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Please Don't Leave Me

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"Catherine? …. Catherine?" He's pleading, and too afraid to make a noise any louder than a whisper. Not that it does, anything. Catherine stays silent. There's a message on the screen, it scrolls and the text is corrupted somehow. And then it's static, the message in large, bold font at the top followed by a garbled list of what might have been detailed message failures if they hadn't been disrupted by the disconnect, or the corruption, the deletion… What does an angry program do when it's had enough anyway? Over heat, over work, over --

Simon doesn't have a clue. What he does know is the only thing left on the screen that's at all readable.

CRITICAL FAILURE.

Fuck.

"What now? Catherine?"

He doesn't know how to fix a goddamn thing. If he'd been paying attention, maybe he could've asked Catherine to teach him a thing or two. She could've shown him how to do something other than carry the omnitool from place to place, waiting on her to work her technical magic on whatever system they encountered. He's no doubt that Catherine would know what to do if she were here. She could fix it-- her-- Though truthfully, he must admit that if he'd been paying attention at all, he wouldn't have gotten so mad in the first place. He would've recognized what was happening. It's not like this is the first time after all.

He stares at the monitor, trying not to think about the other Simon. The Simon he left behind. The Simon who has nothing to defend himself with when he wakes up. It's okay if that Simon hates him. He hates himself a little bit too.

Okay, maybe more than a little bit.

"Catherine?"

The words on the screen in front of him don't change. They haven't disappeared either but they're flickering slightly like static on a television. Maybe it's just his imagination but Simon thinks the letters are getting darker, fading, like it's only a matter a time before they leave him too.

"I didn't mean it, Catherine. Please.

I'm sorry I was angry. I yelled and I didn't mean to.
… Please

Don't leave me. You can't leave me. Not here.

Cath- …Cath- …Catherine?"

Perhaps there's a benefit to being nothing more than a corpse and a weird robot head in a closed dive suit. He can't cry, for one. And that feeling he has… the one where he feels like his stomach is twisting in knots, like he might throw up, or pass out, he knows for sure it's all in his head. Or his… memory chip, he guesses. Of course if there was ever a time he needed a good cry, it would be now.

Now. And now. And now.

And- and- and-

"Catherine?"

He sighs, leaning forward in his chair and resting in place. It's the first time he's really had to just sit and do nothing since he woke up. Then again it's not like he needs to move. He's only just a suit of parts, his body isn't going to just wear out if he keeps moving. Maybe a battery though. Or not, it's really the WAU isn't it? Just like the others, just like the other Simon, it's not really a battery he needs. It's the WAU.

Well, shit.

"Hey." Simon speaks quietly to the screen where he last saw Catherine's face. "Did you tell me how long this… suit-" he touches his chest for emphasis- "would last?" He sighs. "I don’t remember."

Everything in the surrounding room feels darker than before and now he's not just sitting in the chair, he's avoiding moving from it. If he moves, it'll be real. He'll be here. He'll be stuck here forever. Without Catherine. Or anyone.

"Catherine?"

Simon stares at the black screen.

CRITICAL FAILURE.

"You'd know what to do about this," he says with a gesture at the screen. "Simon, in the next room there's a thingy that plugs into the other thingy and it'll take you two seconds." His voice is flat, unamused despite his own efforts.

"And you know me, Catherine. I'll sigh, say something witty and be off on my way."

Simon slides further down in the chair with another sigh.

"Come on. Please don't be mad. I'm not- Well…

I mean, yeah I'm mad, but not at you. Not really. I was paying attention before, I just got… caught up in the moment. It's an exciting thought for like half a second. I thought about the ARK and what it would finally be somewhere." His head bows. "Someone."

It's too quiet now. He's alone with the ghosting echoes of his own voice, in the dark, at the bottom of an ocean that tried to kill him (among other things).

"What do you think we're doing up there? Did I find you? Or did you find me?"

He's positive the letters are disappearing from the screen. Even the garbage text that kicked out after the failure message seem smaller, darker somehow. They might disappear completely, eventually. He prefers the words to darkness though, so he watches them for whatever time they have left. Sometimes, if he squints, he thinks the outline of Catherine's face is still on the screen, waiting… waiting… waiting.

"Maybe you wouldn't look for me. I wouldn't blame you." He shakes his head, his eyes compensating for the movement and steadying the sensors so the words don't blur like they should.

Simon sits. He doesn't need to move but every now and then he shifts, some ancient impulse to remain in motion kicking in. Maybe, he thinks, if he doesn't move very often, the battery will hold out. Only, he's not sure that's what he wants. It's really just the WAU isn't it? And with the ARK gone... What's the point if the goal was already achieved?

CRITICAL FAILURE.
CRITICAL FAILURE.
CRITICAL FAILURE.
CRITICAL FAILURE.

He doesn't notice at first that the screen's gone dark for good. At some point he went from staring at the monitor, to a fixed point in the mid-distance where the ARK was, where he should be. And instead of the dark, metal and plastic he imagines a white, sandy beach, an ocean with palm trees on the coast, sunlight.

Sunlight.

"Simon? Simon? …
Are you there?"

"Hey Catherine."

"Oh good. I thought I'd lost you there for a second."

Simon laughs and shakes his head. "No, I'm here."

Catherine stares at him, her hair haloed by sunlight coming in through the trees. "Good." She takes a deep breath. "So what do you think?"

It's strange to see her this way, with sunlight hitting her from behind, with shadows in the hollow of her throat, near her collarbone, under her chin. He never imagined her this way: with shape and form, dimension, at least not that he could see. Even her voice sounds different now, richer and without the static artifact from the omnitool. He likes it.

"It's different," he says. It is different. He even feels different, warmer, maybe.

"Yeah." She bobs her head in agreement and her hair moves, and the light moves with it. "You'll get used to it though."

Even her movements are strange, unexpected, almost surreal despite how very real they look. He never really saw her move before, now that he's thinking about it. She was just an image, frozen in time. Now she's… something more, but-

"What about you?" he asks, avoiding his own train of thought. It'll take him no place good now. This is the place to be. It has sunlight, water and wind, warm skin and the sand under his bare toes.

"What about me? I didn't have any of this… I didn't even have what you had-" she shrugs. "This is indescribably better."

Simon nods. "Yeah."

"So what were you thinking about back there?" Catherine gestures at him, lifting an eyebrow as she watches him inquisitively."

With a shrug, Simon nods out at the ocean and up, towards the sun. "The sunlight."

"Oh yeah," Catherine smiles. "It's nice, isn't it?"

"It's strange," Simon says. "Like it's new. To me, I mean. I know what it is and what I feel: the warmth, the glow, the light--"

"But like you've never seen the sun before?"

"Yeah."

Catherine nods and stares with him out towards the horizon. "Me too."