|Hey Babe, I'm Gonna Miss You Now That You're Gone|
|Summary: Burying a friend. Or an attempt at it, anyway.|
Laura's pilot suit is ripped and stained with soot. Her boots are caked with mud. Above her, the Turn A is hunkered down beneath the tree line to disguise its presence. It, like her suit, is already beginning to reform after the battle. C.C. is still dead.
Her body is laid out on top of one of the White Doll's hands to keep her off of the muddy ground. Laura has been digging for half an hour now and is almost done; her time working in the coal mines makes this job easy though not familiar. She could have used one of her mobile suit's fingers to tear up the ground. Under the circumstances that C.C. died in, Laura thought that would be disrespectful. She throws the shovel over the edge of the pit, lifting herself up afterward.
Next to her is a large, smooth stone about a foot tall and wide. Laura picked it out before she began digging. One of the few things left to do is carve 'C.C.' into it with her pen laser. It gives her time to catch her breath.
C.C.'s recovery from fatal injuries can be a grotesque process, depending on the circumstances. It starts at the deepest level and slowly moves outward. Sometimes, things can halt its progress, or slow it down to a more gruelingly slow level. The sheer, unholy extradimensional power of the Turn X's Shining Finger was enough to keep her regeneration from kick-starting for hours. By the time her internal tissue was soft and wet and pumping again, Laura had already started digging.
Dead skin flakes away from C.C.'s body, revealing smooth, porcelain-like flesh underneath. She doesn't make any noise when she wakes up -- she just opens her eyes, and slowly sits up on the White Doll's palm. The witch brushes dead skin away, reaching into her suit rather inappropriately to get some more free, because ugh, it chafes.
It's then that C.C. notices that she's not where she was when she died. The wind blows her hair, and she exercises some caution in standing, as if the Gundam's hand might suddenly wobble. She steps to the edge and looks down, seeing Laura climbing out of the hole, about to start carving a gravestone. She puts her fingers in her mouth and whistles down at the young pilot.
"All this trouble for me? I'm touched, darling, really and truly, but you shouldn't have."
Laura is about to carve the second C when she's whistled at. She looks up, mishandling the laser so the gravestone now reads 'C.G'. At least it's not C.C.'s grave anymore.
The noise the pilot makes is something between choking out the word 'miss' and getting punched in the throat. Laura goes tumbling back into the grave, legs kicked up in the air. The palm of the White Doll is only a foot or so off the ground, easily dismounted.
A few moments of silence pass and then: "Miss C.C.!" She's still stuck.
C.C. hops down from the giant robot's hand, standing at the edge of her -- rather, C.G's grave, and resting her hands on her knees as she bends down to peer in. "Oh, Laura. You should be more careful while you're handling a laser cutter. You could have put one of your eyes out, and that would have been a terrific shame. They're quite pretty." Whether this is exactly a compliment probably depends on how masculine Laura is feeling right now.
Kneeling and extending her arms downward, C.C. grabs at Laura's hands. "Come on, now, out of there, time to stop being silly." She expects Laura to do the lion's share of her own climbing, but is happy to provide the 'pulling' half. She's not /that/ strong, but she's maybe just strong enough. "Really, though, was -- gnng -- was all this /quite/ necessary? And besides -- ngh -- where's -- ugn -- where's Cheese-kun?"
Laura is one of those special people that would think it to be a compliment even if he was coming off the end of some decline bench press reps. She scrambles around to get to her feet, brushing dirt out of her hair but still covered in mud. After a few aborted attempts to get out of the grave, she ends up placing one of her hands on the edge to help lift herself up again.
"You were dead!" Laura explains breathlessly. "You--... oh, um," she puts a finger to her lips. "Cheese-kun is in the cockpit over there. I was going to put him, uh, with you."
The pilot's eyes narrow for a moment, looking the torn up C.C. over. "...are you okay?"
In helping pull Laura up when she manages to get to the edge, C.C. ends up tumbling backwards, landing on her rear with a quiet 'umph.' "Well, yes, of course I was dead," the witch says as she sits up, brushing some mud off of knee. "But really, Laura, you know I'm thousands of years old. Did you think I've lived that long without any of those momentary interruptions?"
C.C. stands back up and realizes that in toppling over, she's got mud all over her back and, more embarassingly, her backside. Still, she's not self-conscious at all as she tries to wipe herself off with both hands, although the effect this has on the gloves of her pilot suit leave her less than impressed. "And... mmm. My skin's a bit dry, but that's to be expected. Always happens after I get cooked. A sauna and some lotion and I'll be quite fine, I suspect."
C.C. then, finally, looks to Laura herself. "I-- oh! You were going to bury Cheese-kun with me?" It's unclear whether the immortal's tone is amused, shocked, or touched. Possibly all three. "Oh, how absolutely precious. I /would/ want to be buried with him, if dying were a going concern, I think. Thank you."
Laura looks horrified despite the great relief of not being responsible for someone's death. All this talk of 'being cooked.' She brushes her hair back over her ear and tries to get her headband back on straight. It's broken and keeps tilting off to the side. This may be a useless gesture but it gives her something to do while C.C. is struggling with mud.
"You're welcome. I thought that's what you would have wanted."
The (much) younger girl takes an unsteady step. All the adrenaline is wearing off, or rather she's just now noticing its absence. Wearing that corset for so long these recent days probably hasn't helped. "I, uh... I," C.C. died, Laura almost died, Gym almost died, they both almost blew up, they escaped. It's hard to tell what things need to be explained right now. She chooses the obvious one. "...I guess we should go change and eat dinner."
One thing C.C. is decidedly not known for is empathy. She's had so many people fawning over how weird it is that she's unkillable that the shock and horror have really lost their novelty, and she doesn't even bother acknowledging it anymore, let alone trying to fix it. "Indeed. I don't know how you pilot in this thing."
C.C.'s yellow eyes move up toward the White Doll for a moment. She hasn't forgotten the events of yesterday -- nor her own feelings on the fabled Gundam. She's very consciously biting them back. After all, Laura just dug her a grave. Zero probably would have just thrown her out of the cockpit and kept flying. It's not so much empathy as common decency.
"...where /are/ we, anyway? It seems awfully familiar."
Laura is loose on her feet on the way back to the cockpit. She slowly climbs over the edge and settles in. Cheese-kun is stored above and behind the chair, resting on a bank of processors or something. Who even knows.
"I'm not sure," Laura admits. "I think our worlds are the same, but I've never been on this side of the ocean before. The computer says we're in 'France.' It's EFA territory, so I tried to keep hidden."
As soon as C.C. is in as well, the cockpit ascends back into the White Doll, locking into place. It climbs above the treeline, taking off to provide a better vantage point. "Isn't this near where the Black Knights came from?"
C.C. leans on the side of the piloting seat, standing and staying balanced thanks to a good grip on the headrest. She looks over at Cheese-kun, blowing the plush doll a kiss, before paying attention to what Laura's talking about. Glancing at one of the many displays on the space-age viewscreen, she frowns in concentration.
"Mmm, yes. Actually, I think it'd be rather easy for us to swing by the Black Knights' headquarters from here. I'm sure they wouldn't mind, and it'd be an opportunity for some clean clothes, at least." C.C. pauses for a moment. "Unless you'd prefer to wear something a bit more... mmmnnn, boyish. Because while we're the same size, I think Zero's clothes wouldn't fit you particularly well. Besides, he'd whine about it endlessly, and when he gets cranky it's so frustrating I could die."
"Zero is very skinny," Laura says, sounding sympathetic to Zero's plight. "He doesn't look like he exercises much. I'm sure they'd all be the wrong size."
The White Doll glides over the treetops, the ride surprisingly smooth and quiet despite the huge thrusters in its legs. It's space magic. After a silence, Laura offers: "The White Doll... said that I damaged the Turn X and its nanomachine project system," she says that last part very deliberately, trying to remember the exact phrasing, "has been disabled. Gym got away."
"Zero exercises plenty, if talking can be considered exercising your mouth," C.C. notes as a dry aside. She doesn't roll her eyes, but then, she barely has to, because it's so evident in her voice.
Then, though, the witch's mood sobers. She lets out a deep sigh, and murmurs, "The White Doll... You mean the Turn A, Laura. You mean the /Gundam/." C.C. says that last word as if it was as offensive, powerful, and taboo as a racial slur. "If what you did will delay the end of this world that much more, then... good. But that doesn't change the fact that these suits need to be destroyed." C.C. is about to put her face in her hand, but realizes at the last second that her palm is dirty and muddy. So she just looks away from the Gundam pilot.
"I know you think you can change history singlehandedly, dear, and your idealism is one of your most attractive qualities, along with your beauty and obedience. But..." C.C. pauses maybe a second too long. "You have to realize the rest of the world is not as sweet and guileless as you. They'll want to know how this thing works, they'll figure it out, and they'll build their own. Can you imagine what would happen to this planet if...?"
"At one point, this machine may have done terrible things, but ever since I've found it I've been able to protect everyone I care about," Laura says firmly. Her eyes are half-lidded and she looks like she might fall asleep at any moment. On reflection, it would not be surprising if she's been up after since C.C. 'died' considering how long it takes those machines to actually hurt each other. "That's why, when everyone else tells me that this is the Turn A, I can't agree."
Laura reaches up with a dirty hand, smudging mud on an exposed bulkhead where SYSTEM 99 WD-M01 TURN A GUNDAM is printed. Her fingers linger on the 'WD.' "Once the Turn X is gone... I'll destroy it too. Until then, it's the White Doll to me."
C.C. doesn't respond for nearly a full minute. She's considering her friend's words. If she hadn't grown faintly attached to the poor little boy-girl... hm. "I believe you, Laura. And I'd like you to know that if I hadn't, I would have killed you in that grave back there and ensured this thing would meet its proper fate myself. But never mind that. Because I /do/ believe you."
C.C. sighs again, turning so that her back slumps against the side of Laura's seat. She looks back over her shoulder, catching a glimpse of the white-haired pilot as she smears over the nameplate of the bulkhead. "Just remember that you can't confuse beneficial effects with a lack of negative results. I wish I could tell you how many people have taken up arms to try and protect that which they loved... and not been able to see that they'd become monsters in the process of doing so."
Another long pause.
"Please don't become a monster, Laura. I rather like you just the way you are."
Laura turns her head to the side, smiling. The black mud on her face contrasts startlingly. She seems more happy at C.C.'s vote of confidence than the suggestion of the Turn A becoming a monster, or that her death may have benefited the world at some point.
"I don't think I could become a monster, Miss C.C.! I love the Earth too much, and the people on it, like you."