A Pale Blue Light
The movie made this part look really easy. Got to love those jump cuts. An attempt to fill in the gap.
She desperately searched his face, but Jake didn't move, his body completely slack. It reminded her of the time the enormous tree-killing machine had approached and he wouldn't wake. It wasn't death, but it definitely also wasn't sleep. She'd meant to ask him about it, but events had put it out of her mind.
No reaction. She looked around wildly, at a loss of what to do. He wasn't wounded in a way she could help with. If he needed healing, she had no idea what sort.
There was a crash from the square metal box in the clearing, and she looked over to it, only now noticing the loud noise and the red flashing lights inside. One of the windows had been smashed in. Didn't the Sky People keep their dwellings closed off to the air of Pandora because it was dangerous to them? She heard another, softer crash and realised that someone was in there, perhaps hurt - and perhaps someone who understood what was wrong with Jake. She released his slack body and jumped up to head toward the metal dwelling.
Yes, there inside was a man, crumpled to the ground. Had he gotten hurt when the window was smashed? His face was familiar. She ducked through the too-small opening and kneeled down, sliding her hand underneath his torso and lifting him to her. His eyes slammed open, filled with terror, and she felt her own eyes widen. Jake. Jake's eyes. Not the same colour, but the same warm strength, the same gravity. She couldn't define how she knew but she knew with absolute certainty that this was the same man, the man she loved. The man that had fought a Toruk and submitted it to his will. Was this who he was when he was not dreamwalking with her?
"Jake, Jake, Jake!" she keened when his eyes drifted shut again, heart clenching with the fear that she would lose him just like she had lost him outside not minutes before.
He gasped, and she remembered the air, the air that was poisonous to him in this body. The Sky People wore masks if they were outside their closed-off dwellings. Looking around wildly, she saw one and pressed it over his face.
Please don't die. We've lost too many already. We need you. I need you, she thought fervently, looking into his face. The mask did not seem to help. He was still gasping. Wasn't it supposed to let him breathe?
His body jerked, and one of his arms flailed in the direction of the mask. Touched something there and there was a hissing sound, and suddenly he was there, alive in her arms, taking huge gulps of air. The terror drained from his eyes, and he looked at her, recognition in his unfamiliar face now. Jake. Yes. Her Jake.
His hand came up, small and pale with strangely short fingers, and touched the side of her face. She marvelled at how familiar it felt.
"I see you," he said softly, and she heard in the English words all the echoes of meaning the Na'vi gave to those words.
"I see you," she smiled at him, smiled at Jake who did not have the face of her Jake and yet did. Smiled at one of the Sky People who was also one of the Omaticaya. He leant in to hold her and it was familiar and yet not and it was almost too much to wrap her mind around that she was embracing the same man in a different body.
When they let go of each other the urgency of earlier returned to her mind. Were the Sky People defeated? How many of her people had been hurt or worse? They could not dally here.
"We must go. I do not know where the others are. More enemies may come," she said, pushing to her feet, taking care not to bump against the ceiling. She half pulled him up with her as she rose, expecting him to climb to his feet, but he awkwardly slid back down to the floor, not looking at her.
"Ma Jake?" Was he hurt after all?
"Neytiri-" he fell silent, took a few deep breaths, then seemed to find his resolve. "I can't walk."
"You can't.. walk?" she repeated, taken aback.
"I was wounded – before, when I was with the Jarhead Clan – and now my legs don't work. I need my wheelchair-" he indicated a nearby seat suspended between two wheels— "to move around. And that doesn't work so well out there."
She knelt back down, trying to understand. Reached out an uncertain hand to his legs, clad in the garment all Sky People seemed to wear. Looked at him for permission, and when he nodded, very gently touched his leg. It was thin, with underdeveloped muscles, out of proportion with the torso of his body, this body, which was broad and well muscled. If his legs were wounded she thought she might have expected her touch to hurt, but he did not react.
"Does it not hurt?"
"It doesn't anything. There is no feeling in them."
She sat back down, the urgency of a moment ago forgotten. She'd never been very interested in how the Sky People had made the dreamwalkers. Now it was suddenly important.
"But you... when you were—" she gave up and gestured to the outside, hoping he'd understand.
"In the avatar body?"
"Yes. When you were dreamwalker... you could walk."
"Yes. It's... it's really strange. Your normal body, your human body, goes into a machine – like this one," he tapped the machine they were sitting next to. "And it's like a tunnel opens and you... you go into the other body. And all of a sudden you're 3 metres tall and blue and your legs work. It took some getting used to walking again."
She remembered now, when they'd first met, how graceless he'd been, clumsy almost. Unsteady on his legs especially on narrow branches and pathways. Easily out of breath when running. She'd put it down to him being a skxawng, an ungainly idiot who did not belong on Pandora. Now she realised that part of his awkwardness had been that he was still getting used to his body, to his legs. She'd said some rather unkind things that she regretted now.
"When... how... do you go back to this body?"
"Two ways. When the link is severed from this end-" he gestured at the machine. "For instance when this body is in danger, like it was just now because the window was broken – the link ends and I got dragged out of... out of the other body and back into this one. Or if someone disconnects it by pushing the button – you saw that happen, before. I don't feel that coming, I just keel over and wake up in the machine. And then I yell at the person who pulled me out."
Neytiri smiled slightly. Strange as it all was, the idea that he had been there with her the one moment and gone the next, woken up miles away, ready to chew out whoever had forced him to abandon his body – in a way it was amusing.
"I also go back into here when I fall asleep in the other body."
"That's a strange thought – that you fell asleep in the hammock next to me and then woke up somewhere else and continued with your day..." she didn't like it very much. There was this whole other life she knew nothing about, while he'd been with her pretty much her every waking moment.
"Well, not much of a day. Usually I just about managed a journal entry and some food before crashing into bed."
"And then you woke up and went back into the machine and into your dreamwalker body for another day of abuse?"
He grinned that familiar grin, and the back of her neck tingled.
"Well, I couldn't prove you right and just back out."
"I was angry, at first. It's a..." she gestured in the air, unable to find the right word. Finally she said something in Na'vi that he didn't recognise. "An insult? Not the right word – but that the Sky People made bodies in a lab and then channel themselves into it and walk around like they are Na'vi – as if all that is required is to be tall and blue - that angered me."
"And you tried to get me to turn myself into a splat on the forest floor, or to prove that I had the right to the body?"
She grimaced, but didn't deny.
He chuckled, and she relaxed a little, relieved that he didn't seem resentful of her early treatment of him.
"We should get moving – we are both needed," she said finally. "Do you need to go back into the machine?"
"I can't go back in," he said after a moment's consideration. "I can't wear the exopack inside, and I can't go without that. Even if I could make the link, it would mean leaving this body here without help or protection. Whatever I do, I think it'll have to be in this body."
She nodded, trying to figure out how that would work. His wheeled seat was useless out in the forest, and his avatar body was equally incapable of moving of its own volition. This could get difficult.
"I will need to find others, with Pa'li to carry you... the both of you."
He nodded, not looking particularly thrilled about this prospect, but accepting. She admired his fortitude while he was disadvantaged by this weaker body. She was sure that most Na'vi warriors would have behaved a lot poorer in his situation. It was one of the things that had finally made her see the value in him – he had honour, but not pride.
"You should bring... the other— Toruk Makto— inside here, so I can defend it. Him."
"I will do that," she said, and then leant in until they were nearly nose to nose. Wished the mask wasn't in the way, so she could kiss him. "But Toruk Makto is here. Not out there. You are him."
He seemed to consider it a brief moment, then shrugged. "I hope the others agree with you."
He leaned forward to pull his wheeled seat toward him, manoeuvred so that it was backed against the wall and he had his back to it, and then heaved himself onto the seat. It clearly wasn't easy, but she stopped herself from reaching out to help him. It looked like he could handle it, and she didn't want to insult him by implying he could not.
He must have noticed, because he said "Thank you," and flashed her a slight smile. "I will ask for help when it is needed."
"I'm going to hole up in that corner," he indicated it with a head motion, "gives me best view of the entrance. There should be a backup gun somewhere here..."
She moved out of his way so he could wheel to a different part of the room, where he found a small black metal thing that seemed to be a weapon. He opened something about it, checked it, closed it again. Seemed satisfied with what he saw. Grabbed a pack of what she thought might be food.
"The avatar body would be best over there," he pointed to the space behind the link machine. "It won't be visible from the door that way."
She nodded, noticing how comfortable and experienced he was deciding on this sort of defence situations. She'd never seen him behave like a warrior of the Sky People – he'd always been on her territory, deferring to her superior abilities as a Na'vi warrior.
It wasn't easy to get his Na'vi body inside the building, but she managed it, and put it down where he'd indicated.
Crouched down as she was in the small space, she reached out her hand to him, uncertain what she wanted to say, but needing to feel the comfort of his touch. Needing to reassure herself he was there, that he was Jake.
His smile warmed her from the inside out, and he reached out to take her hand a brief moment, caress her much larger hand with his pale thumb.
"I will return soon," she said, as much to reassure herself as him. "With others, and Pa'li to carry you, and with news."
She extricated herself from the building and ran off, long effortless strides in the direction she thought she might find others. She was far from easy about leaving Jake behind, but keeping him company was useless if there was no help to move him. She would just have to hurry – and trust that he could handle himself even now.
Feedback always makes me happy.