This is the longer summary: Or the one where Chuck smiles at his dad because he knows his old man will never think of saving him as the wrong choice. And the one where it's easy for Herc to pull his kid into his arms for a hug that makes the suit just a little bit skewed because damn right, that's his son.
I am REALLY feeling the Hansens family feels these days. This is originally an idea that came to me months ago, I asked for fic from Ka and Ka delivered a graphic instead, so here is the obligatory fic.
if we do this, we do this right
He is eleven and he's crying. You still don't know how to deal with the tears but you've seen the way Ange would pull the little boy into her arms. Really he's not so little but in your eyes, he will always be your child like you're his father and should be able to save the world like you've promised all those years ago.
"Come on, Chuck," you try to wipe at his cheeks, "be strong for your old man."
You pull him into you and he's not small like he used to be when you were only twenty-three and a father with a new born baby boy cradled in your arms. You can feel the tears through your thin shirt, you can feel every single wrack of his body like it's your own.
He cries harder, and you are only learning how to hold him tighter now.
He is twelve and there comes a knock at your door. Stacker is a friend from way back when and you lead him into the kitchen, offering him a glass of the good stuff that Scott hides under the sink, thinking you've got no idea. The man looks like he needs some. You know why he is here, and you know what he wants to ask. You have your back turned to him as you reach into the cupboards for a clean glass, and you say.
"I've got a kid, Stacks."
"Never stopped you before."
And that's the truth. That, you know to heart, that, you've heard coming from Angela for a long, long time now.
"He's all I've got," you pour him two fingers and he gives you a faint smile that is part condolence and part acceptance. With your back against the counter top, you watch him as he drinks, "you'll understand when you've got one of your own."
Stacker looks at you for a long time.
Neither you nor he can see the future, needless to say that it's going to be a grim one, but Stacker Pentecost's still got five more months in Coyote's Conn-Pod before he meets Tokyo's daughter.
There is a nod from the man even if he can't begin to understand, not then (and you imagine not ever).
He is thirteen and there are Jaeger figures lining the shelves of his bedroom in this house you've shared with your brother since Scissure. All of them Mark Is: Brawler Yukon, Cherno Alpha, Tango Tasmania, Tacit Ronin, Romeo Blue, Horizon Brave, and Coyote Tango. All of them looking cared for like they are the last of their kind, all of them war machines at the pinnacle of your time.
Some nights you wake up with Chuck trying to sneak into your bed. Thirteen is too old, you know the kid's convinced himself well of that, but you don't need the light to know his eyes are red-rimmed either. You just lift the sheets and shift closer to the wall so there's room for him when he finally slips into the bed with his bare feet as cold as his mother's used to be when she would come to bed with you.
You have never been a man of words, so you don't talk.
You just tuck him into the warmth you've gathered in the night.
He is fourteen and you're still flying planes for the RAF. The world is not so bad that you're being paid in rations (that comes later, that comes much later). Instead, you're flying planes to watch the Pacific Ocean turn with turmoil in your gut.
You fly planes for the RAF and you go home to a son still growing into himself. He's a little like his old man, but the rest? That's all Ange. You don't take a single long-term deployment because you want to be there to see everything Angela can't, capture every memory in her name.
When your CO pushes for one of their best pilots, Scott steps in and somehow manages to talk himself into taking his brother's place.
He doesn't ask you for a thank you, and you don't ask him about some of the things he's bound to see in the places he goes. Immediate relief can only do so much for all that Kaiju blue washing back to shore. He just tells you that he likes being the cool uncle like this.
Oh, and that you've been drinking his good booze again.
He is fifteen and he's sitting next to you at the dinner table with his plate scrapped clean when he tells you for the first time.
"I want to be a pilot."
"You want to fly planes?"
"I want to pilot a Jaeger."
You tell him older, and you know for a fact that this is not the end of this conversation. Taking both plates to the sink, you begin washing, and Chuck, he stands to your left and dries as you pass them to him. There are suds all over your hands when he tells you, not for the first time.
"I want to get the ones that got mum."
He doesn't wait for a reply, just turns the tap back on and drags both of his old man's hands under the spray.
He is sixteen and he's as tall as you but he's still awkward in his own body. Every time he asks, you tell him the same damn thing.
"When you're older, Chuck."
Because you're his father and he's your son. (Because you have an old friend who can never get back in a Jaeger because radiation shielding in those Mark Is are a joke.) He's angry, and it's like he's eleven and you're no good at giving hugs. He's angry, and you know but because you're his father, and he's your son, and he's stubborn like his mother too. You don't budge from your stance.
"By then, we'll all be dead, dad."
You don't tell him that that's not the truth.
He is seventeen and Scott gets him a bulldog.
Chuck names him Max because he's his mother's son and he's grown up on Mad Max DVDs when you were out flying planes and choppers. He doesn't forget about becoming a Jaeger pilot but he doesn't press as hard. This time, you thank Scott. You replace the close-to-empty bottle in its hiding place under the sink, and you think this might be the last one considering the climbing prices.
Word among the civvies is that the war is not about to end.
You could've told them that years ago but in this moment though, you can still laugh when you see Chuck sitting in front of the television paying more attention to the bulldog in his lap than Mad Max 2 playing on the screen.
He is eighteen and his father is forty-one.
You've never made Chuck a promise, not about this, but if it hasn't been for your son, you would have been here years ago.
He enlists, and you follow under the recommendations of your CO and an ex-Ranger they call Marshal Pentecost now. The man gives you that same nod from all those years back but there is a great deal of things that have changed since. You heard he's got a kid now, you imagine he understands now.
You go to Kodiak Island and the Jaeger Program is divided into eight weeks trimesters. Candidates wash out and drift compatibility is lost with every simulation run.
Chuck is there by your side, every step of the way, taking point for point from his old man. When he has you on the Kwoon mats, the end of his bō tapping the curve of your ribs, you have yours touching the centre of his chest.
He laughs and you grin, and he helps you to your feet.
He is nineteen and he's a Ranger but so are you.
Every deployment is a city facing the end of the world, every Kaiju kill another city saved from nukes. You keep him in line, and he keeps you out of the limelight that comes with being a Jaeger pilot, a rock star, he corrects you. Your girl is Striker Eureka, the first of the Mark V, and your mascot is Max.
You still remember Scott's call, and how hard he laughed.
He is twenty and Hansen is a household name.
When Mutavore hits Sydney once more—
There's a mirror here but looking in, he's not eleven and you're not a man that doesn't know how to hold his own son. He's twenty-one and you don't need to tell him to be strong for his old man.
When Mutavore hits Sydney once more, you don't let it take away another damn thing.
(He's twenty-one and when he tells you not to disengage, you don't.)