RP Asset Control Failure

He used her Name. Little of her formal documentation used her middle name; even the other members of Wisdom Teeth had only ever been able to guess at it. But she'd given it to him, back when. Back when she wasn't so tired. When rage and loss were only possibilities, weren't close enough to be real. It'd been fair, she thought. But it wasn't fair. Life wasn't fair, and so she had to help make it a little better.

Her father had known that, maybe. She'd barely known him, and missed him her whole childhood. But she'd never been far from his thoughts. There were wishes that could be made that were made irrelevant by the present. What was done, was done. There was more to be done, and there were people in the now who needed her. Who respected and trusted her. She needed to make this fair to them. They needed Hope, and she'd be there for them.

"Evan did his duties. I couldn't have asked anything else of him." Her breathing steadied. "I guess that's all that can be asked of any of us. It's all we can do for each other."

There were a million things that could be said next. There was a silence that desired words that couldn't be spoken because- because. Because had to be enough, because the reasons couldn't be allowed to remain for long lest they get in the way of work. Someday, they would be ready for all the reasons. Hope had long since determined to live that long, at least, even if she hadn't said it.

The compass needle swung until it was in a direction again. She felt it, the way she felt his lips on her hair again. This was enough, for now. There would be more, later. Not everything could be done now. And not everything could be shared. But she felt light enough to walk again, light enough to survive another day or dozen. Another soft sigh, another breeze before the storm could strike. She tilted her head up, and stood on her toes a little, and very gently kissed him on the cheek.

It'd have to be enough. It was all she had, for now. All they could have.

She stepped back, away from him, rubbing her faced with the linen bandage, mixing sweat and tear and dirt in dark streaks on her face. She felt better. She'd known she would, obviously. She always did for a while. Until he acted like a stupid bastard again, and the spiral started all over.

"Ready?" she asked, too softly for it to be an order, too confidently for it to be a question. She'd wait for the answer to be yes, because other answers would have to wait.

It was an unfortunate amalgamation of circumstance and personal reservations that left them with so little time for so many words, little time they had made the most of time after time. It wasn't good to connect in such a deep level, to care so much beyond their professional careers, this hapless sentimentality that made his chest ache when they inevitably had to return from their cozy bubble back into the harsh reality. They were the pillars of Wisdom Teeth, if they did not perform beyond any and all expectations, the entire taskforce would crumble, there was little time for honesty with yourself during work hours, and letting those thoughts seep back in while they were apart was too painful. They had to settle for brief exchanges, even if most of the time he could not even hold her in his own arms to reassure her, even if he always flew off the handle and viciously disparaged her out of fear of losing the one light guiding him, it was what they had.

It was what they could do, wasn't it?

"While we try to carry all the weight by our lonesomes, there is nothing else anyone can do." He gave her a half-hearted smirk, relieved to see her face gradually returning to her customary expression. "You ever feel tired of this little cycle we have going, love? I meant what I said earlier. We are in a collision course, two daft gits butting heads until one budges. How many more times will I have to 'exert seniority' so we don't break?" His cheeks were still warm from her kiss, his heart still hurting from their endless suffering. Why did she have to bear so much on her own? Why did she have to be so much like him? Today it was Evan, tomorrow who knew. They would live through it, one day after the other, and they would cry and mourn, then they would put a small bandage over their gaping wounds, move on, leaving it all for tomorrow.

Yet tomorrow never came.

"Yes. I am ready." Ezekiel sighed, looking deep into her eyes. "The Foundation I joined was different. There were less rules, less straitjackets and cataloguing of odd blokes as if they were objects. Bloody hell, even the Phillips was an insufferable prick back then, different times indeed." Carmichael acknowledged with a laugh. "I must be growing old to miss it so much, but nowadays it is safer behind all these rules and codes. Times change, and this old dog never learns new tricks." Unprompted, Ezekiel resumed their little walk. "I am ready. Ready to change a tad. If you can promise me you won't let them die. If you can promise me you will trust me to help just like you trust me to uplift you. Then..." A reluctant sigh left his lips. "Then my trigger is yours to pull, sunshine. Swear on the royal crown and all that dapper nonsense."
The weight could be too much, sometimes. Sometimes it seemed to press her into the ground, break her back, squeeze out anything that was Hope and leave behind an exhausted, unnameable agent. When all that was left was protocol and security measure and rule and paperwork and the Foundation - a new Foundation, one that cared too much, even when it didn't seem like it. They had their place. They were necessary. And what it took to draw the agent back into the light was the threat of hollow words, like "seniority." But he was right. It would only be so long before that meant nothing anymore. One of them would have to give in.

She was more than a little surprised when - at least nominally - it was him.

This was an act of trust. Maybe it wouldn't last - maybe on the field, he'd just do the same thing again. If she'd wanted to she could have demanded he give her his binding word, make him swear as he offered to. But that wasn't what this was about, was it? Giving her the trigger, giving her the gun. It was about a them. A future.

It also meant that no matter the circumstance, she would be the closest threat. The first focus of the Maw's Avatar. To act on this would be a sacrifice - one both of them would then be making. She understood what kind of sacrifice that was, because she'd seen it happen over and over and over again in their career. He always came back. Experiments, tests, field experience always said he would come back, but there was a lurking fear that she could never let him see. A fear that someday it would just be the Maw, and never again the man. There was always the risk that he'd be gone forever. And now there would be the same risk that she would be the one to disappear into that black expanse.

And it would be her choice. Someday, it would be a choice she had to make for her team. And that was easier. The bandages and the scars underneath were proof enough she was willing to bleed for them. For him.

"I promise." There was a rustle behind the words, though whether it was hard binding or soft emotion was impossible to say. Or maybe it was just her armor as she resumed her walk behind him, yearning to reach out, but the time for that was past. The precious moments had slipped by, and now they were back in the Foundation with all that entailed.

"Thank you."