Wake up get up wash up dress up—
Spanner hits the alarm clock with a wrench. He didn’t want to hear orders at five in the morning. It would take at least an hour for him to dissolve his mind to the state where he could follow blindly, but he doesn’t have an hour; he has thirty minutes to log in with his planned activities for the day. Sighing, he throws off the covers and stumbles into the bathroom, staring bleary-eyed at his own reflection. Mussed blond curls, dark bags beneath red lids, smears of oil still on his cheek from the night before, when he had collapsed from exhaustion after overwork.
He turns on the shower and steps into it while it is still cold, effectively rebooting his system. The shock drives him awake, all systems go, and he climbs back out not five minutes later feeling fully alive, feeling the blood hum in his veins like electricity through wires.
Sign in log in fill in fit in—
There are worse things, surely, than being stuck in this hole, but he can’t think of what they are right now. Spanner can summon no feeling besides numbness for his companions, for this atmosphere, even if Moscas are unlimitedly interesting to him. But that’s all that they have him doing down here, and he wishes there were more challenges in his life. Dead on the surface, he can hear his mind screaming underneath for something to do, anything to break the dull monotony of endless days and endless orders with an undefined purpose. He’s not sure what they’re all doing here; he knows his boss is mafia, he knows the Millefiore is up to something terrible, but he can’t see the ends to all these means. And like any engineer he wants to know the purpose behind this machine—he wants to know which of the little cogs and levers and wires he is, so he knows the inevitable conclusion to these mechanical connections.
From across the cafeteria, over his plate of bland army food and the cup of green tea, he sees Shouichi stalk in, the Cervello twins on his heels. He watches with interest, with fascination.
He thinks that Shouichi is the one with the answers here. He wishes he could take him apart and see how he works, to see if he could find the purpose written somewhere in Shouichi’s programming.
Plug in thread in send in dig in—
Spanner lets his head slump down on the desk for a moment, over the data figures blinking at him from the luminescent laptop screen. This power source hadn’t panned out either, and now he had just fried the circuitboard of his best prototype and would have to start over from scratch. He didn’t want to try again; he had been so sure that he had been on to something this time that all he could do was sit there for a moment and will himself to calm down, relax, it wasn’t the end of the world. But he was getting frustrated with not knowing, stumbling about in the dark without a clue of where he was going and what he was doing. Spanner was not a big fan of this sort of tunnel-vision mode of living.
“Hey! Spanner! No sleeping on the job!”
He raises his head and smiles at Shouichi’s disapproving frown. “I wasn’t sleeping, Shouichi. Just getting a new perspective on my work.”
“Ha. That’s a terrible excuse.” Shouichi’s frown lessens, though. “You look like you haven’t been sleeping at all, to be honest.”
“I haven’t really,” Spanner confesses. “I’m trying to get this prototype for the King Mosca upgrades finished, but it’s…it’s not working.”
“Yeah. Want me to show you what I mean?”
He swallows his pride a little when he says this; he knows Shouichi is the better engineer—it’s programmed into his genes—and Shouichi is his friend. Ergo it means nothing to ask for his help.
“Sorry, Spanner; I don’t think I can. Byakuran’s got some new assignment for me.”
“That’s okay. I can work it out on my own.”
Shouichi turns to leave. Spanner watches him go, before going back to the computer, frowning around the ever-present lollipop stick.
Once he would have agreed to come without hesitation. Once he had cared more about engineering problems than mafia politics. Once he had actually had time for Spanner.
That Byakuran must be some programmer of the human mind, Spanner thought. If he could make Shouichi change so much.
Slip up look up start up break up—
Spanner doesn’t remember hearing the alarm that morning, though he knows it must have gone off because he’s up automatically up and wandering around in the dark, tripping over the clothes he abandoned the night before. He feels the cold of the shower turning into blissful heat and sighs, leaning against the white tile with a bowed head. He’s exhausted, so exhausted, that it seems to have settled into his bones, becoming one with his original programming. The tension refuses to leave from between his shoulder blades, and he wishes more than anything in the world to get out of this place and go back to his own land, his own work, and not be tied any more to this hole by a friendship whose connections have been severed long ago. No wonder his signals no longer get through.
Still he manages to step out and wrap a towel around his waist, ignoring the ghost in the mirror that is his reflection and he traipses back into his room to retrieve some clean clothes and get about this process he now calls living.
“You’re late for work.”
The voice is harsh, cold, and he freezes. Sitting on his bed is a displeased Shouichi, frowning coldly. Hastily, Spanner bends his head.
“I apologize, Shouichi. Forgive me for oversleeping.”
Shouichi sighs, and directs his glance to the floor.
“I don’t know what’s the matter with you lately. You’re unfocused, undisciplined. You’re changing on me, Spanner.”
Spanner finds this ironic, that Shouichi can stand there and accuse him of such a thing. But he doesn’t say anything. There is nothing to say.
“Are you listening to me?” Shouichi snaps after a minute of silence which drags on and on. Spanner’s brain is trying to reboot, trying to find the necessary input and route it to Spanner’s mouth.
“Changing how?” he asks quietly.
“Didn’t I just tell you!? You weren’t listening at all, were you? See, that’s what I mean, you’re just not paying any sort of attention to anything anymore…”
But it’s not true, Spanner thought. I’m always paying attention to you, just as much as I ever was. Maybe more. Only it doesn’t seem to matter to you anymore, so the meaning has changed. But I’m still here.
“I’m still here.” he says aloud, without meaning to. Shouichi blinks, confused at the interruption.
“Well, obviously. You’re standing right there.”
Spanner shakes his head. “No. Never mind. I’m very sorry, Shouichi; I promise that I’ll try harder from now on.”
“That’s all I needed to hear.”
Shouichi walks to the door and Spanner follows him, leaving a trail of water on the carpet dark as machine oil.
“Hey, Shouichi,” Spanner says softly, wanting to hold on to some moment long past. Shouichi half-turns, glancing over his shoulder with a glance so open and curious he looks like the boy Spanner met years before. Gently, Spanner turns Shouichi’s face towards him with watery fingers and presses a kiss to his mouth.
“That still hasn’t changed, Shouichi,” he says, pulling back, watching, waiting for some signal, the necessary output.
“Get dressed, Spanner. Go back to work.”
He slams the door behind him, almost catching Spanner in the face as water drips from his hair and runs down his face past eyes that are dry with too little sleep and too much staring at a screen and the necessary parts and wires, eyes tired from trying to take the world apart to reduce it to nuts and bolts and wires.
He lets the towel fall to the floor and goes back into the bathroom, climbing back under the shower. Five more minutes and he can relax, five more minutes and the tension will leave his back, and the hot water will dissolve his thoughts into mush, so he can step into the shell of his former life as though nothing had ever happened.
As though nothing had ever changed.
Notes: I love how the title has nothing to do with the actual story, really...This took a lot of music-listening to write, specifically: Rufus Wainwright "The Consort", Death Cab for Cutie "Pity and Fear", Coldplay "Amsterdam", Nerina Pallot "Nickindia" and Sara Bareilles "Vegas".