by C.M. Lacey
Waking up from the dead of sleep, Koulu sat up. She had had that nightmare again. She vividly pictured Master Mei's forehead explode and a spray of blood, while the gore flew into her face. Even though she it had been weeks ago, Koulu still pictured it. She looked down at the bad she shared with Glee and Re, and slowly pulled herself out of the former's loving embrace. She didn't want to be the cause of having them wake up once again. She had to find a new way of calming herself down.
She sat on the side of the bed and looked out the port hole in their room on The Lovely Looter. Ever since Confederate Technology was back up, little things like stabilizers were now operational. The waters looked choppy out the window, but inside the room felt as steady as if they were landlocked.
Standing up, she gave a small stretch, then went over to some fresh towels on the night stand and wiped the sweat off her body. The nightmare had been too much this time. She was surprised she didn't cry out in her sleep. Turning her head, she looked at Glee again and felt her heart race. She was tired of making that girl worry about her.
Feeling she needed to calm down, she tip-toed to her bag and opened it up. The object she was looking for wasn't hard to find. It was in a long big box. She pulled it out, opened it up, and gaze down at it. There it was. Her master's Orin Key, the Shadow Saber.
She took another look at the bed, but this time looked into Re's face. She knew how much the girl had worked to get confederate technology back online. If only she knew the secret the Neo Edo Mayor was hiding in her mansion. During those long political discussions, Koulu found herself bored and she often left the office and explored the house. At first she was always guarded, but after weeks of the pointless bickering, she was able to start slipping in and out of areas where she didn't belong.
One such area was the wine cellar. Koulu wondered why something relatively unimportant was off limits. It turned out there was a secret room with in. Inside Koulu discovered a good amount of things. The Major had been shipping various crates and items from all over the Galaxy, and it seemed some of those items were Orin Ore scraps. There was a good number of Blue Orin Ore, which at the time Koulu didn't know the difference. But what she also discovered was newly made, fully formed duplicates of both the positive and negative Orin Keys. While Re and the others were upstairs discussing returning the originals, the Mayor had a copy set hidden away, made from the scraps she was collecting.
She couldn't take those Orin Keys then. But on the next visit she did. She had planned to give them to Re as a bargaining chip, but her selfish nature took over. She didn't want to give up her master's saber. It was the only thing she had left of her. Mei might not have been a good person, but she took care of Koulu when she was a scared, lonely, runaway Zan-Ne. She wanted to keep the Shadow Saber.
And so she did. On the day the Orin Generator turned on, Koulu and given the Orin Smith the duplicate. She half expected for the generator not to turn on, as her faith in the duplicate was shaky. But it had. Now, she was looking down at her master's saber, and felt slightly scared and guilty for not telling Glee and Re what she had done.
The box she was looking into had an empty imprint. The positive Orin Key used to be in this box as well. At first, Koulu didn't know what she was going to do with it. After the generator was turned on, it seemed like she was carting along extra baggage. But when Lam Shaw's wife showed up, Koulu knew what she had to do. In all the chaos of reunion, Koulu was able to slip the duplicate Celestial Blade into Lam's bag. He deserved to have his sword again. He didn't even put up a fight giving up something he held so precious. She felt he was very honorable in that way.
At the end of their story, Koulu walked away with her original saber, Lam with a new one, and Glee with a Blue Orin Short Sword. But unlike before, as far as she knew, she was the only one who was in on the whole truth. She wondered how long Confederate Technology would stay on, especially since the Neo Edo Mayor had duplicates the whole time and made no attempt to start the generator. Would the Mari and Terrans always be at each other's throats?
Glee moaned, and reached at the empty place where Koulu should be sleeping. Acting quickly, she repacked her saber and climbed back into bed. She wasn't ready to admit what she had done just yet. She still felt bad for keeping the secret in the first place, and now she was stuck in a loop of keeping that secret.
"Koulu, where'd you go?" Glee moaned sleepily.
Not answering, she cuddled back next to Glee and shushed her softly. Then she lightly pointed at Re, who still was asleep.
Glee blinked a bit and nuzzled her face into Koulu's chest. Within seconds she was sleeping again. She wrapped her arms around Glee's head and lightly stroked her hair, duplicating the finger movements she had seen Re use. That was another issue she was holding her tongue on. She understood that if she wanted Glee, Re came with the package. So far she was handling it well enough, but Re was just so touchy-feely. It hadn't dawned on the oh-so-brilliant Strategist that maybe cuddling someone else's girlfriend right in front of them wasn't very nice.
Still, she couldn't blame her completely. Re and Glee were closer than sisters, and she saw how often Re clutched that locket Glee had given her. Koulu wondered why the two of them didn't get together. They certainly were close enough. But Glee never looked at Re the same way she looked at her. And the same was for Re. Re liked Terran men, for one reason or another.
Even still, even knowing all that, Koulu was a bit jealous. Glee and Re had long conversations, and spoke in short-hand sometimes. Koulu never was much of a talker and was envious on how natural it was for Re to speak so freely with Glee.. Part of it was the Zan-Ne training, but the other part was being Mei's apprentice. She was to be seen and not heard. She never was to questions orders. And she was supposed to show, not tell. It was a hard habit to break out of.
Glee never seemed to get frustrated at Koulu lack of communication skills, however. She was satisfied with what they had. Even now, after being together for while, they could just stare into each other's eyes and feel that same heat and electricity that sparked between them the first day they saw at each other in the restaurant.
"Koulu." Glee's voice muffled into Koulu's chest.
"I love you."
"Shhh." Koulu giggled a bit.
She glanced at Re, and saw the other girl's eyes still shut, but there was a small smirk forming on her mouth. She was trying to pretend she was asleep, but she had heard that exchange. Slightly annoyed, Koulu reached her leg over Glee so she could lightly bop Re on the hip. Re snickered.
"Just tell her you love her back so she'll go to sleep." Re spoke in a sleepy voice. "C'mon, you know you want to."
She gazed back at Re with an irritated looked, but looked down as Glee was pulling away and once again was looking up into her face, Rolling her eyes, Koulu reached up and lightly pressed her hand on Glee's cheek, then leaned forward and pressed her lips to her forehead.
"Aw!" Re cooed. Glee giggled.
"Ugh!" Koulu groaned, let Glee go and turned around so her back faced them. Those two just enjoyed embarrassing her every chance they got.
"Geez, you're girlfriend is in a mood tonight."
"Maybe she'd be happier if she didn't have to share a bed with someone else." Glee suggested still in a sleepy voice.
"Am I in the way?" Re asked.
"Not all the time." Glee spoke a bit cautiously. "But, yeah sometimes."
"Oh, sorry." Re apologized and sounded like she meant it. "Sorry Koulu!"
"Hmpt." Koulu gave a quick grunt.
Re giggled again. "Wow, she's really cranky!"
"She's just embarrassed, that's all."
"It's okay to say you love someone, you know." Re said, for what must have been the 100th time since she met her.
Sitting up, Koulu turned around and faced the two of them.
"Ekk!" Re squeaked and pretended to be afraid. She pulled the blankets over her face and snickered even more once she had hidden herself.
"I'm sorry, Koulu. I know I shouldn't tease you so much." Glee reached out to her. "Please don't be angry."
Pouting a bit, Koulu gave in and allowed Glee to hold her. It was everything within her to ignore the continued giggling from Re's end of the bed.
"Goodnight, Koulu." Glee said again, whispering in her ear softly.
Closing her eyes, she opened her mouth to say goodnight as well, but stopped herself. She paused, took a moment, then mouthed silently so only Glee could see her: "I love you."