But The River Is So Wide
“Well I would swim but the river is so wide
And I’m scared I won’t make it to the other side
Well God knows I’ve failed but He knows that I’ve tried
I long for something that’s safe and warm
But all I have is all that is gone
I’m as helpless and as hopeless as a feather on the Clyde.”
Passenger, “Feather on the Clyde”
She knows this: it can’t go on like this between the two of them.
She knows this, too: there’s no way she can end it without at least one of them losing even more than just their dignity.
And yet she’s here, standing in front of his quarters, her hand raised to knock and tell him that they need to call it quits or something really bad is gonna happen. They both know it, have known it ever since that fucked up mission she lost three quarters of her Spartans, the one she ended up in his quarters after for something entirely else than talking for the first time. They both know it has to stop, and yet she kept showing up at his quarters after bad missions and he kept showing up at hers after losing ships and pilots and crews. After another harrowing ONI call.
They never talk when they show up at each other’s doorsteps, not anymore but that’s not her problem. They’ve never been great talkers, the both of them, and until a few months ago, they hadn’t needed a great many words to understand each other in the first place. They were never very physical with each other, either but that doesn’t mean that the sex isn’t great because let’s face it, it actually is. Full of regret and pain and guilt but nothing to turn up your nose at.
She honestly never thought that someone like Tom could be that passionate, that hungry, that tender. She always thought Tom was all about moderation, subtlety, caution, and she still finds herself surprised when he’s the one to initiate it one way or the other. And holy shit, does she love it when he does that. That one really surprised her but hell, she can’t get enough of Tom taking command before relinquishing it to her in the exact right moment. She loves a whole lotta things about sleeping with Tom, if she’s honest with herself.
And that’s why they can’t go on like this. It’s not the fact that they’ve been seen – Gabriel Thorne is probably the last guy who’d report them – it’s not the fact that it’s messing with their work routine because it isn’t, it’s that it’s breaking her heart.
Some people, they say that where other people have a heart that can be broken, Spartans have a core of dark matter, fueling them with energy and sucking away every last bit of emotion. Some people are fucking idiots. And she really just fucking needs to knock on that door and be done with it.
It’s just that it may not wise to break up with a Spartan, especially if that Spartan happens to be Sarah Palmer but that it’s not exceptionally smart to break up with an UNSC naval captain, either. Especially if that captain happens to be Thomas Lasky. Especially if it’s more than just sex, at least for one party involved. And that party is her, and she needs to get over it as fast as she can, and so she finally raises her first one last time and knocks on the door to Tom’s stateroom.
At first, nothing happens, and she nearly turns on her heels but she’s a Spartan, and Spartans don’t give up without even trying, and that’s why she’s still there when his door opens. The first thing she thinks when she sees him is that he looks tired. Not “just woken up tired” or “having worked a thirty-hours shift” tired. Tired as if he hasn’t slept in days, as if he’s carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders, as if he’s been doing it for thirty years. Lately, he’s always looking like that when he got another call from Osman.
By now she’s ready to shoot the bitch herself, just to make it end.
He’s still standing there, still looking tired, and her resolve crumbles like a killed Promethean. All she gets out is a feeble, “Hey.”
And then he makes it all worse by running a hand through his hair and giving her a relieved little smile, saying, “Just the person I was looking for. Come on in.”
She shouldn’t. She shouldn’t take up his offer because she’ll inevitably end up kissing him and gently pushing him towards his bed and hating herself for enjoying it so damn much all the way until he’s asleep and she slips out of his stateroom, like she’s been doing for way too many weeks now. She doesn’t even hesitate to follow him inside.
His quarters look as messy as he looks tired, and that’s when she really starts to get worried. They’ve been hunting M’dama and Halsey all over the galaxy, while Osman is slowly tightening the thumbscrews, and up to now he managed to stay on top of it, stayed professional, determined, focused. This… isn’t Tom, or at least not the Tom she knows. They really do have a problem.
Which is, come to think of it, why this is the exactly wrong moment to break up whatever weird fuckbuddies thing they have going on and exactly why she has to do it now. When she takes a deep breath and he looks at her, only mild curiosity in his eyes, she thinks that for a moment, someone must have filled her lungs with lead. She goes through with it anyway. “Tom… we need to talk.”
His face falls, curiosity being replaced piece by piece with dread, disappointment, resignation. It breaks her heart and it’s a dirty job but it needs to get done. And ever since there have been Spartans, getting dirty jobs done was their sole purpose in life. She squares her shoulders, setting out for another one. Just a job, she tells herself, just another dirty job. She can do that, can’t she?