Rhezerë is not pleased. There’s a niggling sensation, warm through his entire mind, of someone who’s supposed to be there, and nobody told him a new sync would feel like this.
The moment feels golden—light spilling between her fingertips as she giggles and leans in close to brush her own over his mouth. A trace of a sketched outline flares pink then falls to the charcoal-colored imprint of her hand against his face.
They’re breathless, and her hands are cold with the frost that accompanies his light.
Lightsculpt. Sketch. Two of a kind and it feels so sweet.
She doesn’t pull her hand away, leans in closer, kisses him with a warmth that surprises her. He answers her with a kiss returned, with his hand gripping hers—wrapped in light.
Cold winters, they said in the southern lands—before Heresh had ascended as Winter King. Now, it was cold winter. Everywhere.
He didn’t stay there. He tried to stop breathing out the cold long enough to feel for Arot’s pulse and heartbeat, reassuring under his too cold hands, then he took his friend back to the Summer Court and left him at the back kitchen door where he knew the servants would find him quickly.
He couldn’t stay.
Heresh was winter and wherever he walked, winter would be coldest. He couldn’t stay and let it break Arot’s inborn summer power.
So he wrenched his gaze from the dim but reassuring glow, like sunlight under Arot’s skin, and stared out at the snow falling on late summer woods, then began to walk.
Technically, Ekos wasn’t lost.
Hurtling end over end, nose over thruster through the cold deep in the dying light of a riftspace tidal wave. He only hoped the wave of byte and digit and signal flares he’d worked it in passed all the intended checkpoints.
He felt lost.
He’d destroyed the solar system, shredded riftspace throughout, and left the enemy squadron in smatterings and pieces. His own hull was damaged, engines not firing, adrift wherever he’d fall or riftspace would take him.
Ekos had been alone too long already, but now—
It burned within him coldly, he wouldn’t be found.
It was early evening at the great Summer Court, but it was storming outside and already quite dark. The lanterns and chandeliers had already been lit, and there were those who shivered when standing near any of the great windows of the royal hall. It had been winter for a very long time.
He hmmmed in response as he slid into bed, weariness making him slow and a little clumsy. It had been a long day of interviews with military and queen.
Ahure waited quietly. When at last his arm came around her, “What did they say?”
He’d asked to join the home guard—her post. His ship body was still strong despite five years of cold space and only what maintenance he could do in total isolation.
At the memory of emptiness, he shuddered.
Her grip tightened, grounding him, not empty anymore.
It gave him strength to answer.
“They said yes.”
Skylight pulled the sleepshirt over her head and eyed her remaining clothes not in the laundry. With her habit of shoving in extra training sessions wherever they would fit, she had a bad tendency to sweat through shirts almost faster than she could wash them.
Math chuckled behind her, as if he could see the speculative look on her face (he could not). There must have been something about her stance that gave her away.
“Wash tomorrow,” she commented. Her spare supply was justified.
“Yes.” He got out of the bed behind her and fished down her second to last tank top. He paused, hand tracing over her back gently then over the line of her sports bra.
Skylight breathed evenly, slow and steady, but she felt warm all over.
He carefully lifted the shirt over her head and tugged it down over her shoulders, let her fit her own arms through the holes, but smoothed it carefully into place after.
She didn’t let him go for the overshirt before she dragged him close and kissed him good morning.
Ahure just about vibrates out of her skin around Isot. It doesn’t make sense. He’s quiet and still in a lying-in-wait kind of way, eyes always tracking with everyone around him, never striking out unless it’s in combat training.
She understands because she lies in wait as well, but she’s anger coiled on a leash, ready to lash out at the slightest provocation, tense as a spring. Isot’s not like that, and she doesn’t know why she drifts toward him always but can’t stop her jitters.
He laughs quietly, and her whole body tenses with the rare sound.
He’s cold. Space closes around his body without the warming blanket of riftspace caressing his hull. He moves a human hand and stares at it, wondering at the warmth of his own body heat and how it doesn’t remove the chill he feels.
Ekos has no pilot right now. He remembers how the temporary sync felt that got them to this solar system, remembers the warmth of human laughter and chatter in the corners of his mind.
They’re gone now. He’s too large a ship to be so empty.
Ekos lowers his hand and settles in for his long vigil.
It’s downright educational to watch them move together, in perfect sync, like they’ve been doing it all their lives. (They have.)
She watches the way Lock and Key practically dance through the air and through any objects or obstacles in their way, hands outstretched as they mingle their power to devastating effect.
Gloria can’t help but think there’s no one like that for her, no one to reach her hands out to that both mirrors and expands her strength simply by existing, no one like her other half.
Her name over the comm.
She stands and unleashes her power—alone.
The second time Ishalat saw the Stone Prince, her heart clenched with the fierceness of her anger. He had the sword at his belt that had slaughtered hundreds of her people and the expression on his face was known for: nothing, in the terrifying manner of those who do not care what blood stains their hands if it is for the object of their own loyalty.
Aya’s heart was hurting in ways she didn’t know how to deal with. You’re not good enough, her mind whispered to her. No one wants you.
She’d never been left before.
It took a while for her to pick herself up, quiet the tears she’d been holding inside herself unshed, and go out to where her dad was working on some computer project.
Aya curled up next to him quietly.
She felt more than saw his surprise. After a moment, he tucked one arm around her shoulders, kissed the top of her head, and kept working.
She stayed there—feeling loved.
Skylight woke before morning had fully come. The room was dark, and Math’s warmth and the beating of his heart lay under her head. His arms had come up around her in the night, and she blinked a moment at the sensation of being held.
She had things to do before they flew out to the next mission. There was always last minute mission prep slotted in, and she had always risen early for practice and training, but for a moment she ignored that in favor of this feeling, this warmth, the solid sense of being loved.
Morning would wait.