[Sequel to Fierce Assault]
When they got back to the base, they handed in their report, and were immediately told to rest. The debriefing would wait until morning, considering the state the two of them were in. Valentina especially.
They stopped by the infirmary to have her injuries checked out. Just in case any wounds were deeper than they appeared. But it was superficial enough that all they ended up doing was cleaning her down, then re-stating that she needed to get some rest. Part of her had wanted to ask if they could let the injury on her face scar, but she thought better of it. While she could argue it would serve as a reminder, her true motives were more childish.
Samus had hovered nearby the whole time, as if she was still in protective mode.
When they got back to their room, Samus insisted on holding Valentina until she fell asleep. Valentina wasn’t sure she’d get much actual rest like that, since just the thought of it was heating her up, but she had promised. Having the larger woman spooning her like that was somehow both calming and exhilarating.
There’s no way I’ll be able to fall asleep like this, she thought, but soon enough exhaustion started to set in. She wriggled and turned around, and leaned her head against Samus’s chest. Her heartbeat was slightly faster than normal. Samus let Valentina move, but it was clear she was not about to let go. And before she knew it, Valentina was asleep.
It was a deep, dreamless sleep. When she woke up, Samus was still asleep. Still holding her. How long had she stayed awake after Valentina fell asleep? Valentina had also put her arms around Samus while sleeping, and now she wasn’t sure if she should stop, or stay that way.
Is this okay? she asked herself. Her cheeks were probably as pink as her contact suit. While she wasn’t sure when it had happened, she was reasonably certain she had fallen in love with Samus. Maybe already from the moment she had seen Samus take her helmet off. Was that okay? How did Samus feel? She was certainly very protective, and Valentina felt like Samus cared for her, but maybe she just saw Valentina as more of a younger sister. Valentina didn’t know, and wasn’t sure if she dared ask.
The clock in the room beeped, and Valentina managed to get a look at it. An hour until the debriefing. They probably needed that time to get ready. She certainly felt like she could use a cold shower.
“Samus,” she said softly, but the blonde didn’t stir. “Wake up, Samus,” she said a little louder, and this time Samus moved slightly. Though it didn’t seem like she had woken up. She looks surprisingly cute when she’s sleeping, Valentina thought, then an idea occurred to her. Unable to resist the temptation, she gently raised her arm, and booped Samus’s nose. Highly unprofessional, but so was falling in love, probably. “Wake up,” she said again.
Finally Samus’s eyes slowly opened, and she blinked blearily.
“Huh?” she said, sounding a little confused. “Valentina?” Samus was clearly still half-asleep. Perhaps she had been dreaming.
“I’m here. Good morning,” Valentina replied. In return she got squeezed a little tighter. She couldn’t stop thinking about how nice it would be to stay this way. “Hey, we need to get up. The debriefing is in an hour, and I’d like to take a shower first,” she said, and didn’t add that she needed to catch her breath as well. Very reluctantly Samus let her go. Valentina got up, and Samus followed suit. After a shower and a few other preparations, they reported for debriefing.
They were commended on taking out the manufacturing facility, and told that a Federation salvage frigate was securing the facility right at that moment. Hopefully they’d learn more from their findings, like if there were more facilities. Or what the Space Pirates were planning with these devices.
But they were also reprimanded for going in alone, especially considering the state they returned in. It was seen as reckless endangerment of themselves, and Valentina couldn’t argue with that. Samus tried to take on the full responsibility, but Valentina protested, and insisted they were both responsible. Even though Samus had been the one who had charged ahead, Valentina didn’t want her to suffer the whole punishment alone. They were in this together.
Turned out the punishment wasn’t that severe. The reprimand was the worst of it. That would likely be noted on their records. And while they didn’t get any official suspension, they were basically ordered to take two weeks off as vacation. Barring any galactic-scale emergency, they would not be assigned any missions for the next two weeks, and they were free to leave the base. In fact, they were encouraged to.
Once they left the briefing room, Samus started apologising again. Both for getting them reprimanded, and for taking so long to set off the second bomb at the facility. Space Pirates had charged in on her end too, and she’d had to take them down before she was able to set it up. Valentina wanted to ask about a couple of things, like if Samus had really turned into a ball, and what that explosive she had used to take out the Pirates was. But maybe that was best left for later.
“Don’t worry so much about the ‘could haves’ and ‘might haves’, Samus,” Valentina said with a smile. “We made it out okay, and that’s the important thing.” She spun around, then spread her arms wide. “Look at me, I’m okay!” Samus cracked a slight smile at that, and it was enough to make Valentina’s heart soar.
“Alright. I guess I’ll have to focus on doing better next time,” Samus said as they resumed walking.
“Next time? You’re going to drag me into danger again?” Valentina asked jokingly, and Samus’s cheeks gained just a hint of colour.
“Er… ah… I didn’t mean- I- um… p-probably,” she conceded, and Valentina suppressed the urge to giggle. Very unbefitting of a GalFed space cadet.
“Well, that comes with the job,” Valentina said. “Even if we weren’t partners, I’d still have to face danger. But I’m glad we can do it together,” she added earnestly. They walked in silence for a short while.
“Still-” Samus started saying, but Valentina cut her off.
“Hey, if you really want to make it up to me, how about buying me dinner?” she suggested, and smiled at Samus.
“Huh? But food is free at the base,” Samus replied in confusion.
“No, not here,” Valentina said, shaking her head. “Let’s go somewhere nice. We have two weeks, after all, and you probably know more places than me. Then you can buy me dinner.” She knew she was pushing it here. If Samus wasn’t interested, that would be crushing.
“Well, maybe I do, but I wasn’t really paying attention to those things,” Samus said. Valentina pondered once more what Samus’s life had been like before. Maybe she would be more willing to answer such questions now. “I may have a couple of candidates. Let’s talk more about it back in our room.” The walk back was brisk.
Samus had visited several places, though usually for work. She hadn’t done much in terms of leisure. But there were a couple of places she could remember liking, and together they selected a location to go to. Valentina hadn’t been to any of the places Samus suggested, but she had heard of one of them, and that it was nice, so that’s where they were going. She had never had cause to go to a place like that on her own, but now…
Now she was looking forward to going somewhere with her crush. Who knows what could happen? Maybe she’d even be able to tell her how she felt. Maybe.