A shadow moved across the wall opposite them. Then, a man stepped into sight and Corra gasped.
Across the room, they stared at one another. He had a mess of curly dark hair and the familiar crop taken out of his left ear. Finally, his brow creased in contemplation and after a moment, he ventured, “…Corra?”
Corra threw herself at him and crushed him in a hug that he happily returned. And for a moment, the two of them stood there, arms wrapped around one another and Corra’s face buried in Will’s chest as reunited friends reveled in one another’s presence.
At last, Will lifted his hands from her back and placed them on her shoulders to hold her away from him and get a better look at her. “Corra, by the one true god,” he breathed in disbelief, shaking his head slowly. And then pointed out, “You grew out your hair.”
“So did you!” was her immediate response, reaching up to tug on his long curly locks affectionately. When he laughed, she added, a little sheepishly, “I like it.”
Will put a hand on top of her head and added, “But you didn’t grow at all, I see.” Corra laughed and shoved his hand off playfully, but Will’s smile faded into confusion. There was a far more important question in the air than physical appearance.
“What are you doing here?” he asked quietly. “How did you get in?” And then seeming to remember something, added, “Okay, no, I should know better than asking that, shouldn’t I? But really.” He eyed her sternly. “What are you doing here?”
Corra, it seemed, already had her answer planned out. “I’m here to rescue you,” she declared simply. “Well…we are.” She gestured back to Leta.
“Rescue me from what?” he asked, his tone genuinely concerned.
Clearly the answer to that seemed obvious. “From enslavement, of course,” Corra told him, cupping his cheek and watching him sadly like one might watch a child having trouble following the lesson plan.
But Will only stared. “Wait, what?”
“Don’t worry, I’ve got it all planned out!”
“Got what planned out?” Now, he was starting to sound legitimately worried.
“We’ll take all the valuables from here,” Corra went on brightly, “I found a few on the way in, but I’m sure you know where all the best stuff is. So we’ll take all that with us and sell it.”
He still wasn’t biting. “What?”
But Corra was unphased. “And you can stay on our ship for a while,” she continued.
“I’m on a ship now, by the way. I guess I didn’t tell you that.” Her words were coming out a mile a minute now. “A few years after you were bought, I got bought too. By a ship captain. It’s…not as great as it sounds, it’s kind of a pirate ship, lots of shady business and all, but he freed me! That’s the best part. I’m free! And I’ve been everywhere.” Suddenly, her eyes were filled with wonder as she reached out and grasped his hands. “Oh Will, you wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen.”
“But you’ll see them too! Like I said, you can stay with us for a while, and then once we’ve sold all this junk,” she gestured to Leta’s bag, “you can buy your own ship and go off on your own adventures and–”
Finally, she heard her name and smiled at him cheerfully. “What?”
But the look on his face was anything but cheerful and as he spoke and her own expression fell in time with his words. “Corra that’s…that’s very thoughtful of you, but…” He frowned apologetically. “I don’t want to leave.”
That was an answer, however, she wasn’t prepared to accept.
“Why not?” She tilted her head curiously. “You can be free, Will. Free. Aren’t you tired of having to work for nothing? Of being someone else’s property?”
Will considered the question a moment and finally shrugged. “I don’t work for nothing. I work for a roof over my head. Clean clothes on my back. Food on my plate. And I don’t feel like property. Mr Lawson, he–I feel like family here. Not a possession.” He watched her a beat longer, apology and, Leta thought sadly, pity, written all over his face. “I know Goddora’s was bad, but…it’s not like that here. I’m—I’m happy.”
“But how?” Corra demanded at once, sounding almost offended by the idea. “How can you be happy stuck here? What about–didn’t you always used to say you want to travel the span? Didn’t you used to dream about going on great adventures out in the black, discovering new places and meeting new people and–” Her words caught in her throat before she finally managed to choke out, “You promised me. You promised that one day we’d get out there and see it all. And I’m doing that. So why aren’t you?”
Will just sighed and shook his head. “Corra, we were kids,” he explained. “We were just kids with silly dreams and that’s all they were. Dreams. It’s–it’s great that you’re living them. That’s amazing. But…It’s not for me. My dream is here now. This is what I want.”
By the look on Corra’s face, it was like he’d plunged a knife into her heart. Leta wasn’t the only one to notice.
Will saw his mistake almost instantly and gently grasped her shoulders as he tried to fix it. “I’m sorry, Corra, I really am,” he pleaded as she refused to or simply couldn’t meet his gaze. “Coming here was…incredibly sweet. And I can’t say how glad I am to see you again. Really. But I–I can’t leave with you. I just can’t. I’ve found a place here that’s good for me and I can’t just give that up.” He leaned down and smiled at her as he added, “Besides, can you imagine me out there in the span on my own trying to make it?” He chuckled lightly. “It’d be a disaster.”
Still refusing to look at him, Corra muttered under her breath, “You wouldn’t have to be alone…”
His smile faltered. “You always were braver than me.”
Finally, Corra looked up and met his eyes. And she held them there, silent and still for some time until at last she said, “Okay.” And that was it.
She nodded. “Okay. Alright,” she said again. “Well…we should go then. And–” She looked back at Leta who could see for the first time just how red her eyes had gotten. “I guess we should put that stuff back. I don’t want you to get in trouble…”
But Will put a hand on her shoulder. “Hang on,” he said.
“No no, really, we should go,” she insisted, “If something happens on your watch–”
“Nothing’s gonna happen,” he assured her.
“No, but what if–”
“Corra.” His grip on her shoulder tightened and she looked up at him wide-eyed, but his voice was kind as he said, “I haven’t seen you in six, seven years? I’m not just gonna let you walk in here and walk right out again.” He smiled. “I wanna hear all about your adventures on your shady spaceship. And you’ve yet to introduce me to your friend.” He frowned teasingly. “What did I always tell you about that?”
Corra finally laughed, just a little. “It’s rude?” she guessed.
“It is,” he agreed and patted his hand on her shoulder. “C’mon, no one else is gonna break in tonight. It’d be a statistical anomaly. Let’s go to the kitchen, I’ll get us all some tea.”
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