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Prologue: A disclaimer

I know that there's a lot of speculation going around.

I try to ignore it mostly—not because I'm offended or anything, but because it doesn't seem like I'm being talked about at all. Rather that there is this other nearly mythical being that everyone can't shut up about, and this person is somewhat similar to me, but isn't me, and never could be me...

It's not for myself that I talk now. It's well, I guess I know how it looks, or how it might look through the salacious lenses of gossips and the misinformed, and I want you to know it wasn't like that. I want to set the record straight, at least on that fact that if I was taken advantage of in any way—it wasn't by Rangers Becket and Mori.

If my life got ruined well, I made as many mistakes as anyone else in all this.

So I'm going to tell you the story, the real story, all the good parts and bad parts and dirty little details, so you'll know. You'll know the truth as I see it, at least, and that's a good deal more of the truth than you know so far.


Chapter 1: Raleigh

I know how so many want to say Raleigh and I met, that we bumped into each other in the Shatterdome and he decided to just have me or something, well...that shows a lot of ignorance into 'Dome protocols and dynamics, not to mention what it says about Raleigh's character.

Raleigh was one of the two in action Jaeger pilots in the Hong Kong dome when I got stationed there, and for Raleigh and I to cross paths in the 'Dome, well that just wasn't possible at all. Trainees, like I was at the time, had our own part of the complex. They didn't want us underfoot of those on call...and Raleigh Becket, he was always on call.

So how did Raleigh and I meet? Well, like so many other couples do, in a bar.

I'd passed a huge qualifying exam earlier that day. It was a big deal as the test sent half the class packing, deemed unfit to pilot. So I felt good. I felt better than most—I was a bit of a loner, I hadn't made friends with any of the others trainees, not even my bunkmate. So I didn't have anyone to say goodbye to.

She had made friends, and she'd failed the test, and she was going home so, that made me feel even better. Not in that Schadenfreude sense but in that I-have-made-correct-life-choices sense...damn, I am making myself sound like an asshole.

But I guess in a way I was back then...I just, really wanted to be a Jaeger pilot. It's all I'd ever really wanted to be, but then the Jaeger program was getting shut down, and then the world got saved, and then the program was really shut down, and then the eggs in the ocean started hatching and I...

Full honesty, I was really happy when the first of the new wave of attacks happened, when that first fishing boat got swarmed by the hatchlings, and that really makes me sound like an asshole. But it was my dream, and it was taken away and then I got it back. I got it back, and damn, I wasn't going to fuck it up. And if that meant I had no friends and was so lonely I wanted to scream sometimes, well, I thought it was worth it. But, it kind of was.

So I felt good, I felt good and I wanted to feel even better, and so I got dressed up in the only dress I had brought with me to Hong Kong and I went out. I know that might sound silly, but it's how I was socialized...for a female in my culture, being smart and strong is less valuable than being pretty. I had proved that I was smart and strong so I wanted to feel pretty too. That might not make much sense, but it's how my brain worked back then; I always felt like I had something to prove. Like I had to be the best at everything, even that.

I wasn't looking to hook up with anyone, especially since I'm not usually interested in going home with a guy, and girls who might be interested in hooking up with me were always scarcer, but I just wanted the eyes on me. I wanted that feeling to zip up my spine, that feeling of knowing that someone wants to fuck you.

I got that feeling in spades that night. I looked good, I looked damn good. At that time I curved better than I did anything else. I'd always curved, but with the Jaeger training forcing my hungry muscles to eat up the fat, well, I was a sight to behold back then. The regulation jumpsuits we wore during training didn't flatter those curves, but this dress did.

Red dress, red heels, red lips. I was out to be noticed, and I got plenty that night in the tiny bar overrun by 'Dome workers. A large cache of eggs had been discovered and eradicated earlier that day, so there were lots of people out celebrating that night. I'd been politely turning down offers for everything from threesomes to foot-rubs, and I'd basically run up my fill of attention and was considering turning in when I saw him.

Now this is important, I think. I think it's important for you to know that I initiated everything with Raleigh from the first conversation to everything down the road. Because well, Raleigh had been the kind of guy to easily cruise for women at one point in his life, I don't deny that. But that's who he was before his brother died. That's not the guy I knew.

So anyway, I saw him, Raleigh, or Ranger Beckett, sitting alone drinking a beer. He might have come in with someone but he was alone now. Someone came up to him and shook his hand, and then went on their way and I...the first desire I ever had towards Raleigh was to just shake his hand too. I felt like my palm was burning with it, to slide along his palm, to say without words 'thank you sir you inspire me I wish I was you'.

So I wanted to go up to him, but thinking about it was the first moment that night I felt self conscious about the way I looked. I didn't want Raleigh Becket to meet me as a woman, I wanted him to meet me as a pilot, but I knew this might be my only chance I ever got to ever meet him. So I took it.

'Hi,' I said. It seemed like a good opener. 'Can I sit here?' I motioned to the stool next to him. He looked at me only from the corner of his eye and then nodded. I sat down and asked if I could buy him a drink, that got me half a glance, and he nodded again. So I ordered the drinks and then said 'I'm in the pilot training program.'

This got me a full glance. He didn't check me out but he met my eyes for a second, then nodded. I was starting to wonder if he'd ruined his vocal chords somehow when he said, 'So you made it through the first hack, that's good. You know you were that good at least.'

The comment flustered me, was it a compliment? But I responded with, 'Thank you sir.'

He laughed. It was a beautiful sad sound and I don't know how to fully describe it, and he turned and actually smiled at me which was a beautiful sad thing too. Then he held out his hand.

'I'm Raleigh,' he said. 'None of that sir-ing out of the 'Dome, okay?'

'Yes Ss-Raleigh,' I took his hand in mine, at last, and said 'I'm Lee, Lucy Lee. Lucy.'

'Lucy,' He repeated. 'Bet you don't let a lot of people call you that anymore.'

'No, not really.' I confessed.

'Well then, I'm honored.' He raised his glass at me, and the funny thing was I could tell he meant it.

It changed everything, that tiny bit of respect, I practically burst open after that. I couldn't shut up, I asked him question after question about Jaeger's and drifting and Kaiju and fighting and fear and winning and what he thought when he stares death in the face (the answer is 'nothing' if you're curious).

So we talked and talked until the bar started shutting down, then we walked back to the Shatterdome together. We were talking about the digital versus analog Jaeger debate (Raleigh had insisted on the new Jaeger, Phoenix Danger, being analog like his old Gipsy, but he had to admit the specs on the in construction digital Jaegers looked pretty good too) when we reached the point we would have to separate to go to our own sections of the 'Dome.

He titled his head towards his hallway, 'Do you want to keep talking for awhile?' He very firmly did not look anywhere below my nose as he said this. I don't know what it was exactly that made me agree, but I felt safe and really, I just didn't want to stop talking to him.

So we went, and we talked, on a sofa even. His room was much nicer than what I'd been used to, besides the afore mentioned sofa, he a kitchenette, a real bed, and his own bathroom. I whistled when we walked in. He laughed and winked, 'Nothing but the best for the savior of the world.'

And I laughed too, it wasn't that nice, but compared to the trainee dorms, it was heaven.

He got us each a beer from the mini-fridge, and we jumped right back into the conversation, and then something shifted. I don't know how to describe it, but he licked some beer off his upper lip and suddenly I felt like the temperature had become a thousand degrees. I excused myself to the bathroom, and sat on the toilet and wondered what was wrong with me? Did I want him? Did he even want me?

I was flummoxed, truly confused, with sticky panties and my heart beating a mile a minute. When I left the bathroom Raleigh smiled at me and I smiled back at him, and just as suddenly I didn't feel confused at all.

'I should probably get back to mine,' I said.

'Oh yeah, it's late,' he stood up. 'You don't have training in the morning do you?'

'No, I've got some time off before the next section starts.'

'Good. Okay,' he walked me to the door. 'Well, thanks, this was...'

I didn't let him finish. I didn't want to walk away and possibly never see him again and not have tried. It was a little daring to just lean in and kiss him, but I was training to be a Jaeger pilot. A little bit of daring is part of who I am, even now.

So yeah, I kissed him. I took his slightly stubbled cheeks in between my hands and kept kissing him. I felt him make a shocked inhale and then his hands were on my hips and he was kissing back. And then my back hit the door and he was kissing harder, and his legs went in between mine and his hands traveled up my stomach, drifting past my aching breasts, to my shoulders where they stayed as he pushed himself back from me.

'Lucy, I...'

But I didn't want to talk anymore, I was so far past talking.

'Either you take me to bed or you push me outside, but don't patronize me Raleigh, please.'

'Okay, okay,' he agreed and swallowed, hard. 'I do want to take you to bed, but—'

I walked past him to the bed, and unzipped my dress, I let it pool at my feet and felt him watching. Felt that feeling zip up my spine as he looked at me, all of me. For the first time that night he was looking. I felt powerful, even piloting a Jaeger has never made me feel as powerful as that moment, the moment I felt Raleigh Becket want me.

'You're going to be a great pilot someday,' he said as he walked towards me, drawn like we were two magnets, unable to resist any longer.

'I know,' I said.

'Well,' he swallowed again. 'As long as you know that.'

Then he kissed me, dug his fingers into the flesh of my ass and pulled our groins together. I felt his hardness press against my pubis bone and I moaned into his mouth. My clit ached for his touch.

I slid my hand up under the layers of his sweater and t-shirt, felt the muscles of his abdomen contract under my fingers. His mouth moved to my throat, lingering there, practically tasting my pulse. I pushed his shirts up his chest, and he took his hands away from me to remove them completely. As he did that I scrambled with his fly and pushed down his pants to the floor. We stood in front of each other in just our underwear for a moment before we were glued together again.

It was a crazy desperate tangle we fell into, where it felt like our hands couldn't touch enough skin fast enough and our mouths couldn't taste enough. The want made us shake against each other, we were both starved I realized. This was a man who had not been laid in a while, and I was just as bad, I couldn't possibly judge. But I understood. I felt it too.

I pushed him on to the bed, and climbed over him, my knees near his hips, my teeth latched to his nipple. He swore, but didn't stop me. My fingers ran circles over his abdominals, tracing the strength in such a vulnerable spot, the lovely contradiction of him. I sat back and looked at his face.

'Raleigh, what do you want?'

He looked back at me like I was insane. 'Oh my god, anything. Anything, whatever you want.'

'I...' I took a deep breath and sank back a little, I could feel his cock pulsing under my labia through our underwear, felt his heat and desire and thought how if this was the one crack I ever got to have at him, I knew what I wanted. 'I want you to take me,' I said, low and breathy, almost a moan.

His dick twitched against me. 'Oh fuck,' he said, and then turned us, pushing me onto my back and climbing on top.

He kissed me again, as he reached behind me and went to work on my bra clasp. Kissing him was beginning to become something I didn't know how I was going to go back to my life living without. I just sucked on his tongue with longing.

He removed the bra and took the mounds of my breasts into his hands. They fit neatly so neatly and were cupped so tenderly it was like they'd found their most perfect home right there in Raleigh's hands. He ran his thumbs over my nipples and I squirmed. He continued to touch me like that kissing down my neck and my sternum and then lapped at one happy little nipple with his tongue.

'Raleigh,' I moaned. It might have been a long time for him, but he still knew what he was doing. He drove me crazy as he kissed further down and pushed his tongue into my belly button then nibbled at the skin of my stomach a little. Oh how it hurt, not the bite, but the untouched places in between my legs, begging, demanding to be payed attention to.

'Please, please, Raleigh,' I cried. But he took his time peeling my slick panties away, pushing them down as he kissed my legs and ankles and the tops of my feet. Then he bent one leg and lavished his affections on my inner thigh. I bit my fist, and shook, my whole body taut and frantic. He took pity on me then, spread me open with one hand and pushed a finger from the other inside while running his tongue over my clit.

He added a second finger, and stroked, finding the bundle of nerves inside of me. He kept up the assault until I came, wailing, shooting fluid onto him and the sheet below.

I was too overcome by it all to move at first, when I could sit up again, Raleigh was very smugly drying himself off with a washcloth, unconcerned with his erection tenting his boxers.
'Ung,' I said to him.

'Just like riding a bicycle,' he said, to himself. Then he dug under the bed and pulled out a dusty shoebox, out of it he pulled a condom and peered at the date. 'Still good!' he announced, and dropped his underwear while I watched, still a little blurry, but I forced my attention to focus on his cock.

Genitals are a funny thing. They're as different as faces, and you can never really anticipate what's going to be there, and you don't want it to matter, you tell yourself it doesn't matter, but for me well, I am asshole really, sadly, truly. And I always have that moment, before the great reveal, where I beg whatever deity that may exist for it please please to be beautiful.

Well, Raleigh was. He was beautiful in every way, and down there too. He was a nice length and girth and color, with no scary veins or odd bending. 'Oh thank god you have a nice cock,' I didn't mean to say it out loud, but post orgasm is not my best time for reigning in my assholery.

He just laughed at me again, rolled on the condom, and settled back on the bed, lifting my limp legs around his waist. He kissed me more, deep and dirty, then he pushed in. Oh, it was, how to describe it? It was connection, and fullness, and re-awakened hunger, and so so much pleasure as he took and took.

He pushed my legs back further, entered deeper, 'Stay with me, Luce,' he commanded. But it felt so nice, I was slipping into the friction, all I knew was the in and out as he pounded against the soft needy parts of me.

I felt his hand tugging at the hair on the base of my skull, sudden, swift, painful and good.

'Lucy,' he said, his eyes bore into mine, and then I crashed for the second time. As I clenched down he followed after.

Some time later I felt him move beside me, saw him get off the bed, go into the bathroom, come out of the bathroom, get a bottle of water from the fridge, watched his throat move as he drank.

It was too much.

'Can I use your shower?' I asked.

'Sure, you want water or anything?' I declined, went to the bathroom, showered and steeled myself to walk away.

'It doesn't mean anything,' I said to my reflection. I sort of believed me.

I had a towel wrapped around me when I emerged. Raleigh was back on the bed, lounging happily. I picked up my bra and started to put in on.

Raleigh made a face. 'Hey, wait, don't do that.'

I raised and eyebrow at him.

'I mean, please Lucy, stay? I don't snore, and I don't cling, much, and I will make you breakfast in the morning?'
I don't know if you have any idea what the Shatterdome cafeteria is like, but the one for the trainees is even worse, the offer sealed the deal.

'Oh well, if you're going to feed me...sure.' I dropped the bra and crawled back into the bed with him. He reached over me to turn off the light, then just flopped his arm down around my waist. Kissing the back of my neck he mumbled, 'I lied about the clinging.'

It was nice all of it, and being held, it was too nice, which was why I had wanted to leave. Sometimes when you get to have something that's nice for a short period of time but you know you won't get to keep it, you feel like you would rather not have had it all instead of just enjoying it for as long as you get it. That's what I was doing. It was dumb. I mentally kicked myself, pulled his arm tighter around me, and fell asleep happy, truly bone deep blissful and content.


The next morning I woke up to the smell of frying bacon and coffee, I didn't know where I was at first, but I was glad to be there wherever it was. Memories of the night came back to me in a rush, and I didn't believe them.

I couldn't believe that I'd slept with Raleigh Becket, but I looked over and there in the tiny kitchen he stood making me breakfast.

He grinned when he saw me sit up and carried over a steaming plate of eggs and bacon. 'As promised,' he said. 'Coffee?'

'Please,' I groaned.

'How do you take it?'

'Black.' I answered.

He made a face, but delivered it as asked.

'You don't believe in black coffee?'

'Sure I do, when the only other option is no coffee.'

He sat down next to me on the bed, and just watched me eat, the silence was comfortable and the food was good. After I handed him back the plate and cup, as he carried them away I began dressing.

'Can I get you anything else?' He asked as I put on my shoes.

'No thanks, I should get going.'

'Right.' He said, and opened the door for me.

The comfortable feeling from before had vanished, and it annoyed me. I wished I was anywhere but in that room with him.

'Bye, Raleigh.' I tapped his shoulder with my fist as I walked out. He didn't say anything as I left, but I felt his eyes on me the entire way down the hall.

I got a wolf whistle from one the other trainees who spotted me as I got to my door. I didn't even look at him, just gave him the finger and went inside. My room-mate was long gone. I threw my dress onto her empty mattress and changed into the regulation jumpsuit and sneakers and went to the gym for a run. My time was my own for the next few days, but I knew I had to stay in shape. I couldn't waste one day, there were still a hundred trainees in the program, and to ensure a chance with a Jaeger I needed to be number one.

I didn't think about Raleigh as I ran, his boy next door good looks or any of his other fine assets. I really didn't. I thought about being in a Jaeger. But...if the pilot next to me in my imagination looked a little something like Ranger Becket, well, I'm sure it was only a little poorly timed hero-worship.

Or I was sure it was hero worship until I got my room, and saw a single white lily with note under it waiting for me on the step.

I knew it was from him before looking at the paper, but my hand shook a little in shock as I read it.

Plenty of breakfasts whenever you want it.

I swallowed thickly, and as I lifted the flower to my face and inhaled it's sweet scent, I knew I was fucked.

'That asshole,' I mumbled just to myself, and that night after I'd reviewed some tactics and no Kaiju attack had been reported, I made my way back to Raleigh's door.

I knocked and he opened it grinning.

'How's tomorrow morning look for you?' I asked, grinning back.

'It's looking great,' he replied, eyes on me.

Well, I didn't need a second invitation.

I rode him into the mattress that night, and after, while I rested my head against his sternum I said, 'I can't believe you gave me a fucking flower.'

He snorted at me, 'Admit it, under that tough-guy act you like flowers and sweet things just as much as anyone else.'

'Ridiculous,' I huffed, but the next morning when he gave me my coffee mixed with french vanilla creamer, I asked for seconds. It was delicious.


Raleigh and I settled into a routine pretty easily. Whenever we weren't busy with our own responsibilities I spent the night at his. And on nights where I was already at his and the alarm would go, he'd say, 'Stay, I'll be back soon,' kiss me and sweep off into the night. Sometimes I could fall asleep waiting, but most of the time I would watch the feed and worry. But after...after he would come back high on adrenaline, and the victory sex...was amazing.

There was a lot that Raleigh and I didn't say to each other. We didn't talk about our pasts or the future or define anything between us. And it worked, it did.

I know it sounds like I was kept like a dirty little secret, but it never felt that way. I certainly had my own reasons for not wanting to parade around with him. Raleigh was nowhere in the chain of command over me, and there was nothing against the rules in what we were doing, but I knew it would look bad in one way or another.

I knew it would look like one of us was being used, which I guess it still does, but the truth of it is that we were two lonely people that needed the distraction that we gave. And I needed it far more than Raleigh did. Raleigh had other people in the Shatterdome looking out for him, and I had no one.

Okay, I know that makes it sound like I was easy prey to his machinations, but what I mean to convey is that I took more from the relationship than he did. I wanted the sex just as much, if not more I thought sometimes, but I needed him to remind me I was human—that a Jaeger pilot is the heart under the metal of the machine.

While other students got sent home for instability, for becoming dangerously cold and hyper-focused, Raleigh kept me grounded. I might have flamed out of the program if it hadn't been for him.

He was my rock.

It was Mako that taught me how to soar.