Jean squinted in the blinding California sun as the automatic doors of the airport shut behind him. He shouldered his duffle bag and tightened his grip on his suitcase and swept his gaze over the sea of cars entering and exiting the drop off zone. Jean exhaled slowly and looked for the yellow Jeep Jeremy told him to expect. The five-hour flight had been the first time in months he had been truly alone. With the smell of the ocean on the breeze, the warmth of the sunshine, and the cheery palm trees, California seemed like something out of a dream. Untouched and untainted like a blank canvas.
He couldn’t shake the thought that had been obsessively floating around his mind since take off. Was he just walking into another nightmare? Walking in of his own accord, an unknowing lamb led to the slaughter?
It didn’t take long before he spotted the bright vehicle or it’s equally sunny driver. Jean used the time to take in the sight of his new captain. Jeremy was staring at his phone, his attention focused on the text he typed out as he leaned against the hatchback. The blond looked relaxed in his aviators. His broad shoulders, bared by his tank top, sported a tan. At the sound of Jean’s approach, Jeremy glanced up and grinned at his new Backliner. Pushing up his sunglasses, his gaze fell to the 3 inked on Jean’s cheek, but his smile didn’t waver
“Jean! Welcome to California. Let me get your bag.”
Jeremy opened the trunk and stowed Jean’s bags in the trunk. When he slammed the door shut, his eyes crinkled with a soft smile.
“Ready to go?”
Jean nodded and wordlessly turned towards the unlocked passenger door. As Jeremy crossed over to the driver’s door only then did his smile falter. Two minutes in and he was already getting the silent treatment. He took a steadying breath before climbing in to join his new teammate.
Jeremy spared a glance Jean’s way as he started the car. Jean sat still, staring out the window. A living statue of what Jeremy imagined was a practiced state of calmness. No, not calmness, control. Not a fidget of anxiety or pent up energy that Jeremy was all too familiar with, this was just…nothing.