From Hattie’s spot on the porch, she has an unfiltered, unspoiled view of the Hobbs. They are all the same: big bones, dark hair and skin, and Samoan tattoos. She thinks she can see their ancestors in the pride and care they take with filtering the rubble into useful and trash, tending to their wounded—and their dead—and chattering lightly and drunkenly with their neighbors. Cousins, perhaps. Family, most certainly. But it's not them that her interest lies.
Sefina Hobbs, Luke’s mother, moves with the grace of a matriarch. Her voice carries across the grass with such authority that not one of her boys—and there are many—thinks of slacking off. Not that they would. There’s still too much to do if they want to be back in business. The very same business that Luke, Deckard, and her carelessly sacrificed in their bid against Eteon, Hattie thinks ruefully. Sefina nor her sons mentioned it once to them, but Hattie knows. It’s in the slumped shoulders of Jonah and Timo, the strain in which Sefina speaks with the mothers and wives of those that lost their lives, the stench of scorched oil and grass, and the black plumes in the distance that remind them just how close they were to global extinction. If there’s one thing good about dying, it’s not having to deal with the aftermath.
She doesn’t notice Luke until he takes the wicker seat next to her. For a mountain of a man, he moves with the grace of a panther on the prowl. But he doesn’t come with claws bared but drinks. Wordlessly, she accepts the offering for what it is—an attempt at normalization.
There’s nothing normal about the last seventy-two hours, but the glass offers her more comfort than the chair she’s slouched in does as she takes a sip. Hattie wonders if she should be concerned that she’s teetering on the edge of alcoholism, but she doesn’t. She’s almost died more times than she can count in seventy-two hours than in her entire life. A little alcohol won’t kill her where Brix—where Lore couldn’t.
The glass is slick with condensation, the ice already half melted. The whiskey is smooth but smokey, a nice blend that she hadn’t thought his mother would keep in stock. Probably Jonah’s now that she thinks about it.
Siblings, she thinks and taps her dirty nails against the glass. They’re all the same.
“How are you holding up?” Luke asks once he determined that she’s not opposed to his being here.
It’s not like she can say no, I don’t want you here. Go away. Actually, she could, and he’d do it, but there’s something about Luke that has her burning without a single touch. Or, more likely, it’s the bruises and scrapes burning. The skin on her palms is an angry, spiteful red, sliced and scraped and bruised. Her knees don’t fare any better. It’s her chest that hurts the most with its dull throbbing. The adrenaline pumping in her veins prevents her from telling the extent of the fall. It’s staved off the pain for now. Which is preferable to not being able to breathe, but Hattie knows tomorrow is a different story.
So, she nurses the glass and pretends that her head isn't about to implode.
“Apart from being thrown from a helicopter and almost dying—” she shrugs— “right as rain.”
His smile is anything but handsome, Hattie tells herself and forces her eyes somewhere else.
She can’t find him attractive when she knows damn well that this will be the last time she sees him. He’s DSS and she’s… well, if she’s being perfectly honest, she doesn’t know if she still has a job with military intelligence after everything that’s happened, after everything they did to her. She doesn’t even know if she wants to go back. One good thing about being caught by Luke instead of MI6 was that she hadn’t had to punch a coworker’s lights out. That’d be much harder to justify in a report. She practically feels the boredom of sitting through weeks’ worth of meetings, trying to justify just why she thought it best not to turn herself in and go on a jolly stroll across the globe with the Americans. And Decks. A separate issue. And this was if they didn’t kill her on sight. Regardless, Hattie is a woman of her word, and the promise to Luke still needed to be fulfilled. Whether she arrived in London in handcuffs is debatable.
She takes another sip. It’s smoother, and the burning in her chest eases just a bit.
“A fall like that could kill a man,” he says. His sip is larger than hers.
“It’s a good thing I’m not a man then.”
Unwittingly, she thinks of Éowyn and her fight against the Witch King to save her uncle. “No living man am I! You look upon a woman! Éowyn I am, Éomund's daughter.”
She never saw herself as Éowyn, but Luke’s a close match for Faramir and Decks makes a good Éomer, even if he’s a bit more Hobbit-sized, so she accepts the comparison. If only because it makes her feel like she’s accomplished something.
“Definitely a good thing.”
It’s a bit harder to say his look doesn’t turn her insides to goo than she’d like to consider. She’s not a schoolgirl waiting to be swept off her feet by Prince Charming. Which, admittedly, he’s physically capable of doing much more than just sweeping her off her feet. He could go head to head with an enhanced ex-SAS officer. He’s smarter than she’s initially credited him, too. Not too smart—refuses to acknowledge that he might just be a tad smarter if only due to experience—but just enough to keep her on her toes.
“So,” he drawls out the word, “when do you and Hobbit legs over there leave for home?”
“Are you kicking us out already?”
“You? Never,” Luke corrects himself immediately. There’s not a hint of bashfulness on him. “Him?”
They watch Deckard talk with Timo and Kal. He’s small compared to them, compared to everyone really, and still in that ridiculous jacket of his. But Hattie knows firsthand that appearances are necessary. Make yourself smaller than you are, make them overlook you, and then, when the time comes, strike with precision.
Their father taught Deckard brutality. The special forces taught him efficiency. It made him infamous in the intelligence community, a ghost of a legend and twice as deadly. Both brothers, actually.
It’s where she got it from, too.
Hattie grins into her glass.
“He likes you, you know,” she says and brushes the sweat damp hair from her nape.
The heat is more oppressive here than any other place she’s been to. It curls her hair and makes it stick to every place it could just because it can. Every other second has her sweeping her hair back into place.
She’s never been more jealous of Deckard than now.
“He doesn’t like a lot of people” continues Hattie. “In training, they teach you that everyone is your enemy. Anyone can be preparing to bomb Parliament, preparing to stab twenty people on the Tube, preparing to hold a minister hostage. What they don’t teach is how to see the good in people.”
“Do you see the good in people?”
Not like Owen or Deckard do. Not like how her mother does either. She’s more hopeful, more optimistic, but she knows just how far ordinary men will go to achieve their dreams. It’s made her bitter to realize just how fast someone can crack. However, seeing Deckard refuse to shoot Lore has filled her with a hope that MI6 so ruefully denied her.
“I’m what you call a pessimistic optimist,” she replies neutrally. “And you? Are you an optimist, Luke Hobbs?”
“’Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence,’” he says.
“Bruce Lee or Nietzsche?”
She raises an eyebrow. She’s still amazed that she has them after being so close to the explosion. “You are just full of surprises. Who knew DSS actually hired capable agents?”
“Who knew MI6 did?”
Hattie laughs (snorts) and pretends not to see the self-satisfied grin lifting his face.
She downs the rest of the glass and sets it aside. For a moment, they sit in comfortable silence and watch Sefina shoo her grandchildren from a still hot car. They giggle and run about, helping wherever they can, blissfully unaware that they were almost made orphans. Those that would’ve survived Eteon’s virus. Most of them. Some aren’t lucky. Their mothers come and lead the smaller ones away while neighbors and other Samoans chat in small groups, trying to figure out the best way to move on.
It’s hard to imagine they beat Eteon just this morning. Not impossible but hard. It all feels surreal. Like a bad fever dream. It might be what she thinks is a minor concussion speaking, but she hasn’t thrown up or passed out just yet.
“Tomorrow,” she finally says.
Hattie doesn’t like the way he says it. Like it’s perfectly all right that she’s going halfway around the world to fix her dysfunctional family while there’s still so much to do here. So much left to still figure out.
A distant, dark part of her wonders if recovering Lore’s body is a possibility. Hattie’s always been a masochist.
“Unless, of course, you need help,” she offers before she can stop herself. She eyes the smoke plume in the distance pointedly. “What, with Eteon destroying your home and all that.”
He doesn’t answer immediately. When he goes to catch her eyes, she turns to watch Deckard be handed a beer. A local brand by the label. He downs it without a care, without the pompousness she half expected from him.
“MI6 won’t be needing you?” he asks.
She can’t decipher his tone. Not yet.
“Doubtful,” she casually replies.
It hurts more than she’s willing to admit. Everything hurts. She wipes her fingers on her pants. They’re fresh but still damp with sweat. A constant state of submersion she won’t miss.
“They think I’m a traitor, remember? A few days couldn’t possibly hurt.”
“I called one of my contacts in the CIA. Everything’s been explained. You won’t have a problem with them if you want to go back,” says Luke.
Her stomach drops.
“Oh, well… that’s…” Hattie wishes for another drink. Something stronger this time. “Great. It’s great.”
And it is. Headquarters won’t be sending anyone to kill her. What more could a girl want? She has no reason to stall going back now. These people aren’t her family. They’re just the ones who saved her life and the world’s. With her help, of course.
She rises, fixing her shirt. It’s bigger than anything she owns, but Sefina was kind to have lent it to her after her last set of clothes were ripped from falling out of a helicopter so she doesn’t complain.
She got two steps before Luke rises.
“But we could always use another hand.”
It stops her heart.
“Really?” she replies. Her voice doesn’t hitch but it might as well have, and she’s cursing her lack of elegance while Luke lumbers over to her.
Without handcuffs, without Eteon’s goons chasing her, without the threat of death heavy on her shoulders, Hattie finally sees Luke Hobbs for the giant he is. A real-life Hercules.
He’s bigger without the skittish need to run away hyper focusing her senses. Not physically. From the moment she laid eyes on him in the alley, she knew just how massive he was. His presence is another thing entirely. It makes what she overheard on the plane hit home, even if he thinks she hadn’t heard. The military made her an incredibly light sleeper.
It isn’t an appropriate thought—climbing him over, and over, and over again—but it’s one she’s entertaining now that her life isn’t set on a timer. And let the Lord forgive her, it’s the only thing she wants to do right now.
“Really,” he reinforces.
“Well,” she eyes him, “when you put it like that, I really can’t say no, now can I?”
“You can always say no,” he says.
“What if I want to say yes?”
Luke considers her carefully. “Then I’d be happy to have you here.”
He looks away to Deckard. Her brother still doesn’t notice them watching him. Or perhaps he does and that’s why he doesn’t say anything. Because he is capable of being a good big brother.
“And short stack over there, too.”
Her laughter is entirely unladylike and unwarranted. It’s not funny, not remotely, but the alcohol and stress have her giggling like a lunatic. It bubbles and spills from her mouth like water. Luke doesn’t bat an eye. He stands like the big, brown, well-endowed, tattooed, mountain of a man he is until the laughter dies. She covers her mouth to stop more from spilling out because she has the attention of both Deckard and Sefina. Even Jonah glances her way. His eyes are the worst. They see more than Luke or even Deckard. He knows just how close she was to death.
“Sorry,” she apologizes. “I’m sorry. I just… I….”
She waves a hand as if it can explain just how close she is to breaking. Luke takes it in strides, moving down the stairs. They don’t creak beneath his weight, but they do bend. He gestures for her to join him.
“C’mon,” he says, “I want to show you something.”
Hattie falls into step with him. If only to get away from curious eyes heavy on her. Attention always made her shifty, and this much is too much. Especially with the concern laced within. It’s strange for people to be concerned for her. But she reminds herself it’s only a polite concern. After all, had Jonah not been able to rebuild the machine, she’d be the catalyst to their long and excruciating death.
Really, it’s only polite.
But there’s nothing polite about the way Luke leads her away from it all to the very overlook they’d been at the day before. It’s a different type of peace than before, lacking its desperate beauty. Its captivating in the way an oasis is to a parched man, and Hattie drinks it in greedily.
She pretends her tears are sweat because the walk had been more taxing than before and not that she nearly didn’t see the sun setting on the horizon. There are more reds and oranges than she has names for, painting the sky more beautifully than any artist could. A gentle wind shakes the tall grass, tugging at her hair and clothes.
“It’s beautiful,” she finally says. “Did you ever miss it?”
“Every day. Some days were worse than others,” he confesses.
She can’t imagine leaving England permanently. Abandoning her seems fundamentally wrong, like cutting a away a piece of her soul.
“Thank you,” he says.
He smiles and watches the sun dip lower. It’s a sliver of red. “Bringing me home.”
She hides her smile with the back of her hand. But when he turns to her, smile ever softer than before, and that stupid awe in his eyes as if he can’t believe she exists, that he’s here with her, she loses all control and kisses him.
He tastes of whiskey, is her immediate thought. It’s stupid and not romantic at all because he should taste like sunshine or happiness or some other beautiful bullshit, but it only makes her want to kiss him more. She’s smart (sober) enough to pull away.
“That’s just for saving the world, that’s all,” she quickly explains.
He licks his lips and nods.
“I did save the world,” he says and holds up four fingers, “four times now. Not that I’m counting.”
“Four times. That’s impressive.”
His shrug is casual but proud.
“Just doing my job,” he says.
She giggles (snorts) because of all the things she expected from him, this is not one of them. So, she drags him into another kiss. Well, not drag. She’s too tired and he’s too massive to, so she stands on her toes, her hands rooted in his shirt, and firmly kisses him. It’s slower than the first, exploring and hungry.
Hattie can now say with certainty that he kisses as well as he fights, intensely and determined. A massive but gentle hand sprawls the small of her back as he brings her closer. Any hesitation is gone as he deepens the kiss until he is everything that she can feel.
They part more to breathe than anything else.
Hattie knows she can’t fix all her regrets right away. There’s too many and too few answers on how, but this is one regret she won’t have. Even if it doesn’t work out, if they’re halfway across the world from one another, Hattie can say that she beat up and kissed the man who saved the world (four times). She feels like an action movie femme fatale, only better because she didn’t die, and Hollywood actors can’t compare to Luke Hobbs.
She unhooks her fingers from his shirt, smoothing it out before tackling the knots in her hair. She wonders what she looks like doing so for Luke to give her such a look. Not like he’s about to devour her—which makes her heart skip at the thought—but the same look he had when he pulled her into the truck and the moment before she kissed him twenty-four hours prior. Like he can’t believe she’s here with him and not dead at the bottom of the cliff.
The thought of her almost death has her kissing Luke again. It’s just a tad desperate and longing. Every bite, every nibble, every swish of her tongue against his, he matches it. Her hands find purchase around his neck while his circle her waist. Warmth pools in her belly as he picks her up and sets her on the table’s edge with him between her legs.
And she thinks as she kisses him, this is a good place to start repairing the damage. That’s until Deckard appears.
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing to my sister?”
Deckard shadowing her every movement would have been cute twenty years ago when they were kids, but Hattie isn’t entertained. There’s no princess to protect from a ferocious dragon, no virginity to safeguard for a valiant, heroic prince, no hooded figure lurking in the shadows waiting to whisk her away to some godforsaken tower. There is only her and Deckard and Luke. And the Hobbs, who watch it all with thinly veiled amusement.
It’s about time he had his ass handed to him, their eyes say. Jonah’s smirk is the worst.
Twenty-five years is a long time to go without seeing family, and Luke might’ve been a hero to the Americans, but here he’s the prodigious son returning. A little ribbing is par for the course. Not at her expense, of course. But with the way Deckard foams at the mouth every time he sees Luke within a hundred meters of Hattie and Luke’s smug grin and not so clandestine winks to her despite the red mark from where her brother punched him, she might not be here at all. Which might be for the best as Sefina Hobbs picks up on it with the subtlety of a mother wanting grandchildren.
She’s a mama bear cornering Hattie the moment Hattie steps out of the washroom, teeth bared in a kind (fearsome) smile.
“How long have you been dating my Luke?” she askes without fanfare, without pomp.
It throws Hattie off kilter worse than the explosion. She’s still in the door frame, towel in hand, and eyes wide like a deer staring down an eighteen-wheeler. There is no place she can dart to, no one to lend her a hand.
It’s only fair that her intelligent response is a simple, resounding, “What?”
It doesn’t bother Sefina. If anything, it emboldens her. She’s smelt blood.
“I see the way my Luke looks at you,” Sefina continues as though it clears up everything. “I haven’t seen him look at anyone like that in a long time. Not since he was a boy.”
There’s a lot she wants to say—no, I’m not dating your son and, a more inappropriate, I just want to ride him until both of us can’t walk straight—but she bites her tongue and smiles. It’s a British smile, polite and sparkling and hollow.
It’s for the best, she reasons, as she practically rips out Sefina’s throat with a neutral, “We’re not dating.”
The array of emotions that flash across Sefina’s face is both brilliant and terrifying to behold. Like a maelstrom ready to tear asunder the sky. Unwittingly, it reminds Hattie of the time her father caught Liam Baker in her bed. He hadn’t taken her over his knee and belted her but struck her true across the face with the back of his hand. Neither Owen nor Deckard had been there. Only their mother with her sad eyes. The same sad eyes Sefina casts on her. Like Hattie should know better.
This time, there’s no one here to glance at, no one to beg assistance from. Luke’s brothers are leaves scattered on the wind, tending to their own business. Their wives are equally as busy. Timo is with his wife out by what remains of the shop, cleaning up as best they could while Mateo’s wife is off in one of the bedrooms, resting. Or fucking. She swears Mateo slipped in before she entered the washroom. The fans are too loud to determine whether it’s a bed creaking or the house, and Hattie doesn’t want to know. The only dutiful wife is Jonah’s, a beautiful but exhausted woman. She sets the table for dinner, and, while her eyes may watch them, her lips are a tight line. Hattie doesn’t blame her either. It isn’t so long ago that her husband nearly died because of Hattie’s inability to secure the CT17 virus.
God only knows where Luke and Deckard have trotted off to. She only hopes that they're smart enough not to get into too much trouble without her. How they survived this long without her is beyond her, but she doubts she'll have very long with the way Sefina eyes her.
Hattie steels herself for the inevitable outrage, the disbelief, and explains, “We’re colleagues. Nothing more.”
Hattie feels him still on her lips, bruised as they are. The phantom touch of his hands on her waist, how desperate and longing and hot they were, has her flustered more than she’s willing to admit. But a deep-rooted exhaustion comes with it as well.
How long has it been since she’s slept on something that isn’t stiff and plastic? Since she hasn’t had to keep one eye open in case Eteon was just a little smarter than they thought? It feels like weeks, her body sagging with every minute she’s still standing. Soon she’ll be a puddle on the ground.
Sefina takes a long, hard look at Hattie. She’s too old to pout, but the gesture is the same, nonetheless. A universal I’m not angry, just disappointed look that all mothers seem to share. Tired, Sefina limps to the table, her cane a distinct tap-tap-tap against the hardwood flooring, and takes a seat at the head of the table.
Her sigh is lengthy and pointed.
“What’s wrong with him?” Sefina asks.
“Why don’t you want to date my son? Is it because he’s too skinny? I keep telling him he needs to eat more. No one likes a man who’s skin and bones,” presses Sefina.
Hattie can hear Jonah’s wife snickering in the background. She bites her cheek, trying not to laugh as well. It’s not that she’s afraid of what Sefina may think of her if she does—only his mother could think that Luke is skin and bones—but what she may not.
Inadequacy is a feeling Hattie knows well.
“I’m sure any girl would be lucky to date your son,” says Hattie. Ones that aren’t separated by oceans and time. She is almost half Luke’s age, too, and it’s becoming more apparent the longer she stays surrounded by his family just how different they are. Maybe too different. She tries not to think on it too long. She can't. Not with the painkillers and alcohol she's consumed. “Agent Hobbs is an amazing, courageous man, but we’re just colleagues.”
Less than ninety-six hours of knowing him hardly counted them as anything more than colleagues, let alone friends or lovers.
“Tina,” Jonah’s wife cuts in quickly, “she’s a guest.”
Sefina waves her off. “After everything that’s happened, they’re family now.”
Jonah’s wife—what is her name? Hattie can’t recall—sighs and rounds the table. She looks between Hattie and Sefina with equal annoyance, as though any more of this nonsense will be the death of her.
Hattie decides she quite likes her.
“Why don’t you ask Luke?” Jonah’s wife continues softly.
“Bah,” scowls Sefina. “My Luke’s brilliant but he couldn’t find his way outta paper bag! Too much like his father. All muscle and no brain.”
Hattie snorts (giggles). Until Sefina brandishes a scolding finger at her.
“Don’t let him get you pregnant before he puts a ring on that finger,” she warns.
Hattie chokes on air.
"Tina" is a way to say Mom in Samoan.
Dinner was an intimate affair. They’re stacked on top of one another, seated in such a way that suggests not only was it forced but the rest of the Hobbs were in on Sefina’s quest for more grandchildren. On one side was Jonah’s wife Sofia—who eyed Sefina with an exasperation only outdone by Hattie—and on the other was Deckard. Despite Sefina’s best attempts, Deckard refused to move. Every attempt ended in a thinly veiled threat that was as amusing as it was aggravating. It was for the better.
At least, that’s what Hattie tells herself after it’s all over.
She can’t sit or stand by Luke anymore. Not with guilt’s icy talons clawing her heart each time he looks at her with those big brown eyes. And guilty she is. If not for her, Luke wouldn’t have lost so many family members. Children would not be orphans. Wives would not be widows. Her men would still be alive. So many lives could’ve been saved if she hadn’t been weak. The realization sits in her stomach like bile, threatening to spill from her mouth until there’s nothing recognizable about her left, and God knows there’s hardly anything left of her after these seventy-two hours. She deserves the guilt, the humiliation, the pain.
She is weak, weak, weak.
So, Hattie sits on the stone table that overlooks the water like she hadn’t snuck off in the middle of the night. A gun—Glock G17, 9mm, eighteen cartridges—lies next to her. She’d taken it off the body of an Eteon lackey. He’d been about her age, maybe older, maybe younger. His head was smashed in by the tire iron discarded next to him. It took little less than a screwdriver to the gun to discard the chip activation. Child’s play really. She is almost insulted by it. Eteon could build, and build, and build their toys, and Hattie could take it away, break it, faster than they could blink. Their Tower of Babel fell in the chaos that was her rage.
She almost pities Professor Andreiko. To have one’s life work destroyed in a matter of mere days is a special torment, regardless of the intent of the work. She doesn’t question if he’s alive. If he is, Eteon is skinning him alive. If he isn’t, the better. Who knows what other monstrosities he could devise if left alive? For now, he is just another number. Another casualty. Eteon, Andreiko, Hobbs, Harriet “Hattie” Shaw is a whirlwind upending and ruining their lives.
Her fingertips brush the hilt, and if she stretches them, she can fully grab the handle. It’s loaded. Always loaded, always ready, someone said a lifetime ago. It sounds too much like Brix—too much like Lore for her liking, so she uses her other hand to grab the beer bottle next to her and takes a swing. It’s all terribly juvenile, if she’s being honest.
But there’s no one here. She can take her time staring at the constellations that gleam and glisten above her like diamonds on a wealthy woman’s neck. It’s a sight she doesn’t allow herself to get used to. The alcohol isn’t enough to get her drunk—maybe a little tipsy and a little sick—but the painkillers are making everything sway in a way that reminds her that none of this is real. She will be in London by the end of the week, staring down either a resignation or a promotion. Luke will be here, where he belongs, with Hattie as nothing more than a painful, agonizing, beautiful memory of what he lost.
Something cold touches her temple. It takes a second too long for her to realize what it is, and when she does, she is slow in lowering her hand. It falls into her lap, as much of a death sentence as it is against her head. But she can’t bring herself to discard it. Not yet.
“That better not be what I fucking think it is,” says a voice behind her.
She takes another swing of beer before turning to face the newcomer. Except he’s gone by the time she does, already seated next to her. He doesn’t reach for the gun. Only the bottle. He examines the label.
“Really, Hatts, really? Cheap beer?” He sets it between them. It’s a small barrier. “You’re better than that.”
“It’s not like I can get champagne here,” she retorts.
She knows because she checked. The closest liquor store with anything remotely good is an hour away, and Hattie doesn't have a vehicle or money yet.
Deckard cracks a smile. “You always did have expensive tastes.”
They fall into a tense but familiar silence. The wind rustles the tall grass. Goosebumps rise and fall like the waves crashing in the distance. She almost forgets why it is she’s out here—why Deckard is here instead of sleeping like she left him. Despite Sofia’s offer to share a room with her, kicking Luke and Jonah into a room together, Hattie took to sharing with Deckard. An unfamiliar house, in an unfamiliar country, with no back-up, there is only so much Hattie can put up with in the span of a day. Deckard is taking it much better than her. After all, he isn’t the one who failed his mission. It was Hattie.
Poor, stupid Harriet Shaw who needs her big brothers to get her out of trouble again. Her only consolation is that Owen nor her father are here to witness her failings. She doesn’t know what she’d have done if it was Owen who came after her. Punch him in the face most likely. Shoot him almost certainly. If it’d been her father—
She cuts the thought off. Papa Shaw is a special hell that she’s too fatigued to consider.
But it’s Deckard sitting here.
Chaotic, ruthless Deckard who cares too much for his kid sister. It’s comforting in a way that isn’t sisterly or brotherly but parentally. He raised her and Owen when their mother wasn’t around, protected her from their father when shit when downstream. If Deckard had been her father, if they hadn’t been dealt such a terrible hand from birth, none of this would have happened. Lore, Eteon, the Hobbs, none of it. But their mother was weak and in love, and Hattie and Owen and Deckard, and now the Hobbs, paid the price.
She wants to laugh but she fears she’ll vomit instead.
“I think I love him,” she tells Deckard when the wind is blowing past her. It carries her confession off into the waters.
Idly, she wonders if they’ll reach him. If they’ll carry him to a better place, a peaceful place, like she was never able to. Hattie knows that if she said those words to him then, if she had asked him to stay instead of turning him away, if she was just a tad bit more courageous and daring, he’d still be alive. Perhaps she’d have given him what he always wanted, what he craved so desperately that he carved it into her flesh and bones and soul every time they fucked. She remembers the way he cradled her in the aftermath when he thought she was asleep. The tenderness in which he touched her in the halls, in the locker room, in the meetings. The look in his eyes when she returned from a successful mission. She might have even been happy with him. There are so many times she might’ve been, could’ve been, should’ve been happy. She nurses the knowledge, the regret.
She doesn’t feel Deckard’s arm around her until he’s pulling her next to him. Her head falls against his chest. It’s so familiar a motion that it makes her want to weep at the injustice of it all. But she’s a Shaw so all she does is stare into the night and focus on the anger kindling inside her chest. It’s not for Deckard. Never for him. Not even for herself. It’s for Eteon, for Owen, for Magdalene, for her father, for everyone and anyone who had ever hurt them.
“I’m sorry,” is all Deckard can say.
What else can he say, Hattie wonders. What words are there to comfort her when his own hatred is lodged between his teeth, dripping from his tongue like fire and rain? Hattie’s mindful of the pain in her ribs and the gun in her lap as she curls into Deckard.
Somewhere in the recesses of the little lump that is her heart, she finds the courage to tell him what she always wanted to, what she’s been dying to.
“I never hated you for what you did.”
He tenses against her.
“I hated you because I thought you turned your back on everything we worked for, everything you—we—stood for. I thought you abandoned us—abandoned me,” Hattie takes a deep breath to stop from trembling. “But I never hated you for him.”
Deckard doesn’t say anything. With the way his heart’s hammering in his chest, Hattie doubts he can. Together, they sit and watch the stars. The gun never moves, but it’s lighter than it was.
Neither notice Luke watching from afar.