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weary the weight of gratitude

Title: Sex, Interrupted
Fandom: Pacific Rim
Pairings: None
Word Count: 4324
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: The fishermen that the Beckets save don't forget their rescuers.


When the Kaiju bursts out of the water, Captain Andrew Callahan knows his ship is doomed.

The Saltchuck is too far out from shore; the PPDC won’t leave Anchorage unprotected just to save one fishing trawler and it seems his wife was right to worry after all. Linda always told him not to risk the deeper water, but being correct about the danger will be slim comfort at his funeral and he always hates to see her cry. The thought of his wife gets Andrew moving where fear had frozen him, the captain grabbing the steering wheel and shouting for his crew to cut the lines. The equipment loss might bankrupt him but there’s no time to reel them in.

The Kaiju is headed straight for the Saltchuck according to the radar and their one slim chance of survival is to get out of the way. So he throws the engines into reverse, the trawler inching backwards as the motors whine. She's giving him everything she's got but the Saltchuck isn't built for speed and the captain knows that everything won't be near enough this time.

Andrew can only watch as that blip on the radar rushes closer and when the monster is finally visible through the wind and rain, the captain stares transfixed. He's never seen a Kaiju this close up. Andrew has seen pictures but those did not do justice to the creature that is bearing down on him.

It looks like something out of legend, some prehistoric sea monster driven from the deeps, and while he should order his crew to abandon ship, the captain's voice is frozen in his throat. There can be no fleeing from a creature such as this.

But then, just before the Kaiju crashes through his trawler, Andrew hears metal scream. The deck shifts beneath his feet as a Jaeger suddenly lifts the Saltchuck into the air with one arm and punches the Kaiju with the other, hitting so hard that the monster is knocked straight off its feet. Andrew hears his crew cheer at their sudden change in fortune and the captain feels much the same. The possibility of survival is enough to make his knees go weak.

The Jaeger places the Saltchuck back into the water and charges forward, its rangers putting themselves between the Kaiju and its prey. Andrew recognizes Gipsy Danger in the next flash of lightning - everyone in Alaska knows that Jaeger's colors - before the Kaiju regains its footing to attack.

The battle is fierce, two giants trying their best to bring each other down, and the waves caused by their struggle rock the Saltchuck wildly. Andrew sets her back to idling since there's no point in blowing the engines; the trawler can't go anywhere when the ocean is this rough.

So the captain has a front row seat as Gipsy fires off her arm cannon and an explosion slams into the Kaiju. The monster screams in pain, sinking down beneath the water and then disappearing out of sight.

The sudden silence is almost shocking until it's broken by another giant cheer. Andrew picks up his radio to try and call the Jaeger – he owes Gipsy's rangers his heartfelt gratitude – but before he can say anything, the Kaiju reappears. The monster lunges from the water, its claws tearing at the Jaeger's armor while Gipsy stumbles back.

Andrew watches in horror as the Kaiju digs its snout into the Jaeger's shoulder, hardened bone piercing the metal plating easily. The monster rips off Gipsy's arm and lets it fall into the ocean, the wave caused by its landing nearly swamping Andrew's boat.

The Jaeger lurches in shock, helpless to defend itself when the Kaiju claws its head. The creature roars with triumph as it rips through Gipsy’s Conn Pod, one of the Becket Boys thrown into the sea. However, Gipsy doesn't go down, the remaining ranger crippled and clumsy but still fighting anyway.

Andrew can hardly believe that the Jaeger is still functioning, but somehow Gipsy manages to hold the Kaiju off. The surviving Becket charges one last weapon and then detonates a missile right in the creature’s face. The Kaiju's head explodes like a watermelon and its body slips beneath the surface as Gipsy turns and staggers drunkenly toward shore.

The whole encounter can't have taken more than twenty minutes, the pride of Alaska completely ruined in the short blink of an eye.

Fuck! The ranger! Andrew thinks, diving for the intercom. The Saltchuck can't do anything for the remaining Becket but maybe the captain can at least bring his brother's body home.

He sets his men to scanning the waves, hoping against hope that the ranger hasn't sunk. They'd never manage to find his body underneath the water but if he's still near the surface, the Saltchuck's few remaining nets should catch him easily.

“Over there! Do you see that?" Johnson shouts, pointing to a flash of white.

Andrew follows the other man's gaze, thanking every deity that he can think of when he sees the ranger’s corpse, some kind of suit giving his body buoyancy. The captain starts his engines and inches the trawler forward before telling his men to pick their savior up. He leaves the Saltchuck’s helm with his first mate as Johnson and Carter throw the nets out, the rest of his crew watching with him as the ranger is pulled up on the deck.

“Which one is it?" Andrew asks once Becket’s body is laid out. The captain may know the names of Gipsy's rangers but he has no idea which is which.

“Jesus, I'm not sure," Carter mutters. “Maybe Yancy? I think this is the older one."

Johnson takes a closer look and then runs for the rail, barely making it before he loses the contents of his stomach down the side.

To be honest, the captain can hardly blame him. The ranger is covered in blood, his left arm nearly severed and gashes across his chest that reach down to the bone. Andrew kneels down next to Becket, reaching out to wipe the blood from his face and then jerking backward when weak fingers close around his wrist.

"Oh my god, he's alive?" someone asks, sounding horrified.

The pain must be excruciating and with the way his breath is bubbling, the ranger won't last long. He hasn't even opened his eyes but his lips are moving and Andrew leans in close. The captain doesn't know what strength has kept this man alive till now but he owes it to the ranger to pass his final message on.

"My brother..." Becket rasps, his voice barely audible. “Is Rals... okay?"

"Your brother is fine. He survived," Andrew tells him, hoping that it's true. He wants to pat the ranger's shoulder but nowhere looks safe to touch so he settles for grabbing the young man's hand instead.

"Not his... fault..." Yancy whispers. “Tell him..."

"I will," the captain promises. “I’ll tell him and I'll make sure that he's all right."

"Tha... anks... Tell 'im... sorr..."

With these words, Yancy Becket breathes his last and a few miles away, Gipsy Danger collapses in the sand.

---

Several days later, Andrew goes to visit Raleigh Becket in the hospital. After all, he'd made a promise to a dying man and even if he hadn't, the captain would still have wanted to thank his rescuer.

However, when he arrives, the woman at the front desk tells him that visitation is restricted to family members only and he does not qualify. A sensible policy to be sure, but the captain is fairly certain that Raleigh Becket's only family is waiting to be buried and he finds himself claiming to be a distant cousin instead of leaving as he should. Andrew isn't sure what madness drives him – perhaps the sound of Yancy's pleading burned into his mind. But even though she must know he's lying, the head nurse lets him through.

"I'm glad he still has someone," the woman says to the captain as she leads him to Becket's room. "That poor boy shouldn't be alone."

But Raleigh is alone when Andrew walks through the door. No friends, no family, no well-wishers. Just a few wilted flowers on the table and an empty chair right near the bed.

Becket looks fragile, to be honest; stark white bandages wrapped around his arms and head. He's not so much sleeping as unconscious and the captain can't help thinking that this kid is far too young. The ranger can't be much older than Andrew's daughter – Lucy just left for college – and Gipsy Danger has been in active service for at least a couple years.

"Shit, kid," Andrew mutters, sitting down in the empty chair. "You should be attending class and having keggers; why the hell would you volunteer to risk your life instead?"

Of course, people have asked the captain that same question. Even before the Kaiju, friends and family wondered why he chose to be a fisherman, braving the wind and rain and weather to scrape a living from the sea. But even if it's hard, the ocean is his calling and maybe the Becket brothers felt the same, maybe they just wanted to protect people any way they could.

Whatever Raleigh’s motivations, this kid got dealt a shitty hand. Andrew can't just leave him here looking so pathetic when he wouldn't even be alive without the Beckets' bravery. So the captain goes to call his wife, letting her know that he'll be home much later than he'd planned.

Then he settles back down next to Raleigh and simply starts to talk. He figures anything must be better than the silence, even fishing stories, and every native born Alaskan has a lot of those. So the captain talks and talks for hours until the nurses finally kick him out apologetically. Even then Becket still hasn't woken up and when Andrew seeks out the ranger's doctor, she can only shrug.

"His injuries will heal. It's the potential brain damage that really worries me," the doctor tells him, too overworked to bite her tongue. “We won’t know if Becket is still functional until the man wakes up; Jaegers aren't meant to be piloted alone."

That is not remotely comforting and the woman clearly regrets the words as soon as they've been said. But Andrew is an adult; he'd rather hear the bad news plain. So the captain just thanks the doctor before heading home again.

He's back at the hospital early the next morning, a pot of flowers in his hands. Andrew feels kind of stupid but Linda had insisted; she said the violets would brighten up the room. The captain hadn't been able to get the image of Raleigh Becket out of his head last evening and his wife, amazing woman that she is, had understood. She would've liked to visit with him but at least one of them needs to keep working until the Saltchuck is repaired. So Linda just handed him the flowers and sent him on his way.

The pot of violets makes the ranger’s nurses smile and if Andrew is going to be sitting here for hours, it is nice to have some color in the room. It’s not like Raleigh can offer any; his skin is almost as white as his many bandages.

When the captain sits down, the other man stirs but doesn't waken, letting out a whimper that stabs straight through Andrew's heart. Lucy used to have nightmares like that, awful terrors that sent her screaming in the night, and Becket looks like he would be screaming if he could. Thankfully the ranger settles slightly when the captain takes his hand. Andrew doesn't know if he could deal with another sound like that.

Today he tells Raleigh all about his family, from his wife and his daughter to his most distant cousins, and he thinks the ranger doesn't look quite so pained when he finishes. However, the other man is still unconscious and he doesn't wake up for another seven days.

---

"Yancy!"

The shout startles Andrew. He's gotten used to talking with no answer, his one-sided conversation falling on deaf ears. Even now Raleigh doesn't seem to see him. Those bright blue eyes are hazy as Becket reaches out for a ghost who isn't there.

"Yancy, please!" The ranger's voice cracks sharply but his brother doesn't answer. Yancy can't answer anymore.

"Easy, kid, I got you," Andrew says as he dodges Raleigh's flailing arm. The captain grabs his shoulders and presses him back against the bed, trying to stop him from reopening his injuries. “You’re okay. You're in the hospital. You need to calm down before you hurt yourself."

"My brother? Where's my brother? Did Yancy make it out?" the ranger asks, looking up at the captain wildly. His expression is familiar. Worry and hope and naked fear, just like his brother before the older Becket died.

Damn, but these boys are going to be the death of me, Andrew thinks, feeling gutted by the sight and memory. So he holds Raleigh carefully, murmuring vague reassurances while trying not to lie outright. But he still feels guilty and it's almost a relief when the young man passes out.

The captain waits a moment to see if the ranger will wake back up again and then leaves to get a nurse. When he says that Becket finally stirred, everyone comes running. Andrew tells them that Raleigh was talking if not lucid and he’s touched by the relief on the faces all around him. At least the kid’s not brain-dead, though he might still have damage and the captain is just in the way when the doctors start running tests.

He'll come back tomorrow and try to talk to Raleigh then. The captain still needs to pass on Yancy's message and Linda wants him to offer the ranger a place to stay when he's released. Andrew isn't sure if the PPDC still has a job for Raleigh but the complete lack of other visitors hasn't been encouraging. The only people who have come to visit are members of his crew – those that managed to sneak in past the nurses – and he wants the kid to know that he still has friends left in the world. Truthfully, Andrew has spent so much time at the ranger's bedside that he almost feels like family and it's easy to forget that being cousins was a lie.

However, when he gets home, the captain discovers that his wife has come down with the flu. There's no one else to nurse her till she's better and by the time Andrew returns to the hospital, Raleigh has disappeared.

Becket checked himself out and no one seems to have his contact information. The captain even tries the nearest PPDC office but the only thing they'll tell him is that “Ranger Becket is no longer one of ours."

Raleigh is gone without a trace and Andrew is left behind to worry about the kid who saved his life.

---

Although the captain thinks about his rescuer quite often, always sparing Becket a moment in his prayers, that doesn't stop the years from marching on. Andrew worries about the former ranger but times are hard for everyone and his family has to be his first priority.

Things change for the worse after Knifehead kills Yancy Becket. The Kaiju start getting stronger, faster and smarter, Jaegers and their pilots falling like a chain of dominoes. Soon even Andrew can't keep fishing; the ocean is thick with Kaiju Blue and boats don't leave the harbor anymore. The captain is lucky to find a job on land and he tries not to resent the way his life has changed. At least he still has his family and enough work to keep them fed. There are plenty of other folks who can't say the same.

Andrew and his wife do what they can to help. Linda knits all kinds of clothing for those displaced by Kaiju and Andrew brings these garments with him when he goes to volunteer. The former captain tries to spend at least one day a week at the local shelter, more if he can swing it since they're always understaffed.

Although the work is often heartbreaking, he feels a lot more useful here than at his actual job. Years on a fishing trawler have made him a damn good jury-rigger and when something important breaks, Andrew is the first one the shelter calls.

So the captain isn't surprised when he walks into the building on Friday afternoon and Jenny asks him to take a quick look at the furnace. He’s only surprised to discover that someone else has got there first.

There’s a pair of battered boots and some worn-out jeans sticking out from behind the furnace, pieces of metal plating laid out on the floor. From the little he can see, this person knows exactly what he's doing but Andrew still decides to stick around. Partially to make sure that the furnace is fixed proper and partially just to satisfy his curiosity. He leans against the wall and listens with some amusement as the stranger mutters to himself, cursing every stubborn bolt quite creatively.

It's maybe another fifteen minutes before the other man is finished and the captain asks, "You need a hand?" as the stranger squirms back out.

"Nah, I've got it," he says, climbing to his feet. Then he glances up at Andrew and the captain's voice sticks in his throat. It may have been two years but he would know Raleigh Becket anywhere.

Andrew will never forget what the kid looked like lying in the hospital and in truth, the former ranger doesn't look much better now. He's skinny, much too skinny, with at least a three-day beard and dark bags beneath his eyes. Calling his clothes threadbare would be a major understatement and unless he stashed a jacket somewhere, he's going to be in trouble when winter comes around.

Raleigh had been such a cocky kid in the old archived interviews – bright and smiling – but that cocky kid is gone now and the captain cannot think of what to say.

"What? It needed fixing," Becket says with a half shrug toward the furnace, clearly misinterpreting Andrew's stare. "Didn't mean to step on any toes."

"No, that's fine. Just, aren't you Ra-"

Andrew never finishes the sentence as Raleigh's whole body flinches, the former ranger hunching his shoulders and stepping back against the wall defensively. The expression on his face can only be described as abject panic and the captain finds himself editing his sentence on the fly.

"Aren't you Raymond's boy?" he finishes and the relief on Becket's face is worth the lie.

"Sorry, but you've got the wrong person," Raleigh tells him with a shaky laugh. Andrew doesn't know why he's pretending but he can't force the issue. Not when Becket looked so frightened - so haunted - by the chance of being recognized. Although passing on Yancy's final message might ease his brother's sorrow, it could also reopen those old wounds instead and Andrew has no right to make Raleigh relive his brother's death. If he wants to repay his debt, he'll have to find another way.

So the captain lets Becket slip out of the room without further conversation. Then Andrew checks the furnace and discovers that the former ranger did as fine a job as anyone could ask for, no worse than the one that he would have done himself.

He completes a few more minor repairs around the shelter before stopping by the director's office to ask about their new arrivals as subtly as he can. There are half a dozen of them but it doesn't take long to steer the conversation around to Raleigh Becket, his work on the furnace a good excuse for Andrew's curiosity.

Unfortunately the director doesn't know much about the other man or where he came from. Raleigh just showed up a few days ago with nothing but a small backpack and the clothes he's wearing now.

"Ray mostly keeps to himself," she tells Andrew with a sigh. "But he's a sweet guy as far as I can tell; he helps out around the shelter when he's not looking for a job. I hate to see such a young man stuck here but you know there's not much work around these parts and he must have seen action somewhere because he flinches at loud noises like our older veterans. Honestly, I'm not sure he's really sleeping either since his bed is always made."

After that bit of gossip, the director shoos the captain back out of her office. He'd like to ask a few more questions but it’s not worth arguing since he has a plan for now.

Andrew returns home and goes straight up to his room. Then he opens the top drawer of his bureau where all of the sweaters from his fishing days are stored. None of them are pretty but they're warm and functional, the sort of clothing that you want when the days get cold. The captain empties the whole drawer into a bag; he can manage well enough with just his coat since he's not fishing anymore.

Andrew takes these sweaters and Linda's latest round of hats down to the shelter on his next visit and when he hands them out to everyone, he makes sure that Becket takes his share. The kid clearly needs someone to look out for him and the captain has to try. Although Raleigh doesn't seem actively self-destructive, not like the guys who try to drown their problems in rage or alcohol, Andrew can tell that he’s in pain.

It's not just the scars, though the captain sees the former ranger rubbing his shoulder now and then. Sometimes Becket loses the thread of conversations, stopping mid-word with an odd look in his eyes. Other times Raleigh seems to be listening to a voice that no one else can hear and no matter when Andrew stops by the shelter, the kid is always up. At least the former ranger's wardrobe isn't quite as threadbare, but that feels rather like trying to bail the Saltchuck with a spoon. Sure it helps a little, but it doesn't solve the problem and it will fail eventually.

And yet, the captain doesn't know what else to do. If Raleigh was a boat, he'd simply patch him up but no one can just patch another person's grief.

Instead, Andrew tries to show the former ranger that someone cares about him, offering support without a single string attached. He says hello and asks the kid about his day, listening when he wants to talk and giving him space when Raleigh's expression shatters painfully. Sure this takes time, but Andrew never resents the hours paid. How can he when kindness costs him nothing and the other man's rare smiles might as well be gold?

Still, it's not enough, and when the captain hears about the wall that the UN has started building, he thinks of Becket first. Andrew doesn't know if the wall will actually work. Having seen Knifehead in action, the captain has his doubts. However, this wall means jobs right here in Alaska. Dangerous ones most likely, but chances to leave the shelter are few and far between. At least Raleigh would be doing something useful, something to stand against the Kaiju, and maybe that would help the young man heal.

So Andrew makes sure the former ranger is nearby before bringing up the project and Jenny is more than happy to discuss the possibilities. Indirectness seems to work better where Becket concerned and when the captain returns to the shelter the next week, Raleigh and his sweaters are both gone.

Good luck, kid, he thinks before turning his attention to the shelter's current list of broken things. Andrew will pray for Becket when he goes to church on Sunday, but for now his time is better spent improving his own small corner of the world.

---

Almost four years later, Andrew turns on the news one morning and sees Raleigh Becket's face. The other man is standing next to an Asian woman on the television, both of them wearing ranger uniforms and smiling so widely that their faces probably hurt.

Not that he can blame them. The captain drops his mug when he reads the news ticker scrolling across the bottom of the screen - Operation Pitfall successful! The Kaiju threat is gone! - and he barely even notices as the cup shatters at his feet.

Andrew has spent a decade living with the knowledge that a monster might someday walk across Alaska. He's spent five years scraping a living, worried about his family, his future, and the whole damn human race.

But now the Kaiju are gone. Somehow Raleigh Becket climbed back into a Jaeger and gave the Earth a future – gave Andrew hope that he had thought long gone. His daughter's children will never know the threat of Kaiju and maybe he can finally dust off his old trawler, living out his life upon the sea where he belongs. This thought nearly overwhelms the captain with both joy and incredulity at his sudden change in fortune, a dream that he had written off now impossibly come true.

Yet even as he imagines a new future, Andrew can't help thinking of the past. Because the captain feels a weight falling off his shoulders, a weight that he has carried since Gipsy fought with Knifehead, and he prays that Yancy Becket can see his brother now.

Indeed, the defeat of the Kaiju will forever be linked in Andrew's mind to the sight of Raleigh Becket looking happy, healthy and alive, the ranger smiling as he hadn’t since his older brother died.


End