Wash stared at the file list, scrolling all the way to the top and then all the way back down. “So. Where should we start?”
“I went in chronological order and we saw how well that went.” She sighed and then opened up the scrapbooks from the beginning.
“Is that- Oh wow. Delta wasn’t kidding when he said York had kept a lot of memories. Are they all like this?”
“Some are. Most are a little more heartbreaking than that. I just. I thought I was done being crazy obsessive never leave the training room Carolina. I thought I had grown past that. I’ve met all these people and mellowed out but the second I was given a connection to the past I gave up on the present. I’m just like the fucking Director.” She clicked through the old memories faster and faster until she ran out of pages in the digital scrapbook. Wash put a hand on her shoulder.
“Hey. Hey! Look at me, C. You’re nothing like your father. And if you were ever in danger of becoming like him you have all of us around you to look out for you. If you seemed like you were gonna be like that asshole we would stop you. We’ll keep you from losing yourself. But it’s okay to be a little sad and nostalgic. Now, can we see what other embarrassing pictures of me York felt the need to preserve forever?” He opened up the next scrapbook and laughed as the first picture (labeled “this asshole. He’s my new best friend”) showed Wash himself tripping over his own gun barrel and falling towards, if he recalls correctly, a pile of leftovers from fish casserole night that York had nudged towards him right before he tried to do his ‘cool fun flip trick.’ “I miss him too. I wanna see what he thought was worth saving.”
They clicked through everything, Wash commentating on the past and reminiscing about their Freelancer days. Making connections between their old friends and new ones. Being nostalgic and caring about their fallen friends without getting lost in the grief. Carolina felt herself growing more and more okay with the past and the fact that it was the past. She had been happy. But it hadn’t always been that great. She’d been young and self destructive. Her friends were competitive to the point where most of them had died at one another’s hands. In another time. In another context, those friends would’ve been good for her, though she knows many bridges would’ve been burned with some of them in any competitive environment. And for Carolina, at least back then, the world was a competitive environment.
They laughed and cried and reminisced and things were okay. And then there were two files left. Right before Wash could click on “please?.ppt” Carolina grabbed his arm to stop him. “Let’s uh. Save that one for last. It’s a lot.” The song had been the most important thing for her, but she had a feeling that the PowerPoint would impact him more strongly than a music video he’d helped make. She wanted him to have a few more minutes at laughing at silly things from his past before he was faced with what could have been.
“Alrighty! ‘Come On, Carolina’... why does that sound familiar?” He opened the file and it started to play. As the now-familiar guitar riff started Wash’s eyes grew wide “oh my god. I’d completely forgotten!” He broke off with a laugh. Pausing the video until he got himself back under control. “I... cannot wait to see which of the stupid shit he kept in the final version.” For the whole song, Wash watched, completely delighted. He kept pausing to laugh and humming along as he started to remember the times singing and listening to the song.
Right as the song got to the end, before the credits could roll, he restarted it. This time though he sang the harmonies and did small, sitting versions of the dance in his chair, laughing and poking Carolina’s side. For the first time, Carolina’s heart felt light listening to this song, the past and the present working together to remind her that she’s a bitch and made her loved ones’ lives difficult. But she also made them fun? They still had loved her. They’d had fun with her, and at her expense. They reminded her that it’s okay that she’s intense so long as she remembers what’s important. She laughed at Wash’s antics. He stood up and held his hand out to her “C’mon Carolina, have fun Carolina.” He invited her to dance. She shook her head and laughed as he danced around her, throwing looks at their old love on the screen. Things were happy and light.
She pointed out the credits to him. “I feel like choreographer is putting it generously. Oh my god there’s bloopers. Oh heck. How much of the bloopers is me failing at my own dance moves?” He covered his face with his hands, either in shame or to smother laughter, it was unclear which.
“It’s entirely comprised of your fuckups.” She deadpanned.
“I don’t know if you’re kidding because it could be. But York messed up a lot too so it could be his mistakes.” He hit play. Immediately the Wash on the screen fell over and knocked York into a wall. “In my defense, what you can’t see was that he had left his armor on the floor and I kept tripping over it.”
“Really? Did it magically disappear in all the shots of your feet?”
They continued like that. Wash commenting about how none of it was his fault, even though most of the time it was clearly on him, and Carolina teasing him and poking holes in his story. He would steadfastly defend himself, until the point where he tried to stand up to prove that he could do the whole dance without messing it up.
“I bet I can do it better.” She rose to her feet and determinedly started the song over.
“Oh boy, competitive Carolina back to knock me off my feet. On the dance floor.”
“I will wipe the dance floor with you.” She grinned stretching and bouncing on her toes, determined to beat him.
“You’re on Carolina. Good luck Carolina. You’ve always had two left feet!” He sang.
“Yeah well one of these left feet could kick you without trying that hard.” She pounced on him, ticking him so he fell to the floor laughing, the dance-off forgotten.
“Hello miss Carolina and agent Washington! Tucker sent me to find you and give you a message that... I forget. But I will tell him you are busy! See you later, have fun rolling around on the floor!” Caboose appeared in the doorway and then vanished before they could respond.
“Oh. Uh. We should probably get back to our friends.” Wash said. Getting to his feet and holding a hand out to Carolina.
“You’re right. But I think first we should look at the last file. You should really see it.” She sighed, sad that the lighthearted moment had passed.
“Okay,” He opened the file.