So much of what Lockon had done these past few days (had it been only a few days? Tieria marveled at the thought) was so unexpected. So when Tieria finished changing into his flight suit and opened the door, he was not exactly surprised to see Lockon waiting there in his own flight suit. He was, however, annoyed.
"Lockon," he said (somewhat alarmed to realize that he had to struggle to keep his voice from catching), "you should not be preparing for battle." He made a mental note to seal Lockon away from the docking bay as soon as he had the opportunity. Only Setsuna and Tieria himself knew just how important it was to keep him out of battle now. "You need to rest and heal." He tried to pull his gaze away from the eyepatch, but he couldn't. Then he would have had to stop looking at Lockon's one remaining eye, and somehow he couldn't tear his gaze away from that.
"Don't worry," Lockon said. "I just wanted to come see how you were doing."
Tieria looked up at him, unsure what to say. He was grateful that Lockon would check on him in such a way, but how could he even begin to express that? "Lockon--" His voice did catch in his throat this time.
Lockon's expression softened a little. "Tieria, are you all right?"
No. No, he wasn't all right. His heart was pounding in his chest, and surely that meant he was ill. He felt hazy and distant, as if he were suddenly very far away.
"Tieria..." Lockon leaned forward a little, and suddenly Tieria was perfectly focused once more. He didn't understand why he felt this way, but so long as Lockon was there, he could return to reality. He still wasn't ready for what came next, though. Lockon reached out and pressed a hand to Tieria's cheek. "Is that better?"
"Yes," Tieria whispered. "That is better."
Lockon considered for a moment. Then he grinned. "No. You know what? It's not. Here, I've got a better idea." Without hesitating, he unzipped his flight suit and pulled his bare arms out of the sleeves. "Here." He reached out, and before Tieria could react, cupped his chin in both hands. Both bare hands--they felt so warm against Tieria's face.
Tieria blinked furiously. There were tears in his eyes, suddenly. "Lockon, why are you doing this?"
"Does it bother you?" Lockon was smiling. The strange feelings had gone beyond Tieria's heart, and now they were pooling somewhere lower on him. His breath grew short.
"I don't know," Tieria said. "It feels good."
"Being human isn't just about making mistakes," Lockon said. "It's about good things too. Like this."
With both hands, Lockon tugged just a little, and in the low gravity, Tieria went tumbling forward to rest against Lockon's chest. It felt as natural as Veda, and warmer besides. Suddenly, he knew what to say. "Thank you," he murmured. "For showing me these things."
Lockon smiled down at him. "You don't need to thank me, Tieria. Besides, I'm not done yet."
Tieria opened his mouth to protest, but before he could get his words out, Lockon had thoroughly prevented him by means of pressing his own lips to Tieria's. Tieria made a tiny noise at the back of his throat and melted into the kiss. That was what it was, he knew, and it was what he wanted. But that Lockon should think he didn't deserve gratitude for this and everything else he'd done besides--that was unacceptable.
After a long moment, Lockon pulled away. "Lockon," Tieria said. "Are you done now?"
"Do you want me to be?" Lockon asked, grinning.
"I--" Tieria froze. He wasn't sure. What else could he possibly ask for? His heart was beating fast again, and his head felt hazy once more, like circuits were sparking so furiously that smoke might come out of his ears and eyes. All feeling faded out; he couldn't feel Lockon's heartbeat against his own anymore, couldn't see Lockon smiling down at him with those now-familiar lips.
"Tieria?" Lockon's voice seemed to come from a long way away. "Tieria!"
Tieria blinked. When he opened his eyes, he was back in reality again--no, not again. It was for the first time. Lockon was still standing there, entirely clad in his flight suit, looking at him with concern. "Tieria," he repeated, "are you all right? You still haven't answered me."
Tieria stared at him for a long moment, wondering just what could have made his brain malfunction so badly just now. His body was still aglow with the vision, but none of it had really happened. "I'm fine," he said. "Return to your quarters and rest."
"I will," Lockon said, with a quick smile. "I just wanted to say that we're all counting on you in this next battle. So am I. I know you can do it." He clapped a hand to Tieria's shoulder briefly, then turned to go.
A startled realization flashed through Tieria's mind: he'd only imagined thanking Lockon. It was important that he do it for real. He opened his mouth to speak, but found that he could not. All the feelings twisting through his body rendered him momentarily mute. So he reached out, trying to grab hold of Lockon's arm--
--but he missed, and Lockon didn't even see. It had been his right arm, and that was his blind side now. Tieria watched in silence, his hand still outstretched, as Lockon walked away.