After eating a light dinner and taking a shower, Leon headed over to his dorm to prepare for bed in his IF-issued pajamas. Aiden was already in the room. He leaned against the wall over the bottom bunk bed, rubbing one of his temples.
Aiden looked at him, but didn't respond. Must not be much of a talker.
"I feel like we got off on the wrong foot today, but I'm sure we'll be buddies in no time!"
The older ranger made a grunt of confusion.
"Off on the wrong foot…?" He finally spoke. "If me drinking fruit punch was enough to ruin your life, I dunno how this friendship is gonna work out."
Leon opened his mouth but had no idea how to continue the conversation. He came up with something after a few seconds.
"So! Did you have anything else?"
The rookie paused so Aiden could elaborate, but he didn't, so Leon kept going.
"I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich! It was pretty good! I wish I could've tried some of the other stuff we had, but I didn't wanna eat too much in case I get sick later on. You wouldn't believe the variety we have!" The panel on the far side of the room caught Leon's attention. "I wonder what's this for…?" He opened it, discovering it was-
"A window!" The buck-toothed ranger couldn't be more excited. "I can't believe we have our own window! Come look at all the stars out here!"
"I can see them from here."
"Ah… Of course, you've seen them before, haven't you?" Leon took a quick glance at Aiden before gluing his eyes back on the window. "Still… I don't think I could ever get enough of this! They just keep going on and on… forever. Isn't it beautiful?" He looked to Aiden for an answer.
"...Yeah." Aiden raised his eyebrows, then quickly looked away. "It is."
Leon continued looking at the endless starscape. "I think so too." He remembered something. "Oh! I should let my family know I made it! And send them some pictures! Have you called up your family yet?"
"I don't have one."
"Oh... I'm sorry."
"Eh." Aiden waved a hand.
Leon decided to change the conversation. "So! How long have you been in the IF?"
"I dunno? Some years? I don't really keep count."
"Hmmm…" The rookie pondered in between taking pictures "Well, you've been here at least 4-5 years, if you and Jun Kim were roommates."
"Oh yeah. I was here about a year before him."
Him? Didn't Jun mention breaking the news to him first? Aiden couldn't have possibly not gotten the memo!
"How was Jun as a roommate?" He felt like he was getting real insider information. "She seems really cool!"
"He's kind of a nerd, really." He chuckled. "You remind me of him."
Leon wasn't sure if they were talking about the same person, or if that was a compliment or an insult. He decided to take the more positive alternative.
"Really? Thank you!"
"Yes, you both have the same nark vibes. You're a little more heavy on the 'hey buddy, hey chum!' act, but I'm sure the captains will be very proud of you." Aiden gave a light, sarcastic round of clapping.
The rookie blinked. "What's a nark?"
Aiden looked slightly bewildered for a moment, but resumed his dull scowl. "A tattle-tale basically."
"Tattle-tale? You think I was put up to this?"
The taller ranger noticed Leon's genuine confusion, and began to seem just as confused. "So you're not keeping tabs on me? You're just like tha-?"
Leon's phone rang.
"Ah, sorry, I have to take this." Leon answered the phone. "Hello? I'm in space!"
"Mamá! Did you see the pictures?"
"Of course I did! ¡Estoy muy orgulloso de ti! You've come so far!" For someone who was initially hesitant on his decision to enlist in the IF, this was the happiest Leon had ever heard her.
"Yeah, what she said!" shouted a voice in the background.
"Hi, Dad! I'm in space!"
"You sure are!" His father was now on the speaker. "I remember when I first started flying and saw the tops of clouds for the first time. It was the coolest thing in the world to me! Now I've got a son in space…"
"The clouds on the way up were beautiful! You would've loved them."
His father laughed. "I'm sure I'll see them soon. Anyway, how do the stars look?"
"I knew he'd say that." Leon heard his mother in the background.
The three continued catching up. Leon recounted the events of his day, like the mixup he had at the spaceport, the people he met, how beautiful the Earth looked from space, and how confusing baths were in zero gravity. Occasionally his parents would mention that his brother was smiling or waving during the conversation. Leon found it a little strange that he didn't speak, but his parents assured him he was okay.
Eventually, they parted ways, and Leon strapped his phone on a nearby desk. He turned around only to be greeted by a T-shirt to the face. An Interstellar Forces standard issue nightshirt, to be exact, but it wasn't his.
"Uh, could you pass that back here?" asked a shirtless Aiden. "I'd've gotten it myself but-" He gestured to the rest of his body under the covers, which from what Leon could see of it, looked disconcertingly bare.
Aiden looked under his covers and back at Leon. "Yeah. Are you gonna give me my shirt back? I don't mind getting it myself, but I was trying to be 'considerate.'"
Leon flung the shirt back without hesitation while Aiden laughed.
"Thanks." The older ranger grabbed his shirt as it drifted toward him and tucked it under his blanket.
"No problem… Why are you naked…?" Leon asked shakily.
"Why would I need to wear clothes when I'm already underneath a cover?"
"I-Wh-I-I guess that makes sense?" Leon sputtered.
"Like it's any of your business." Aiden rolled his eyes. "Anyway, I'm going to bed."
"I should get some shut-eye too." Pulling back his covers, Leon got into bed. He started buckling himself in. "Goodnight, Aiden!"
Aiden lazily waved in response.
Over the next few hours, Leon found it hard to sleep. The lights being on didn't bother him too much, and Aiden's antics, while hard not to think about, didn't keep him up at night. The window, however, was begging him to stay up. Millions of stars waited beyond his reach, beyond anyone's reach, but they sparkled as beautifully as ever. Even if his headache still persisted, even if his roommate was mildly troublesome, a view like this was worth it all.