They have played dangerous games in the past. More than any Eternal, Silva knows her weaknesses. She has shot Song down from the skies twice, sending her plummeting towards land and the abyss that threatens to swallow each sky island. The first time was an apology. The second, a desperate plea to return.
When she is alone in her room on the ship, she worries she hasn’t fully shaken the influence of the Two-Crown Bow. Of wanting to leave the world and everything in it behind, just as it had done to her. To surpass all those who cast her out. It unsettles her. It thrills her.
Said weapon is stored on a rack against a wall in her room, coolly indifferent and silent. The golden glow from a small window illuminates its outline, the gemstones casting off refracted rays of light. She had been judged and found wanting, unable to scale the mountain between earthly and preternatural.
The thought pierces her. She wonders if it is her own or some lingering whispers as she turns on her heels. The door clicks shut behind her as she leaves to take a walk to clear her head, passing others in a weary haze.
The sky above deck is rent in two as if violently torn apart. An evening sunset glows orange on one side, the other dulling into slate grays. The ship idles above a cloudbank, waiting out the stormfront that towers ahead.
There are small pockets of the crew scattered about. She doesn’t spot anyone she is friendly with and she doesn’t have it in her to make the effort to drum up small talk with acquaintances. Instead, she opts for the solitude of an unoccupied section off to the side of the quarter deck.
Beyond assisting a stumbling, inebriated Silva back to the foundry, her last contact had been when Silva had helped her up after sending her crashing down. Righting her path and pulling her out of the hole she had dug herself into. Silva has admitted to being an admirer, a rival deadeye. The silver moon to Song’s starlight.
Song, in return, has confessed little. And nothing as openly and unabashedly as Silva even if it was the alcohol that pried the praise from her. She doesn’t know how to approach and isn’t certain she has the right. She had thought before she might be able to express herself with just the two of them present, but circumstances hadn’t allowed it, Silva falling into a slumber at the table. A fond smile tugs at her lips at the memory.
Since their last encounter, life aboard the Grandcypher has returned to normal. Song is merely a single member of a vast supporting crew. Almost unremarkable in the ocean of primal beasts and sky island champions. At one time, she might have confused that for something she wanted, but she’s realized like with the Eternals, it’s easy enough to feel lonely even in a crowd. There have been small bright points. Lyria held her hand as they went window shopping, the Captain and Vyrn in tow. Song has even seen Silva’s sisters in passing, both acting as if her unfettered assault on all the Eternals hadn’t occurred.
As for them… she hasn’t faced them again. Not since she challenged the Captain. But a meeting will be called soon. Siete will keep his word. In truth, it doesn’t bother her. It will go as Siete said and little will change. She will work from great heights alone even when the Eternals are called to arms as a team. What worries her more is—
“Song?” a tentative voice interrupts her thoughts.
She startles into a jump, hovering until she recognizes the outstretched hand. Silva pulls it back, her expression uncertain. The wind tugs at the loose strands of hair that frame her face. The sight causes her own greeting to catch in her throat.
Silva joins her at the side rail. Despite her melancholy thoughts, she relaxes in the company of her presence, reclining from where she floats.
“Cucouroux said she passed you heading up,” Silva says, gazing out at distant flashes of lightning, the storm that had been brewing now lashing out in full force, “I had wanted to get some fresh air, so I thought I would see if you were still here.”
It’s an abrupt change from before. From months of being avoided. Of them tip toeing around each other on the same air ship, in the same crew. She doesn’t remember seeing Cucouroux, but she doesn’t remember many details of her walk to the top deck.
A strong gust rolls past, her cape fluttering noisily.
“It’s been awhile,” she says when the winds die down.
Not as long a break as before, but enough for her not to know what to do. Like they’re starting from point A all over again and it makes her want to scream in frustration. Perhaps she’ll take the opportunity the next time she’s on some remote mountain top where only the birds and beasts can hear her.
Silva sighs, her hands loosely clasped, forearms resting on the handrail. Song waits patiently as she composes her thoughts.
“Would you… want to get drinks?” she asks
and Song doesn’t miss the hopeful note in her voice. “Sometime soon.”
That has her attention and she adjusts her expectations accordingly.
“Oh? Did you have a place in mind?” she asks, a playful lilt to her question.
Silva shrugs and Song filters through a list of potential locations. A tea shop in Port Breeze. An oceanside bar on an island in Auguste. One of the many cafes littered throughout the nearest islands. She has them all mentally indexed and vague ideas of what Silva might prefer.
“Next time we’re in port?”
“Not Raduga’s?” she asks, wondering if she can weasel in some drinks that night.
“If I can avoid drinking too much in front of the whole crew, I will. Being like that once in front of my sisters was enough,” Silva says, face coloring at the memory.
You did it for a good cause, she thinks, but instead says, “You don’t mind doing so in front of me?”
“I figure if you’re still interested in meeting up, it would be hard to act a bigger fool than I already have,” she says with a rueful grin. “Multiple times.”
Her expression darkens and Song reaches out a hand, straightening her stance and alighting next to Silva.
“Hey, are you all right?”
“Um, well, I don’t remember what I said… last time, but are we ok?” she asks, looking at her hands.
And it hits her like a bolt that once again, Silva’s been just as concerned as she has. It’s enough to get her to expose some of her own vulnerabilities. She owes Silva that much.
“Yes, we’re all right. I didn’t have a chance to thank you. For before. I don’t know what might have happened if you hadn’t intervened.”
She takes it a step further and leans against her, Silva’s eyes finally meeting hers. She heaves a breath and offers a sheepish smile that Song attempts to commit to memory.
“You have no idea how relieved I am to hear it,” she says, sagging slightly as she sighs. The movement presses her closer and Song wonders if it’s intentional or if she’s assigning meaning to nothing.
It’s her turn to shrug.
“Maybe I do,” she says sweetly, her own arms now resting on the top of the railing, their shoulders still touching. “So, next time we’re in port then?”
Silva nods, still looking contemplative. She gives her the space, less concerned about the tension than before.
“And about the other thing,” Silva finally says, “I haven’t been the best of friends, but I want to be, going forward. If you’ll have me.”
Her gaze is locked firmly back on her hands, her hair obscuring most of her face. Several responses dart through Song’s considerations that offer far too much in return. They’re both skittish. Whether it’s due to their natures, their history, or the need to endure lengthy silence and solitude in their work, Song isn’t certain. Most likely it is a combination of all three. In the end, she settles a hand over Silva’s, reaching for her as Silva had once done for Song.
“Thank you,” she whispers after a pause, squeezing the calloused hand that has shifted to hold hers. It’s warm and more real than anything the bow could promise. Silva solemnly nods her acknowledgment. “And thanks for coming over to see me.”
Silva shifts her weight from one foot to the other, pulling away slightly even as her hand lingers in Song’s.
“Cucouroux said you didn’t seem yourself. I was worried.”
“That I would fly off again?” she asks, raising a brow.
“That you were still,” she pauses, brow wrinkling, “hurt from before.”
“Mm.” She nods slowly. “I don’t think it’s over—whatever that bow wants,” Song admits. “But I’m ok now.”
They’re talking about two interconnected, but different matters and Song briefly wonders at how entangled their fates have become. Despite this, Silva appears content with her response and saying it out loud makes it feel true. Standing there with Silva is the most hopeful she’s been in awhile, a swell of encouragement building in her chest.
“I’m glad,” Silva says.
Song flashes a smile before gearing up for her next leap, a little more certain that Silva won’t let her crash land.
“So, next time we’re in port then?” she repeats, circling them back again.
“Next time we’re in port,” Silva affirms.
“It’s a date then!” she says, Silva nearly choking on her response.
But she doesn’t deny it and she doesn’t pull away. Silva bumbles her way through another affirmation, cheeks flushed, and Song files the experience away as yet another charming view of the person whose favor means the most.
She decides to spare her any further teasing and asks about her sisters and the foundry. Silva invites her to go with her the next time she travels back.
Questions of her fate and the bow don’t cross her mind even as she settles into bed later that night, her back turned to where it hangs on the wall, unmoving.