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the strength of the world in us

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Finally, Becky feels like she can stop to take a breath. The battlefield looks just about empty, the only other figures still standing up being three that she knows, that she trusts, that are on her side.

They’ve done it. It’s not the first time, and Becky hopes it won’t be the last (though it would be preferable if they didn’t have to do that again, as unlikely as that would be), but it was still tough, still has her body aching like nothing else can. There’s blood on her clothes and skin, some of it her own, but she can’t care, not after that. It certainly doesn’t seem to matter to Bayley, who’s smiling in spite of the blood drying on her own face, beckoning Becky to come nearer, closer to the edge of the precipice where the three of them are standing. She’d be throwing her arms around the rest of them right now if she didn’t still have a weapon in her hands, Becky knows it.

“We did it,” Bayley says, and it’s obvious – yes, they did, just as they have done so many times before – but no-one makes a sharp or snide comment about just how obvious it is. Charlotte or Sasha very easily could, but Becky knows they’re just as relieved and grateful to be here as she is, as Bayley is. They won’t articulate it here, but maybe later, when it’s dark and quiet and they think no-one’s listening.

“We did do it, huh?” says Sasha, sounding smug. She’s holding her head high, and she turns her attention from Bayley to look out at the vast, barren expanse of land below. Becky looks, too. They were down there earlier; it’s where most of the fighting itself took place. Now, all that’s there are the not-quite-bodies of spectral enemies that have been reduced to nothing more than ash and dust, ghosts of the bad years gone by since the last time they had to do this, ghosts of famine and war and pestilence and death. Everything that prophesies another potential end time.

Sometimes, even the four of them can’t help but let those things, the negative things, catch up with them. Becky can’t even count the number of times Sasha and Charlotte have been at each other’s throats before Bayley’s had to step in to resolve it – but now, the four of them are a cohesive unit, putting all of that behind them. That’s the only thing to do when it counts the most, when it’s the world as humanity knows it that’s hanging in the balance. There’s no time for petty squabbles when they’ve got a world to save.

Becky’s never quite sure how exactly to define it, what they have, though she’s sure the others have their own definitions stored in their heads. She knows Bayley treats it as love, for sure, and it is, in a way. A complicated kind of love, but a love nonetheless. For Sasha and Charlotte, it’s probably closer to respect, sometimes begrudging, but always earned. Whatever it is, it’s a balance, four corners of a shape, each side equal. A perfect square.

Still, as balanced as they can be, it’s surprising when Charlotte’s the one to initiate the hand holding. She isn’t looking at Becky when she does it, which makes it even more unexpected, but Becky squeezes hard when she feels a hand in hers. Becky catches Charlotte’s eye a moment later, and gets a smile and Charlotte still looking as determined as she had during the battle. Bayley’s quick to notice, and even more eager to involve herself, one hand slipping into Becky’s free one with no hesitation whatsoever and her smile widening.

Sasha, on the other hand, is much less willing – and Becky wouldn’t really expect anything less. It takes a pointed glare and a “Come on,” from Charlotte before Sasha’s giving in, sighing and taking the hand Charlotte’s holding out towards her, firm and fierce. It’s such a simple touch, but it’s one that means everything. Becky has to smile at the sight, has to tighten her hold on Charlotte and Bayley’s hands, just a little. As Bayley and Sasha said, they did it, and that fact alone is enough for Becky, and as she looks back out at the now empty space before them, she feels safe, secure. Certain.

The world can grow anew.