what_we_dream: (MGS Snake)
[personal profile] what_we_dream
Title: Old & New, East & West
Series: MGS (MGS2)
Pairing: Snake/Raiden
Rating: G
Notes: Written for [livejournal.com profile] phiilofobia @ the 2011 [livejournal.com profile] mgs_slash Secret Santa Simulation. Prompt was: MGS2 Snake/Raiden "Alive or dead, good or bad, real or fiction"

Summary: Raiden knows something's wrong with the whole op - his only mistake is thinking it's inside his head. Expanded scene from MGS2.


The codec in his ear is ringing.

Raiden’s skin is truly numb now, enveloping him like a thin layer of frozen metal. He sits against the wall, legs drawn up to his chest and the soles of his feet pressed flat to the floor, eyes downcast. His naked spine, curved like a dull saw, feels disturbingly vulnerable. It’s a discomfort he only understands now, an instinct that never made sense before. He refuses to yield to it.

The floor beneath his pale feet is some kind of smooth metallic alloy that’s just as unnatural as the rest of this place. His nails slip smoothly over it without making a mark, and the pads of his fingers leave no oils behind on the sheen of its surface. One of them can’t be real – he’s just not sure which. An hour ago, he knew who he was. He still knows now, but somehow the answer is totally different. And there’s no way that that can make sense.

In his ear, the codec keeps ringing.

“I see you’ve stopped running around like a fool,” says a gruff voice from nearby. Raiden looks over slowly, head on one side. Snake is standing there in a fully-equipped sneaking suit, a shadow of the past. He could have stepped out of the front page of a two year-old newspaper.

“You came back.” Raiden doesn’t stand; for now he’s sheathed in painless ice, but once he moves he knows his blood will burn his skin, like sun on frost.

Snake shrugs. “No hard feelings. I needed a decoy, and you were handy. That’s the way it goes. Sorry, kid.”

There’s some real sympathy in his tone, but Raiden lets it skate right over him. It’s not important. He glances past Snake at the long silver-green corridor, made of no material he knows. “This whole place. The colonel. Rosemary. Me. None of it’s real. It’s all just a big illusion, a house of mirrors. Even you,” his eyes flit back to Snake, “you’re supposed to be dead.”

“Well, one of us has to be here, or we wouldn’t be having this conversation.” Snake crosses his arms and leans back against the wall. He pulls out a cigarette from a grubby pack, lights it, and takes a pull. “Sure, things aren’t what they seem – when are they? Doesn’t mean they aren’t real. As for what I am – that’s up to you to decide.”

Raiden shakes his head. He rests his arms on his knees, head still cocked to the side. “I don’t understand you. Nothing about this place seems to throw you.”

“Maybe because I’ve been briefed?” suggests Snake, with gentle sarcasm.

“No, it’s not that. Until now, everything happening here seemed – so real. So important. And everyone was either in on it, or fooled by it. But you walked through it like it was… a play, a show. I can see it now, see all the lies and the contradictions. You saw through it all along.”

“Thanks, kid, but that’s just experience. You get led around by the nose enough, you start to know what it looks like when it’s happening to some other poor bastard. Here,” he adds, before Raiden can speak, “I brought your gear.” He takes his cigarette between his lips and bends down to drag a half-sized footlocker from the entranceway. He pushes it towards Raiden with his foot; it makes a slithering noise, like a sled over ice. Raiden reaches out with a slow hand and pulls it the rest of the way without looking away from Snake.

The codec is still ringing in his ear, but he’s becoming used to it. His mind is filtering it out as background noise now.

“That’s not it, is it? It’s something else.” His eyes narrow. “You’re lying, now. Why now? You haven’t before – not about anything other than yourself.”

“Get dressed, kid. The cold’s getting to you,” says Snake, easily. But he’s glaring. And, when Raiden opens his mouth, he raises two fingers to tap his ear. Raiden blinks, but cancels out of the incoming codec call. A new call comes in immediately from Snake’s frequency, and he picks it up.

Christ, kid, learn some self-preservation, snaps Snake. You wanna bleat on about surrealism, go ahead. But if you’re gonna start trying to pin motivations on bogies you know are listening, you sure as hell don’t do it aloud.

So something is going on. Raiden straightens, eyes flashing.

Snake gives him a flat look. No, we’re all just screwing around hoping to get to the finish line at the same time. Put on your damn suit, maybe it’ll defrost your brain.

Raiden glares at him, but stands with a grimace and pulls his suit from the locker. His blood sears against his frostbitten skin, as he knew it would. Snake watches unabashedly, still smoking the same cigarette, as Raiden stretches the thick fabric over himself. When the soldier speaks again, it’s in a gentler tone.

Look, kid. You’re right, in a way. All that sentimental crap about illusions and reality being twisted is nonsense, but you’ve picked up on the important part. This whole place is a set-up – a play. I’ve seen it before, in the flesh. For some reason Solidus is staging Shadow Moses over again, here in New York. I don’t fit into it, because there wasn’t anyone there playing this role – you’re playing my part. They didn’t expect a ghost to show up to the party.

Raiden looks up from tightening the exoskeleton over his chest, eyes widening. I’m supposed to be you?

They’re putting you through the same circumstances, at least, as closely as they can. But the whole thing was too unnatural, and you noticed – although I’m not sure thinking you’re losing it really counts as noticing. Maybe they always intended to make you crack up if you picked up on it. Good contingency plan. Snake nods once in approval.

But – why? Raiden grabs hold of the first question that passes by – there are far too many to herd into any sort of order. He realises his hands are still frozen in the act of securing the exoskeleton, and completes it.

I don’t know – yet. I’m damn well going to find out. Snake finishes the cigarette and drops it to grind it out under his boot. It leaves a smear of ash behind on the spotless surface that’s somehow comforting. You’re pretty good for a rookie, but I’m not going to pass this name onto you.

“I’m no rookie. I know that now.” The words are out before he can stop them, like the festering pus from an old wound he just can’t contain anymore. He drops his eyes from Snake’s with the excuse of checking the gun at his side.

And I won’t take your name, he adds after a moment, slotting the SOCOM back into its holster. I’d only tarnish it. He looks up now, daring Snake to snub him.

Snake blinks, one of the few instances of surprise Raiden has seen in him. And then, even more shockingly, he laughs. It’s just a short bark, but it’s one of genuine amusement.

Kid, if you really think that, you’ve got no idea who I am.

It’s absolutely not the answer he expected. But it is, he realises, the one he wanted. Which just proves that, whatever Snake says about his impressions of the situation, the soldier is beyond a doubt unique. Right now, he’s the only person Raiden trusts.

He steps closer to Snake, holding his eye. You’re the man they’re trying to turn me into. I want to know.

Snake stares at him for several seconds, and while Raiden knows he’s being evaluated he has no idea what the criteria are. Finally Snake nods.

If we make it through this – I’ll find you. He steps over, so close Raiden can smell salt water and musk and see the dark shade in his eyes, and Raiden knows this is for his benefit not the cameras’. And we’ll see how like me you really are.

Uh, Raiden says, eloquently, and for a split second Snake gives a grin that transforms him from an ally into a very good-looking man. Then it’s gone, and the soldier’s walking past without looking back.

“Let’s get going. Manhattan’s not gonna wait forever.”

“Right.” Raiden snatches up the last of his equipment, and follows.

END

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