2B doesn’t register the raindrops until 9S points out how nice it feels after their time in the desert. She almost tells him not to focus on something so trivial, but she bites her tongue. As they continue walking, the rain gets just a little bit heavier, and she resolves that 9S may have a point. It does feel kind of nice.
When the first clap of thunder is heard, she speeds up, bringing her pace to a light jog with 9S following close behind. If they get stuck in a storm, Pascal will have to wait on materials for the time being, and while YoRHa androids are built for extreme weather conditions, 2B would rather not run around in the pouring rain sinking her heels in mud.
A few minutes go by, and the weather only goes further south. 9S sighs.
“Man, the rain is really coming down, huh? Almost makes me wish we were back in the desert…”
“Hmm.” 2B steps over a fallen tree branch. “Let’s hurry before it gets worse.”
They keep going, but the rain doesn’t let up. It falls heavier than before, and in a matter of minutes it feels like they’re being pelted with coins. Thunder heaves the sky more frequently, and 2B only runs faster when lightning flashes in the distance. Their clothes are soaked through by this point, but she doesn’t want to stop when they’re just a half an hour away from the village.
“Hey, uh, 2B?” 9S calls over the sound of the heavy rain. “Maybe we should find shelter somewhere. We can deliver the materials when the rain lets up.”
2B slows her pace before eventually stopping. Thunder claps and she turns toward 9S, expression unreadable. Her partner is right; the weather is pretty bad, and having to sprint in a downpour of icy rain is far from convenient. She would take him up on his suggestion, but… It would be a shame to stop when they’re so close to their destination.
“...The village is only a few miles away,” she says. “We can keep moving.”
9S huffs. “Come on, please? We’ve been running around all day. Combat model or not, there’s no way you’re not exhausted.”
2B sighs and lets her shoulders fall. She was hoping it wouldn’t come to this, but somehow 9S always manages to find a way to melt her iron will. She supposes they can rest up for a little while, but they really shouldn’t waste more time than necessary.
“...Only until the storm stops,” she relents. “We’re heading back out as soon as the weather improves.”
“Great!” 9S grins and pulls up a map. “I know a good place where we can rest up.”
He starts off in one direction, and 2B shakes her head before following. The trip is mostly silent, with 9S only making an occasional comment and 2B giving nothing but a small hum in response. Eventually 9S leads them to an abandoned building with no glass in the windows, and 2B can’t help but be a bit impressed that her partner kept this place in mind in case they ever needed it. She pats him on the back.
“Good work, 9S. This place will do just fine.”
He jolts at her touch and looks up at her. “Oh! I-it was nothing, really. I’m just happy I could help,” he chuckles, rubbing the back of his neck. 2B holds back a smile at his response.
Instead, she retracts her hand and forces her expression to remain neutral.
“Emotions are prohibited. Now let’s get inside.”
With that, 2B walks ahead and enters the building. A muttered “Yeah, yeah,” is heard behind her before footsteps follow.
The first order of business is to remove their visors and wring them out. Once most of the water is gone, 9S hangs them on the arms of his pod. Meanwhile, 2B does her best to squeeze the water from her dress, but there’s only so much she can do without taking it off entirely. And while she wouldn’t exactly have a problem with that, she would rather not have 9S spontaneously self-destruct on the spot. 2B supposes she can deal with icy wet fabric sticking to her skin for now.
Having nothing else to do, she picks a spot relatively close to a window (keeping an eye out for machines is important when they’re vulnerable) and sits down on the cold concrete. 9S joins her a moment later, but strangely, he’s missing his gloves. He must have wrung them out with their visors.
“Your gloves…” 2B mutters before she can stop herself, eyeing 9S’s hands with sharp eyes.
9S blinks. “Oh, yeah. I decided I might as well wring them out, too. Want me to take yours?”
The combat unit hums. “Why not.”
With that, she removes her gloves and gives them to 9S, gaze still fixed on his hands. There’s something unusual about them. Granted, it’s not like she ever sees 9S without his gloves, so she can’t know if this is actually unusual, but she’s pretty sure YoRHa units don’t have black nails.
She’s pretty sure they don’t have unnaturally colored nails at all, actually.
Regardless, it...doesn’t look bad. 9S has finally settled down next to her which gives 2B a good chance to really look at them, and she decides that the black really complements the scanner’s look. Especially with his choker and his long, pretty eyelashes. And she almost never gets to see 9S without his visor (even though he takes it off more often than she does), so seeing him like this is...nice.
2B wishes she could see those beautiful sky blue eyes more often.
She snaps out of her trance, blinking a few times. 9S is looking at her with wide eyes and flushed cheeks, almost like he’s embarrassed about something, and it’s only now that 2B realizes she’s been staring. She also realizes that she’s been spoiled by having her visor on most of the time because it meant she could gaze adoringly at 9S without consequence but now she’s been caught in the act.
She really should have been more careful about that. She’ll have to be cautious until she gets her visor back.
“Was there something else you needed?” 9S asks, a nervous smile on his face. “You’ve kinda been staring for a while now.”
“Er, no,” 2B answers, finally breaking eye contact to look back at 9S’s hands again. “I was just wondering about your nails. How they…”
“How they magically changed colors?” 9S offers.
“Well,” her partner begins, pulling up a screen displaying some text that looks like Old World data. He scrolls with one finger until he reaches a certain section.
“Apparently humans used to paint their nails with a ton of different colors and styles. Plain black was pretty popular amongst, uh, what were they called again? Oh, right— ‘goths’ and ‘emos’… Whatever that means. Humans sure are weird, huh?”
9S inches closer to 2B, his smile widening.
“Anyway, I thought it would be cool if… If I did it. Obviously we don’t have any real nail polish in the bunker, but I figured regular black paint would do the trick. It stays on pretty well, actually, since my gloves keep it from chipping. Pretty cool, huh?”
9S pulls up a second screen, which appears to have notes of some sort.
“But for some reason, wearing nail polish was far more popular with women than men. Apparently it was considered unmasculine or something if a guy painted his nails. Like it was looked down upon.”
He looks down at his own nails, frowning.
“...I wonder why. There’s nothing wrong with it, as far as I can tell. What do you think, 2B?”
When 2B doesn’t answer—not because she doesn’t want to, but because she literally has nothing to say—the scanner casts his gaze aside.
“And I know what you’re gonna say. ‘Emotions are prohibited’ and all that, but I just… I couldn’t help myself. It just seemed like such a fun thing to do.”
Silence falls, and 2B still isn’t quite sure how to form words. She settles her eyes back on 9S’s painted nails, but it’s hard to get a good look at them with his nervous fidgeting.
“...9S,” she finally says, and 9S turns to face her.
“What is it, 2B?”
“Give me your hands,” she instructs. Her partner blinks.
“Just do it.”
He obeys, and 2B notices his hands are shaking as she takes them into her own. His cheeks are flushed a light pink, and without his visor he looks so vulnerable. She wishes she could cup his face with her hands affectionately and plant soft kisses on his nose, but she knows there would be no stopping herself if she went down that road.
Instead, she gently brushes her fingers over 9S’s hands, inspecting his nails up close. He did a good job of painting them neatly, and once again 2B has to keep herself from smiling too wide. She allows a small smile to grace her lips instead of a toothy grin.
“I think it looks pretty, 9S. It suits you.”
At this, 9S turns red, and he attempts to turn away in embarrassment, but he forgets that 2B is still holding his hands in hers.
“Oh, uh… R-really?” he squeaks out. 2B nods.
“Er, thanks…” he mutters. “W-wait— You think I’m… Y-you think I’m pretty?”
That’s not exactly what 2B meant, but it’s far from being untrue. She does think 9S is pretty, but she decides not to verbalize it for both their sakes.
Thunder shakes the ground from outside, and 2B finally lets go of 9S so he can cool off. It’s only now that she allows herself to smile, because her willpower is crumbling and the cute way that 9S has one hand on his cheek while he smiles down at his nails isn’t helping.
She decides to stand and make her way to the window, just to put some distance between them and give herself space to compose herself. Emotions are prohibited, she tells herself over and over. This can’t continue, as much as she wishes it could.
Eventually, she joins 9S on the floor again, who smiles upon her return.
“Say, 2B,” he begins, reaching for his bag. “I actually have some paint with me. Do you wanna try it?”
And it’s at this exact moment that 2B decides to forget the stupid rule, because 9S is being too pure for his own good and she’s tired of acting like she doesn’t care. She’ll go back to being cold and emotionless once the rain stops and they set out again, but for now, she just wants to pretend that they don’t have a mission to worry about. That she isn’t trapped in an endless cycle of suffering, that 9S doesn’t have to keep his emotions in check, and that she won’t have to kill him anytime soon.
2B smiles and offers her hands to 9S.
Her partner grins, blue eyes sparkling and face practically glowing, before he fishes a small bottle and a brush from his bag. She eyes him fondly while he sets to work, and right now, hiding from the storm with 9S, 2B doesn’t want to be anywhere else. Things are awful in the world, and they’re stuck fighting a war against machines—and fate, in 2B’s case—and it seems like they’ll never truly find peace.
But here in this old abandoned building with vines covering the sides and no glass in the windows… Here with 9S, letting him paint her nails while he hums off-key to himself, 2B can pretend that things are okay. Things are okay for now— they don’t have to worry about machines or gathering supplies, 9S isn’t on the verge of uncovering confidential data, and 2B doesn’t have force herself to end his life for what feels like the millionth time.
They’re okay, and 2B can forget about the weight of the world on her shoulders for once. It’s such a nice, wonderful feeling.
She hopes they can do this again once the war is over.