"It's okay," he said, turning his gaze back up at the sky. "I know I'm not the best kisser," he added with a shrug, before turning quiet. He knew he shouldn't have taken her so literally, when she'd probably just been kidding. Probably, though he didn't know her well enough to know for sure yet.
"Best kiss I've ever had." She sighed, watching her toes wiggle, wondering briefly if she could remember where she'd put her shoes. "But what would I know, right? I'm just a kid. You could have anyone you wanted."
"You're just saying that to make me feel better," he said, obviously not quite as cocky as he seemed. "Was it really like kissing your brother, Mira?" he asked, shifting his gaze back at her, even though she wasn't looked his way.
"I don't lie. Not even to make people feel better. What's the point? They'll find out the truth in the end." She shrugged, tilting her head down once again, muffling her voice as her lips moved against her own knees. "I didn't say it was, Gav," she pointed out soberly. "You're not my brother, and I'm glad of that. But I guess I'm not so good at flirting as I thought I was."
That made him feel a little better, though he still wasn't too sure about his kissing skills. "It's not you, Mira. It's me. I guess I'm a little touchier than I thought," he admitted. It wasn't exactly an apology, but he hoped she understood he hadn't meant anything by it. It would take some time for them to get to know each other better; he just hoped she gave him that chance. He looked back at the sky again, the stars twinkling like diamonds in the sky. Or maybe like a sprinkling of stardust, casting a soft glow across the heavens. "You know, ever since I was a kid, all I ever wanted was to travel the stars. To see what it's like to be out there somewhere, instead of here, but I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever get there."
Mira sighed, lying back beside him once again, but this time without broaching the unmarked line between them. Putting herself out there didn't seem to have worked too well, on the whole. "You've got Yana," she pointed out, "and she's got a ship. There's no reason you couldn't come with us when we head out again. Keeping this bird running is too big a job for just one person."
"I'm not telling you this because I think you can get me there, Mira," he added, casting a sidelong glance at her. He knew Yana could easily hire him, so long as Kalen and Mira agreed, but he didn't want Yana's or even Kalen's approval. It was Mira's approval he wanted, Mira's permission. He turned onto his side, propping himself up onto an elbow as he studied her beside him. "I wasn't lying to you before, Mira. I like you, and I'd like to get to know you better, but if you don't want me around, just say so, and I won't be." How had they got to this point when just a short time ago they'd been trading secrets and kisses? Or at least, she'd been telling secrets, and he'd been listening.
Her head turned toward him as he moved, dark eyes reflecting the starlight, it seemed. "If I didn't want you around, I wouldn't be lying up here with you," she told him quietly. "I wouldn't have thrown myself at you at all. How many times do I have to say I like you for you to believe me? I'm seventeen, Gav. That doesn't mean I don't know what I want."
"And you'll be eighteen come summer," he said, something she'd said earlier clicking in his brain. If he stuck around long enough, he should know by summer whether they were going to be friends or something more. "You could have anyone you want, Mira," he told her, turning the tables on her, using her own words. "Why a scavenger like me?"
She snorted, not believing him for a second when it came to that. "Please," she drawled, rolling her eyes. "I'm not all that. Look at you - you're handsome, you're funny, you know ships. I should be asking you the same thing. Why should you care about what happens to a duct rat like me?"
"You don't give yourself enough credit," he told her, without hesitation. "You're cute, smart, pretty, and you know your way around an engine better than most guys I know. What's not to like?" he asked, tossing the question back at her, but not really expecting an answer. "Let me ask you something. Do you like being a mechanic?"
"It's all I've ever been," she admitted thoughtfully. "But I do. I love ships, the way they talk to me, the way they can tell me what's wrong, or that what I've done has made something better. There's nothing better than spending a week on a fighter everyone else says will never fly again, and watching her take off. It's the closest thing to magic, or the Force, or whatever you wanna call it, that I've ever seen."
"And now that your brother has a ship, you never have to worry about getting work again. He's gonna need you here to keep her in tip-top shape, if that's what you want," he told her, though she probably knew this already. "Without duct-rats like you," he said, once again turning her own words back at her, "there wouldn't be ships like this. Best pilot in the multiverse can't fly if he or she doesn't have a good mechanic." Or unless, he is one himself.
"Yeah, I don't think Yana or Kalen would ever forgive me if I put their kids in our ducts to do the work I used to do before I got too big," she laughed, but she understood his point. Her hand rose, touching her knuckles gently against his cheek. "I can't keep this ship running by myself. If it was up to me, I'd hire you in a second."
"Well, I sure as hell can't fit in those ducts," he told her, a smile back on his face, encouraged by her touch and by her belief in him. "I can't hire myself, either," he added, for good measure. He had a feeling if it was up to Yana, she'd hire him, too, but it wasn't just up to Mira or Yana or himself. "I guess it's your brother I have to impress, huh?"
Mira giggled, tweaking the end of his nose for his silly comment. "Or I could, you know, beg," she pointed out. "If Yana can get him to roll over with just a look, I should have the same sort of reaction if I pull out the big eyes routine."
Though there had been a few minutes there where he'd worried he'd screwed up, he was relieved to find her smiling again, giggling even. BB would be happy about that, and Gav found he liked the way that smile looked on her pretty face. "Thanks, but I'd rather your brother hire me on my merits than because of his sister's puppy dog eyes." He caught her hand as she tweaked his nose, though, and didn't let go. Should he try kissing her again, he wondered.
"Oh, so I shouldn't tell him that I think you're an excellent mechanic?" she asked, her smile more than twinkling enough to lend weight to her tease as her fingers rippled in his grasp. "Should I lock the two of you in the crawlspace for a day, see if you can impress him that way?"
"How? By picking the lock?" he asked, though that was more a figure of speech than anything else. That lock couldn't be picked, but anyone with an understanding of the ship could probably find their way out. "I don't think your brother likes me very much. He seems to have a bit of a chip on his shoulder."
"He probably does have a bit of a chip, yeah," she agreed, stroking the pad of her thumb over the knuckle of his, since he seemed unwilling to let go of her hand. "Can you blame him? He's got major trust issues, a new relationship, and a little sister, and then you show up, with your prior connection to his girl, and your irresistible manliness distracting his little sister. Maybe he feels little sidelined. Or even jealous."
"Jealous?" Gav echoed with a doubtful snort. "What's there to be jealous of? If anyone should be jealous, it's me. He's got a ship, a partner, a sister. He's got a future. I've never had any of those things. Oh, I know what you're thinking. But you could have, Gav, if you tried. Thing is, I have tried. Time and time again, I've tried. I've had offers, but you know what? I'd rather spend the rest of my life scavenging than getting paid to do something that's less than honest work." He shrugged again. Now who had the chip on their shoulder?