“ — mean it, Cy,” Leta was saying in an undertone, “just ask her out. Next place we land safely. See what happens.”
“I can’t ask her out,” he groaned. “Not again. I tried taking her out once. It was awkward and I could tell she didn’t want to be there. I’m not putting either of us through that again.”
“But that was awhile ago now, wasn’t it?”
“Well yeah,” he admitted, “it was a couple years back…”
“Maybe just — see what happens? The worst that could happen is you stay as close as you are right now … ”
“Or she gets freaked out and stops talking to me altogether,” Cyrus mumbled skeptically. “Which, by the way, is essentially what happened last time. It’s only really been the last few months that we’ve gotten close again. I don’t wanna wreck that…”
“She obviously cares about you and you’re good friends. You owe it to yourself to have a conversation with her about how you feel, at least.”
Javier glanced over his shoulder and saw Cyrus frown in thought. “Yeah, I guess,” he said. “I guess…you could be right. Maybe I’ll give it another try. Maybe. I’ll think about it … “
Unfortunately, it was then that Javier realized he’d sidestepped too closely, stupidly holding one cabinet open to stare at a row of soup bowls. Casually as he could, he glanced to the side.
Both Leta and Cyrus were staring at him expectantly.
“Hi Javier,” said Leta curiously after a moment, smiling slightly. Past her shoulder, Cyrus was simply watching him, one eyebrow high on his forehead. “How are you?”
“Oh, just fine,” said Javier lightly, pretending to survey the soup bowls again with interest. “I’m doing just fine.” After a moment, apparently satisfied by what he’d found, he nodded and slammed the cabinet closed. “Well, see you at dinner,” he added wistfully, drifting casually back toward the door. Never mind that they’d already had dinner an hour ago …
Once his back was turned, Javier grimaced and quickly dodged into the hallway. Subterfuge had never been his strength.
Eager to put distance between himself and the mess hall, Javier hurried downstairs toward the crew deck. Passing down the hallway, he glanced distractedly to the rooms on either side of him, glad to see all the doors were closed. He didn’t need more of an audience, thanks.
He stopped to crack open the hatch to Nikkolai’s room, but he found it empty. Where was he? Perhaps Aiden would know? He always knew what was going on, far more than Javier ever did.
Turning around, Javier raised his fist to knock on the door to Aiden’s room. Aiden, of course, had the best and largest room in this hallway, and deservedly so with the kind of crap he put up with (Javier’s quarters were scarcely larger than a bathroom stall, in comparison). But Aiden needed the large space because he so often held an audience in his room. He was always lending a patient ear to the crew.
Now, it seemed, was one such instance. Javier’s hand paused before the door as he heard two voices behind it.
“It’s not that I don’t like it here even,” said the voice. It was Corra, sounding terribly worried. “Things have actually been really great recently with Leta around and Cy-Cy acting normal again.”
Javier hesitated, then leaned in closer to listen.
“It’s just…I guess I just don’t know what I’m doing,” she went on. “In, you know. the long-term. The Dionysian is great and it’s home and I love it, but…I can’t just stay here forever playing around in the armory, can I? Don’t I need to do something with my life?”
“You don’t feel you’re doing something with your life right now?” asked Aiden, his tone mild.
“Well…I am, I guess,” Corra went on slowly. “But also no. I guess when it comes down to it, I help the people I care about. Which is important. But…”
“But?” prompted Aiden, so low Javier had to lean in closer to hear.
“But I feel like I should be doing something more.” Corra’s voice grew fainter. Javier had never heard Corra — typically so dynamic and loud and friendly — sound so sad. “After what happened on Kadolyne, I guess it hit me. Leaving all those allies behind. It’s not fair. It’s not right that I get to be free because of the whim of some crazy ship captain and yet all of them are just…stuck.”
Aiden was quiet for a moment. “Is it that you wish to help them?”
“I don’t know what I want. Of course, I’d love to help the other allies. I’d give anything for that whole industry to fall apart, but I don’t think that’s gonna happen anytime soon, with or without my help.” She heaved a sigh. “I think I just feel I should be doing something better with my freedom than handing guns to a criminal. I have all this opportunity to go out and be something and do something, opportunity that so many people never get and I just…” A lapse of silence passed before she muttered, “Waste it.”