Insert generic I-own-nothing disclaimer here. Ubisoft and Michel Ancel own it all, I am their unworthy supplicant.
Poor Double H. Practically all of the fanfics I've seen for BG&E wind up getting Jade involved with a Marty-Stu, and I cry a little on the inside as I imagine Double H committing seppuku (not easy to do with a t-hammer, either) rather than having to watch her get all lovey with another guy. So I wound up taking the leap into fanfiction to write a love story for them, but then I decided to write an action/adventure story (go read it!) instead of a romance. But in my heart of hearts, I believe that Double H is meant to be with Jade, so I reworked the bit I'd written to work as a oneshot. Poor, poor Double H.
Reviews mightily appreciated, and please read my other BG&E story: Human, All Too Human.
It was the day they found the Beluga that Hub's world turned upside down. He had always been a very firmly rooted man, anchored solidly in his sense of self. But a month earlier, he had been captured by the DomZ.
The DomZ torture machine had been agonizing, but IRIS had trained him to cope with torture. No, from the Spirit Eater he would have eventually recovered. It was his rescuer that had shaken him to his very foundation, and that day at the southern lighthouse shelter he realized just how deeply she had affected him.
They were making their way back to her place to search for her uncle's ship. She'd shown him the MDisk Pey'j had left her, and at Hub's suggestion she had examined the jet boots more closely. Sure enough, on the soles – worn in places to near illegibility from their recent heavy use – there had been two codes.
Their spirits were high – they knew they were close. But as they approached the lighthouse it was not the familiar, homey structure that greeted them, but a pillar of smoke, punctuated by Alpha Section ships departing the area.
Jade was the first to process the scene. Her right hand shot out and gripped Hub's arm like a chochax's maw.
"Double H! The lighthouse – they've destroyed it! The kids!"
His stomach flipped over as he looked up, and he fought back the brief wave of nausea that heralded the rush of adrenaline. Forcing his brain stop gibbering, he gently pried Jade's hand off of his arm and placed it back on the controls. She was frozen in shock.
"Quickly, Miss Jade!" he cried. "There still may be time!"
She snapped out of the horror-induced trance and roughly jammed the hovercraft to full throttle. Her fist ineffectively pummeled the boost button, as if in denial that they had used the last boost capsule earlier that day while chasing a looter through an elaborately booby-trapped cavern.
Hub gripped the dashboard and strained forwards, as if by sheer force of will he could bend time to make them move faster. No hovercraft had ever moved so slowly, he thought. It's like we're moving through molasses!
Finally they reached the enclosed dock, and Jade was out of the 'craft even before it had stopped moving. Hub was right behind, legs pumping beneath him in the attempt to keep up, his eyes scanning the area in a desperate hope to see one of the newly familiar faces.
As they emerged from the underground entrance to the dock, the full extent of the destruction became clear. His chest felt suddenly hollow and he heard the despair in her voice as she cried out.
"No...no, no, no! Pablo? Fehn! Yoa!"
His searching gaze met no children, but something much more ominous – had that been the tell-tale glint of a bright green air tank?
"Careful, Miss Jade – the Alpha Sections may still be there!" He knew his words fell on deaf ears. Caught up in a frenzy of panic, Jade made a beeline for the ruined lighthouse.
"Double H, they've taken the children!" she cried. "Anybody here? Oumi! Zaza!"
There were no signs of life on the first floor. She continued on, barely pausing; up the ramp, fast as fear could carry them, praying for signs of life...but no. As she reached the destroyed second floor, where the kids slept, Hub saw the hope leave her. Catching sight of an abandoned doll, her shoulders slumped, and she sank to the floor overwhelmed.
As Hub watched her fight back tears, his world tilted sideways as a new set of overwhelming emotions struck him out of left field, his instincts suddenly and dramatically at odds with his years of training. This was his partner – his comrade in arms. But new feelings towards her were now screaming for attention. Affection. Empathy. The desire to protect her, console her...hold her?
R.H.N.P.I.W. Relationships Have No Place In War. Carlson and Peeters, page 912. He stifled the urge to dash forwards and engulf her in his arms.
A wave of irrational jealousy swept over him as Woof did what he could not, padding over and laying his head in her lap. What strange things honor and duty were; with Pey'j and the children taken, he was probably closer than anyone else on Hillys to her now. They relied on each other every day for their very lives. And yet it was against all of his training to so much as lay a comforting hand on her shoulder or address her informally. He and Jade – Miss Jade – were both of Hillys, but from two completely different worlds. He hated that circumstances had forced her to live in his, fighting this war, suffering its losses. She deserved so much better than this.
Hub fought to regain control of his professional calm. Words. She was talking – to him? No, to the dog, that lucky beast. She was so distraught – he had to say something. He had to get her back up. If she didn't move soon, he wouldn't be able to resist the urge to wipe away her tears, and all inappropriateness aside, he knew she wouldn't appreciate being coddled. Damsel in distress she was not.
One rational thought following quick on the heels of another, he realised that there were other more practical reasons to get Jade back on her feet. The kids were gone. If they couldn't get to the Beluga soon, they would have no way of rescuing the children. The endangered population of Hillys had up to this point been a blur, a concept. Now they had faces and names. Kip. Vehn. Zaza. Yoa. They were real to him because they mattered to her.
Hub had been fighting for the past nineteen years, and he believed passionately in everything that fought for. Freedom, Truth, Hope. But those had been concepts and ideals – well worth fighting for, but impersonal and detached. Safe. Now, he was also fighting for her. She was the soul of his fight; she stood for everything that mattered. He had always had direction, but she had given him purpose. And now it was time to return the favor, if he could.
He had to persuade her to go on. He had to stay positive, for her. His own tears could wait, he was accustomed to losing friends to this war; she was not – Pey'j had been the first, and now everyone else that she loved was gone as well. What she needed now was a rock to tie herself to. And he knew something of solidity. At least he had, before she had swept into his life and uprooted him so completely.
E.I.E.I.O. Emotion Is Every Infantryman's Obstacle. Carlson and Peeters, page 897.
"We must go now, Miss Jade," he said gently, struggling to keep his voice even.
"It's over, Double H," she replied, her voice dead and uncaring. "Finished."
The impulse to either cradle her or shake her was overpowering. This dull, listless girl was nothing like the Jade that he had come to know, trust, respect, admire...it was as if the DomZ had taken not just the children, but some essential part of her as well – and with it, all the joy in the world. He had to get her back.
"They're still alive, Miss Jade. Pey'j, the kids – they're all still alive!" He tried to put all of his passion into his words, but he didn't have the empathic force that she posessed. He was strong, he was canny, he was world-wise and battle-hardened. But his experience was for naught in this situation. He had no idea what else to do. He had failed her.
He walked away and leaned against the wall. Rubble that it was, it was more stable than he was at the moment.
Come on, Carlson and Peeters. Where's your damn "So You've Fallen For Your Partner" section, huh? You told me not to, but I have. So now what do I do? How can I make things right?
He wasn't sure when it had happened. Hell, it had probably begun the second that he met her. As the lingering horror of the DomZ torture device began to recede, there she was, competant and beautiful, re-anchoring him to reality. Without a second's hesitation, he had pledged his service to her and he hadn't regretted it yet.
Strength, passion, wit, guts. Jade was different than anyone else Hub had ever worked with – from anyone he had ever known. Her very presence wakened him more intensely to the world around him. Every time that they had of necessity parted ways in the Slaughterhouse, he had felt deprived, as if one of his senses had been denied to him for a period.
And now it was killing him to see that amazing creature so diminished. Her anguish at losing Pey'j had been terrible, but this – watching her lose hope – at that moment, he swore that he would do anything to make it better again.
A noise brought him out of his reverie. She had found the second device. As she entered the code, he saw the life flood back into her. He breathed a sigh of relief – into action again. If she had found the second panel, they would certainly find the Beluga soon. Then it would be off to the moon, and there wouldn't be time to think – and right now, that was a blessing.