sleepless, tumbling night

r | reference to violence



chapter 1: sigma

Sigma awoke to the sound of screaming.

It wasn't as common as it had been. There was a time when he had feared that Diana would never be able to have uninterrupted sleep, that she would be constantly tortured by nightmares.

But he was determined to give her plenty of good memories to overwhelm the bad. Dinners at her favorite restaurant. Lunches with Phi. Breakfast in bed. Walks in the forest. Evenings curled up on the sofa. And nights where he made sure her only thoughts were of how good it felt to have his head between her legs or his cock inside her.

It had been almost a year, and things had gotten better. At least, until last month.

She cried out his name, eyes wide, hands on either side of his head. Her fingers raked through his hair.

Looking for a bullet hole.

None of her nightmares were pleasant, but this dream was particularly awful. It brought up guilt along with grief.

"God, no. Please no."

"I'm fine, sweetheart." He had never particularly liked terms of endearment, but found out early on that Diana had a soft spot for that one. So it was worth it, even if it made him feel a bit silly.

"I'm so sorry. I -"

"You never have to apologize for that." He gently guided her down so her ear was pressed to his chest, so she could hear his heart steadily beating. If it were the only choice, he would die for Phi without a second thought, but telling Diana that would only make her more upset. He settled for stroking her hair, trying not to envision a matching bullet hole on the side of her head, her beautiful hair matted with blood, the gun in her hand as she fell to the floor in front of his body.

He wished Phi hadn't felt the need to inform him of what had happened in that history after his memories of it ended.

"Forgive me, Sigma."

"There's nothing to forgive."

He left it at that. Sometimes Diana wanted to talk about it. Sometimes she just needed to be in his arms. Sometimes it was enough to hold her, to let her feel that his body was warm. And sometimes she wanted him to fuck her brains out, although that wasn't usually how she put it. He had learned not to push; she would let him know what she needed.

"If I had only listened to Phi, I would have known the chair would trigger at 188 pounds. I could have found things in the room to make up that weight and -"

"I'm alive, Diana."

She was crying so hard she couldn't respond. Instead of trying to keep talking, he rubbed her back and sought out her mind in the morphogenetic field. Even after forty-five years of study, using it for telepathy had never been simple for him. If it was someone like Akane, he'd have to concentrate just to send her a damn grocery list. But it was incredibly easy to connect with Diana; the problem there was not drowning in her emotions, especially when she was like this.

It also didn't help that, while he's matured in some ways, part of him really, really, really wants to use the field to telepathically tell dick jokes.

Diana's sobs turned into a cough, then giggling. He briefly worried that she was becoming hysterical, before -

"Shit. What the hell did I just do?"

"This ... this ... dirty joke just popped into my head. And something about eggs and milk?"

"I'm absolutely appalled at your filthy mind."

She poked him in the ribs. After that, they lay in silence for so long that he would have thought she had fallen asleep, if it weren't for her fingers moving on his chest, in the same pattern over and over, as if she was tracing something.

"Do you think they'll ever go away?"

Her voice was so soft that he could barely make it out.

"I truly hope so."

"Maybe ... maybe it's better if I don't. Having done such horrible things ... maybe I shouldn't be allowed to forget."

"Hey. Look at me. We were in a terrible situation. And you know he could have been ... mind-hacking you when ..."

His voice trailed off. The last thing he wanted to do was recount the time when she had pressed a button to kill six people, or cast a vote that was responsible for the death of three. He was certain that she hadn't actually done either of those things, not of her own free will. But those memories haunted her, and with no tangible evidence of mental coercion, she was left tormented with the possibility that it might have been her decision.

He could never forgive his son for what he had put Diana through.

As she began to doze off, and her fingers began to slow, he finally realized what she had been doing.

She had been tracing Greek letters on his skin. Sigma. Phi. Delta.



chapter 2: diana

Diana awoke to the sound of screaming.

"Diana!"

Suddenly there were strong hands on her shoulders, shaking her violently.

"No, wake up, please! Stay with me!"

Oh, she realized. That dream.

Sigma had been lucky, in a way, although she'd never phrase it that way while talking to him. He only had a few memories of being a helpless bystander while she or Phi ... died.

But a few were more than enough.

He hadn't even wanted to share a bed with her when they first moved in together, saying he didn't want his nightmares to bother her. She had deferred to him, as much as she wanted to feel his body curled up against hers while she slept, because she was afraid of seeming clingy.

After the first night, though, when she dreamt of him bleeding to death on the floor of the shelter and he came bolting up the stairs and into the bedroom, they hadn't slept apart. Whenever one of them had a bad dream, the other was there to chase away the memory.

"Sigma, it's okay. I'm okay. There's no poison."

He stopped shaking her, pulling her into a tight embrace, whispering her name over and over. She tried to stifle her tears, but it was no use. She still doesn't know how she and Sigma had ended up collapsing to the floor, gasping for breath, while Phi desperately tried to do something to help them. She could only assume that someone else in the shelter had pressed a button or flipped a lever, not realizing it would inject something into their bracelets and kill the two of them. It's why she hasn't dared to ask the others; she doesn't want Junpei or Carlos or Eric to have the burden of knowing an innocent action on their part had caused her and Sigma to die in another history. Her curiosity isn't worth their pain.

"I couldn't save you."

"You saved me a million times in that shelter." She extricated herself from his firm grasp just enough to be able to see his face. "You and Phi."

"I would have been lost without you two. Not that I wouldn't have gladly -"

"I know." She kissed his mouth, his cheek. Physical contact always seemed to help him the most. Sometimes it was enough just to kiss him and caress his face. Sometimes he wanted to make love, which always ended up being desperate and gentle at the same time. "You don't have to say it."

He covered her right hand with his left, interlacing their fingers. His eyes had that fierce, passionate look in them that she had seen so many times back in the shelter. She wiped away the tears that had streaked across her face; he proceeded to kiss the damp skin the tears left behind.

She never thought she'd be able to trust someone as much as she trusts him. She never thought she'd be able to let a man touch her again. With his height and his build, he's incredibly physically imposing, but she's never worried about him using force to hold her down, or punching her if she tells him she's not up for anything tonight. She knows without a doubt that he loves her, that he respects her. She's no longer on edge when she gets into bed. She doesn't cry silently in the bathroom at work anymore. When they make love, she can close her eyes and enjoy the sensations he creates in her, without worrying that it'll turn violent any moment if she doesn't react the right way.

She feels safe.

"I didn't know if I could ever be happy again, Sigma."

"But ... you are?"

There was an uncertainty to his voice that she didn't understand. She swallowed the lump in her throat. "Yes. More than I can possibly put into words."

He buried his head in the crook of her shoulder, while being careful not to crush her with his weight. She could feel his shuddering breath hit her skin, eventually slowing to normal.

"I'm scared, Diana."

"Do you ... do you regret -?"

"No." He instantly lifted his head to make eye contact. "Not at all. Please don't think that, for a second. That's not what I meant. I just ..."

"I'm anxious, too. But I have faith in you. In us."

Sigma sought out her left hand and brought it to his lips, kissing the gold Mobïus strip band on her ring finger.



chapter 3: phi

Phi awoke to the sound of screaming.

She jumped off the bench, ignoring the ache in her neck from having fallen sleep in an awkward position. She ran through the door, ignoring the protests of the nurses at the desk. The screaming was getting louder and -

"Miss, you cannot be in here!"

"No, it's okay." Sigma waved off the doctor before she could call for security. "She's fam-"

Diana's scream cut him off, and Phi shivered. She knew this was normal, but fuck, it sounded like Diana was being tortured. If she ever went through this, Phi resolved, she was taking all the damn drugs.

"Excellent, excellent, Diana. Just one more."

Phi couldn't help but think the doctor looked like she was trying to catch a football. Diana kept yelling oh my god oh my god oh my god while she was clutching Sigma's hand so tightly Phi could tell his circulation was being cut off. He wasn't complaining, though; he just kept brushing damp hair off her face and telling her how incredible she was.

And then she heard the baby crying.

"Congratulations, Diana, Sigma. You have a beautiful baby girl."

Phi let out a breath she didn't even know she was holding. Stupid as it might have been, she had been hoping Diana wouldn't have another boy.

"Is she okay?" Diana asked, at the same time Sigma said, "Can I hold her?"

"Yes, and soon. We need a minute or two before we clamp the umbilical cord."

As the nurse began attending to her new baby sister, Phi crept towards them, almost tiptoeing, as if she was an intruder, somehow. The baby looked so small, but was pronounced perfectly healthy. She stared at the tiny fingers, the wisps of red hair, the mouth that seemed to be permanently open, emitting a wail at the top of her lungs.

When the little one was wrapped up in a blanket and placed in Sigma's arms, she suddenly felt a pang of jealousy. How many times had Sigma or Diana been able to hold her, before she was placed in the transporter and whisked away? This child would grow up knowing what it was like to have her real parents' arms around her. They would be there for her first word, her first step, her first day of school. She'd get to experience Sigma embarrassing her in front of her friends, or Diana grounding her for staying out too late, or the two of them withholding the internet passcode until she did her chores. It didn't seem fucking fair.

"Phi?" Diana's voice snapped her out of her funk. "Would you like to hold your ... your niece?"

She blinked in confusion for a moment before she remembered. That was their cover story. Another thing that wasn't fair. Nobody would believe that she was their daughter - Sigma and Diana would have been physically almost two and seven when Phi was reconstructed for the second time - so when they were around others, she was supposed to be Diana's sister. It was less implausible than the idea that two twenty-somethings had adopted another twenty-something. That just sounded like some creepy perv thing.

But it meant she couldn't point to them and say, these are my parents. They're two of the kindest, strongest, most incredible people you'll ever meet, and I love them so much sometimes it hurts. I would fucking die for these people.

It wasn't like she'd really ever actually say that in public, or to Sigma's face, but it was the fact that she didn't even have the choice that pissed her off.

"Um, sure."

"Make sure you support the head," Sigma instructed. "And keep a good grip on her. But not too tight -"

"For crying out loud, old man, I know how to hold a baby. It's not rocket science. Which I can also do, for the record."

The minute the wriggling bundle of warmth was in her arms, however, she felt anxious. Like she was handling a delicate crystal vase.

"Were you serious about naming her Luna?"

"Maybe. Why? What's wrong with it? Diana likes it."

"You don't think it's weird to -" Phi glanced behind her and lowered her voice. "- name your real daughter after your robot daughter from another timeline?"

"Everything we've been through, and you think that's weird."

She couldn't deny he had a point. Then Diana let out a pained groan and Phi pulled the baby closer to her chest. "Oh my god, are you okay?"

Diana nodded, gripping the sides of the bed. "Placental expulsion. Just didn't think it would be so - oh!"

Sigma returned to her, taking one of her hands. "Just look at me. Everything's going to be okay. It's almost over."

Phi averted her gaze as the doctor began adjusting the sheet covering Diana. Seeing something being expelled from her mother's vagina was a memory she was definitely okay not having. Her sister had stopped crying and was staring up at Phi, eyes wide.

"Hey, you," she whispered. "If you turn out to have superpowers, too, you have to promise to only use them for good, okay?"

Maybe it was her imagination, but she swore she saw the newest member of the Klim family nod.

(fin.)