Can’t Really Talk About That
[Sequel to Boarding the Station]
Wandering around the station was far from exciting. It wasn’t a sight-seeing location by any means. The highlights were the leisure facilities, and perhaps the armoury depending on your interests. But it was an opportunity for Valentina to ask more questions.
“I’ve been curious about your armour,” Valentina said, then immediately realised Samus had probably heard that line before. “W-where is it from? How did you get it?” she still asked, not wanting to derail herself immediately. Samus looked at her, and Valentina wondered what sort of expression she wore. Like that of an eager child, perhaps.
“I…” Samus started, then looked around the place. “I can’t really talk about that.” Valentina felt her heart sink immediately, and maybe Samus noticed. “Not here,” she added. Valentina glanced around too. There were other cadets and even an officer wandering around close by. Was it confidential information? Or did Samus simply not like having people know?
“W-well, um… where are you from?” she tried asking instead. She had shared where she came from with Samus, so maybe Samus would be willing to do the same. Valentina regretted asking when she saw the brief flash of pain on Samus’s face, but the taller woman quickly masked it with a smile.
“I’m from a small settlement that wasn’t too far from the rim,” she said, and stopped to look out the window into space. From their location they just barely saw part of the planet the station was orbiting. “Probably a little smaller than the one we were just at. It had a mining operation and an industrial plant.” Valentina noticed Samus was talking in the past tense. “I was quite young when the Space Pirates attacked, so I don’t remember all the details of it. And then…” Samus leaned against the frame, staring out into the distance.
“And then?” Valentina asked after Samus had gone quiet. Samus gave her an apologetic look.
“I can’t really talk about that,” she said, and smiled sadly. “Maybe another time.” Valentina nodded, and they resumed walking. She was disappointed, but it didn’t feel right to push the issue.
She suggested going to the gym and stretching out properly. Wearing the armour tended to stiffen you up a bit, and the same with sitting in the cockpit of the ship. Maybe Samus’s armour didn’t do that, but she agreed to come along. For the briefest of moments Valentina imagined Samus giving her a massage, but she quickly shook that out of her head.
After how the last one went, Valentina now felt nervous about asking any more questions. She didn’t want to trigger more unpleasant memories. What would be a safe thing to ask?
It felt good to use the gym equipment to work out and stretch her muscles, and get all her joints cracked properly. Going to bed tonight, and waking back up tomorrow was going to be a lot more pleasant after this.
“So what do you typically do on your time off, Samus?” Valentina finally decided to ask, while trying to not stare at Samus as she worked out. Is it even possible for a human to get into that good shape? she pondered. Valentina was hardly a weakling. She was fairly proud of her body, but Samus was on another level.
“Not a lot,” Samus said, almost sounding a little embarrassed. Or maybe Valentina just imagined that part. “Stuff like this, I suppose. Training, practising. I’m not very good at relaxing. I do my best to get enough sleep, but…” she shrugged and left it at that.
“Maybe I can help you find something to relax with,” Valentina suggested quite casually before realising what she had just said. Samus looked at her.
“Maybe you can,” she sounded amused, and flashed Valentina an enigmatic smile.
I’m not blushing, I’m not blushing, I’m not blushing, Valentina kept repeating to herself, and tried to focus on the work-out.
After they had hit the showers, they received a message for Samus to report to the station’s supervisor. Probably to be assigned quarters and such. Valentina showed her the way, then waited outside while Samus went into the office.
What am I doing? she asked herself. I’m acting as if I’m some star-struck teenager. She groaned, and ruffled her hair a bit. Sure, she was partnered up with the one and only Samus Aran, but she had hoped she had more discipline than this. She needed to focus. Yet again she wondered why she had been chosen for this.
It was nearly 10 minutes before Samus came back out. The supervisor must have gone through some station regulations while they were at it.
“Did you get everything you needed?” Valentina asked. Samus was reading through the tablet she’d been given. She was also holding a small bag, likely containing the same items Valentina had gotten when she was assigned quarters here.
“Yup, looks like,” she answered. “I’ve been assigned to share quarters with you.” Valentina blinked. She shouldn’t be surprised at this, as partners are often assigned to stay in the same quarters, and hers certainly had the room for it. Yet still it hadn’t entered her mind as an option. Maybe being close to Samus was ruining her ability to think clearly.
“O-oh, right,” Valentina said. “T-that makes sense, since we’re w-working together now.” Sleeping in the same room as Samus really shouldn’t be such a big thing. They had already done that at the settlement, kinda. But it still felt like a big thing. She would get to see Samus in her… No, stop thinking about that! she chided herself. It wasn’t a big deal, that was just her imagination running away from her.
“I’d like to get this dropped off, so could you show the way?” Samus asked, and Valentina snapped out of it.
“Y-yeah, this way,” she said, and took the lead again. Getting back to the crew quarters area, and getting to their quarters, took nearly another 10 minutes. It was a big station.
The room wasn’t particularly exciting. Valentina had put up a few personal effects, and there was a view-screen, a sound system, and a multi-function computer. But it was still somewhat spartan, considering she wasn’t here a lot of the time.
Samus set down the bag by her bunk, then sat down on it. She bounced a few times as if testing its softness, and gave a small nod. Then she looked over at Valentina.
“Valentina, could you please close the door, and sit down?” Samus asked, and Valentina could swear her heart started beating louder. She did as asked and sat down in her own bunk, opposite Samus. She was too nervous to say anything, but thankfully she didn’t have to.
“You were asking earlier, and we… are going to be working together,” Samus said, though it sounded like she was about to say something else. “So I’ll tell you a few things, at least. I can’t tell you every detail, but I can share some things. I’d feel bad if I kept leaving you entirely in the dark.”
Oh, that’s what she wanted to talk about, Valentina thought to herself, and tried to ignore her disappointment. Samus leaned backwards, and placed her hands on the bunk as she looked up at the ceiling. Thinking about what she could and couldn’t say, maybe. Or what she would and wouldn’t… Valentina felt a little like Samus was saying “I won’t tell you” rather than “I can’t tell you” when it came to this.
Samus started telling her a little about the armour. She shared some of its features and abilities, since that would make it easier for the two of them to work together. And she said it was made by the Chozo, though she wasn’t willing to share how she ended up with it. Considering how well it fit her, Valentina had to assume it was actually made for Samus.
Valentina had never heard of the Chozo before, but Samus explained they were one of the old races from before the time of the Federation. She did know about the old races in general. At this point they had all either retreated from the galactic scene, or vanished entirely, for reasons unknown. At least as far as she knew. Their ruins and remnants could be found on quite a lot of planets. Samus didn’t seem like she was hiding anything either when she said she didn’t know about any of them still being around.
It was clear that Samus was not telling the whole story by any means, but she had to have her reasons to. Maybe she’d reveal more once they knew each other better. Samus was friendly enough, but Valentina shouldn’t forget that they had only known each other for two days. No matter how star-struck she was. And she had no idea how Samus actually felt about her.
Come to think of it, didn’t Samus’s armour look a little different in some of the old photos? She couldn’t be entirely sure, especially since Samus wasn’t currently wearing it, but the thought started nagging at her. She’d try to pay attention when they went on their next mission.
“S-so what did do you before you joined?” Valentina asked. She knew the rumours, but wanted to hear Samus tell it. Samus looked at her, a wry smile playing on her lips.
“I’m sure you’ve heard the stories, at least some of them,” she replied, and Valentina for a moment worried whether Samus could read her mind. “I was a bounty hunter. With my skill-set it seemed like a logical place to start.” Valentina wondered what Samus meant by that. “But certain circumstances occurred, and I came to an agreement with the Federation.” She didn’t seem entirely happy about it. “And I’m sorry I keep saying this, but again: I can’t really talk about it.” She sounded genuinely apologetic.
Valentina had learned a bit, though not as much as she had hoped. In a way it just raised more questions. But they still had two more days before their next mission, so maybe she’d learn more by then. Or maybe she should just lay off. Being totally honest with herself, she knew that she wouldn’t be able to.