The sound of thunder cracking in the distance distracts Louis from Harry curved over the comms. Not that she is afraid of thunder, or storms for that matter. But she doesn’t really know what a storm on this planet is really like, and this is the first time she is directly responsible for another life than her own.
“Anything, Harry?”, and she’s not staring. Not really. She’s just paying attention to her communications officer like a good captain would.
“Nothing Captain, I think this must be some kind of electromagnetic storm, and it’s interfering with our communications.” Harry doesn’t even look at her to say this, she’s concentrating on her task, which is to finally reach the ship, so they can send a rescue team for them.
This was supposed to be a routine mission. They would go down on the planet, to study/analyse the writings found on many of the caves and sometimes even on the ground of the planet to see if it would explain why there were no other signs of life on it.
And now they are trapped here, and no way to contact the ship, from what Harry said.
“I’ve already told you to call me Louis.”, and it’s not the first, second or even third time they have this conversation. Harry now will say that Louis is her superior officer and that it’s not proper to call her by her given name.
“I would prefer to continue calling you captain, Captain. It’s only proper to keep doing so”. And if her voice sounds a little cold, there’s no one there besides Louis to feel it.
“As you wish”.
And Louis can be honest, even if it’s just for herself. It hurts a little this kind of dismissal from Harry.
“What do you suggest we do now?”, Harry asks her, and that’s the thing, isn’t it? It doesn’t really matter if Harry doesn’t like her. It is her responsibility to take them out of this mess, and come up with a plan with great chances of survival. And Harry might not like her, but she trusts Louis as her captain and that should be enough. It is enough.
“Now we wait. I know you sent all kinds of distress signals you could, but if you are right, and I believe you are, we will have to wait for the storm to end before we can safely be back on the ship.”
Louis doesn’t really know how long it’s been, but she can’t take the silence any longer. The only sound in the cave is the fucking thunder still echoing outside. Harry is sat in silence over her tablets from the research she’s doing on her findings earlier on the day, before the storm struck and they had to hide in this cave. Every once in a while she looks up from her tablet and stare at Louis, she doesn’t say a word and Louis pretends she doesn’t notice it. But the silence is killing her.
“How is the research going? Have you got enough data to return to the ship?”. The questions startle Harry, who was staring at her with a pensive look on her face.
“Sorry?”, shaking her head, Harry focuses on Louis again.
“I just asked how is the research going.”
Harry eyes seem to shine with the question. And then she starts on a long-winded explanation on the different forms of script she found on the different parts of the planet they had access to, and how she still can’t translate what she found to the Standard language yet, and that whatever language this is, it can’t be found on the Universal Translator.
“But I can see here some similarities with one of the languages found in Thersus IV.” She is sitting closer now, and if Louis was a worse captain, or woman for that matter, she would try to discover what kind of perfume Harry was wearing because her scent is absolutely amazing. “Here”, she scoots even closer so both can see the screen of the tablet, “can you see this line here, that connects with something like the number 6? Yes, that one. Well, it resembles the one we saw that one time we were studying the almost extinct languages…”
She cuts off midsentence, and Louis almost says nothing to it, because that who Harry really is. So much on her mind, that it is sometimes difficult to explain all the details only she seems to notice when comparing languages (not that Louis is not good with languages on her own, but she can never be as good as Harry). But Louis knows Harry.
Even when she tries to make herself forget that she knows Harry from before. Before she became a captain, before they were assigned to different ships, before the hardships of long distance relationship became a thing. Louis knows Harry. And she knows that when she is excited about a topic, you can’t make her stop.
When Louis looks at her, she’s not looking back, or even at her tablet. She’s got her eyes down, and there’s a little blush colouring her cheeks. And it seems she doing everything she can to avoid eye contact with Louis.
“What’s wrong, Harry?”. And she can see that Harry will try to say nothing is wrong and that she just got distracted. “And don’t bullshit me”.
“But there’s nothing wrong.” But even though her voice is steady, she won’t look Louis in the eyes. “Really.”
“So why won’t you look me in the eyes?”
When Harry looks up, her eyes are shiny with unshed tears, and now Louis is worried, because she couldn’t imagine there was something seriously wrong. And what did she do? And how can she fix it? And she can’t even pretend she is just worried about a crewmember. She is worried about Harry, and has been since Harry and her were assigned posts on the same ship and Harry entered the bridge with sad, sad eyes.
“Don’t worry about it, Captain, it’s nothing that concerns you.”
“Come on Harry. You know you can trust me. And we are not on the ship, we are stuck in this cave for who knows how long. You can call me Louis. At least here.”. It sounds like pleading. And in a way, it is. But Louis is tired. She’s tired of looking at Harry and seeing a shell of the bright woman she was in love with.
“But that is the problem! Don’t you see?”
And Louis doesn’t, not really. And probably the confusion is clear on her face, because Harry continues, and the pain is clear in her green, green eyes.
“I don’t get to call you Louis anymore! That is not my right. I have to see you every day on the bridge, being flirty and nice with Doctor Payne, and all…”
Her rant is cut off by the loudest thunder they heard on the planet so far, it’s like a living thing, it feels like the whole cave trembled in fear, but Harry and Louis can only look at each other.
“Are you ok?”
“What do you mean I’m flirty with Liam?”
They shout the questions at the same time, both to be heard – Harry –, and because she can’t really understand, can’t comprehend – Louis.
They just look at each other, like they can’t make sense of what the other asked. But Louis feels like it’s her place to keep calm, and she is not doing such a good job at the moment. “Yes, I’m good. I told you I don’t have problems with storms. Are you okay?”
“Of course I’m good.”, she dismisses Louis worry to focus on bigger things. “And are you trying to tell me you don’t flirt nonstop with Doctor Payne?”
“I’m not flirting with Liam! That’s absurd! Liam is my friend, and she’s got a girlfriend. You know I would never do that!” And Louis can’t hide that she’s a little hurt by the idea that Harry thinks she would flirt with people in relationship.
“But, but, every time she’s on the bridge you keep sharing jokes with her, and she’s always smiling and blushing at you…”, and now Harry just sounds confused.
“Like I said! Liam is my friend, and we share jokes, and Liam gets embarrassed very easily and, and… what does it have to do with anything? What is it to you who I flirt with or not? It doesn’t explain why suddenly you can’t trust me, or you can’t call me by my name, like all the rest of the crew does!”, and she can feel her chest heaving, and she sounds angry, but really, she’s just tired, and disappointed.
And somehow, they are both standing and looking accusingly at each other. And Harry’s face seems to reflect the red of her communication’s uniform. And she looks so sad and beautiful and angry, and Louis’ heart breaks a little, but Harry isn’t finished.
“Because it hurts, Louis! It hurts to call you Louis and know we don’t mean anything more to each other like we used to! It hurts to call you Louis when I know so many more people get to call you that with meaning. And now you’re just my captain, and I can’t begrudge you, because you deserve more than anyone to captain your own ship. But it hurts!”, Harry seems finished, and she’s panting like she ran a marathon. But maybe, just maybe this was worse. More difficult.
She can’t really grasp the meaning behind the words.
She heard Harry.
But Harry broke thing off. Harry told Louis it wasn’t working anymore, and that they should be free.
Now Harry is here. Harry is sad.
And Louis is kissing Harry.
She’s not really sure the moment she decided that she would kiss Harry, but their lips are touching and it’s like they were never apart. And Louis feels her back hit the cave wall and Harry is all over her, and she can’t think, only feel. She can taste Harry, like she thought she never would again, and it’s wonderful. She gasps, and Harry is there to breathe her in and take, take, take. All of her.
Harry scent fills her lungs and Harry taste gives her life. And she is so alive. And Louis kisses her back, and she never wants to stop. Harry’s lips feel like home, and Louis was so homesick.
“Louis. Louis”, And Harry is trying to get away, but Louis can’t let her. She’s holding on to Harry like she never wants Harry to leave her side, and that’s it, isn’t it? That’s the truth.
She never wants to let Harry go. Like she did those years ago, when Harry said they were not working.
And thinking about it, Harry never said she didn’t love her anymore. Does she still love her? And suddenly Louis needs to know. She can’t go one more minute without knowing.
“Wait, Harry! What, what does it mean? You can’t do this to me again. Don’t give me false hope. Do you, do you still feel something…”
But she can’t finish her question, because Harry is kissing her again, but this time is uncoordinated, Harry keeps repeating “love you”s between kisses and Louis can feel tears on her cheeks, but she’s not sure whose they are.
When they finally stop, they’re smiling and crying, and Louis just holds Harry, just holds her. “When you broke things off between us, I didn’t know what to do. You were the best part of me, and I felt so lost. “
“I’m sorry Lou, I'm so sorry”, there are some tears on her face and on her voice, but Louis just feel so much love from hearing Harry calling her Lou again. “But you were always meant for great things. You shouldn’t be stuck on Earth because of me. You were meant to have your own ship and your own crew and I was slowing you down, and I couldn’t live with myself. So I did that, and it hurt so much, so I focused on my studies. And hoped, hoped so much I would be part of your crew one day. But you seemed so fine, and so over us. And all the crew love you. And you’re the captain I always knew you would be.”
“Please, don’t do that ever again. You could have taken longer. But I would wait for you. I would have.”
And they’re kissing again, and this time is not so frantic, it’s slow and it feels like it could lead to more. But suddenly the silence is almost deafening.
It’s like the thunder was the soundtrack for their confessions, but now the only sound is their breaths. It is just too quiet.
They separate enough to look outside, and the sky is so clear, they can see both moons clearly. Harry gathers her equipment, and they sit in front of the cave, Louis looking at Harry and the moons which illuminate them, while Harry is fiddling with her comms to try and get in touch with the ship.
“Anything, Harry?”, and this time she is smiling when she asks the question. She’s not really in a hurry to go back to the ship.
“Not yet, Captain. But the comms are finally back to life, it won’t be long now.” But this time, she’s smiling when she says captain. And Louis could get used to being called captain.