Chapter 36

Sam woke up, splayed out on the cot in the plane. He wiped drool from his cheek and looked around. The others all seemed to be asleep, as it was about three o'clock in the morning their time, according to his phone. Everyone was fitfully sleeping, except for Leo, who was typing away at her little laptop, the glow illuminating her pale features. She looked exhausted, but she was in the zone, not wanting to stop for fear of loosing it.

A stewardess came over, hissing a question that he couldn't understand.

"Pardon?" he asked, sitting up and leaning forward.

"Can I get you anything?" she asked, just slightly louder.

"Just some water." Sam looked over at Leo's tray. No water. "And some for the lady over there. She needs it."

The stewardess nodded and bustled off. He stood, slipping his shoes back on, and went to sit on the edge of the bed Leo was reclining in.

She took of her headphones with a smile, leaning forward for a kiss. He accepted and smiled, wishing he could curl up in the little bed with her and sleep while she coded.

"Are you working on anything cool?" he asked, rubbing her shin and calf.

"Not really." She shrugged. The stewardess came over with ice water and they both drank. Air travel could dehydrate a camel.

"It's just a few tweaks to the back end of my little OS. Just making things run faster."

"Ah." He nodded. He did try to be interested in her work. He just didn't understand the majority of it.

"Why aren't you sleeping?" Leo closed her computer and swivveled her legs so she was sitting next to him, cradling her cup of water.

"I was," he shrugged. "But then I woke up and saw you were still awake. You need some rest."

"I do." She nodded. "But I need to work on this stuff for Alex. We need to know why her memory was so painstakingly erased and then a couple weeks later they just spilled the beans and accuse her of murder."

"You don't need to feel responsible for her." Sam shook his head. "You don't need to feel guilty if you're not working on it every second of every moment. We will figure it out, just maybe not right away."

"I don't feel guilty…" she started. He shushed her with a kiss.

"Yeah, you do," he smiled at her. "You have a big heart. And that's not at all bad. You should want to help your friends. But you can take some time to sleep. So sleep."

"I will." She said. Her arm was around his lower back, her hand stroking just above his pelvis, absent mindedly. "I will. When I'm tired."

"You're tired, now." He said. He realised he was also absently mindedly stroking behind her ear. Why? Why did he have to touch her there? His brain was weird. He didn't move his hand.

"If you allow that crazy brain of yours you turn off for three seconds, you can actually sleep."

"I can't if all I'm thinking about is what's next."

"What is next?"

"Not sure." She rubbed her eyes under her glasses. "It could be another hop on a plane to another UN free nation. It could be we settle in St. Petursburg until we clear our names. It could be we settle in St. Petersburg forever? I'm not opposed to it, but still. Then we have to set up the weapons business and establish more permanent contacts in the Underground there. And then we have to figure out our distributors, and then there's…"

He knew what she was about to say, he knew what she was about to talk about; us. Neither of them had been clear on if they wanted "us" to be permanent or if they would have to figure out another path for "I" after "us" was disbanded. 

The question wasn't attraction or compatibility. They worked well together in almost every aspect of their lives, other than hobbies. But they kept all those separate up until video games, which they played together. The question was long term love. Would the romance and sparkle wear off? It hadn't for three years, but it could at any second. And did worrying about the sparkle make it less… sparkly?

He didn't want to think about this right now. It hurt his armored heart too much. He didn't want to think of ever being apart from her, he had to protect her in this changing world, in the Underground, like he had since the beginning. He sighed, running his hands through his hair.

"I know." He said. "I don't know either. About any of it. I do know I still love you, right now. And we can think about long term when there's a long term to think about. For right now, let's just get to Russia. Let's just sleep."

"Will you watch some Doctor Who with me?" she asked, pleading with big blue eyes.

"Nope,” He smiled. "But I'll play some Halo with you. Got the controllers?"

"Yep!" she smiled, pulling them out of her bag and swiveling around in the cot. She set up the computer and handed him a controller. He got as close as he could to her to play, and it was hard to play on the small cot. But he snuggled her close, savoring every moment. He did love her in the here and now, and would keep loving her. Even if it killed him.

Zoe FleischerComment