Raleigh knits. He’s no virtuoso and apart from altering the shapes of his works he’s not very creative or into complicated patterns. He’s steady at it and does neat work, but it took him a long time to get there. It began as rehabilitation for the nerves in his left arm. An exercise in fine motor control and making sure his limb and hand connected up with his brain the correct way still after Knifehead. When he left the Icebox to chase the Wall the product of his labors was a way to stay warm and con some extra money off people that didn’t know how truly cold Alaska could be.
Surviving the close of the breach with his other arm feeling fried beneath the surprisingly intact circuitry suit sends him back to the habit. The doctor’s say he’ll be okay with some rest and relaxation that he rightly deserves and Raleigh trusts them to an extent. However, he also sees Hercules, the oldest living pilot, wincing and rubbing at his limbs and he’s never had quite the same trauma left on his body as Raleigh has. Not all in two drop at least. If there’s the chance keeping up with his knitting will keep Raleigh limber as he ages, then he’ll spend his pension on yarn gladly.
He sits at Chuck Hansen’s coma bed and knits a long blue scarf that matches Mako’s hair in the hopes they’ll be allowed to travel to Russia for the memorial to Cherno Alpha, Sasha and Aleksis. They haven’t talked about it yet, what they’ve learned about each other in the drift. Mako’s busy seeing to Marshall Pentecost’s plans for after the world was saved and Raleigh has gone back to avoiding the world with a side of playing watchdog with Max by Chuck’s bed. It wasn’t like Raleigh had intended to become the Australian pilot’s second bodyguard, but with Hercules bearing the Marshall title unable to take the time to sit by his son and the hard truth that Raleigh had been sorely out of the loop for five years previous to this last-ditch gambit, well he’s fairly useless elsewhere.
When he finally corners Mako with the scarf one sleepless night in their spot overlooking Gipsy Danger’s bay, she looks tired, but content and his insides twist up in the memories of the drift and how they love each other. The love between them is not simply forged and fired in battle, but woven together too with the understanding of each other’s fears and dreams.
“How is he?”
It’s so strange for Raleigh to hear her voice out loud when generally he’s interacting with a silent conversation between her and Yancy in the corners of his mind as he sits in the everlasting silence of the medical ward.
“No change. His body’s patching itself up like the doctors expect, but he hasn’t so much as twitched.”
Raleigh’s voice comes out rough and Mako’s steady eyes are taking him in. She doesn’t have to say aloud he needs to interact with people more. He can feel the impression already.
“Is that for me?” She says, instead, while knowing damn well it is.
He steps forward and loops the scarf loosely around her neck rather than answer out loud. The coils of his brain are all wrapped up in admiration, loyalty, and the way he would die or kill for her without questions asked. Yancy’s laughing at him, he can feel it.
“You should make something for Chuck.”
Raleigh grimaces. Of course she had to bring that up. If Mako was tied up in the coils of his brain, then Chuck had wormed himself into the coils of his intestines taking up residence like a parasite, albeit one he had a weird fondness for. In part, it was due to the way Mako’s own friendship, competitive and strained as it had eventually become had shed more light on the redeeming characteristics Raleigh had seen himself in Chuck Hansen. There was no fooling her when she’d seen his speculation that maybe he would be able to sleep for more than three hours a night if he had the both of them to guard him.
Chuck gets a pair of socks made from extra yarn mismatched in Danger and Eureka’s colors. Raleigh kind of does it hoping to incite a reaction from the sleeping man. Mismatched socks seemed like the kind of thing that would be offensive to Chuck Hansen’s very being. Every couple of days Raleigh slides them off Chuck’s feet, careful not to disturb any of his bandages and throws them in with a load of his laundry before taking them back to the medical ward and returning them to their proper place. The fourth time he’s doing this Chuck’s been asleep for two weeks and Raleigh has been getting to know Max far too well when Herc catches him bent over his sons feet, hands gingerly pushing the soft yarn up his ankles.
Raleigh feels like he’d been caught coloring in Yancy’s comic books or maybe the same way Mako felt catching him shirtless as he’d seen in the drift. Herc’s face is frozen, caught in a weird half expression of surprise and something Raleigh’s never seen on his face before. The older man’s face crumples and Raleigh’s about to run for his life when the deep full stomached chuckle pours out of Herc. It’s the first time he’s seen the new Marshall laugh since-well, Raleigh’s not sure he’d ever heard him laugh since he’d come to the Shatterdome.
With the laughter at least, Raleigh no longer feels like he’s molesting Chuck’s ankles in front of his father that could very well kill him, and safely finishes adjusting the socks and covering Chuck back up with the blankets. Herc, by that point is shaking his head.
“I can’t wait for him to wake up and give you hell.”
“That’s the idea, sir.”
The doctors repeat the all clear that Raleigh’s arms are in as much of a working order as they’re ever going to be again as if that’s going to get him to leave the medical ward and let them sneak extra brain scans on Chuck, but Raleigh doesn’t leave and he doesn’t stop knitting. His third project is a cable blue sweater modeled off the tan store-bought one of Yancy’s that Raleigh’s still got. Based on careful consideration he leaves it on the Marshall’s desk with a last stroke of the butter soft yarn. Herc is not a damn thing like Yancy at all, but both the Beckett boys had looked up to the older ranger after Manila. It was about time he acknowledged that without embarrassing any of them.
A day or two later, Raleigh’s just determining that he’s shaping another sweater in hunter green instead of a blanket from the best wool he’s felt in his life, courtesy of Newt via some black market smuggler, as a thank-you of sort for saving the world. It’s, of course, when the first reporters are being allowed into the Shatterdome for official interviews and information about the future of the PPDC that Chuck Hansen decides to wake up and ruin all his father’s current plans.