Carolina snapped awake in the middle of the night, and something made her freeze
rather than roll over and try to go back to sleep, or hop out of bed
and run off her nerves. The room’s emergency lights glowed faintly,
Vanessa was breathing heavily three inches from her ear, and she
realized what was missing from her split-second inventory. She pulled
on someone’s sweatshirt grabbed from the floor and made her way into
the small living room.
Emily was curled up on the couch, a blanket tucked neatly around her shoulders. The only light in the room came from the datapad she was holding against her knees, highlighting the dark circles under her eyes. Carolina frowned, caught for a moment between the couch and the bed.
“There’s plenty of space,” Emily offered softly.
Carolina slid smoothly over the back of the couch and landed what she thought might be a considerate distance away from Emily, who immediately turned and slid her bare feet under Carolina’s thighs. She rested a hand on Emily’s shin, and tipped her head back. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see that Emily had stopped scanning the dense text in front of her.
Anything Carolina could say felt too personal or completely inane at this time of night, but Emily had asked her to stay. “What’s up?” She winced internally, but she’d never been good with this particular part of relationships.
Emily didn’t seem to mind, and set her scroll aside to lock her fingers around her knees. “Blood and bones and insides on the outside are fantastic when I’m working,” she said wistfully. “It’s very different when you see how it all gets that way.”
Emily nodded. “I’m very ready for this war to be over.” Something seemed to occur to her, and her eyes lit up as she leaned forward. “Do you have bad dreams, Carolina?” she asked. Carolina had learned to recognize the signs of impending psychoanalysis, but the furrow between Emily’s eyebrows was gone. Carolina couldn’t overlook that.
“I don’t remember my dreams anymore,” she admitted. It was worth the psychobabble in her near future, seeing Emily back at her usual gleeful intensity.
“You could have woken me up,” Vanessa said from the doorway, leaning sleepily against the wall and pushing her hair out of her face, “rather than make Carolina talk about emotions.”
“She’s a good listener,” Emily said, patting Carolina on the shoulder.
Carolina tried to take offense, but Vanessa wandered over, curled up against her other side, and was asleep almost before Carolina could get an arm around her.