“I can’t believe you’ve never played this before,” Corra laughed as she easily pulled her ship into first place. Cai wasn’t exactly the toughest competition, particularly when it came to Turbo Flight. The virtual racing game had come up in breakfast conversation and when their newest passenger had expressed only confusion, Corra had insisted they retreat to her quarters and try it out right away. With the Beacon en route to the Ellegian cluster, there wasn’t much else to do regardless.
“I thought everyone played this,” she went on, hitting the switch to lay down a trap on the course.
Cai grimaced as he gripped his controls like his life depended on it, just barely avoiding it. “We weren’t exactly — agh — allowed to — dammit — play games on the estate.” He hit left a little too hard to avoid a planet and watched in frustration as his virtual ship crashed straight into a meteor. Apparently it was reason enough to give up. He laid the controls down on the sofa. “I was just a gardener, remember? I never had a reason to touch a console til a few weeks ago.”
Corra’s ship passed the finish line and the whole display lit up with fireworks and flashing signs before she switched it off. “Really? Never?”
“When I was little, maybe, but not since.” He shrugged. “There was never a reason for anyone to let me. What, did Goddora give you console access?”
“Sure, pretty regularly,” she admitted. “Some people need their allies to use them so we had to be familiar.” She jabbed her thumb in the air. “Upped our value, y’know?”
The man lifted a brow curiously. “And he let you play games on them?”
At that, Corra grinned. “Oh, no, we definitely weren’t supposed to play games. But we did anyway. Or I did at least.”
Cai gave a hearty chuckle, shaking his head. “You must have been quite the troublemaker.” He tilted his head and regarded her with interest. “Maybe you still are.”
Troublemaker was probably an understatement for Corra, but she didn’t correct him. “I can’t help it. I like to do what I like to do,” she confessed with a smile. But soon it faded and she spoke more seriously. “Even if there are consequences. I think it’s worth it. Y’know…most people take their freedom for granted. Being able to make choices for yourself all the time. But when you grow up without those choices, without that freedom…” She looked over at him and found him watching her intently. Suddenly, she wasn’t sure what she was saying anymore. Her eyes fell to her hands in her lap and she muttered, “I don’t know…”
But he finished the thought for her. “You take every little freedom you can. I get it.” When she glanced back at him, he was smiling kindly.
“Yeah. Exactly. Being able to make a decision for yourself, even small ones, it’s — I don’t know — important?”
Cai nodded seriously. “It’s incredibly important.” And then he smirked sheepishly. “I still haven’t gotten used to it yet.”
Corra snorted a laugh. “No kidding. I saw how long it took you to decide how you wanted your eggs cooked.”
He grimaced, embarrassed. “Really?”
“Everyone saw.” As he hung his head in shame, she reached out and patted his shoulder affectionately. “Don’t worry. You’ll get better. It takes time to adapt. Even I still have trouble with some things.”
He seemed skeptical. “You? No. I don’t think so.”
“I’m serious,” she insisted, though her laugh probably didn’t help much. “Not eggs though. I never had trouble with eggs. God, they really did a number on you, huh?” At his pathetic smile of admission, she gripped his shoulder again. “It’s okay. You’ll get there.”
“I hope so,” he admitted with a sigh. “You’re my goal, you know that?” Which was a statement that caught Corra off-guard. “You’re the free-est person I’ve ever met. That’s what I want to be. One day..”
Corra felt her face flush red and she let her hand fall back into her lap where it belonged. “You can do it. Just — Life’s too short to hold back. Remember that.” She smiled at him. “Remember that and you’ll be fine.”