"Talk to me Raleigh. Mako," Roxie said, her eyes still closed.
"Still here. Heading towards the breach," Raleigh replied. She opened her eyes and focused on the screens. They had just lost two rangers – she was determined that they weren't about to lose two more.
She looked over at the screens and quickly assessed the situation, before returning her eyes to the conn-pod video. Both Raleigh and Mako were in one piece, though there were several system errors. The Gipsy Danger had taken on severe damage, but thankfully the escape pods were still intact. They would be able to get out.
"Do what you need to do and then get the hell out of there," Roxie ordered.
"Thought I was leading this mission," Herc said from next to her. She glanced at him and then back to the screens.
"I'm not losing anyone else," she said.
"We won't," Herc replied. She felt Jin grasp her shoulder, massaging it slightly as he stood next to her.
"They know what they're doing," he said softly. Roxie nodded, but didn't answer, her jaw clenched as she continued to watch. The jaeger dropped into the breech and the whole room held their collective breaths as they watched them.
"We're through!" Raleigh shouted. Roxie closed her eyes for a moment, silently thanking whoever might be out there watching over them for that much. "Mako is out!"
Her eyes flew open as she looked over and saw Raleigh unhooking himself and going over to her.
"I'm going to send her up. I can take care of it from here," he shouted.
"Just… hurry," Roxie said.
"Don't worry, Williams. I can do this," he replied.
Roxie was torn - she kept whipping her head back and forth between the screen with Mako's vitals and those listing all the damage that the jaeger had sustained. Raleigh got her escape pod out, allowing a slight bit of relief for her. But now was the moment of truth.
"I'm nearly done," Raleigh shouted.
"Hurry up and get out!" Roxie couldn't help but shout.
"Roxie," Jin said. She ignored him as she leaned forward, gripping the edge of the console. All she heard was the pumping of her heart as she watched.
"I won't lose another one. I won't lose another one," she chanted over and over softly. "I won't lose another one…"
Roxie stood in front of a long line of photos on a wall the next day. It was in a corridor that led to the staging area, but it was one that Roxie rarely used. She didn't want to see the faces of all the pilots who had died in the line duty. Namely she didn't want to see the portrait of her brother. But there she stood, gazing up at the familiar grin. The familiar twinkle in his eyes. They both had the same dimple in their right cheek.
For some reason, she felt like she needed to be here right now. She would join the celebration later, if she felt up to it. Part of her wanted to celebrate quietly in her room with Jin, who had moved in there quickly, unable to be in his own that held too many memories of his brothers. However, she also knew that Mako and Raleigh would want to see her there, so planned to go for a bit once she finished up here.
Her eyes fell on the gold plaque underneath the portrait that read James Williams. She chuckled slightly, knowing how much he hated to be called James. Just as much as she hated her full name – Roxanne.
"Hiya, Jamie," she said softly, looking back up at his face. "Been a long time, I know… hope you can understand." She slowly sat down on the floor, setting the bottle and two glasses on the ground next to her as she crossed her legs. She then poured the whiskey and set one glass on the floor in front of her.
"Got your favorite," she said, holding her glass up to the portrait. She then took a drink, savoring the flavor for a moment before swallowing. "It's done… we bombed the breech. And it worked. There's no more need for jaegers or rangers, I should think. Never thought I'd see the day." She laughed softly. "You probably never thought it possible as well…" She took another drink.
"I… I didn't give up," she said, the tears already starting to fill her eyes. "I wanted to. A lot. Nearly did a few times. But every time I got close, I could hear your bloody voice in my head… telling me to get my big girl knickers on and do my job… So, I did…"
Roxie heard footsteps from her right, but she ignored them, still looking up at the portrait.
"And now… I won't ever lose another pilot again," she said. "My job is done."
Someone sat on the ground next to her, reaching over for the bottle. She saw Herc out of the corner of her eye. He looked up at the portrait.
"She did a right good job. Though sure you know that," he said, saluting the photo before taking a drink directly from the bottle. "Always knew she'd be good." Roxie laughed softly and looked over at him.
"I couldn't tell from how often you yelled at me," she said.
"I had to. I only yell at the best," Herc said, glancing at her. He then looked back up at the portrait. "Sure, Jamie remembers me yelling at him just as much." Roxie looked back up at the photo. "You know he's proud of you. Always was." She nodded and took another drink.
"Still doesn't make it any easier," she said softly.
"Here I was hoping you'd tell me that it does get easier," Herc said, his voice thick. Roxie shook her head.
"It gets… manageable. But it never goes away," she replied softly. "Not completely, anyway."
"Suppose that'll have to do," Herc said. "I knew there was a high chance we'd lose pilots on this mission – that I might even die - but… I didn't think it would be…" Roxie looked over at him, seeing him rub his face as tears fell down his cheeks. She wrapped her arm around his shoulders, pulling him over.
"I think we all hoped we could do it without losing anyone," she said. She looked passed him and saw Jin standing at the end of the hall, watching them with a concerned look on his face. She smiled slightly and nodded, letting him know they were okay as she dropped her arm from around the older man. "Might've been foolish of us, but we couldn't help it."
"Suppose it's our nature," Herc said. "To always hope for the best even though we're planning for the worst."
"That would be true," Roxie said, looking back up at her brother as she took another drink. "But… you'll get through this." She looked back at him, meeting his eyes. "You're rather strong, from what I remember. And if it didn't kill me, it won't kill you."
"Suppose if you can survive it, that's a good sign," Herc said, smiling slightly, though there was no mirth in his voice.
"You plan to stay with the corps?" Roxie asked. He shook his head.
"Think I've given enough of my life for it. I'm not as young as I used to be. Probably time I retired. Let others step up. That is if they even continue," he said.
"I feel the same," Roxie replied. "Though not nearly as long as you, 11 years is still a lot." She looked past him again, still seeing Jin as he leaned against the wall, his eyes looking down the line of portraits. In due time, his brothers would be up there, along with Pentecost, Chuck, Aleksis and Sasha.
"So… where are you going from here?" Herc asked, looking over at her. Roxie kept watching Jin.
"Easy enough to answer," she said as Herc looked over to see what she was gazing at with such calm resolution. "Home."
Roxie stood on the runway of the shutterdome, looking out over the ocean. She had spent so much time there. She wrapped her arms around her as the wind blew and whipped her hair around her face.
"Rox… it's about time to go," Jin said, walking up to her. He was still walking with a limp but managed to get around fine on his own without a cane or crutches. After a week, he had insisted he didn't need it, though she knew it was more out of pride than recovery. She glanced back at him and nodded, then turned back to the ocean.
"Spent so long on the coast. It'll be odd to be back in a city," she said. "Won't know what to do with all the noise… wonder if it's still the same. If it'll feel like home."
"Home is wherever we're together," he said, kissing the side of her head. She swallowed as she felt the tears well up again. It seemed she had done a fair amount of crying the last week or so. Between losing three jaeger teams, thinking she had lost Jin, finding out she hadn't lost him, and then relief that she hadn't lost Mako and Raleigh, it was rollercoaster. Not to mention the memories of Jamie that she had been dealing with before all of that.
"It won't be the same," she said. "He won't be there. I haven't been back there without him." Jin studied her.
"I never met Jamie, but I like to think that he's always been with you," he said softly. Roxie looked up at him. "You carry him with you. Just like I now carry my brothers." She swallowed.
"I suppose that's true," she said. Jin smiled down at her.
"This is a new start for us, Roxie. A new chapter. We can make whatever we want of it. Do whatever we want. The world is our clam," he said. Roxie chuckled.
"I think the saying is, the world is our oyster," she replied.
"I know. Just wanted to hear you laugh," he quipped in response. Roxie couldn't help but smile as she looked back at the ocean. "We don't have to stay in London if it's too painful for you. We can go anywhere. And we don't have to figure it out now. There's enough time for that."
"But we should probably figure out the wedding plans," Roxie said wryly. "Preferably before my mother plans the whole damn thing for us."
"Would that be bad?" Jin asked. Roxie looked back up at him.
"Trust me. It would be bad," she replied.
"I ran into Herc. He said that he is coming to the wedding. And, of course, Mako and Raleigh," he said.
"Wouldn't be the same without them," she said, starting to smile slightly. "Though why she and Raleigh want to stay with the corps, I'll never understand.
"We all handle loss in our own ways," Jin said. "She thinks that she's honoring Pentecost's memory by staying." Roxie nodded.
"She manage to find Jake? Let him know?" she asked softly. She knew things had been strained between the father and son and that Jake had cut off all contact when he left a year ago. But she also knew that he'd want to know.
"Not yet," Jin said. "But she's still looking." Roxie nodded.
"I should probably help her," she said, her brow furrowed. "It's not right for us to be leavin' before I've done that." Jin sighed as he turned Roxie to face him, gripping her shoulders lightly.
"It's okay. You've done enough, Roxie. Mako and everyone thinks so as well. You don't need to keep looking out for others anymore," he said softly.
"But I worked with him-" Jin's chuckle cut her off. "This is serious."
"I know. Just find it funny. You've been talking non-stop about leaving the corps and now that it's time to do so, you're finding more work and reasons to stay," he said before kissing her forehead. "It's time, Roxie."
She sighed as she nodded. She knew it was time to leave. Eleven years of her life had been devoted to the PPDC. It had taken her brother from her. Her sanity for a time. It nearly took the love of her life. She had given up enough for the corps. Now it was time to go home and put it behind her.
"Are you ready to go now?" Jin asked, still gazing down at her. She smiled and nodded as she met his eyes.
"I am," she said, her voice stronger. "Let's go home."
Decided to post the last chapters in one go because they were short and I kept forgetting. And not like tons of folks are reading this one anyway.
Hope you enjoyed!