A/N - So, hey. I just felt like writing something so here you are. It's not that amazing. As per usual. So yes. I'm not quite sure what the purpose of this author's note was. Just to say hi I guess. Feel free to review if you would like, but there's no obligation. Criticism is always welcome. Thanks for reading anyway.
Disclaimer - I don't own StarKid. Or Taz. Or Up. Or anyone really. Yes. That's about it really.
Taz was terrified of falling asleep. She had sometimes gone days without sleep, getting more and more exhausted until she finally collapsed into a fitful sleep. When she was younger, she had slept deeply, often having to be shaken awake desperately in order to arrive at school on time. Yet now, things were different. Ever since her parents had been taken from her, nightmares filled the space that had once been a time of peace. Taz was the toughest ranger in the Galactic League, except for maybe Up, so she hated the feeling of weakness. Even more, she hated the involuntary screams of panic that escaped her, the inevitable teasing that would follow.
Taz sat outside, under a tree. He chin was rested lightly on her knees that were pulled up tightly to her chest. She stared off into space, he eyes wide and vacant. Up walked slowly to the tree and sat down next to her, startling the girl who snapped out of her reverie abruptly.
"Oh," she said softly. "It's jou."
"Count yourself lucky," Up replied. "They were planning on sending Captain French."
Taz scowled viciously. "Dat man is a jerk. Just because I'm small doesn't mean he needs to be such a hijo de puta." She muttered something unintelligible under her breath and Up grinned.
"You sure you're not just angry because he beat you at bowling that time?" Up asked with a wink.
Taz swore violently. "I had a broken arm, it was hardly fair."
"It's still all he talks about," Up laughed.
"Probably first time he's won anything," Taz remarked bitterly and Up smirked; harsh, but true.
"You're still not allowed out here after curfew," Up reprimanded, reminded of his purpose outside.
Taz shrugged. "Can't sleep."
"Nightmares?" Up asked tentatively.
She shrugged again, then nodded reluctantly.
They sat in silence under the tree for a while; lost in thought, before Up finally spoke again.
"But why are you out here? You could just stay awake inside without breaking the rules."
Taz scoffed, showing how little she cared for the rules, but finally answered his question, her voice quiet. "If I stay inside, I might fall asleep accidentally and I don't want people to, jou know, know."
"They won't say anything."
"Dey haven't got de guts. Cobardes." Taz mumbled something and Up strained to hear.
"What?" He asked, finally deciding she couldn't have said 'adjust the tree'. He wasn't that interested in horticulture, but even he was pretty sure you couldn't adjust trees.
"Just. Like. Me." Taz spoke loudly and deliberately, staring angrily into the darkness.
"You're not a coward, Taz," Up started, but Taz raised her hand up, silencing him.
"How am I not, Up? How? I can't even sleep without waking up screaming. I haven't slept properly in two years! Two years, Up. People get over dis kind of stuff by now," she pulled her hand roughly though her hair, biting her lip.
"Taz…" Up reached out towards her, his hand hovering awkwardly above her left shoulder. Up was never sure what Taz wanted in these situations; whether he would be met with a smile or a stab from her knife. In this case, her reaction was entirely unexpected. Before Up could realise what was happening, she was suddenly in his lap, her head buried in his shoulder.
Up sat awkwardly for a few seconds, cradling the small girl in his arms. In the two years he had known her since her fifteenth birthday, she had never been like this around him. She barely made contact with people, except when she was inflicting some terrible injury on them. Up was her closest friend, but even their friendship consisted mainly of being comfortable around each other and sharing the same love of fighting people that irritated them.
"I'm just so tired," Taz whispered. Up pulled her close to him and they remained like that for a few minutes.
Taz suddenly jolted upwards, pulling Up with her. Up smacked his head on a low branch and swore loudly. Taz smirked. There were at least some advantages to being small.
Captain French was making his way across the grass, towards the pair, Up still rubbing his head. Taz wiped her eyes furiously while Up looked away, pretending not to have noticed. As the Captain approached them, both rangers straightened up.
"Lieutenant, Ensign, are you quite done out here?" The Captain asked haughtily. He looked them over and Taz leaned forward so her hair fell over her red eyes. Thank goodness it was dark. The Captain's eyes focussed on the wet patch on Up's shoulder.
"What, may I ask, is that?" Up glanced down and he glanced at Taz.
"It was a bird," Taz lied.
"A bird?" The Captain asked incredulously.
"Si," Taz replied, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "One of those things with wings. Dey fly, you know?" She made flapping motions with her arms, as if speaking to a small child. She felt Up shaking, trying not to laugh next to her.
"Anyway," she continued, "it's after curfew; you should be inside." She shook her head despairingly at the Captain, and strode off towards the lit building.
Captain French stood with his mouth open, flabbergasted by the small girl's cheek.
"Maybe we should go inside?" Up suggested to the Captain and he followed Up in, speechless. As Up left him in the guard's room, he was talking to himself and Up could pick out phrases such as 'and then she said' and 'but, to me?'
As Up entered his room, he found the small Mexican sitting on his couch, waiting for him. He grinned and she smiled back, giving him a small nod which he knew was her way of saying thank you.
"You tired?" Up asked and Taz shook her head while trying to supress a yawn. "We could watch a film?"
"Have jou ever seen de Karate Kid?" Taz asked.
"You mean the good one, with Jackie Chan?" Taz nodded and Up pulled a slim box from the shelf above his bed. "I haven't seen this in years, shall we?"
Taz snatched the box and tried in vain to insert the old disc into the port their communicators plugged into. Up took the disc from her gently and inserted it into the correct slot on the old player. Taz gave him a look that said 'I was just about to do that' and stalked over to the couch, settling down. Up pressed play and joined her.
The next morning, Taz stretched, her hand coming across something warm and squishy. She felt around for a few seconds before sitting up abruptly, her eyes flying open. Up lay beside her on the couch, his lips twitching, and his blue eyes sparking. Taz flicked a lazy finger at him, grinning widely.
"You're far too awake for this time in the morning," he smiled, pulling himself up and wandering slowly towards the bathroom. Taz jumped up and slipped in just in front of him.
"Ladies first," she said sweetly, closing the door in his face.
"As I said, far too awake," Up said loudly. As she emerged from the bathroom he added: "It's almost as though you haven't had a full night's sleep in years." Taz looked down guiltily, her face flushing a dark red.
"You..? Really?" Taz looked pointedly away and gestured towards the empty bathroom, indicating it was his turn.
As Taz dressed, she thought about the night before. She had fallen asleep about halfway through the second time they watched the film, her head buried in Up's chest. Strangely, she didn't feel bothered by this, or maybe it was just being able to sleep without nightmares for the first time in two years.
Up emerged, fully dressed and they made their way towards the door. They didn't need to speak to know how to act around each other, what to do. As they made their way towards the canteen for breakfast, they recalled the events of the night before, both laughing at how Taz had managed to avoid the Captain.
From that day forward, Taz's nightmares were few and far between, although comfort was provided by Up whenever the familiar screams broke through the silence of the night. It wasn't unusual for them to fall asleep together, wrapped up in each other's arms, each of them protecting the other from the rest of the world.
Taz no longer feared sleep. She feared the time when the subject of her nightmares was no longer her family, but the man who protected her from the horrors of her past. Their lives had become one; the same training schedule, the same goals, but most of all, despite their reluctance to admit it, their need for a companion. Without him, she was weak. If she lost him, who would she have to save her from the night and the terrors it brought?