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"Chin up," Rose says, and Jasper lifts her head, looks over Rose's left shoulder into the cloud of curls that blocks an otherwise uneventful view of the ship's wooden walls. Social gatherings are hellish, and ones when one is flying through space upon a cog-ridden aeronautic device more hellish still; there is no escape up the rigging when the sails are furled and the engines are shimmering light speed.

In Jasper's own quarters, Rose pulls at their hasty and mangled knot of a bow, somehow managing to make the mechanical process of arranging clothes be loving as she tugs it into place, smoothing the ends and dipping two fingers into Jasper's collar. Jasper chokes a breath.
"Too tight?" she asks, lifting her hands to pull her handiwork apart and do it all over again. Jasper's red hand blocks her.
"It's fine," Jasper rasps, curling a fist as that same arm tucks neatly back to her side. The solar winds are making the entire ship creak, a blazing streak of light spinning past the port, and her senses are on alert.
"Be safe," Rose says, and Jasper ends up rattling a sigh as she turns to pick up her sword belt.
"Yeah," Jasper adds after a moment, "You too."

Rose leaves the room, chin held high and a vision in pink - nobody more beautiful, more soft, more gentle. Ten years pass. A hundred. Promotions and gatherings and conquered worlds covered over in gem architecture, studded with stones. A new life-bearing cluster is scouted.

"Rose," Jasper's throat grinds on the word, "What are your orders?"
The bridge is mostly empty, the viewport wide open and the commander's chair unoccupied. Rose is watching that tiny blue planet spinning, flecks of green and trails of white all bleeding into insignificance.

"Commander," Jasper tries again.
Rose just sighs, reaching to take Jasper's hand and pull her to the viewport. Her palm is warm.
"Protect it."