Vong War Annals – “Wishes” 5.22.08

            Thunder rumbled in the distance, sun rising like blood in the sky.  The rain would come soon, the ache in her knee told her that.  She stood by the window and watched quietly as Chase and Slate set off on a morning jog, heedless or uncaring of the coming storm, putting feet to pavement.
            Arms slid around her waist from behind and she sighed quietly, smiling up over her shoulder at her husband.  “Admiring the view?”

            He smiled back, resting his chin on her shoulder as he drew her back against his belly.  “Mostly wondering what you were watching out there.  What were you watching?”
            “My brother and Chase leaving on a run.”  She nuzzled his cheek, closing her eyes and reveling for at least a moment in the feel of the stubble on his face and the scent of him, of his sweat mingled with last night’s aftershave and cologne.  “I don’t imagine it’s going to be a very long one.  Storm’s rolling in.”
            Mike nodded, kissing her ear.  Her arms slid across his, fingers twining with his fingers.  He smiled.  “What time did Davil come home last night?”
            “He didn’t.  He told me he was going to spend the night at the Drakes’.”  Thunder rumbled again, nearer this time.  Dark clouds drifted east, starting to eclipse the crimson sky.  “I think he said they’d come to breakfast, but with them, who knows.  They might just stay home, especially if the storm is as bad as it looks like-as it feels like it’s going to be.”
            After giving her a squeeze, Mike released her, sighing softly.  “Too bad.  I had some engineering specs I wanted to show him.”
            Indy turned, brow arched curiously.  “Engineering specs?  What kind of engineering specs?”
            He shrugged a little, slumping into a nearby easy chair.  “Just a few designs I’ve been playing around with.  Nothing major, really.”  He looked toward her as silence lingered.  “I thought that it might be a step in the right direction for he and I.”
            “He’s really angry at you.”
            “I know he is.”  He tilted his head back, sighing quietly.  “Pulled every string I could pull to get him off Coruscant and back here after that happened.  But you knew that, didn’t you?”
            She nodded slightly, drifting toward him, hugging herself.  “Yeah, I did.”  She studied im for a long moment, taking in the look of him in the strange light of the storm-shrouded dawn that shone through the window, watching the shadows play on his tired face.  He looked older now than she could ever recall him looking, even in all the years and all the hurts, all the weariness and pain-never had he looked quite this old to her eye.  “Dav doesn’t know that, though.  No one’s told him.”  She sighed a little, looking toward the window again, watching the clouds light dimly with lightning above, listening to the rolling growl of thunder.  “Wasn’t just you that pulled strings, though.”
            “I know it wasn’t.  The Wyvern’s father pulled some, too.  Senator Bastra.  I can’t think of anyone else who was in any position to do it.”  He scrubbed a hand over his face.  “It was stupid, getting him that assignment to R&D.  Can’t believe you let it happen.”
            “And deny the New Republic one of the brightest engineering minds of the time?  Couldn’t do that.  Besides, he wanted to go.  Who was I to stop him?”  She perched on the arm of the chair, reaching down to run her fingers through his hair.  “It wasn’t a good way for him to have his illusions shattered, though.  I still don’t know what to do about it, and no one I’ve spoken with have had much of any advice on the subject, either.”
            “Like who?”
            “Hm?”
            His brow furrowed slightly.  “Who’d you talk to about it?”
            “Carlos, Kirghy.  Kingston.  A few others.  It’s not the big secret around here anymore that everyone’s-that I’ve-tried to keep it as.”  She sighed a little, shaking her head.  “I know that you’ve noticed some of the looks.”
            “That why Carlos didn’t show up to his goddaughter’s wedding?”
            Indy winced.  “Officially, it was because there’s a war on and he couldn’t leave.”
            “We both know that’s not the only reason, if he knows.  Cay’s father never liked me, but this puts a whole new perspective on the dirty looks.  Even Dalsuna only spared a few words for me.”  Mike swallowed, looking toward the window.  “Explains the collective cold shoulder last night, in any case.”
            She exhaled, shaking her head with more than a little regret.  “These men have been my friends for a long time, Mike, a lot of years.  They’ve spent most of those years watching me hurt because of something you’ve done.  Davil didn’t know that until Coruscant.  Can you blame any of them for any of it?  For being so angry with you for all the indiscretions?  For the affairs and the children that aren’t ours?”
            He winced and sighed, taking her hand.  “No.  I can’t.”  He squeezed, then let go, scrubbing a hand over his face and moving toward the window, staring out for a few long moments as the first few fat raindrops splashed against the glass.  “Sometimes I wish I could go back twenty years.”
            “What for?”
            “To kick my own ass,” he said quietly.  “Tell myself not to be a fool.  My career isn’t worth more than my marriage and no bed warmed by any woman that isn’t my wife is worth the pain.”  He turned toward her, exhaling a sigh, eyes tired and sad.  “I am so sorry, Indy.  Nothing I can ever say is going to make right anything I’ve done to you or the kids.”
            “You wouldn’t have listened.”  She moved toward him and reached up to stroke his cheek with the back of her hand.  “I may not have known then what I was getting myself into, but I knew soon enough what I was dealing with.  I wouldn’t have stayed in this marriage if I didn’t love you.  That’s never changed.”  She shook her head a little.  “I’m as culpable for what this has done to our family as you are, Mike.  I could have let you walk away a long time ago.”
            “That was a mistake,” he murmured, looking down toward her but unable to meet her gaze.  “You knew it was a mistake, and as angry as I’m sure he is with me for everything I’ve done that’s hurt you, Carlos knew that, too.  He wouldn’t have come chasing after me with you if that hadn’t been the case.”
            Her arms closed around him and she drew close, resting her forehead against his neck.  “It was a long time ago.  We learned our lesson, right?”
            He held her tightly, nodding.  “Yeah, we did.  Never again.”  He kissed her forehead, her nose, then her mouth.  When they finally came up for air, he murmured, “When I get back to the Sixth, I’m going to put in for a change of theater.  If I can leverage us being based out here, with the AFFC…”
            Indy smiled sadly.  “Command won’t go for that, Mike.  You and I both know that.  We’re not important enough out here-hell, we’ve already got more than I’m sure they want us to have.  It’s only a matter of time before they try to start poaching our ships of the line, regardless of any agreements made with the governor.  It’s going to get ugly and you don’t need to be in the middle of it.”
            He sighed quietly, knowing she was right even as he railed against the idea.  “Think Karen has a ship for me?”
            “You’d give up your fleet for some rickety old crate?”
            There was only a bare moment of hesitation before he nodded.  “Yeah.  I would.”
            She bit her lip, and for a few long moments the only sound in the room was that of the rain against the windowpane.  Indy’s arms tightened around him and one hand slid up behind his head, fingers threading through his short-cropped hair.  “I love you, Mike.”
            His voice came thickly and tears glittered unshed in his eyes.  “I love you, too.”  He leaned down and kissed her, tentatively at first, then more deeply, holding her close against him.  He knew, as she knew, as they kissed, that they both wished they could go back to the beginning, undo the mistakes and smooth the bumpy road that was their marriage, their love, but even as they each held that heartfelt wish, the impossibility of it weighed heavy.  For all the mistakes in the past were lessons learned, all the pain could be eased now.
            Somehow, she knew, even in the face of long experience, even as she stood amidst all the broken promises in the near twenty years of their marriage, he wouldn’t break this one.  He wouldn’t stray again.  His promise to be faithful to her, made so long ago, was made new again in one moment standing by the window as a storm rolled in from the mountains.
            This time, he would keep the promise, and so would she–as she always had.

~ Erin

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