The dance is an old one, a game of I-know-you-know and I-know-you-know-I-know. His hand rests at the small of her back a half-second too long. She runs hers up his bicep to squeeze his shoulder too-tight, heart caught in her throat.
Something blossoms. Something that shouldn’t.
Once upon a time, she used to dream of crossing the galaxies, weaving between asteroids, setting foot on strange lands. In those dreams they were always together, inseparable. Her hand in his. His heart in hers.
It took a long time-- too long, perhaps-- to realize her dream as an impossible one.
She has done it all without him. It hurts.
The airlock doors part and there he is, scruff on his face and mud on his boots, a smile broad and just for her in the early hour of his return. In her eyes-- pale and stormy grey, just like his-- is a devotion too frenetic to be only admiration.
He’s been gone and so has she, sent out to touch the far reaches of the galaxy, separated in body and mind but still connected.
Blood ties run deep, deep, deep. Dig deep enough and it runs black, toxin in their veins. She looks upon him and hungers like the starved she-wolf presented with prey.
She wants. Instead, welcome home and a smile too-small, noticing with desperate, sorrowful hope that his faded, too.
She touches her fingers to his door, forehead pressed to cool metal, waiting.
“Please,” she murmurs, barely loud enough to be heard. “Please. Can’t we talk?”
He is listening.
He is silent.
“This can’t be what you actually ,” he says, incredulous. “This isn’t-- Sarah, people don’t do this.” His words are slow and deliberate, and the gravel in his voice makes it as rough as the callouses that match her own. A warm hand clasps the back of her neck and pulls her back and back, until the distance between them is not so small. Until he has room to breathe.
He is lost, but maybe not lost to her. (Never to her.)
All the same: she bristles.
His touch is a brand and his touch is a promise, and she has been waiting for so long . She snarls, licking her front teeth. “ Liar ,” she spits with teeth bared, too furious to cry. She knows, she knows. The build-up moving in waves, until she was too weak to resist, until it dragged her under. “You know as well as me what that feeling is in your chest, beneath your sternum, burning hot. You know . Remember this, brother mine: you can lie to anyone else, but not to me.”
Her hand, unbidden, encircles his broad wrist, fingers pressed to his wrist. She feels his pulse, the steady thud-thud replaced with something erratic and racing. In Scott is a war and it’s one she intends to win.
“It’s fucking terrifying, isn’t it?” She asks, licking her bitten lips.
“Yes,” he says, and yanks his wrist away, breath catching at the bruises forming.
He doesn’t bring it up again, what she does to herself on her own time.
She doesn’t bring it up again, his denial.
But it lurks and it lingers, insidious. She hungers no less. She hurts for days.
They coexist, fading in and out of each other’s lives as they wander through space. A few weeks here, a whole month there. Family reunions are both frequent and fond, the tension between them invisible to all but two.
She looks at him through lowered lashes, tracing the angles and planes, and quite deliberately does not bite her lip. She does not look too long. She is his sister, and it was never off-putting before and is tempting now.
It’s wrong-- and she knows, she just doesn’t care.
Sarah Ryder is not known as patient . Headstrong, brash, callous, sure. Emotional, absolutely. But for this she waits out of spite, because he’s lying to himself more than he is to her, and that’s sad.
They talk through cryptic datapads in piecemeal, photographs sent with small reminders.
When they were younger, Scott had written her essays about everything and nothing, still collecting dust and hidden away in her personal computer’s databanks.
She is not a patient woman, but for this, she will wait.
But for this, she will make him .
She’s busy, these days. She needs the distraction, or else darkness unfolds from her chest and threatens to drown her alive, an icy grasp around her neck, pulling her down, down, down.
So here she is: living her own life, exploring the uncharted frontier, working until she wants to drop, working until she does . An unsustainable work ethic but it’s all she’s got. Zero to two hundred and ten, all or nothing, sink or swim.
Sarah presses her palms to her eyes, shutting off her personal computer, and--
There’s a knock at her door.
Her crew does not knock.
It takes six hundred and ninety three days, twelve hours and forty minutes for him to break.
But he does, and victory has never tasted so sweet on her tongue.
“I love you, you know.” He stands outside the threshold, not yet crossing. Scott clings to the doorframe with a desperate hand, white knuckled. He had never been any good at talking about his feelings despite the fact that he was the gentle one. Every single one is kept locked up tight, unless Sarah reaches down into his chest and pulls on his heart.
She smiles, crooked. Sad. “Do you?” she asks, stepping aside to invite him in, curious to see if he’ll take it. She thinks of ancient history from worlds ago, of Icarus and the sun. She’s not sure who’s who. “Hard to tell, with the way you run from me, brother mine.”
“Don’t call me that.” His tone is almost pleading, high pitched. Scott looks around, and steps in, leaning against the door once it slides shut. He stands a half foot taller than her and he is afraid, not of her but what she symbolizes. Not of her, but what he wants from her. “Not...not now.”
Sarah scoffs. “Why not? We are.” The bait has been taken. The trap has been triggered. She encroaches. “I love you, Scott.” The words are feverish, and her smile is too-wide. Hungry. “But if you want to pretend in the dark that your blood isn’t mine, then is it really me you’re looking for?”
“Yes,” he snaps, too sudden, too fragile, and the guilty look he gives her one of oh no, did I just kick a puppy? Scott clears his throat, averts his eyes, swallows thickly. "There's-- there's no one else, Sarah."
"I know," she says, and it is a lie. A knot comes undone, and her breathing comes easier. She wants, she wants-- but so does he. Laying a hand on his neck, stroking her thumb over his cheekbone, she lets it rasp against his scruff. He knows she's fond of it. But her face turns somber under the dim fluorescent lighting, her eyes shadowed. "You know what I want, Scott. You've always known, I think."
He doesn't answer, just looks into his hands, clenching them. "I don't know." With a voice so plaintive, how could she resist?
She walks towards the bed, and pulls her sleep-shirt over her head, back to the object of her desire, her obsession, her brother. "You do," she says, looking over her shoulder. "Come here."
One step, then another, coaxing a cautious animal closer and closer still, all for her.
All for her.