Mission Accomplished
Chapter 3 - Failure

"Jupiter? He's gone."

Ethan felt his breathing stop, and he glanced up just in time to see the key to everything walk past with an expression somewhere between confusion and disgust. Ethan looked back at Jane, and there was acute pain in her eyes - the awful sting of failure.

"Did you jump?" he asked, as if he hadn't heard Brandt's frightened yell as he dropped down the shaft.

"SHOULD I NOT HAVE JUMPED??" came the indignant shout. "'CAUSE I JUMPED!"

Damn. "Stand by."

He walked as casually as he could to his "coworker", aware that her worst fear had just taken place. Failure. There was the slightest tremor in her hand as she reached for the hard liquor. This was it. The moment that could mean Jane accepting that failure and giving up completely.

Ethan gently, but firmly pressed the glass back down, and she looked at him with an almost helpless expression. It was as close as she'd come to tears since he'd met her. Though he hadn't known her for long, he had met her right after the death of her partner. She'd told him of Hanaway's death, and later, of the fact she'd never had the chance to tell Hanaway how she felt about him, and she'd never even come close to shedding a tear. She was the strongest member of his team, and he hated to see her feeling so crushed.

There wasn't much time for lengthy conversation - when was there ever? - but he looked deeply into her eyes, suddenly deciding on a bold move that could make or break the mission, and would hopefully convey Ethan's desire to comfort his teammate as well.

"I'm playing a hunch," he said softly. "Don't hit me."

She looked down, seeming surprised when he reached for her face. There was a little nervous laughter, but without hesitation, Ethan pulled her to him and kissed her tenderly. He could tell she was still shocked, but she yielded to him, opening herself to Ethan's kiss, and responding with an intensity that matched what he knew of her personality.

Ethan felt the presence of someone near them, and he pulled away from Jane slightly. They looked at one another, Jane seeming slightly breathless, and Ethan looking at her with as much confidence and tenderness as he could inject into his expression. The "phone master", or whatever he was called, stood nearby with a tray full of cell phones. A small, sparkly one was chiming. Jane, still slightly disoriented it seemed, took a few seconds to pick out the phone. "Hello?"

"My god." Ethan managed to keep from sighing with relief at the sound of Nath's voice through his earpiece. Jane gave him a look, somewhere between relief and gratitude. Ethan kept his eyes serious, letting her know, without words, that he had every confidence that the second time would be a success, and left her to her work.

Chapter 2
Chapter 4

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