pacific rim!au. there is something divine about the way death comes in to meet you.
warnings for major character death, major religious themes, descriptions of violence, non-graphic sexual content, non-canonical tattoos on a character
this was written for jinbobby as part of our little christmas fic trade-off! hi lynn! c: hope you like. this fic contains heavy references to christianity, latin (the language) as well as lyrics from hozier's album. see below for more notes/translations. honestly this is marked major character death for a reason. also totally an excuse to play around with words and latin just a little.
They say religion has no place in the world, as it is. God can change nothing. The monsters that erupt from the cavernous below—those are not of anything the holy books can ever begin to predict. Wild, destructive, unpredictable. And at the very same time, premeditated, calculated, and triangulated.
Not all believe that. Many still cling to the faint hope that this is merely the beginning of the promised Judgment Day. Many cling to their prayers and their rosaries and their crosses and their incense and their tired, whispered shouts of amen and hallelujah.
Monsters do not consider religion. They know no amens, and they sing no hallelujahs. They thunder out of the oceans and slam heavy bodies onto the frightened shore, roars crackling with the sound of lightning and something much, much more terrifying. Screaming the name of a foreigner’s god, the way milites scream as they charge down the battlefields of a never-ending bellum sacrum.
Then again, kaiju are not the only monsters that exist on this plane of life.
Hanbin has never been one for religion, but Bobby has been going to church since he was little, the bleached-white walls with a pretty red door that he sometimes sees flashes of in the drift, with his mother and brother and father when they'd lived in Virginia, USA. Before San Francisco. Before the end of the world.
"It isn't the end of the world," Bobby had said, absentmindedly playing with the silver cross on the chain around his neck, the first time Hanbin had let the words slip, "it's the beginning of something else."
The little cross remains tucked into the front of Bobby's RAF bomber jacket, the one he'd gotten as a graduation gift from Ranger Herc Hansen when he'd made it through all the levels. Herc had been the one to pick Bobby out of the first stream of recruits, seeing some kind of potential in him that the others hadn't. You’re a right rockstar, aren’t you, Bobby Kim, said the younger Hansen, after watching him spar twenty rounds in a row, winning each. Gonna run out of recruits at this point. Then what are you gonna do, eh?
They’d watched Hanbin beat just about the same number of people, before it was their turn to go up against each other.
Eight rounds ending stalemate.
Hanbin watches Bobby from his bunk. Quiet. Still. Too much knowledge of the forthcoming kaiju, twelve hours away from breaching their waters. Medellin to Patagonia is the area the Lima Strike Group covers, but they’ve never felt as territorial of the area as Diablo Intercept does. Their partner jaeger’s pilots are South American locals, a couple of the best men they’ve ever met.
He lies down on his pillow, and turns to face the wall. Behind him, Bobby rests his forehead against the wall on his own side of the room, where the desk is. Hanbin can feel his prayers. Hanbin wonders if those are enough to cover the both of them.
A sign, maybe. The people lift their hands to the skies and cry at the sun and ask for its forgiveness. Offering up their sins for the hope they wish to retain for their last days. Is that what they are for them, now? A symbol of the impending death. Good god, saviour.
Solar Prophet, murmurs Hanbin in his mind, and something shifts quietly, the soft hum of Bobby’s interest piqued by the name of their jaeger, floating around in their continually shared headspace. Their jaeger. Their headspace.
It isn’t ghost drifting, right now. Maybe it is, but Hanbin isn’t sure what to call it. Feeling Bobby more than hearing him. Peccavi, he feels, soft in the back of Bobby’s throat, instead of hears. Dimitte mihi, quoniam peccavi.
It is funny. Bobby isn’t even Catholic, but he knows words from the Vulgate and the Douay-Rheims because Hanbin knows them. Hanbin, who has had the strange desire to put a dead language in his mouth since he was twelve. Hanbin, who isn’t Catholic either, but grew up watching his relatives echo words they never understood for themselves, in stuffy little halls with too many people looking for the statue of a woman to hold their hands up to.
Maybe it is just a comfort. The words mean something for those who do believe. Hanbin only believes in the J-Tech engineers who keep their jaeger’s engines running, and the calculations Dr. Gottlieb of Hong Kong’s R&D continually runs, in hope of finding a way to seal the Breach.
Take me to church, he’d said, six years old and wanting. I want to see God.
It has been years. The kaiju are the gods now. The jaegers gods, too. If both are gods, then who wins the holy war?
Hanbin closes his eyes, and pretends for just a few seconds that he doesn’t have to ever open them again, when the red-alert warnings go off five hours earlier than expected.
When he does open them, he sees God in the form of the storm that gathers.
Bleached-white walls and a pretty red door. San Francisco. Bobby, pressing his face against the dirty, circular window of a budget airline plane, watching as the ground becomes smaller, as his family disappears into the speck of dust on the glass. Breaths mingling, hands clutching, the sweet taste of coffee on a stranger’s lips.
His parents' first fight. The first time he witnessed a city collapse. Hanbin’s hands shaking, pushing back the damp hair of his mother from her face, hands shaking, pushing away the newspapers in front of her. His seventh tattoo, trailing along the inside of his arm, un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard.
There is something divine about the strange imperfections of ink-stained skin. Hanbin uses them to remember and forget, all at the same time.
Bobby traces a finger along the words, and says, “I didn’t know you liked poetry.”
“Neither did I,” says Hanbin, thinking about his father’s favourite book of translated verse that used to sit on the shelf in the study, before the tide came and swept it away.
The photo of a little girl is the only photograph Hanbin places on his side of the room.
Drifting with a stranger. The stranger, the better, a boy who’d applied in the same group as him back home had said to him once over meal-time in the mess hall. Imagine if you drifted with someone you knew and found out all these things about them you never wanted to know.
With a stranger, you have no ties. Nothing to make you question your lives before this, the coming-together of two minds in one machine. How fucked up is that, though? Hanbin doesn't know what's stranger; not being able to drift successfully with anyone he's ever known, or being able to drift with someone whose full name he doesn't even know.
It is not his place to question, anyway.
Bobby brings his own baggage in the form of God's answers that never seem to come for the questions he asks. Memories of bleached-white walls and a pretty red door. San Francisco. The warmth of a body beneath him. Cold metal that he lets lie in his palm; but it is not the gun in his older brother's drawer. Hanbin doesn't ask. Hanbin doesn't tell. Hanbin lets the memories speed by and does not wonder what memories Bobby sees of Hanbin in turn. His parents' first fight. The first time he witnessed a city collapse. His first tattoo, skimming across the back of one calf, nunc illas promite vires. The first time he'd let a stranger suck him off in the back of a bar in Cheongnyangni one night.
They’d synced up at ninety-two percent on their first attempt. Hanbin pulled off his helmet immediately after they’d disengaged, and threw up, head spinning from the pain of a first-time full drift simulation. Bobby laughed so hard he began to cough, and then he’d thrown up too.
The Psych Analysts passed them for the second round of training.
Maybe, it is the side-effect of one too many drifts, one too many simulations, and one too many nights spent together, attempting to bring synchronicity to their thoughts in a way that leaves them nauseated and disoriented and unable to move after, without wondering if they're missing something. Maybe, it is the roll of the dice with the prayer that all or none of the faces come up.
Or maybe, it is just Bobby.
Bobby, who takes him between the knees and slams him down against the grappling mats with a bang against his throat, and asks him where he'd stolen those dark eyes from.
It is the only time Hanbin allows Bobby to take him down, sparring in the guan. It is the only time Hanbin acquiesces to the hard swipe of Bobby’s ankle around his own, and the hard smack of the wooden weapon against his skin, and the sharp jolt that comes with being flipped down against the ground.
"You're going easy on me." The bang presses almost uncomfortably against his pulse. "Don't."
"Don't tell me what to do," whispers Hanbin, and he slides the sole of his right foot under Bobby's knee, pulling hard as he reverses their positions with a rough grunt. Bobby is shoved against the mat, back hitting the ground with a loud whump. "Never tell me what to do."
"I'm your partner," says Bobby, like it is the only thing that matters. "Get used to it." He smiles, almost like it's supposed to be a reassuring thing.
There should be a retort, perhaps. Throw the words back into his face, tell him just how much he'll get used to it. But Hanbin is only human, and Bobby’s mouth is barely inches away from his.
Bobby’s mouth, a little swollen from where Hanbin had smacked the back of his elbow against his jaw earlier. His mouth, almost a tinge redder than usual, as if he’s been absently biting it. Hanbin wants to run his thumb along his lower lip, wants to see Bobby suck the tip in, wants Bobby’s tongue to press against the hard scrape of his fingernail, teeth running along the callused skin of the top.
Hanbin exhales. "Fine."
"Fine?" Bobby glances up at him, and it hits Hanbin all at once. Coepi te amare in slow motion. Hanbin reels from the realisation, furious with himself, and there is no possible way that Bobby does not know. "Oh. Hanbin."
"Don't," says Hanbin, scrambling to get up, "don't talk to me. Just. Leave me alone for a while."
"Hanbin," says Bobby, sitting up hastily. "Wait."
It is the only time Hanbin allows Bobby to take him down.
The next morning, they fight in the guan again, in front of the fightmasters and the rest of the batch and Marshall Pentecost, who eyes them warily. They spend nearly thirty-two minutes in a check that never ends, a deadlock that only comes to completion when Fightmaster Han barks out a loud command to put their weapons down.
"And that," says the Marshall, so quietly that the words sear itself into Hanbin's memory for the rest of his life, "that is what you call a damn good drift."
Hanbin sets down his bang, the perfect picture of poise, and leaves before Bobby does.
When Bobby returns to their room seven hours later, Hanbin seizes him by the shoulders and slams him into the wall, just as hard as Bobby had pushed him down against the floor the day before. Hanbin kisses him until both their lips bleed, and groans when Bobby lays his palms against warm skin, running his hands up Hanbin’s shirt.
“Don’t run,” whispers Bobby into the curve of Hanbin’s shoulder, “don’t you fucking dare run now,” he breathes, curling his fingers into Hanbin’s hair, “don’t you dare,” he exhales.
The hunger consumes them both. Hanbin gives him his life (or whatever else that’s left of it that Bobby hasn’t already yet seen in the drift).
Take me to church, he says, twenty years old and wanting, I want to see God.
And the slow death comes painlessly.
Hanbin surfaces, gasping for air.
Bleached-white walls and a pretty red door. San Francisco. Running a rosary in between shivering fingers. A snowfall, falling against his cheeks in his fifteenth winter, falling into his lashes, falling all around him. Hanbin against the grappling mats, chest heaving, skin flushed, pupils blown. There's something tragic about you, whispers the wind in Bobby's words.
His parents' first fight. The first time he witnessed a city collapse. His fourth tattoo, hidden between his shoulder blades and dipping beneath the hem of his sweats, an integer sequence that goes 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21 34 in sharp black ink. The slow drag of a stranger's tongue across each stylised number, sharper than the needle that had gone into his skin.
Later, Bobby asks him why his sequence ends in thirty-four.
Hanbin says, because I don't expect to live past then.
There is no right way to tell someone they’re about to die. Especially if they already know.
Hanbin should have worshiped him sooner.
Monsters do not consider religion. They know no amens, and they sing no whispered, no desperate, no bloody hallelujahs. They thunder out of the oceans and destroy lives and sweep clean the traces of anything anyone has ever known. Screaming the name of a foreigner's god in the quaking sounds of the terror it leaves behind with each heavy blast of blue.
Nine hours is a very long time to fight a kaiju. Nine hours is a very long time to drift without going insane. Nine hours is a very long time for two people to spend in each other's minds, but nine hours is what they get.
And nine hours is not even enough to send monsters back into the closets that they came from.
Bobby smiles at him, tired and wired, when their left arm goes defunct, shriveling up in the acid blast that takes out the front armouring of their Conn-Pod. LOCCENT is shouting murder into their ears, but Hanbin pulls out his earpiece, and only leaves the connection on long enough to tell their operators, "It's been a good run. Tell Lima we’re sorry."
It takes out their right arm, and the oxygen levels go haywire with another shuddering slam to the body of their jaeger. Hanbin looks over at Bobby, and reaches for him.
Their hands find each other amidst the sound of the crying alarms, the flashing red lights, the water that's pouring into the controls. "You were right," says Bobby, about the numbers. About the mission. About us.
"Almost," says Hanbin, I wasn't right about you. Not quite.
Bobby chokes back a gasp that the cold wind nearly snatches away, when the front of their jaeger is ripped straight out. Hanbin watches him die, hooked up to every single live, thrumming, real nerve that shocks his system so hard he doesn't even feel the pain.
But it was all worth it.
There is something divine about the way death comes in to meet you, alone in the middle of the sea, darkening skies overhead. The storm that washes them away. The waters that wash away their sins. Lord, forgive me. Lord, forgive me. Lord—
In their room, the photograph of the little girl peels off the wall, and floats, gently down to the ground.
There's something tragic about you, thinks Hanbin, as they both fall into the waves.
bellum sacrum: holy war
solar prophet/lima strike group/diablo intercept: actual mark-2 jaegers from canon that formed the team from the lima shatterdome, in peru.
dimitte mihi, quoniam peccavi: forgive me, for i have sinned
un coup de dés jamais n'abolira le hasard: a roll of the dice will never abolish chance; from mallarmé's eponymous poem.
nunc illas promite vires: now put forth that strength
guan: kwoon, a training hall for martial arts
bang: martial arts weapon; one of the four major chinese weapons
coepi te amare: i have begun to love you
coepi te amare: i have begun to love you
112358122134...: fibonacci sequence
hozier songs referenced above: from eden, take me to church, foreigner's god.
hozier songs referenced above: from eden, take me to church, foreigner's god.