sincere: TOV: Estelle in a field of flowers (ring a bell ;;)
Kay ([personal profile] sincere) wrote in [community profile] insincere2015-09-02 07:56 am

Megami Kouhosei, "Mastering Space" (Zero+Kizna)

Zero's fear is so intense and so real that it feels like he loses control. Fortunately, he's easily distracted -- and it only takes a tiny little thing to give him a lot of perspective.
Contains spazzing. I love thinking about Zero's phobia, because it makes a lot of sense for him as a character, and even when Zero has been promoted and is out piloting an AHW in space, you can still observe him feeling queasy and uncomfortable -- overcome but not forgotten. Written for the [community profile] fic_promptly prompt, "watching liquid in zero-gravity distracts him from being in zero-gravity".


.mastering space.
He opened his eyes and it only took a heartbeat: visual cues oriented him and his stomach lurched in immediate response. It was only a room, four walls, ceiling and floor, open space, but Zero clenched his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut again.

"I can't do it," he said, frustrated.

"Are you giving up?!" Kizna's voice demanded over his headset. "You've barely even started practicing!"

"Shut it!" He couldn't take her haranguing when he was concentrating so hard on not gagging. Sweat was gathering on his skin, trickling down his face and between his shoulderblades -- a cold shudder racked his frame.

It was only a room, but he was floating in it. Weightless and powerless, adrift without the force of gravity to hold him down. Tumbling through space. Falling into nothing.

Zero made a strangled noise as the urge to dry-heave grew.

"Stop thinking about it! Remember what I told you?! Think about becoming a Pilot! Think about flying in the White Goddess! Don't think about -- whatever it is that you find so scary about zero-gravity!"

"Don't act like it makes no sense!"

"Of course it makes no sense! That's why it's a phobia, Zero! You're scared of something for no reason."

The bickering was helping him a little bit; if he thought about how much he wanted to get in Kizna's face and shout at her, he didn't have to think about where he was and what he was doing. He was imagining himself doing just that when he blurted out, "There is a reason!"

"Then what is it?"

Zero felt his clammy skin twist again. He remembered it so clearly -- the dome of the colony being shattered by the Victim's attack, being trapped outside of the shelter and away from his mother, struggling to avoid being caught in the torrent of suction as the colony vented its atmosphere into the frigid nothingness beyond, and despite all his efforts being swept away --

Weightless. Powerless. Adrift without gravity to keep his feet safe on the colony, tumbling out into the void of space, where there was... nothing, only endless drifting.

He knew that he'd die before he could drift very far. But in his mind they were the same. And losing gravity was the same as the numbing agony of endless, eternal, inescapable drifting.

"--Zero, your stress is going through the roof. Your cortisol levels are getting higher and higher. I'm going to end the simulation."

"No!"

He swallowed hard. This fear was affecting his performance in drills, and everyone knew it. He couldn't let the fear destroy him. He could beat space. The White Goddess had saved him then and he was going to join her -- he would be the one saving others, returning that favor.

But he didn't know how. He lifted a hand to unsteadily wipe away the sweat pouring down his forehead.

A careless flick of his fingers sent a drop spiraling off into the air, where it stayed, hovering, almost perfectly round. It drifted slowly away from him and his eyes followed it, curious.

It was so peaceful, this one little bead of fluid.

"Zero? I'm not sure what you're doing, but you're calming down." After a beat, Kizna said, almost suspiciously, "Are you staring at your gross sweat?"

"Sweat isn't gross," Zero disagreed. "You're such a girl."

"Excuse me?!"

His focus was still on the little round droplet.

It wasn't falling at all. It was fragile and undisturbed, tiny in scale to him, to the room, but beautiful. It knew no up or down, no doubts. He reached out to touch it, but some primitive guilt pulled his hand back to his side before he could ruin it.

It didn't fall. It was adrift in an enormous space and nothing was holding it up, but it was stable that way.

Zero closed his eyes again for a moment, envisioning himself floating in the empty room absent even of gravity. The sour taste of bile threatened at the back of his throat, but he ignored it. He was just like that drop of water -- floating and stable.

He wasn't powerless, wasn't vulnerable to the open space around him.

"Zero?"

...He controlled it.

"I'm okay," he said, and meant it.

He called up the image of the Blue Goddess, the memory of being wrapped in her warm zeta skin and the sense of syncing with her. He swung his arms forward, imagining her vast metal limbs moving with him.

Being a Pilot meant mastering space, he thought. It meant being in control even in the nothingness, and fighting back against the void that tried to steal human lives into its endless black abyss.

"Zero, I'm glad you're not freaking out anymore, but I'm detecting an EX reaction. You can't use your EX every time you get worked up."

He felt the sense of power sink away from him, the faint whisper that had been tracing over his skin and replacing the anxious sweat. "I know," he said, irritable and trying to tamp down on it. He did know, and it wasn't Kizna's fault -- what he didn't know was how he was supposed to stop a reflex.

"But you did it! Your stress is gone now, all your readings are normal. You're not afraid of being in zero-gravity anymore!"

The reminder quickened his heartbeat again, and he looked down for a self-conscious instant. He was like the liquid, he reminded himself. Stable and undisturbed and not falling or anything like that.

"Okay, well -- baby steps."

When she cut off the simulation, Zero pushed up out of the capsule, feeling weirdly energized. He wanted to go run the track just because he could. He had been in a weightlessness simulation without even an AHW and he hadn't thrown up even once!

Kizna met him on the way out of the chamber, and she was grinning almost as much as he was. Despite the quarreling over the communicator, they were on the same page. He felt a brief and almost unfamiliar surge of affection for her. She was working so hard to help him overcome his fear, and together they'd been able to overcome everything thrown at them so far.

That's why he bypassed her extended hand and grabbed her in a big bear hug.

She went stiff. "What are you doing?"

"Hugging you, idiot," he said cheerfully.

"I know that. But why are you doing it?"

"Because we kick ass."