||[Jan 13th, 2010 / 8:21p]
He wasn't supposed to wake up.
In fact, if he were technical about the matter, he hadn't fallen asleep--not really, not exactly, he'd given in to the darkness with a rush of fire at his back, he'd expected to be destroyed--that the sharp hit that ripped him into the black was the last thing he'd ever feel. It wasn't. He woke to the sharpest headache he'd ever felt, he was choking around a tube in his mouth, he couldn't breathe--thrown into panic because he couldn't remember how he'd gotten there, couldn't remember--but then he could, he could remember Marshal Pentacost and the drift and telling his father he loved him in the only language they could handle--my father always said if you have the shot you take the shot--but why had he woken up. He was hitting genuine panic when he heard his father's voice--Chuck, calm down. You're okay. It was disconcertingly soothing, and he fell back into inky black.
He woke again. He couldn't move now, and another wave of panic washed over him--but his dad swam into view again, and Chuck could feel something, a push, a point of pressure on his arm--Herc's hand. "Chuck--just stay still. It's okay. They did it, you know--the four of you saved the damned world."
The relief in his father's voice makes Chuck choke up again, It's all he can do to touch his dad's hand before he passes out again.
He wakes up. He doesn't know how long it's been, but the tube down his throat has changed to lines stabbing into his arm--that had to be better, didn't it? Herc looked pale and old in the hospital light, wearing the same clothes he'd been in for the unnumbered days Chuck had been floating through his subconscious. Chuck tried to tell him to go get rest--or as Chuck chose to phrase it, 'Jesus Fucking Christ you look like a fucking skeleton, get out of here and get some rest'--but it came out "Jesk ge ou herest."
Herc looked up at Chuck, noticing that his son was awake and squeezing his hand. "Chuck." He wavered out of Chuck's vision and returned with a glass. Ice chips. He tipped a bunch of them into Chuck's mouth, brushing his hair back. It was like he was a kid again--but Chuck forgave him. He'd put Herc through a lot the last couple of weeks--he could remember that awful conversation where he'd chewed him out--See you in the drift, dad. Then everything had gone pear-shaped. Did it matter if his dad wanted to indulge? "In case you're wondering, you shattered your hip--your leg is broken, your shoulder is broken, and you've got a concussion--but you're going to make it. You've been through a lot of surgery." It felt good, anyway. "There. Better?"
"Get out of here, old man."
He could tell from the grin on Herc's face that he heard the intention, the words Chuck couldn't say--not so much from pride as it was from pure inability to speak at the moment. He'd never felt quite so scrambled. "Not a chance in hell."
He smiled, despite himself, and drifted back to sleep. He woke to Mako beside him. She looked okay--he could feel the relief wash through him. She had made it. Had Raleigh? She offered him ice and he took it. Where was Marshal Pentecost? He'd been sick--sicker than he'd ever let on, and Chuck was hit with a rush of memories from him. Memories of Luna, of Tamsin, of a little girl alone on a destroyed street carrying a red shoe. Chuck felt nauseous. Had he lived while Stacker died? Jaeger pilots weren't supposed to die alone. He coughed, swallowing hard before he spoke. "Hey. Where's your Yank? Please tell me someone sent my dad home."
She frowned at the cough, and offered more ice, hand staying outstretched as he spoke--although her face smoothed as he spoke, and when she spoke it was easy. "Raleigh's with Herc. Stacker," and there was a slight pause, a little stiffening of the spine, but she rattled on almost without pause, "is stable, so we came to make him get some rest--Raleigh is with him." She didn't bother sayin that Raleigh was making sure that Herc actually rested, or that it had been hard to pry him away from his son's side--both were probably obvious to anyone who knew Herc, let alone his son. She touched his hand after answering--quick and light, not sure yet of where she could touch without hurting him. He looked small and drawn in on himself in the hospital bed, which wasn't how she thought of him--the disconnect was odd, heightened her relief at his waking up. "I'm glad you're awake."
He wanted to catch her hand, to make that touch less fleeting, more real--he wanted to hold her hand for a moment--but his reflexes, like all other things in this post-potential-apocalypse, were scrambled. He managed to turn his hand but in nowhere near the time he would have needed to actually touch hers. It was--confusing. He ran his thumb over his fingers. It didn't feel right--but there was nothing he could do with that now. He let his forehead wrinkle even as he filed the information away. He didn't want her to leave. He didn't want it--but she should have been with her--sensei came unbidden, with a warmth Chuck didn't feel for the word and it halted him in his thoughts. It wasn't a ghost. It was misplaced and poorly acclimated memory-it shouldn't have been his, but his mind had accepted it in a time of trauma, and he felt the memory as strongly as whole-heartedly as if it had been his own. His hand clenched-he swallowed. She should have been with S(sensei)t(Tamsin-was-my-partner)a(a-simple-puzzle-I-solved-on-day-one)c(cancel-the-apocalypse)k(keep-who-you-are-mako)e(egotistical-jerk-with-daddy-issues)r--oh, his head hurt. He wanted to rub but his hand wouldn't move--had he tried?-the confusion was probably obvious, but he took a deep breath and composed himself. "You should go sit with your--" sensei was on the tip of his tongue, but he wasn't Stacker Pentecost or Hercules Hansen he was only Chuck. "--dad. I won't be awake long, and fuck knows we'll have plenty of time later." Because if he could barely move his hand, he wasn't getting out of this bed anytime soon.
He got what he wanted in a roundabout way--when his hand clenched and his forehead knotted up she needed to touch one or the other, physically soothe the only symptoms she could see of whatever was bothering him mentally, and she opted for his hand, hers returning to coax his open and settle against it, fingers knotting around fingers and her thumb playing lightly over the knuckle of his trigger finger over and over again. "I said I'd stay with you until Herc got back." There was amusement there, 'I'm not going to lie to your dad, Chuck' implicit and comfortable as ritual, as anything else she'd been saying since she was small (although this lacked the equally implied 'so well just have to make sure he doesn't find out'). "It was the only way to get him to to anywhere further than the bathroom for longer than five minutes." She said that with the security of someone who at least managed to halfway look like they hadn't been playing the same game Herc had.
He held onto her hand--the reflex was still there, which was a relief, really. He was in pain and stubborn with it--as stubborn as always, and the massive surge of love he still felt for her was muddled with Stacker's love and it choked him, made his face flush and his eyes blink wet and he swallowed. It was a messy reaction from a messy man--Chuckhad always been a mess. "So then when Raleigh gets back, have him sit with me. Dad'll be gone for hours. He won't know." His throat was scratchy and he held her hand more tightly for a moment before he (again) let her go. He was starting to drift back to sleep, which just figured, didn't it? He flushed red. "Mako?" His voice was--as plaintive as Chuck could manage, still wrapped in a core of stubbornness. "I'm sorry I didn't say goodbye."
I didn’t either was on the tip of her tongue, followed closely by it was me or your dad, Chuck--but neither made it out, somehow. Chuck was drifting, clearly falling back asleep, and with her hand let go of and his eyes closed it was almost like each of them was alone, like there was no reason not to press her lips together hard and swallow and almost tear up again even though she, Mako Mori, was decidedly and pointedly and deliberately less messy than Chuck Hansen. She hadn’t cried this much in years--every time she’d thought she had dried up something new would happen, Stacker would wake up or Chuck would say something or word would come that something good or bad had happened and she’d feel the thick knot at the back of her throat that meant her eyes were threatening to fill up. It wasn’t so much embarrassing as odd--might have been more embarrassing if Raleigh hadn’t been so Raleigh about it, hand between her shoulder blades at odd minutes, going off on a tangent that made people focus on him when she might have truly felt she’d embarrassed herself, making truly terrible jokes at other times just to make her snort disdainfully soggy laughter at him. But Raleigh wasn’t here now, wasn’t handy to help her keep her veneer, and it cracked and fractured and all the edges of it hurt her somewhere in her chest as she leaned forward and kissed Chuck on the cheek, told him the truth quietly after since she was so close to his ear. “It’s okay.” She wasn’t even sure if he was still awake--she might have lost him while she mediated her own minor breakdown. “I didn’t want you to.”
He didn't hear it--more accurately he heard it, but he wasn't awake to really listen. He fell into sleep--the deep kind where the memories of his mom lurked. If it weren't for dreams and the drift, he thought he might have forgotten her face--but those were dark thoughts, the kind he wasn't entertaining in this particular moment. He didn't actually dream, not this time. When he woke it was to a hazy, painful throbbing over his eye, and he was disoriented for a few minutes before he came back to himself. Raleigh had joined Mako, and she had fallen asleep. He made a noise before he managed words--he wanted to lift his hand to his face and scrub at his eye, where the pain was boring through his thoughts so he couldn't concentrate. He was thirsty, to the point it made his throat hurt, "Please?" He realized after he forgot to ask before he was (uncharacteristically) polite. "Ice, please?" He didn't say thank you after Raleigh helped him--to save breath more than anything, really. The aggression and anger he'd felt towards the other pilot had largely dissipated--it had been fake anger, anyway. It was always the easiest emotion for Chuck. "I told her to go sit with her dad." His voice was fond and dry--he wished her hand was still in his, but it would have been inappropriate in front of her--whatever they were now, and whatever they would become. "Dad still asleep?"