“Why are we still here? Should we not have flown back by now?”
Krista isn’t really in the mood for Astrid but she bites her tongue and shakes her head. It’s New Years Eve and in most civilized parts of the world, that means having a party with friends and family and counting down until midnight. The middle of Sibbeston Lake doesn’t really count as “civilized” but the point still stands: she wants to be home as badly as Astrid does.
They’d drawn the short straws this time around, she and Astrid, and while Bobby and Blake and the rest of the crew are having a party at Krista’s house, she and Astrid are stuck overnight in a tiny airstrip with nothing but a bottle of pop and some pretzels to stand in place of the amazing potluck Krista had planned. Best laid plans always go to hell, apparently.
“There is too much snow to take off.” Astrid’s standing by one of the wide windows, doing her Captain Obvious routine with a much less receptive audience than Dev usually is. Krista rolls her eyes and puts down the fuel log (she can work on it later) in order to stare out at the snow wreaking havoc on her holiday. It’s the really fluffy stuff and it whirls and blows up in a way that only happens when you shake a snow globe. Krista likes snow globes - provided they aren’t in her real life on New Year’s Eve. “Are you even listening to me?”
“I guessed if I just let you keep talking you’d eventually answer all your own questions,” Krista says wryly. Her tone is sour because, yes, she would like to be home but it’s hard to be in a bad mood when Astrid’s staring out the window with a little hint of a smile on her normally-serious face. She’s actually beautiful with the fluorescent light bathing her and highlighting perfect cheekbones and a full mouth. Astrid is pretty much the definition of Swedish Milkmaid, isn’t she?
“I just thought you would be paying more attention to the reports. I don’t normally trust anyone else’s judgment.” Astrid lets it lie there but Krista can read between the lines. She normally goes behind everyone else except Krista because Krista is someone she can trust. She’s never really been close to Astrid, in spite of sharing a house with her, and Krista’s pretty sure this is the most amount of time she’s ever spent with her one on one.
“Well, it came back to bite you in the ass this time, didn’t it? Just so you know, I don’t trust anyone’s calculations other than mine. Not even Mel’s. Especially not Bobby’s.” At the mention of Bobby, Astrid wrinkles her nose a little. Krista mimics the gesture and it’s not long before they’re both descending into the mad, maniacal laughter that only cabin fever can bring. It’s only been a few hours but they’re alone and it’s like some kind of weird slumber party.
“What?” Krista teases, trying to get a rise out of of the other girl. “You got something to say about Bobby Martin, pilot extraordinaire?” That only serves to make Astrid giggle more, sucking in shallow gasps of air that are something between a snort and a hiccup. It’s ridiculous, but cute, and Krista can’t help but keep laughing herself. She’s in some weird kind of feedback loop and it takes a good fifteen minutes before they’ve both calmed down and come back to Earth.
After a few moments of quiet, Astrid tips her head toward the window. “It is never this violent at home, of course, but the snow makes me feel like I am home. So do the lights, when I can see them. I do not think I would have done well further south. Here, it feels like home some of the time.”
Krista has never been any further from Yellowknife than Vancouver or Calgary so she has no point of reference for how Astrid feels. She imagines it has to be lonely and she also imagines it gives her a lot in common with Dev - being so far from family and friends. But one thing Astrid has that Dev doesn’t, something that makes her belong in a way he never can, is the North. Astrid has the North in her in a way that a person has to be born to, not learned, and it’s as much a part of her as her blonde hair and her blue eyes and her silly laugh.
It’s the one thing that Krista can understand about her, as strange and hard to read as Astrid can be, and she can’t help but smile. She looks down at her watch and sees that it’s 11:57 PM. At her party, everyone’s probably high on celebration and really bad beer that’s been classed up in champagne flutes but here in the abandoned airstrip, it’s just she, Astrid, and a hell of a lot of snow.
“Astrid?” she asks softly, touching the other girl’s cheek to get her attention. Astrid seems completely confused by the gesture but she doesn’t pull away. Krista counts softly beneath her breath, marking out the seconds in a barely-audible whisper and when the clock strikes midnight, she threads her hand in Astrid’s hair and touches her lips lightly to hers.
Astrid’s mouth is soft and while she seems stiff and shocked at first, Krista presses on and manages to get her to soften and open up. It’s only after another fifteen seconds that Astrid seems to melt against her, pliant and sweet, and this kiss is a lot more than Krista expected it would be when it first occurred to her to make the move. Astrid wraps her arms around her and tugs her close, hips and breasts pressed flush. Oh. Boy.
“Is this how they celebrate a new year in Yellowknife, Krista?” They’re not in Yellowknife, not technically, but Krista catches her meaning. Still, she shakes her head and tucks one long strand of golden hair back behind Astrid’s left ear. God, she’s beautiful. Krista wonders why she hasn’t noticed before now.
“No. That’s how the North celebrates. You’re just as much a part of it as I am.”