he comes by one night to her sleeping quarters, asking if she could provide any accommodations because the sea leaked into his dorm and flooded to his ankles. he is a nice man, but he has no friends. the cadets are all young, and asking the same of them would be inappropriate. is the same true with his superior? he didn’t consider that.
he sees her face for the first time when she opens the door, and he thinks it isn’t a bad face. he was expecting someone older; someone more weathered than a wildly tempered woman of red-brown eyes and deep set drowsiness. she knows he is taken aback by her youthful appearance and thinks, if only he knew.
as they lie beside each other, stiff and unsure of how to proceed without touching, he swallows his pride and asks,
"what is your name, captain?" that’s all he knows.
"i’m not telling you." that’s all she wants him to know.
he doesn’t speak of it the next day. as they stand in the command centre, he wonders what her face looks like at that very moment, behind her mask. he wonders what she looks like when she’s angry, but then decides he would rather not know.
"seii." her voice is rough. they’re alone. did he miss something?
"captain?" his cheeks burn. he wishes he had a mask, too. how good it must be to remain hidden at all times, especially in times of fear, anguish, and terror. but they are going strong on one hundred years of a gauna free life. he’s not worried.
"dismissed." her lift ascends. he tucks his tablet under his arm and takes his leave graciously.
his dorm is still flooded. she doesn’t seem surprised when he comes back that night.
there’s a window in her bedroom that spans the entirety of a wall, looking out to the stars. he wonders how many planets orbit how many stars and if any will lead them to a place where gauna never existed. but he’s not worried. not in his lifetime.
he comes back the next night.
his dorm isn’t flooded anymore.
he tells her it is.
she knows it isn’t.
their backs are touching as they sleep.
"what’s your name?"
she says nothing.
he comes back every night for a month until his dorm is cold and impersonal on the rare occasion he enters. by the time he finally curls an arm around her shoulders ( but still keeps a respectable distance ), he keeps a spare uniform folded in the corner of her closet. he wonders why she has so many different costumes;
"a nurse, a kimono, a ——-"
"you wonder too much, seii," is her cold remark.
maybe she has no name. with all her costumes and faces and mystery and intrigue, maybe she lost her name a long time ago.
the gauna come back.
he’s brave enough to wrap an arm around her waist.
"i want to become a pilot."
she shakes like a leaf and he doesn’t ask for her name.
his first deployment is tomorrow, and she allows him both an arm around her shoulders and her waist. her breath is soft and warm on the slight opening of his uniform at his chest. she holds him the same, and when he looks past the trailing lengths of her hair spread out on the pillow, he asks;
"what’s your name."
there’s a pause. he almost doesn’t believe it.
"i don’t want you to die without knowing."
as if she owes him a reason.
"i won’t die."
his dorm floods again, and he isn’t there to know about it.