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breathing right in time with you

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Thasia lies on one elbow, watching Former Agent Liu sleep. Moonlight splashes across her jawline and the quilt that covers both of them, creating sharp patterns that shift rhythmically up and down with her breathing.

Sleeping for three consecutive daysegments per diurnal cycle feels fake now, like a dream that belongs to other people. For the past decade, Thasia slept when they could. The lights were always on, not sunny enough to be day and not dim enough to be night.

In the residential section of Halton Station, public corridor lights dimmed between fifth daysegment and second daysegment, and the lights in Thasia and their sibling’s room were always off at night, leaving a view of the stars through the reinforced window. Once Thasia left Neuzo, day and night became more fluid; they passed through stations with varying schedules, and set their own in their tiny ship. But the segments of day were always there. Now, the idea of sleeping and waking on a cycle feels like the province of fantasy.

So instead of “trying” to “get back” to “sleep,” Thasia rests their eyes on Former Agent Liu.

She is deeply asleep, with none of the eye movements that signify human dreaming. A good thing, Thasia thinks. Humans are more susceptible than Dwarnians are to nightmares, and then there’s her ability to sense when Thasia is the one distressed, waking to be with them.

Her support is not unwelcome. But Thasia isn’t distressed right now, they don’t think. Just awake, studying how the hems of Former Agent Liu’s clean flannel pajamas turn luminescent in the moonlight.

They watch her breathing until they find themself wondering how much warmer it would be to lie closer to her again, and do. Their last sleepy thought is that moonlight is sharper than memories.