Disclaimer: "Pacific Rim" is still not mine… :'(
Chapter 7: Temporary Patch
For the next few days, Gipsy stayed by the lake, and refused to return to the Shatterdome. Striker stayed with him as much as his patience allowed. He passed on Gipsy's wishes of being alone, and came back with a few words from Mako and Raleigh, mostly comprised of apologies.
"Did the Marshall say anything?" The blue Jaeger asked as his company arrived for the night.
"Uhh," Striker settled on the grass, and tossed him a glance. "I mean, he's not happy, but he understands."
"Okay." Gipsy nodded, and rested his head on his arm. The Australian mecha lay down beside him. They looked at each other, until the Mark-V turned away, clearing his vents with a burst of air.
"Here, I got you something." The silver Jaeger mumbled, and seemed to pluck a tiny entity out of thin air. Gipsy perked up a little. Striker brought it closer, and, to the Mark-III's surprise, it was a small bouquet of flowers.
The roots were still there, stringing along clumps of dirt.
"Eureka…" Gipsy tilted toward the other bot, "Did you steal these from Alpha's garden?"
Striker bristled with a loud huff. "I didn't steal them." He retorted, visor bright but scattered as he glanced at everything but the blue Jaeger before him. "He has so many. He won't miss one, or two. Or five."
Gipsy stared. His sensor field tightened around his plating, radiating disapproval.
Striker's field tightened in return.
"Well? Do you want them or not?" He shoved the flowers into the blue mecha's face.
Gipsy looked at the flowers, then at the Mark-V. There was a tickle in his turbine, and he laughed, pinching his fingers around the thin stems of the plants.
"Thank you, Eureka." His visor glowed in a smile. "They are very pretty."
Striker turned away with a grunt. "Good." He peered at the lake. "You'd better be thankful. Cherno Alpha's gonna have my arse when he finds out."
Gipsy gaped. "Did you really steal them?"
The Australian sent him a glare.
Gipsy laughed. Field a gentle pulse atop his frame, he shuffled to the edge of the lake, and dug a row of holes with his finger. Stolen or not, they were a token of well-wishing from the Mark-V. Wouldn't do to have them wither, the blue mecha decided, and carefully buried their roots before sprinkling them with water from the lake. From his peripheral, he could see Striker watching, head leaning against a palm propped up on a folded knee. His expression looked like a smile, but when the American Jaeger turned around, it was gone, replaced by a glower of boredom.
"I'm going to sleep now." Gipsy took a stretch, and lied down on his back. Striker turned his head toward him. He seemed to have something on his mind.
"Are you really not gonna talk about it?" He asked after a long silence.
Gipsy onlined his visor. "Talk about what?"
The Australian didn't reply right away. He studied the Mark-III's face, and looked aside with a sigh.
"Nothing." He shook his head, and flopped back onto the grassy bank of the lake.
Gipsy watched the silver mecha.
His fingers twitched in a brief clench, but he didn't pursue the topic.
When Gipsy woke up the next morning, Striker was gone. That was how most mornings were, so the American didn't think much of it, instead checking up on the flowers. They appeared to be fine, but they were so small, delicate. The blue mecha watered them again just to be sure. Plants liked water, or so he's been told.
There really wasn't much to do around the lake. Gipsy watched the fish, and kept absolutely still when a bird landed on the bank. It hopped around, wings fluttering. It took a drink, and splashed around in the shallow before taking off into the sky, the rapid flapping of feathers a brief disturbance to the soft rustling of trees.
Striker arrived in the afternoon. He didn't look dented anywhere.
"I thought Alpha was going to have your ass." Gipsy chirped as a greeting, visor flashing in a grin.
The Australian glared. "How about I have your arse?"
Gipsy laughed, and scooted aside to give the silver Jaeger space to sit. Striker tossed his head in an eye-roll, but settled down next to the Mark-III, so he couldn't have been that annoyed.
"How are things at the Shatterdome?" The lither mecha asked once his company was seated.
"The usual," Striker replied. "Lieutenant Kaido-whatever's recovering well, so Cherno Alpha's in a good mood."
"Is that why he didn't—"
A glare from the Australian.
Gipsy muffled a giggle.
"Tendo went to visit his family for the weekend," The Mark-V continued as though he hadn't been interrupted. "One of the night patrols broke the coffee-maker in their office. A big deal, apparently." The brawler shrugged when Gipsy sent him a questioning glance. "Herc's been thinking about cleaning up the Old Hanger. Can't have Crimson Typhoon sitting there collecting dust."
Gipsy's visor flashed. "You know about Typhoon?"
"Yeah," Striker answered. "Well, I don't know if I'm supposed to, but you can't hide anything in the Drift."
"Oh." The American blinked, and hugged his knees. "You Drifted with the Marshall and Flan again?"
"Yeah." The silver mecha was watching him. "We fixed the simulation training system."
Gipsy's fingers tightened around the plating of his arms.
"Now it doesn't hurt. As much." Striker's gaze was a hefty pressure against the Mark-III's sensor field. "It's supposed to improve Drift compatibility, sand out the rough corners so we can fight better, not scar us for combat."
"Actual combat will hurt, though." Gipsy mumbled into his knees. Before the Australian could respond, the blue mecha straightened with a heaving intake. "What's going to happen to Typhoon? Do you know?" He diverted the subject, and stared at the lake to avoid the silver Jaeger's visor.
Striker was silent for a few moments. "From what I got in the Drift," He let out an ex-vent, and turned toward the lake as well, "Herc wants to move him—"
The brawler glanced at Gipsy.
"…move her," He went on, "to the Main Hangar. To get patched up. The Chinese said they might've found her a set of pilots, so she should be ready for deploy if everything works out."
Gipsy tensed. "Another set of pilots. Patched up just so she can fight again if the Breach reopens." His voice hardened. "That's all we are, isn't it. To be patched up and sent out when the time comes, over and over again."
Striker turned. He stared at the blue mecha.
Gipsy's hands clenched tighter.
"…I'm sorry." He dipped his chin, and lowered his gaze. 'That was out of line of me, wasn't it."
The Australian didn't say if it was.
"I got a Category-One while they were working out the kinks with the simul. program," He said instead. "Wasn't much of a fight. We just wrestled around." The Mark-V paused. "Still hurt like a bitch when it punched me in the face, though."
Gipsy huffed a laugh.
"A Category-One punched the great Mark-V Striker Eureka?" He buried his face into his arms.
Striker let out a snort from his vents.
"Yeah." An arm wrapped around the American's shoulders. "Guess I'm a little rusty."
"Guess you are."
Striker didn't get mad.
He pulled Gipsy against his chest, and gave the blue Jaeger a gentle squeeze.
"Hey," The Australian piped up, "wanna see if we can catch some fish?"
Gipsy sniffed a breath through his intakes, and gave a small nod.
For the remainder of the day, the Jaegers terrorized the fish population in the lake. They didn't end up catching any, as the tiny creatures were slippery and quick, but neither mecha minded.
The point wasn't to catch them in the first place.
Night time had a habit of sneaking up on people.
Gipsy rested on his back, arms crossed under his head guard. Striker was lounging beside him, one knee folded up, the other down. They watched the sky, now a canvas of ink sprinkled with stars. It looked as though someone had thrown a handful of glittering sand across a dark backdrop, the faint, wispy outlines of clouds as its folds.
"Do you know any constellations, Eureka?" The blue mecha asked, visor a soft glow that barely illuminated his features.
"Yeah," The Australian pointed up at the sky. "This over here is called the 'Great Giant'. And that one," He switched to another part of the visible cosmos, "is the 'Praying Huntsman'."
"Oh." Gipsy blinked. He knew a few constellations, but none of them had such creative names.
"Over there we have the 'Prancing Ballerina'," The Mark-V continued, "and in that corner, you can see the 'Several-Tailed Majestic Squid'."
Gipsy's turbine stopped spinning. Silence spread between them, until, with a loud splutter, Striker started to laugh.
"Ha-ha, very funny." The American deadpanned, though his field pulsed with amusement at his company's snorting guffaw.
"Nah, I don't know any." The silver Jaeger admitted after his bout of hilarity. "None of my pilots are interested in the stars. I haven't thought to learn about it either."
"Oh." Gipsy kept his vision on the twinkling above them. "Raleigh used to watch them." His turbine whirred with the warmth of a smile. "He had a telescope when he was a child. It was old and didn't work very well, but it was his and Yancy's treasure."
"Really?" Striker hummed. "Didn't see that comin'. Thought he was just a dumb blond who happened to pack a mean punch."
"I could almost say the same about you," Gipsy sniped back, voice an airy lilt, "except you don't pack a mean punch, nor are you blond."
"Ouch, Danger. You're a real bitch when you wanna be, y'know that?" The brawler placed a hand on his chest, vents in curt bursts as though in pain.
"You asked for it." The lither mecha sniffed, and turned his face away, rousing a bark of laughter from the Australian.
A comfortable lapse settled over their chatter. Around them, the forest rustled with a soft breeze. Water splashed over rock, and flowed into the lake while a small stream trickled nearby. The Jaegers have just recently discovered it when sloshing around to catch fish.
There was an odd, high-pitched buzz in the air as well. It had alarmed Striker at first, but the bots had learned during their second night in the forest that it belonged to the crickets living around the lake.
"…Raleigh had once thought that alien life would come from the stars." Gipsy began in a murmur. Beside him, Eureka kept silent, completely still as he waited for the Mark-III to continue. "A lot of people did, I think." The blue mecha stared at the sky, visor a glaze of dim light. "And who knows – maybe they are out there. The ones arriving through the ocean just found us first."
Striker didn't reply. The American Jaeger could see him on the peripheral, the even sheen of his silver plating marred by crisscrossing scratches.
"Do you remember the Kaijus?" The lither bot asked, "Actual Kaijus, I mean."
"No." The Mark-V answered.
"Do you remember anything? From before?"
The brawler turned toward him.
"Before what, the Breach closed?"
The Australian dipped his chin in thought.
"No." He turned his visor back to the sky, and placed his hands on his stomach, vents letting out a soft, long breath as he leaned into the grass.
Gipsy watched him, face inclined toward the other prone bot.
"Everything I remember," Striker spoke up again, breaking the brief silence, "comes from Herc or Flan," He explained. "It's kinda funny. Instead of remembering my death, I remember watching it." He raised a hand before him, and made a small sweep with his palm, fingers spread. "Heart rates going flatline on a screen. Then everything blurred." The hand dropped. "He tried so hard not to cry, that old man." The angel-winged mecha shook his head. "I wish I could relate, but I don't actually know Chuck at all."
Gipsy looked down.
"…I don't know Yancy either." He whispered, a knot pulling tighter behind the slowing spin of his turbine.
Silence returned, hanging between the soft buzzing of crickets and splashing of water.
"Do you think—" Gipsy felt his vocalizer pinch. He reset it with a small cough. "Do you think," He tried again, "the Kaijus will come back?" His voice shivered. "…I don't—…" He took a shuddering intake of air. "…I don't want them to come back."
He heard the Australian shift beside him, but he didn't turn to catch the Mark-V's visor.
He could feel Striker's gaze, a tangible burn atop his plating.
"If they do," The brawler said, "I'll protect you."
"I don't want you to fight them either." The American blurted in a hurry, as though a second later would mean the giant monsters would come back and his friend would be gone. "Why do we fight Kaijus?" The blue mecha offlined his visual sensors. "We were made to do it. We never had a choice."
"We fight for the same reason our pilots fight." Striker answered.
"But I'm scared, Eureka." Gipsy's visor flashed online. "I'm scared, and I don't—…I don't even know what I'm scared of." He sat up with a shove, and pulled up his knees, palms covering his face and fingers clutching around armor.
"I don't want Kaijus to come back." He couldn't stop. "I don't want to fight them." His words stuttered. "I might never have to. They aren't here. But I'm still scared." He pressed his head against his knees. "Every time I think about what happened I—"
"-Hey." A quiet whirr of gyros, and an arm wrapped around his shoulders. "It's okay." Striker sat up, and pulled him against his chest. "You're right. They aren't here, so it's okay."
Except it wasn't.
Gipsy couldn't stop shaking. His turbine continued to speed. His breaths were ragged, as though a claw was scratching deep inside his gut, and a cold, sore churn spread, like ice that frosted his vents when he'd collapsed onto snow-covered shore.
There was a gentle tug on his wrist. The lither Jaeger jumped, and let out a thin whine when one of his hands was pulled away. He dug his head further against his knees to hide his face, and covered his visor with his forearm. There was a sigh, and fingers wrapped around his. Striker held him, and gave his digits a firm squeeze, though to whom the gesture was an encouragement for was unclear, as the silver mecha's sensor field strummed with nervousness.
"I think I understand. A little bit." The brawler began, pacing slow, as though he was fighting to utter the syllables. "Herc…the Marshall," The Mark-V shook his head, "he's scared too. I think."
Gipsy counted the cycles of his ventilation, and kept an eye on the other bot from the edge of his visor.
"Every time I try to do something on my own, he flips the shit out." Striker looked down, and huffed a laugh. "Says it's too dangerous. I've been in his head. I know why." The silver mecha gave him a hearty slap on the shoulder, and leaned his head back, gaze pointed at the night sky. "He thinks if I don't do what he says, I'll hurt myself." The Mark-V's voice rose. He spoke like he was making an announcement. "Not hurt him, or Flan. Hurt myself." He emphasized. "Which is funny if you think about it, with me being a Jaeger and him being, well, a human who can trip over a rock and sprain his ankle," He blabbered, and Gipsy tilted his head toward him, optical sensors a hazy glow.
Striker noticed. He looked back.
"It happened to him once." The brawler replied when he felt the questioning ripple in the blue Jaeger's field.
They studied each other, sights interlocked.
Striker let out a slow ex-vent.
"…He's afraid of losing me, Gipsy," The Australian murmured, "even though he knows he won't." His visor was bright, the intensity behind it piercing. "Just like how you're scared of Kaijus even though they're not here, right?"
Gipsy could not speak. Words were difficult. The pressure against his vocalizer choked him with a relentless grip that only got worse the more he kept Eureka's gaze.
"…Yeah." He finally managed to croak out, hand a tight squeeze around Striker's. The bottom of his visor scorched. Despite the impossibility, the Mark-III felt as though his vision was blurring, a sensation in immediate tandem to the skidding halt of his turbine.
They looked at each other, silent.
"…Think you're gonna go back to the Shatterdome?" The brawler asked, and gave the lither mecha a pat on his shoulder before taking back his hands. "Your pilots are starting to get real annoying with their questions." He added with a stiff shrug, trying to play nonchalance, and blew out a blast of air when it failed, vents emitting a grouchy grunt.
Gipsy did not feel like laughing, but he did it anyways, a huffy whisper as thanks to the Australian's attempt at humour. The blue Jaeger sniffed a long intake, and gave his limbs a forward stretch, blinking away the burn that lingered at the corners of his visor.
"Please don't stomp on them." He dropped his arms on his legs, and tossed his company a glance, visor glowing with a smile.
"Don't give me ideas." He drawled, and flopped down to lie on his back, crossing an ankle on a propped up knee.
Gipsy hummed a chuckle, and lied down beside the other Jaeger.
"You know," The Mark-III piped up, a long pause later, "You really aren't all that bad…"
His turbine warmed.
The Australian turned.
He smiled, and Gipsy felt his breaths stall a little.
Just a little.
Notes: Gah, sorry for how late this is! Hope this was enjoyable regardless of its tardy arrival. XD
Big thank-yous to my reviewers, Lumira Constance, Sounddrive, Starsong008, Lily Avalon, Ultra Rodimus, The Winged Pyro That Drowned, Thunderweb, femme4jack, futurechild77, Xahraxs, Basia Orci, prismadecepticons, heretherebemonsters, XRaiderV1, iSquigley, r2mich2, Erin Primette, glitchrr36, UNSC Inferno, XxLosAngelesGirlxX, Lucadris, Guest 1, EllaQuint, nightkings, Guest 2, Airyo, Guest 3, CatgirlFireflare, Dashusi4ka, and SteelBlastBee. Sorry I haven't been replying to signed reviews. I should be able to get to it again this time around.
I don't really have anything to say here, since this chapter is pretty self-explanatory, but I do have something I want to talk about. I've been noticing a trend for this story in particular of people wanting to feed me ideas or tell me how to write it. I do appreciate your enthusiasm, but "Chasing Alice" has already been plotted out, so I am not taking requests or suggestions. Thanks for understanding. :)
With that said, I do appreciate your feedback. It means a lot that people enjoy this silly little story. Let me know what you think if you got the time! Until next chapter~