"Alright, where do you think Lexicon is today, Tobey?" Becky asked as she settled against him.
She had set up a hammock above her spaceship hideout's sunroof, tying the strings to two beams within the hatch.
Tobey's eyes flitted around, taking each star and constellation into account before settling on a particularly bright one right above them. "You see that one?" he said, pointing at it. "That star is much brighter than the others, so that must be the sun for the galaxy where Lexicon resides. So that must mean Lexicon is…."
He studied each star around that peculiarly gleaming one then pointed at a flashing red glow. "There. That's Lexicon."
She frowned. "Isn't that just an airplane's lights blinking on and off?"
"…Maybe. But just imagine for a moment that that…er…moving…planet is Lexicon."
Becky deadpanned. "Maybe I would if we couldn't hear it from here."
"You're using your superhearing!" he sputtered, struggling to save face.
"Am not," she said. "And I know you can hear it, too, Tobey. It's right above us."
The loud whine of the airplane's engines cut off whatever he was going to say, and he pouted.
"Alright, fine," he grumbled as soon as it passed. "Your turn."
She stared up at the sky for a few minutes then pointed at a star that looked as if it were perched on top of a tree. "See that one? That's actually not a star at all, but a comet that just so happens to be close enough to both Lexicon and Earth. While we may not get to see a lot of comets, Lexiconians see so many that they've become an important symbol in their culture. That's why the symbol of Lexicon is a star."
It was silent for a while as the two continued to stare at the indigo night sky ablaze with hundreds of stars. Stargazing had never really been an interest of theirs, given that they'd both lived in a city much of their lives. The light pollution blotted most of them out anyway.
But here, in the forest, they were able to see them in all their glory, with a brilliance that never failed to awe them. It seemed like a different sky every night.
It was an accidental whisper of a slip that started a new tradition between the two of them. One warm summer night, right after they both finished their finals for their first semester in college, Becky had brought him over to the spaceship hideout simply to hang out and watch a movie. They were exhausted and touch-starved after being separated for nearly an entire semester, so they felt they had to make up for all that lost time.
A marathon of Princess Triana movies later, the two were lying half-asleep on her sofa.
Tobey had suggested in a crackling voice they merely go to sleep there and then, but Becky didn't want to make their parents worry about them, so she insisted they leave. It was only when the two stumbled out of the spaceship did they notice it was much brighter than they were expecting for past one in the morning.
They looked up and their breath coiled out and intermingled with the millions of stars hanging above them.
The sky was a mesmerizing violet color that was very much unlike the stark black they were used to seeing in the city. The stars gleamed and winked at them like old friends on a painted canvas. Tobey tightened his grip on her hand, as if to steady himself.
She had no idea how long the two of them had been standing there like that. The question escaped her before she had a chance to think about it.
"Do you think…Lexicon is one of those stars?"
She didn't look at him when she asked this. Instead, her eyes combed the stars until they landed on one at random. "Like that one. Do you think that could be Lexicon?"
He squinted up at it. "It could be. I don't know. What makes you think it's Lexicon?"
Becky stared up at it for a moment longer then gave a light shrug. "I don't know. Just wondering," she said dismissively.
He smirked. "Oh, come now, Miss English Major. Surely you of all people could come up with something better than that."
She threw him a sharp glance that only made his smirk grow. And so, despite her sleep-deprived mind, she spun a tall tale about how the star would flash red, on occasion, so that star had to be Lexicon.
"What about you, McCallister? Think you can prove me wrong?" she challenged. Her eyes gleamed in much the same way they did in elementary school just before she threw a witty comeback at him.
He scanned the sky for a few minutes then pointed at a barely visible star in the distance. He explained that, since Lexicon was so far away that Bob couldn't contact them from Earth, that star had to be Lexicon. Needless to say, she had to admit that Tobey's story was better than hers. It made more logical sense, and it was more detailed than "it kinda blinks red sometimes", at any rate.
"The only way we'd know for sure is to ask Bob, I guess," she had said that night before she flew him home.
Of course, neither of them did that. It would spoil the fun of coming up here with new reasons and stories of their own. And so, in place of the picnic talks they had in high school, they had these nightly stargazing sessions at least once a month. College didn't allow for as much free time as high school, after all.
"Alright," he sighed, resigned to his fate. "You win tonight."
Her smile looked absolutely iridescent. "Thanks," she whispered.
Becky shifted so she hovered over him. Her hair sliced through the meek moonlight to envelop him in a cover of temporary darkness. He reached out with careful fingertips to curl it back.
A short nod at the question in her eyes, and they knew.
Her kiss descended, warm and slow and steady. It didn't matter how many times their lips met. He still felt the same delicious reeling sensation every time, and he mourned its loss every time they had to pull away.
"I love you," she whispered, her lips grazing his as she spoke.
His next words were not planned-out. Indeed, they were not even properly thought-out.
"Would you marry me, then?"
Her eyes grew wide and her mouth hung open in shock.
"Was that…supposed to be a proposal?"
He began to sweat. "Um, not a formal one…" he squeaked out, managing an awkward smile.
She blinked at him then broke out into a loud, snorting giggle that made him blush.
Tobey mentally cursed himself. What an idiotic thing to say! Here they were, lying in a hammock in the blasted woods, homework and impending deadlines hanging over their heads, and he was suggesting they get married. No special date, no real moment leading up to it. Just a spontaneous thought he blurted out with almost nothing backing it up.
He didn't even have a ring with him. Pathetic.
Becky scooted up and pecked him on the cheek. "Sure, I'll marry you," she replied, as casually as if he had asked her what she wanted for dinner.
Tobey blinked in surprise. "Wait, really?"
"After we graduate from college, and only when you ask me properly," she added with a teasing smirk.
He gave a rather overexaggerated huff. "Oh, alright. But I'm referring to you as my fiancée from now on when people ask me."
Becky's smirk eased into a much more genuine smile. "Okay."
She pulled their blanket over her shoulder and settled back against him. "Okay…" she breathed out.
"Becky, my love, are you falling asleep?"
She waved him away and mumbled wearily, "I'm fine. You're just a comfy pillow."
"Ah, I see."
The two fell into a mutual silence as they continued to stare up at the starry night.
Something she had said years ago, back when she had told him her biggest secret, came to him then. They always came to him in the quiet moments.
"The day we decided to leave each other alone was the day we realized how much we didn't want to, I guess."
What was it that made the two of them drawn toward one another after that day? Something changed, but, for all his mulling over it, he couldn't figure out what that something was. As far as he was aware, he didn't really start falling for Becky until much later in elementary school.
His eyes fell to her calm face. The stars gathered in her eyes and wove through her hair like a crown. Mere moonlight could not ever hope to capture such radiance. Her chest rose and fell slowly, like the ebb and flow of the sea. She embodied the beauty of Earth despite not even being born here. A conflicting metaphor, to be sure, but one he found true all the same.
It was strange how being with her made him feel an elated buzz and a sense of calm he couldn't find anywhere else. So full of opposites, this woman. And for all that, he loved her.
Tobey smiled at her and shut his eyes.
He never truly believed in the idea of fate, despite his romantic nature. Everything he had done to get where he was today was mostly through his own efforts, or the efforts of others. Fate was a lousy excuse, he reasoned. It could not account for all the little intricacies life held in store. This moment, for instance, was too insignificant a memory to have been planned by some mysterious force.
So what, then, bound them together?
He sighed and rested his cheek on the top of her head. He might never figure out if their being drawn to one another was due to some sort of destiny or something else entirely. All he knew was that it felt natural for them to be side by side, just like this.
Becky shifted on his shoulder and he pulled her closer, feeling the familiar wave of sleep overtake them.
He conceded to the unknown and, within his dreams, he saw memory after memory of him and her as young children pass him by. It was then, in that moment, he found out the answer he had been seeking.
Oh, he would forget it all by morning and go back to pondering over the same question all over again, to be sure. But, right here, in this space in-between, he knew. And he smiled as the memories continued to wash through him.
His feelings for her, and her feelings for him….
Perhaps it was something hidden all along.