small things

There's something both odd and comforting about new things, he thinks. New means clean, orderly and pristine, like a blank sheet of paper or a freshly washed shirt. But for bigger things it means change- something to be circled warily, like one would a feral creature. His gunblade arm itches.

They've made his room bigger for them- added a small kitchenette, thrown in a larger bed and an arbitrary dresser. He likens it to a cell multiplying before his eyes- a room appearing here, the walls burgeoning there. And now that it's done after months of building and anticipation, it's too late to go back. Even the door is new, he notes, as he opens it on its first day of proper use. He shrugs his shoulders while she stalks around the room, playing inspector, opening drawers and flicking the lights with a toothy smile on her face so wide he thinks it'd break.

He scowls and shields his eyes from the lightshow. "The lights work, Rinoa."

She hides a giggle with her hand. "Just checking! Although I suppose if we didn't have the lights working we'd just have to use candles and that would look pretty— well, we could use candles anyway if we wanted to…" He doesn't deign to comment, and she doesn't seem to mind, her fingers abandoning the light switch and already roaming over the new windowsills and curtains. He leans against the wall, arms folding automatically as he watches the dust motes waltz and settle in light-filled patches. The workmen haven't cleared up, he thinks, noting the film of dust and her footprints on the floor, and he supposes they'll have to clean before they move in with their belongings.

Her trailing fingers reach the window and there is some fumbling with the latch before the window bursts open and she lets out a small gasp. A crisp sea breeze rolls through, hauling in the salty, briny scent they both have come to love. He breathes it in, almost tasting the salt on his lips. It is summer, and he thinks of sweaty gloves and flower fields and the sound of ocean trampling over sand. For a moment, he notices she is standing still with her fingers held at her sides. She is doing the same thing, he realises; tasting, feeling. There are lots of things he has come to love.

As if she'd sensed the turning of his mind, she jerks into life and throws a smile in his direction. He permits a small smile in return. With outstretched arms and a dizzy spin, she says to the ceiling, "Isn't this nice?"

He watches her fling herself back-first onto the bed, hair and fingers splayed. Her feet dangle and seem to kick of their own habitual accord, toes straining to brush the sawdusted floor. The low hum of her little tune matches the sun-filled air exactly and he stands motionless to preserve the moment: the ordinariness of the room, the stillness of the lazy sixteenth hour, the light tickling her hair.

She'll leave her mark on the room, he knows- flowers (how she loves them, but who changes the water?), books (fiction, crookedly strewn about neatly upright instructional manuals), cosmetics (why does she waste her time with them?), clothes (that smell like her), colourful candles (haphazardly, flea-marketly collected), little drawings tacked to the walls (bold, curving scribbles). There is a freedom in all this, he decides, like running down a hill with your hair riffling and your arms wheeling in time with your feet. It is a ride, to be sure. It is difficult to know where it will take him (onto ordinary things, he hopes) but he doesn't care- so long as she's riding shotgun.

She's still humming- barely, drowsily- and he picks his way out of his thoughts. She has already forgotten her question, now turned rhetorical with his customary delay, but he licks his lips (still salty) and feels the hitch of breath in his throat.

"Yes," he says— and means it.