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[personal profile] charybdis
Title: After the end of the world
Characters: Mako Mori, Raleigh Becket
Summary: "It'll be fine," Raleigh says, raising his hands in a soothing gesture. "The PPDC was officially dissolved. And the dress uniform is mostly to keep schmucks like me from looking like idiots in public. Just wear something nice. You have the official insignia pins; wear those."
1,400 words, G.


It turns out that Mako doesn't have a dress uniform.

They find out when the Marshal contacts them as they're making breakfast, saying they're on for a TV interview that evening. It's one week after the end of the world that never came, and they've moved into shared quarters as the Hong Kong Shatterdome clears out and changes over, into a brand new headquarters for a worldwide rebuilding effort.

"It'll be fine," Raleigh says, raising his hands in a soothing gesture. "The PPDC was officially dissolved. And the dress uniform is mostly to keep schmucks like me from looking like idiots in public. Just wear something nice. You have the official insignia pins; wear those."

Mako gives him a narrow look that says, 'could you be more naïve', and shakes her head. "I will ask Captain Chris. She will know where I can get one."

Raleigh winces, but goes to retrieve the beer from its hiding place in the back of their tiny closet.

***

Captain Chris is Crystal Agbayani, Lady Danger's electrical systems crew captain. She is a tiny woman with an iron grip on all non-regulation trading activities in the Shatterdome. If she can't get it for you, no one can. Hong Kong might be an open port, but no cargo company is going to be shipping chocolate halfway around the world. Bread is one thing. Coffee and cinnamon and other Central American delicacies are entirely another.

She gives them a head-jerk of acknowledgement when they find her on the Shatterdome floor, packing up her torches, overseeing the movement of dozens of empty gas canisters.

"You guys come down to try see what else you can self-destruct?" she calls, but she's grinning.

"Nah. We need a Ranger dress uniform for Mako," Raleigh says. He hands over the six-pack of coconut porter they've brought along to trade. Personally, he thinks the stuff is unnatural (flavored beer! gross), but a bunch of the crew, like Chris herself, are from Hawaii, and they love it.

"Sure," says Chris, drawing it out thoughtfully so it sounds like 'shuuua', "I can get 'um in three days."

"We need it tonight," Raleigh tells her, earning himself nothing but a scoff of laughter.

"Please. Last time we had one Jaeger pilot that size was Terenui Nanahara -- Lucky Seven. They never make those pilot emblems for everyone, you know."

She says it so sternly, Raleigh feels himself shrink under her glare.

"Captain Chris," says Mako, drawing her attention, "We have a TV interview this evening."

"What?" says Chris, in surprise. Her expression softens. "And you no more one spare? Are you for real?"

Mako shrugs, sheepishly. "I was promoted on very short notice," she says, quiet in comparison, but Chris laughs approvingly and pats her on the arm.

Apparently Raleigh was wrong about the 'dress' part being more important than the 'uniform' part, because Chris immediately puts someone else in charge, and says, "Eh, no worry, Mori. I get 'um," before sauntering off towards the loading docks.

***

"Okay," says Raleigh on the way to the Marshal's office from the Shatterdome floor, "Enlighten me."

Mako tilts her head to the side and raises her eyebrows, pretends not to know that he's still dwelling on the dress uniform.

"Come on," he chides, his smile going crooked, because he knows she knows, can probably feel her mix of amusement and exasperation at his confusion.

"Aren't you proud to be a Ranger? A hero?" She knows about his time on the Wall; she knows he is proud to be a Ranger.

"Of course I am."

She nods. So is she. "And now that the Breach is closed, shouldn't the Rangers make sure that it stays closed?"

Raleigh looks surprised, but if there's one thing he's good at -- the best -- it's hitting exactly the right reaction. "Someone should. And given that we have the experience, the equipment, and we understand the lay of things down there -- I'd say we're the best people for the job."

Mako is satisfied when she hears the thoughtful tone of his voice. Patrols cost money to run. He's quick, if single-minded, and he's been a Jaeger pilot since he was twenty. He knows that interviews are all about image.

"Hero. Pilot." She makes a little balancing motion with her hands. "The uniform says both. Not just someone with a pin on her lapel."

"You could never be just someone with a pin on her lapel," Raleigh says solemnly, as the reach the Marshal's door.

She rolls her eyes at him, but she knows he can feel her grinning.

***

The dress uniform arrives in bits and pieces throughout the day -- the trousers with the red stripe down the side, the navy jacket and tie, the blue shirt.

The Jaeger pilot's emblem patch shows up in a small paper bag with a spool of thread and note pinned to the front with two needles.

You owe Mrshl Hansen for the patch. Best I could do on short notice. The rest is a gift from the Mark 3 crew. - CA; P.S. wear your boots.

The postscript is signed off with a completely terrifying heart, which Mako beams at.

"Why are there two needles?" Raleigh wonders. Then Mako asks him to sew the patch on, and he breaks the first one halfway around, trying to yank the thread through three layers of heavy fabric.

At the bottom of the bag, 'the rest' is a new set of dogtags with Mako's name on them, Ranger stamped in place of Engineer, and a silver pocket watch on a fine chain. The cover of the watch is a relief of the PPDC insignia.

Mako lays these things on the table and stares at them, her eyes bright.

"Hey," says Raleigh pausing in his wrestle with the last few stitches, "What's wrong?"

She shakes her head, raises her hand to dash the tears from her eyes. She's smiling, though, and she picks up the pocket watch and gives it to him, uses both hands to close his lax fingers around it, and he could swear he feels the brush of her overwhelming gratitude.

"This is for you," she murmurs.

"No, I--" He's pretty sure that Chris meant the note to be addressed to Mako.

"They're your crew too," she reminds him.

"But how can you tell?"

Instead of explaining, Mako pops the cover, and sure enough, there are ten kaiju-kill markers engraved on the inside of it.

She fishes around in the pocket of her cargo pants and pulls out a matching watch, older, a little scuffed. It must have come from Stacker Pentecost's old uniform. Her kill-count is engraved on the inside, five tiny kaiju heads, in neat formation.

"He left it to me," she tells Raleigh. "I asked Jaime to do the engraving as soon as we came back."

Raleigh remembers coming back to a celebration that filled the cafeteria and spilled out into the corridors, the Drift hangover so strong that he could feel her talking to people from across the room, sharing drinks with the crew and LOCCENT staff. He vaguely remembers that before she took her first drink, she pressed a small package into the hands of Jaime, one of the machining crew. He'd assumed it was some kind of I'm-glad-we-survived gift, judging by the way her expression went still and serious for a moment.

Looking at the watches side by side, Raleigh knows it's not just Drift backwash that he feels blooming inside of him. They didn't have time, before, to get anything that matched -- barely looked like copilots even in the drivesuits. But their crew knew it, and they wanted to make sure the whole world knew too, who Mako and Raleigh were.

***

The interview goes well.

When the interviewer asks about Mako's boots, clean and polished, but certainly not formal, she tells them the truth -- "I was promoted to Ranger forty-eight hours before the Jaeger program's final mission. We were out of qualified pilots. We didn't even think about the dress uniform until this morning."

"Promoted forty-eight hours before the end of the world," the interviewer repeats, "And then you killed five kaiju and helped to close the Breach."

"Well," says Mako, glancing over at Raleigh, who is beaming at her, unabashed, "I had help with the kaiju, too."

Hero. Pilot. Never just a person with a pin on her lapel.

Mako ghosts her palm across the pocket where her sensei's watch is, and knows that she is exactly where she needs to be.






NOTES: Written for tumblr user 4seiji as part of the 2013 Jaegercon gift exchange, who listed post-canon fluff and Mako and Raleigh being bros among their likes. I hope this delivers!

(I know that the neither of the pilots of Lucky Seven were named Nanahara, but I just couldn't resist the pun/oblique Battle Royale reference. This fic also has an OC from Hawaii, Maui Brewing Co.'s coconut beer, and some feels about the Jaeger crews, because those are things that I thought a Pacific Rim fic needed.)
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