Raleigh knows Chuck doesn’t like him.
He easily recognizes disdain--quite the master of it, actually. From the moment he packed his bags to leave Anchorage to the disapproving looks he received from people he worked with in construction, he’d been collecting sneers and eye rolls like a kid would with scars and clots on newly formed wounds. He learned to tune them out, of course. It was easy to keep everything else away when his mind is already a breeding ground for angsty, unresolved issues.
Point is, he knows contempt. And when Herc Hansen turns away to keep up with the Marshal’s brisk walk, he sees it, glinting conspicuously in Chuck Hansen’s eyes.
Max hovers around Raleigh’s feet, tongue hanging and tail wagging as he surveys a potential new friend. Raleigh smiles and crouches down, scratching the bulldog behind the ears. “Hey little buddy.” he greets, because the dog is the only one in this entire shatterdome that seems to sincerely want him there.
A whistle rings in the air; Max turns and trots away, back to his master. Chuck glares at him like he’d tainted his dog’s high moral character.
Raleigh fights to urge to roll his eyes.
Chuck Hansen is a 21 year old, punk ass kid.
He’s nothing to worry about.
“You slow me down, I’m gonna drop you like a sack of kaiju shit.”
Chuck does that little tsk-ing sound accompanied with an irritating little hand gesture. He flashes Raleigh a smile that could only be described as moderately predatory.
Max gives his boots a few comforting nudges before scampering from underneath the table and following Chuck as he walks out the cafeteria.
Little shit, he thinks.
Raleigh’s a hundred percent sure that if Chuck and Max are both about to fall off a cliff, he’d save the dog and drop kick the man.
Raleigh’s pretty sure Chuck is trying to sic his bulldog onto him.
First it was early in the morning, just before Raleigh decides it’s reasonable enough to go grab breakfast. (Max comes careening from the end of the hall; he completely misses him by about five feet and instead, clambers up the steps that leads to Mako’s quarters.)
Second was minutes before candidate testing at the Kwoon took place. (Max simply padded towards the middle of the mat, gathering himself against Raleigh’s feet and curling up into a ball of wrinkly dog.)
Raleigh’s walking back from a short, reminiscing talk with Tendo during lunch break, and when he rounds a corner to the familiar path towards his quarters, a skittering sound makes itself present in his ears and is then followed by a massive thump against his shin.
Max bounces off and ends up sprawled on the floor, paws up, tongue lolling, probably wondering what the fuck happened and how in god’s green earth he ended up like this.
Raleigh smothers an intense laugh efficiently enough to bring himself down to one knee, an elbow propped against the other.
“Max.” he tries to say seriously, “Tell your owner that if he really wants me shredded, he should set a kaiju on me. Not a cute little thing like you.”
Raleigh takes the dog by the paws and sets him upright.
He slips into his room and just before he closes the door, he hears an I didn’t raise you to be a bludging sissy, you little--
Raleigh chuckles under his breath.
21 year old punk ass kid, indeed.
And then it happened.
Raleigh really did try. He already pushed his threshold way over the limits he set himself in the past, because Chuck is a pilot. They’re going to work together, shitty attitude or not--and not laying bricks side by side with other bricks either--work that demanded their absolute all. They weren’t welding beams up in Alaska; they’re going to bomb the fucking breach. So Raileigh tried. Hard.
But then that one word--bitch--slipped out of the cocky asshole’s mouth like it’s absolutely fucking nothing and the weight of the sentiment meanders in his mind like poison slithering within dilated veins. The next moment, his fist has connected to whatever part of Chuck is nearest and conveniently reachable.
Days and days of reigning in anger took its toll and in the wake of their brawl, they leave dented pipe lines, battered bodies, and an even thicker blanket of animosity fleeced up around them.
Max doesn’t come to him in the days hereafter.
Raleigh feels mildly disappointed, and not just because of the failed drift, either.
The high of victory is quite the intimidating drug, Raleigh thinks, because almost every bit of his senses are sharpened, while the rest of what exists outside him dulls down into a blurry back drop. The drift was strong. They fought greatly. But when he remembers the future will lack the sound of Ukranian hard house and coordinated dribbling, he stills.
If victory is the drug, loss is the hard hitting detox that follows after.
Raleigh doesn’t realize he’s been standing in front of his door for more than a couple of minutes now.
He hears the unmistakable padding of paws, and even before he sees Max, he’s already on his knees to welcome him back.
“It’s been a while, buddy!” he chuckles, as the dog laps affectionately at his face.
What he didn’t expect is for the Max’s steps to be followed by the sound of combat boots against the floor. Raleigh looks up, six feet of 21 year old punk ass kid towering above him, but not as predatory as he usually looks.
Raleigh could see the hard set difficulty on the slopes of Chuck’s shoulders and the sharp lines of his jaw. If the boy’s concentration flared a smidge less, Raleigh would predict nervous shuffling and stuttering words. But Chuck Hansen’s control on his physicalities is bullet proof.
“You saved my old man’s hide.” he says evenly, a determined crease on his forehead.
Raleigh quirks a smirk, because why the hell not. “Yours too.”
He swears Chuck almost chuckles. “Mine too.”
“Thanks.” Chuck says, short, but sincere, but then again this brand of candor only lasts for about half a second at a time. “Turns out you’re not a complete has-been, after all.” he sneers.
That was an almost compliment, Raleigh realizes.
“So. Are you still gonna try to set animals on me, Hansen?” He asks as he fondly scratches Max’s chin.
Chuck smirks. “Bet your ass I will.”
“I wonder, Rah-leigh, if you know just how many weird ass creatures Australia actually has.”
Raleigh tries not to be bothered.
Crocodiles, snakes, big fucking spiders.
And what in the fucking hell--cassowary?
Raleigh doesn’t know what in god’s name it’s supposed to be, but he’s damn well sure it has no business being so shitting big.
He’s about to turn off the holographic monitors of Tendo’s computer when he comes across a random man’s leg--long, thin, lightning bolt-like scars running from his thigh down to his ankles, where the majority of it have aggregated into a swollen cuff.
Box jelly fish.
Fuck this shit.
There is a quiver beneath his skin, and Raleigh looks down at his own hands. Shaking.
He is shaking.
No. You stop that, he tells himself. This isn’t something that should be brought into the drift. Not when they’re about to shove a nuclear missile into the throat of the Breach. Not when this fear can ruin not only himself, but Mako as well.
He owes the world nothing.
He owes PPDC his piloting skills.
But he owes to Mako Mori absolutely everything.
Raleigh somehow wonders--just because--if he owes Chuck Hansen anything as well.
Marshal Pentecost gave them five minutes to sort loose ends.
Raleigh is seated on his bed with the photo of him and Yancy pressed against his mouth, eyes closed, when Chuck appears by his door, steps tentative. As expected, he brings Max, who seems to have felt the weight of what today holds as well. His steps lack a certain bounce, Raleigh notices. He smiles at the extent of how much he knows the pet, but no so much the master.
“Hey.” Chuck says, one corner of his lips quirking. It’s a nervous smile. Something easily dispensed at a time such as this.
Raleigh nods. “Hey.”
“I reckon you need a boost.” Chuck says, and he lets Max clamber clumsily onto Raleigh’s bed and onto his lap.
Raleigh looks at Chuck--or maybe raises a brow at him. It’s a look of pleasant surprise, but Chuck never was the type to differentiate expressions as clean cut as possible.
“The shit are you looking at me for?” he demands.
“Nothing.” Raleigh smirks a little, “Didn’t peg you to be the one who’s so nice when the end is nigh.”
“Well, we are probably gonna die.” Chuck says, lips pressed tight. “Better die happy than wallowing in self pity, yeah?” he gives the photo a pointed look.
Raleigh allows himself a laugh, shaking his head. “That’s some good advice, coming from an egotistical asshole.”
Chuck smirks. “I personally think it’s my redeeming quality.”
They allow a moment of silence before either one of them moves to break it. Surprisingly, it’s Chuck who first ignites a conversation.
"I grew up," Chuck starts, and Raleigh could sense the difficulty, "With Gipsy stuck on the walls of my room."
Raleigh’s eyes soften.
"You could almost imagine—how it was when she fell." Chuck says quietly, eyes unconsciously falling onto the floor, "And you packing up and running off."
And then Raleigh realizes that Chuck is explaining himself. All the animosity. All the mistrust. All the bitterness towards his return into Hong Kong, when he was so quick to leave Anchorage.
"Just couldn’t." Raleigh presses his lips together, "Not without Yancy."
"It doesn’t matter now." Chuck says, "I just want to say," His voice is so characteristically fierce, yet almost seemingly ready to break at the same time. "I’m sorry."
Raleigh was about to tell him, not to me, Chuck, but he was already descending down the steps, a heavy set on his shoulders, and with a last lick on his face, Max topples off the bed and out of his room.
(It is only seconds into the drift that Raleigh sees Chuck superimposed within Mako’s memories. He watches in brief spurts of blue hued images as Chuck says something undecipherable within the buzz of the handshake, crumples carefully onto the floor, and bows deeply in front of Mako, eyes closed with sincerity.
When they emerge from the handshake aligned and ready, Raleigh looks at Mako. She nods at him firmly, as if her ferocious determination could hide the tears glistening in her eyes.)
The inevitable storm looms, and Mako punches on the command console one last time.
Sensei, she says as steadily as she can,
Raleigh wishes somebody could have said the same to Chuck Hansen in the last moments of his life.
I’m tracking another pod! Mako, Raleigh, it should be about ten feet—
Mako whips her head, “I don’t understand—the blast—”
Rattled the signals, hid him under the radar—the pod’s propellers seem crushed—
Before she could answer, Raleigh is in the water, heading for a distant figure bobbing a distance away. When the covering pops out with a hiss of pressurized gas, Chuck is wheezing, and he had broken both legs. Fucking shit, I can’t feel my fuckass legs—he curses through gritted teeth, 100% Chuck Hansen, and Raleigh laughs in relief.
“The fuck are laughing at me for?!” Chuck hisses, jamming both eyes closes, gnashing through the pain.
Raleigh manages to sputter between intakes of air, “I forgive you.”
It may not be during the blast, it may not be a deep sentiment of respect, but this isn’t the last moments of Chuck Hansen’s life either.
That will do.
Yeah, yeah, shut up RAH-leigh.
But there’s no mistaking the small smile.
“I feel like a fucking loser.” Chuck sulks.
21 year old punk ass kid (who is currently sitting up on his hospital bed in his patient gown, both casts propped against stacks of pillows).
“You sort of saved the world.” Raleigh deadpans.
Chuck rolls his eyes. “Yeah, and I got two broken shins to show for it, what fucking joy.”
“Better than dead.” Raleigh tells him, maybe a smidge too firmly, because now Chuck’s eyes are lost within the lines of his palms.
“Better than dead.” he quietly repeats, as if to convince himself.
Raleigh coughs a small cough, which brings Chuck back to the universe he just recently helped keep intact. “Cover your damn mouth,” he half-heartedly snaps, “Can’t be sick and injured at the same time.”
Raleigh ignores the snark, because there are good things to come.
“Guess who’s taking care of Max while your ass is on temporary leave.” He says, trying hard not to grin.
Chuck frowns. “My old man, who else--”
“Herc’s Marshal now.” Raleigh says (and he really really need to get to the point because his cheeks are really hurting already), “He’s got a lot of stuff in his hands.”
Chuck looks like realization is dawning into him, but he’s stubborn. “Mako.”
“The fucking shatterdome janitor--” Raleigh grins, and Chuck groans, letting his head slump back onto his pillow.
“And guess what I finally managed to teach him.” Raleigh grins even bigger.
Before Chuck could even form the decision to scramble off his bed, Raleigh has already whistled good and strong--Max is suddenly scampering into the infirmary--and yelled,
“Sic him boy!”
Max jumps--Chuck releases an airy ‘oof’ before moaning a pained groan, body folding inward as his torso curls into a protective ball. The dog topples off his chest and onto the mattress, leaving paw print shaped dents on the memory foam.
Raleigh snickers and Chuck hisses and Max barks--and Chuck thinks, though never out loud, that it’s quite a happy day to be alive.
The future of the Shatterdome isn’t the clearest one as of late, and the tired lines on Herc Hansen’s face is clear indication of the fact.
Raleigh sits side by side with Mako as they both push around mashed potato with their spoons.
“They’re far from kicking us out.” Mako says placatingly, “They may actually let us keep the place as a research facility.”
“Why is Herc so bothered then?” Raleigh asks.
Mako’s shoulders slump. “People will want to leave, of course. And the higher ups are trying to figure out how to reintegrate a Shatterdome’s worth of people into everyday jobs.”
“What do we do?”
“Maybe we should all join up and build a wall.”
Raleigh and Mako, in the true spirit of drift compatibility, simultaneously whips their head to the direction of a smirking Chuck Hansen, who is limping forward from the entrance of the cafeteria to their table by the wall. The man still has one cast on, mobile with the aid of crutches, yet still manages to squeeze out just enough snark to earn him a deck on the face. Raleigh grins--he’ll let it slip this time.
“They should have kept you in house arrest for a lot longer.” He calls, and Chuck laughs a little.
“Bet you’d like that a lot, wouldn’t you, Raleigh.” Chuck says, drawling out the first syllable of his name like it’s something he does as profession.
Mako’s laughing beneath a hand--she might also be looking at both of them back and forth. The girl knows something, and she’s just dangling it in front of them like little treats.
“And why are you laughing, Miss Japanese Action Figure?” Chuck teasingly sneers, and Mako waves him off.
Raleigh sits up, hell bent on doing his best impersonation of a female host of a talk show he recently watched online (because Mako’s their headliner, and he was intrigued). He makes his face light up, and presses his hands together daintily. “Mako Mori’s signature blue do is a big hit in the Tokyo fashion scene,” hitches his voice up, “Sugoiii~!”
Chuck bursts into loud laughter, clutching his stomach, tears in his eyes (“OH MY GOD--Becket--”),which Raleigh follows up on with a teasing snicker (“What, that’s how she said it!”).
“You guys are so dumb.” Mako says.
“Yeah, yeah.” Raleigh sniggers and Chuck hides his face into folded arms, shoulders shaking.
“You two watch your backs!” Mako calls out threateningly (it doesn’t work with the already forgiving grin on her lips) as she walks out of the cafeteria and back by Herc’s side. There’s things to be done, and only so much time allotted for it all.
“So where’s Max?” Raleigh asks, the lack of dog glaringly obvious.
“Back in my room,” Chuck wheezes, “Away from you.”
He wipes tears from the corners of his eyes, and lazily steals the apple from Raleigh’s tray.
Raleigh lets him.
The next time Max skitters towards his direction, underneath his collar is a stupid looking note with a stupid looking message scribbled with stupid looking handwriting.
DVD FROM GIEZLER
TV IN MY ROOM
BRING HOT CHIPS
Jesus fucking Christ all of this is just so stupid, Raleigh thinks.
But then again so is the shit-eating grin on his face and the speed of his jog back to the cafeteria.
“Took you long enough, old man.” Chuck taunts, and Raleigh takes the bag of Lays he snatched from Tendo and throws it at the smirking face.
“Punk ass kid.”
Raleigh clambers next to Chuck, onto an empty spot on his bed.
He didn’t mean to be so intrusive, but there are no other chairs, and the gaping spread of soft looking sheets is just glaring up at him like Saturday morning sun. And Chuck is shoved right at the edge of the thing, so obviously this is where Raleigh needs to be. What--no, this is not over thinking, this is respectful consideration of personal space he’s not a goddamn teenager for fuck’s sake why would he--
Raleigh coughs. “How’s the remaining cast?”
“These aren’t hot chips.”
Raleigh looks at Chuck, confusedly, and then pointedly. It’s Lays, it’s potato, it’s chips.
“These are chips.” Chuck presses.
Is there a punch line to this joke? "Yes, I'm aware."
"I asked for hot chips!"
"What, should I have blasted it with a plasma canon?!"
"You goddamn drongo--"
It clicks suddenly in Raleigh's head--what had gone wrong--and instinctively, rolls his eyes like he has never rolled them before. Hot chips. Fries. Fucking Australians--
“For fuck’s sake.”
Chuck grumbles, “Learn how to fucking differentiate your snacks, mate.”
“It’s just a bag of fried potato, 50% of which, by the way, is air.”
“I don’t need random chip bag facts, Raleigh.”
“Who even eats fries while watching movies?”
“Your old wrinkled arse!”
It takes a while, but Chuck finally punches the play button on his remote control, muttering things like it’s common sense and hot chips because it’s fried like your has-been ass, which are soon drowned out by Al Pacino and Robert Deniro and gunshots and awesome one liners.
Raleigh grabs the bag and flicks some chips right at Chuck’s face.
“I don’t like it.” Chuck says evenly.
“You’re dumb, then.” Raleigh answers, eyes still glued on the screen.
“I’ve seen better.” Chuck retorts, voice low despite the need of such modulation really nonexistent in a room that is his, “I don’t like the characters.”
“Surprise, surprise.” Raleigh unconsciously adopts the same volume of voice, “I think we’re all familiar with the concept of you not liking people.”
“Not true.” Chuck shrugs. “I like you.”
Raleigh turns to him. He makes it a point to look at him long enough to garner Chuck’s attention, eyes tearing from the screen and into a firmly inquiring gaze.
“You’re a good mate.” he supplies, his resolve akin to bedrock, and Raleigh knows it’s fucking there, but Chuck Hansen is a punk ass kid and this is just another potential win he’s not willing to fork over.
Chuck shrugs again. “Good pilot, too.”
“Really.” Raleigh says, and now he’s in the game, and fuck if Chuck thinks he’s willing to do a graceful retreat.
“Likes my dog.”
“Saved the world.”
“Mhmm.” Raleigh looks at him, innocently encouraging, “Go on.”
Chuck stops and Raleigh’s got a shit-eating grin and Chuck is mildly flabbergasted that he was taunted into gushing praises all over an actual, living human being. The storm of snark is brewing, Raleigh could easily tell, so he grabs Chuck by the neck and kisses down the potential disaster, and it all melts down with the flick of the tongue and a nip on the lip.
Chuck kisses back, strong and fierce, hands up Raleigh’s shirt and fingers digging into skin.
21 year old punk ass kid.
Max totters up next to him.
CAST TAKEN OFF
The strip of paper flies, and Raleigh is on his feet, jogging down the hall.
“Is that it?” Raleigh grins a little as he’s pulled into Chuck’s room and right within his personal space, “I’m booty call now?”
“Please,” Chuck grunts as he sheds his shirt and tugs on Raleigh’s, “That’s thinking highly of yourself.” Chuck snickers, breath fanning against the shell of Raleigh’s ear.
“Really?” Raleigh murmurs, tongue mapping a course down the length of Chuck’s neck as he pushes him against the wall, “Let’s mark that down for a change, shall we?”
Raleigh’s hips undulate against Chuck’s, grinding him down deep like it’s a challenge he’s out to win. He presses down and rocks into him again, friction burning onto their hard ons and pooling fire within their abdomen. Chuck crushes his mouth onto Raleigh’s--Raleigh grinds into him hard--and the guttural moan that vibrates from his throat into Raleigh’s lips is enough for the both of them to move from the wall and onto the bed.
“How’s your leg?” Raleigh asks as he climbs on top of Chuck, knees dug into the mattress at both his sides.
“That’s just fucking fantastic,” Chuck snarks, rolling his eyes, “Way to ruin the--”
Raleigh grabs Chuck’s dick through his pants, stroking, and smirks, “What was that?”
Chuck groans, “Fuck you--”
“Maybe next time.” Raleigh grins, but is quick to revert back to concern. The sincerity is painfully present, and fuck if Chuck is actually able to feel animosity towards such a gesture. “You just gotten yourself healed up.” Raleigh tilts his head, just a bit, “I’m just concerned.”
Chuck rolls his eyes again, but there’s a smidge of damn that was sort of touching in the way the tips of his ears turn red. “I’m good.”
Raleigh smiles as he presses himself closer, “Then let’s make you even better.”
Raleigh fists Chuck’s dick and starts languidly pumping, slicking precum from the tip down to the shaft. Chuck arches towards Raleigh, arms curling around his neck and pressing against his chest like a lifesaver in the face of the expansive Pacific. Chuck’s body betrays his mind’s 24/7 neurotic control, panting and moaning and shivering with every up and down of Raleigh’s strong hand against his cock. The pace picks up and Chuck thinks he almost loses the pattern of his breathing--he fiercely kisses Raleigh, tongue lashing stripes against teeth and lips--then air hitches up within his throat and everything clenches. He could feel his release squirt against his stomach, dripping down Raleigh’s palm and threading intimately with his fingers. Raleigh kisses Chuck on the mouth, and presses another kiss on the side of his head, and damn that was really touching fills his mind like fog swirling along cold landscapes.
Chuck is a punk ass kid, but he appreciates things.
And he (Chuck pushes himself up, sits Raleigh towards the edge of the bed with his back on the wall, and straddles him with both arms wound trustingly around his neck,) knows how to show gratitude.
(“First time.” he mutters, and Raleigh looks at him. Are you sure? He lets his eyes flutter close, breathing in and out against Raleigh’s skin with all the faith in the world, Yeah. “Make it count, old man.”)
Raleigh’s keen radar on spotting Max from a mile away is on active alert, because he hasn’t seen the dog or his master for a couple of days now.
It’s a fucking disaster, because they just had sex and this is 100% the metaphoric regretful day after.
Raleigh does not understand, because they were both happy--right? They spooned afterwards. Come on. No one spoons together and subsequently breaks up right after. Wait, what is the both of them exactly? Raleigh remembers almost breathing out a pet name into Chuck’s ear mid-morning, but--wait, oh fuck no. But then again--
Raleigh groans as he lies on his stomach, face first into his pillow.
He hears Mako bound into his room. She sits on his back, legs folded and all, as she dangles her fingers at whatever area of his face she could reach, prodding and pinching.
“Raleigh, it’s five in the afternoon.”
“Did you know a cassowary can literally stab you to death while kicking you in the stomach?” Raleigh’s voice is muffled at first, and then clears when he faces towards the wall. He looks up at Mako.
“You’re a 27 year old man.” Mako says, patting a hand against his cheek, “You could just get up and ask Chuck what’s going on.”
“Not with your big butt weighing me down.”
Mako rolls her eyes, but smiles fondly. “Man child.”
Raleigh curses, cringing at his reddened knuckles. He puffs a breath, and tries again, for the tenth time today.
Knock, knock--“Hey, you in there?” Knock, knock.
“Come on, Hansen, I can feel your daddy issues through the door.”
Knock, knock, knock--there’s a whining noise of dog from the other side of the room. A defeated groan follows.
The metal door swings open, just a little bit, showcasing half of the face Raleigh’s been watching out for for the past few days. He’s frowning, maybe sulking, but surely unamused at the daddy issues jab. Might have been better to have skipped over that, but what the hell.
“The hell do you want?”
Raleigh’s brows rise. Well. “We need to talk.”
“How box jellyfish are the fucking worst--what the hell do you think we’re gonna talk about?” Raleigh retorts, pushing the door with one hand and slipping from beneath Chuck’s arm. Max jumps onto him the moment he’s crouched down low enough to be of reach. Traitor is written all over Chuck’s face, because he still hasn’t forgiven the dog for his earlier transgression.
“So what is with this hide and seek shit.” Raleigh says almost impatiently, arms gesticulating at his sides, “You think it was a mistake? You disappointed, didn’t put my back into it as much as you wanted me to? Or maybe you think this is a one off sorta thing?”
Chuck sighs, irritated. “You damn stupid fuck.”
“I’m not the one who was hiding behind a metal door, Hansen.”
Chuck grits his teeth even more, running both hands into his hair. “I’m fucking 21 years old, Raleigh.”
Raleigh stops, and he feels something drop from his chest into the hollow pits of his stomach. “I,” he curses as his voice slips and slides and stutters and stammers, “If you think--the age difference--”
Chuck’s eyes widens a bit. “NO. No, that’s not what I meant.” his voice softens considerably, “I don’t give a shit about that.”
Raleigh allows himself to breath. “What is it, then?”
Chuck presses his mouth together, the line of his lips hard and tense. “Since I was a kid, it’s all have been about jaegers and kaijus and saving the world. So this,” he motions his hands around him and Raleigh, and the both of them, “Isn’t my forte, mate.”
“I’m sort of emotionally truncated, if you haven’t fucking noticed.” Chuck actually says, and Raleigh’s surprised, but he laughs anyway, gentle and soothing.
“I was trying to think stuff out.” Chuck continues, a little bit flushed at the ears, “I reckoned since this is a good thing,” he motions towards them both again, “I shouldn’t be too quick to fuck things up.”
Raleigh steps up to him, hands spreading themselves along Chuck’s face and down the line of his neck, a soothing mutter on his lips. You’re not going to. We’re safe. We’re good. We’re happy. You’re not going to.
He kisses him softly, eyes closed, a firm reassurance that this is a good thing.
They’ve had many that were dark and looming and bad, but this one is good.
And this one good thing, Raleigh promises, they can freely have.
Months and months and months.
The Shatterdome is midway into conversion into a research facility, and for the longest time, their war clock sits at 00.00.00.00. Everybody is briefed and designated and grouped and aware, and it’s all hands on deck on converting loading bays, expanding laboratories, and assessing official documentations.
Staff has finally been able to go back home to their families.
Though most of them were keen on staying loyal to the Shatterdome despite the change in direction.
They’re slowly stepping out of the steel walls, past jutted, concrete docks and helipad landing sites, and into the world they’ve helped preserve, as decimated as it may be. It’s all gonna be alright, most of them thinks.
It’s all going to be alright.
Raleigh, Chuck, and Mako sit together in their usual table.
With their offices under renovation for expansion and upgrading, the entire working members of the Shatterdome takes refuge in the cafeteria--a makeshift office amidst drilling sounds and pounding noises. Raleigh’s sifting through the a wear and tear copy of the proposed negotiation terms between the PPDC and the United Nations, cataloguing bullet points that seem a little too loose, a little too suspicious. Beside him, Mako’s talking to someone in her communications line, probably Herc, who’s at a meeting with the rest of the remaining PPDC higher ups. Chuck is eating.
Raleigh smirks at him, shaking his head.
21 year old punk ass kid.
Chuck impishly grins back.
Max then departs from his master’s side. The dog nuzzles his feet, demanding Raleigh’s attention.
“Max, come on bud, I’m--” he’s waving a bunch of important forms in the air when he notices a telling strip of paper clasped beneath his studded collar.
He sets the papers down, reaches out, and unfurls the note.
SORTA LOVE YOU
Chuck continues to nonchalantly shovel mashed potato into his mouth, the master actor.
“HEY!” Raleigh yells, eyes bearing into Chuck’s while the rest of the room bear theirs onto him.
He grins mischievously.
“I LOVE YOU TOO!”
Mako giggles and Chuck groans and the room explodes in an excited roar of victory, as if they’ve shoved the kaiju back into their hell hole a second time in a row.
Oh yes, Raleigh happily snickers, watching Chuck get devoured by congratulatory hugs and thumps on the back, that this--
This he most definitely won.