AN: As my holidays are now over, updates will not be as quick as before, but I will try my best not to take too long between new chapters. On another note, thank you so much for all the positive feedback on this! There are many reasons to love this fandom, and you are one of them. Your reviews have succeeded in brightening long days buried in coursework and linguistic journals, and I am forever in awe of all the gorgeous art some of you have produced! (Yeah t1mco, mrsgingles, mmemento, jinxjayjess and arty-fart on tumblr, I'm referring to you guys. Go check them out!)
Disclaimer: I do not own Green Lantern: The Animated Series or its characters.
"So let me get this straight," Hal began, crossing his arms over his chest as he leaned back in his chair. "You made a flawed virus, and then Weird-'n-Nimble got help from Zamaron, of all places, to give you a new organic body. Which is why you woke up there, fresh-faced and with a beating heart etcetera etcetera, before you got a hike from the Queen's purple voodoo-powers and smack-landed yourself right in Razer's lap–"
He stopped mid-word, and held up a hand. "I did not almost say that. Forget that last part. What I meant was: you took a portal-dive and found Mr. Calmness of the Lake over there. And now you're...here. And alive. Er, aliv-er, than, you know, before."
Razer sighed, but Aya caught the minuscule quirk of the lips that betrayed his attempted exasperation. For her part, she was curious as to what Hal had wanted her to forget and why, but for once, she kept her questions to herself. Flexing her legs in front of her, she leaned back into the couch.
"That 'about sums it up', as I believe you would say," she said, once a lull had settled. Twiddling with the glass in her hands, Aya watched the golden liquid as it swirled behind its clear confines. Apparently, it was a custom on Earth to drink strange bubbly drinks during celebrations, and though she had not yet made herself taste it – she had just recently mastered breathing; ingesting was still a little way off – she appreciated the gesture more than the actual drink. She had been concerned they would not welcome her back at all, and that they had not just done that but chosen to celebrate it as well...
Raising her eyes from the glass, she found Razer looking at her, brows furrowed in concern, and she tried to smile – the way some organic beings did to communicate that they were alright, as her research into facial expressions had taught her. He said nothing to that, but shifted in his seat, not noticeably closer, but her mouth quirked upwards quite without her help as his shoulder brushed against hers.
Kilowog drained a tankard of something Aya was sure was not bubbly liquid, before wiping his mouth with his sleeve. "It's a pretty unbelievable story, kiddo. Coming back from the dead!" He shook his head. "And here I thought Jordan had dibs on the harebrained escapes."
"She did not die," Razer said. "As I told you before, and as Saint Walker confirmed."
Kilowog waved him off. "Yeah, yeah. It's still pretty amazing, I say. And the Queen of Zamaron, a part of it! If there was anyone else telling me, I wouldn't have believed it. Gal wasn't very fond of robots from what I remember."
Aya shifted the glass from one hand to the other, and stared at her fingers; the intricate lines and furrows, and the shift of the bones beneath the skin – something she felt she would never grow tired of observing. "The Queen...had her reasons," she said at length, raising her eyes and meeting Kilowog's.
Something in her voice must have betrayed her reluctance, because the great bolovaxian shifted in his seat, clearly uncomfortable. He cleared his throat. "Well, uh...good. I ain't gonna be ungrateful for a good deed."
Aya smiled. "I owe her much. Is that not how you say it?" she asked, looking from Kilowog to Hal Jordan.
Hal leaned back in his seat. "From what I can tell, we all owe her." He smiled. "It's good to have you back, Aya. It hasn't been the same without you."
Kilowog snorted. "That's for sure. How many AI's have we gone through now? Heck, even Lamo seemed a pretty good choice after that last one! Swear that one was trying to kill us, the faulty bugger. Ultrawarped us to all kinds of places–"
"What the Seargeant is trying to say is that you have been missed," Razer cut him off. "And not just as an operating system." He shot Kilowog a look, to which the bolovaxian grinned sheepishly.
"Ah, yeah. Sorry, kiddo. You know how it is–"
Aya smiled. "I do not mind. I would like to hear what you have been up to, while I have been gone."
Hal grinned, and was about to open his mouth when Kilowog held up a hand. "Oh no. No, Jordan. I'm doing the talking – if I let you open your mouth we'll never hear the end of it!"
"Hey, I'm the better storyteller," Hal retorted. "Ask anyone and they'll tell you. You always focus on the wrong things. No one wants to hear you read a bloody mission report; they want the dangerous stuff, the suspense, the daring escapes!"
Kilowog snorted, crossing his great arms over his chest. "I'd like to see you write a mission report for once. Then again, you're always so busy getting us into trouble–"
"–which always makes for the best stories, and you know it," Hal cut in with a charming grin.
"–and leaving me to deal with the dirty work!" Kilowog glared at him, and Hal laughed.
Aya smiled as she watched them bicker, comforted by the familiar sight and the sound of their voices. After boarding the Interceptor Hal had ushered them all into the bridge for the celebration, and had proffered various edible oddities Aya had recognized as human-made but like the drink in her hand, had yet to touch. Their dynamics as a crew had been pleasantly familiar, and they had fallen into routine surprisingly fast, considering the circumstances. It was soothing, almost, just watching her companions interact, knowing that she was home–
She blinked suddenly, and frowned, shaking her head to clear it. For a moment, everything had seemed oddly hazy. It was almost reminiscent of her yellow crystal vulnerability, but it felt different, somehow. Blinking again, she swayed a bit in her seat, and shook her head. Now that she was aware of it, she felt...drained, as though she was running low on power. Odd.
She looked up to find three pairs of eyes watching her with concern. Meeting Razer's gaze, she was about to open her mouth to tell them she was alright when a sudden urge to inhale air suddenly seized her, and her mouth stretched open quite without her own volition. Panic raced through her at her sudden lack of control, and she clapped her hands over her mouth just as her lungs exhaled their release. The concerned looks from the others had changed to expressions of surprise, and Aya felt a blush creep into her cheeks. She sat very still, as though any sudden movements on her part would trigger the strange reaction again.
Finally, she spoke, her voice muffled from behind her hands. "I...do not know what just happened. I apologize."
The others were silent for another moment, before Kilowog snorted a laugh, and a grin broke across Hal's face. Confused, Aya looked towards Razer, and was surprised to find even him trying to hide a smile. "What–"
"It's called a 'yawn', kid. Weird reflex for some organic beings. Don't ask – no one knows why we do it."
Aya frowned. "A...yawn?"
Hal grinned. "Feeling tired, Aya?"
She caught Razer's frown out of the corner of her eye, and turned towards him with a quizzical look, wondering if perhaps he could explain. "How long as it been since you awoke?" he asked, and seemed to be trying to have a closer look at her eyes.
Aya looked towards the monitor that displayed the time, and did the rough calculation in her head. "By my estimation..sixteen hours." And that was when it struck her.
Organic beings required sleep to function.
Razer's gaze softened, but Hal spoke up before he could. "It's nothing to worry about – we all need sleep at some point. Now that you're, eh...changed, you can have your own quarters. Wanna go have a rest? Might do you good."
Razer nodded his consent. "You should not push yourself too hard; it is only your first day."
Hal nodded towards the door to the crew's quarters. "You probably know this girl's layout better than any of us, but Razer can show you which room you'll be using. There should be new sheets...I think."
Kilowog snorted. "You think?"
"When was the last time we had someone aboard again?" Hal scratched the back of his head.
Kilowog sighed. "If there ain't any new sheets, I'll show ya where to find 'em. Can't even leave simple tasks to you, Jordan, and this is supposed to be 'your' ship."
"Hey, I pull my weight around here. So I don't change the sheets on the bunks. What–"
"Would you like me to show you?"
The question drew her away from the bickering duo in front of her, and Aya looked up at Razer. She smiled. "If it is not too much trouble."
His lips quirked at that, but he said nothing as he rose from his seat, taking her glass from her and placing it down along with his own. He waited for her to get up before moving towards the doors at the back of the bridge. Aya trailed after him, her steps soft against the cool steel floors. Her feet had been stuffed into a pair of Hal's old 'socks', as he had called them, and though they were much too large, Aya had not complained. She had been quite cold when she'd stepped aboard the ship, after all, and it was a pleasant gesture, albeit strange.
"Hey, you two," Hal called after them as they reached the door, pausing in his conversation with Kilowog to send them a warning glance, although why, Aya could not fathom. "No shenanigans now, you hear? I'm expecting you back here in ten minutes, Razer."
Razer rolled his eyes. "Duly noted," he retorted dryly. Stepping towards the doors, they hissed open, and Aya threw another confused glance over her shoulder at Hal as she followed Razer into the confines of the ship.
"What did he mean by 'shenanigans'?" she asked as they continued down the corridor.
Razer sighed. "Nothing of importance. He...jokes, as you well know."
She said nothing to that, and followed him in silence until they came to a row of doors she knew led into the crew's quarters. Razer motioned for the one furthest down the hallway. "I believe this is the one." Pressing a hand against the sensor on the wall, the doors slid open to allow them entry, but Razer remained where he stood.
Aya took a step forward into the room, and the lights overhead flickered on upon detecting her presence. At the far end was a simple bunk, but otherwise the room was empty of any superficial additions.
Razer walked past her then, and she blinked, tilting her head as she watched him tug at the soft coverlet on the bunk. After a quick inspection, he straightened, and turned towards her. "It would appear they have not had guests for some time. The sheets are clean." There was a wry lilt to his tone, and Aya quirked a smile, though she was finding it hard searching for something to say. It was dawning on her that he was about to leave, and she had a sudden, violent urge to beg him to stay.
They stopped, and Aya averted her gaze. She wrung her hands against the hem of her shift almost unconsciously, but said nothing more. Razer sighed, before a smile tugged at his lips, and he reached out towards her. Her heart leaped into her throat, but he simply slid his hand behind her neck, pulling her forward to place a kiss to her forehead. "Goodnight, Aya," the low rumble reached her ears. Then he released her and turned to leave, fingers trailing against her jaw before he let his hand fall to his side.
She didn't know what came over her, but before her mind had had a chance to react, she had reached out, catching the hand with one of her own. Razer turned around, surprise evident on his face, and she swallowed, suddenly faced with the fact that she did not know why she had just done as she had. It had been like a reflex, and she had acted quite without thinking. All she had known was that she had not wanted to be left alone; had not wanted him to leave.
And then there was the fact that...she did not know how organic beings went about starting their sleep cycles.
"I...I do not know how."
He frowned, and turned fully towards her, though he made no move to remove her hand from his. "You do not know how...?"
Aya averted her gaze. "How to...sleep," she said, and felt oddly embarrassed. But then they had found it amusing when she had not known what a 'yawn' was...
Razer's gaze softened, and he smiled. "It requires little effort. Just let your mind drift. Allow it to rest, and your body will follow."
Her brows pulled together. "Drift?"
He mimicked her expression, and seemed to contemplate the query. "It is...like turning it off, if that terminology is more helpful."
"Turn it...off?" Her mind? Was that possible? She had never known a moment, outside of having her system hacked, where she had not been alert – had not been 'awake'.
Razer nodded. "It is a natural habit of most organic beings; you will get the hang of it soon enough. Your new...body, will require rest. A cycle of eight hours is common for most beings, though some require less."
She nodded. "I am aware. I know the sleep cycles of this entire crew."
Razer smirked. "Yes, I imagine you would."
She said nothing to that, and he lifted the hand holding his, placing a kiss to it as he had done on the crag earlier. "Sleep well, Aya. I will see you in the morning." Letting the hand drop, he turned, and the doors slid open to let him out. Aya did not move from where she stood, but followed him with her eyes until the doors closed behind him, separating them.
Turning towards the bunk, Aya wrung her hands against the fabric of her shift. Then with a deep breath, she moved towards it, lifting the covers away and slipping beneath them. The lights dimmed almost immediately, and she jumped a bit at the sudden gloom, before curling further beneath the coverlet. She felt oddly small and exposed, and tugged the sheet closer to her neck, averting her eyes from the ceiling above her.
Closing her eyes, she remembered Razer's words and tried shutting off her mind – tried letting it 'drift'. Your body will follow. All she had to do was relax. She was tired; could feel it in her muscles, new as they were. She turned over on her back, but quickly changed her mind and rolled back over on her side until she was staring into the wall. Closing her eyes again, she tried to relax her muscles, and realized her hands were clutching the blanket tightly enough to make her knuckles appear through the skin.
She shook her head in another attempt to clear it, but it helped little. She could not find comfort; could not make her mind 'drift'. Everything was so quiet. Too quiet. She could not hear anything but her own breathing and the shift of the blankets as she turned over again and again. She could not hear the others at all; not their heartbeats, or the sound of their breathing. She did not even know where they were on the ship – could only assume from what Hal had said, that they would stay on the bridge for a while longer.
Her palms felt clammy, and she wiped them furiously on the blankets, still unused to the exuding of moisture her new body did quite of its own volition. Turning over again, she burrowed her face into the pillow, as though to forcibly shut out the loudness of the silence that seemed to press down on her like a physical weight. As an operating system, she had never felt alone. She had been able to hear everything that had gone on around her, from her immediate proximity to the furthest reaches of the Interceptor – the lightest footstep to the sound of someone turning over in their sleep. Now, there was nothing. There was only her, and the silence, and the dark room.
And she had never felt more alone.
Even straining her ears, she could not make out their voices. Not even Hal's laughter was discernible through the walls separating the crew's quarters from the bridge. Curling in on herself, Aya tugged the blankets over her head, burrowing further into the bunk. Sleep seemed an impossible feat, and her mind would not rest. Now that she had been given peace, with nothing else to distract her, memories and impressions of the day replayed before her mind in a continuous loop. Waking up, the audience with the Queen, going through the portal, Razer. Waking up, the audience with the Queen, going through the portal, Razer–
She wondered if he had begun his sleep cycle yet. In her old form she would have been able to tell; a simple scan of his vital signs would have shown her. And for all his words of letting the mind drift, Aya distinctly remembered Razer spending more time awake than asleep.
She did not know how much time had passed since she had retired to her new quarters, but when she turned around, the small monitor in the wall read a good two hours past midnight. The others had doubtless retired as well by now, though she had heard no movement in the corridor. Closing her eyes, she attempted again to shut off her mind; to not focus so much on what was going on around her, and not straining her ears for sounds she would not be able to hear no matter how hard she tried. She just had to–
–what have I done?
She shook her head free of the errant memory, brows pulling down in reflex as the image pushed its way to the front of her mind. If only she could–
–no hate in my heart for you, Aya–
–a computer virus–
Pressing her hand against her brow, she rubbed against the skin, as though it would help. As though it would wipe her mind clean–
–you are a machine, and I can never–
Throwing the blankets off, she sat up, clenching her hands into fists to keep them from shaking. Pressing her fists against her temples, she breathed in, and out. The temperature in the room was comfortable, yet she felt cold, and freezing moisture had broken through her skin and out across her upper back. She shivered, but regarded the blanket on the floor warily, feeling suffocated just by looking at it. Burying her face in her hands, she drew another heavy breath.
This was not working.
Looking towards the door, and then the monitor on the wall blinking softly in the darkness, Aya made her decision. Slipping off the bunk, she removed the coverings on her feet, placing them on the disarrayed sheets before making her way towards the door, chin raised and shoulders set resolutely.
She hoped he was awake.
He could not find sleep.
With an impatient sigh, Razer shifted over on his back, gaze finding the darkened light-sources running like veins through the ceiling – a familiar sight even after his time away from the Interceptor. Insomnia was an old friend, and he had spent many nights studying the finer details of the ceiling above his bunk.
He should have been able to find rest. Now that Aya was back, safe and sound and alive, sleep should not be eluding him. And yet it was as elusive as stardust, slipping through his fingers even as he tried to grasp it–
–is too late, my love. It has already been done.
The memory leaped to the front of his mind, brought about no doubt, by his ill-fitting analogy. Clenching his eyes shut against the image burned to his memory, Razer pinched the bridge of his nose. His weary body longed for rest, but fear was still a sharp taste on his tongue, preventing him from finding peace of mind. Fear that he would wake in the morning and she would be gone; not a trace of her left. Dissolved. Like stardust.
Turning back over on his side, Razer tried to push all thoughts away from his mind – tried to remember all the exercises Saint Walker had taught him when he had first sought the help of the Blue Lanterns. Sleep had been easier since he had purged his rage and achieved his new power ring, but some nights his memories would not allow him rest. Not even the calmness of the lake would help him tonight.
The sound of someone touching the monitor outside his quarters reached his ears the moment before the doors hissed open, and he whirled around, alert and searching out the intruder even before the light from the hallway spilled into the dark room. He blinked against the glare, wondering if his vision was deceiving him, or if he was indeed dreaming.
The doors slid shut behind her, casting the room in darkness once more, yet she remained where she was, shifting her weight from foot to foot in a distinct yet unfamiliar show of...shyness. Razer frowned. "What–"
"I–" she began, and then stopped, averting her gaze. "I could not sleep. My mind will not rest. And..." she trailed off, letting the sentence hang heavy between them.
Razer's gaze softened. He should have known it would not come easy. A day was not enough, even for someone like her, to adapt to a form that brought with it a whole lot more complications than her robotic shell ever had. He did not for a moment think it was the technicalities of falling asleep that eluded her, but did not press the matter. Instead he did the first thing that popped into his mind.
Lifting the blanket that covered his form, he shifted his weight until the cold metal of the wall brushed against his back, allowing for room on the mattress next to him. The gesture was unmistakable, and he could see recognition as it passed across her face, mingling with her surprise. He considered for a moment the many ways Hal would find to main him if he were to discover, but the longing was sharp within him and she was there, and solid and alive, and he found that he would endure all of Hal's wrath just for the knowledge that he would wake to find her still there.
For a moment she remained where she stood, staring at the open space, but then she took a tentative step forward, followed by another, until she was beside the bunk. She did not meet his eyes, but with the awkward movements of someone who has never done such a thing in their life, she slipped in, curling herself up against him as he drew the cover over her small form.
They fumbled a bit in finding a comfortable solution to the limited space of the bunk, but though it was a little awkward, they made it work. It had been years since he had shared a bed with someone, but where he had often thought it would feel wrong to break the life of solitude he had adopted after Ilana's death, the warm, solid form snug against his side felt anything but. Pulling her closer, he pressed his nose to the crown of her head and the soft strands of hair that he was still getting used to, and breathed.
"I apologize for intruding on your rest," came the soft utterance from somewhere below his chin, and he felt her lips move against the skin of his collarbone.
Razer snorted softly. "I believe that is something one says before the actual intrusion," he retorted wryly, a smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth.
Aya shifted a little against him, a hand splaying against the skin of his stomach with the tentative care of the completely inexperienced. It was oddly endearing. "Sleep was...more difficult that you made it out to be," she murmured, her voice almost too low for him to catch.
Razer was silent a moment, listening to her breathing, attention caught and held by the feel of her hand against his ribcage – she could not seem to decide where to put it. She was silent now; her head heavy on his chest. He sighed.
"It can be, sometimes," he said at length, after the silence had grown long.
Aya hummed. "Were you...unable...to find...rest..."
The words trailed off into nothing, and Razer raised a brow, inclining his head to look at her, and nearly chuckled as he found her already asleep. Her breathing had slowly evened out, and the hand she had not known where to place was limp against his stomach.
He smiled into her hair. "Not anymore," he murmured. Focusing his whole attention on the soft, even breaths of her new lungs and the steady thump-thump of the heart that was but an organic supplement to one she had always had, Razer closed his eyes...
AN: Hal's gonna be so pleased. And as much as I enjoy a good smut-story, there will (sadly) not be any in this. Apologies to those of you who've asked for it, but alas, you must find your fix elsewhere. Though I do hope the story is/will be enjoyable regardless!