The expansive blackness surrounded the meteor like a velvet blanket. Distant bubbles glimmered with their own internal light. Despite the speed at which they traveled, a bubble of stillness surrounded them, leaving Kanaya's skirt and hair undisturbed. Her hair curled around her upturned face in onyx coils, the only light on the flat gray expanse outside the halls of the meteor provided by Kanaya's luminescence.
She would never admit it, but Rose had searched innumerable rooms for Kanaya and there was a flood of relief when she finally saw her.
“Good evening, Kanaya,” Rose said, hoping her voice didn't betray the inexplicable shyness she felt in Kanaya's presence.
Without a start, as if knowing Rose was approaching from behind, Kanaya said, “is it really evening already?”
“According to our local time expert, yes,” Rose said as she stood by Kanaya, watching the void fly by. It was featureless and cold, starless except for the distant Green Sun, ever shrinking in the distance but still visible with the unaided eye.
“There isn't much to see out here,” Kanaya sighed. “I grew up surrounded by such color, it's a jarring and frankly depressing juxtaposition.”
“It is the void,” Rose pointed out. “The defining feature of void is that there's nothing in it.”
Kanaya laughed under her breath, her tiny smile not quite reaching her eyes. Rose felt the silence between them like a mountain, cold and insurmountable. Kanaya finally spoke.
“Though I was a creature of the day, I did spend my most sleepless nights watching the sky. Alone in the desert as far from cities as I was, I could see every star, glittering like jewels in silk. I spent hours out there with my lusus, wrapped up in her velveteen wings until she screeched at me until I went to sleep.”
Forlornly she stared into the void, not catching Rose's sad expression turning to one of deep thought.
Alchemizing the materials was easier than she expected. A small glass jar, black paint and some strong LED lights. Actually putting them together to realize the idea Rose had in her head, half remembered from online craft projects, was bound to be a whole different story. The first issue- getting the paint in the jar without leaving streaks, but also leaving tiny spots for light to shine through.
A god she may be, but she is not a crafts expert.
Putting that side as a problem for future-her, Rose grabbed her hot glue gun and the LED lights. They were brilliant for their size and let out a pleasantly warm glow. Careful to make sure the lid would still twist on to the jar, she glued the lights to the inside along with the button to turn them on.
It was barely step one, but still she looked at her handiwork with pride.
Se resented her five-minutes-past self as she looked at the glass jar again. At the black paint. Back at the jar. She had always thought of herself as rather clever, but trying to figure out how to paint the inside of the jar while leaving clear spots was stumping her worse than anything ever had.
Perhaps she was exaggerating, but her increasingly frustrated state she hardly cared.
She sat on her bed and sighed. Maybe it was a silly idea anyway, perhaps Kanaya would find it childish or her execution will be lackluster, or it won't even work as it was supposed to.
Groaning, she laid back on her bed and covered her face with her hands, resigning herself to giving up her silly project.
Then she exclaimed, “Tape!”
She scrambled out of bed and rooted around her messy desk, pushing aside pens and half-filled notebooks until she found what she needed. Meticulously she tore off tiny square pieces and stuck them inside the jar at random.
Painting, while messy, was simpler. Waiting for it to dry was by far the most difficult part, knowing that she had to wait hours to peel the tape bits off.
Only one thing left to do- actually get Kanaya to her room. Her laptop was loaded up with Alternian and earthen romance films. Soft pillows and blankets rested at the head of her bed. There were snacks and drinks prepared and everything.
The only thing missing was Kanaya's invitation.
She opened Pesterchum and clicked on Kanaya's name. Their most recent conversation was benign and casual, something about the most recent group activity Vriska had put them through. With fingers poised over the keyboard, she thought. And thought. And thought.
Her hands fell away from the keyboard. How does one ask a girl on a sort-of-date? Is that the kind of thing best done in person? Her awkward online courting was coming back to bite her, as things often did. In response, she did what she often did- procrastinated.
After fighting a hairband into her coils of platinum hair and making sure her orange robe wasn't stained (it wasn't, it never was), she ventured from her room and into the common room. Something about the layout of the meteor made it seem as if it was never in the same place, but just as easily found as it always was. Rambunctious shouts echoed down the hallway as she approached. Vriska and Terezi were apparently fighting for auditory dominance, and Rose steeled herself against the sonic assault as well as she could.
Seconds after stepping into the room, she was hit in the stomach by a pillow.
“Lalonde!” Vriska barked, hands on her hips. “A surprise attack could come at any moment, you need to be on your toes!”
The room was full of feathers and deflated pillows. The furniture was rearranged into some kind of fort situation, upon which stood Terezi, hair full of feathers and a wide grin on her face as she prepared to launch another pillow at whoever was unlucky enough to be in the crossfire.
Rose ignored the chaos, her heart in her throat. Sitting at the table with her face in a book, ignoring the shenanigans of Vriska and Terezi, was Kanaya. Feeling Rose's eyes on her, she looked up and smiled.
Another pillow hit Rose in the back of the head as she walked through the room, but she ignored it. This was her chance.
“Hello, Kanaya. What are you reading?” she asked conversationally as she sat, keeping her nerves firmly squashed.
“This one is an Alternian fairy tale: In Which A Young Troll is Trapped Within her Tower By a Controlling Lusus And Longs For The World Outside, And in her Eighth Sweep She Is Discovered By Her Future Matesprit-”
“Sounds like Rapunzel,” Rose said, looking at the cover.
Kanaya shrugged. “Perhaps, I know some of our stories are similar. Either way, it's a light read and I've finished the story many times now.”
She set the book aside and looked at Rose. “Have you read anything interesting lately?”
Rose's mind blanked. Of course she had, but under the weight of that electric gaze she couldn't remember a single title.
“Ah, yes! Quite a bit actually, but if I'm honest I've been too focused on my personal projects to read as much as usual.”
A very good save on her part, and completely truthful. Planning a date and making the star projector were technically personal projects, and-
“Oh? What kind of projects?”
“Crafts mostly,” Rose said, laughing in a way she hoped didn't sound nervous. Judging by Kanaya's confused expression, she was doing a very bad job.
“Would you like to see?” Rose blurted without thought.
Kanaya smiled, surprised. “Certainly!”
With her stomach in nervous knots, Rose smiled. “Fantastic, I'll meet you in my room in a few hours.”
Rose hurried from the room before she could show any panic or be pelted by another pillow.
Standing in her room with her back to the closed door, Rose groaned into her hands. She thought she would have more time than this, more time to clean, to set things up, to make sure the star jar was perfect, to steel herself against her own nerves.
She uncovered her face and took a deep breath. No need to get overwhelmed. First things first- set up the movie. It was an easy task and put her in the preparation mood. Next she set the pillows along the side of her bed against the wall, making a makeshift couch. On the side table, she set up bags of chips and candy and bottles of soda; anything a distinguished movie-goer would be thrilled to dine on, she assumed.
Last but not least- the star projector. Peering inside the jar was fruitless- it was completely opaque. This was probably a good sign. Gingerly she began feeling the sides of the jar. The paint was dried and she let out a sigh of relief. She chipped the tape away as carefully as she could and let it flutter to the bottom of the jar leaving many tiny pinpricks of clear glass. She turns on the lights within the lid and screws it on. With the lights in her room on, it was not a spectacular sight.
But when she turned off the lights, her room was transformed. The warm light within left spots of diffused yellowed light across the walls and ceiling. She smiled widely, her heart leaping with excitement. It worked perfectly; the only thing left to do was show Kanaya.
For hours, Rose continued to organize the things that were already well organized. Checking and rechecking everything for lack of anything better to do with her nervous energy. Finally, there was a light tap at her door. She sprung to her feet and nearly tripped trying to reach her door. Without hesitation she opened it, and there stood Kanaya. Glowing brightly, dressed impeccably, and indescribably beautiful.
Rose forgot how to speak for a moment, but Kanaya had already begun.
“Hello, Rose. I hope I'm not too early but you never actually gave me a time to come over so-”
Rose winced slightly. “My apologies. I was going to pester you when I felt the time was right but...” She trailed off with no real excuse. “But this is the perfect time I believe, Come in!”
She stepped aside and let Kanaya in. Her feet padded across the overlapped rugs and she sat delicately on the edge of the bed. Her eyes wandered over Rose's charging laptop and the collected plethora of snacks on the desk.
“I was thinking we could watch a movie before we got into my silly crafts,” Rose said just a touch too quickly. With a pleasantly surprised smile, Kanaya nodded.
“That sounds nice, did you have one in mind?”
“I did,” Rose said coyly, turning off her lights. She sat up on the bed-turned-couch and Kanaya leaned back, their legs stretched out straight and touching thigh to calf. Rose balanced the laptop between them and started the movie- Tangled.
Sitting so close to Kanaya was breathtaking. She smelled herbal and faintly earthy, her skin was warm and hard against Rose's leg underneath the velvety cloth of her skirt, her breathing deep and even as she watched the film. As time went on, she found herself leaning closer and closer until her hear was resting on Kanaya's shoulder. Neither of them minded, and at some point their hands ended up linked.
As the movie came to an end, Rose took a deep breath. She shut the laptop and Kanaya began glowing instinctively, head tilted as Rose stood and grabbed the jar.
“If you don't mind, I need perfect darkness for this,” Rose said, and Kanaya obliged, leaving nothing but a faint afterimage in the pitch blackness. Heart pounding, Rose turned on her makeshift star projector.
At first, Kanaya seemed confused, eyes darting around the room. Realization dawned on her and her eyes widened, letting out an involuntary gasp as the stars glittered around her. They shifted slightly as Rose sat next to her, watching her face as Kanaya stared around the room.
“This is... amazing,” she breathed, turning to Rose with an awestruck expression. “Is this... Did you do this for me?”
Rose nodded, and Kanaya cupped her face in her hands, catching sight of both of their skin specked with golden light and grinning widely.
“Thank you. Nobody has ever given me the stars before,” she said quietly. Quickly, so suddenly Rose wasn't sure if it had really happened, Kanaya pressed her lips to Rose's. A telltale glow started on her face, only adding to the ambient light in the room.
“Do you think we could create our on constellations from this?” Kanaya asked excitedly.
“Absolutely,” Rose said, setting the jar on the middle of the floor and letting the stars take over the entire room. Curled around each other, Rose and Kanaya invented their own constellations; named after friends, after historical figures, after stories and animals and creatures of imagination. As the two drifted off to sleep under their own sky, Rose smiled.