Every drop was an exercise in patience. No matter the time, you sat up and waited for Yancy to return. This go around it was going on 4 a.m. and you drained your third cup of coffee. It had been too long. The boys ought to have at least called in by now. You slipped on a pair of sneakers and sprinted to LOCCENT.
You barged in, clearances be damned. All eyes turned to you but the techs and the Marshall himself were grimly silent. You knew then and slumped against the doorway, your chin quivering dangerously. Tendo approached and led you into the hall.
"Coms are out but Gipsy's tracker is registering. She's on her way back in."
"Don't baby me, Choi. Is Yancy okay?" You begged through tears.
He steeled himself. "It's just Raleigh. I'm so sorry."
You sank into his arms, unable to move, unable to think. You heard a voice whispering Yancy's name and knew it to be yours.
Raleigh was by your bed when you woke, a bandage visible on his shoulder. Neither of you spoke. You simply sat up and slapped him with every ounce of strength you could muster. Raleigh's head whipped to the side but he took the hit without protest.
"This is YOUR fault! You wanted to go after the boat!"
Raleigh nodded and stared into his hands. "I know."
You laid back down and told him to fuck off. He did, knowing he had no right to be there.
"Babe," Yancy sighed and crouched by the bed. You couldn't hear him but he hoped somehow you would know. "Go easy on the kid. Trust me, he already feels like shit."
Yancy kissed your forehead as your eyes fluttered shut. He watched you sleep that night. He had nothing but time now.
Raleigh left for the wall as soon as he was well and he did so without saying goodbye. That was fine, you weren't ready to see him yet.
You were eager to get out of there as well and we're finishing up packing. All that didn't belong to the PPDC was your clothing, framed pictures, and your tools. It didn't amount to much.
Jazmine had asked you to come spend some time with her and the kids, and you figured you'd bring her some of the family photos. Yancy's clothes would stay with you. Each night you clutched one of his shirts, breathing the scent as you slept.
Jazmine's company was a balm. She was patient and understanding, even of your absence at Yancy's memorial service. Time, good company, and just a touch of booze healed all wounds: that was Jazmine's philosophy.
On your second day at her place she broke out a fifth of Jack and the two of you spent the evening watching trash TV, passing the bottle back and forth, and telling stories about the crazy shit the boys had done over the years. And Jazmine readily acknowledged that her brothers were batty.
She was telling of an unfortunate occasion in which Raleigh and Yancy received paintball guns for Christmas, when your phone vibrated with an incoming text. You checked it as Jaz concluded her tale.
Tendo: Having fun?
Me: mmm. Ngl v drunk.
Tendo: Don't do anything I wouldn't do.
Me: shit. If u won't do it iss bad™
Tendo: Ya got me there 🤷
You showed Jazmine the exchange and the pair of you promptly burst into obnoxious guffaws. This wouldn't be half as funny tomorrow when you were sober, but in this moment it was hilarious.
After a month at Jaz's you began to think about where you'd go from here. You couldn't stay in her house forever and truth be told living off your savings hadn't been a great idea. You were always smart with money but yours was running low. A recent conversation with Tendo ran through your mind.
Pentecost says your job is waiting for you. If you want it.
A good j-tech could find work at any Shatterdome. Did you really need to return to Anchorage? No, but you realized you wanted to. Yancy may be gone but it was still home. You missed your friends. You missed the cool metal of a Jaeger's hull under your palm.
You'd no sooner arrived in Anchorage than a snow shower began. Fat and wet flakes, it would make for good snowball fights for the kids who would surely be off of school today.
You took a shuttle to the Shatterdome and fretted over how your arrival would go. Maybe they didn't even need you back and this was some sort of pity thing. The worries turned out to be baseless. The instant you stepped inside Tendo seized you in a crushing hug. When he released you, Marshall Pentecost stepped forward and offered his hand.
"Welcome back, Miss (Y/L/N)."
You accepted the handshake, surprised that he'd even bothered.
"Thank you, sir. It's good to be home."
The Marshall went back about his business and Tendo took hold of one of your bags. The spindly chief LOCCENT officer took a single step and dropped the deceptively delicate looking lilac suitcase.
"Jesus. What do you have in this thing?" He asked, melodramatically flexing his fingers.
"Tools. I mean, standard issue is okay but I like mine." You answered with a laugh and a shrug.
Cole's stupid face was on the cafeteria TV dodging questions from a persistent reporter about the end of the Jaeger program. A chorus of boos erupted. Someone launched a balled up napkin at the screen and you heard a distant cry of "Turn him off!". The channel was changed and things simmered down.
The demise of the program was no big surprise but it was still hitting everyone pretty hard. Losing a crew and then their livelihoods was difficult to swallow. To add insult to injury the UN had defunded the PPDC pension fund to help pay for the dumbass coastal wall. The lone remaining battle station was Hong Kong and of course only a few of the Anchorage staff would be chosen for transfer. You were all waiting for the axe to fall.
After dinner you took a cup of coffee and a book to Gipsy's old bay. Fifteen pages in, Tendo appeared and took a seat next to you on the chilled cement floor.
"They're posting the list tomorrow but I figured I'd let you know first."
Oh this couldn't be good. You shut your book and set it aside.
"You made the cut. Mori requested you specifically for the Mark III restorations."
A relieved grin lightened your features. "Seriously?! Why though? And how'd her funding come through?"
Tendo shrugged as if it were obvious. "She wants one of Gipsy's original mechanics. And the deal with Chau panned out so we'll be fine. For a while anyway."
That was settled. You were headed to Hong Kong.
Tension was high across the Shatterdome. The details weren't broadcast but the fact that a double event was expected became common knowledge. Then came the news that rather than attempt to train an entire new pair of pilots for Gipsy, Marshall Pentecost would try to bring Raleigh back into the fold.
You were close as ever with Jazmine but had lost touch with het surviving brother. The possibility that your harshness had irreparably damaged your friendship nagged at you.
"C'mon." Tendo insisted. "You made his rig like new. The guy's be falling at your feet."
"I dunno. I mean, I told him it was his fault Yancy died. That's fucked up." You grimaced and slurped up a mouthful of buckwheat noodles.
"Sure. But it was a fucked up situation. Raleigh was never even pissed at you, I know that for a fact."
He took a sip of his beer. "Yeah. We still talk and that includes about you."
You stated ahead at the wall of the noodle stand's minute kitchen.
"So you guys talk about me behind my back?"
Your companion put down his drink, realizing he had said the wrong thing.
"No! That's not what I-"
"Thanks for lunch." You mumbled and left him there.
Tendo slumped low over his bowl, dismayed at how stupid he'd been. His remark could have been put differently but as usual he turned into a blithering idiot when you were around.
Though his old friend couldn't feel it, Yancy put a comforting hand on his shoulder. "I was the same way, man."
Apologies didn't come easy to you but you owed one. Tendo was given his due and things between you were mended, but there was still Raleigh. Together you went to greet him. Tendo gave your hand a quick squeeze before you stepped into the hangar. It did nothing to quell your unease but the gesture was appreciated.
Things might have started out light-hearted, talking about Gipsy's upgrades, but five years of guilt sent you straight into Raleigh's arms.
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm sorry."
"It's okay." He whispered and held you tight.
With Striker Eureka and Gipsy Danger launched there was little for a humble J-tech to do but wait. You stood vigil in the hangar with everyone else, listening to the mission as it was put out over the intercom. You wept when Marshall Pentecost and the Hansen boy met their ends. You worried when Raleigh failed to wake.
A friend and a brother...fate wouldn't--couldn't be that unkind. The dread tugging at you was extinguished when he finally came to.
Cheers broke out and you joined in, whooping and hollering and embracing people you didn't even know. A voice called your name at the edge of the crowd. You waded through the mass and met a disheveled, ebullient looking Tendo. He looked about to say something but you cut him off by smashing your lips to his. It was sloppy and desperate but about time. He wrapped his arms around your waist and returned with a kiss crackling with an age of unspoken desire.
Yancy surveyed the entire scene, happy and relieved. Now that you had found peace he could go.