A/N: This was written for jspx over at deviantArt, who requested York and CT. I swear, York is the easiest character to write of all time. He just keeps. Talking.
"You're out of your minds." CT paced, boots tap-tapping on the metal floor like a ruler in a teacher's hand.
York would not look up. He knew that Carolina or South or Wyoming or...pretty much anyone would start looking annoyed now. Instead, he kept his gaze leveled on his hands and poured a cup of coffee. The machine sat there like a squat, self-satisfied stump while the steam clouded up the top of the cup.
CT leaned down in her best authority-defying slouch and slapped a palm on the table. "I know you think something's wrong with what the Director's doing."
York examined his coffee and sniffed the cup. His mismatched eyes blinked. The left side felt...weird. It still just felt weird. "Nah, I think it might be okay. The aroma is slightly sour...this machine seems to brew it a bit long."
"That's enough about the coffee." CT straightened up.
It was late and York was tired, but York embraced tiredness with the same enthusiasm with which he tackled everything else, and that tended to wake him up.
"Okay." York finished making his coffee, put his cup down, and sat on the couch. "You want some? Sorry. What would you rather talk about?"
"You know." She hunched again, that palm against the black metal table that was decorated with the occasional coffee ring.
He draped his arms over the back of the couch and looked at her. The posture said it all, really, or at least almost all of it. She was closed off, hoarding words as effectively as Maine. She didn't voice her concerns, too afraid that someone would tell her she was making stuff up. (Carolina probably had.) All the suspicion and anger and half-realized hurt curled around her head like steam in a cup. York couldn't change that; he simply could not reach inside her head and change her.
But he could be nice to her. Might as well, right?
York discarded a few options before saying, "At least we're all here for you?"
She moved around to the other side of the table and sat down, looking small.
In a small voice, she said, "Do you know what I want to say to everyone?"
"No." He waited.
"I can't. It sounds too cliche."
She bit at the inside of her lip. She looked at a fixed point in the distance and said, "Come to your senses!"
York said, "That's decent."
She looked at him like he was the bulls-eye at the end of a firing range. "What do you mean?"
"I mean...it begs the question of why we can't come to my senses instead."
She huffed. "I can't come to your senses. That's not how it works."
"There you go. That's exactly what I mean. It's also a decent slogan. You just gotta realize what you're saying. Come to your senses. You can't come to my senses, it just doesn't work like that. And I can't come to yours."
"What are you talking about, York."
"You gotta hold yourself to your standard. Not mine, not anyone else's, not Carolina's." He was on a roll now. He could manage this confidence-boosting thing.
"I don't give a crap about Carolina's standards."
"Good! Come to your own senses." He put his feet up on the couch.
She just looked at him, the ends of her hair waving slightly against her cheek because she'd turned so fast and now just sat there, seething. He thought that 'seethe' shouldn't be able to be applied to her face. There would be really cute dimples there if she just smiled one of these days, but somehow she forced it into a seethe instead. She said, "The Director is just forcing us against each other."
"He can't do that. We've got our own brains. The board is up there, yeah, but we don't have to hate each over it..."
"But people do, York. South does."
"South is...a little crazy sometimes."
"Yeah, but Carolina cares and Wash cares and you only don't care because you've been number two since, what? Since the beginning?"
"Since I hacked into the Director's office," said York mildly.
"Exactly. Wait, if you could hack in-"
"He changed the lock. And besides, FLYSS watches it now. That was...way in the beginning."
"You could have done more than just raid his cabinets."
"Yeah, but all I really wanted was the Oreos."
"The information in there could...explain why we keep going on harder and harder missions, or what the top soldier on the board is really going to get, or, or Texas." She was looking at him very seriously. He didn't match it at first, mostly feeling tired and like he really didn't want to deal with any of this now. It would be better just to think about...Oreos or something. (Because what if she was right? What could they do about it? York was, although it was hard to tell sometimes, a counter-fighter. Maine would always make the first move, but York- somebody else needed to make the move first, because until then, how could he even see what he was fighting?
It was all a very left-side conflict right now, blurry and dark and he wasn't sure how far away it was...)
So least he could do was blink a few times, take a swig of coffee that nearly, just nearly burnt at his throat, and look back at CT quite seriously. He said, "But what can we do about it?"
CT broke the gaze almost immediately, looking back down at hands that started knotting together. As if to distract herself, she looked at the coffee machine instead. She stood up, but it was only to go to the sideboard and get herself a cup. She poured her coffee black as tar and kept it that way. (York had lightened his with milk and, although he didn't like to admit it, a liberal dose of sugar. He didn't always, but tonight had been a high-energy, low-bitterness kind of night.) The need for distraction seemed to end quickly, because she sat down again with the cup in front of her.
She said, "So you admit that something's wrong?"
"I think...it's a little odd that our commanding officer won't tell us the objectives of the program, yes, but there are probably stranger jobs out there...I hear they're spiking kids' muscles with steel in the some of these programs, man, and while that sounds kinda awesome I don't really want it to happen to me."
"There's something up with this Counselor. What's his actual rank? And then there's the robot."
"Blue guy? Yeah, I dunno what's up with that. Good question." York took another sip of coffee.
"I feel like we're being set up for something."
That barely even needed to be said, though: it was pretty much CT's default. She thought they were being set up for something if they had different food from the norm for breakfast. York leaned back in the couch and took another sip that was mostly sugar. "Hey, CT. Why'd you join the army?"
Suddenly she was all prickly again, one hand paused wrapped around the handle of her coffee cup, as if she'd been lowering her guard through all the talk about other people being messed with. "Why's it any of your business?"
York raised one hand in a gesture of surrender. "Just wondering. It sounds like you don't like to take orders. That doesn't exactly scream a trip to the recruitment office to me."
She said, "I don't like to take orders, but...I was good at it. I could do the pushups and the runs and the weapons." Her face was softening now, not seething so much. "There's not all that much to do in Rhode Island. And when the recruitment officer says you qualified, even though you're this little girl...it worked out. Where are you from, anyway?"
"I've heard of it."
"And you're Rhode Island."
The unspoken I'm Connecticut sat there for a bit, solid and unobtrusive like the coffee maker. York wasn't sure whether it would be a joke, this late at night that it was almost early in the morning, or a grandiose statement. Not everybody had to be just the names the Director gave them, around here.
Eventually York finished his coffee and CT took a few tentative sips of hers, but it had just been something to do with her hands really so when she left to go to bed she let it sit there on the table, one half-moon of white light sitting on its surface from the overheads. York thought about states and why they were fighting and robots and the black coffee. And then, eventually, he drank that too.