Carolina set her tray down across from Wash and sat down. By the state of his own tray, he was already done eating, but he stayed seated, elbows on the table, leaning forward into his folded hands. He eyed her as she sat down, his eyes resting briefly on her tray, then back to her face with a slight smile.
“Yes, I’m eating. Though I have to admit -” Carolina paused for a moment, lifting a spoonful of nutrient slurry and letting it spill back down into her bowl “-kinda wish I wasn’t.” The next spoonful went in her mouth though, as though to prove willing. “Ugh. How about you?”
“How are you sleeping these days?”
Wash looked surprised, but he thought for only a moment. “Actually, pretty well.” That seemed to shock him more than the question did. “It’s weird, but even in the middle of a war, this is the best I’ve been in years.”
“Yeah. Me too.” Carolina trailed her spoon through her watery breakfast. “It helps, having a… family… again.”
Wash looked at her and for a moment stopped seeing the everyday Carolina he knew, and saw all the changes. All the sharp edges were being worn away. The stress lines around her eyes looked more like laugh lines now and she’d lost that razor bite in her voice of closely controlled rage. She hadn’t gone soft - god knows he had enough bruises from sparring with her to dispute that at least. She wasn’t whole - maybe she never could be again, but she was healing. And as he watched her, he realized anew how far he’d come, how much he had healed. And the way Carolina was looking at him, he wondered if she was thinking the same thing.
He sat with her a little while longer as she ate. Neither of them spoke after that, but it was a comfortable silence. And when Wash finally rose to leave, he stopped next to her, placed his hand on her shoulder. She placed hers over his for the briefest moment, patting his hand gently before he pulled away. Wash walked out to prepare for another day on Chorus.