WHO: Ava & Diego WHEN: March 25 & 26 WHERE: Naboo & the ship WHAT: A series of text messages WARNINGS: Death mentions as usual.
A full week had passed since Klaus had tricked Ava and Diego into talking. While they were still on the ship, Diego had looked for Ava but otherwise made no attempt to contact her. Even now, he still didn't know how to handle that particular confession.
He hated that she'd said it, really. Even if she'd felt as much, he was selfish enough in nature to wish she'd kept that to herself, to not place it on him, expect him to deal with the enormity of it all. He'd panicked when she'd used the word like not that long before, the word heavy and unfamiliar in such a context. To double down and so quickly?
No, Diego wasn't ready, and he had said as much. But he went from seeing her on a regular basis to not at all. Now he was saddled with the additional knowledge that she was staring down the idea that she might disappear. (He remained optimistic, without reason, other than he couldn't accept the alternative.)
But a week was long enough and he hated the ever growing distance. He pulled out his phone, and typed out a message.
Hey. Can we talk?
It wasn't much, but it was something.
Shoving her feelings back in the box was a bit more difficult of a task than Ava expected. But she endured this long without needing anybody, and was ready to go right back to that lifestyle. She’d kept her phone on mute, unwilling to be easily accessible to anyone, and didn’t realize she even had a message until a few hours later.
And when she did, she grit her teeth, squashing the initial flutter of excitement she felt upon seeing Diego’s name on her screen, even before she read the message to go with it. A message that could mean anything, and as her anxiety flared up, she had no desire to find out what he had to say. She should have blocked the number. She should have deleted all the messages sent between them, and instead kept catching herself scrolling through them late at night when she couldn’t get to sleep. That seemed to be when she missed him most. But right now, during the day, she could tell herself she was strong enough to ignore him. So she did, backspacing on a few failed attempts at a reply she’d been worrying over for several minutes, hiding her phone under her mattress so she couldn’t change her mind so easily.
It was evening before Diego followed-up, having spent too much time that day staring at his phone, hoping to see a reply. Pathetic. That's what that was. And stupid. If she didn't want to talk to him, he should move on.
Still, even as reason told him that, he sent one more message. Guess not. If you change your mind, let me know.
That was it. That's all he was going to say because he was being ridiculous about all of this. Even so, he started to type out the words I miss you. They lingered on his screen for a good two minutes before he deleted them again. Right. He needed to move on.
She couldn’t sleep. Which wasn’t different from most other nights. The spasms of pain, the way her limbs kept twitching, the dread of blinking out of existence if she drifted off for too long. But also the dumb loneliness she kept denying.
Without lifting her head from her pillow, Ava reached through her mattress, felt around for her phone, phased it back through the bed to stare at the screen. Another message. She didn’t know whether she was surprised or not. She didn’t know if she was more annoyed at the follow up or if…
no. she typed out, finger hovering over the send button. That’d end it. End everything. Wasn’t it already over anyway? Was there any advantage to dragging this out, other than causing herself more pain?
But she deleted it. Typed it again. Deleted.
Ava rolled over in bed, tried closing her eyes, but knew it was pointless. She definitely wasn’t getting any sleep now.
fuck off she tried. leave me alone you assho she couldn’t even finish that one, knowing it wasn’t fair. Even if none of this felt fair. She doubted he was the one hurting anyway. He made it more than clear that he wanted nothing to do with her. (Hadn’t he?)
Ava groaned, wished she could not care as much as she told herself she didn’t. Wished she wasn’t falling for this obvious trap. Even if she couldn’t figure out what the hell he could possibly want out of any of this.
why she finally typed, hit send, glaring at the phone as if it betrayed her for actually showing the message as sent.
The message notification popped up and Diego was almost afraid to look. Almost. Which was absolutely ridiculous, he told himself, and so he looked. This time the words he typed up were sent almost instantly, before he had a chance to talk himself out of it.
I miss you.
Based on the time of night she hadn’t expected that quick of a response, figured he was sleeping just fine without her mumbling nonsense at him. And definitely not that response. Ava bit down on her lip, uncertain. It was a trap. Even if she couldn’t rationally come up with an answer to what.
She missed him too, felt the weight of it in the absence of his warmth against her, didn’t even know how to respond. Everything she felt and said leading up to this had been wrong. And the overthinking, the chasing herself in circles, ate away at the minutes. Was a lack of reply even worse?
Ava hesitated over each letter. same
Then because she wasn’t sure if that fully conveyed much, added :( at the end before she could stop herself.
Fuck, she was pathetic.
He grinned at the sad face. She didn't hate him then. At least not completely. He stared at his phone, trying to work out what to say next. Probably a normal person might apologize, but Diego wasn't normal and he was incredibly stubborn. Plus he was now pretending that they could pretend that the very last bit of that conversation never happened.
That was healthy.
He was also shit at small talk, and had no real desire to engage in it either. Which left approximately nothing to say because he wasn't addressing the one thing he couldn't stop thinking about, unless he was rock climbing. I went rock climbing. Genius, Diego. Fucking genius.
She had noticed. Read the entire conversation between him and the pretty blonde farm girl. It wasn’t that she was specifically looking for comments from him, just to know he was still... well, obviously he was alive. But around. Or whatever.
But lurking through other people’s conversations was how she had got into contact with Kitty, pushing herself despite her trust issues, knowing she needed to move on with her life as well. Or at least do whatever she could to prolong it. Just out of spite, it felt like. Even if it didn’t particularly feel like anyone else cared one way or another.
Ava sighed. This was what he wanted to talk about? ok. she sent. Didn’t want him to think she cared either way what he went and did with other women. It wasn’t like she had any place to be jealous.
He frowned at his phone, not wanting to have that sort of boring conversation, but not knowing what else to talk about if not the thing he wasn't talking about. So maybe he was just going to have to talk about it.
About fifteen minutes went by before he worked up the courage to say, You freaked me out. He hit send. And then tossed his phone to the side, pretending like he wasn't waiting for a response. There was no one there to even notice this act, it was all for himself. This was why he avoided people. And feelings. It was all nonsense.
She had already apologized, and he had pulled away. Ava didn’t feel like apologizing again. Didn’t want to feel even worse.
whatever she sent after a long while. Definitely feeling worse. i won’t make that fucking she backspaced the swearing out, then added it right back in with a small snarl. mistake again.
There. Now he could lay off her.
Diego had all but given up on getting a response when her messages came back to him. He raised his brow, but decided it was probably a fair response. Only he didn't know what to say back.
Leaning back into the pillows, he closed his eyes, phone still in his hand. The past week had sucked, no matter how much he tried to convince himself he was better off now. And Klaus, telling him it was boring to avoid all emotions. He'd about told his brother to go fuck himself, but had stopped just shy. He wasn't mad at Klaus. He wasn't mad at Ava either. He was mad at the world and at himself for not being able to handle life like a normal human being.
Klaus had been right about that though. He had weird emotional problems. And they were all emotional invalids. So why not be angry at his dead father, as well?
Ava wanted to yell. At something, the pent up anger threatening to boil over. But it was late at night, her roommate sleeping. And he wasn’t even there. And she was more upset at the fact he wasn’t there than the fact she couldn’t even yell at him properly. Which made her even more frustrated. This conversation was getting nowhere and she was tired. She was sad. She was losing him again without even having him back, apparently without even having him in the first place.
it’s fine. i rather have known now than find out later that you’re more freaked out by the idea of me having feelings than that i was dying.
She read it over a few times after she sent it, fluctuating between feeling justified in her interpretation of his reaction, and regretting putting it out there. It felt manipulative to bring up, but then again the fact she did in the first place was because she’d been pushed into it. But if he wanted to be sorry, she was going to make him know exactly why she’d been so hurt. She couldn’t just accept the apology and pretend none of this happened, as much as she’d prefer that it hadn’t.
i don’t know what you even want from me
What the fuck? His replies came fast and furious, one text message after another.
That's not true. But you said there were people who could try and help? They had better help. They're GOING to help. You're not going to die or disappear, Ava. You can't just fucking disappear. But you're not going to. They'll figure something out.
He didn't know who they were, but Diego was certain that someone somewhere would figure it out because there was not an alternative ending he was willing to accept. As to what he wanted?
I can't say it back. He couldn't even hear it, apparently. But that needed to be said. And maybe he needed to elaborate more on everything he'd started to say a week ago, or maybe he needed to never mention any of it again. He didn't know.
Doesn't mean I don't want to be with you though. It took him a moment to even type the words, and another couple minutes to send the text. If she'd sent anything in the meantime he probably would have lost his nerve.
Ava withdrew from the phone, not sure how to take the flood of messages, struggling to process the intent behind them more than the words themselves. Was he invalidating her fears? Trying to cheer her up? In denial of the possibility? If they were on better terms at the moment, she’d consider informing him about her meeting up with Kitty, the hand holding that helped keep her tangible even if only during the contact, and that Kitty had a friend that was familiar enough with solving phasing problems that she was recruiting.
But with so little information on how any of this was going to move forward or even a possible timeframe, Ava wasn’t willing to fully commit herself to the hope there was a solution yet either. And she felt like it was no longer any of his business, how she was or what she was doing. Those were things she was supposed to take care of herself, even if she was doing a terrible job at it.
Ava closed her eyes, ignoring the next notification, and the next. She missed how much safer she felt with him around. Until her constant anticipation of rejection made him the thing she was now afraid of.
It took her about another hour of fretting, head buried under her pillow, blanket kicked completely off the bed, before she was back staring at her phone with tired achey eyes, scrolling through, rereading everything, still not making sense out of something that seemed like it was supposed to be obvious, wanting to fix things but uncertain if there was much left to salvage.
i never asked you to
She never thought anyone would. Not just because of her condition. But her. She was difficult, the scientists had always told her as such. Uncooperative. Defiant. Lucky they’d given her so many chances.
but i don’t want to feel awful for finally being happy for once
Making her happy wasn’t his responsibility or anything, she knew.
i don’t need help feeling worse about myself
By the time she had responded, Diego had fallen asleep and yet the notification woke him back up anyway. He read her words several times, finally replying sleepily. Klaus says I'm an emotional invalid.
He hesitated a moment then hit send, dropping his phone to the spot next to him as his head hit the pillow again. Within a minute, he was asleep again. If she replied, he could get it in the morning.
She hadn’t even talked to Klaus since any of this. Reaching out to him seemed… invasive of whatever brotherly bond they had. And she wasn’t at all interested in causing more tension there. She wasn’t interested in coming off like she was playing both sides of the situation, trying to gain leverage she had no right to.
i can’t sleep she sent back, slightly hopeful he’d pick up on the request she was making.
And she tried to keep herself from continuously checking, eventually knocking her phone to the floor, satisfied to hear the screen crack.
It was half past five when Diego woke up, a creature of habit even in space, apparently. It took a moment for the conversation from the night before to re-enter his mind, but once it did, he reached for his phone immediately.
He missed a chance to see her. Maybe his best chance to see her. Sending a message back immediately he wrote, Sorry. Fell asleep. He thought about adding something about hoping she did too, but that seemed cheesy.
He laid in bed, awake, staring at the ceiling. What the hell was he going to do about any of this? What did he even want? Something told him he needed to get that sorted quickly, but Diego wasn't one to take any of this fast.
His message went unread, her phone having lost its charge through the night without having been plugged in. Unaware of her own failure, Ava glared at it from her pillow, wanting to check the time but not wanting to move. Everything hurt, and she groaned, stuck between exhaustion and restless frustration, a desire to be anywhere but twitching in her bed when there was a whole beautiful fucking planet out there that she could be enjoying if she wasn’t everything she was. But knowing even on a good day she had limited motivation, Ava resigned herself to writing the entire day off before it even began.
Ava finally pushed herself out of bed, stepped through her phone on the floor without bothering to pick it up, because maybe she really didn’t want to know the time, and into the restroom. If nothing else, she needed to brush her teeth, and it took a lot longer than usual, her focus scrambled, the toothbrush going through her face more often than not. Ava gave a halfhearted attempt at combing her fingers through the tangles in her hair, and gave up almost immediately, forehead resting against the mirror as she calmed down. It felt like too much effort to fight through, and it wasn’t like she was going anywhere anyway. Like the rest of her problems, she decided to just push it off to some undefined ‘later.’
Or maybe she could check out if there was a salon onboard. Ava snorted. It’d take reservations and knowing what she wanted and having to communicate that to a… robot, which would be less frustrating to put up with than an actual person. Except the robot was probably not sophisticated enough to know how to deal with her particular problem. She’d likely either glitch it out or end up with some hack job. Neither seemed all that appealing.
Picking up her phone off the floor to check if Diego had ever written back the time, Ava finally realized that it was dead. And she debated on just leaving it that way, because that at least prevented her from sending anymore stupid sad face emojis, or being the responsible adult she wasn’t and charging it.
Ava plugged it in, chewing at her thumb nail while waiting for it to kick back on.
Maybe she was actually sleeping, Diego thought, as the minutes turned to hours. He knew she needed to. And if he went looking for her, and she was sleeping, he didn't want to risk waking her up.
But the idea was in his head, and he boarded the ship, thinking he'd check for her there first, getting past customs or whatever it was on this alien planet, and heading to her room, knowing the number because she'd given it to him.
He paused at the door, debating with himself for some time before finally knocking. It seemed so antiquated, knocking, but Diego preferred old school even if there was probably some button he could press that would put his holographic form in front of her. He didn't even look, annoyed at even the idea of it.
And then he knocked again, and said her name. "Ava, it's me… If you're in there, answer the door?"
And then he waited debating on how much time he should give it before he left. For all he knew, she wasn't even in there at all.
Ava tensed at the knocking, automatically suspicious of whatever might be on the other side of the door. Nobody is after you she had to firmly remind herself, but didn’t actually relax until she heard Diego’s voice, both surprised and not. Who else would come looking for her? She sat frozen for a moment, still holding her phone as it tried to make it to the required few percent to boot up, staring at the fine cracks radiating from the corner of the screen. Another stupid thing she didn’t know how to fix.
She wanted to see him, so badly. And that was part of the problem, wasn’t it? Her feelings that she was still wrestling to control. Ava set the phone down, walked over to the door, breathed out, and opened it just a crack to peer out at him.
And her traitorous mouth smiled even as her brows tried to furrow into an appropriate scowl. She didn’t trust herself to say anything, so she didn’t.
The door opened, and he breathed out, not realizing he had been holding his breath, not knowing how long he'd been holding it.
"Can I come in?" he asked, studying her face, noting her expression seemed at war with itself. The corners of his own mouth ticked upward.
Ava was already lost as soon as he smiled, and she bit her bottom lip, aware of how weak she was and unable to stop it. She nodded, backing up a bit from the door so that he could push it open.
She hadn’t showered for half a week, knew her hair looked for the worst from her tossing and turning through the entire sleepless night that left evidence in dark circles under her eyes. She was dressed only in her underwear and a t-shirt, one that had seen better days. And she crossed her arms over her chest, trying to look unbothered by it all. She didn’t want him to think she was this messed up in his absence. Because she had plenty of weeks like this, long before they’d even met.
“Hi,” she tried, her tone halfway between nervous and relieved.
He entered the room and closed the door in almost a single fluid motion, before stepping up to her. He could tell at once she hadn't slept much, if at all. For days, by the look of it. Even with her arms crossed, he reached for her, hesitating, waiting for permission.
They could sort everything out later, for now he was only concerned with making sure she slept.
"Hey," he smiled.
She appreciated the hesitation, the warning so she wouldn’t accidentally flinch away from how tightly strung she felt, afraid it would send the wrong message. She was supposed to be able to keep a clear mind with lack of sleep, had several missions that required extreme focus. But right now she couldn’t, relieved it was just Diego she was facing. Not an actual opponent. He wasn’t supposed to be somebody she was fighting, and she wasn’t supposed to be fighting herself just because she didn’t want to hurt him either.
Ava stepped in closer, dropping her arms so she could press against him, willing to stay just like this. He was warm. She was tired. She was sorry, but had already told herself she didn’t want to use those words again. So she tried others. “I shouldn’t have left,” she admitted quietly, even if looking back, she still couldn’t figure out what she should have done instead.
He knew if he didn't say anything she'd fall asleep right there, and he'd have been willing to let her, but experience told him she'd become more sporadic, fading in and out, making it harder to lift her into his arms.
So instead he allowed her to rest there for a minute, before guiding her to the bed. (Wasn't difficult to tell which was hers.) He climbed in with her and then held her close to him, as if he could somehow make up the distance the week had wrought. They could talk later, or maybe avoid it a while longer. For now, Ava needed sleep and Diego didn't want to be anywhere else.
Ava let herself be guided to the bed, too tired to protest, not when her eyes were already closed. She tucked her head right under Diego’s chin, knew exactly how she liked to fit up against him. It’d taken a lot of twisting and turning and readjusting the first few nights they’d slept together, finding a position that worked for both of them. But now she had no problems getting comfortable, it felt like nothing had changed at all with her leg tossed over his. Though instead of sleepily murmuring to him things that she was sure would be embarrassing if she could ever remember the next day, Ava lazily kissed Diego’s neck.
Exhausted as she was, finally releasing so much of the stress she’d been clinging onto, Ava was out in no time.