I'd been back in Evati for a day or so, having been coerced into jump-cloning back by both Hallan and Mynxee for a small-ships roam which, while being rather uneventful, had led to the bizarre opportunity of shooting at someone else's tower at the invitation of the attackers and -- I think -- victims alike. It was rather hard to tell, everyone in that system had been marked red.
Flopped out on the couch in my apartment, which had been practically stripped bare in my sudden move to Molden Heath, only the basic necessities left, I found myself missing Asa's purring warmth which usually nestled behind my knees when I curled up with a book as I was just then. I used to read more when I was younger. I also used to have no perception of the relative quality of my reading material; age and experience have thankfully remedied THAT.
Someone knocked at the door, and I turned the music down as I rose and crossed the room; not everyone appreciates the rhythmic basslines I like to put on when I'm just looking to relax. Mixed in with the professional tracks were a few pieces I had created myself when I was younger and had time to play around with synthesisers; while I could listen to them, it was a little embarrassing for me to know other people could be listening to the stuff I'd been idly playing with ten years before.
When I saw who was at the door, I couldn't conceal my surprise. 'I thought you'd moved out, too.'
Looking shy, Jorge shrugged. 'I was just passing through.'
'Oh were you.' I gave him a teasing grin, knowing the system he'd moved to was well removed from this part of Metropolis. 'Sure you're not just following me around New Eden?'
He made a valiant attempt to appear nonchalant, but the light flush in his cheeks was giving the game away. 'Why would I do that, Shae?'
It was the way he said my name that made me look at him closer. Jorge hadn't been wearing his cowl regularly for a while and seemed to have become accustomed to people actually being able to see his face; while still hesitant to show his feelings openly, he had an innate talent for subtle expression which made him fascinating to watch.
'You want to come in?'
He looked up quickly, giving a tiny, hopeful smile. 'If I'm not interrupting anything...'
'Of course not, hon.' I let the door close quietly behind him, and he paused just inside the room, glancing around.
'Back in Eg. She's going to have to go on a diet when I get back; my girls spoil her utterly rotten. You want some tea?'
'Well, actually...' Jorge caught my right hand as I started to walk past him. 'I was hoping... we could talk?'
Strikingly pale blue eyes looked into mine; his grip on my hand was warm and gentle. I turned to face him, secretly glad I didn't have to crane my neck so much to look up at him as I normally did with most men. 'What's up, Jorge?'
He took a deep breath and glanced down at our entwined fingers. 'I... when I, um, broke down. You helped me a lot... more than I thought you would. If it wasn't for you, I think... I might have gone back. To the Nation, I mean.' Jorge looked up again, something earnest in his face that made me feel dizzy for a moment. 'Please, tell me if I'm wrong, but... you wouldn't have done so much if you... didn't...' He finished in an embarrassed mumble, looking away, 'If you didn't... feel something... for me.'
I blinked at him, feeling like I was really seeing this young man for the first time. Of course I cared for Jorge; I care for most people, unless somebody's done something to make me feel they're not worth my time. He was sweet, and watching him begin to really experience life after the trauma he'd been through had made me feel more protective than normal towards him. That he'd followed me back and forth between Metropolis and Molden Heath meant that we'd had a lot of time just during travelling to talk and get to know one another better.
But did I feel more? Reaching up with my free hand, I touched his face gently, drawing his eyes up to meet mine again. The soul I found behind the blue was young, despite everything, and so willing to risk so much to approach me. Jorge hadn't changed since he'd first opened himself to me: he'd just grown more comfortable with who he was.
His shoulder-length dark hair felt silky as I tucked my fingers through it, pulled his head down to mine, and kissed him gently on the lips. Distantly, I felt his arms wrap around me and pull me close, and for a timeless space we were lost in one another.
At last, Jorge pulled back, his breath shaky as he looked into my eyes. A hesitant smile played about his lips as he murmured, 'It's too bad this is just an April Fool's joke we're playing on everyone reading this.'