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See Me Stopping Here (a remix from away)

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The last thing Luna Pentecost said to Tamsin was, "I've got him." The last thing she wrote to her–in one of those awful, "If you get this, I'll be dead," letters that they all had–was, "Look after Stacker."

The last thing Tamsin Sevier said to Stacker was, "Give 'em hell, Stacks." The last thing she wrote to him–in the will that she'd done up after he'd adopted Mako–was, "I'll still be there, in the Drift."

Stacks holds her hand as she dies, with her to the last, and then...

"I will, Tam. I swear," he says for the tenth time, but with finality, too late, he thinks, for her to hear.

The pain is gone, replaced by a grief so profound that Tam feels it like a fist closing on her heart. Luna: that grief had bound her to Stacks the first time For you, he thinks, for Luna, for Mako, so she never has to pilot one of those damn things, no matter what I promised. Mako: holding Stacks, weeping, allowing an embrace. Tam feels what he feels, but sees only a little.

They put her body in the ground, surrounded by hibiscus so brilliant that Tam smells them, though they never actually have a scent, and Stacks' grief shrouds her like fog or dark wool. "I will slay every beast in that pit, and pull it down on their heads," he promises over her grave She only feels the anger building. Tam's angry too.

They're drifting still, she knows, a part of her remains on his side of the bridge, tethered to him and unable to leave while he still clings to her. She feels, in the same way she used to feel gravity, that this is not her. Taibhse, Grandma Katie had said in a soft low voice that had made wee Tam pull the blankets tighter, even though she knew the story would be a good one. Ghost-Drifting, Dr. Lightcap, called it, long ago, though she'd meant something else, something Tam and Stacks had never shared in life. Tam laughs. She promised Stacks, and Luna, so she'll let him hold her here.

We need to focus on the Wall of Life, he hears. She knows she's been dead but two days because Stacks thinks it, you have two months, he hears, and she feels his rage with him, rage and the very edge of something black, the Jeagers aren't working any more, he hears. Thank you for your service, he hears; the black grows.

"You'll show them," Tam says, "You've always showed him. I'm staying to slay dragons with you, so you better bloody well fight."

"No," he says but not to her. You're damn fools, every one of you, he doesn't say, but he wants to. He sparks again. He promised to kill the beasts in the pit so Mako wouldn't have to. He will, and Tam will be there. Mako will be there too, whether he likes it or not, but he won't admit that yet.

Tam gropes for Luna, sending tendrils of herself out into the Drift like a sea anemone. If she's there, Tam can't feel her. Tamsin and Luna loved each other, but they had never drifted. Is that all that counted?

Stacks works. He yells. He begs. He pulls at rank and guilt and fury. "We'll seal the Breach," he says. "One last try." They go to Alaska for the kid. They go to Hong Kong. Again? Mako is there. Tam feels Mako through Stacks like a radial pulse through skin. I imagined him differently, he hears. Starker bristles, and Tam laughs. You promised me, he hears. Tam stops laughing.

"You'll lose her, Stacks." She'd said that before, too. He hadn't listened then.

"No." Choi startles at the non sequitur, but Stacks ignores him and walks away.

Tam's a figment, a shard of herself stranded on Stacks' side of death, while the rest has gone on. She can press her face to the mirror, the window between where she is and where Stacks' is, but she cannot cross back to life. She wants to embrace Mako, to cuff Stacks up the side of the head.

"Don't fuck this up!" she screams, trying to make him hear.

Stacks flinches. Stacks ignores her. Stacks doesn't hear.

Again Tam, –Tamsin, maybe, that's what Luna called her– smells hibiscus, a scent only real when she's the silver on the back of the mirror, and feels herself start to drift towards the bridge. Not broken after all. She's droplets of oil scattered on water, swirling and merging on contact. The greater part of herself is away, another of Grandma Katie's words, but she can be whole again, on the other side.

Luna will be there, she thinks. Tam's missed her for so long. Stakes doesn't want Tam any more. She reminds him of too much.

The clack of staves pulls her back. Jō, Stacks always said, but Tam called them, good for a bruise up, yeah? She could usually kick his arse, anyway. Each strike ripples over to her with Stacks' heartbeat, and the world fades into view as his pulse accelerates.

Tam knows the rhythm, would even without Stacks' heart in his throat, she's heard it too many times, too many mornings watching Mako Mori make herself ready for this moment. The blue in Mako's hair glows, and the kid's scars through his shirt. They're flying already, taking wing before they even step into the conn-pod. Stacks can see that, of course he can, but won't admit to that these two children are Tamsin and Luna, Tam and Stacks, Sasha and Alexis.

Tam pushes all of her pride at Stacks. "She needs to fly," she says. "She needs to slay dragons. Not just for her family, but for you."

Stacks flinches. Stacks ignores her. Stacks doesn't hear.

He tells Mako no.

Tam screams.

The black has returned, again dimming Tam's world with his. Again she considers the bridge, considers crossing. Luna: with Luna gone, and Tam gone, and Mako surely lost to him, who will keep that promise to look after Stacks?

Stacks walks away.

Tam presses against him, coiling herself into his heart, into his mind, into his soul, pulling hard on the tether binding her to him, each strand a battle they fought together. She wraps it all in that argument from long ago.

"You'll lose her."

"You'll lose her."

"You'll lose her."

"Don't fuck this up, Stacks!"

Stacks flinches. He takes a breath. He turns back.

The world fades again, and the phantom scent of hibiscus surrounds Tam, flows into her, and she knows she doesn't have long.

She rides with Stacks, drifts with him and Herc's boy, their bridge making hers stronger, the world clearer.

When Striker blows, Tam's waiting for Stacks, arms stretched wide. They cross together, all of her, and most of him. A fragment of him, of course, remains.

The last thing Stacker says to Mako is, "You can always find me in the Drift." Tamsin doesn't know if he left a letter.