It all started about a year ago, about 3 months after Icarus II had set out on it's voyage. Everyone was awkward at first. Not meeting prior to starting the mission hadn't been a set back per se, but it definately would've helped out a lot. All of the crew were strangers and at some point they had to prove themselves capable of doing their job.
This problem didn't really occur often, but some of the crew were, for lack of a better word, naive. Sure, they had plenty of skill and knowledge, but the fact that the whole world depended on eight people wore down on their better judgement.
Mace had closely observed all each and every one of them. And this is how he saw them:
Intelligent, strong, and a natural born leader. Kaneda was always calm and virile. Mace respected him like he was his father. You could say him and Mace were on the same page (most of the time). They always did the logical thing.
Even though Kaneda always looked level-headed, he showed his utmost interest in other people's feelings and input. Kaneda truly cared about everyone and everything. He was completely selfless.
Quiet, forgettable, and useless. Harvey and his skill seemed pointless for their mission. Mace wasn't going to sugar coat it. He wasn't very bright, his input was somewhat selfish, and he was too wrapped up in going home ASAP.
It seemed as though he didn't care about the fate of humanity. He cared more about his well-being and Mace hated the way Harvey tried to make himself important, when in reality, he was anything but.
Smart, timid, and content. Trey always took everything with caution and analyzed every variable because, more often than anyone else, he made mistakes. Mace figured it only made him more human. He had some hope for the young prodigy.
Socially, Trey didn't seem very interesting or stand out much, but then again Mace wasn't really looking to make friends. Trey was probably the most awkward out of everyone.
Passionate, peaceful, and caring. Corazon was the type of person that enjoyed the little things, Mace thought. She loved natural beauty and she appreciated the tranquil calmness in the oxygen garden. She practically lived in there.
She was strong for someone who seemed pacifistic, but Corazon could also be strong willed. Mace felt that she was up to par with Kaneda or at least heading in the same direction.
Emotional, heavy-hearted, and weak. Cassie wore her emotions too often and it got in the way of logic. Mace saw her as weak and naive. She wasn't ready for what was being asked of her and avoided the truth of reality at all costs.
She was losing hope in humanity and hated herself for it. Cassie always looked for the most peaceful solution, even when it ended in the worst possible scenario for what the main objective was. She couldn't let go or make sacrifices.
Observant, noble, and serious. Searle was probably the best of all of them, even better than Kaneda. Sure, Searle's point of view was critical and contradicted Mace's logic most of the time, but Mace respected him as well.
Searle was an all around good person, but sometimes Mace thought he was a little obsessed with the sun. He was the psych officer, but at times he could be somewhat detached from humanity.
Insecure, stubborn, and beautiful. Capa is the somewhat better version of Cassie. His emotions get in the way, but he tries to keep his reasoning intact. Mace sees Capa struggling to do what's right and what's logical at the same time. He's perhaps a little too optimistic and Mace thinks he should be more sardonic and real.
Capa is weighted down with his payload and he sometimes wishes that he wasn't this important. Mace realizes Capa gets the most attention, which is only natural. He's intelligent and breathtakingly beautiful that it's almost unfair for everyone else. Mace both loves and hates Capa.
They were all in the dining area chatting over dinner, getting to know everyone a little better. Trey and Harvey talked to eachother a lot. Corazon usually talked to Kaneda and Kaneda talked to Searle. And it was obvious who Cassie talked to all the time. And Mace talked to no one, except for when it was work related.
He didn't want to get to know people, he wanted to do his job. He wanted to save the Earth.
Mace looked around the dinner table, silently eating his food, with critical eyes. He was sitting next to Searle so he felt somewhat safe, but he'd rather be in his room or working on Icarus. Every so often Searle would chuckle at something that was said and nudge Mace with an elbow. Mace would smile and nod and pretend to be interested.
Cassie was talking Capa's ear off. He didn't know whether Capa was actually captivated or just being polite. Mace hardly ever seen him smile. He seemed neutral most of the time and always disappeared to his payload. Capa looked over and Mace's eyes quickly darted back to his food.
This happened every night.
After a few a week or two Mace became more and more fixated with Capa. His eyes always wandered to Capa and he didn't always notice either. But with infatuation came jealousy. Mace didn't know it yet, but he was beginning to despise Capa hanging around Cassie.
He was sure that Cassie wanted to be more than friends and Mace didn't like it one bit. It started to show too. Mace would snap whenever they acknowledged him. He sometimes scowled at the other members too. Cassie and Capa were close, too close for Mace's liking.
And one day when him and Capa were in the same room together, alone, he was more on edge. Mace wanted to give Capa a piece of his mind, but what would he say? And why? Hating Capa for an irrational reason didn't blow over too well in his head, so he waited for something. Anything. If Capa made a remark it would give Mace a reason to lash out his pent up anger. But Capa said nothing.
In fact, Capa was keeping his distance from Mace and avoided eye contact. Did he intimidate Capa? Sure, Capa looked scrawny, but that didn't necessarily make a person weak. Maybe he hated Mace just as much Mace hated him. Maybe Capa wanted to say something about his sour behavior, but was playing peacekeeper. Maybe Capa was just oblivious.
Either way, it began to gnaw at the back of Mace's mind. He was itching to just punch something. He felt invisible. Like an outsider. Mace was leaning against a wall watching Capa move around the other side of the room. And when Capa paused, Mace smiled internally. Capa realized he needed something on Mace's side of the room.
Capa straightened up and walked over to where Mace stood with crossed arms. When Capa got near Mace he cleared his throat as if to tell him to move. Mace didn't seem to take the hint and Capa sighed.
"Excuse me, Muse," Capa huffed.
"It's Mace," he bit out
Mace's face heated up. He didn't even know his name. Capa stared blankly at him with ice cold eyes, his lips pursed together in ignorance. Without a word, Mace balled up his fist, arched back, and extended his arm forward. Mace's fist connected against Capa's defined cheekbone and knocked him off his feet. Capa literally didn't know what hit him. It dazed him for a moment, he was in shock.
Capa's hand covered his cheek and he stared at Mace in disbelief. Mace was towering over him and he scrambled to his feet. He lunged at Mace with a uncoordinated fist and landed a hit to his chest. Mace recovered and grappled with Capa's lithe form. They grabbed at eachother and slammed into the walls. They fell to the ground and Mace was on top of Capa between his legs. Capa wouldn't be able to knee him. He was open and vulnerable.
Mace hit Capa a few more times before Harvey and Searle came in to pull them apart. Their breathes were labored and heavy and they groaned when they were held back.
"Bet you'll remember my name now, you son of a bitch!" Mace yelled.
"How the fuck was I suppose to know?! You never talk to anyone and you treat people like shit!"
Searle's grip on Mace fumbled a bit when Mace broke free a little to get at Capa. They were parted farther away from eachother and Searle took Mace by the arm and lead him away. Mace and Capa cursing at eachother as they were separated.
Mace was taken to Searle's office to cool his heels. He sat across from Searle who eyed him curiously. Searle's arms were crossed over his chest and he shook his head. Mace had his head down, away from Searle's gaze.
Mace had been evaluated by Searle before. Hell, he probably knew Mace better than anyone else, even himself. Searle remained silent for a few moments, as if waiting for Mace to calm down. Searle didn't think Mace would lash out against him or get mad at him, they had an understanding of the other and Mace respected Searle.
"Why'd you hit Capa?" Searle asked.
"I already told you," Mace said lowly.
"Just because he didn't remember your name? Next you're going to tell me he punched you first."
"I'm not afraid to admit I hit him first."
"Then what are you afraid of? What aren't you telling me?" Searle's stare was so piercing, Mace had to look away. "I can help you, Mace. You have to give people a chance to know you."
Mace exhaled loudly and licked his lips. Searle was too observant for his own good. He was finding out things Mace didn't realize yet. Searle leant forward and lowered his voice.
"Do not overrate what you have received, nor envy others. He who envies others does not obtain peace of mind," Searle recited.
"You're really going to use Buddha against me?" Mace smirked.
Searle smiled and nodded. "Two hours in the Earth room should do you some good," Searle said changing the subject.
Mace stood up and wondered what Searle knew, that he didn't. Envious. Of what? Mace entered the Earth room. He hasn't been in here before. Anything could happen. The doorway was sealed off and the simulator powered on. Mace stared with wonder.
The next few days Mace avoided Capa at all costs. He'd already have to see him during meals, so he made sure to ignore him. His eyes, on the other hand, had different plans. He couldn't help the way he was drawn to him.
The times he had to be around Capa were unbearable. Mace practically molested Capa with his eyes. He'd absentmindedly lick his lips and and rake his pale eyes over Capa's hunched over form. He loved it when Capa bent over, but Capa could always feel eyes on him.
"What are you looking at?" Capa said, voice stern. Capa stood up and turned toward Mace. Mace was staring at him intensely, fiddling with the mainframe.
"An asshole." And technically, it was the truth (sort of).
"What's your problem?" Capa had his hands on his hips and his eyes were on fire. Capa was pissed and demanded an explanation for the past few weeks.
"I don't know if you can tell by the bruises covering your body, but you're my problem," Mace snarled. He stood up abruptly and stalked over to Capa.
They were in eachother's faces and Mace could feel Capa's breath against his face. The atmosphere had tension and it almost felt intimate. Capa's cheeks were flushed slightly and Mace's gaze dropped to Capa's lips. He wanted to kiss Capa then, but he didn't.
They stood like that for a few minutes, staring eachother down, and waiting for the other to make a move. Nothing happened. Capa scrunched his eyes and tilted his head to the side.
"Aren't you going to hit me?" Capa whispered
"Is that what you want?"
Capa inched forward a little and Mace's breath caught.
"It's what YOU want," Capa stated. "Because YOU just HAVE to be the alpha male right?"
"Fuck you, Capa!" Mace barked. "Why don't you run off with that whore of your's?"
Capa hit Mace and Mace hit Capa, etc., etc., etc.
"Have you tried talking to him?" Corazon asked.
Capa shrugged. "Of course I have."
"Really talked to him?" Trey inquired.
Capa exhaled. He had a black eye from the last time Mace hit him. Cassie was rubbing circles on his back, trying to be soothing.
"Have you?" Capa countered. "He's impossible! Can't Kaneda or Searle do anything?"
"Not really," said Trey.
"Yeah, Mace is good at what he does. Can't just keep him in the brigg for three years." Harvey had a point.
"I don't believe this! So Mace just gets away with assaulting Capa?" Cassie complained.
"So it seems," Corazon says softly.
And no one said anything else after that.
Capa spent most of his time in the payload after that. Everyone started to drift away from Capa and the only time he was seen was at meals or when he was needed. And it was all Mace's fault. Everyone was worried.
"Sir, you have to do something," Cassie pleaded. "He's going to kill Capa if he gets the chance."
"And Capa's always locked away on the payload," Trey commented.
Kaneda sighed. He knew exactly what's been going on around Icarus. He knew Mace was a hot head and had some problems, but the only way to resolve the problem would be for Mace to apologize to Capa and vice versa.
The rest of the crew knew this too and they confronted Mace the next day. All of them, including Kaneda.
"He hates me," Capa whispered. "And I have no idea why."
Searle reclined back in his chair and nodded knowingly. Over the past few weeks Searle's been noticing the way Mace stared at Capa. Hunger. Like he longed for Capa. And then there was Cassie. Pure hatred. As if he wanted to slit her throat.
"Have you been hanging around Cassie a lot?" Searle asked.
"Before, yes. Not recently though." Capa said slowly. "What does she have to do with this?"
"Possibly everything," Searle said honestly.
"If there's something you know, Searle, please tell me." The "please" was strained and desperate. Capa's bright eyes were begging.
Searle cleared his throat. "In my opinion?" Capa nodded hastily. "In my opinion, I think Mace might be jealous."
Capa's face contorted into confusion. "Jealous? Of what?"
"Think about it, Capa. I've told you too much already."
And Capa left Searle's office right after that. He made his way down the sterile, metal coridoors and hooked a left to his room. He wasn't hungry, so he skipped dinner tonight. And when he laid down in bed that night he thought about all the hateful things Mace was capable of.
He noticed that Mace was more uneasy when Cassie was around, but only lashed out when they were alone. And yet, Mace had stared at him continuously. Everything was backwards with Mace. He hated him, but stared at him as if he was the most delicious thing on the planet.
Searle said Mace was jealous, but Capa didn't know what of.
As Capa drifted off to sleep he promised himself he'd just confront Mace tomorrow. He didn't care if he was hit again. HE JUST NEEDED TO KNOW WHY HE WAS BEING HIT IN THE FIRST PLACE!
Capa curled up in his covers and shut out the cold confines of his metal world. And in the shallowest part of night, he dreamt of Mace.