berseker: (ninja)
[personal profile] berseker
Title: A Light in the Darkness
Warnings: This is somewhere during the 70s, so... dictatorship, the Dirty War, economical crisis, all that fun stuff. That decade kinda sucked. I tried to be respectful, but, you know. Better safe than sorry.
Pairings: Brazil/Argentina. Genderbend.
Summary: Luci and Martina are feeling lost and broken. That doesn't mean they have to be alone.

To [ profile] melissa_42, with love ♥. The prompt was Br/Arg, hurt/comfort with cuddling.

Martina wasn't afraid of the dark.

She was just – not afraid, never, she was wary of the things that could be hidden in it. People. Thoughts. Ideas.


Things like a doorknob turning slowly. Like the sound of boots light on the floor. A large hand covering her mouth and muffling her scream. A blow to the side of her head and blood dying her long hair red, plastering it to her face. Sobbing.

She wasn't afraid, because that would never happen to her. She was not the one they hit. And they only went after the rebels, the evil ones, the people who wanted to destroy her. They had it coming, really, and if that was happening, it's because they had done something to warrant it. Not that it mattered, because she was not the one hitting, either.

Except maybe she was. Both of them.

So it wasn't fear, because being afraid was beneath her, she couldn't fear her people, couldn't fear her leaders, couldn't fear herself. It was wariness, a healthy respect for the all those things that could be lurking, that gave her that sickening feeling in the pit of her stomach, when she looked outside to see the light dying out.

So she bought another door, a stronger locker. And every night she'd close the windows, pull the curtains, lock them, and double check it just to be sure. Then she'd close the door – not wood anymore, one made of metal, a door no one could break – and turned the key three times. Sometimes she'd unlock it right way, just to do it again so she could be sure.

Then she'd go to her bedroom, and there she'd light a candle.

It wasn't much. And she couldn't explain herself why, if the lamp would work so much better. But she didn't stop, and there was this small part of her that was saying, dry and bitter, that she shouldn't mind too much not having a good explanation, they would find one for her. No one wanted her to think anymore.

So that was what she was doing. A little flame to dispel the darkness, and a million lockers to keep her safe.

“There's a storm coming,” Luciana said.

Martina didn't answer. She was reading, or pretending she was reading, something from a pile of files at her right. She'd pick one, skim over it, and put it in another pile by her left. Very impressive.

The little idiot. They had been shouting at each other the whole morning, Martina insisting that Luciana should ask her before building anything, and Luciana telling her where she could shove it, knowing all the while that Martina would have to back down. Both of them knew. Martina couldn't afford to fight her now, not with the very real possibility of finding herself in a war on another front. Which was why she had invited Luciana in the first place.

And since she was Martina, her idea of a diplomatic approach had been shouting, and trying to bully her into giving up.

So fuck her. Luciana would build the stupid dam with Daniel, and if Martina wanted to lose sleep over it, thinking that they would use to flood her, then that was her problem.

So she snorted, to show she didn't care that Martina was ignoring her now, and turned back at the window when a distant thunder got her attention. She had to admit it was fun to watch, from here. From another country, so far away that she didn't have to think.

About her people. Their well-being. How unfair it was that she had excess of rain somewhere, and not enough somewhere else. She didn't have to think about it, and she wouldn't. She'd think about how beautiful, how terrifying it was.

The sky was clear blue from ground almost to the height of the tallest building, then turned dramatically to the darkest shade of gray. She could see the flashes inside the clouds, the forked, spiked silver lines of the lightening falling down. Or coming up, she had read something about that somewhere.

She turned to Martina again.

“Hey, do you know the lightening we see is actually coming from the ground? The earth has energy, and the clouds attract it. Or something like that. Cool, isn't it?”

This time Martina raised her face. Her eyes were so hard that Luciana shrugged, and turned back to the window.

“Well, forgive me for trying,” she said, under her breath.

Another lightening. It was fun, watching that. Counting the seconds to the thunder, and then how long the sound took to die out. Six this time, so... it had hit two kilometers away, right? And she could see the dark curtain of the water in the horizon. It would reach them soon.

And the rain was so strong, too. Or maybe their houses were too weak. Or maybe it didn't matter, because it had always been like that. They'd build home. Work, as much as they could, as hard as they could. And then the rain would come, and destroy everything, year after year. Or not come, and everything would die, year after year. And there was nothing she could do.

Year after year.

Luciana closed her eyes, tight, trying to stop thinking. It didn't matter, they'd rebuild. One day, someone would know what to do, how to fix this, how to fix everything, and then her people wouldn't have to go through this, she'd build the dam and there would be energy for everyone, then she'd build roads, and buildings, progress, she was going somewhere, they just have to let the cake grow big enough before sharing it with everyone, that was what they were always saying, so-

So she opened the window, letting the wind rush in, this few minutes before the storm reached them. She had always loved it, the wind raising her hair, wild and strong and violent, making her forget everything else, making her laugh even if she didn't want to, grounding her here, with Martina cursing loud and her papers flying all over the room. She was on her feet in an instant, slamming the window shut.

“Tell me,” Luciana said, before she could start another fight, she was laughing, and she had no idea why, “Tell me, aren't you worried? They all have houses, yes? All of your people? Are they all safe?”

Martina gasped, as if he had been struck. Eyes so green, shaded by dark circles of worry and lack of sleep, furious and hurt.

“Why did you do this,” she whispered, her voice almost trembling with fury, “Are you insane? Are you- are you trying to-”

She struggled to find the words, to find the right insults to throw, never coming up with anything. She locked it, and then pulled the curtains again just as another thunder came, loud as an explosion.

Martina let go of the curtains, retreating so fast from the window that Luciana thought she would fall on her ass. So she grabbed the blonde's arm, to help her, and maybe also because the sound had been too loud and Luciana wasn't above feeling a little shaken herself.

Martina looked at her. Her green eyes were wide and scared, her face white as chalk.

“I think we can call it a day,” she said.

“We can,” Luciana squeezed her arm, and then she remember this was crazy, they had been fighting and she shouldn't even be touching her neighbor now, but Martina didn't pull away, she just stood there, biting her lower lip, staring at Luciana.

So Luciana forced a smile.

“It's late, anyway. We can go to bed, and discuss all this tomorrow.”

Martina nodded. It was so subtle that, for a second, Luciana couldn't tell if she was really doing it, or if her chin was trembling. But then she yanked her arm free, and, as Luciana was trying to decide if she should feel insulted, Martina grabbed her hand.

Just like that.

“It's better if we sleep together,” Martina said, sharp and almost brusque, and she obviously didn't want any arguments about this. Luciana stared at her, now wide eyed herself. This was better than she had expected. Right? Even if Martina was incredibly weird. And even with all the awkwardness of this meeting.

Still, she was ok with it. Martina was ok. Even if Argentina wasn't, Argentina was part of the problem, Argentina was a troublemaker, but if she could forget that, forget the voice of fear and mistrust, if she could see only the incredibly weird blonde woman in front of her, forget everything else just like she should block out the pain going on back home-

“Listen, don't get any ideas,” Martina started to say, but another thunder cut her off. She gasped, a small sound lost in the middle of the bigger one, and then pulled Luciana to her bedroom, without saying anything else.

“What was that, about the lightening and the earth?”

She didn't really want to know, she was just trying to find something to take her attention from the storm and the noise. It was getting stronger, the thunder coming closer, louder, faster, the rain harder against her ceiling. It was like a million little stones falling from the sky, like bullets, like-

“Remember,” she said, a little desperate, “You just said it, you airhead-”

'I'm thinking,” Luciana said. “God, what's wrong with you? And I don't know, I don't remember. It's about energy, and they sort of meet halfway, you know? Like, it comes from the clouds and then part of it comes from the top of the things it's about to hit, and if I knew you'd be so interested I wouldn't have mentioned it.”

But there was no real bite in her words. She was too distracted, making a mess of the pots and bottles and boxes on her dresser. She sniffed at one, and then put it back, rubbing her nose, and then chose another bottle.

Martina was sitting on the bed, watching the way she moved around. Curious, almost cheerful. As always. How long had it been, since she had been invited to her bedroom? And Luciana was wearing a large t-shirt with Brazil colors, and nothing else, and Martina thought it would totally within her rights to complain, because what the hell. But that would make everything even more awkward than it already was, so she didn't.

“If you're not going to talk to me, then we can discuss business,” she snapped, “Right? I'm sure you'd like that.”

“That doesn't make any sense,” Luciana said, “I'd have to talk to you to discuss anything. And I want to talk, just not about physics. You know what's really weird? I think I have this perfume. I can't believe we've been using the same and never noticed it-”

“Right, physics is out,” Martina said, “What else? Your plans, your- the way you try to turn my cousins against me, your threats, diplomacy, geography, I guess, because that's part of your plans, what do you have to talk about?”

“Perfumes,” Luciana said. And then she smiled, she had the nerve to turn and smile, that smile of hers that glinted like a sword, and Martina shook her head, feeling her own eyes burning.

It must have showed in her face, because then Luciana sighed.

“Look, I'm building the dam, okay, so stop bugging me about it. Daniel wants it, so stop bugging him about it. I'm not planning to flood you, I told you, and that's a dumb idea anyway, I didn't threaten anyone, the geography is still the same, and- what was the other one? Diplomacy? What is there to talk about?”

“And you expect me to believe you? Just like that? You think I don't know what you've been planning-”

'You're such a hypocrite! You'd love to have leverage against me, wouldn't you, to do just what you're accusing me of doing! It's time you admit that you're not- God, it's just thunder, stop jumping like that!”

She hadn't jumped. She was sure of it. She hadn't, because she wasn't afraid. Of the darkness or of the storm. There was nothing there, nothing hidden, nothing nothing, so-

“Luci-” her voice was trembling, it wasn't her voice at all, it was the voice of a little girl, just about to burst in tears. “Luci, I think someone opened the door.”

“I looked everywhere, we're the only ones here, and I hate you so, so much right now,” Luciana said, when she came back to the bedroom. But then she stopped. Martina was still sitting on the edge of the bed, looking small and silly with her baby blue pajamas, her arms crossed around herself as if trying to provide comfort. She raised her head, and it took her a few seconds to hide the anxiety behind her usual confidence.

Then she looked away, her hair a golden curtain hiding her face from Luciana's stare.

“So,” Luciana said. She sat by her side, close enough to almost touch her. If she wanted to. Close enough to feel her warmth.

“Sorry about that,” Martina said, “That's why I hate rain, it plays these tricks on me, but at least now we know there isn't-”

“It's really just a dam,” Luciana whispered. “That's all.”

Martina bit her lip, looking away again. Oh, now she doesn't want to talk anymore, Luciana thought, pressing her own lips together, frustrated and upset and... and so not in the mood to sleep with her anymore. Fine. Fine, then. Of course she was afraid, and this was good, this was perfect, Argentina the troublemaker should be afraid of her, that was the whole point. Even if it wasn't. It was good. Luciana was sure her boss would agree. Good for her pride, for politics, because then she'd know that crazy idiot wouldn't ruin her plans, because Martina deserved it, after almost a hundred years being unchallenged at the top. So it wasn't like Luciana didn't agree with her bosses.

But they didn't really know Martina. They didn't know she could hold herself like that, and look so small doing so. They didn't know how white her face could get. Or the way she could bite her lip until it bled, and sink her nails in her hand and do all these little things to hurt herself without even noticing it. They didn't know how annoying, how, how irritating it was to see her like that.

“But I'm still building it,” Luciana said, defiantly, more to herself, “I am, and you have no right to demand explanations, because my people need this. So I'm building it. It's not like you come ask me when you want to do anything, and-”

“You can't hear it,” she whispered. It took a few seconds for Luciana to even realize she had said something.

“Hear what?”

“Steps. Like- like soldiers, walking. And- trying to be quiet, you know, like, being subtle, opening the door slowly, and- you can't hear it.”

“What, you mean, right now? I just checked! There's nothing there.”

“It's the rain,” she said, miserably, “I knew it. It plays tricks on me.”

So Luciana stopped.

Right. This.

She wasn't going to think about this. She'd rather think about the rain, before thinking about this.

“They're not coming for you,” she said, her voice softer now. “You know that.”

“I know, I know. I just- I know.”

Another thunder. This time Martina raised her head, and then rubbed her eyes, then her face, and blinked, obviously trying to shake it off. Luciana watched, feeling her heart wrench.

She wanted to say this wasn't fair. That she was hurting too. That she wasn't happy. That what she had asked- about the houses- that her people were suffering, that were worse every year and she had no idea what to do and that this, the soldiers in the darkness, would never come for her, for Martina, because- they wouldn't. She knew that. It wasn't happening. It would never happen, as long as she could not think about it.

“I think I want to go home,” she said. It was almost a whimper. But then maybe she wouldn't feel so bad, if she were with her people. And not here, talking – or not talking – about physics and geography and whatever was going on with Argentina, and these things that weren't happening.

“What are you thinking?” Martina asked, biting her lip again, “You're making faces at me.”

“It doesn't matter. I want-”

“Tomorrow. Right? You can't go out tonight.”

Because of the rain. And because of the curfew, of course.

So they sat there. Close enough to touch, without ever doing so. Luciana was thinking, maybe just about to hold her hand, to think of something other than rain and self-hate, anything, when Martina touched her hand. She didn't hold it, not quite, just rested her palm on top of Luciana's.

“You're wrong,” she said, her voice almost normal, struggling to be, “I'd have noticed, it we had the same perfume. So you're probably crazy.”

Luciana smiled. If Martina could, she certainly could too.

“If you say so.”

Then she opened her fingers, a little, so she could hold Martina's hand, and added, “Just so you know, it's about negative electricity, that comes from the cloud to the ground. And it meets the positive charge from the ground to the cloud. I'll explain it better in the morning, if you want me to.”

“I think I won't.”

“Yeah, me too.”

This time, Martina tried to smile. She almost got it. But then another thunder rattled the windows, so loud that even Luciana startled. This time Martina whimpered, and then, before she could do something stupid, or before Luciana herself could chicken out, she pulled her neighbor into her arms. Martina's reaction was amazing, she buried her head on Luciana's shoulders, her own arms suddenly around her body, holding tight, and she was so warm, so dear, so precious here like this, even if they were supposed to be fighting, if she were supposed to be afraid.

And it felt good to be held. To hold her.

It felt good to be together.

Luciana didn't let go, not even when they laid down to sleep, even if it was uncomfortable, if she couldn't pull the covers right. And Martina turned off the lights, and then held even tighter, so much that Luciana could feel the warmth of her body, the smell of her hair, her smell, not from the perfume, her own. Just one night, she promised herself, one night, then I'll think about everything, then I'll stop trying to forget, then I'll remember.

And Martina decided, told herself that it was so, that the darkness held no threats if there was someone else with her. Soft, strong arms around her, and Luciana's legs intertwined with hers, holding her like a doll.

One night. She considered getting up, finding a lighter, so she could light the candle. She still didn't want the darkness.

But Luciana was here holding her, her hands quickly finding their way underneath her clothes, so the candle would wait. Everything would wait. Now, for this one night, Martina would believe she was safe.


-After the Triple Alliance War, Argentina started to win their little rivalry thing. The balance of power started to change again around these times, which is why Luci is so ._. about giving her explanations.

-Re the Dam, Wiki says: At that time, the three countries were ruled by military dictatorships. Argentina was concerned that, in the event of a conflict, Brazil could open the floodgates, raising the water level in the River Plate and consequently flood the capital city of Buenos Aires. Which is silly, we'd have to floor part of our own cities and Paraguay to do that. Not that we gave it any thought, of course. I'm just saying. Anyway.

-There was a lot going on during those years. I made Martina overwhelmed by the Dirty War, and Luci focusing more on the economical issues, because Luci is in deep denial about the repression in those years even now, and because I thought it made sense to show the contrast between them, and what they were going through.


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