"What the hell is wrong with you?" South snapped, very real anger masking any concern she did feel.
"Forget it, South. You wouldn't understand," Wash replied, trying to push past her.
"Really? And why not?" she snarled, blocking his way.
"Because you never got an AI," Wash said flatly. South flinched, and he took her distraction as an opportunity to get away.
Of course she wouldn't let him off that easy. South caught up with him easily, overtook him, and stood in front of him with her arms crossed and her grey eyes glinting.
"North got an AI, and he doesn't understand," she said. "York's got no clue, either."
Wash had no answer to that –neither did Epsilon.
"Just back off, South," he sighed, trying to run a hand through his hair before realising he had his helmet on. "I've got nothing to say."
"Bullshit," she called instantly. "I'm sure you got plenty to say. You sure have enough to say at night, with your damn screaming keeping the whole damn base up –"
South's angry tirade was cut short by the vacant, half-there look in Wash's eyes. She knew what it meant –it was a look she'd seen on her own brother, one that meant he was having a private discussion with his AI.
If you want to talk to her – Epsilon began.
No way. I'm not dumping my –our –problems on her, Wash thought back.
Wash's eyes refocused, and South let out an impatient humph.
"I'm leaving. Now, South," he told her. "I've got no reason to speak to you."
He pushed past her, and this time she didn't try to stop him. She didn't even move, seemingly frozen in place. As he walked away, most of him was glad that she wasn't coming after him –but a more selfish part was disappointed, hurt that she'd given up like that.
He told that part to shut up and sit down.
"Wash!" South called. He turned to see her pausing, one hand clutching her hair like she was going to rip it out. Wash could see she was thinking –churning words around in her head until she found ones that would fit.
"I'm trying to help," was what she settled on.
You want to talk to her, Epsilon noted.
Shut up, Wash replied.
Technically, I didn't say a word.
"You can't help," Wash said. Honesty is the best policy. "I can't speak to you."
He couldn't. It wouldn't be fair to take South –who had been lucky, whether she knew it or not, when she hadn't gotten an AI –and make his problems hers. With everything the Project was hurling at them, she had her own problems to take care of. He would handle his.
His response had pissed her off. "Then who?" South exploded. "North? York? Maine?" She worried at her bottom lip before saying the next name. "CT?"
Wash laughed bitterly. "She didn't get an AI, either."
"Stop it," South growled.
"I'm only gonna say this one more time, Shana." He put a little extra weight on her name, showing her that he really was done with her now. "Forget it. No heart-felt confessions coming your way."
Bit harsh there, buddy, Epsilon said.
If it gets her to leave… Wash replied.
Oh, I gotcha. Still pretty harsh.
Wash didn't reply to Epsilon's remark; how could he, when his AI was completely right? South didn't say anything to him as he walked past her, didn't turn and call out. Instead, she started walking briskly in the other direction, as if the climate-controlled ship had suddenly developed a cold chill.
Once again that selfish part of him panged as she walked away, not trying to stop him.
But what he didn't know was that she was too busy re-thinking her strategy.
Perhaps he'd be more open to her at night, after one of those nightmares that were causing everyone to lose sleep. Those nightmares that his AI were putting him from through, despite how he tried to defend it. Nightmares that were ripping him apart –slowly, ever so slowly –even though he tried to hide it. Maybe those nightmares seemed less important by the light of the day, even if it was just the artificial light provided by the Mother of Invention.
But after dark, the silence he held on to through the day would shatter. And she'd know exactly what his AI was doing to him.
A/N: This is a song-fic written to Blaqk Audio's 'Afterdark' played on repeat. I am sorta proud and sorta sheepish to admit that the first draft of this was written at 12am-1am. Needless to say, it was edited before it was posted.