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Should Have Known

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And she knows, of course, how Ian will respond, and still it will surprise her.

He says, one day, out of the blue as they look at their sleeping child, their sleeping child whose hair is bright and full, whose body is round, not yet thin from the chemicals and pain that Louise can't not see in every moment now even though it was not always there in the memory (there is a paper in the selectivity there, the way the eye captures and retains that which its holder can make sense of without noticing that which she cannot, but it's not one Louise will write. Hannah would, one day, if things were different, a promise Louise cannot assert as it's insane), "Was it worth it?" Only what she hears, because selectivity is not only the province of the mind's eye, is will it, and then she realizes it's in fact what he's asked, or if it's not she's not able to define the distinction, and she stands, mute, trying to sort time into order as she nods.

The heptapods remind her, every time she nearly forgets, how Hannah's fingers will be her father's, how her eyes will be Louise's. They don't remind her literally; however, their presence brings forward the notion each time they are near. She argues with herself repeatedly as to whether this means her eyes, their hue and their shape, or her eyes, the way she sees a language no one else thinks to divorce from the bone-shaking harmonics projected around them all. The answer is: one of those, or something else. It will be unsatisfactory, but she has learned to live with that.

It was and will be, and yet, when she considers the pain to him (and to her, but the choices were hers) it's a formula which cannot have been balanced until after it will be completed in permanent ink, and so she opts to answer with her heart: worth it. She rejects the question regarding the nature of permanence.

"I feel like I should have known how this was going to end," he said, probably the night Hannah was conceived, and there is no right answer to the statement, because his voice was rough, low, and Louise is nearly asleep, the exhausted sleep the heptapods taught her, them both, and then later, when they meet, he knows nothing, and there is nothing he could have known. It has never been clear to her whether the omnipresence of time is something he will be aware of while he's experiencing any of it, and he gets so angry when he realizes she has always known.

Because she tells him, when she needs to.

And he's still, so still she wonders if somehow he has exited the presence of time.

When Hannah loses her hair, she thinks suddenly that it was then that he stopped knowing himself, a choice, self-preserving and ultimately selfish, allowing him to hold anger instead of guilt.

It would be a good shield against all that pain, but she can't hold it and hold the concepts of the language at the same time, and because she is the mother of her daughter, she takes the pain.

She can't prove any of it.

He brings her a book at the hospital and glares at her and holds her hand, and he stays while the doctor tells her unnecessary words, and then he goes again. "Will it be worth it?" Only this time, he asks was it, and she doesn't know the answer. It's one of very few things she doesn't know, a surprise, and it feels sharp in her chest next to the dull constancy of the rest of it, and she's grateful.