Rating/Warnings: PG or possibly M
Pairing: Raiden/Rose. Yeah, yeah.
Summary: "Jack! You have to beLIEve me!"
Author's Notes: Heavy MGS2 spoilers, and really quite odd.
There was an ache in his bones that he put down to fatigue (though on Monday he’d convinced himself it was cancer). He’d been worked too hard. He glanced at Rose out of the corner of his eye and saw her holding a pot under the kitchen sink, the other hand splayed across her belly. She’d been worked too hard, too. A shaft of light bled through the windows and showed him her bones.
“Hey,” he said, waving an arm.
She turned for a moment. “What is it, Jack? I’m busy,” then back to the sink. Her words had a sting to them, but he could see her lip curling in a slight smile. She’d always adored their stupid arguments.
He laughed. “What’s this? Too busy for me?”
“I didn’t mean that.” She paused, and threw him a teasing grin. “All right, yes I did. Look at you, slacking.”
“Slacking?” He put a hand to his chest. “I don’t stop working for a moment.”
“Then come over here and help me, you oaf.”
Jack laughed and joined Rose at the stove, breathing in the scent of apricots from her skin. And as she moved the pot over the element he moved his hand over hers, but he must have misjudged as his hand hit the stove, and he joined in her laughter.
Rose had a few words to throw at him, and they were always low and metered with amusement:
“You’re tired,” or “Maybe it’s your eyes,” or “Jack, sometimes I think you’re not touching me on purpose,”
which he always laughed at in response, but it didn’t ease the coil in his belly. Because maybe he did need more sleep, or maybe there was a problem with his eyes, or maybe it was all just too far out of his control.
Once, at the beginning of this life, he’d pinned Rose to the door and screamed, “How can I trust you?” Her breath had choked on a reply and he’d buried his face in the crook of her neck and wept, because nothing could be this perfect but everything was. And he knew she had an answer; she just couldn’t tell him.
“Hey,” she said, when they were in bed, he tracing circles over her hip and concentrating on the feeling, “you’re not going to end up like him, are you?” He moved his hand away and pushed his head into the pillow.
“What?” he said sourly, “Alive?”
“Jack!” She frowned at him. “You know what I meant. Cold, serious …”
Analytical. He shuddered. “Rose, stop. Not the Big Shell. Not tonight. I’m me, only me.”
She pursed her lips. “You never talk about it, but everything’s the Big Shell with you. I want us to move on, and you always brush it away. And sometimes you even sound like him -- ”
“Whoa, what? Hey!”
Jack sat up, pulling Rose across to him until she lay half against his hip. He rubbed her arms. “I’m not, okay? I’m -- are you crying? Rose! There’s nothing to worry about, I’m just me, I’m the same. Okay? I’m not going to change. You’re not going to lose me.” He wrapped his arms around her. “I’m not brushing you away.”
They had these hours; they could have done anything. But as sunlight brushed the room and he woke, Jack felt only vague embarrassment.
Tuesday morning, and he woke with Rose in his arms, her hair flying out backwards like a trail of dust.
Calm was a long way away.
He had a few thoughts, not those you’d normally consider, that tended to linger in his mind. Like the static electricity rub of her skin and still posing of her neck, a small tick in her throat ruining the effect. And he felt languorous and distant, and he started to listen.
Buzz click whirr as she breathed in and a pent-up sigh breathed out.
The reality of it was a situation that was all too real. He looked at her. Thought it was something she’d understand.
Knowledge. That’s all.
Which is why, when she woke, smiling at his face, he reached across her body and plunged the knife into her neck.
The light in the bathroom always stung his eyes, but it was never something that bothered him beyond checking his teeth. But as he moved one arm to pull his lips back, a mark on his arm darted into his vision like the beam from a sniper rifle. He left his arm where it was, lips askew in a sneer.
Because there, on the back of his arm, were two red needle-marks.
He really didn’t feel surprised when they’d gone by morning.
But he did feel surprised to find that Rose had already gone. A note on the side table said she’d forgotten the groceries. His eyes scanned the note for a while, taking in the loops of her handwriting and matching its consistency. Almost peaceful. Almost without thought.
Her side of the bed was soft, and part of it pricked his mind.
The very first day they’d come back, and him saying, “Rose, you never once called me Raiden.” Her saying, “You forgot yourself when they did.”
Snake’s eyes on the back of his head, a jittery need to prove himself.
A metal river between his teeth and a voice asking “Is there another reason?” and Solidus’s voice overhead, “Knowledge! That’s all!”
A breath shuddered through his lungs and the metal river was still there. Jack probed the corners of his mouth with his tongue. He’d bitten his lip. Blood. That’s all.
He buried his face into the sheets, heard the door slam and Rose tumble groceries onto the kitchen table. Closed his eyes and breathed until he could smell apricots.
No more answers.