Author's Note: So it's definitely been awhile since I've posted anything, so I thought I'd start off easy. And by easy I mean posting a fic I wrote like 8 months ago for a tiny tiny fandom lol. Cheers.
"People are messy. They don't do what you expect them to do."
—Marisa Benez, Trauma 1x02: All's Fair
This Fine Progression
Rabbit appears in her doorway on a Friday night, a bag over his shoulder and a bottle of whiskey in hand. Marisa leans against the doorframe with her arms crossed, an eye roll hiding her surprise.
"Nancy keeps showing up at my place wanting to talk," he says simply, pushing past her and into her apartment as if this is some daily occurrence. In any other circumstance she would consider kicking the intruder's ass, but he's Rabbit after all, and no rules really apply to him. At least that's what she tells herself for not putting up a real fight.
"You know," she replies evenly, following him into the living room. "After awhile, normal grown-ups usually talk this sort of thing out."
He scowls and she shrugs; she thought it was worth a shot.
"Then don't open the door?" she offers, her voice lazy as she pulls extra blankets out of her hallway closet and carries them over to the couch for him. "That eventually worked with Casey."
He lets out a noise somewhere between a laugh and a scoff. "Have you met Nancy? Obstacles like that won't stop her." The tone of his voice prompts an amusing yet highly involuntarily vision of the blonde scaling his fire escape like a ninja.
She flops down next to him with an exasperated sigh that's mostly theatrics, leaning an elbow against the armrest of the couch. "So why bother me and my Friday evening?"
He looks way too pleased to be recounting his predicament.
"Let's see: Glenn kissed my girlfriend, Boone has a Nazi wife, and Tyler's busy with his new boyfriend." He tacks off a list on his fingers for show, his eyes flicking to the video game she has on pause. "And see, you're not even doing anything."
She has the fleeting urge to point out the fact Nancy kissed Glenn, not the other way around, but she figures that'd be counterproductive.
"So I'm the victim of slim pickings," she says flatly. "Awesome. Don't we see enough of each other during the day?"
He smiles and she glares, but her tone doesn't have as much bite as she meant it to.
Marisa figures she should put her icy fence back up, though, because she's pretty sure she didn't invite him into her bed.
"What the hell are you doing?" She meant to convey her annoyance when she feels the mattress dip slightly, but her threatening demeanor is only half effective since she mumbled it sleepily.
"I swear your couch has rocks in it."
She bites back a laugh at his childish tone and sighs. It's too late in the night to argue and she's too exhausted to move. "Fine. But remember: you touch, you die."
She can't see it, but he grins.
They wake up in the morning with his face in her hair and their legs entangled, but she figures since she kicked him and watched him roll off the bed with a thud, it doesn't mean a thing.
He stays again the next night.
They lie on the floor staring up at the ceiling, their bodies parallel as they face in opposite directions, the bottle of whiskey floating somewhere by their heads. He says he can't believe she was married once (honestly, most days she can't either) and she counters with the fact she can't believe he let a Hungarian baby be named 'Rabbit' after him. "You do realize you've scarred him for life now, right?" She tilts her head in his direction. "Where'd you get that nickname anyway?"
He's silent for a moment before he tells her a story of a little boy who ran fast, but not faster than the flames that consumed his father.
Her head feels a little heavier as she tells him she's sorry, but he waves her off in that way he does when she apologizes for things she can't control, and instead he comments on how he feels sorry for the poor bastard who suffered being married to her.
She rolls her eyes, falling back into banter mode, and she throws a pillow at him.
As his laughter dies down, it's then she realizes this is first time they've really hung out outside of work, just them two, if you don't count that time he went all Bullet on her and severed some poor drunk's finger and that time they were quarantined for a day, and she's a lot more relaxed then she thought she'd be.
She wonders what that means.
By the end of the following week, she's pretty sure her landlord thinks he's her boyfriend. It doesn't help that he runs into them while Rabbit has her slung backwards over his shoulder, her dark waves flying in her face while she loudly declares her refusal to have Chinese food for the fourth night in a row.
They had finally settled on pizza when she's flipping through a magazine on the couch, legs sprawled out so she's taking up all the cushions. His resolution is to shove her legs out of the way as he flops down next to her and tilts a beer her way. When she glares, he simply grabs her jean-clad legs, allowing them to easily drape across his lap.
"Not even remotely." But she smiles and takes the offered bottle anyway.
It's scary how comfortable this is, and just as she thinks he's turned some sort of new leaf she's never seen before: "You're a cat in the sack, aren't you?" He smiles, his eyes wandering down her legs.
"Rabbit." Her tone is warning venom.
"What? It's an honest question. You had a sex dream about me—that opens the door for my curiosity."
She ignores him.
"You are, aren't you," he insists, his smile growing. "You can go to church all you want." There's mock conviction in his voice and she looks up. "Jesus knows what you've done."
She almost snorts out her beer, both loving and hating that no matter how angry or annoyed me makes her, he can always, always make her laugh.
"Admit it. You love having me around." He nudges her and she glares.
"Nope. Not even a little bit."
It was a lie, and they both knew it.
One morning, she wakes up to find him cooking her breakfast and whistling along to the radio.
She lives in the shady Mission area. She survived army tours in Baghdad, Basra, and Fallujah, and she can honestly say nothing infuriates, baffles, excites, or even scares her more than one Reuben Palchuk.
She watches him pick up his food and she scrunches up her face in her usual disgust.
"We've talked about this. Quit criticizing the way I eat."
She rolls her eyes, taking a sip of coffee.
"Look man," she begins, setting her mug down. "I wouldn't criticize if you closed your mouth while you chew and used a little invention known to man as utensils." She waves her fork a little as if to demonstrate.
"You're being a hater, Benez. God gave us hands and fingers for a reason. It's basic human instinct. Cave people hunted with bare hands. You gonna hate on them too?"
She closes her eyes for a moment, willing herself to not give into his idiocy.
"It never ceases to amaze me how you've made it this far in life…and I'm pretty sure they had spears, smart one."
"And you know this, how? What if communal weaponry was way before their time…?"
"Rabbit, please don't make me kill you. It's the weekend."
She's rolling her eyes as usual as she speaks, but there's a smile she's failing to bite back now. She continues eating and pretends she's not aware.
Nobody at work really pays attention to the way they enter and leave together, and those that do don't question it; they'd rather not be met with either Rabbit's sarcasm or Marisa's fist.
On a Tuesday, she cries.
A driver drunk off stale beer and age-old regrets collided with a boy who never saw his 10th birthday. Just as she was starting the IV he started to crash and they weren't able to bring him back. Rabbit put a hand on hers to still her movements, but she pulls away.
"He's gone, Marisa," he murmurs, his voice that rare gentle tone she only heard on that day they were quarantined and she was 90% sure she was going to die. His voice is soft, but his expression is firm and she lets go. She doesn't talk to him until they've landed back at the station.
He stares at her as she hops out of the bird and he puts a hand to her shoulder. She doesn't walk away. "Marisa, there was nothing you—"
"But we could've—"
She doesn't recognize her own voice. She hates the way she sounds so fragile. She's not sure if her voice falters just because she's upset or because she's genuinely unsure how to finish that statement.
She knows Rabbit's right but something she can't explain is fogging up her head. Like saving this boy would've meant there's a little more…good in the world. It's lame, she knows. It defies her logic. She's not the type that lets this stuff distract her from the job; neither of them are the sentimental kind. What does amaze her, though, is that for two unsentimental people, her body molds kind of perfectly into his chest as his arms wrap tentatively around her.
She doesn't think beyond that, though. That kind of mental processing crosses into migraine-inducing territory, so she chalks it up to the fact it's been a long day and lets him hold her close.
"Don't be such a girl," she feels him murmur into her hair after a moment. "It's a pain in the ass."
"Says the friggin' bane of my existence."
He seems to consider this for a moment before asking if she wanted to go grab some beer and play video games. She quickly wipes her eyes, telling him that sounds perfect as he leads the way out to his car.
That night, his arm brushes against hers in his sleep, and she feels hot and cold at the same time and it's almost funny, how things ended up here. Well, funny in a not-so-much-as-funny-as-it-is-ironic-and-a-little-irritating kind of way.
Marisa's not really sure how this has happened, but apparently somewhere between punching Rabbit in the face and watching him pray for her life, something's shifted between them, because she's been having a harder time believing what she feels for him is strictly a partner thing.
And when they wake up next to each other the next morning his smirk is normal, but the look in his eyes tells her he's stopped believing, too.
It's curious though, this progression, because she doesn't really know where to begin. Her natural instincts, of course, are to fight this. That's who she is, after all. Don't like your situation? Change it. Don't think you have it in you to keep fighting? Take yourself out of the game so others won't fall because of your stupidity. It's simple.
But the way she feels around him now…isn't all that simple.
Marisa Benez believes in a lot of things.
She believes in playing by the rules, in getting as much as you put in, in her mother's home cooking, and that having faith really does mean something in the end.
Like she had told him one of the first weeks on the job together, she doesn't like dealing with people. It's not that she doesn't care, but the fact remains that they're messy, and this will always, always be true. If your copter is injured, she'll let you know. If you take care of her, she'll always be there. People? Not so much.
So why, she wonders, does she believe in him?
"So what do we do, partner?"
They're kneeling on either side of a patient, their knees hard against the rubble and concrete of the I-880 overpass. He looks at her with an expression that's expecting and encouraging and scary. She takes a deep breathe; she knows this.
"Check for bruising around the anklebone for her and then start an IV line and suction on this guy to make sure his airway remains clear."
He actually smiles. His lack of sarcasm means he doesn't doubt her. Means he believes in her. But for the record, she's too busy treating these patients and biting back a triumphant smirk that she's really getting a grip on this EMT gig to dwell over the fact the thought of him being proud of her kind of makes her head spin.
She watches him walk around to the other side of the copter to grab their extra bag of gauze before turning back to the blood and guts with a smile on her face.
The peace doesn't last, though, and the next moment catches her by surprise. Before she can sedate the bastard who had caused the accident in the first place, he attacks her, sending her flying backwards onto the pavement, leaving her gasping for air as the blades of her helicopter whirl around her view and bony fingers clench around her throat.
Before she can regain control of her brain and make it tell her fists to punch this guy the hell off her, she feels hands release her and the sound of Rabbit's voice.
"Marisa! You all right? Are you hurt?"
She thinks of the war for the first time in a long time and can't move, entranced only by the blades chopping through the air. She's vaguely aware his blue-gloved hands gingerly inspecting the already forming bruises as she gasps, sucking in air in ragged breaths.
She hears him sigh in relief and sit back, his hand absently lingering on her shoulder as Nancy and Glenn take over their patients.
"You're okay, you're okay," he murmurs, repeating it like a mantra, and she loses the ability to tell whether or not he's trying to reassure himself more than he is her.
"You did good today."
She stills the hand that had been reaching for the freezer door in the station's kitchen. She turns to him, eyes wary and scanning his face for any hint that'll tell her he's kidding. When he shrugs under her gaze, she rolls her eyes.
"You have a warped definition of good. I froze, Rabbit."
"Yeah, but it's not your fault the guy belongs in a psych ward." He leans against the counter like it's nothing. Like it's always nothing. "Look at this way: before you went all Catatonic Jane on me, you knew what you were doing and you helped someone. I think that still constitutes as a win, Marisa."
He holds his fist up in the air for their usual pound that she'll never admit aloud that she's actually fond of. She lets out a dramatic sigh and steps towards him, but somewhere in between raising her hand to reciprocate and letting his goofy smile mirror on her own face, a miscommunication seems to take place in her head.
She blinks and realizes her hand misses its mark and instead comes up to stroke the stubble that resides along his jaw. She's pretty sure the same misfire occurs in his brain, too, because instead of staring at her like she's insane or laughing it off like he normally would've—should've—he moves in closer, backing her against the counter, his eyes steady in their questioning. She's not exactly sure what she's nodding in response to or how or when they got there, but her hands are reaching at his collar and his lips are closing in on hers.
The kiss is…
Not anything she would've expected from him. It's soft, calming. Even as his hands wander down to lift her up, hoisting her onto the edge of the counter. Even as one of his hands gets tangled in her hair in a completely distracting way while the other lingers at the small of her back.
Her mouth gently opens against his, moaning a little as he pulls her closer. He spends their first kiss exploring, hesitantly mapping her out before figuring out where to go next—why is she even thinking that? This is only happening this once. This shouldn't be happening at all.
And with that thought, she pulls back, eyes still closed and forehead against his as she speaks.
"We shouldn't be doing this," she whispers as she opens her eyes, but her scolding is ineffective at best since they're both breathing hard and his gaze can't seem to decide whether to rest on her mouth or her eyes.
He mumbles an "I know" but his tone sounds suspiciously like "why not?" and suddenly her head is dizzy as she's pushing herself off the counter and scrambling for the exit sign.
He doesn't come back that night.
She tries not to read too much into it.
On a Thursday, she shares Thai takeout with Tyler in the break room, trying not to stare at the counter where she may or may not have made out with her partner a few days earlier. As he divvies up the rice, he looks her way.
"Hey chica, anymore sex dreams about Rabbit?"
"Nope," she murmurs, keeping her eyes low as she drags her fork around her plate. "But we kinda-sorta made out next to the coffee machine and now we're not even talking."
She hears his goofy chuckle for a moment before he realizes she's not laughing, too. "Wait, you're…?"
Her blank look turns his way, morphing into an expression that warns him exactly how much pain he'll be in if he teases her.
"Maybe it doesn't mean anything," he says kindly.
She really wants to agree, but the way that kiss felt…the way her stomach does this annoying girlish flip whenever he looks at her now…the way she's began to fear his reckless nature because of his safety more than her own…
"Everything means something, Tyler."
His lips form lopsided half-smile. "Maybe now isn't the best time to turn all philosophical, yeah?"
"Yeah," she mumbles, poking at her food as if it offended her. "Yeah, maybe you're right."
He follows her gaze to the hall where Rabbit is talking to Nancy in hushed tones. He doesn't laugh anymore, but instead shuffles more noodles onto her plate in sympathy.
The air between them is tense. Unresolved. Filled with words unsaid. Both of them know this and neither are the types to sit in silence, but they say nothing now.
Copter rides are the worse, and hell, once or twice she even contemplates surging forward and crashing into the Golden Gate since his freaked out screams would at least constitute as him speaking to her.
On their way back from a job, she spots him at the nurses' station, flirting with Dianna, and tries not to think about how all his stuff is gone from her apartment. She goes home that night to play her violent video games alone, telling herself she doesn't care as she shoots down any fucker that gets in her way.
A fire engulfs one of the houses on her block on a Monday night.
The flames don't reach her building, but she did get there in time to resuscitate a few victims. She'd smugly tell Rabbit all about it—if they weren't still ignoring each other.
She's recounting the fiery tale the following morning, bright eyes and hand gestures and animated voice and everything, when he rushes into the break room. She turns to him and detects the hint of relief in his face.
"You weren't picking up your cell all night. I thought that…"
Her eyebrows furrow first in confusion then realization, and she mentally dares him to finish the sentence.
He doesn't. "Never mind."
He begins to duck his head out of the room as quick as he came before he pauses again. "Oh, and Benez?"
"Quit chitchatting and hurry the hell up. We've got work to do."
She rolls her eyes and sighs, standing there for a moment instead of draining the rest of the coffee in her mug. No refuge is found in either slowing down or hurrying up: if she rushes to the copter, there's just another awkward ride in store, and if she stays here she has to deal with the grin that appears on Tyler's face.
"Chitchatting?" he snorts, "Talk about overcompensation. Maybe you should be philosophical after all."
Boone and Glenn look confused, and Marisa tells him to stop talking.
Marisa continues scribbling in patient information on her clipboard, thinking if she holds her breath, Nancy might forget she's standing there and move on.
"So…Rabbit's been staying at your place?"
The 's' Marissa is scribbling turns into some sort of 'q' and she mentally curses. How does she even know these things?
"Uh…yeah. Just for a few days, though. He's…not anymore."
"So there's…nothing going on with you two?" If she's trying to sound casual, she's kind of failing. "'Cause Glenn says you two seem pretty close these days."
Note to Self: Kill Glenn.
"Nope." Lie. "Just getting along better as partners these days, y'know." Another lie. She looks up to see Nancy tapping her pen against the counter, her expression unreadable.
"Oh, okay. Cool. I mean…you two make a great team either way." Nancy stares at her for a long time, something she wasn't quite expressing behind her green eyes. "Well, I should get back to work."
And with that she walked away, leaving Marisa standing at the nurses' station, confused as hell.
When another week rolls by and he's still on his Marisa-avoidance spree, she considers throwing her coffee mug at his head, but she doesn't really feel like going for melodramatic this morning. Plus, she'd have to treat him for burns, she'd probably be charged with assault, and, all in all, that's just a whole bunch of paperwork she doesn't need to deal with.
It feels like a million years ago she was just meeting him and she wonders if there was any way to predict they would've ended up here. In this no-man's-land of silences and hidden meanings and denial. She decides there isn't, but the thought doesn't really bring as much comfort as she would've preferred.
She feels restless. She's not the type of person to just stand in front of a train and wait for the impact. She usually hits first. For two direct people, they have a very indirect way of dealing with thi s and she's had up to here with it. Wherever here actually is.
"Rabbit, are we going to talk about this?" Her voice a little weak as her grip is steady on the control panel.
He stares out the window as they past the Bay Bridge. Again, she considers crashing.
"What's there to talk about?"
She sighs. Of course.
She lowers them back home, powers down the engine and watches him turn to leave.
She thinks of him waiting in a deserted hallway until 5 in the morning so she wouldn't be alone in finding out if she'd live or die. She wishes he'd kept up the asshole façade. That at least, was easy to deal with.
"Actually no. It's not all right."
He stops walking. She stops breathing, maybe.
"You may be some immature coward but I'm not. At least I can admit that this is…that something happened." She faltered almost comically and his shock gave a little way to amusement. She wanted to wipe it off his face. "Look, you can either man up and deal, or I can spell out for you what you're already thinking. I get that you think it was a mistake. That…kissing me was a mistake." She pauses, saying for a moment, willing herself not to let whatever she's feeling completely spill into broad daylight. "I get that I'm not Nancy, okay? So we can just stop avoiding each other like we're in fucking high school. Jesus Christ."
She stomps away, doesn't look back. She thinks he got the message.
When she hears knocking at her door at 3 o'clock in the morning, it kind of makes her wish she didn't leave her pistol in her locker.
He's there, his hair ruffled—which she doesn't get why that's the first thing she noticed, one hand is crammed into the pocket of his jeans, the other toying with the strap of his work duffle.
She leans against her door, arms crossed like that night that feels like centuries ago.
"Why are you here?"
It takes him a long time to speak, and when he does, he doesn't answer the question.
"Look. This…this isn't about her." His eyes tear away from the floor and finally meet hers. "I just…" He gestures to the air between them as if it'll have the answers. "I didn't know I could feel this way about you."
The simplicity of the sentence hangs thick in the air as she releases the breath she didn't know she was holding.
"I never meant to make you feel that I don't want you. I just don't know where to go from here."
Marisa stares for a minute that seems like sixty of them, then simply pushes herself off from the doorframe, taking a few steps towards him. "Me neither."
To her relief, the corner of his mouth raises into a crooked smile.
She's soon distracted from responding as he takes his hand and moves some stray strands of her hair behind her ear. And just like that, his arms are around her and her hands are in his hair like something long awaited shifts into place.
"So what do we do?" He mumbles into her hair.
"No fucking clue."
She may not know what this all means as she silently pulls back and moves aside, but they both smirk at each other as he crosses the threshold. As he sets his bag down and proceeds to reel her in again, she feels this scary kind of happy creep up into her system.
She figures, if anything, it's a start.
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