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We just said goodbye

And I’m not gonna lie

“Cinder, it’s almost midnight. You need to go to bed.”

Cinder’s head rested in her hands, pulling her eyes within an inch of their lives. 

“Iko, I’ve got so much stuff to do.” She sounded as sluggish as she felt, but would never admit that to Iko. 

“You can do it in the morning.” Iko grabbed Cinder’s arm and hauled her to her feet. “But right now you aren’t going to be productive, and anything you try to do now is going to have to be re-done later. Better to sleep and wake up refreshed.”

It took all of Cinder’s energy to side-eye her friend. “How d’you figure?”

Iko’s eyes turned light blue, indicating that she was feeling a little bit proud of herself. “I’ve been reading some mindfulness newsfeeds. To help you out a little. I had a feeling you’d try to fix all of the problems in one fell swoop, never mind how you were doing.”

“I’m not trying to fix everything.”

“I wouldn’t blame you if you were. This rock is a complete mess thanks to Levana. But you can’t expect to make it all go away instantly.”

“I’m not,” Cinder insisted, straightening and pulling her arm out of Iko’s grasp. “I just haven’t been sleeping great lately. And before you say anything it’s not because I’m staying up trying to perform miracles, I just can’t sleep.”

Iko raised an eyebrow, thinking. “Fine, but you have to at least try to rest.”

I feel really weird right now

Haven’t seen you in a while

“Your Majesty, you should really be thinking about getting some sleep.”

Kai waved a dismissive hand in Torin’s general direction. “Yeah, I’ll get to that in a few minutes.”

“What have you been working on?” Torin came closer, only to see Kai’s completely empty desk. 

Kai shrugged. “Nothing really. In all honesty, I just didn’t want to go to bed.”

He felt Torin’s hand on his back, supporting him. 

“I understand. But you only got back from Luna yesterday, and you have your own country to run. You need sleep.”

Kai let his head fall onto the desk with a thump. “Hggngn.”

“Kaito.”

Kai stood. He truly didn’t want to go to bed, because he knew that no matter how much he wanted to, he wouldn’t actually sleep. But when a disapproving advisor uses your first name, you go.

I’m in my bed

Thinking ‘bout your eyes

Cinder hated this room. It was too big, too elegant, for someone who could only remember tiny bedrooms with bare essentials. 

At least it hadn’t been Levana’s room. She’d refused to take that, or any room belonging to the royal family, the family she couldn’t help but despise. Instead, it had been a guest room for Earthen ambassadors or visitors. 

If Iko had asked, Cinder would have told her that the sleeplessness was related to the discomfort of the palace. But she would be watching the little orange light go off as she said it.

Because every time she closed her eyes, she saw a different set in her mind: coppery brown eyes that shone when they reflected the sun just right.

Kai’s eyes. 

He’d left Luna three artificial days ago, and she’d felt the emptiness the second he’d gone. When they’d been separated before, there had been other things to focus on besides their turbulent relationship— a psychotic Lunar queen, for example. But now, after she’d gotten used to having him around, his absence was deafening. 

She’d kept herself from calling him, or thinking about him, by throwing herself into Luna’s problems. Luckily for her, Luna was a hot mess that was entirely hers to fix. 

But at the same time, Iko was right. She couldn’t avoid sleep, and she couldn’t sleep because he was the only thing occupying her mind. 

I’m in my bed

Wish you were by my side

Kai rolled to one side, then the other. The mattress felt lumpy and uncomfortable, just as it had the night before. 

Maybe it was just a matter of getting used to his own bed again. He’d spent months on Luna helping with reconstruction that it was easy to imagine how he might take a little while to adjust back. But there was a tiny part of him that poked at this theory.

He wanted to call Cinder. Right now. Really badly. Whether she was awake or not. 

It was an odd feeling. He’d never felt quite this level of dependence before; not for Torin or even his parents. He suspected that was what made it a very different kind of love.

Maybe he should call her. There was no reason not to, right? Except for the fact that she might be asleep. 

Maybe

One day we’ll meet

Cinder’s device buzzed all of a sudden, and within seconds she was out of her bed and frantically tapping the accept button. 

And there was Kai, looking relieved and slightly bedraggled. 

“Oh, thank the stars,” he said. “I was so worried I’d be waking you up.”

“In all honesty, I was about to call you too,” Cinder replied, to her own shock. She wasn’t usually the type of person to let herself be that vulnerable. 

“Really?”

She would have been blushing, if she had the ability to blush. “Yeah. Is everything okay?”

Kai sheepishly messed with his hair. “Nothing really… I guess I just really needed to talk to you.”

She smiled. “Oh, good. Me too. I haven’t been sleeping great lately.”

“Me neither! I spent so long on Luna that coming home was a bigger shock than I thought it would be. When I left, I’d been expecting to hate every second of the trip, and I did, for the first part anyway, but then…” He trailed off, but Cinder knew exactly what he meant. 

Pick things up

Be just you and me

“Me too,” Cinder replied. “It’s not that there aren’t people around me. There are, constantly. But I still can’t help feeling a little lonely.”

Kai felt himself relax, because she felt the same way he did. She missed him as much as he missed her. 

“Well, now we both know we can call each other late at night?” He didn’t fully expect this to be a regular thing, but there was a part of him that desperately wanted it to be. 

Cinder nodded vigorously. “Yes, definitely. Although we should both probably sleep now…”

“Yeah. Do you want to talk tomorrow? We haven’t had time to really process since I left.”

“Sure, that sounds great.”

Kai grinned. “Good. Goodnight?”

“Goodnight!”

The call ended. Kai leaned against his headboard, smiling to himself, and that was how Torin found him the next morning, sound asleep. 

Maybe

One day we’ll meet

Pick things up

Be just you and me