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Break the Bones (set them right again)

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After the Siege, Shokkra asks Dora if they can talk in private. With Shokkra in a wheelchair and Dora weak but on her feet, they journey outside of the infirmary tent.


Uneven terrain adds an element of difficulty of navigating the chair. The wheels sink into the mud if Dora isn't constantly pushing, so she keeps going until she's able to get Shokkra on the path around the port where the dirt is packed tight. The port is still broken, but the moon hangs high anyway.

Wheels squeak as Dora urges them along, near the southeast corner where they have a bay for dry docking. "Fresh air is nice, right?"


"Yeah." Shokkra lets out a heavy breath, her eyes moving up and focusing on the stars. "Better than stuffy, sick air." She tries not to let the fact she's being pushed around in a wheelchair bother her. She's never relied on anyone else for something as simple as movement before. It takes a bite out of the courage she's mustered. "The harbor was undamaged right?" Shokkra asks, her eyes turning to the mud and puddles on the ground.


"It took some hits, but we have carpenters already on it. Some of the Solsmite cousin crew too."

When they reach the inlet, it's clear that it avoided the worst of the attacks. One piece of the port that didn't get pummeled by fel meteors; small victories. Dora bounces once on her toes, winces, and stops the chair just on a hilly knoll overlooking the sea near the dry dock station. "What did you need to talk about so badly that it couldn't wait?"


"I did wait." Shokkra snaps, harsher than she meant. "I told you I needed to talk with you after the fight, and this is that." Her mostly undamaged hand crosses over to rub her other arm, taking a more closed position. She shakes some hair from her face, thinking. "I didn't dye my hair. So that's... one thing." Looking from the grass down to the sand and up to the water, she wonders how Orgrimmar must have looked after the siege, and how the ocean must have been red, like the river. "There's a lot, I guess."


The grass crunches underneath flimsy thin slippers, tickling at Dora's ankles. She squats down in front of Shokkra, bracing her palms on her knees. "I'm listening," Dora tells her. "So talk."


Shokkra takes a deep breath, clearing her throat out of nervousness. Her gaze turns to Dora, uncertain and wary. "So... I've talked to a lot of people. Actually not a lot. Four, I think. Because they ask what my problem is, or shit like that. Worried about me, maybe." She squeezes her own arm, supporting herself. "And every time, it always ends with 'talk to Dora'. But, over the past few months, ever since... the storm, we haven't seen each other much. So when I did get to see you, I just buried whatever else. Because when we were together, I wanted to be happy. I wanted you to be happy. I wanted to have that one safe harbor in everything going on, convince myself everything wasn't going to shit. That there was still a shred of- of summer, to hold onto."


Green eyes, glowing like flameflies in the night, watch Shokkra with unerring focus. She waits for more, her body giving a small shiver as a breeze flies through carrying the smell of sulfur and salt.


"So I kept burying and hiding and... lying to keep it that way." Was it lying to hide everything over those months? It felt like it. It felt like shit. "Even though everyone kept telling me to talk to you and- and even me telling them that I would, I didn't. I was scared. I still am. I'm scared of losing you to all my bullshit and problems. When we weren't talking after the storm, it hurt. It hurt so much to think that I had ruined the best thing I ever had with one night of my bullshit." Shokkra shifts her eyes back to the water, her voice shaking. "And- and with all the shit going on. The fucking hallucinations, the nightmares, the overwhelming stress and the fucking death all always around..." Shokkra bites into her lower lip. "It was summer when you told me you needed time to figure out what I meant to you." Her voice calms somewhat, looking to Dora, blatant fear evident. "Do you know, yet?"


Silence. In the time Shokkra looked towards the bay and back, Dora's stare fell to the floor, thin slits of green casting the color of jade on her cheeks and touching the ends of her messy bangs. The curve of her hunched back speaks of vulnerability. Her steadiness on wounded feet mark her courage. She doesn't move, just gazes with narrowed eyes at the dirt. Her pink mouth, chapped and ripped in the middle, cuts from cheek to cheek  in a severe line. Still as stone, without breath to give her the mimicry of life. A gargoyle of a figure set posed in thoughtful determination.

"I do," Dora uttered.


Shokkra's heart beat at the pace of a war drum charging into battle. Every broken bone and and cut and scrape felt like they were on fire, scorching through her body. She was so weak, so unprotected and undefendable. The robe felt constricting and closed, like a prison cell, holding her tight but protecting nothing. She felt the chilling cut of winter and the suffocating sea air blocking her lungs. She couldn't do anything if she tried. She couldn't run, or fight. She wasn't strong. "And?"


Dora meets her eyes then.

"I can't return your feelings. I love you, consider one of-" she pauses. Forces breath through her body. "- my closest friends. But I can't give more than that. I'm sorry."


Shokkra was ready. She had steadied herself over every possible way the conversation could go. She had lain awake for hours at night, thinking, talking to herself, preparing herself.

But none of it mattered.

It felt like very bone shattered again, every cut had torn through her, every burn still alight. Her heart must have been shattered for how it felt. "W-" She could barely manage to speak. Tears burst from her eyes, running down her scar and onto her chest. "Fuck." Sobs destroyed whatever strength she had left. She was weak. She was always weak. She was broken and an idiot and nothing would change that.


Shokkra wasn't an elegant cryer. She cried with the same kind of passion that characterized her fighting, her raging, her existing. Instead of sharing in it, or doing much of anything at all, Dora sat stone still and watched. Tears soaked into the bandages in pitter patter motions like raindrops on her front. The trees, turned to ashy charcoal from the wreckage, look skeletal from a distance like rooted corpses. The path cooled the soles of Dora’s shoes, heat leaking from her toes until she went numb. The ocean at her right lapped against the shoreline, like any other night.


Why would Dora? Why would anyone? Shokkra was broken. Her sobs continued, her ribs felt like they were breaking again, curling over in her arms. Time seemed to stop. She couldn't tell how long she stayed like that. Once her sobs started to quiet, and throat was raw, she sniffled. "Dora-" She tried to calm herself, slowed her breaths. "That doesn't... it doesn't change how I feel. And it shouldn't change how- how we are." Tears run down her scar like a river through a canyon, making its mark on her features. "I told you before." She rubs her face slowly, trying to scrub off the pain. "I'm not giving up the best thing I ever had for anything. Your love... and friendship is the most important thing in the world to me." Her face twists into a paining silent plea. "And I need help."


Dora didn't know how to mend a broken heart. She tends to hold on to them too tightly, surprised when they shatter. She collects shards of different cuts and sizes, from different people. When the cuts heal, she tries to pick at the callouses that they leave behind. She's hurt her friends, but most of them haven't abandoned her for her mistakes yet. She'd been terrified of Shokkra's unpredictability. But then, she should have known better. Shokkra is one of the most loyal people she's ever known in her life.

She takes the hem of her shirt and lifts it up to wipe at the tears that have traveled a messy line down Shokkra's chin. "Whatever you need," Dora declared, soft. "Just tell me."


Shokkra folds her broken arm across her stomach, holding it with her other. She winces, the pain is so fresh. When a hand is lifted up to her face, wiping at her tears, she nearly crumples into it, her broken form aching for affection. It takes a few moments, for her to calm her breathing, to get through the rest. Dora hasn't left yet. Maybe she won't.


Please don't go.


"I think I'm broken, inside." She mutters, her voice straining. "I'm scared of so much, of the future and how I'm going to end up. I'm terrified that... my mom screwed up so badly with just who I'm attracted to and I keep thinking that if she got that so, so wrong, maybe she got everything else wrong too. Maybe that's why I don't work outside the battlefield. Maybe that's why my hair turned white and I keep seeing things that aren't there, that I know aren't there but I can smell and hear and feel them like they were." She reaches up to hold the pendant on her neck, only to realize it's not there. Her hand clenches around nothing. "Maybe that's why I feel like dying."


"I think you're Shokkra Deathrage, goddamn maw of the beast," Dora reminds her, making a swipe against Shokkra's scarred cheek. When the fabric falls against her belly, it sticks with moisture. Soaked through with tears. She takes Shokkra's hands as she did in the infirmary, crouched down again and speaking low. "Pretty sure that in all the time I've known you, you've done exactly what you wanted to do regardless of what other people think. You- you have values that you care about, otherwise you wouldn't Commissar of Sanctuary. And yeah, you're good in battle, but that's not all you are."


"Isn't it?" Dora's words don't look as if they inspired much, or anything. "I treat the oaths like a joke. The smallest shit sets me off. Nobody in Sanctuary trusts me or likes me except for Juli. Even the ones that say they do lie, or leave, or die. Maybe it's because they see what I am. A broken soldier. Or a monster." She scratches at her chest where the shell casing would rest, clawing at it. She didn't lose it. She couldn't have lost it. "Would you still be here if you knew what I've done? If you knew more about what Garrosh did, or why the world thinks what it does about the Kor'kron? The things I did on orders, on instinct, or because I could?"


"Alright," Dora concedes, looking directly at where Shokkra gropes for something that isn't there, "okay. Let me get through this cleanup. Let me make sure my people are safe. Then, after that, we're gonna sit in a bar and you're gonna either tell me everything that you've done so that you can believe me when I say you're my friend, or we're just gonna drink and be thankful we're alive. I don't care which. But right here and right now I need you to believe that I'm not abandoning you. Okay?"


Shokkra needed to find it. She couldn't have lost it. She couldn't have. It had to be around. It had to be somewhere. What if it fell off in the fight? Maybe the doctors took it off when they healed her. She had to find it. Shokkra bites into her lip, hard, and closes her eyes. She shouldn't have brought any of it up. She should have stayed quiet. Dora couldn't deal with all her bullshit right now. Dora would be better off with her dead. "Where the fuck is it?" She whispers hoarsely, just loud enough that Dora might hear. Then she nods, opening her eyes. "Okay."


Dora’s eyes widen, realization dawning. "Shokkra, stop looking for something that isn't there and listen to me," Dora seethes, taking Shokkra's face in her hands. "Listen. Stop calling my friend a monster. Stop calling my friend broken. Stop insulting this person that I care about. I'll make you a thousand fucking necklaces if you just realize for a goddamn minute that I wasn't just giving you lip service. I love you, you idiot. I was about to keel over sitting at your bedside thinking you'd never wake up again." Ragged breaths, her voice gone hoarse.


Shokkra breathes. Looking into Dora's eyes, she sees all the anger there, and the pain. She cares. She always does. Stupid. So fucking stupid. Shokkra moves her forehead to Dora's, closing her eyes. "Gods I miss the summer." She manages, breathing out.  Her hand drops back to her lap, scratch marks fading on her chest. "Okay." She takes a breath. "Okay."


Shokkra's forehead feels feverish against Dora. The sweat of the orcess’ brow clings to Dora's skin. They breathe together. "Summer was good. We can make next summer better." Dora’s grip slips away, with her drawing back to resume her squat.


Shokkra nods, glad to have made the physical connection. "Okay." Shokkra adds once more. "I love you, Dora." She says, the same emotion and intensity she'd had ever since her hunt ended plain in her voice. She might hurt a lot of the time, hate the world, hate herself. But she felt good, now.


Dora smiles, as artless as ever. She feels dirt creep into her thin shoes. Her shirt has a stain from where she wiped tears, discolored. Moonlight and her slow slip into recovery make her pale and tired looking. Maybe that's why her eyes seem so much brighter in comparison."I love you too, Shokk."

She stands to survey their position. The chill starts to settle in her fatigued muscles, making her dream of a warm bed. "Ready to head back?"

"Yeah." Shokkra nods, taking another long look at the ocean. Her lungs feel clearer, and her robe less constricting. "Let's go."

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