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Thus, You Shall Go to the Stars

It's all a lot to take in.

Waking up in a galaxy, a million light years from home was enough for her to wrap her mind around as it was, but then... But then nothing had gone according to plan. Her father's dead, her brother in a coma, and she's in unknown territory, doing things that have never been done before.

At least, she thinks to herself, she isn't alone.

He calls her Ryder, Pathfinder, anything but her name. Not many people call her by her name anymore, but from him it's... different. They speak out of deference, even reverence, but he says it with a soft smile, and those eyes that seem to contain the entire Milky Way in them light up as they meet hers. It's like he's daring her, testing her, seeing how far he can push her before she gives into her emotions, and demand he call her by her name.

The first time he says her name out loud, she almost misses it.

She has gathered all the crew members of the Tempest for a meeting, trying to address some of the problems that have been brought to her attention. Namely, Peebee's attempts at pranking others aboard the Tempest. It's good for them to loosen up once in a while—God only knows how taxing this has been on all of them—but she needs to draw a line somewhere, and Peebee setting her hamster in Drax's bed is too far.

"Perhaps Lia only means to ask you to respect boundaries?" he says as the young Asari goes to express her displeasure, so casual that Lia agrees without thinking.

"Yes. Thank you, Jaal." But then the realisation hits her, hard, and she cannot hide her blush when the Angara scrambles to correct himself, and then, he's back to "Ryder" and "Pathfinder" and simply not saying her name at all.

He excuses himself, dropping into an unsteady bow. Lia isn't quite certain, but she swears his purple colouring darkens as he blushes. Perhaps, she thinks, it's just the light.

Peebee bursts into a fit of laughter, unable to control herself. Already, she has forgotten that she was being reprimanded moments earlier. "What was that about?" She goes to dismiss all of them, hurriedly trying to clean up this mess before it can be made, but it only seems to encourage the roguish Asari. "Something going on between you two I don't know about?"

But she doesn't have the time to respond, because Lexi, the ever-diplomatic doctor that she is, steps in. "Give it a rest," she says, and the tone of finality in her voice ends the conversation before Peebee can prod Lia any further.

And of course, because he's Jaal, and he's so kind it almost makes her hate herself, he pulls her aside hours later to apologise. "Ryder? A moment?" he says, and already, she misses the way her name had sounded upon his lips.

And of course, because she can't deny herself, and it almost makes her hate him, she gives him all the time she has. "Of course," she says, smiling, but it's more out of habit than anything else.

"I wanted to apologise."

"What for?"

It takes him a moment to say what he wants to, and she can see him turning the words over on the tip of his tongue. "Calling you... Lia. It was... improper. I have read about human culture. Nick... names are reserved for close friends."

"Well, we're close friends, aren't we? You're more than welcome to call me Lia."

He grunts, and she really can't tell if he's agreeing or disagreeing. Angara are open with their emotions, he has told her, but that is not the impression she has got from him since he came aboard the Tempest. Tentatively, he reaches out a hand, brushing a finger over the dark spots that stain her skin. "Your skin is like the sky," he says, almost in awe, and his eyes widen as he forces her to tilt her head from side to side to examine the moles that dot her visage. "Stars. Constellations. Is this common for all humans?"

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