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Pacific Rim fic: Stammering Elocution (While the Poor Ship in Flames Went Down) (1/1)

September 3rd, 2013 (09:45 pm)

feeling: giddy

Title: Stammering Elocution (While the Poor Ship in Flames Went Down)

Disclaimer: I do not own Pacific Rim.

A/N: I blame lena7142 and moogsthewriter. They both saw this movie and said good things. So of course I had to see it, too. And now look what happened! Thanks to lena7142 for the beta. The title is borrowed from Elizabeth Bishop’s poem, Casabianca.

Warning: Spoilers for the movie! Particularly the end.

Summary: For most people, life is divided by the Kaiju. Before they attacked; after they attacked. Not Chuck. Chuck’s life follows a very different dividing line. Before he drifted with his dad. And after.


Most kids think their parents are crazy.

Chuck Hansen knows his is.


Chuck grows up in a Shatterdome. He plays with spare computer parts and rigs up a way to hack into a satellite signal for cable. He sleeps through blaring alarms, and barely rouses when his father brushes him with a faint kiss before he leaves. Chuck doesn’t think his dad might not come back.

Chuck doesn’t know enough to be scared.

Because his dad fights monsters.


There’s not much to do in a Shatterdome, and Chuck is nothing but trouble. He starts sneaking out at night when he’s far too young, and most of the time his father’s too exhausted to even know the difference. When he comes back late, sneaking through the hallways with his sneaker squeaking on the metal floors, he sometimes finds his father missing.

He acts like he doesn’t care, but when he goes to sleep he steals his father’s pillow, breathing deep until sleep comes.


They fight.

Chuck’s a teenager and he’s angry. He’s angry about living in a box; he’s angry that there’s nothing to his world but metal and emptiness. His hatred swells, like a beast coming out of the bottom of the ocean.

His father stands his ground, though. No matter how Chuck rages, his father never gives.

It just makes Chuck angrier.


People are in awe of Chuck. He talks about seeing Jaegers in person. He tells them about touching pieces of a Kaiju.

His father is everyone else’s hero.

That counts for something.


Some people are scared of the Kaiju.

Some people worship them.

Chuck thinks of them as a necessary evil, a strong counterpoint that makes everything else make sense. He can’t fear the things he knows best.

And he sure as hell can’t worship them either.


There’s nothing to plan for but the next attack. He measures his life from Kaiju to Kaiju. He watches pilots go out, and fewer and fewer come back.

His father always does.

Chuck believes he always will.


This is Chuck’s life.

Then, everything changes.


For most people, life is divided by the Kaiju. Before they attacked; after they attacked.

Not Chuck. Chuck’s life follows a very different dividing line, that splits his entire existence right down the middle of an irreversible line.

Before he drifted with his dad.

And after.


The first neural handshake is impossible to describe. It’s exhilarating and terrifying; it’s invigorating and exhausting. It leaves him breathless, and when they disconnect, he’s gasping in awe at his father.

His father looks back.

Then glares. “You slept with Deedee Fredericks during a Kaiju attack?” he asks in accusation.

Chuck has no defense.

“While in a public shelter?

Chuck just blinks.

His father shakes his head in disgust. “For the love of God, son. Have you ever taken anything seriously in your life?”


The second is better than the first.

The third is better than the second.

When they fight their first Kaiju, they kill it in record time and everything in Chuck’s life makes sense.


It’s like living in reverse. Chuck sees his life backward, from this moment to the start. In the drift, he sees himself coming to his father, telling him he plans on being a Ranger.

His dad is impassive and says, “Well, I reckon it’s about time for that.”

It’s the best and worst day of his father’s life.


Chuck’s spent years resenting the hell out of his father.

Chuck’s spent a lifetime missing his mother.

Chuck’s spent all his time in the shadow of a war.

Really, his life’s sort of sucked.

Not anymore, though. In the drift, he has his father. In the drift he has his mother. In the drift, he’s free.

In the drift, Chuck has everything.


Chuck is raised in silence, but he hears the words now. He hears the lectures he never got, the disapproval he never heard. He hears the praise that he never got to cherish.

When they break the connection, Chuck’s father gives him a look and doesn’t say anything at all.


When his father is a kid, he talks all the time. He babbles and talks and is always getting in trouble. He tells jokes and he makes up stories. When he woos Chuck’s mother, it’s because he always has the right things to say.

But then the Kaiju ripped their home apart, and his father holds Chuck tucked against him. He looks at his wife. “I’ll come back for you,” he promises.

He’s been at a loss for words ever since.


Chuck sees the dog in the street, alone and whining next to the fallen Kaiju.

“No,” his father says, because he already knows.

“Look at it,” Chuck says.

“No,” his father says.

“We can’t just leave it there.”

That’s the only time they talk about the dog.


They can’t talk, but they can fight. Every move is in synch, every thought is in harmony. They’re made to work together.

Blood of my blood, flesh of my flesh.

Metal of my metal.

And the Kaiju falls before them.


It’s hard not to be cocky. Not because they keep winning. Not because they get all the attention.

But because there’s no room for doubt in the drift. There’s just confidence and surety. Cohesion and unity.

It’s the most powerful thing in the world. Stronger than a hunk of metal. Stronger than a beast from the sea.

Stronger than anything.


Chuck scratches the dog between the ears; his father finds the sweet spot on his belly.

The dog is nothing but happy.


When they tell him the program is ending, he’s indignant.

“Who will protect the coast?” he asks. “Who’s going to protect the things we’ve worked so hard to keep safe?”

He thinks himself invaluable. He’s a big damn hero, for whatever that’s worth. He knows what they do is important, and he knows they do it better than almost anyone else.

But really, it’s the drift he can’t live without.


When Marshal Pentecost shares his plan, his dad’s against it and Chuck knows why.

“I’m not a baby,” Chuck protests.

But they both know that he really is.

They both know it doesn’t matter in the end.


When Raleigh arrives, Chuck doesn’t want to think about it. Because he knows it’s all his dad can think about. The last great hope for the world. The way to save everything.

But Raleigh is just one half of a whole. Raleigh means the link can be broken.

And Chuck’s not lying when he says he likes his life.


When Striker goes dead, Chuck thinks it’s over. His mind races and damn it all, it can’t end like this. It can’t end at all.

Then his father breaks the link, and he really starts to panic.

But his dad looks at him -- really looks at him -- and the words matter more than they ever have before.

“Then we do something really stupid.”

They’re probably going to die, but Chuck still grins.


It’s the last mission. It’s their last stand. Chuck’s always talked about coming back from it, but he knows it’s not happening now.

Cherno is gone; Crimson Typhoon has been destroyed. His father has a broken arm, and all their hope is riding on a plan no one can guarantee will work. Pentecost may be the best there is; Raleigh and Mako may be the ace in the hole; but a double event at the bottom of the ocean, punctuated with a nuclear bomb...

He knows.

When his father looks at him, they both know.


They’ve never been good with words, and they’ve never needed them before. Even now, they’re stuck in his throat, and his dad looks at him like his world is breaking.

They don’t need a neural connection this time.

They still know exactly what the other is thinking.

One last time.


It’s Pentecost’s call in the end, but Chuck knows there’s no other option. He doesn’t like it, but he won’t fight it, because his whole life’s been building to this. Someone’s got to be the hero. He’s never wanted it to be him.

At least he knows he’ll make his father proud.


Pentecost presses the button.

And all there is, is light.


His father is the best there is at drifting, but there’s just one rabbit he’s followed down just one hole. Chuck sees it now, because it is his own.

His father is younger, and his spirit is light. He’s holding a squawking baby, hoisting it up in his arms and tucking it close to his chest. He’s laughing, even with the tears running down his face as he looks at the squirming infant, naked and wrapped in a blanket.

“Welcome home, son,” he croons. “We’re so glad you’re here.”


Posted by: Lena7142 (lena7142)
Posted at: September 4th, 2013 02:49 am (UTC)


I am so happy you finally saw Pacific Rim. Even if it gave you ammunition with which to break my heart. This fic is so good and sad and gaaah! *incoherent flailing*

Beautiful writing. Succinct, poignant, and really, just genius.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 10th, 2013 12:36 am (UTC)
johnny boy works

I completely love that movie. I loved it when I saw it and I love it more and more as I think about it. It's just that awesome.

And fic! I'm still not entirely sure where this came from but it refused to leave me alone.

Thank you for encouraging me to see this movie :) I probably wouldn't have gone if you hadn't prodded me.

Posted by: Moogs (moogsthewriter)
Posted at: September 4th, 2013 03:03 am (UTC)
Avengers - Ironman


NOT JUST FIC. BEAUTIFUL FIC. AND NOW I SIT HERE AND CRY AND DAMNIT I DIDN'T EVEN LIKE CHUCK ALL THAT MUCH. Though that part definitely made me cry and I liked him by the end of the film but STILL IT'S ALL RIGHT IN THE FEELS.


(But seriously, I'm so glad you saw it because now we have to chat about it some time because it's giving me feels again just to think about it! And you need to keep writing fic because you are always awesome and this seriously wins.)

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: September 10th, 2013 12:38 am (UTC)


LOL, I didn't even like Chuck either, but that scene with him and his dad absolutely destroyed me. The idea of them saying goodbye when they know it's the last time and that they never said anything they really wanted to say -- gaaaaaah. Seriously, I still flail about it.

Which I suppose is why I wrote this fic. Because I was wallowing in the heartache and this happened.

(And we should chat about it! And I can tell you about my Chaos/Pacific Rim fusion fic that is already like 20k....)

(Also, hi!)

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