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Tuesday, October 29th, 2013 09:03 pm
Title: You don't have to (but I don't mind if you do)
Summary: Three kisses that Mako Mori and Raleigh Becket did not share, and one they did
Content notes: Warning for a badly named Jaeger, you know the one


1.

Raleigh ejects from the Jaeger because even though Mako is unconscious, there's an echo of her in his mind. This echo disapproves of him trying to make a sacrifice after she had just seen her father sacrifice himself, and how dare he take the choice of whether to eject from her -

He drifts into unconsciousness soon after himself, and wakes to the full force of Mako actually awake and thinking at him don't die don't die don't die

He breaks into that litany by hugging her back. "You're crushing me," he tells her, as if he isn't doing the same, as if he doesn't want to hold her tight and never let her go.

Mako responds by taking his face between her hands, as her feelings of relief triumph happiness safe wash over him, and he is caught up in the giddy euphoria and the warmth that is in her eyes.

He could kiss her. She could kiss him. They really could.

But even though it's a moment of triumph for the both of them, Raleigh was there the moment Mako Mori's heart cracked as her father sacrificed himself together with Chuck. He knows those wounds will take a while to heal.

So he presses his forehead against hers and lets Mako choose whether she wants to close the distance between them. She leans right back against him, but doesn't kiss him.

The feelings of thanks that fills the Drift between them is entirely worth it.


2.

Raleigh never thought he'd say this, but he's all partied out.

The party that they had at the Hong Kong Shatterdome was great, celebrating with people they knew under a War Clock that had been stopped for good. Then they'd been the party organised by the SOBs that had closed down the Shatterdomes, and Raleigh had only called it a party because it said so on the invite.

After that everyone else had sent invites, eager to get the Jaeger pilots that won the war as their VIPs. Hansen did the best to turn down most of the invites, but publicity was publicity. Raleigh wasn't fool enough to think that the PPDC ran on the drive of the technicians, and if attending a few more parties meant that Mako could get to work on a brand new Jaeger, he'd do it. Sure, he'd nurse his drink and play the dumb blonde act - smile and wave and give a sound bite or two. At least he was putting in an appearance.

But Mako didn't think in the same way that Raleigh did. She was stunning in her blue dress, but she moved with an awkwardness that Raleigh never saw even when she was juggling an entire toolbox and several blueprints. Each time a camera flashed, she would duck her head, as she wanted to turn away but thought the better of it.

Raleigh didn't need the Drift to know why - he had been exposed to the life of a celebrity Jaeger pilot, filled with camera flashes and endless interviews. Mako had always been on the other side of that screen, watching and waiting for her turn. She had rehearsed for an entirely different enemy than the press.

He watched her avoid two more reporters, before he took matters into his own hands.

"Hey, give me a moment with my partner, will ya?" Raleigh told Tom, Dick and Harry, and smiled and smiled as he led Mako alway by her elbow. He was still smiling when Mako cast him a questioning look, though he knew that Mako would see right through that smile and know it was empty of the answers she wanted. He was still smiling when he left the carpetted area. But when he dragged Mako into a full out run, that was when he truly began grinning.

"Raleigh. Raleigh!" Mako tugged on his hand to get him to stop. He used the momentum of their dash to spin her around the corner before he actually stopped. She adjusted one strap that had slipped down her heel, and wobbled to an upright position. "What was that about?" She frowned at him, which Raleigh found cute. Most of her technical team would say it was piss your pants scary.

"Us ditching a party." Raleigh stuck his hands in his pockets, tried for the cool that had fooled many reporters. "Unless you want to go back there?"

Mako saw right through it. She always saw right through him. "No. You should have given me more warning."

"Then we wouldn't have made such a clean getway. What did you need more time for?"

"Changing my shoes. These heels are not suitable for running in."

"Suppose not. But they're nice shoes." They were. Raleigh didn't have to stoop to see that Mako's eyes were glittering with amusement and relief.

"Thank you," she said. She had nice perfume too, but if Raleigh started listing everything that was great about Mako Mori, he'd never stop. "So where are we going now, Mr Becket?"

"I dunno. I didn't think much beyond our great escape."

"And thank you for that too." Her voice was softer now; he had to lean in to hear her. This close, he could see her worrying her lower lip.

This was almost like bobbing on the escape pod in the Pacific Ocean, where Mako had been grateful when Raleigh was just being himself. This was almost like being back in the Pacific Ocean, including the fact that Raleigh really wanted to kiss her. Celebrating the death of the Kaiju with a kiss sounded much better than any party.

"You don't have to," he found himself blurting out, and wasn't sure whether he was referring to the thanks or the kiss.

But the moment was gone. Mako Mori stepped away to kick off her heels, unaware of the struggle that had been going on in Raleigh's mind.

"Let's find a bar," she said, heels dangling from one hand.

"Let's." He offered his arm to her, and they walked off arm in arm into the night.


3.

From Mako he had heard nothing. He only knew that there were times when she stepped aside to take phone calls that left her frowning and quiet after. It was Tendo who told Raleigh everything over a game of table soccer.

"They're thinking of closing down the Hong Kong Shatterdome," Tendo said, as he slot the ball into the table.

Raleigh was so stunned by this revelation that he completely missed Tendo taking the opening shot. "What? Didn't they already shut down the other Shatterdomes?"

The ball bounced off one of the players controlled by Raleigh, and Tendo took advantage of Raleigh completely not caring about the controls to sink a shot into the goal. "That's right. But there aren't any more Jaegers since you blew Gipsy Danger up. So they want to shut down the Hong Kong Shatterdome."

"We'll be building another Jaeger." The world absolutely had to. What if the aliens managed to open the portal again to send more Kaiju? Hadn't they seen how effective the Jaegers had been against the Kaiju?

"Tell that to the authorities," said Tendo, and held out his hand for the ball that was spinning in Raleigh's goal.

That had been a few days ago. Now, as Mako ran down the hall towards Raleigh he saw none of the worry that followed a phone call, nor the disappointment Raleigh had felt when he heard that the Shatterdome might be closed.

Her mad dash was all the warning Raleigh had before Mako launched himself at him. He opened his arms to catch her, but she was still a grown twenty something woman and not as small and light as Tendo's brat. The force of her sent them spinning around. "Woah woah, Mako! What is it?"

"They're keeping the Shatterdome open!" she declared, face open and smiling. For once, she was completely happy. There were no shadows caused by her Drift partner or Stacker or idiot reporters on her face. She looked like she was about to kiss him.

Then Mako set her two feet back down on the ground again. "Now we just have to get the funding to build a new Jaeger," she said.

"Always thinking ahead," Raleigh had to gripe, even as he admired her sense of purpose. To tease her even more, he flicked her on the nose. "So when were you going to tell me that the Shatterdome was actually in danger of closing?"

The contrite look on her face was almost enough to make up for missing out on a kiss. Almost.


Finally

It's Mako who kisses him.

It's a kiss that comes completely out of the blue, when they're discussing blueprints for their new Jaeger. Raleigh had been ribbing Mako about giving him a sword on his side as well when she had stood up, deliberately stepped around the table, and kissed him.

It's a nice kiss too. Open-mouthed and as sweet as the Pocky that Raleigh brought for them to share. Lasts for a pretty long time.

It's not long enough for Raleigh to forget his question when they break apart. "What was that about?"

Mako smiles, fingers lightly brushing his temple. "Nothing special. It's just that we're sitting together, working on building our very own Jaeger."

"That's something to celebrate," Raleigh agrees, and pulls her in for another kiss.