A/N: This is a Jorge/Six (and incidentally Kat/Carter) version of the "100 prompt pairing challenge" that firerwolf is doing. Except, since there are no meme police (were those sirens in the distance?), I've cut it down to 22, to cover the 22 days during Reach when Jorge was alive. That's July 24 through August 14, which is good for my laziness and makes one realize just how short a time the whole thing was. It's like a summer camp romance, except with more death.
I've moved the prompts around as well, so that they are roughly in chronological order. The original intent was to have them be one sentence each but most escaped their bounds.
Also, disclaimer: "soppy Halo fic whut".
He was just another part. "Four and Five," the commander said, and Six followed them outside because she had a war to get to. It had been a long time since she had worked in a group, and it surprised her how well she coordinated with all of them when the attack came and they followed her up the rise. Almost psychic, the reports said, and she would have described it as learning without having to be taught.
Jorge noticed the way that the rest of Noble Team looked at the new Six and knew that Thom was behind their eyes, or they thought he might be—accusing her of being his replacement. Carter said it right out, that hers were shoes they'd rather not see filled. Jorge saw how she looked down at her boots and knew that she was not their lost teammate, but that was alright.
He kept it to himself that he didn't hold a grudge about her not being Thom. He had seen a lot of people die, and it hurt every time. It didn't get less.
But getting new people didn't get any less nice, either. The team needed all its members.
Six lashed out and struck the Elite in the jaw, rocking it backward and sending its yellow spittle flying out from its four splayed mouthparts. It kept coming at her while she pushed herself across the floor backwards, and then she was rescued and catching the assault rifle Kat kicked across the concrete.
It had been harrowing and the closest she'd ever been to an Elite, but what she remembered most about that moment was that something farther away had still been burned into her brain. Maybe it was why she had been knocked off her feet.
She had been thinking about the way Jorge bent over the girl whose father had been killed. He had raised one hand to get at the Elite and put the other one around her, offensive and defensive at the same time. He had cared for that girl, and she had wondered if he would do the same for her. (Or for any of Noble Team, yes, but she wasn't thinking about them. She was thinking about how it would feel to be pressed against him, and that was what had let the Elite knock her down. She had been prepped for falling.)
"He forgets what he is, sometimes." Emile sounded resigned.
Six wonders what Jorge has left, if he forgets that he is a Spartan. What would any of them have left?
"I've got your back," he said. Six stalked across the dark, covered catwalk toward the coupling that the Commander and Kat wanted activated, picking off Grunts along the way. They came at her waving grenades like birthday candles. They could have been comical little things if she didn't have to shoot them meters away so that the splash didn't catch her and fry her in the MJOLNIR—
But then came the opposite of the Grunts; the elegant, bobbing shape of a Covenant Elite, sword held low almost behind its backward-jointed legs. Six moved backward, frantic as it approached and weaved back and forth just like that other one, raising its sword—
Shots from the other side of the room, clattering sounds and little orange trails she could follow with her eyes like shooting stars. The Elite swiveled its long neck toward Jorge.
Six shot it in the neck, three times.
06. Not Enough
"I aim to please." She looked at him with a sideways smile that he couldn't see and saw him nod his head back. The landscape in front of them was all ruined things, re-bars and webs of corrugated metal. There was a silence in which she thought about his hands, thought about fitting her palm against his and seeing what happened. Another small movement where he canted his mask and what was he thinking about? She had barely moved, barely shifted, when the call came through.
"Did you say Halsey?"
Been hers half m'life."
Six thought, And the other half?
07. Too Much
The others filed out, Kat silently seething, and Six watched Jorge watch Halsey.
The doctor dismissed him with snappish resignation, and Six had to turn and distance herself perfectly so that she was supportive of him but none too close.
She heard him sigh in the open channel as they walked through the hallway, the others' armored backs getting closer.
He said, "She's got a good heart."
"I don't think she likes me."
"Perhaps not. But she might get to."
"I hope so. For the sake of all of us."
Jorge enjoyed walking, reducing himself to strides. He followed Carter through a tree-shaded ravine on patrol, watching the way Reach's sunlight changed the colors of the grass.
She was sitting cleaning her weapons, swipe-swipe of a cloth up her knife, with her two guns field-dressed in front of her, and he joined her. They just sat, for an hour at least while the sun was setting and Noble Team was having a much-needed rest. He hummed under his breath, something fast and strange.
The first time she touched his skin was a flak wound from the edge of a needle. It had exploded a meter behind her, but a sliver of it had stuck and bruised her through the armor. The team had regrouped at Sword Base, and Six had time to unseal a plate and push the gel layer aside until she could see to the inside of her elbow, around to the bony nub at the back. (She had hit plenty of Elites in the face and Hunters in the back with this elbow. She needed to take care of it.)
But she couldn't quite see, and he was right there, sitting placidly on a bench and thinking.
She asked him for help. (She could have put a patch on, or even put the gel back on, and been fine. But he was there, and this was almost so easy it was silly.)
He looked up at the peak of her smile, one of his hands wrapped around her arm just above the elbow. His skin was warm and leathery. She said, "Here," and moved his fingers aside with hers to show where the mark was, and he figured it out.
"You're," he said, and brushed at her cheek with his other hand. She felt the blush burn. "Your heart rate's up," he said, as matter-of-factly as if he was saying her armor had square corners.
"So is yours," she said, because it was. She could feel it in his wrist."Dot's gonna notice," she said, and kissed him.
The first kiss had been something quick and shy and mostly smile.
The second one, after a fight and a near-loss, when he stood on a captured hill littered with bodies and she careened into him when all the lifesigns except theirs were gone, was not.
"This shouldn't be happening."
Six shot a Grunt through the middle and stepped aside to let another run past. Kat caught that one on the back of the head. Both Spartans ran up the hillside to scan for more enemies. Red life signs lurked among the scrub.
"It should be over with. Mood swings are for kids fresh out of the augmentations."
She swung her assault rifle and cracked a Jackal under the jaw. Another one moved out from behind a scrubby tree, moving fast, and Kat sprayed fire to distract it before Six shot it through the eye. Blood spattered both of them.
Kat said, "There's something that all those chemicals couldn't take away. Maybe it's not chemical at all."
Jorge sat down beside Six on a fallen tree trunk and put an arm around her shoulders. She nestled up against him, watching his face and placing her hand over his heart without having to look.
"Where'll we be in a month, do you think?" she said.
He said, "I hope we're here."
She didn't care whether he meant "here" on this planet or "here" on this tree or "here" in this emotion. It was probably the first.
She held down the trigger until the shield core exploded into a firework of white and blue, and then Carter was shouting from the Pelican , his voice right beside her ear inside her helmet. He said, double time it, Six, the tower's going to blow, and she ran.
Out onto the transparent walkway where, a moment ago, she had stabbed an Elite through with its own sword—the ground was hundreds of meters away and Six bolted for the approaching Pelican, her arms and her pulse pumping, and it was too far away. She wasn't going to make it. Trajectories did not line up.
(Spartans did not anticipate failure. It had been syringed out of them, or was never there to begin with. They took jumps that looked impossible.
And, usually, they were possible.)
She jumped. Her arms pinwheeled, and then her palm slapped against someone else's and she didn't even look to see who it was, because her legs were swinging out and she caught the wide of the Pelican with one magnetized boot. Her balance was still off, all toward her heavy, armored shoulders, but she got a grip on her rescuer's gauntlet and looked up and it was Jorge, and as quick as she noticed he was pulling her up. Her shoulders and wrists strained, but then she was seated like usual in the bucket seats and the whole team was around her.
She wondered whether she had braced just to see if he would work at lifting her up. No. It had just been physics.
But he held her again, in the cavern after the spire fell, as she said "thank you" and they looked at one another with we thought we might win in their eyes. She gave him her weight again and his arms fit around her waist well enough, and he smiled at her quietly and gravely before kissing her on the side of her forehead. She closed her eyes and thought that it felt like she had known him for years.
He thinks, sometimes that he might be becoming human again. It is an old nightmare, residue from his early childhood. Maybe it was a pleasant dream then. Doctor Halsey was there, handing him civilian clothes and passing machinery over him to undo everything she did.
Nightmare now, but it stayed with him and glowed.
They all sat around the fire, content and talking quietly. Getting to know each other a little better. Asking histories and sadnesses and memories so that more than one might remember. After she leaned forward to indicate Jun's tattoo, Jorge scooped up Six's forearm in one hand and brought her back to his side. Six went with it and took a seat on his knee, looking up at his slightly surprised expression with a devious one of her own. He put an arm around her waist to steady her and she trapped it on the armor plate over her thigh, pulling him closer so she could press a quick kiss onto his cheek. No one seemed to care. Jun was looking up at the sky and Emile down at his knife and Kat and Carter had been holding hands for the past half an hour.
Somewhere, there was a grave with Jorge's name on it. It had been standing for more than thirty years, and it was kept clean and honored with flowers. He would not recognize the surname if he saw it.
"Because we are important," Emile said, "to this team and to ourselves and to the whole fragging human race. But mostly to ourselves."
The team ran together across the beach, spotting Covenant behind rocks and against sandy cliffs. Six strayed too near the wet sand and felt her feet sinking in, dark brown grit sticking to her boots. (Ironic, how for all the ways the augmentations made Spartans invulnerable, they had never figured out how to inure them against drowning. The suits held air, but it was all just too heavy.) So she arched back toward the shapes in front of her, blue and grey and green-gold, and she was ready to fight.
She looked at him through the Falcon screen and said nothing, thinking that maybe he could read it in her lifesigns (Auntie Dot said nothing about heart rate, though; maybe Six had more control than that).
She thought Don't leave me, please, I can go on without you and that's fine but don't make it like this, don't just float away.
He did not hear her words, but he said, all sadness like the wispy edges of cut cloud after a contrail powered through, "I know."
And in the end he made it so that neither of them floated away. They parted as they had been trained, with intent and purpose and momentum. He turned to the button that Kat had cobbled together and he pressed it, and she fell, all gravity and cloud-catch and one hand empty, one hand holding his name and rank and Reach has been good to me—