by Abigail Nicole
PG to be safe, romance/drama, Matrix spoilers
Summary: She stares at their empty beds with blank, faraway eyes, and the air is too heavy with darkness, with words waiting to be spoken.
Notes: after watching the first movie three times, this popped into my head. Enjoy.

The ship is too empty.

She sits up at night in their room, silent. She won't cry. She stares at their empty beds with blank, faraway eyes, in the dark, with shadow and memory entertwining to make the air too heavy with darkness, with words waiting to be spoken. But the words never come out.

He didn't even know them all that well. But it still cuts him like a knife. He sits at the table in the mornings and there is nothing to say. There are no more jokes about chickens and white goop, no more good-natured bickering, no more shared memories. It's just five of them, and they hardly eat together. He stares at his goop and his mind is full of conversations, full of things to say, anything to lighten the mood. But then he looks up, words on the tip of his tongue, and the look in her eyes stops him.

So meals are silent.

Everyone's doing double duty, working as hard as they can, but it's still not quite enough. Five can't do the work of eight. They work too hard, stay up too late, get up too early, and sleep too little inbetween. None of them gets enough sleep, but she's always up the latest. Most nights she doesn't sleep, between work and passion, needing the truth of him. They get too little personal time to waste with sleep.

He wants to talk about it to them, to say something to fill the emptiness of the ship. He sits up at night and listens to the emptiness of the ship, the hum of the machinery, the small rattling noises in the quiet emptiness, feeling the air that is too heavy. He wants to say something. But no one is speaking. Evryone is working too hard to pretend everything is all right. And every time he opens his mouth, it just seems too selfish to say

it hurts


i miss them too.

So things are silent.

She's still awake, even though she should have been in bed hours ago. Sleep is too precious to waste with insomnia. She doesn't know he's there yet, and he watches her silently, trying to see past the pretenses she has even with him. She is slumped against the wall, sitting on one of th ebeds, her head back and face crumpling as if she's trying not to cry.

He moves towards her so quietly that she doesn't open her eyes until he touches her hand. She opens her eyes guiltily, pulling away and trying to hide her face, rubbing her eyes dry. She opens her mouth to say something, but he doesn't let her explain it away this time. Not again.

Instead, he leans into her, catching her mouth with his own, opening it wider. It isn't a passionate kiss--gentle, tender, pulling softly on her soul. She moves closer to him and he holds her closer so that she is pressed against him. In one swift move, she is cradled in his lap, her hands around his neck, her body tight against his. He breaks away and presses her head against his shoulder.

She fights at first, but she doesn't have the energy and slumps against him, her face twisting as she clings to him. He whispers into her hair, indistinguishable murmurs in his smooth, quiet voice that stroke her soul, a relentless tidal wave of silk rushing over her soul, making her slip away. She feels the tears coming and tries to stop them, but she can't, not with his voice comforting like that, not with him so close, not with the storm of emotions that just keep coming. She's pressing her face into his shirt, her breath catching until she's sobbing outright, her whole body shuddering against him.

It hurts her to cry, her shoulders and chest heaving as a thousand knives stab into her heart, ripping apart at her soul. She crumples against him, sobbing and moaning against his chest, hating herself for this breakdown, but all she can see is them, her crewmemebers, her friends, their faces flashing before her

Not like this

He rubs small circles on her back, his lips pressed into her hair, holding her so tightly it hurts, but she needs the pain and he needs to see her cry, to hold her this once and be her rock. She's clinging to him like a child, trying to hide away in his embrace, trying to bury herself inside his arms.

She's exhausted, so tired that she doesn't even protest when he picks her up, cradling her against him. He carries her out of the room gently. "Let them rest," he murmurs, and she lays her head on his chest, tears still flowing although she doesn't have the energy to cry anymore. Their room isn't far, and he lays her on the bed gently. Even the brief seperation hurts her, and she reaches out to him like a child before he lies down next to her, holding her too tight and stroking her hair.

Tomorrow, he'll make her eat, no matter how runny the white goo is, and he'll make conversation, to force her to speak, to make her laugh.

But tonight, both will sleep.