent face reminding Rip so much of his mother that his heart ached.
“Do I have to?” he asked hopefully.
There was a time when Rip would have instantly given in to the plea and it would be Miranda who would tell him no. But he had no choice but to be responsible these days.
“Yes,” Rip told him, “It’s late and you’re tired.”
“I’m not,” Jonas protested. A yawn completely ruined the boy’s attempts to prove otherwise.
Rip crouched down to look his son in the eye, “I know today was scary but everyone is safe, and Gideon has the ship locked so no one can come onboard without my agreement.”
Jonas glanced up, “Really?”
“Of course, Master Hunter,” Gideon assured before adding, “Perhaps if your father tells you a story then that will help you sleep?”
Rip smiled at the suggestion, “That’s a great idea. Jonas?”
A small pout appeared on the boy’s face as he thought over the proposal before he asked, “Can it be a story about the others and your adventures with them?”
“I think I can do that,” Rip smiled, “Climb into bed.”
Jonas pulled back the covers and slid under them. Rip intended to pick up a bed for Jonas the next time they were in the right time period and soon. He loved his son, but Jonas tended to kick in the middle of the night. However, he knew it might not be very easy to separate Jonas from him at night for now.
The little boy had nightmares most nights so even giving him his own bed, Rip knew Jonas would need to be in the same room as him for some time.
“So,” Rip sat on the bed beside his son, “How about I tell you of when the team had to win a horse race to stop Time Pirates?”
Jonas nodded, cuddling down into his pillow and waiting.
Rip smiled, “I was very surprised to learn that Sara not only knew how to ride a horse but could also shoot a bow and arrow at the same time…”