“They might still have a bit of awkwardness to overcome.
But the Captain and the others can tell that the relationship between the two will soon be stronger than ever.”
-Excerpt from All-Seeing Huntress
Silva’s a couple drinks in when Song arrives. She’s pleasantly buzzed, but still in control of her faculties. Enough to be pondering what a mess she had caused, albeit inadvertently. The fault for the drawn out nature of the ensuing standstill, however, had fallen squarely on her shoulders.
Song’s catching her up on the happenings of the latest meeting of Eternals, the one called after Song had gone on a rampage through their ranks. The rampage for which Silva still feels some degree of responsibility.
“So, you apologized then?” she asks, taking a sip. It’s not the best she’s had on tap, but at least it’s cold.
“Water under the bridge,” Song says with a laugh, but it’s not as airy as Silva thinks she intends.
“And your bow?” she asks, leaning forward across the small corner table.
“It’s been quiet,” Song says with a slight shrug of one shoulder, gaze averted.
“That’s for the best, I suppose.”
There’s a lull in conversation as Silva considers what to say next. Song beats her to the punch.
“And you? How are your sisters?”
They’re talking like they’re business associates. It makes her skin itch, but she’s not sure how to reroute things. She half expects Song to offer her an assignment and then she’ll follow with an inquiry about the bounty.
“Oh, they’ve been busy since joining the crew,” she says before remembering how Song helped out Cucouroux all those months ago, “But you already knew that.”
They might be two of several hundred scattered across a few specialized ships at this point, but Song isn’t off on Eternals business enough to have missed all that much. The fact that her sisters most likely had more contact with Song during their time in the crew is another reminder of how poorly Silva has handled things.
“It’s all right. I’m glad they’re doing well. I’m sure the captain keeps them busy. Never a dull moment on the Grandcypher, right?”
Song raises her glass and Silva responds in kind, the clink mostly drowned out by the sounds of other tavern goers. She finishes the dregs of hers and considers ordering another. Song gulps back a healthy amount, slamming the mug down and wiping her mouth. It doesn’t escape her notice that Song’s cheeks are a pleasant pink. Her own dapple with a heady warmth that she wants to chalk up to the beer or the roaring hearth on the other side of the room. Better not to acknowledge it at all. Instead, she distracts herself by staring down into her empty mug, the last flecks of foam lazily sliding together as she tips it.
“You want to get out of here?” Song asks with a half-smile that doesn’t quite reach her eyes.
Silva ponders it a moment, but her thoughts just circle back several times to the unhelpful desire to not mess things up.
“Yeah, that sounds good,” she says eventually and Song tosses back what’s left of her pint, eyes watery as she pays her tab. Several crew mates watch them go, some eyes friendly, others probing. Silva tries not to think about the latter.
The cool night air is a welcome shock that shakes off most of the alcohol-induced lethargy, leaving her more alert. It’s a quaint, out of the way sky island that they’ve docked at for the time being, the Grandcypher towering over the handful of other ships in port. The tavern’s the biggest business in town at this time of night, most of the residences unlit as they move further from the town center.
As the glow of town dies down, the skies open up before them, a multitude of lights on a blanket of midnight. Song can probably see far enough to know who is on deck down to the details of their expressions, but the light of the stars and the moon illuminate the expanse between them and the ship clearly enough for Silva to make out small details as well. A couple shaggy hills overlook the port and they both head towards them, a well-trodden dirt path cutting through some tall grass to guide the way.
Song casually slides a hand into hers and she does her best not to freeze up at the contact. Neither of their hands are soft, but when she allows herself, she does imagine other parts of Song are. It complicates things.
Their steps slow once they reach the top. They’re far enough away that noise from the town and the ship don’t reach, giving the lookout a sense of isolation. Warm lights from below deck brighten the ship’s sides and she thinks she can pinpoint Raduga’s location in the subgalley.
“Beautiful, isn’t it?” Song says, leaning close.
She hazards a glance at her companion. Song’s cloak is wrapped around her shoulders to ward off the night air, her expression fond as she regards the ship.
“Yeah,” she breathes.
Silva’s already drunkenly divulged her feelings about the crew and Song’s place in it once, but it wasn’t everything. Her brow furrows, searching for the words; her name on Song’s lips puts a halt to any progress.
“Silva, thanks for asking to meet up with me. I’m glad we can still spend time like this.”
It’s as good a jumping off point as any.
“About that… I just wanted to apologize again,” she says, bowing her head, “I don’t know where we go from here, but I’d like to do this another time. No missions.”
Song listens, a thoughtful expression crossing her face that shifts into something more mischievous.
“Or drunk uncles,” Song laughs into a hand.
“Or drunk uncles,” she confirms, feeling a weight lift off her shoulders.
Their eyes meet and after a pause, they’re both leaning into each other laughing. It’s cathartic. All the tension she’d been holding drains from her shoulders and her jaw. Maybe whatever it is that’s between them will work out after all.
“Sorry for being so awkward,” she finally says and Song nudges her with a shoulder.
“Enough apologies for the night, don’t you think? It’s not often we take time off like this. Let’s just enjoy it.”
“You’re right,” she admits, pulling her hand away to undo the tie at her throat.
Song steps back to observe as she spreads her jacket on the ground.
Song raises a brow and she can feel her cheeks burn in response, clear enough that even someone without Song’s sharp sight could see in the moonlight. Without comment Song sits, her knees pulled up to her chest. She divests from her own coat, draping it over her shoulders and offering Silva space next to her underneath.
“Can’t let you catch cold,” she says.
Silva isn’t sure what to say to that, so she mumbles something affirmative and joins Song under her outer coat. They huddle close, managing to make the arrangement work. She tilts her head up to look at the night sky, enjoying Song’s steady warmth at her side.
This could be enough.
Something in her short circuits when Song leans her head against her shoulder, her muscles suddenly taut as a bow string. All the tension that had left her when they laughed returns even as Song links an arm with hers. Song must sense it—of course she does, she can locate a rabbit all the way from the far side of an island, can read the changing of the winds, is every bit a huntress as Silva is.
“Silva?” she asks, pulling away, but not enough to take the jacket with her. When Silva doesn’t respond, she begins to babble. “I-Sorry! If it’s too much, I-“
The panic in her voice is enough to knock some sense into Silva. In a sharp motion she turns, placing her hands just above Song’s arm guards. Vaguely, she’s aware of the coat sliding off of her shoulders and Song’s stunned silence.
“No. Don’t,” she snaps, her words coming out more harshly than she intends as, in the end, all her ire is meant for herself. “It was—it was… nice,” she finishes feebly.
Song half-crumples against her, weakly punching Silva’s thigh. Her forehead rests against Silva’s bare shoulder and she’s painfully aware of the contact.
“You really know how to stress a girl out.”
Silva releases a breath she hadn’t realized she’d been holding and tentatively wraps her arms around Song’s back in a loose hold.
“Sorry, I’m just… awful at this.”
Whatever ‘this’ is.
“No more apologies, remember?” Song says, poking her exposed side and causing her to squirm. She’d rather Song not know how ticklish she is. Not yet anyway.
“You did it first,” she murmurs, not actually interested in picking a fight.
Song pulls back, eyes widening for a moment before her gaze sharpens.
“Can we try again?”
“I kind of like where I’m at,” Song says with a lilt to her tone that gives her hope as much as it rattles her nerves.
Rather than embarrassing herself further, she hikes the jacket back up over her shoulders, enveloping them both. Song adjusts, tugging Silva’s arm to hug her just above her waist and leaning against her shoulder again. The longer she focuses on relaxing, the more natural it feels to have Song nestled against her and the less she has to actively think about what she’s doing.
As they gaze at the horizon, drinking in the night sky, she finds herself leaning into Song as well. The silence mellows into something comfortable and for a time, she thinks she could be content to stay there forever.
But all things come to an end. The night air takes on a bitter edge, a breeze drifting in from the west. Song shivers at her side and they both wordlessly agree to stand up. As Silva stretches some feeling back into her legs, Song pulls up Silva’s jacket before she has a chance to and brushes off bits of grass and rocks. She holds it up, Silva dipping slightly to fit her arms in the sleeves as Song leans in to press her lips to her cheek, halting Silva’s movements as she whispers in her ear.
“Thanks. This was… nice,” she says, echoing Silva’s brevity from earlier.
Silva tries not to take the teasing tone to heart and instead decides to do her one better. She shrugs on her coat, smoothing down some wrinkles.
“Your pick next time?” she asks, striving for a cool-headed nonchalance.
Song tilts her head, contemplating a response before linking their arms.
“I think I know just the place!” she says as they make their way back down the path, arm-in-arm.
Her eyes are bright as she tells Silva about a bistro off the beaten path that she’s always wanted to try, but didn’t want to go to alone. They part ways on the ship with a friendly wave and it takes all her restraint to make it to her cabin before leaning back against the door and pressing a hand to her cheek.