Author's Note: Written for Yuletide 2010 for Suaine, who mentioned "lesbian cheerleaders in space" in her prompt. Spoilers through 1.11 "Think Twice Before You Go." Marti/Savannah.
As a young girl, Savannah had laid on the grass outside her home, a jar of twinkling fireflies at her side, and stared up into the inky black sky and the tiny pinpricks of light she could see without a telescope. She memorized the names of the constellations - there was Orion, with his belt and sword, and both of the dippers, big and little. Some of her classmates were more fascinated with the various species of dinosaur, and yearned to walk in the footsteps of the tyrannosaurus; she, on the other hand, wanted to travel among the stars.
It was only a childhood desire, later to be filed in the back of her mind alongside her five year old self's desire to be a veterinarian, which lasted until the time she saw a dead dog on the side of the road and broke down crying, as well as a short-lived teenage dream of being an actress. She never put much thought to it anymore, although every time she got a quiet moment alone outside at night, she would look to the stars to guide her home. They never let her down.
The posters read, "A Voyage to the Moon - and Beyond," and sprang up almost entirely out of nowhere over winter break, pasted on top of outdated final exam tutoring postings and schedules for Lancer's basketball team. An introductory meeting was scheduled for early February, to be held at the university's astronomy lab.
Before long, posters for the film society's upcoming showing of 2001: A Space Odyssey and a party at one of the sororities obscured the other posters from view.
Savannah showed up promptly on time - in fact, she was fairly certain that she was five minutes early, but in her mother's polite society, that was promptly on time. She folded her legs over each other and stared straight ahead, thinking of cheerleading routines and Dan, though she didn't think of him by name, just by a strangled series of syllables that roughly approximated how she felt about him these days. The other people in the room talked in hushed syllables, with words like "travel" and "exciting" filtering over her direction.
A short white-haired man, much the image of the stereotypical scientist, came forward and cleared his throat. At that moment, a frenzied blur of blonde hair and black jacket plopped down next to her. "Hey, Savannah!" Marti said, taking a notebook out of one of her multitude of sacks and scrawling some sort of illegible note at the top of the paper. "What are you doing here?"
It was almost innocent, the way Marti asked it. "I was about to ask you the same thing," Savannah said, between gritted teeth. "I thought you'd be busy with your law friends or -" She cut off there, but the meaning hung in the air all the same. It always did, now.
"Extra credit for my earth science class if I attended," Marti said, with a slight, yet perceptible, shrug, before turning back to face the professor who had been talking about the history of space travel for a good five or ten minutes.
"A prominent Lancer alum," the speaker said, changing away from the history of the shuttle program, "has donated the money for a select group of Lancer students to travel into space."
Almost as soon as the final words were out of the speaker's mouth, the sound level in the room erupted into a mix of frantic murmurings, punctuated by the occasional exclamation or gasp. Savannah looked over at Marti; Marti appeared to be drowning in her hair, propped up by her chin resting in her hand. "What do you think?" Marti asked, in a low voice.
"There needs to be a Hellcat on board," Savannah replied. "I need to be on board," she mentally amended. She was tired of doing what everyone expected out of her; coming to Lancer in the first place was a big step toward independence. Some people, to change their lives, dye their hair or move to Paris or something. Savannah was going to literally shoot for the moon, and she wasn't going to fail.
The day of the announcement came, with a typed list pinned outside of the Dean of Natural Sciences' office at noon sharp.
Ten people surviving the rigorous two month interview process; ten people surviving the background checks and physical exams. Ten people who were about to face the adventure of a lifetime together.
And as Savannah scanned the other nine names on the list - after confirming, with a little dance, that she was one of the ten - she saw eight names that she either didn't recognize or she couldn't be sure, and one that she knew all too well.
Even on the so-called "adventure of a lifetime," Marti was going to be right there. She couldn't decide whether to smile or scream; instead, she spun on her heel and waltzed away.
When Savannah got back to her room that night, she turned off the lights, collapsed on her bed and looked up at the ceiling. There would be a series of meetings, of course, and they'd have to - her thought process was interrupted by the sound of a door opening and the flick of a light switch illuminating the room with bright light. "Savannah?" Marti asked. "What are you doing here in here all by yourself?"
"Nothing!" Savannah said, brightly. "I wanted some time to myself. That's all."
Marti narrowed her eyes for a moment before relaxing into a grin. "Want to go out to celebrate with the rest of us? Two Hellcats, that's something to be excited about."
"Sounds good. Let me get ready and then we can," she replied. There was no way around it. She'd been living with Marti for some time, and now they were about to be a part of something life-changing, together. She wasn't going to give it up, and she didn't see any way that Marti would, although she didn't even know why Marti was doing it in the first place.
It was the night before they'd take a flight - a regular one, on board a Delta Airlines jet instead of some state-of-the-art spacecraft - to Florida, and Savannah, for one, couldn't sleep. She rolled over in bed, only to see Marti sitting cross-legged at the window, staring out at the sky.
"The stars are bright tonight," Marti said, "there's Betelgeuse, and the Pleiades..."
"I didn't know you knew anything about astronomy, Marti."
Marti turned away from the window to face Savannah. "When I was younger, I had a book on space. The planets, the stars - it almost seemed -"
"Like there was something outside of your family?"
"Yeah. Something like that, you know?"
"I know exactly what you mean." Savannah cracked a smile in the darkness. Some things made more sense to her now. "Good night, Marti."
The flight was thankfully uneventful; Marti finished the in-flight magazine's crossword before the plane had even taken off, so Savannah idly flipped through the pages, scanning the articles on the best eateries in Atlanta and Salt Lake City before opting to close her eyes and attempt to take a nap. They made their way, upon landing, to their motel room, where, as it seemed some sort of fate was pushing them together in every conceivable way, the two of them were sharing a room - this time, with a third girl.
"You brought your pom-poms?" Marti asked, holding up one of the two pinched between her fingers, an amused expression on her face. "Savannah, we're going to outer space, not cheer camp."
"What can I say?" Savannah replied with a grin. "Every place is a good place for cheerleading. Even if the stunts won't work quite right with no gravity."
"You two are aware that this is an educational opportunity of a lifetime, correct?" their roommate chimed in, "Some of us actually want to learn things."
"Yeah, and so?"
Marti and Savannah exchanged glances as they settled into their seats, before squeezing each other's hands tightly as the rest of the countdown sounded down. There was no Dan in outer space; there was no Dan in Florida, anyway. There was just the ten of them, and as Savannah sat there, clasping Marti's hand, she realized one crucial thing:
This was going to be so much more fun with someone she knew.
Marti wet her lips and sucked in a deep breath. Everything she ever dreamed about doing, about being the best lawyer the state of Tennessee had seen since Clarence Darrow came in on his white horse and defended during the Scopes Trial - and he wasn't even from Tennessee to begin with - that was all in the past. Once she stepped inside here, inside the sterile white walls, she put all her ambition on hold.
She glanced out of the corner of her eye at Savannah, who was still clutching onto her hand. Savannah, the perfectly poised southern belle with her pom-poms stashed away somewhere, for some sort of mid-space halftime show, was clasping so tightly that Marti almost feared for her circulation. Almost, though, not quite. She almost didn't mind. And, like Savannah, she came to her own sort of realization:
She couldn't be doing this without someone like Savannah by her side.
In the second before their lives changed course forever, Marti and Savannah exchanged one last look (equal parts determination and a hidden fear), tightened their already vice-like grip, and closed their eyes. Savannah muttered a last-second prayer for safe passage. "Amen," she said under her breath.
"And we have lift-off."
"Have you looked outside?"
"I think you should."
Savannah had only ever seen the oceans so blue and the landforms so green on an atlas, or those creepy satellite pictures that her high school science book plastered on every page. Seeing it in person, and not flat on a page - it took her breath away. And, it did look like the Great Wall of China was visible from space, unless that was some sort of massive rift or something that she had never heard of before.
"Enjoying the view?" Marti asked, siding up next to her and peering out the window.
"It's beautiful." She could die tomorrow - no, she wouldn't want to die tomorrow, but if she did, she would be mostly content.
Marti and Savannah were set to be the second pair to do a spacewalk.
They stepped out into the vast darkness, floating around, connected to the ship by just a tether apiece.
Savannah caught a look at Marti. The energy in her eyes - she looked so happy - so blissfully happy - so much unlike the Marti she was so familiar with that it was - Savannah couldn't find the words. It was nearly - no, it - it couldn't be.
But it was.
It completely and totally was.
And she could only hope that Marti wouldn't abandon her. Not that they could abandon each other, up above the Earth as they were and rocketing toward the nearest fuel satellite, but she could only hope.
After the spacewalk was over, they made their way back into the spacecraft and stood there for a moment, helping each other detach. Marti removed Savannah's helmet; Savannah smoothed down Marti's frizzy mane of hair with a small hand; from a distance, it appeared as though it was innocent.
Marti was the first one to lean in, her face slightly obscured, and Savannah inhaled sharply. This - she found herself leaning in to match Marti's movements, following her instincts. Marti's chapped lips landed on hers and Savannah secretly wished at that moment that she had brought Chap-Stick on this trip, but it was soft, and Marti knew how to kiss. Not that Savannah doubted that, Marti seemed like the kind of person who would be a good kisser. But this was proving it, and she attempted to keep motion with Marti's pace.
"That was -"
"It was -"
Marti grabbed Savannah's hand and led her back into a small room that was mostly unused, except for storage; Savannah followed with a little extra bounce in her step. "They can deal without us for now."
A short time later, they looked out the small bay window, Savannah's head drooping low on Marti's shoulder. "The stars look different from up here," Savannah said drowsily.
"A lot of things do," Marti agreed, rubbing her hand up and down Savannah's back.
"So am I."
Savannah wrapped an arm around Marti's waist and stared out into the darkness. Things were coming full-circle, now, for her. She was, simply, content.