Author's Note: Hello lovely people of Fanfiction! Just for the record, please do not read this story if you haven't read UnWholly yet. Do yourself a favor and buy a copy of it, but don't ruin it for yourself with this. So, if you're still reading this fanfic, I read the book earlier this week and really liked it, even though it made me so sad. This is a short piece set after the very beginning of UnWholly, but before the first Connor or Risa chapter. I just felt that because no one else had written anything for the new book, I should. Please enjoy, and I love reviews! :-)
Disclaimer: I don't own Unwind, UnWholly, Connor, Risa, the ADR, or anything of that nature. And for the record, I'm a HUGE shipper of Connor and Risa and hope that they are much happier together in the final book of the trilogy than they were in this one. This is just my idea of a reflection on how things seemed to have become.
Something has changed.
This much Risa knows for sure.
Whether it was gradual, one missed conversation and embrace at a time, or as sudden as the flaming strike of a bolt of lightning, she has no idea. All she is sure of is that the Connor she knew has well and truly left the building. He's not like he used to be.
It's not like there was any big, dramatic breakup filled with sobs and screaming and broken promises. They're still together, or so they both say. But the meaning of the word has been stretched so thin that it no longer carries any weight. "Together" to them is just a word to avoid drama, to avoid having any conflict go down.
She still loves Connor, so much and so deeply that it hurts. From the moment he first kissed her in the study jet over two years ago, Risa has known of the unquenchable spark between the two of them. They just seem meant to be, always filling the various gaps and holes in the other's hearts and spirits. Connor may have the drive, but Risa has the brains to make all of his plans follow through. She's always been the one keeping him in one piece (in more ways than one) when things weren't working out. Even their hands interlock flawlessly, her long fingers so careful from her years of piano training weaving through his, so decidedly boyish.
But as of late, he's started to push away from her. Instead of coming straight to her in times of need, he seeks comfort in solitude, with only his own conflicted thoughts for company. Rather than using the few brief moments they have together everyday as a source of healing and intimacy, he seems to feel that they're just mandatory. Unlike how everything used to be, when the Graveyard was doing well, and it actually appeared that unwinding was something that could be ended. Back then, they would spend every possible moment inhabiting the same airspace and loving it. Even through their difficulties, smiles and confiding and hugs were common. But now, it seems like there isn't any hope. The ADR is being useless, unwinding's more defended than it ever was, and Risa no longer feels like she even knows her boyfriend.
She sits at her piano, playing out a beautiful, broody, pre-war ballad that one of the residents had brought her. A younger girl with purple hair and more facial piercings than could be counted whose only request was to hear Risa play. Apparently the girl was pretty passionate about music, and had missed it sorely since she ran away from her parents. The girl had written out a basic arrangement, and it fits Risa's mood to a tee. The song flows through her fingertips, expressing all her bottled-up emotions. She's so lost in her music that she doesn't notice the heavy footsteps in the desert soil behind her.
Risa whips her face around, knowing very well the voice she heard. Sure enough, there's Connor, who, in the darkness of the night, she can still see his typical uniform of blue camouflage and heavy bags under his eyes.
"Hi," she replies cautiously, not wanting to get her hopes up.
"That's pretty," Connor says, avoiding her gaze.
"Thanks." Risa pauses for a moment to accept the compliment, half-hearted though it may be. "Were you just passing by?"
"Yeah, pretty much," he says. "Finally had enough work for today. Been fighting with the ADR about food supplies all night. It's been a really stressful day."
"I should have known."
"What?" Connor spits.
"Nothing," Risa says, turning away. "It's nothing."
"Risa," he says, a tenderness appearing in his voice that wasn't there a minute before. It catches her briefly off guard, because it's a tone she knew well. "Whatever's wrong, I'm sorry."
"We both know that's not true," he says.
"Well, it is," Risa lies, choking back her sadness. Connor kneels beside her wheelchair and strokes her shoulder, in a way that's not exactly awkward, but certainly a little strange. Well, at least we're touching, she thinks. That's better than we have been.
"Connor," she begins. "You know... you know I still..."
"I love you too," he mutters. Looking utterly hopeless, he leans in towards her, but she places her hand on his chest, pushing him away.
"You say that, but your heart's not in it," she says, looking him directly in the eyes.
Suddenly, too suddenly, she returns to her piece and he returns to his jet for the night, both looking for nothing to do with the other. There's nothing left there anymore. All they can do now is wonder when everything changed.