It was Nanette’s own fault – or at least it was also the real life Nanette who was to blame for this.
She had picked up the little wonkiness in the code that their ship created and had been trying to figure out what it was. Nanette had been battling herself in an attempt to keep the team alive and in so had caused a glitch.
“So you’re actually reliving the same day over again?” Kabir asked, for what was the fourth time in a row for Nanette.
“Yes.” She said, resisting the urge to hit her head on the table in frustration. “When I was attempting to camouflage us as part of the regular coding I did…something.” She hadn’t figure out exactly what yet. “And now our coding and area of space rollsback to what it was twenty four hours ago.”
“This sounds like it’s just a badly written Space Fleet episode.” Nate said and Nanette nearly mimed the words with him. He jumped a little, “Daly’s not back right?”
“No, don’t worry. He doesn’t show up.” Nanette assured him. “This one’s just on us.”
“But why’s it you?” Shania asked from where she sat across from Nanette. “Why wouldn’t the rest of us remember?”
“I may have decided to attempt the code on myself first. Kinda. I don’t know, this is all way beyond what I’ve actually learned.” Nanette’s shoulders slumped in her defeat.
“Aw babe.” Shania reached over to take her hand, patting it lightly before she rested her hand on top of Nanette’s. “You figured out how to get us out of that first shit show, you can figure this one out too.”
“Thanks for the faith.” Nanette’s lips quirked upwards in a smile, every loop Shania had expressed her assurance that Nanette would figure it out. “But there’s also the slight factor that the ship keeps blowing up at the end.”
There was a moment of silence and then Elena broke it. “What?”
“Don’t worry.” Nanette flashed a tight grin, “You’re not gonna remember it.”
Death wasn’t something the team had talked about once they’d escaped Daly’s server. With the possibility of it returned to them they chose instead to focus on making the most out of the life they were living now. In a game that could be discontinued any year.
Nanette was sure she could still get their little ship running somehow. And they weren’t at a loss for media since Kabir hacked into his own Netflix account.
But death was still there and she’d seen it happen to them enough.
The first time, before she knew she was even in a loop, she’d met Shania’s eyes and opened her mouth to say something but the fiery inferno swallowed her words up and she’d woken up thinking it was all a nightmare. Then the day happened again, and again, and again.
She sighed from where she sat at a desk, looking through code for something that would help her.
“You all right there?” Shania’s voice came from above her and she glanced up for a second to see Shania take a seat next to her. “You seemed-” She waved her hands by her head in demonstration.
“Just tired.” Nanette said honestly, “I don’t know if I’m really sleeping during these loops, sure doesn’t feel like it.”
Shania frowned at her. “You’ve gotta take care of yourself, yeah?”
“I’d rather get this fixed first.” On her tongue were the words ‘I’m tired of seeing you dying’ but Nanette didn’t bother to say it. She glanced at the clock instead, trying to see how much time she had left before this reset and she had to struggle with it all over again.
One minute to go.
“Come on.” Shania’s hand fell on her shoulder. “Take a break.”
Nanette’s smile was brittle, “Maybe next loop.”
The engines exploded but all Nanette felt was the warmth of Shania’s hand.
“Yes. Yes. Yes. No.” She said to the many questions that were going to be asked, “I’ll see you guys later. Hopefully.” She called out to them, walking out of the room that served as their mess hall and back to the computer.
It was a good thing her memory worked so well to remember all the coding she had been working on or already attempted because otherwise she’d be even more frustrated then she already was.
A cup of coffee was placed next to her a minute later. “Nanette…” Shania began as though uncertain how to broach the madness she’d displayed earlier.
She hadn’t gone through this scenario before and blinked up at Shania owlishly.
“Is there something going on?”
“Yes.” Nanette answered truthfully. “But don’t worry, I’ll figure it out.”
Shania’s smile was faltering and Nanette hated to see it waver. She had hoped her optimism that had bounced back would be enough for Shania not to question things.
“We’re in a time loop, we keep exploding, and I’m the only one who can remember and I do so not want to make it to 100 loops before I find a way to stop this thing, I mean I’ve got to be a better coder than that.” Nanette said in one breathe.
“Oh sweetheart.” Shania began and Nanette’s heart definitely did not skip a beat at the petname or so she convinced herself. “Come on, let’s get you back to bed.”
Nanette shrugged off Shania’s arm when she rested it over her shoulders, “Sorry, gotta get this done. I promise I’ll sleep tomorrow.”
Shania’s worried grimace would have kept her awake out of guilt anyway but Shania held her hands up in surrender and walked away.
She was left alone for the rest of the loop.
“You know, I really appreciated all you did for me when I first came aboard.” Nanette was tipsy, or at least her simulated body believed she was tipsy and not being in the Space Fleet simulation where she couldn’t have that was awesome.
“You’ve mentioned that a few times.” Shania chuckled from where she sat next to Nanette.
“You got yourself turned into a space creature for me!” Nanette continued onwards. It was her twentieth loop. Or maybe more. She was starting to stop counting.
“I’d really rather forget that part.” Shania took another shot, leaning heavily against Nanette.
“Yeah,” Nanette nodded, “That’s fair. But still. Thank you.”
“Anytime babe.” Shania patted the closest part of Nanette which happened to be her thigh.
“I should never have become a coder.” Nanette mourned at the exact same time the engines failed yet again.
“By all accounts the statement should be working.” Kabir squinted at her coding on the console in front of them.
“Yes! Thank you!” Nanette huffed and collapsed in a chair. “It’s like there’s something I’m still missing here that’s keeping me in this loop but I’ve examined all the coding and hell,” She broke out a cocky grin, “Mine’s perfect.”
“Not as much as you might think.” Elena drawled from where she sat.
Nanette tried not to sulk at that but it was hard not to after so many loops that she’d been through without any success.
“So you tried this one last time and it didn’t break the uh, thing we’re stuck in.” Kabir asked, the skepticism clear in his voice.
“No because otherwise, I wouldn’t still be here, having what I’m sure is a conversation we’ll have again even though we’ve never had it before.” Nanette made a face. “Oh I’m so sick of this time travel.”
“Cheer up babe.” Shania’s hand once again rested on her shoulder. “You’ll figure this out, yeah?”
“Yeah.” Nanette replied but it sounded hollow even to her.
“You could use a drink.” Shania led her up out of the chair and down the hall, pushing her in the chair when they got to the mess hall.
“I’ve had a few drinks.” Nanette admitted. “And I’m still stuck. Maybe this actually is Daly and this is his new hell to torment me.” She shuddered at the thought, her simulated heart constricting in panic.
“That’s a shit thought.” Shania broke through her panic with a snort. “Least you don’t have to wear that stupid uniform or kiss him anymore though.”
Nanette giggled slightly hysterically and then straightened herself up. “It’s not so bad.” She flashed Shania a grin, “You’re there which is nice.” She rested her chin on her hand, elbow on the table. “I hope I can get you out of this at least.”
“You best be getting yourself out of it with us all too.” Shania set a shot glass in front of her and began pouring a drink. “We’re in this together now.”
Nanette held up her glass in acknowledgement and let the drink burn through her at the same time as the fiery blast.
“You use pet names around me.” Nanette began, resting on her back. She hadn’t moved from her bed and Shania had come looking for her.
“I- are you all right?” Shania leaned over her, peering down.
“No.” Nanette admitted. “Can I just stay here this time?”
Shania looked even more concerned at that. “Yeah all right babe.”
“Can you stay too?” Nanette asked quietly, swallowing down the guilt that she was using this loop as an excuse to get closer to Shania.
Shania was quiet for a minute and then pushed on her little. “Make some room then.”
Nanette dutifully moved over and when Shania lay down she rested her head against Shania’s shoulder and sighed deeply. “Fuck Daly.” She muttered, thinking about how he got her in to this spot in the first place.
“Let’s try to keep him out of pillow talk.” Shania teased and Nanette couldn’t help but laugh. “Get some rest. I’ll wake you up tomorrow.”
“What causes the explosion?” Nate asked. They’d been bouncing ideas back and forth and this time, perhaps because of her desperation, the team had believed her more readily.
“You know, I’m still not sure.” Nanette admitted, “It’s like it just…happens.” She frowned to herself. “I think it’s a reaction from the glitch.”
“Or maybe it’s another glitch and the two are feeding in to each other.” Kabir suggested and Nanette nodded along, her brain running on overtime.
“No that’s it.” She breathed out and then started to laugh, “I have to fix both of them, not just the one.”
“Didn’t you just say you weren’t sure what caused it?” Nate cut into her thoughts.
“She’ll figure it out.” Shania shot him a glare and when she looked back at Nanette her expressions softened into something fond. “Nanette’s got our backs.”
“Always.” Nanette tried to say it lightly but she felt emotions constrict her throat. “Right,” She stood up, “I should um, get to work on this.”
She caught Shania’s eyes as she was leaving the room and flashed her a bright grin in an attempt to say that everything would be fine. It would be, she had to believe that.
The engines were still stumping her. She sighed from where she lay on her back staring up at them.
“What are you doing?” Shania asked, only her legs visible to Nanette and she had to crouch down in order to see into the little nook that Nanette had crawled in to.
“Waiting for inspiration.”
“I doubt you’ll get much in her, love.” Shania said, glancing around the nook. The pet name dropped from her lips so easily again and Nanette smiled at it.
She shuffled out of the nook a little and Shania sat down next to her. “I didn’t last loop either.” Nanette admitted and shrugged off the confused look Shania gave her. She hadn’t bothered to tell them this time. Nanette sighed and stretched her legs out in front of her, leaning back on her hands. “I just can’t figure out what’s causing this mess.”
“You need to get outside your head.” Shania said and rapped her knuckles lightly against Nanette’s.
Nanette smiled lightly in agreement and then gasped. “Outside. I need to see what’s going on outside! You’re a genius.” She leaned over to kiss Shania on the cheek in her excitement and scrambled up. Later she’d think on that moment and wish she’d stayed with Shania at least a little longer.
“It’s the players outside of us. They’re not affected by the glitch but are still able to affect us.” Nanette explained, mostly talking to herself as her fingers scrambled over the console and typing in code. “I just didn’t account for them before because well-”
“They’re dicks.” Shania added.
“Yeah that.” Nanette agreed and finished her coding within five minutes of the time frame she had left. “Here goes nothing.” She took a breath, holding it but let it go a minute later and felt foolish since she still had some time left.
“Are we supposed to be impressed?” Elena said somewhere in the background and she could hear Nate mumble his own confusion.
“Just…give it a minute. I didn’t time that right.” Nanette made a face. She whirled in the chair and looked up at Shania who gave her an encouraging smile. Reaching out to take Shania’s hand was second nature for her at this time and Shania just squeezed back much to her relief.
She glanced back at the clock, counting it down in her head and when it hit zero she froze, just waiting for the loop to reset or the explosion to occur but neither reared it’s head.
“It worked.” She breathed out. “It worked!” She said again, her excitement leaking through. She jumped up, hugging Shania tightly. “It worked, it worked, it worked.” She continued to say. Shania laughed and patted her on that back.
“Didn’t doubt you, love.” Shania said and Nanette pulled back a little to see her face. She caught that look of fondness once more and this time leaned in to kiss Shania properly. When she pulled back Shania was grinning, “Took you long enough.”
“You have no idea.” Nanette admitted as she leaned in for another kiss and ignored the cat calling from the rest of the team, giving them the finger.
Tomorrow she and Shania could talk this out. They had the time now. For now she just planned on living in the moment of the kiss.