I watched the sun set below the horizon of the Pacific, giving off a golden aura and leaving a violet sky in its wake, spangling the water with specks of brilliant white light. I would've felt like "king" of the world, except now Alek knew my secret. I tried not to blink; not just to keep watching the beautiful scene, but to not replay what happened: Alek just glaring at me, not saying anything. What he was thinking was beyond me, and it filled me with terror and anxiety. But my guilt kept me silent, and before I was courageous enough to ask, he turned away, walked to his cabin, and locked the door behind him.
I opened her eyes again, gasping for breath, discovering that the sky was entirely a gray-purple, the sun gone. A hundred questions raced through my head: Why did I have to tell Alek, instead of keeping it to myself? Why did I even assume he would understand? Was it rude to tell or not tell royalty about secrets?
And why was I even caring so much?
Someone was climbing the ratlines; I could tell because there was a sound of tightening ropes, but didn't look to see who it was. Probably just another rigger. But when I finally decided that looking at someone was better than remembering the silent anger of Alek, I was shocked when I saw it was the prince himself
"Hello, Dylan," he said, like he was not mad at all, like he wanted to tell me something.
I looked back to the ocean and grumbled, in my girl voice, "It's Deryn."
By this point, Alek was sitting beside me. "I like that name."
"No you don't."
Alek shrugged his shoulders. "Well, you told the truth. Now I did."
I sighed out of annoyance. So what, he went from raging to nice in a few hours of learning the most shocking secret ever, that his best friend was lower than any man, yet I just couldn't accept who I was and snuck my way aboard an airship? Barking princes.
"Hey Deryn," Alek said playfully.
I turned her head, finding that Alek was dangling my pair of goggles in front of my face.
"Hey!" I was surprised that I was laughing. "Give those back!"
"No, I don't think I will."
I lunged toward him to retrieve my goggles, but Alek jumped out of the way just in time, running across the "Leviathan"'s dorsal, me chasing him. But, being a faster runner than him, I quickly caught up to him and jumped onto him as we were about to go off the side. I snatched her goggles, but stayed on top of the thief. There was only about one inch from our noses, both of us looking into each other's eyes. But either because of irony or the sheer fun of a good chase, we both burst into laughter, me rolling off of Alek and laying beside him, our legs dangling off the side of the ship.
"You're a dummkopf, you know?" I smiled.
Alek smiled too. "Yes, but so are you."
We both just stared at the sky as it grew gradually darker until it turned to the darkest gray before black. The color reminded me of something from long ago: Back on Da's balloon, we would sing a song when it was just the two of us, no Jaspert. It made me try to quietly sing it out loud to remember it.
"If I lay here,
If I just lay here,
Would you lie here with me and
Just forget the world?"
"What are you singing?" Alek asked.
"A song," I told him. "My da taught it to me."
Alek was just staring at me now, like he just realized something.
"You know," Alek said, "I always knew you were a girl."
I stared at him. "You did?"
Alek nodded. He looked away for a while, and then just shrugged his shoulders. "I suppose."
"Say, Alek," I asked randomly. "Have you ever wondered what it's like to love someone?"
Alek looked thoughtful for a moment, and then said, "No, haven't thought of that."
I felt myself flush, even in the cool night air, still looking at the sky, as Alek was. Every few seconds, one of us would inch closer to the other.
"I wish I knew what it was like," Alek said, "Being with someone you loved that loved you back, no matter the cost, just to be happy together."
Both of us, from different powers, from different classes, way in the sky, where you could be yourself, turned to face each other, an intense feeling surrounding us, a sudden bond made, when our noses were touching and our lips were centimeters apart. Alek showed a sign of surprise that we were so close, but he relaxed, as though he were suddenly in the trance of the beautiful and brave girl in front of him, his eyes drifting to a close, same as mine.
"Me too," I mumbled before I closed those few centimeters.