“Roxie! Are you coming to dinner or not!” an impatient voice shouted through the door while banging on it. Roxie groaned as she sat up on her bed. It felt like it had only been about 15 minutes, but upon looking at the clock, nearly two hours had passed since she laid down for what was supposed to be a short nap.
“Fuck,” she murmured as she pushed out of bed and rubbed her eyes. She hadn’t intended to sleep that long, but she had been up late drinking with the triplets the night before after working with Mako on the cadet list for a few hours. Glancing at her tablet, she breathed a sigh of relief that she hadn’t slept through anyone attempting to contact her.
The banging started up again.
“Coming!” she shouted as she grabbed a gray knit cardigan and pulled it on. She yanked the door open, seeing a smiling Mako on the other side.
“The Marshal’s already left,” she said giddily as the two fell into step with each other and headed towards the canteen.
“That so?” Roxie replied as she stretched. “Means we get, what, three days of freedom?” Mako chuckled.
“Yes, though I still have to finish up the cadet list,” she said. “And you have training and more pilots to look after now.”
“Why don’t you put your name at the top of the list and save yourself some work?” Roxie asked, smiling at her.
“You know the Marshal will never allow it,” Mako said, looking slightly disappointed. Roxie sighed and shook her head. Even though she’d never pilot again, she couldn’t begrudge Mako for having the dream. Sometimes even she missed the rush. “Besides, I could just put you at the top and accomplish the same thing.” Roxie snorted.
“That is the worst idea and we both know it,” she said, glancing at the short woman. “I’d refuse to give myself clearance.”
“I know. Which is why I won’t do it,” she said with a sigh. “So, tell me about this Chuck. Is he really like how he seems on TV? Were you close?” Roxie shrugged.
“He used to follow me and Jamie around all the time. Ask us about piloting. It was a bit annoying but still cute at the same time. Think he was about 15 when I left,” she said. Mako glanced at her and smiled slightly.
“He’s not a kid anymore. And he could not take his eyes off you earlier,” she replied. Roxie rolled her eyes and chuckled.
“Still several years younger than me,” she said. “Besides it’s a bit unprofessional, is it not?”
“Like I haven’t seen you flirt with the triplets,” Mako said. Roxie looked down at her in mocked surprise.
“I’ve done no such thing,” she replied as the two stepped over and grabbed trays of food, though a slight flush came over her cheeks. As if on cue, Jin stood and waved the two over to their table. Mako just winked at Roxie as they walked over and sat down.
Across the room, Chuck and Hercules were already seated among the Eureka Striker crew, digging into dinner.
“So, why’d you think Roxie never came back to pilot?” Chuck mused, watching as the tall redhead sat at a table with the Wei Tang triplets and Pentecost’s daughter.
“Thought it was obvious. She didn’t want to,” Hercules said simply. “After that last mission, she just didn’t have it in her to do it anymore.”
“The one that killed her brother?” Chuck asked, glancing over at him. Herc nodded.
“I tried to talk her into staying in Sydney. Wait to see if we could find another pilot that was drift compatible with her, but she refused. Wanted to leave the defense corp altogether, but Pentecost managed to convince her to stay. Offered her a job here. Got her training so she could start counseling cadets and rangers,” he said.
Chuck looked over at the table again, seeing her toss something across the table that hit one of the triplets in the face before laughing hysterically. The Russian couple were now sitting next to her, egging her on.
“There’s the Rox I remember… maybe she hasn’t changed completely,” he said lightly.
“Maybe… but some wounds are easier to hide,” Herc said. Chuck glanced at his father and then returned to studying Roxie, wondering just what he was talking about.
Roxie laughed loudly at another of the triplets’ jokes. While she attempted to remain impartial in her work, she was always drawn to them more that the others. She told herself that it was because of their personalities, but she knew deep down it was because they reminded her of the relationship she had once had with her brother.
As she looked across the table at Jin, Cheung and Hu, for a moment she saw a flash of a younger version of herself and a young ginger man. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes and willed it away. She was normally much better at controlling it, but something about the past few days had her off.
“What’s this? Not getting stuck memories again, are you?” Cheung asked. Roxie’s eyes flew open as she smiled at the brothers and shook her head no, not saying anything. She didn’t notice the look of concern that passed between him and Hu.
“Or maybe she is daydreaming about the new pilot,” Jin said, grinning. She frowned at him.
“Not you too,” she said, rolling her eyes. “He’s 21!”
“When has age been an issue?” Aleksis asked, smirking.
“I’m nearly 30,” Roxie said, glancing over at her, narrowing her eyes, though she was smiling slightly
“He is a bit handsome. Though seems arrogant,” Mako commented.
“All rangers are arrogant,” Roxie declared, glancing at the triplets.
“Not us,” Hu said, trying to keep a straight face.
“Oh, is that so? News to me,” Roxie said, nonchalantly, though she was smirking at the three.
“You wound me, Roxie,” Jin said, dramatically clasping his hands over his heart. “I’ll never recover from this.” Roxie rolled her eyes and shook her head as the triplets continued on for a few more minutes, lamenting their status as arrogant rangers.
But then a throat cleared behind them and all fell silent as Roxie turned around to see Chuck standing there.
“We’re in need of some dog food. A little birdie tells me you’re the woman to talk to about finding things,” he said, smiling. Roxie nodded and stood, picking up her tray.
“Until next time, boys,” she said, winking at the triplets.
“Round two tonight?” Jin shouted after her as she walked away.
“I’m not sure you lot can handle round two,” she replied without turning around.
“You're on!” one of them shouted back, she wasn’t sure which. Roxie chuckled as she put her tray down and started out of the canteen.
“There are several supply rooms, but the one closest to the residential wing is going to have most of what you need,” she said, glancing over at Chuck. He was studying her intently, causing her to blush slightly as she remembered the others’ teasing. She most certainly wasn’t interested and definitely didn’t want to encourage him in any way or form.
“Sorry, just it’s been awhile since I’ve seen you. Didn’t know you transferred here after Sydney,” he said.
“Yea… Pentecost wooed me, suppose you could say. Surprised your dad didn’t say anything about,” she commented. Chuck shrugged.
“Suppose that’s my fault. I was so caught up in training and piloting,” he said.
“And you were just a kid when I left,” Roxie added.
“Not a kid anymore,” he shot back. Roxie chuckled.
“You’ll always be a kid to me, Chuck,” she said, leading him down and around various corridors.
“I am the best pilot in the jaeger program,” he said confidently. Roxie laughed as they came to a large door and she punched in a code.
“Try not to get too cocky,” she said, glancing back at him. Chuck scowled slightly. She was starting to sound like his father. Though likely because she had trained under him.
“Reckon, I’ve managed to break even your records. You and Jamie’s, that is,” he said. Roxie nodded as the door opened, then strode in and started looking through the shelves.
“Good on you,” she said, not meeting his eyes. Chuck could sense the tension in her voice. He didn’t remember her ever being so serious. Ever. She was usually laughing, telling a joke or pranking her brother or the other rangers. This somewhat detached Roxie was a new and completely different person.
Chuck couldn’t help but miss the old Roxie as well as realize that he really didn't know this new person.
“What happened?” he asked, the concern genuine in his voice. Roxie glanced over at him, an eyebrow raised.
“You really have to ask?” she said before turning back to the shelves. When he didn’t answer, she sighed heavily. “I grew up, Chuck. Something you’ll understand when you’re older.” Chuck ran his hands through his hair.
“Come on, Rox. Lighten up. It’s me. we used to talk for hours in Sydney,” he said, stepping towards her.
“Chuck, that was six years ago. I’m not that person anymore,” she said, frowning.
“Is this about Jamie?” Chuck asked. Roxie winced and didn’t answer. “He was a good pilot,” Chuck said, stepping closer. “One of the best.”
“I know,” Roxie replied shortly. “I was in the conn-pod with him.”
“I learned a lot from you two. Really looked up to you,” Chuck continued earnestly. “You two and my dad were the reasons I went into the academy.” Roxie closed her eyes and took a deep breath.
“I’d rather not talk about it, if you don’t mind,” she said curtly, opening her eyes and continuing her search. Chuck didn’t say anything more, shifting on his feet until she finally stopped and pulled out a large bag of dog food and tossed it at him.
“I’ll send you the code so you can get in yourself next time,” she said, now falling into a professional politeness, leading him back out. Once the door shut, she turned to look at him. “Will you be needing anything else?” Chuck shook his head no. “Well then, I’ll be off. Call or message if you need me.”
“Thanks,” he said. He watched as she nodded and turned to walk down the corridor, heading towards the residential block. She really had changed.
Roxie walked quickly, feeling the urge to be alone. She kept going until she was back in her room. Grabbing a bottle of whisky from her bookshelf, she poured a small portion of it in a glass and turned to face the photos pasted on the wall over her desk.
“Here’s to you, Jamie,” she said softly, holding her glass out. She then took a sip and walked over to her laptop on her desk, putting on some music as she sat the glass down. Quickly, she pulled off her clothes, slipping into gray sweatpants and a tank top before lying on her bed and staring up at the ceiling.
It wasn’t that she didn’t like talking about Jamie - she had regaled Mako and the triplets with stories about him. Even spoke about their jaeger training. But when it came to anything remotely close to that last mission, she didn’t want to go there. She knew it was her fault. Nothing Pentecost or Herc or anyone could ever say would make her think anything different, though God knows they tried.
But she pushed the thoughts aside for the moment as she glanced over at the wall, seeing a photo of her on Jamie’s back in front of a large jaeger, her head tossed back in laughter. That had been a good day.
Her eyes slowly drifted close as she let the music flow over her.
Roxie stood in front of the large jaeger, the Union Jack prominently displayed on the chest of it. She took a deep breath and smiled.
“She’s a beaut, isn’t she?” her brother said from next to her. Roxie nodded, feeling her excitement build. They were going to take her out for their first trial run in the morning, but she wanted to hop into the conn-pod right then.
“Finally made it,” she said, glancing up at him. While he was a good few inches taller, the red hair gave them away as siblings. Though not many knew at first glance they were twins.
“First Brit jaeger pilots. We’ve got the entire country rooting for us,” he said, a matching grin on his face.
“Sure, we’ve got a lifetime of free drinks waiting us back home. Just don’t get killed on me,” she replied, elbowing him in the ribs.
“Oh, I’ll not be dying,” he replied with a laugh. “Besides someone’s got to look out for you.” Roxie rolled her eyes.
“I’m fairly certain that I’ve proven by now that I don’t need my brother looking out for me. I know you’re older, but don’t forget it’s only by two minutes,” she said with a huff.
“Oh, I think you do. If anything, I need to protect you from the riff raff,” he said, glancing around the busy hanger at the various people walking around. “Don’t like the way some of the blokes have been looking at you.”
“Again, don’t need you there,” Roxie said with a snort, returning to studying the jaeger. “I’m here to pilot and that’s all. And you’re one to be talking, Mr. Casanova.”
“It’s me charm,” he said with a wink.
“What charm?” Roxie asked with a snort as she started walking away, heading to the cafeteria.
“Then maybe the accent? Or the fact I’m a ginger,” he continued. “The ladies love a ginger.”
“Fuck off,” Roxie said, grinning over her shoulder at him. “Race you to supper?”
A heavy pounding on the door roused her just a few hours later. Roxie looked over at the clock, noticing it was nearly midnight. Groaning she got out of bed, and made her way over to the door, looking through the peephole. Rolling her eyes, she saw the grinning face of Jin. Of course, they’d send him. He had the best track record in talking her into things. Things that had potential to get her in trouble, but at the same time lived for since it was the closest she got to how she felt before everything. She opened her door and frowned.
“What is it?” she asked, still feeling sleepy as she leaned against the door.
“I’ve come to fetch you,” he said, attempting to mimic her accent.
“No, Jin. I’m not in the mood tonight,” she said. “It’s late.”
“Come on! We’ve already started without you! And the Marshal won’t be back for three more days,” he pleaded. “When will get another chance like this?”
“You’ve never let him being here stop you before,” she replied. “And what if a kaiju attacks and you lot are too drunk or hungover to fight properly? It’s highly irresponsible.”
“We’re not expecting another for a few more days,” Jin said, leaning towards her. “You know you want to…” Roxie rolled her eyes. She stepped back into her room and grabbed her tablet as she slid into a pair of slippers.
“Fine, but not as late. There’s new pilots to take care of, and no telling what I’ll have to do tomorrow on top of the usual training and counseling sessions,” she grumbled as she shut her door behind her. “Might as well get Mako. With the Marshal gone, it’s the only time she’ll get to play as well.”
“Already tried, she’s still working on the cadet list,” he said with a sigh as they walked down the hallway. He glanced at her, a worried look coming over his face. “How are you?” Roxie winced, hearing the concern in his voice and not wanting to see the expression on his face.
“Can we not go there?” she asked. “I’ve already had enough today.”
“You know you can talk to us, right?” he asked as he stopped in front of the door to the triplets’ room and turning to face her. “You spend so much time listening to and taking care of everyone. Don’t forget to take care of yourself as well.” She sighed and smiled, looking up at him.
While she didn’t want to talk about it, she still appreciated the triplets trying to look out for her.
“Thanks, but not right now,” she said softly, before standing on her tiptoes and kissing his cheek. “I appreciate it, though.” Jin smiled and pulled her into a bone-crushing hug, causing her to gasp slightly, partly in shock and partly in pain. “Don’t kill me, ya bugger!”
Jin laughed as he let her go and pushed the door open. Down the hallway, she caught sight of Chuck, stopped in front of his own room, watching the two with a curious look on his face. Roxie nodded at him then disappeared inside. “What’s it tonight, boys?”
“You’ve got your eye on that one bloke, don’t you,” Jamie said from next to her. Roxie kept her eyes fixed on the instrument panel, though she groaned slightly.
“Downside of being in the drift,” she muttered as Jamie chuckled. “Nothing’s going on.”
“Come on, Rox. You can tell me,” he said. “Besides, you’ve not been on a date in ages. And I know you like to have a bit of fun.”
“No, you’re the one who talks me into fun and I’m the one who usually pays for it,” she stated with a huff.
“Not true. You don’t need any talking into. And it’s not my fault you like to challenge me and everyone else to drinking contests,” he said.
“Focus, Jamie,” she muttered as she heard Herc yell at the two to stop chatting.
“It’s just training,” he said. Roxie shot him a glare and he quieted down as they began going through various maneuvers.
“Not like I’d get much of a chance with you hovering all the time,” she said, finally, wanting to get the last word in.
“I don’t hover,” Jamie shot back.
“Yes, you do.”
“Children! Save your spats for outside the conn-pod, will you!” Herc shouted, though Roxie could detect a hint of laughter in his voice. “Besides, I’ve got $10 on Roxie.” She grinned cheekily at her brother. “Though Marcus does have a girl back home, just so you know.” Her grin turned immediately into a frown as Jamie started laughing.
“We need to work on your dating choices,” he said. Roxie rolled her eyes.
“Shut up. We need to finish these exercises.”