His fingers drumming on the metal have bever been this loud, he's sure of it. They're a sharp stacatto, tap tap tap tap in a constant loop as he stares at the main screen, which is currently acting as a viewer to the extremely dense asteroid field they're navigating through.
"James, how long till we're clear of the field?"
"If you'd quit distracting me, it'd be sooner."
Kozimer frowns at the viewer, tapping his fingers in a rhythmless beat against the console. The sound is driving him mad but it keeps his mind off of the incredible amount of rock surrounding them.
"You don't get distracted." He frowns, wincing as a particularly large asteroid glides by them. "Literally, you can't get distracted."
"Would YOU like to fly through the asteroid field that YOU thought would be such a great shortcut?" James retorts.
"The scanners must have misread something." Kozimer mutters, mostly to himself as he frowns nervously at the viewscreen. "The field didn't look this dense before..."
"Well it's pretty dense now! Hold on we're almost through."
The ship tilts, flips and spins faster than the internal gravity can keep up with and has Kozimer grabs blindly at the chair before he gets sent careening across the floor and into a wall. The viewer is filled with asteroids rushing by while the ship ducks and weaves through the field.
"I'm going to die." Kozimer announces calmly, clinging to the back of the chair hard enough that he's sure his fingers have become one with the polyester cover.
"No you're not, now shut up and let me-"
Asteroids have a bad habit of going off predicted paths. They tumble through with no real purpose, bouncing off each other and careening wildly. Every single fact that he had learned about navigating through asteroid fields screams through his mind when he spots the small projectile coming in from the side.
It's amazing, how an entire text book flits through his head in the half a second it takes between the moment he spots the hunk of rock, and the moment the ship lurches sharply with the sound of buckling metal and he falls to the ground, dazed from the slam of the metal floor crashing into his shoulder and the shrieks of the alarms overhead while the cabin goes dark, basked in the red of the emergency lights.
That means that the thing messed up the reactor somehow which caused a short in the power which-
His body seizes, spasms sending his limbs flying in a whirl as he grapples at the chair to pull himself back up. "James!"
There's the faint, high whine of the emergency lights, the humming of the backup generators, the strange and stifling silence left in the wake of the dead reactor at the back of the ship and no voice there's no whirring computer no-
"I'm here I'm here calm down! Had to get myself tagged back into the speaker system and get them running again."
His knees are having trouble staying locked in place, which makes Kozimer very thankful for the chair he's clinging to again. The wave of relief that slams over him leaves him feeling loose and jittery. "Don't do that to me James I-"
"Koz," James interrupts, voice strange and grave, "this is bad. We're in bad shape. Luckily we're at the edge of the field but-"
"It's fine." Kozimer sighs, spinning the chair to face him and turning to slump into it. "It's fine James. If the backup system is going that means a beacon was sent out. It should only be a few days before a rescue team can shoot over here and-"
"We can't BOTH last more than a day Koz!"
Kozimer stops, his fingers, which had started their nervous drumming again, going still. "What do you mean? It's not like we're going to both use up air."
"No but we both use up POWER. Koz I'm kind of an energy sucker, I can't keep going for more than a day, not if life support keeps running."
His fingers start drumming again, his other hand fiddling with nothing where it rests on the armrest. He blinks rapidly.
"We'll think of something. I'll think of something. That's my job. I'm not-"
"If you stay alive then I'm going to have to shut down and divert everything to life support."
Kozimer rubs at his forehead, teeth bared. "Shut up and let me think, James!"
"Koz I can't-!"
"I said shut up!" He snaps. It's only by chance that he opens his eyes and sees the simple drive sticking out from the main computer.
The one that he's had his entire life, specially made to be large enough to hold every single thing he's done.
He thinks of something.
"Koz," James says, "I'm gonna start diverting power, it may take a few minutes but-"
"Shut up no you're not!" Kozimer growls, flying over to the computer and hitting the small, plain icon for his memory drive. His history takes up the whole screen, countless entries spanning a very, very long life. Every accomplishment and every failure, everything he's ever done picked out in pixels and code for him to see.
"Koz it's already started, I don't know what you're doing but I'm already setting things up to redirect the power."
"Koz I need to say something."
"Would you stop doing whatever you're doing and look up!?" James snaps.
Transfer? Yes. "Shut up, James!"
"Koz please! I need to say something before-"
Confirm. "Before nothing! Nothing is going to happen to you! I'm not going to hear any desperate, last minute-"
"I love you!"
The screen burns into his retinas, his fingers clutching at the console while he stares at the small sliver on the load bar.
"James-" He can't hear that. Not now. Not yet.
"I mean I'm pretty sure I do." James goes on quickly, sensing that he's about to be cut off. "I don't know maybe it's just some weird glitch I don't know if I even CAN love or if it's just some Stockholm syndrome thing because I've been stuck with you. But I've seen other people I've watched them online and through their logs and journals and none of them are YOU. I don't care about getting out and getting a body unless you're there! So I can't let you-"
"Stop it!" Kozimer snaps. "Stop! I'm not going to listen to you thinking that this is some desperate confession at the end of-"
"I need to do this!"
"And I made you a promise, James!" His fingers dig into the edges of the screen, staring down at the bar willing it to load faster. Willing this to actually WORK.
"Koz please..." James's voice is small, shaking and broken and how could ever have thought that anything about James was artificial. How could he have taken so long to realize that this was something real, something that he can't let die. Not now, not ever, if he can do anything about it.
"I'm not going to hear it." Kozimer growls, not looking away from the screen. "We're both going to make it out of here, and I'm going to get you the body that I promised you and-"
"Koz I need to shut down to get you the life support! Please! Just let me say this!"
"Can you say it then?" James asks, voice quieter. "I mean, before I have to-"
"I'm not." Kozimer says, voice low and shaking. "I won't. I won't say anything until I can look you in the eyes and say it. I'm not saying anything until we're out of this. So if you want to hear it then you're going to have to stop trying to kill yourself before I have a chance to get us out of this mess."
"I'm sorry Koz I can't-...I have to-...The power redirect is done I just have to shut down now, I can't stay on, Koz."
"No! James just wait a little longer!"
There's that sliver of space left right at the end a small barely millimeter length of data, a fraction of everything James is, everything that makes him James and it's so close-
"I'm sorry Koz I'm sorry. I wish I could have gotten that body. I'm sorry."
There's a click. It's such a small sound, and it's not even from the speakers. A click and a rush of air from the vents, a flicker in the lights.
The screen flicks for a second. A small alert popping up. A blip of a cheerful message.
-File transfer incomplete. Save loaded content?-
He knows he must hit the confirm button, because he can hear the bright ping as the file saves.
Not a file.
95% of James.
The ship is silent. There's his own heartbeat pounding like a drum through his skull. The rasp of metal on metal as he slides his drive out and grips it in his palm, feeling it warm up against his skin as he holds it.
It had once held his life on it. It still does.
He's found curled in the same place three days later without a single hitch in the life support system. And no one can make him unclench his hand from the tight fist he has around the small, simple drive.
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