The USS Cardinal is on high alert. Technically speaking, they're not expecting an attack, this is a stop to take on supplies. But it's known that the inhabitants of this planet are only following Federation law in appearance, and are bending and breaking it wherever they can get away with. It means that the crew are all on edge, and the Security Chief had already been relieved from her post after she managed to break one of the consoles.
He tilts his head and makes a querying noise.
"She was -- it was very obvious she had power? And that came through in her body language some? But -- she wasn't being threatening, exactly, just -- that was there?"
"-ah." Yeah. He can get that. He leans his head against Lee's.
She squeezes him.
"The other doctor -- their cybernetics expert, the first one said -- she was -- very obviously heavily cybernetic?"
"-Huh. That's a thing?"
She squeezes him again.
He squeezes back. I'm okay.
She nods, slightly, and -- buries her face in his shoulder for a moment.
He presses a kiss to her hair.
"Love you," Lee murmurs into his shoulder.
He goes still. Because he can't be hearing that right.
(He doesn't deserve that, doesn't deserve Lee anyway, even if he's being selfish and staying and, and, and...)
"sorry--" she begins, almost-immediately.
"No- it's-" He doesn't know how to say this, doesn't know how to explain. (It isn't her, it's him, it's always him.)
Autumn shifts, exasperation plain, and spins around, his tail hitting both of them in the face. Stop being idiots.
Autumn looks innocently at them, perched on their knees.
-He still doesn't know how to say anything. But he hugs Lee tighter, trying to get across the things he can't say.
Lee hugs him back, seeming a little uncertain.
"I just- I don't-" Words were Lee's thing, not his, and he doesn't know how to explain himself. Doesn't know how to-
"I- just-" Stops. "How can- you?"
"I don't -- you're you, I --"
She looks up to meet his eyes, hesitantly. "Erie, you're the -- the best thing that's ever been in my life, and that's not because of how are lives -- are -- "
"I- I'm not- words are- you. I can't- I don't know-"
"It's -- it's okay if you don't feel the same way -- you don't need to anything --"
"No, it's not- it's not that- it's-" He doesn't have the words to explain how much he does feel the same. "I do- I just-"
"Okay. Whatever it is, it's okay, Erie."