Note: This was written for The Mistress of Shadow Dragons, who specifically requested something Kwame/Gi. Yay! I hope this lives up to expectations. :) Thank you for requesting such an adorable pairing - I'm so glad there's such love for Kwame/Gi!
The title is from the KT Tunstall song of the same name. I've always thought this song to be about falling in love and fumbling your way through something you can't possibly have all the answers to.
I've set the story in Melbourne because it's just easier (and faster) for me to set it in a city I'm familiar with. But you should feel free to substitute a more - IDK, luxurious destination(?) if you so wish. ;)
This story will contain explicit adult scenes, so please be warned.
"One of us should stay," Ma-Ti said, shrugging slightly.
"Why?" Gi asked, sounding a little more irritable than she meant to.
"To make sure they don't kill each other?" Ma-Ti offered.
It had been a long week. The Planeteers had raced to save a major water supply from the contaminations of Dr. Blight's latest experiments, battling dangerous chemicals and endless catacombs of water channels. Wheeler and Linka, somehow, had both managed to fall ill – possibly thanks to direct interference from Blight herself.
Ordinarily, this would be taken in stride. Despite the fact two Planeteers were down, they had overcome Blight and had completed the mission successfully. Wheeler and Linka could recover in peace on Hope Island.
But the next two days were days that all of the Planeteers had been looking forward to. They were supposed to fly to Melbourne, as a team, to accept an award being offered to them as an acknowledgement of their latest achievements.
Wheeler and Linka had both been forced to withdraw their attendance, and now it appeared a third Planeteer would be spending the weekend on Hope Island.
"You know how they get when they're in good moods," Ma-Ti explained. "If we leave them here together while they are ill – and disappointed about missing the ceremony – then I think the situation could become explosive."
"I think you're underestimating them a little, Ma-Ti," Gi answered, though she had to admit to herself that there was doubt in her voice. Things between Wheeler and Linka remained as tense as ever.
"Either way, it can't hurt to have someone here looking after them," Ma-Ti said. "I have some tea that could help settle their stomachs."
"But you'll be missing the ceremony," Gi said in dismay.
Ma-Ti smiled and shrugged. "I am not a Planeteer in return for awards, Gi," he said. "I do not mind so much, really."
"It's not just about the award, Ma-Ti," she answered. "It's a night out! A nice dinner; a chance to dress up... It's an event that has very little possibility of erupting into a mess of pollution and chemicals and cackling eco-villains."
Ma-Ti grinned. "Enjoy yourself, Gi."
She sighed and gave in. She wandered along the path to Kwame's hut, knocking gently. She entered after he called out.
"Hi," she said listlessly.
He looked up from packing his bag. "Are you all right?"
"Ma-Ti isn't coming," she said. She shrugged slightly. "Do you still want to go? It'll just be you and me."
"Is that a problem?" he asked in surprise.
"No, of course not. I just didn't know if you'd feel it was worth going..."
"Is Ma-Ti ill?"
"No. He thinks murder will be committed if Wheeler and Linka are left alone."
Kwame thought for a moment. "Hm," he said, sounding non-committal.
She smiled and watched him run the zip of his bag closed. "All packed?" she asked.
He nodded and smiled back at her. "Are you?"
"Not yet. But if you still want to go..."
"I do still want to go," he confirmed. "Besides, somebody has to be there to accept our award. Right?"
She nodded. "Yeah..."
"And I am sure you have a new dress you want to wear..."
She grinned. "Yeah, I do."
He chuckled. "Well go and pack it, Gi. We are still going. Let Ma-Ti concoct dreadful-tasting medicines and let Wheeler and Linka bicker. We can still have fun."
"You don't feel guilty about leaving them here?" she asked, hovering in his doorway.
He shrugged and gave her a helpless smile. "We cannot help it," he said. "Wheeler and Linka are ill. Ma-Ti is probably right to stay and make sure they are looked after. But somebody should go to Melbourne and accept the award. We deserve a night off."
She grinned at him. "Okay. I'll meet you at the geo-cruiser in twenty minutes."
Gi had to admit she'd spent very little time alone with Kwame. She wasn't sure why, exactly. The Planeteers were a small group, and they'd been together several years. She could see no valid reason for not spending more one-on-one time with the Earth Planeteer. There had been missions where they were paired up, and times she had specifically sought him out for some reason or another – but this seemed different. She was very aware that she was alone with him this time. Perhaps it was because they weren't working. There were no schemes to concoct or clues to detect. They could relax.
For the first ten minutes of the flight, Kwame had been busy checking details and weather patterns. But the conditions were perfect and he was soon able to flick the auto-pilot switch and settle back into his seat.
"I feel bad about leaving Ma-Ti behind," Gi admitted after Kwame had finished focusing on the controls. "He didn't have to stay."
Kwame turned and smiled at her. "Ma-Ti is very open, Gi," he said. "I do not think he was hiding any disappointment. He is probably looking forward to revisiting the knowledge the Shaman left with him."
"I guess so," she admitted, feeling slightly better.
"Are you all right?" Kwame asked, sounding concerned. "You do not feel ill, do you?"
"No," she assured him. "It just feels odd leaving the others behind. That's all."
He nodded in agreement. "I know," he answered. "It cannot be helped. Do not let it get you too down." He gave her a smile and turned back to check the radar.
She smiled and relaxed back into her seat. "Thanks for convincing me to come," she said after a moment.
He chuckled. "You needed convincing?"
She grinned and shrugged. "I guess so. I suppose I thought the whole thing was pointless without the others." She stretched slightly and found herself letting out a yawn.
"Still recovering from our latest adventure with Blight?" Kwame asked softly.
"Yeah," Gi sighed, closing her eyes. "Mind if I sleep a while? I can take over later."
He nodded and she held out her hand for a soft high-five. He obliged with a smile.
"You cannot be serious," Kwame said again.
Gi watched him in an effort to force away her own disappointment. She could see anger and disappointment in his face too, but he was doing a better job of hiding it.
"We're sorry," the event director said patiently, though he snuck another glance at his watch, indicating a desire to escape. "We've arranged a night's accommodation for you in a five-star hotel, as an apology."
Kwame sighed and glanced at Gi. She gave him a smile that felt somewhat weak.
"It's okay," she said. "We can just go home."
"No," Kwame answered, taking her hand and giving it a gentle squeeze. "You were looking forward to a night out."
The event director looked at them with a look of slight exasperation. "I have to get on with things," he said. "I have a lot of things to cancel and a lot of people to call."
"We let you know ahead of time that there would only be two of us," Gi said to him angrily. "Why couldn't you tell us on the phone the event had been cancelled?"
"I'm very sorry," he said again, not sounding it at all.
Kwame gave a mutter of disgust and the director took that as his chance to leave.
"Can you believe this?" Gi asked, sounding tearful. "Six hours before the ceremony and he tells us the whole thing has been cancelled."
She could feel the tears burning behind her eyelids. "We may as well just go home," she said. She drew in a shaky breath and pulled away from Kwame's gentle hand. "I need some air. I'll be back."
"I will try to get some better answers than the ones we have been given," Kwame promised softly. She nodded and turned towards the balcony doors.
She could feel his eyes on her as she walked away. She kept her head high, embarrassed about feeling so disappointed and not being able to hide it. The balcony was crammed with tables and chairs, couples and business associates sipping coffee and reading papers in the late-morning sun.
She found a quiet corner and clenched her hands, desperately trying to avoid the tears she could feel burning behind her eyelids. She spent several long minutes convincing herself that it was ridiculous to be so upset over something that meant so little anyway. She didn't care about the award, really. It was nice to be recognised, but she didn't need ceremonies and awards to make her feel worthy.
She had just wanted one night to feel special. A night with other people looking after her. A night where it was possible to forget about the grime and mess and relentless struggle of her job.
She drew a shaky breath and turned to smile at Kwame. "Are we going home?"
He opened his mouth and closed it again, tilting his head slightly and looking at her carefully. "No," he said after a moment.
She frowned. "Why? Is the ceremony back on?"
"No." He gave her a small smile and stood beside her, looking down into the street. "Do you still want to wear your new dress somewhere?"
The pressure of her tears suddenly eased and she looked up at the Earth Planeteer in surprise. "Yeah," she said, leaning against the railing. "Why?"
He smiled and shrugged. "We should still have a night off. Who knows when we will get another one? They have organised a place for us to stay. We could have dinner and then go back to Hope Island in the morning."
"Really?" she asked, failing completely in an attempt to hide her excitement. She grinned sheepishly and nodded, her eyes sparkling. "Yeah, I'd really like that."
He chuckled. "Good."
"Will you let me get dressed up all fancy?" she asked slyly. "Where will we go?"
"All fancy," he promised, smiling at her. "I am not sure where we will go. At the very least you can walk through the lobby and have everyone admire you."
She laughed, her previous disappointment completely forgotten.
"Oh, wow," Gi breathed. She stepped into the room and gazed around with unabashed wonder.
The room was enormous. Far too big, really – especially considering how little time she'd be spending in it.
Kwame's room was across the hall. She turned and saw he'd left his door open and his facial expression matched her own.
Everything was cream and beige and blue. The carpet was plush and thick under her feet. She kicked her shoes aside and curled her toes, grinning stupidly at the ridiculous luxury of it all. She skipped to the window and peered out at the street below.
She couldn't get the grin off her face. Suddenly, things were looking up. She ran back across the carpet, cut through the corridor and entered Kwame's room, grabbing his waist from behind and hugging him tightly as he inspected the view from his own window.
He laughed in surprise and looked back over his shoulder at her. "Hello."
"Thank you," she breathed. "I didn't really realise how much I wanted this. Going home without wearing my new dress was a depressing thought."
He turned and smiled at her. "I thought so too."
She bounced on her heels a little, looking up at him. In bare feet in the enormous room, she felt ridiculously tiny as she stood in front of him. For some reason he seemed taller without the other Planeteers around. Taller, and more easy-going, somehow. He was relaxed and looked at her with frequent warmth and amusement that made her all-the-more relieved she had come with him and then taken the chance to stay the night away from Hope Island.
"We have a few hours before dinner," she said suddenly.
"We do," he agreed.
"What do you want to do?" She blinked for a moment and then hastened to add to her comment. "Unless, of course, you want to be alone or something..."
"No." He chuckled at her expression and shook his head. "Come on, Gi. We should go out and enjoy the sunshine."
"I think there are some gardens around here," she said. "I don't feel like trooping in and out of shops or museums right now. Do you just want to take a walk?"
"That sounds good to me," he sighed, wrapping an arm around her shoulders.
She smiled and gave him a quick hug before she ran back into her room to tug her shoes back on. She was grateful he had made such an effort to make things special for her. He had insisted she come despite the others remaining behind, and he had insisted they still try to have a nice time despite their original plans now hanging in tatters.
This is better, she decided, grabbing her purse. This is so much better.