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(and everyone knows we aren't) meant to be

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but they'll only say again; good fences, make good neighbors.

 

 

Sometimes, these days, she catches herself waiting, still. Gaze trained to just outside of the fence as if they’re going to walk through, everyone left alive, in the sixty five seconds before someone calls for her from somewhere inside the camp.

It’s stupid; the way she’s taking up their terminology in her head, their young, hopeful delusions- our people- as if anyone can ever truly belong to anyone else.

Wick catches her staring, sometimes- some sometimes- and looks at her with a knowing expression that makes her skin crawl. It’s been a while since someone’s looked at her like that. She likes not being looked at like that.

“What?” she snaps, and thinks, unexpectedly, of an electric fence.

“Nothing,” he draws the word out, eight syllables, an amused upturn hinted at the curve of his lips.

“Good.” A staredown.

He’ll turn away first, at long last, when she’s already tired of holding his gaze (but it doesn’t feel like a victory, strange).

 

 

 

 

“Does it keep people out,” he asks, once, rotating the wrench in his hand with a practiced gesture. Inscrutable, at least to her. She never really learned how to read him, “or does it keep us in?”

“Hmm,” the faceshield visor makes him more difficult to hear, even if she’s listening. And anyway, she’s not listening. 

“The fence,” he says, there’s moderation in the tilt of his head, like he’s assessing her, “does it keep them out, or keep us in?”

“Well aren’t you just the new-age philosophical throwback,” she mutters, “who cares. It does whatever it’s supposed to do, either way.”

He laughs, “you’ve changed the era, Reyes. You’re the new-age beginning of capitalism, before the Roman civilization’s collapsed even.”

“I have,” she says, stabbing the radio panel she’s working on, with a particular viciousness that he always brings out in her, where she wants to do everything…more; be louder, try harder, stand taller- she can’t stand taller now, so, well. The safety precautions are annoying, it's a fucking panel, why does she even need the headgear; she build a bomb with her bare hands, “no idea what the hell you’re talking about. Or why you’re talking at all, when I’m fairly certain that you’ve been assigned work that needs to be finished before the planet implodes on itself and a new species has to start the cycle all over again.”

(Here's the thing; he doesn't radiate the urgency, the panic, she can feel in her bones. He has no reason to. He hasn't yet seen the things she has down here. He's not waiting in every hour of every day for people who may never come back.

And sometimes, she forgets she is too. Sometimes, in here, like this, she forgets too. And she can't possibly forgive him that.)

He keeps the wrench down on the table, finally, which is good because the stupid thing was distracting her, “you never have any idea what I’m talking about, Rey. That’s why I love you.”

Something in her stops, then, and for a moment, she almost turns around. Thinks of saying something dangerous.

The moment passes. She can feel his eyes on her resolute back. 

"And scene," he says.

 

 

-

 

 

The brace makes it easier to walk, but harder to turn. She doesn’t quite realize that till the fifth time she’s turning away from him, and it makes her leg twist awkwardly. Again.

“Did you do that deliberately?” she asks, the edge in her voice obvious, even to her (the ridiculousness of asking something like that obvious, even to her.)

“Of course I did,” he says, and leans back against the work-desk, his back hitting the wood with an audible sound, which makes her wonder, for a moment, if it hurt.

The casual ease of his movements makes her feel clumsier these days, more of a burden (and oddly enough, less of a cripple, as if his movements compensate for hers. Like the time she'd fallen ill in middle of their filter project, when her mother's rationed medicine quota was already over, and he'd completed her share of the work overnight and told her, with exhausted eyes and more than a hint of a swagger, that she owed him her first born.) 

“Well,” she says, because she'd been primed for a denial she could fight over, so obviously he'd changed the rules midway, the way he always did, “fix it.”

(The truth is; Finn was always home. Wick was- is- the unknown. She’s not much of an explorer, she thinks sometimes, even if it goes against stereotype. She’ll jump into a metal box for home, but she won’t walk those three steps of distance.

That would close the circuit, and she doesn’t even have a good enough visor to shield herself with.)

“Your wish,” he says, with an exaggerated bow, "is my command."

But when he looks up again, there’s something about his gaze that makes her drop hers, like the time her mother told her not to touch the boiling container, but couldn’t stay around long enough to make sure she didn’t- her mother’s lipstick was already wearing off- and then she did touch just to see what would happen-

(-and did again, later, just to see if it was an exception or always worked the same way- because things don’t always work the same way. If they did, trial-and-error would never succeed, and she was the youngest zero-G mechanic on the Arc in fifty two years; science, she believes in.)

"Yeah, well, if you'd just follow my commands, you might actually upgrade to third on the mechanic scale around here, because you're losing to none of the above in the use-value angle at the moment," she mumbles, half under her breath, but he hears still, the raised eyebrow, and slow, lazy smile, letting her know that he can tell when she's just sticking to script.

(He fixes it, later, and it’s strange how it makes something easier that she didn’t even know she didn’t want made easier. Because it feels more like winning when it’s harder to turn away, and she does anyway. And it feels a little like giving in, when it’s easier, and she still takes just as long.)

 

 

-

 

 

“You’re waiting for Finn.”

He says it like a statement, and it nearly makes her smile because honestly, she didn’t even know it was the truth till she says it then; “not only Finn.”

He nods, hands in his pockets, and for a moment he looks awkward, like the boy she remembers from years back on the Mecha Station, when she was even younger. 

He was a genius with his hands, she’d heard, an engineer worth the title. And she’d decided then, she would be better. Whatever she would be, she would be better.

“Here.”

The box in her hand feels strangely light, and when she opens it, there’s a roughly carved raven rotating on a disk. She can make out the faint, indistinct sound of whirring. It sounds like the Arc. Like the time she was twelve and fell asleep to the sounds of Mecha every night, and even when her mother was gone, it never felt like she was alone.

“What the hell does this do?” she asks, blankly, which is probably rude, but damned if she cares. Apparently the 'bitch' part? Just comes naturally.

He grins, “exactly what it’s doing right now. Nothing.”

“I’m glad,” she manages, tightly, her chest constricting for some reason, “that you have time enough to fuck around with useless stuff that does nothing when we can’t so much as manage to make functional radios that might do something if we could actually, you know, make them.”

"Raven," he sighs, and something in the way he says her name makes it sound like he's been waiting too, the same frustration she can feel in her crippled leg, and the thought of her peop- them- far away somewhere, like he might go crazy waiting, just like she's on the brink of, "just take it, okay?"

“I don’t need this.” She says, immediately, just to make it clear. She needed the brace, she'll admit, but she definitely doesn't need this. She's not stubborn, she's practical.

He falls down beside her, long- functional- legs, and grace, too. “You’re not wearing your necklace,” he notes, even though he isn't looking at her.

Her hand instinctively rises to the hollow of her throat, “those powers of observation will get you far in life, Einstein.”

He nods, like it’s an answer. She isn’t sure what the question was. Unfamiliarity is uncomfortable, and familiarity, even worse. He's not an either/or, she keeps forgetting; he's both.

“Maybe it’s good,” he answers, from long ago, shading his eyes from the sun, and her, “to sometimes get things that you can’t use and don’t need.”

She doesn’t know what that means either, but the warmth is making her too drowsy to care. It feels okay to let it go, this once. Just this once.

"I'm not a fence," she mumbles, defensive, eyes closing. Her leg's starting to hurt again, tiredness draining the fight out of her. She doesn't even know what she means now. And it's a lame thing to say, anyway, it's just opening herself up to his particular brand of sarcasm, making herself unnecessarily vulnerable to his-

"No," he says, simply, "you're not."

 

 

-

 

 

 

(She leaves the box open at night, falls asleep to the familiar sound of machinery in motion.

She’s still waiting, but it’s strange how it feels a little less like being alone.)