Butterfly Dust

She knew nothing. How could she? She was a dream, an illusion that would disappear with the coming of the winds, as fragile as sculpted glass. Even her wishes held little substance, rising from her lips on wings of memories long forgotten. Not that it really mattered. She was anchored now, the dreamer on the verge of waking. She could feel it along the curve of her spine, in the way locks of dark hair brushed against her cheeks. Something, somewhere, was waiting for her. It would happen soon.

She sighed and ran her fingers through the blades of grass under her, delighting in the feel of something real and solid. The Outlaw Star and its crew had stopped for some ship repairs on the earth-like moon of Jupiter, Io, and everyone had taken a few minutes to breathe some fresh air and feel the breeze. Melfina reached over and felt the soft, pink petals of a flower she didn't know the name of, forgetting for the moment all her premonitions. For the first time, she was feeling a part of something, a part of a family perhaps, if the crew could be called that. She belonged somewhere, she belonged to them, and she had no desire to break the tenuous holds of her heart quite yet. She loved them, yes, she did, in her own way. How could she not love the many facets of their characters? Quiet, strong Suzuka who would sit with her in the mornings to drink tea and listen to the sounds of everyone still sleeping. Wild, vibrant Aisha with her flash fire temper, her emotions so true even Melfina could feel them. Brilliant, kind Jim, who looked after her and yet, needed her so much. Their was a tenderness towards him in her soul, if she indeed had one.

And then there was Gene.

There were no words to describe him. He simply was. He existed inside of her even as he held a part of her in his hands, just as she held the XGP between her palms. He could destroy her with a word and then rebuild her with a smile. His power over her was complete and he didn't even know it.

Well, perhaps that was why she could trust him so much. He would never use this power to hurt her, because he didn't realize he had it.

A butterfly landed on the nameless pink flower, its wings flexing as it settled. Melfina blinked and leaned closer, watching it. It was so simple and so beautiful. What must it feel like to fly on a whim, never to know your destination? It was probably a little like not knowing who you are, only being happy about it.

Maybe, in time, she could be a butterfly too.

"Mel, what are you doing?"

She twisted around and looked up, startled to find Gene standing right behind her, silhouetted by the sunlight. He was smiling at her.

"I was just thinking," she answered cheerfully. "Are we ready to go?"

He nodded, "Just about. Jim's running a systems check and then we'll be outta here."

"Alright," she said, thinking he would leave her and head back to the ship himself. Instead, he dropped down beside her, laying back in the soft grass to look up at the sky, his arms behind his head. She blinked at him, wondering what he was thinking about. She didn't think she had ever seen him look so pensive.

"Mel?" he asked after a moment. She felt a rush of warmth at the sound of her nickname. He had given it to her.

"Yes?" she questioned, tilting her head to show that she was listening.

"Are you happy?"

She felt a lump rise in her throat and forced herself to swallow. "Of course."

He rolled onto his side abruptly, supporting his weight on his elbow as he fixed her with a serious midnight blue gaze. She blinked, trying to figure out what was going on. Hadn't she given him the answer he wanted?

His fingers brushed her cheek and she snapped back to reality, her eyes as wide as they would go. His simple caress raised goose bumps on her arms and sent a delicious shiver down her spine. It was amazing, what he could do with a single touch. Was it just him? Or did all humans have this ability?

"Gene…" she said breathlessly.

"Mel, you don't have to lie to me. I really want to know." He paused and repeated, "Are you happy?"

"I…" she started faintly, unsure of herself, "I don't know." She frowned, realizing suddenly by his expression that her answer was somehow important to him. "I like being with you and Jim and the others."

"But?" he prompted softly.

She looked away, raising her eyes to the sky. "I feel like I'm more of a burden than something real." She blinked back sudden tears. "I'm not sure I even know what happiness is." She paused, almost afraid to ask. "Is that bad?"

His voice was gentle when he spoke. "No, everyone's happiness is different."

She gathered her courage and looked down at him. "What's yours?" For a moment, she thought she had gone too far but then he smiled at her and his fingers brushed her skin again, tingling. She gasped.

"Come on, Mel. Let's get back," he said, standing and offering her his hand. She took it and he pulled her to her feet effortlessly, keeping her hand in his even when they started back towards the ship.

Perhaps happiness was too elusive and too large to put into words. After all, Gene hadn't answered her question.

She looked down at their clasped hands and allowed herself to smile.

Or, maybe he had.

THE END

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Just a little scene I had in my head and wanted to get out on paper. I hope you enjoyed!

Berry