self-delusional hoping

-

He squints harder.

It's dark in the Rocket hideout, because there are only two windows per floor. The color of her hair looks black instead of brown—it flashes blue against fluorescent light bulbs and he smothers a curse with a cough when that happens. For some reason, she's wearing the Rocket uniform; it fits loose against flat chest and skinny legs, and Gold doesn't gulp hard, like he should've. She has big, brown eyes paused on the dirty wall: she's focused on something else, and he takes advantage of that.

"Hey," he says loudly, against her ear, and she gasps childishly, turning on her heel—immediately assuming defensive position. He gets sort of amused for a second, but then returns to previous apathetic expression. The mood has been successfully raised. "Relax, it's only me."

"Oh," she breathes, and smiles warmly at him, her right thumb sliding briefly across the skin of her left hand. "You scared me there for a second."

"You look cute with that cap, you cheater," Gold says, with a kind smile, and she snickers mischievously, momentarily forgetting about dusty basements and labs hidden underground. "…Did y'a meet Silver?"

"Yeah," she says, nodding, and scrunches up her nose, "I didn't like him that much."

It stings, so he changes the subject: "So, uh—did you find anything?"

"Nothing much." Kotone shrugs and rolls her eyes around. "Dust and crap."

He frowns for a split second and hisses, "Don't curse!"

"Why?" she asks innocently, and the rest of the question floats, unsaid, in the air—because she wouldn't have?

He answers back with a flimsy sad grin: checkmate.