Fandom: Pacific Rim
Prompt: “It is not morning yet.”
It’s not the scream that kills him every time, it’s the emptiness.
The rain comes pouring in the gaping hole in Gipsy’s hull, sending sparks flying all over the cockpit. He can see Knifehead’s massive claw coming in for another strike and the plasma cannon’s taking so goddamn long to charge, too long. Thick streams of Kaiju Blue set the whole hot mess into rapid decay, acid eating away at the metal struts and the wires holding him and his brother off the ground.
“Raleigh, whatever happens,” his brother shouts over the cacophony of alarms, “you have to—“
Knife head rips Yancy out of the Jaeger, pain ricocheting through the Drift. His throat burns and he can’t tell who’s screaming louder. He can’t tell who’s screaming. Yancy’s fear twists itself through the Drift, trying to anchor itself in Raleigh’s brain. trying to hold on, trying to—
The Drift goes silent.
He grasps at sweat-soaked sheets, knuckles white, bent double, gasping to get all the water out of his lungs. No circuits. No water. No hole. No Knifehead.
Breathe, he needs to breathe, that’s all he has to do. The room never feels as big when there’s more than one person in it. The clothing stacked up on the dresser is the only pitiful excuse he’s got for soundproofing, leaving his shuddering exhales to bounces harshly off the steel walls. They ring too loud, too many. Slow down, Raleigh, slow.
Slow is steady. Steady is smooth. Smooth is fast.
He doesn’t need to worry about rushing when he knows he can get there at the right time.
When he’s got his lungs back inside his chest his neck finally screeches into movement, letting him look around his room and at the absolute mess he’s made of his floor. Eh, he’ll have time to kick everything out of the way later. Along with the movement comes the protesting scrape of his throat, demanding water. He overlooks the strictly off-the-record alcohol stashed in the mini-fridge in favor of the dinky tap and an old Star Trek mug that he hasn’t rinsed out in…eh, it’s clean enough.
The water goes down begrudgingly, not sure whether it wants to go to his stomach or his lungs. He gets another mugful down. Breathe.
One of these days this is gonna happen and two seconds later the alarm’s gonna go off. He dreads the day he’s gotta suit up and the Drift’s gonna send both him and Mako chasing a RABIT they won’t come back from.
Speaking of the Drift, his Ghost Drift is prodding gently at him, nudging him towards the door. He peeks outside.
Mako’s siting on the steps to her room, purple highlights dangling over her cheeks, well-worn deck of cards laid out on the steps in front of her.
She glances up at his door.
Might as well, he’s not getting back to sleep.
The door’s hinges squeal horribly, even at this time of night, making him wince when he plops down onto his own steps. Mako doesn’t react, only places another card down in front of her. She doesn’t need to ask, he doesn’t need to talk.
“Can you see anything?”
Mako gestures to the neatly organized piles in front of her. “I cannot see any other matches.”
It’s highly unlikely he’s gonna see anything she hasn’t, but he heaves himself off the ground and crosses the hall to her side, careful not to disturb any of the piles.
“Mm. Marshall taught me.”
“Isn’t it a game for one person?”
Mako looks up at him like he’s missed the big red flashing neon sign of obviousness, which isn’t an expression he’s unfamiliar with.
“Alright, alright, um…” He squints at the cards. “Red six on black seven.”
“See,” she says as she moves the cards, “we can play together.”
“If you insist. What else you got in your hand?”
“All red cards.”
“Really? Damn.” He scrubs a hand over his face. “You could bring down the four of spades to get that three off the pile.”
“But then if I do not get anything from that I will still be stuck.”
“Could you use the—no, you can’t put the aces anywhere else.”
“We may as well try the four, it is better than nothing.”
“We really need a king, then we move that queen and get another spot freed up.”
“I hope it is not at the bottom of the stack.”
“Watch, it’s gonna be right there next to the ace of clubs.”
Mako reaches out to move the four, then the three, blowing her hair out of the way when it won’t stay behind her ear. It flops right back down, smacking her cheek.
“Here,” Raleigh mutters, tucking it out of her face, “better?”
“Yes, thank you.” She flips the card over.
A king smiles up at them from the top of the pile.
“Thank you,” they both sigh, reshuffling the piles around, stacking the queen on top of the new king. Raleigh moves his leg out of the way so they can see the options clearly.
“Alright, can we do anything else?”
“We have to flip this one over first.”
“I got it.” Raleigh turns the card, scowling when he sees yet another red three. “Shit.”
“I promise I shuffled these before.”
“No, no, I’m sure you did,” he sighs, “but sometimes the cards just don’t like you.”
Sometimes the cards just don’t like you.
“Hey,” he says instead before the ocean can drag him back down, “why don’t we reshuffle, try again.”
Mako nods, sweeping the cards together before offering him half. “Shall we?”
Moving his hands helps. Split the deck, pinch with your thumb and middle finger, push with your index finger, flatten them together. Split, pinch, push, flatten. Split, pinch, push, flatten.
The soft thwap of the cards mixes with Mako’s, their hands moving in tandem. Her presence is steady against his shoulder, knees touching on the cold step. Split, pinch, push, flatten.
Split, pinch, push, flatten.
They finish at the same time, each offering their half of the deck to the other. They don’t need words to sort the cards, seven piles, the rest in Mako’s hand. Their arms weave over and under each other, red on top of black, black on top of red. It’s easy. Familiar. Still no kings yet but they’ll get there.
The game goes quickly, cards moving left and right, layering on top of each other. The aces are found. The numbers stack up. Mako places the last king on top.
“See,” she smiles at him, “I told you.”
“It’s a game for one mind,” he argues, “one thinker.”
“No,” she corrects, putting all the cards back in one pile, “we are two minds. We are two thinkers. You are not less complete without me. You are one whole person, one whole mind.”
He is, she’s right. She is a whole, he is a whole. Like two gloves, each is perfectly functional by itself. It’s just a bit better when they match.
He’s whole, scars and all.
“Do we have time for another game?”
She grins. “It is not morning yet.”