|Laylah (laylah) wrote in het_challenge,|
@ 2008-05-16 20:07:00
|Entry tags:||a: laylah, f: digital devil saga, r: reversathon, recipient: lindenleaves|
"Time Enough," Digital Devil Saga, David/Jenna
Title: Time Enough
Fandom: Digital Devil Saga
Request: David/Jenna – Rain, deadlines, and how the two of them hate being beholden to anyone. Things lost and true.
A/N: I'm sorry you had to wait so long for this! I didn't realize until the last minute that you would need somebody to pinch-hit for you. I hope you like this despite the belated-ness. ^^;
Jenna keeps the blinds down in the office when she works. It isn't necessary -- to the best of anyone's knowledge, the waves causing the syndrome are delicate, like ultraviolet, and the thickness of window-glass is enough to keep the corruption out. She claims she does it because the glare hurts her eyes, that the cold fluorescent of their workspace is easier for her to take. David suspects that it is, in all honesty, unwillingness to face the enemy.
He doesn’t blame her, even if she's more likely to turn the anger outward than he is. When he gets up in the mornings and feels carefully for new stiffness in his limbs, prays that he'll still keep full range of motion a little longer, the sunlight creeping in around the edges of the blinds feels like the worst kind of unwelcome guest.
Listen to him, superstitious, making the sun into a god. A spiteful child-god with nothing better to do than poke the anthill of humanity and watch people scurry.
Jenna sighs, and David looks up from his monitor just as the screensaver flickers on, protein models spinning slowly across the display. She's massaging her temples, not watching the waveform scroll across her own monitor. The pattern's familiar enough. The Angel Frequency, it's called now. Margot Cuvier described the syndrome and suggested the theory of a radiation cause, but Jenna Angel was the one to find the source itself, to isolate the waveform and describe it.
"Time for a coffee break?" David asks.
"I need to get through this," Jenna says automatically, too quickly to have really thought about the reply. "There's corruption creeping into the analysis already. In another few hours I'll have to wipe the drive again and --" The scrolling on her screen stops, green curves frozen with one of the wave's highest peaks just past the zero point, and then the image breaks up, searingly bright vertical lines streaking the entire display.
"Damn it," Jenna says, reaching for the CPU, holding down the power button until the tower shuts down with a whine. "I suppose I have time now. Just give me a minute to set this thing up to reformat."
"Of course," David says. He gets up, walks over to the window -- his legs are willing to move with only a little awkwardness -- and peers out beyond the shade. The lab complex has a courtyard in the center, glass-roofed now that sunlight has become a more pressing safety risk than it used to be, but if it's still as bright as it was this morning, Jenna won't want to go out even there.
They're in luck, though, or the spiteful god has grown bored with them for the moment -- there's cloud cover, thick and dark enough that it'll probably rain soon, heavy enough that they might be able to get away with leaving the complex entirely for a few minutes. David tries to avoid doing that too often -- nobody's sure yet how harmful additional exposure will be, but it seems like it can't help any. And Jenna's still healthy, of course, and he prays she'll stay that way. But he misses fresh air, when they've been in here for too long; it's a hell of a thing to give up.
So when the whirring of startup and the keystroke clicks of overriding the booting process are done, he turns back to Jenna and suggests, "We should go outside for a little while, since it's," he smiles wryly, "nice enough right now."
She looks worried for a moment, a little crease pulling her brows inward -- but she won't coddle him, never has. It's one of the reasons they get along. "If you're sure," is all she says. "I suppose it might do me some good to go further than the cafeteria for once." She picks up her coat and her ID badge, takes one last look at the computer to make sure the reformat is working, and they go.
Jenna's natural stride is brisk, purposeful; she moves as though she has someplace important to be even when she's simply walking to the kitchen to put coffee on in the morning. David dreads the day, and it's coming sooner than he wants to admit, when he'll have to ask her to slow down so he can keep up. The damn syndrome hurts his pride almost as much as his joints, some days.
They're quiet in the elevator, quiet in the lobby downstairs, though Jenna fidgets with her badge like her fingers need something to dismantle. David waits until the glass front doors have whispered shut behind them -- and god, the air smells of rain, almost clean, almost enough for hope -- before he takes a deep breath and asks, "Would it help to talk it out?" Their fields are different; he's studying how the syndrome works on the body's cells, and she's trying to determine what exactly makes the frequency so volatile. Sometimes, though, that works to their advantage, lets them offer suggestions the other hadn't thought of.
"It's getting faster," Jenna says. She frowns, looking toward the dark horizon. Dry grass crunches under her feet. "It shouldn't be, but it is."
"The frequency?" David asks. There's a low rumble in the distance that may be thunder. It's out of season, but the seasons don't make any more sense than anything else lately.
Jenna shakes her head. "It's as if I'm racing against it, every time I load the data onto my machine. How much can I learn about it before it starts to cause those system crashes? Before it sabotages my diagnostic tools completely? And I'm getting faster, learning what to ignore, where to focus --" she runs her hand through her hair, tugging at it, right at the base of her skull -- "but it's getting faster, too. My window of time to study it keeps getting shorter. It's like it's learning, ridiculous as that sounds. I'm loading the data anew each time onto a reformatted drive, but it's like -- it's like somehow the wave is communicating with itself, learning wariness. Like it has a -- a hive mind, a sentience. It sounds ridiculous."
"Deep breaths," David says. He rests his hand on her shoulder. She doesn't shrug him off, so she's not as frustrated as she could be. "This thing's going to make religious maniacs out of all of us if we're not careful." A sharp wind, rain-scented, sweeps across the campus, and David shivers.
"Its has you superstitious, too, does it?" Jenna says, and if her smile is tight around the corners, well, it's still a start.
"It does feel a bit like a plague," David says. "The work of a god who thinks pillars of salt solve all your problems. And this frequency you've found is the sound of him cursing us." She opens her mouth and he says, "I know -- it's too fast to be anywhere near a sound frequency. I pay attention when you talk about your work. I'm just indulging a little fanciful metaphor." Thunder growls again, and David looks up. "With meteorological assistance, even."
Jenna takes his hand; for a moment his knuckles won't cooperate, before their fingers fold together. "Do me a favor and find a metaphor with more weaknesses," she says. "I want to defeat this thing."
"We will," David says. He smiles. "You're too smart for some outdated mythological construct to best you."
"Thank you," Jenna says. Her smile is a little easier, less taut. The first of the rain hisses down around them, pattering against the dry grass, their coats, their skin. "I only -- I hate feeling like I have so little time."
Raindrops cling to her eyelashes; water drips down the back of his collar. "Don't fret," he says. "you have time enough. You already have it on the run, don't you?"
"Time enough for you?" Jenna says. "That's -- that's what frightens me most."
David nods. "My prognosis is as good as possible, in the circumstances. And I'm stubborn. I'll hold on." He leans down to kiss her, and her mouth tastes of sweet water; the rain comes down harder, drenching them both, but she kisses back instead of pulling away.