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Pacific Rim fic: Five Times Herc Drifted (And All the Times He Didn't)

February 13th, 2014 (05:30 am)
annoyed

feeling: annoyed

Title: Five Times Herc Hansen Drifted (And All the Times He Didn’t)

Disclaimer: I do not own Pacific Rim.

A/N: Random fic. Beta by lena7142. Spoilers for the movie with references to some preseries canon stuff.

Summary: Because the drift is hope and memory; it is future and certainty. It is unity and harmony; it is completion and silence. It is the best thing and the worst thing.



-o-

1. Herc’s first drift leaves him reeling and nauseated. With Scott, they’re tumbling so far down the rabbit hole that he thinks they may never get back.

And then he’s not thinking at all.

He’s feeling, he’s remembering, he’s living. A thousand moments; a million sensations; all just as real as the last.

At the core of it, Scott smiles.

Herc tilts his head. “This isn’t real, is it?”

Scott frowns. “How can you be sure?”

“Get out, I guess,” Herc says, and then all the control comes back and Herc hears a voice in his ear.

Neural handshake complete.

2. Drifting is one thing; killing a kaiju is another. Herc’s practiced plenty of times. He’s done simulators and taken Lucky Seven out into the water for practice runs. He and Scott score well, and they’ve just been waiting.

When the kaiju alert sounds, it’s hard not to be excited.

Herc feels guilty about that, being excited about impending disaster.

He feels guilty, but that doesn’t change how excited he is.

That day, the drift is strong and sure. That day, there are no RABITs and no second thoughts.

That day, Herc kills a kaiju.

3. Herc’s seen terrible things during the kaiju war. He’s seen monsters rise from the deep and tear cities apart. He’s seen people run screaming from the destruction, buildings fall and houses get smashed. He’s seen cars thrown like toys as cities are laid to waste and civilization teeters on the brink.

He’s seen Jaegers fall; he’s watched as friends go out into the ocean and just never come back.

But none of it compares to what he sees in Scott’s head one day. It’s funny because at first Herc doesn’t even realize. They’re so in synch that it take him a full minute to recognize what he’s seeing and feeling.

That day, Herc fights the kaiju until Lucky Seven is broken and they’re both bleeding in the cockpit. The kaiju has sunk to the ocean floor and Herc closes his eyes and tries to forget.

He can’t, though. That’s the problem with the drift. The memories are too strong.

You never forget.

“If you tell them,” Scott says, “we’re both done. They’ll never keep me in the program, and where will that leave you? Rangers come in pairs. Without me, your career is over. What will you do then? Who could you possibly be?”

“I don’t know,” Herc says. “But I know what I can’t be.”

He never drifts with his brother again.

4. When someone suggests Chuck, Herc isn’t surprised. He thinks it’s a bad idea; in fact, he knows it is. He doesn’t want Chuck in a cockpit. He doesn’t want to risk his only son in a war they may never win. He doesn’t want to break every promise he made to Angela. He’s not been a good father, but he wants to think he’s better than this.

Chuck puffs his chest up and looks Herc in the eyes. “You have to let me do it, Dad,” he says.

“It’s no way to live, son,” Herc says.

“It’s the only way I know how to live,” Chuck protests.

A week later, they’re deemed drift compatible. Another week after that, they start the simulator. When they get into the cockpit of Striker Eureka, Chuck grins like an idiot. “You ready for this, old man?”

Herc can only grimace as he slides into his harness and closes his eyes while the machines start to whir.

Everything happens, just like it should. Chuck is a natural. When they’re done, Chuck lifts his chin and smirks. “Told you I could do it,” he says.

Herc doesn’t say anything as he takes off his helmet.

It’s the first fight he loses with his son.

It isn’t the last.

5. Herc’s known about Operation Pitfall from the beginning. In fact, he helped come up with the damn thing and he’s always counted on being there to get it done. He’s accepted it, to some extent, to know that if things go wrong, at least he and Chuck will be in the drift together when it ends.

It’s not until after the double event in Hong Kong, when he’s sitting in the infirmary looking at an x-ray of his broken arm, that he realizes that’s never going to happen. That he’s shared his last drift with Chuck, that there won’t be another chance to make sure Chuck sees what he needs to see.

Sure, they might all come back from the breach, but Herc knows this operation too well.

Herc knows.

When he sees Chuck off, he’s standing in the hallway, trying to find the words. He remembers their last drift, how Chuck had thought of the last time he saw his mother and the time Herc carried him on his shoulders at a fair in Sydney when he was no more than five years old. He wants to tell Chuck how much he loves him, how sorry he is for everything, how proud -- how very proud -- he is.

Herc wants another chance. He wants another day. He wants another lifetime.

He wants just one more drift.

There’s none of that, though. There’s just one last look, one last moment.

One last goodbye.

And all the times he didn’t

After the war is over, Herc is the head of the Shatterdome. With their success, the funding starts flowing again, because Operation Pitfall was never going to be the end. It was just the start, because Herc and Stacker had always suspected that closing the breach wouldn’t last forever.

Besides, there are other uses for Jaegers. There’s work to be done.

Mako and Raleigh are hailed as heroes, and Herc builds up the new recruitment class while commissioning the construction of new Jaegers. Sometimes, the media catches up with him and points out that he is actually the most seasoned Jaeger pilot there is.

“Will you drift again?” they always ask.

Herc smiles and shakes his head. “No,” he says. “Those days are over for me.”

Because the drift is hope and memory; it is future and certainty. It is unity and harmony; it is completion and silence. It is the best thing and the worst thing.

All that’s left for Herc is everything in between.