This is my first try at writing Hayden Cale in English. I always found her tough to write, even in French, so I hope this didn't turn out too bad! This little oneshot was supposed to be somewhat shippy (the idea of Hayden/Scott amuses me way too much), but of course, knowing how things turn out in the movie, you can interpret it however you want. :)
As usual, critics and corrections are welcome! This is (I think) the longest thing I ever wrote in English, and some parts almost drove me crazy!
Hayden Cale sat at the computer and began to read everything she could find. She read about CHAANK's employees and about the company's last projects, including the Hardman soldier, and she frowned when she realized that none of the reports concerning Dante's projects had actually been written by the man himself. The reports were all signed by John Carpenter, except for two of them (the oldest), which had been written by Scott Ridley.
So much information was missing… She had known from the very beginning that nobody would agree to help her, but that did not make it any less annoying. Ridley and the others were clearly hiding everything they could; they were all protecting Dante as if their lives had depended on it. Maybe that was exactly the case, Hayden thought, and she toyed with that idea for a moment, trying to guess what Dante was really hiding in the vault 10. Whatever it was might have explained Nicholson's death…
The sound of steps made her look near the door, and she sighed when she recognized Scott Ridley behind the glass wall. Hayden hurried and hid Ridley's personal card in the pocket of her vest before he had the chance to notice anything. He entered the office without even knocking and walked to her in silence. Hayden couldn't help but notice that he was even paler than the last time she had spoken to him just a few hours ago.
Even though Ridley was frightened, he had no one to blame but himself: firing Dante should have been his job, not hers. Maybe if it had been someone else Hayden would have been a little bit more sympathetic… But Ridley was clearly not good at attracting sympathy. He was too arrogant.
- You're really stupid, Ridley growled. You shouldn't be reading those things.
Hayden frowned and answered coldly:
- Someone has to do your job. That's the reason I was sent here, remember? I already told you; you can continue to hide if that's what you want, just don't try to stop me.
- Augh, for fuck's sake! Where's your survival instinct? You're not gonna fix anything; you'll just cause even more trouble!
- I know what I'm doing, Scott…
Ridley glared at her and slammed his hands on the desk.
- No you don't know! You don't fucking know what you're doing! If you knew, you wouldn't be doing it in the first place!
He took a deep breath and made a visible effort to calm himself again, then looked at Hayden's computer screen, read a couple of lines and sighed. Tightening his fists, he glared at Hayden.
- Look, which part of "Dante is insane" you don't understand? He's going to kill you if you go on like this. You, and probably other people too.
Was she really in danger? Probably, but Hayden had thought about it and believed she had enough time left to stop Dante without too much problems. Dante would probably be furious when he would understand what she was trying to do, but he had seemed more curious about her than anything else when she had spoken to him earlier. She was willing to risk her life to stop Dante; even if the man was dangerous, she was stronger than him. It would take more than that maniac to stop her. As to what would happen to the company without its weapon designer… She did not care about it too much, to tell the truth.
She looked at her colleague, trying to understand how he could be so terrified. Dante, no matter how insane he could be, was still nothing more than a man, yet Ridley and the others all seemed to think that he was some sort of omnipotent monster.
- Scott, if all you have to suggest is that I do like the others and hide under my desk while Dante does anything he wants, I don't want to hear what you have to say.
That was without a doubt what Ridley had had in mind, because he muttered something incomprehensible and sighed again. He lowered his eyes for a moment and stayed silent. Hayden was beginning to lose her patience when Ridley finally looked at her again. She had wanted to tell him to get out of her office, tell him to let her work, but the words died in her throat when she saw his eyes. Not that he was crying or anything like that; if he had been, Hayden would have immediately suspected him to be faking it anyway. No, Ridley was simply terrified, and never before had Hayden ever seen such fear and despair in the eyes of a man. At this precise moment, Ridley simply had no hope left, and he had realized it.
Hayden knew she could not trust Ridley, and that taking pity on him would not help her. If anything, it would let Ridley believe that he had a chance to convince her to change her mind on what she intended to do… But she still took his hand in hers and squeezed it softly, and she smiled a little.
- Don't worry so much…
He looked at her for an instant, uncertain, and then smiled back. It was a weak smile, but Hayden thought Ridley did seemed to feel a little better. This smile, at least, was a big improvement over the ones she had seen before from him, these cold grins that had made Hayden want to hit something.
- Well, someone has to do your job, he answered mockingly.
Hayden rolled her eyes, amused. When Ridley took her other hand in his, she hesitated and felt a soft shiver going down her back. Part of her wanted to step back and tell Ridley to go, because that shiver she had felt was just plain wrong… She could not afford to be distracted like that, and even less by someone like Ridley, who had no intention of helping her. She had only wanted to reassure him, but now her heart was beating just a little too fast and she couldn't stop thinking about the warmth of his hands (How could they be so warm? She had been so sure that they would be cold).
She had to stay focused. Looking Ridley in the eyes, she murmured:
- Everything could be over in no time if you helped me.
He let go off her hands and lowered his gaze, shifting his weight from one foot to the other. After a moment Ridley looked at her again, and Hayden saw that same despair in his expression. During a brief second, she regretted to have broken the silence.
- My solution still seems much easier than yours, Ridley said. There's no way I'll ever be able to make you change your mind, right?...
There was no point in lying; for people like Hayden Cale, hiding was never an option. She shook her head slowly, and Scott sighed.
- Then… Maybe I'll think about it. Maybe.
Hayden smiled a little and did her best to ignore how that single word – "Maybe"– had made her heart race again. Just a few minutes ago, the thought of making Ridley change his mind had seemed impossible and stupid, but now that soft "maybe" almost sounded like a "yes". Maybe he would help her. Maybe she could help him too, if he wanted her to…
Without adding a word, Ridley stepped back and exited the office. As he walked away, Hayden thought she saw him look in her direction through the glass wall and smile a little. She probably imagined it, of course… She sat at her desk again to continue to read, but somehow she was unable to concentrate. She just kept looking at her hands. They still felt warm.