As soon as the door to Kai’s room shut, he leaned against the door, bowed his head down, closed his eyes and sighed. For a brief moment, he allowed himself to think of the one thing he’d forced from his mind from the moment he realized what was happening.
Kai shook his head and straightened up, he couldn’t fully dwell on his friend. There was too much to do, especially since they were leaving Earth an officer down. As Kai pulled his uniform shirt off, he reflected that he was going to learn a lot more about Terra Venture than he’d originally anticipated. It was, in fact, the one thing he had not anticipated in that list he’d incinerated on his last trip from his apartment to Terra Venture with belongings. He blinked and realized he was standing, shirtless, in the middle of his room like an idiot. He pulled on a faded t-shirt and jeans before pulling his boots back on. As he did so, he felt a twinge of regret for not tracking down a pair of sandals to wear off-duty.
Commander Stanton had made his opinion of bare feet quite clear the one time Kai had dared to venture out shoeless.
As he was putting away his uniform, the door chimed. “Stand and be recognized,” Kai said. He knew who was coming to visit him; it was the only person who ever came to his room. The self same person who had tricked him into the archaic phrasing that was all the door answered to now.
“Kendrix,” the computer announced, confirming his private guess.
“You are recognized, enter and be welcome,” Kai chanted as he tugged an imaginary wrinkle from his bed.
Kendrix, well, the only word Kai could think to use was bounced, into his room. “Are you ready to start packing?” She asked cheerfully.
“No,” Kai said, sitting on his bed. He couldn’t help staring at his friend, because while she was normally irrepressibly cheerful and energetic, he hadn’t seen her like this before. Then he stopped, remembering one memorable night when someone had given her a coffee laced with some other stimulate. This was just like that, as if she couldn’t keep still, because if she did she’d explode.
“Why not?” Kendrix asked, looking at the small room. “My closet in my apartment is bigger than this room.” She glanced around, “You’re old apartment is bigger than this room.
Kai ignored her complaint, as he always did. “Because I don’t want roommates.” He crossed his arms and leaned back so that he could watch her, and to hide the fact that he was almost as jittery as she was.
“There is nothing wrong with roommates,” Kendrix said, in the same cheerful yet forced tone she’d used every time she’d lost a roommate. Except for the last one, they had all been through no fault of hers. Kai couldn’t blame Cami though, because Kendrix didn’t need coffee in the morning. No, Kendrix was addicted and craved her coffee and could be very scary if she didn’t get some within fifteen minutes of waking up.
“I like my privacy,” Kai said, bringing his mind back to the not-argument he was having, “and I don’t spend time here except when I want to be alone.” Kai stared at her as Kendrix sat down on the bed beside him. For a long moment, Kendrix stared into his eyes with a faint frown, as if he had become a puzzle that she was trying to solve. “What?” he asked irritably.
“You’re upset,” Kendrix said, tilting her head, a crease appearing in her brow, “why?”
“I don’t know,” Kai said, his tone was laced with sarcasm, “a friend just died, we’ve left Earth on a one way trip to nowhere, maybe it’s the fact that I spent half the day running around in spandex!”
Kendrix’s eyebrows rose and she began to smile, “Or, you could have a crush.”
Kai stood up, “What is with you and assuming that every time I get snappy, I have a crush? Why do I have to fall in love with people? I’m perfectly happy with some good friends, you, of all people, know that.”
“Friends can’t hold you when you have nightmares, Kai,” Kendrix replied, also standing up. “Besides, you said it yourself, you don’t care about gender.”
“I don’t care about gender because I don’t care about,” Kai stopped himself. “You need to leave.”
“What?” Kendrix said, startled.
“Go,” Kai said, “Just go. I don’t want to get into this, ok? I’m moving into the quarters Stanton assigned tomorrow. Contrary to what I want, I’ve been ordered to move and so I will move.”
Kendrix smiled, “Don’t worry, Kai. I’m not mad; I’m just worried about you. Like you said, a friend just died. I thought you might not want to be alone.”
Kai stared at her for a moment, and then hugged her. After a moment, she hugged him back. Kai took a deep breath, breathing in the mixed scent of vanilla and lavender that Kendrix favored. It soothed him even as it startled him. He'd never really noticed the scent of her shampoo before. After a moment she stepped back, “I’m sorry,” Kai said. “I don’t know what’s wrong, I can’t focus, or settle, and my emotions are just everywhere.”
“I think we all feel it,” Kendrix said, “I mean, I know we all fell asleep, but that didn’t really last.”
“I had wondered,” Kai admitted. “You guys looked pretty cozy in there.”
“I actually came by to ask you about dinner,” Kendrix said, “and, well, to see if you wanted help packing?”
“Yes to dinner,” Kai said, “no to packing.” He glanced around the small room, “remember, I had all that time to bring stuff up here. It’s going to take forever to repack it all, move it and unpack again.”
“That’s why I offered to help,” Kendrix said, she smacked his arm, “pay attention silly.”
“Maybe I will want help,” Kai said after a moment.
“Fine,” Kendrix said, “but we’re eating first.”
“Food first,” Kai agreed.
“There’s just one thing,” Kendrix said.
“What’s that?” Kai asked.
“You might want to change your shirt,” Kendrix said.
Kai glanced down, he was wearing his old Alliance t-shirt; the one Amanda had attacked with colored markers and a glitter pen. The glitter was mostly washed off, but the markers were still visible, clearly reading ‘I MAY BE AN ACE, BUT I AM NOT A PILOT.’
Kai flushed, “Right,” He said. “Step outside and let me change.”
“I have brothers, I’ve seen it before,” Kendrix replied.
Kai huffed a laugh and pulled his shirt off, exchanging it for a GSA t-shirt the same blue as his uniform. “Better?” He asked her.
“Well, you could have just gone shirtless,” Kendrix said, mock-mournfully, “but I guess that shirt will do.”
FYI: According to Wikipedia, 'Ace' is a common word for Asexual.