Immediately after the needle recovery, the Amaterasu withdrew and began the maneuvers to move into position for the second attack.
Ghenji had appreciated Rokujo’s company the evening after the first attack . . . but he did not see her again until the evening meal the following ship-day. She was looking for him, though, as she entered the wardroom.
“How is Kashiwagi?” he asked.
“He’s under suspension. There’s no way to tell now, not until they bring him out when we return. How are you?”
“Concerned. Now that I’ve thought about it, there should have been more defenders at the last installation.”
They settled near the end of the second table.
“You think there’ll be more at the next?”
“Maybe they thought we’d attack it first.” He shook his head. “Enough of that. Do you prefer the art of calligraphy, representation, or actuality?” That should spark some discussion, since it had been more than a little controversial on Kunitsu just before they had left, in part because one of the “art-monks” had used a molecular shredder to destroy an entire actuality exhibit at the national museum at Oharano, claiming that the actuality school did not practice art, but merely plagiarized reality.
“I tend toward representation.” She smiled. “Especially when embellished by calligraphy . . . ”
As she talked, occasionally gesturing, turning her hand, in the indirect light of the mess, Ghenji thought he saw the faintest pattern of white on her white skin. White on white, almost diamond-like, or . . . he wasn’t quite certain. He thought there might be the same pattern on her neck as well, but then again . . .
Much, much later, as they lay there together in Ghenji’s cubicle, he did not wish to think about the next day. He’d never really worried about missions and duty, not before he’d met Rokujo. So he tried to think of something, anything, that would divert her . . . and him.
“You said you were the snow-woman . . . and so did one of the techs . . . ” Ghenji didn’t want to turn his statement into a question.
“That’s because of my billet, and my name. The name is the same as one from an old legend, and . . . you know what I do . . . I’m responsible for bringing people out of suspension, out of the cold . . . or putting them into it, if necessary.” She absently licked her lips, red, but thin, and, as he had discovered, more than mobile.
Ghenji couldn’t help watching closely. They were very close, and when she’d done that, it had looked to him almost as though she’d flicked her tongue—a rather pointed tongue. He wanted to shake his head. That wasn’t possible. “And the white hair?”
She just shrugged in that incredibly sinuous and sensual fashion that fascinated him. “The hair goes a long ways back, to Old Earth at least. It’s always run in my family. I’ve been told the women are an odd mixture.”
“What else runs in your family?” Ghenji tried to keep his tone light. “Besides passion?” He grinned.
“Jealousy.” She bent forward and nibbled his ear. “We don’t share. Ever.”
That was fine with Ghenji. Then he thought. “What about duty? You do have to share me with duty.”
“You’re fortunate. One of my ancestors didn’t understand that. I do . . . mostly.” She wrapped her arms around him, coiling herself about him.
At that moment, Ghenji had no more interest in biographical questions.
When he woke, she was gone.