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Air and Stars

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The rubber surface rocks under them abruptly and she opens her eyes to the sky and the night.

They are floating in the sea.

"Is it getting rough?" she asks and immediately regrets breaking the sanctity of the silence.

He does not open the eyes behind his glasses, but merely answers succinctly: "Sharks."

"What?! Really?"

"No, idiot. It was just a wave. Go back to sleep."

"Can't. Now I really AM worried about sharks."

"Don't be stupid," he says with a sigh, but his eyes open too and he gazes up at the night sky with her, silently picking out constellations and matching names to different motes of light.

There is a communal silence.

"What are you looking at?" he asks her after a long time.

Her voice is slightly breathless from the cold or excitement, he can't tell which. Knowing her, it's probably both. "The moon."

"Not Spica?"

"I always look at that first and last. No, I'm watching the moon. Are we really going to be standing on it in six months?"

"If there aren't any more delays. And," he adds acerbically, "if you're found to be fit for duty. Go back to sleep - you want to check out all right when they pick us up in the morning, don't you?"

"Mmm, just a little longer, Fuchuuya-kun." The raft rocks a bit more underneath their backs but she doesn't notice. Her eyes are shining and her color is high as she gazes at her dream scattered like countless diamonds against dark velvet.

Tomorrow, the ship that picked up the practice drop shuttle earlier will come to pick them up, they'll be run through a series of tests, and the exercise will be concluded. Then he and Kamogawa will be pronounced fit for duty and they'll begin the final stage of preparation for their shuttle launch in half a year.

"It's going to get busy, isn't it?" she says sleepily, as though reading his mind. Her hand has crept into his.

He runs a thumb over the back of her hand and even without looking he can tell she is blushing. "Are you looking at Spica now?"

"Mmm-hmm. What are you looking at, Fuchuuya-kun?"

"The air and the stars and," he turns his head, his expression uncharacteristically tender, "you."