Lightning Seeker

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Not Getting Caught

Sky’s bold honesty caused her world to tilt as she read his words that had been typed across the screen.

If it makes you feel any better, I’ve had to stop myself from staring at you too. I’m just better at not getting caught.

She had seen him looking at her. But it had been with open curiosity. Not as someone taking in a work of art, but a boy who hadn’t seen another human for some time. And why wouldn’t it be different? she thought as she stared down at her arm, her hand. The mechanical pieces that tainted her. Made her less worthy.

He was something beautiful. She couldn’t say the same of herself. She didn’t know what she was but she was broken now.

She had looked at him when she thought it was a private moment, an openness in her gaze that she wished she could erase and take back. “It’s not the same,” Vale replied before she could stop herself. The metal that made up her arm glistened in the low light of the screens.

Sky stared at her, shaking his head slightly, confused by her words. Vale sighed, “I’m broken. You are whole. Intact.”

Sky gave her a sad smile and shook his head adamantly. He wrote out his next set of words, a passionate undertone in every keystroke. No one is whole. We are all broken. And broken can be very beautiful.

Vale looked away, incapable of processing his words without it breaking her open. This was not the time or place for that. Not with danger so close by. Not with people she cared about missing in the clouds below. “That’s not true,” Vale finally said, settling into denial as a safety net.

Beauty is found in the details. And you are a very detailed piece. Unique.

“Stop,” Vale said bringing Sky’s typing to a halt. “I can’t afford to think like that. You don’t want beautiful things to get hurt. To be put in danger. And if what you have said is true, I will need to do both. So please, let me stay in a place of brokenness. If you think you are whole, the fear of breaking is crippling. But if you are already broken... It doesn’t really matter.”

Sky looked between Vale and the keys, clearly trying to decide if he should protest. Vale ignored his words about beauty, about being something more. She ignored his words about staring at her with anything other than curiosity, tucking away her embarrassment as she looked back up at him. “How long have you been on this ship?”

His face fell, the light leaving his eyes, making her regret her question instantly.

I’ve been on this ship for two years. Sky stopped typing, his fingers pausing in a beat of heavy hesitation in mid-air. Then he continued. You are the first human I have seen since then.

He looked back at the screens, avoiding her gaze. The words burned into her, making her heart ache for him. “That’s a long time,” she said quietly. Sky nodded, his gaze unfocused as he stared at the screens, distracted, detached from the conversation.

Without thinking, Vale reached for his left hand and took it into hers. He looked at her, surprised by her sudden touch. She slowly brought his hand up, and turned it, palm up. Then she used her unbroken, human flesh and blood hand out and traced several small swirls into his palm, warmth spreading up her index finger. She looked up at him as she finished. Sorry.

He blinked, looking suddenly vulnerable under that one word as his glaciers eyes melted into two twin seas. She let go of his hand, but he wrapped his fingers around hers, holding on for a moment longer before letting out a slow breath and letting their hands drop apart.

He held up his right hand to his mouth and brought it down away from his body. Vale tilted her head, trying to understand the gesture. Sky turned back to the screen and typed out a few words. That means ‘thank you.’

Vale nodded, logging it away to remember just in case she had a chance to use it later. She wanted to be able to communicate with Sky without him having to type everything out.

“What’s a good sign response to thank you?” Sky’s smile brightened at her question. He held up his left hand and quickly showed Vale. She mirrored, holding her palm straight up and touching her chest with her thumb twice. Sky nodded, clearly pleased.

He turned back to the screen and typed out a few more words before turning back to Vale with an amused grin. Don’t think I’ve forgotten about your wandering eyes.

“Let it go,” she said, ignoring his silent laugh that followed the blush that filled her cheeks. “It was an accident. This conversation is entirely unnecessary.”

He rolled his eyes and gave a sarcastic nod. Clearing her throat she changed the subject. “How much longer until the content is downloaded?”

His eyes stayed glued on Vale as he held up ten fingers. “Five minutes?” Vale asked. He nodded. “Great...” Suddenly, there was a loud crash on the other side of the metal door, causing both of them to jump. Vale’s heart slammed in her rib cage. They’ve come back and we’re trapped. “Any chance you meant five seconds instead of five minutes?”

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