Warning: This is not a happy story. Not happy at all. So if you don't do angst or sad, don't read. Also, this is in no way attached to Arguing. Anyways, I don't really have a time frame for this; lets just pretend for a moment that 'A Family Holiday' never happened and Six and Holiday are as oblivious to each other as ever.
And sorry this is so long - I didn't mean for this to happen. This idea just kind of exploded and grew and grew and became what you see here. Please don't hate me for how this ends - I'll write some happier stuff, I promise :)
Disclaimer: As I've said before I do not own Six, Holiday or anything else Generator Rex related (again, a certain green-suited ninja would feature more prominently if I did)
Memories and Ghosts.
"This unacknowledged love haunts them like a lonely ghost, wanting to be seen, waiting to exist."
It's the little things that get to him. However, once he thinks about it, he realizes that they don't have any 'big things' to compare the 'little things' too, which only makes them all the more worrying. Like the way she moves to hold his hand to comfort him, or the tentative smile she displays when he enters the room. It's too unprofessional, and he needs her to act professionally. He doesn't want her to consider them as friends because they aren't. They're not allowed to be. The only reason they somewhat socialize is because of Rex. That is their only connection, and that's how it has to stay. So he continues to pull away and still doesn't make any attempt to acknowledge her presence or her smile because they're not friends. They're work colleagues. And they're professionals.
She said it. She hadn't really meant to, but she did. And now she's glad it's out there because it means that it's no longer her problem; it's his. Just like it should be – it's his damn fault that it started being an issue in the first place, it should most certainly be his duty to fix it. So she looks at him and waits for him to start fixing it.
He hasn't moved.
Then she realizes the feeling that's been cramping her chest every time she looks at him is changing. It's like she lost one form of pain, but is slowly gaining another.
It builds when he doesn't look at her. It builds again as he stands there in silence, completely ignorant of the fact that what she just said would mean something to a normal person. And the feeling slowly consumes her when he mutters a stoic 'No', and leaves.
No. No? She wasn't asking his permission – she was telling him. She hadn't even phrased it as a question. It wasn't as if she had said 'Oh bye the way Six, are you aware that I'm in love with you?" She hadn't said that at all. She had just flat out said 'I love you.' Three little words, eight letters, and no question mark. So what the hell did 'No' mean?
She knew what it meant. Because she knew that he knew that even though she hadn't stated it as such, it really was a question. It always is. She wasn't telling him that she loved him; she was asking him to love her. And he had said no. Because he couldn't. That or he simply didn't want to. She really wished it was because he couldn't.
And suddenly it's her problem again, which means she'll have to fix it herself. The first place to start is putting herself back together again, as she is obviously broken for forming such an attachment to someone as cold and emotionless as Agent Six. So she stands by her microscope, cold coffee in hand, utterly too tired to even consider sleeping, and she turns back to her paperwork to try to clear her mind. She has to take care of it because her mind is all she's got left. Six has her heart, and she's fairly sure that he just broke it.
He doesn't want to talk to her but he needs that report. So he has no choice but to ask her for it. He walks into her office, trying not to think about the little altercation they shared 3 days ago or the fact that they have both been actively avoiding associating with each other since. She's working at her computer and continues to do so as he walks through the door. She doesn't even acknowledge his presence. He supposes that's a good thing. Before he can reach her desk she speaks. "It's on the desk by the microscope." He looks to his left to see that the report he's been looking for is sitting there waiting for him. Momentarily startled (this is not what Holiday usually does), he takes it from its place on the desk next to him, thanks her and turns to leave again. Part of him is waiting for her to say something as he walks towards the door. Another part is hoping to God that she doesn't.
It isn't until he's handed the report over to White Knight that he realizes she didn't smile at him like she normally does. It isn't until two months later, when she still hasn't smiled at him, that he realizes he misses it.
She knew it was a stupid idea. She knew that she shouldn't have allowed herself to be in the same room as him, late at night, when both of them were so thoroughly worn out. She knew that with a headache this big, and a brain as tired as her own, she should not have been attempting to stich up a wound he'd somehow acquired. She knew that, above all else, she shouldn't have done so when he was shirtless.
And yet here they are, a shirtless Six sitting on her examination table as she cleans some scratches on his chest before attending to the rather nasty gash across his forearm. His glasses are on but she can feel him watching her – that's a little something she's become more aware of recently. It's like something in the atmosphere changes when he enters the room, a shift in electricity or something, and it becomes amplified when he's looking at her. She tries to ignore it as she puts stiches in his chest, but it's difficult. After all, she can barely breathe.
He watches her work and notices how long her eyelashes are. He hasn't noticed it before – he always knew they were long but never realised that they create this little half a halo around her eyes and highlight those little flecks of grey in her otherwise green eyes.
Then he stops and remembers its Holiday and that means thoughts about eyelashes and eye colour are completely off limits. They are professionals. Work colleagues. Not friends. And most certainly not….more.
She tries not to notice how his breath keeps hitting her cheek when they're this close together. She tries not to notice how it feels to have part of her anatomy touching his for once, even if it is only for purely medical reasons. She tries not to notice how his eyes watch her as if she's his prey and he's just waiting to strike. She'll never know how he does that – how he makes her feel so small all the time, so insignificant under his gaze. She wishes she could just slink away into the corner sometimes, still haunted by the memories of the night she told him, and how his voice sounded when he rejected her.
He watches as he cleans the wound, sending a sharp stinging pain through his arm. She apologises softly, saying it should stop stinging soon. He doesn't really care, doesn't really notice. He's too transfixed on the way her eyes are focused so intently on the wound and how her delicate little fingers work their magic on his badly injured arm. And he finds his mind betraying him, wishing that for once those hands were running through his hair and clinging to him tightly. He'd just like to hold her. Just once. But it isn't long before he drags himself back to reality and reminds his treacherous mind that this isn't what they are. They are not more.
She finishes wrapping his arm after what feels like an eternity. She steps back and signals that she's done, still avoiding his glasses-shielded eyes as she packs up her instruments. She hears him curse under his breath softly behind her and she turns to see him standing, attempting to do up the fresh shirt she placed on the table next to him. With his arm and hand bandaged he can't negotiate the sleeves, and is having a lot of difficulty turning and twisting with his chest wounds. She smiles softly and walks towards him, not offering her help because she knows if she asks he'll say no. So she just goes ahead and does it anyway.
He watches as she takes the shirt out of his grasp before slowly dressing him as if he were a child. If it were anyone except Holiday he'd slice them in half for having the nerve to even consider doing such a thing. But it is Holiday. So he doesn't. He doesn't give his mind the time to try and figure out why he has a different set of rules for Holiday, and instead focuses on how she casually does up his buttons.
She can't help but enjoy the feeling of companionable silence that surrounds them, how this – them, together – feels so natural. They're acting like an old married couple, completely comfortable around each other and knowing when the other is in need without being explicably told so. And she knows they're not the only ones in the room – they never are – there's something here between them that they never acknowledge, never speak about. It just hangs there, waiting for them to admit to its existence, unchanging in their ignorance. She's sure he knows it's there too, how can he not when it's so obvious? But he doesn't say anything and neither does she. They just move around it – this thing that's unshifting – and hope it fades away.
She finishes doing up his buttons and reaches for his tie, which is also lying on the now vacant examination table. She slides it under his collar, and pulls it to the front.
He finds himself a little suspicious of her actions and the ease with which she approaches the situation – how many times has she tied someone's tie before? Has she done this with other men? Is this how she leaves someone the morning after – does she knot his tie then kiss him good-bye? He finds something boiling in his blood at the thought. He doesn't want any other man being this close to her, letting her do this for him. Something within him screams like a selfish child, demanding that this action be his – he only wants her to tie his tie for him. He knows it stupid to lay claim to an action but looking down at her as she effortlessly tightens his tie so it sits perfectly, he can't help but think that it might be nice for her to do that for him every morning.
She smiles at her handy work – the tie is as precise as ever. She smiles and somehow feels the need to inform him that she learnt how to do this from her school days – the particularly prestigious school she attended demanded all students wear a tie with their winter uniforms. She suddenly finds herself reminiscing, telling him how Beverley could never do her own tie so she always had to tie it for her. She finds herself smiling at the memories before she realizes that Beverley isn't that little girl anymore. And this isn't her tie – it's the tie of The Man That Said No. And suddenly the smile is gone from her face, slips back into the dark, lonely spot it's been hiding in these past couple of years to be forgotten once more. Why did she even tell him something so personal? She knows well and good that Six doesn't do personal – especially when it comes to her.
He's glad she told him about her past – it suddenly vanishes all images of her dressed in another man's shirt, doing his tie for him with a smile. And he's more than glad to vanish those images. He thinks that maybe, from now on, this could be their thing. In a purely professional sense of course. Nothing more. Because they are not more.
She's holding the end of the tie in her hands, not seeing it, as she tries to hold back tears at the thought of Beverley and Six and how nothing in her life has turned out the way she planned and how helpless she is in this mess that is the world. It's not until she feels a gentle pressure on her hips that she's brought out of her internal monologue and back to what's happening right now.
He's somewhat aware of something below his fingertips. It's not until he sees her look up at him, her green eyes slightly wider than usual that he realizes he's holding her. This is all kinds of wrong – they are not more, they are not more…..But she needs him right now. She needs to know that there is someone here that believes in her and still has hope for her and her sister. And he does. So he has to tell her.
She smiles when he tells her it's all going to be ok. He doesn't clarify what he's talking about but he doesn't need to. She knows and he knows and that's all that matters. And this is going to be ok. Six said so. And suddenly she's finding it hard to breathe again.
He watches as she takes a step closer towards him – it's barely a step but it's a movement and they both know what it means. He leans a little closer, his head bowing closer to hers, his eyes suddenly focusing on those lips that he has spent a little too much time thinking about to be deemed healthy.
She watches as he inclines his head slightly – he's not backing away. He's not saying no. He's right here and he's holding her and he's looking at her and everything seems a little too perfect to be real.
She doesn't want to move any closer or further away, because she's standing right on the threshold – of everything they were, everything they are, and everything they could be – and standing right here seems to be the only place that any of it makes sense.
She knows if she moves that inch closer to him there will be no going back. But she knows if she moves away then she would have lost maybe the only opportunity she'll ever have to try to make this work. So she just stands there, praying that he'll make up both their minds so they can finally stop this tiring dance they've been doing for years.
A voice in the back of her head coldly reminds her of that day when he said 'No' and that he didn't love her then so why on earth should he love her now? The most desperate part of her brain tells her that it doesn't matter if he loves her or not, if he'd close that distance between them and touch her lips just once with his own then that would be enough – for just one moment she wants to let herself feel like she means something to him. So she waits, standing on her toes, her eyes closed and her breath heavy, wishing to God that he does something soon.
But he can't. Six can't do anything because he still isn't sure. And he wants to be sure. He doesn't want to misread the signs that he thinks he's been seeing for years now. He isn't sure, and Six never makes a move before he's sure it's the right thing to do. It feels like the right thing to do would be to kiss her now. But he just isn't sure. He just wants her to do it – to move that inch or so closer – so he'd know where he stood, where they stood. And because, when it all comes down to it, he wants her to.
But he knows she won't. She won't do it because last time she tried to move forward he pushed her back. With one little word, everything changed. Actually, with her three little words everything had changed. His one word after just dictated which direction the change had been in. He hadn't been ready then. He still isn't ready now.
He isn't ready to step forward by himself – it would leave him too exposed. Too vulnerable. And after years of training Six knew that vulnerability was the biggest killer. And he knew that if he became vulnerable in front of her then she had all the means and power to tear him to shreds. And he couldn't risk that. So he'd wait for her, just as she waited for him, standing in limbo between present and possibility, hoping to God that one of them did something soon.
Time continues to pass. Nothing around them has stopped; it's just them that are frozen. She knows that eventually this moment will end, they'll keep moving, and she has a feeling it will just be the same tiring circles they've been going in for a very long time now – never forward, not quite back, just dancing in suspended animation. Waiting. Hoping. But always knowing it's never going to happen. If they've managed to get this close and nothing has happened then she knows – she just knows – nothing ever will. But they're both too stubborn to admit defeat, not willing to give up but not willing to take the chance. They're both scared – him probably more so than her but she knows he'd sooner die than admit it. She's tired of being scared though; honestly doesn't think she has the energy to keep being scared.
In that moment, she's not scared of it anymore. She's not scared because she realizes it's just like the myths they studied at schools – faint renditions of something that might have been real once, but has now been lost to time. That's what they've become – a dream that was dreamt a little too long and now will never have its chance to be lived out in reality. This thing that's been hanging between them like a lonely ghost is gone now. It's had its time haunting them and now it's disappearing into the walls as memories of things that never were, never to be seen or spoken of again.
So she drops back onto her feet again, no longer suspended on her toes. She lets go of his tie weakly but doesn't open her eyes. She can't just yet. She doesn't know what she'll do if she actually looked at him right now. She's grown so used to seeing that ghost that she doesn't know what he'll look like without being shielded by it.
He doesn't move. He watches as she slips away from him – again – and wonders whether it hurt her this much when he walked away from her. Because this hurts. He doesn't know where the hurt's coming from, but it's all over him – a dull ache that he suspects won't be leaving him alone for a long time. He tries to figure out its origin – find out exactly where the pain is coming from so he can destroy it – but he can't alienate it. This feeling is engulfing and it's sucking the air from his lungs. He doesn't know how exactly, but he has a feeling she's doing this to him. So that means that she should be able to take it away. But by the way she refuses to look at him, he suspects she's not going to.
He's still holding her. It feels right for his hands to sit there – like they were built for the purpose to hold her – but she can't delude herself of the fact any longer. He doesn't want her. Not enough to prove it. So she has to let him go. She has to let this dream go, because she's been sleeping much too long. It's time to wake up.
He listens to her take a deep, labored breath before she speaks softly in a voice he doesn't recognize as hers.
She bids him good night in a voice she reserves for moments like this – moments that you wish you never had to deal with – and waits for him to leave. They stand there a few moments before he returns her sentiment and delicately removes his hands from her waist. She listens to the echo of his footsteps slowly grow more distant before she looks up to find both the man and the ghost gone.
She stays up until three doing paperwork to stop herself thinking about what just happened and bursting into tears.
He stays up until five doing grueling exercises to punish himself for letting her get so close.
They never speak of it again.
He knows this is the end. He's actually quite surprised it didn't sneak up on him sooner. It tried. Oh how it tried. But Six was always one step ahead, could always feel it coming, and somehow always had just the right amount of strength to fight it off every other time.
Every other time. But not this time.
He doesn't know where he is anymore. All he can see it black. There isn't a bright light, his life isn't flashing before his eyes. He's just lying there in the black. And it's cold.
He's glad his life isn't flashing before his eyes. He doesn't think he'd like to see all that again. He wouldn't want to go through his childhood again, and he certainly doesn't want to see his parents dying again –that was hard enough the first time. He doesn't want to see his rise through the numbers, or the looks on the faces of all those men and women he killed to get there; to the illustrious number six. He doesn't want to see that because, in all honesty, he's tried very hard to forget it.
He doesn't want to remember hearing the announcement about the Nanite Event or being recruited by Providence. He's replayed those enough times already to know exactly what happened so there's no reason to go through all of it again. He doesn't want to remember pulling Rex from the rubble because he's ashamed that he contemplated leaving him there. He doesn't want to relive that moment because that's the moment things got a damn lot harder in what had been a conveniently attachment-free life. He loves the kid as much as he imagines he could love his own flesh and blood, but he's ok to leave him. The kid will be fine. He's a lot stronger than anyone gives him credit for. He'll pull through.
It starts getting colder. Much colder.
He finds his mind wandering to the one thing he has tried so very hard not to think about his entire time at Providence. He figures that now, considering he's dying and all, he's allowed to think about her. Just this once.
He thinks about how he misses the smile she used to save just for him. Or the way she would babble about something she was passionate about, especially when sleep deprived – and considering how hard she pushed herself, that was just about always. He remembers thinking that it was fate that her eyes were green because all his favourite things were green. He goes back to the night when she told him she loved him and he walked away. He wasn't ready for that. He knew that it was a loaded question, asking him to promise her things like his heart and all those other things that Six locked away a very long time ago. He had hidden them somewhere and he couldn't find them. How could he give them to her when he didn't even know where they were – didn't know if he still had them? So he had said the only thing that seemed to make sense to him and walked away. He hadn't slept properly for a month. He remembers the night they got too close and how good it had felt to have her standing so close to him, touching him. He thinks of her breath on his skin and how pretty her eyes looked that night. He doesn't need to think about it all that much though because he's thought about it every day since it happened, imagining every possible ending a thousand times over. He wishes he'd taken that one step forward. Just that one time. Just to know how it felt.
It's in that moment that Six realizes something. He suddenly realizes that he doesn't have a heart. He used to, but she stole it from him a very long time ago without either of them realising. She stole it long before the night they got too close. She probably even had it before the night he said no – he just didn't know it then. Neither did she.
He thinks that of all the times to finally realize that he is in love with Rebecca Holiday, moments from death has got to be the most inconvenient.
So as he lies in the black, getting colder by the minute, he can't help but wish that he got to see her smile just one more time. He knows they'd never get the fairytale ending she deserves and that they could never really be together, but right now he doesn't want that. He just wishes that the last thing he saw before he dies are those eyes smiling back at him.
Then he stops remembering all together.
It's the little things that get to her. When she stops long enough she realizes that there aren't any 'big things' to compare the 'little things' to, which only makes them all the more painful. Like how there isn't a cup of coffee made just the way she likes it waiting for her in the morning when she needs it most. And how she still expects to find him in the break room getting a much needed break from Rex and Bobo's pranks. Or how whenever she looks at any of those pink baby rabbits all she can think of is the sight of him feeding them with that look on his face. She might laugh at the memories if they didn't hurt so much. When things hurt this badly she stops acting professionally. And she has to be professional – that's what he would have wanted. So she tries to stop remembering. She really does. But she just can't. She's haunted by that lonely ghost again – it hangs in front of her vision, engulfs her when she sleeps and every other time she thinks of him. She's tried to be rid of it but it's still there, clinging to her, haunting her. Reminding her of him.
The only thing that keeps her going most days is Rex. He's dealing with it a lot more openly than she is and she knows that it's tearing him apart to know that Six took the hit for him. She tells him that there is no other way Six would rather have gone than protecting Rex because he loved him like a son. It helps a little, but not enough.
She's ashamed to admit that she's found herself blaming him once or twice. She doesn't mean too, she makes a conscious effort not to in fact. She knows he blames himself and she knows neither he nor she should. But its so hard to accept the fact when it hurts this much. Something like this couldn't have simply happened because it was destined too. Nothing that important is ripped from her life without there being a damn good reason. 'Just because' is not a damn good reason in Rebecca Holiday's books. So she decides that she'll blame the man himself – for being too good at his job and for caring too much about Rex and taking the hit. And for not caring enough about her to simply take that one step forward. It's easier to blame him – she figures that if she's mad at him then she won't miss him as much. It doesn't work – she just feels guilty and misses him more.
She had to fight them to get his possessions, what few he had. When they began to clean out his room they were planning to just get rid of it all. They deliberately didn't tell her. They hadn't planned on her daily trips past his room, just in case it was all a bad dream and one day she'd just so happen to bump into him like she had done on so many other occasions. She had never bumped into Six. But she did bump into an agent or two carrying away his things. When they told her what they had been instructed to do with them she berated both of the agents, snatched the boxes and called an immediate conference with White Knight. After 30 minutes of yelling at a screen, she finally got her way. She had all of his belongings shipped to the house she had lived in before joining Providence. She's glad she had kept that house now.
It had been eight months when she took her holiday. Rex was going to go to the Academy to get formal training – Providence figured that keeping him busy and giving him activities he hadn't already done with Six was probably the best approach to a healthy recovery. That meant that he wouldn't need her around so much. When she had told him she was going away for a while he said he was glad and that she deserved it. She had walked out of Providence at the end of the week and didn't look back.
When she arrived at the house she realized that someone had been tending to her garden. Most probably the neighbors purely for the sake of appearances rather than genuinely helping her out. She didn't care; all she wanted was to get inside and sleep.
She had forgotten about having his possessions moved here.
She finds herself standing just inside the door, assaulted by the smell of him that's been locked up in here for eight months, having time to seep into the walls and become part of the furniture. And there's no longer one ghost, but thousands – they flood her senses and her memory and make it impossible for her to see straight through all the pain. Reigning in her senses, Holiday sets down her travel bag, takes off her coat and goes to large plastic bag she recognizes as having his suits in them. She takes out one of his suits and carries it upstairs with her to her old bedroom.
She doesn't know why she's doing it; probably just to feel close to him again. Because she needs to feel like they were more than this – more than ghosts. She needs to feel like she meant something to him and that he's missing her just as much as she's missing him. She knows she's not being logical and she's being far from professional, but she's doing it anyway – she has to.
Curled up on her bed, she pulls on Six's jacket that still smells like him and cries for longer than she can remember ever crying before. In amongst the memories and the regrets swimming through her mind, she decides that she would not be going back to Providence for a very long time.
Not until she can make herself stop remembering and stop seeing ghosts.