Cloudy white fog filled his vision. In the white haze, metallic silver lines swam jaggedly into view. Finn couldn’t make out what they were or what they meant. Groaning, he tried to open his eyes fully. It was a ceiling, he realized with a jolt. He was staring up at a ceiling.
Lifting his head, Finn glanced around with alarm and realized he was flat on his back in a comfortable white bed. His clothes were bloodied and his head was aching, but at least he could see clearer now.
“Oh good,” came a sudden, warm voice. “You’re awake.”
It was Daelen, who was carefully tying a bandage around his wrist. The med bay. On the Beacon. That’s where he was.
Finn dropped back against the pillows. Every inch of him throbbed with pain.
“Daelen. What the hell happened?” he groaned. “What happened with the Ministry? Wait, where’s Co — “
But Daelen, calm as ever, interrupted. “What’s your name?”
“Your name,” he prompted again, gently lowering the bandages to a med cart nearby. “What is it?”
“You know my name,” he said slowly. “It’s Finn. Finnegan Riley.”
“And you pilot what ship?”
“All of them,” said Finn uncertainly. “I mean, the Beacon. Why are you–?”
Abruptly, Daelen flashed a flashlight past his eyes, making Finn squint and grimace. He was attempting to swat it away like a fly when a flurry of movement appeared near the doorway.
“Riley, you’re awake!” Corra gasped. Finn stared at her: she was sporting a black eye and some blood-stained clothing herself. Before he could ask, she rounded on Daelen. “Is he gonna be okay?”
“Of course, I’m fine,” said Finn, just as Daelen said, “He has a mild concussion. No major internal bleeding, though I’m going to give you some ice packs and vitamin C supplements to help with the bruising. External bleeding.” He unwrapped a fresh bandage and gently moved her aside. “Minimal. Finn, get some rest and come back tomorrow for another round of disinfectant and you’ll be alright. Though as your physician, I have to add,” said Daelen as he crossed back toward the counter. “If, in future, you could avoid getting yourself beaten to a pulp, that would probably be best.”
Corra snorted. “Be thankful, it was very nearly a lot worse.”
“No kidding,” Finn muttered, feeling suddenly aware of the two pairs of eyes on him. He decided he was rather done with this stint in the med bay. He was done with this day altogether.
“Clean bill of health, right doc?” he said, pushing himself to his feet.
“Not exactly, no, you’ll — “
Before Daelen or Corra could protest, Finn slid his legs to the floor. Luckily, he was saved the trouble of limping toward the exit: Corra arrived at his side, taking his arm and leading him to the hallway.
The moment they were free, Finn erupted with questions.
“What happened? How the hell did we get away from Mica? And the Ministry?”
“We almost didn’t,” Corra admitted. “If Quin hadn’t shown up at the last second, we’d probably be dead right now.” She laughed, but it sounded more nervous than amused. “Her and her people fought off the Ministry, got rid of Mica, cleared us a path to get to the Beacon and here we are.” She shrugged helplessly. “Okay. For Now.”
“Quin?” said Finn in amazement. “Why’d she help us? But we never found — “
“Elena?” Corra stepped forward and opened the hatch to the command deck. “Taken care of. Quin’ll be reaching out to Callahan tomorrow to make the arrangements. And Callahan already sent us another gig.”
Finn blinked at her in surprise. “That was fast.”
“I didn’t mention the stuff with Mica, figured he doesn’t need to know,” she said.
“Good call. So hang on. The woman, with the tattoos — “
“That’s the one. She’s…?”
“Coming with us,” Corra answered at once, a suspicious note of hurry in her voice. “I’m thinking she might be able to take up the nav console. You did say we could use a navigator up in the bridge, right?”
“Sure. I guess. Why not.”
They reached the end of the hallway. On either wall were the hatches to their rooms. For the moment, they both lingered.
“So…I guess everything worked out okay.” Corra gave an anxious laugh. Her eyes widened at the bruises on Finn’s collarbone. “Somehow…Miraculously. Sort of.”
Awkward silence fell between them. Finn was sure Corra was doing exactly what he was doing: trying to absorb everything that had happened in the last 24 hours.
Finally, Finn said, “So kind of a crappy day, eh?” with a grin on his face. Corra looked up in surprise and laughed. Her genuine laughter was something of a relief, and he let out a sigh. “I’m supposed to stay awake, right?” he asked, pointing at his head. “Since I apparently have a concussion?”
Corra shrugged one shoulder. “Maybe. I don’t know how I even could sleep right now. I keep feeling like something else is gonna happen. The ship’s gonna explode or the sky’s gonna fall or God knows what.” She clasped her head in her hands and laughed hopelessly. “I can’t relax.”
After a short pause, in which they both eyed each other knowingly, Corra cracked a small grin and gestured toward her door. “Well, ya wanna come up for a drink?”
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
“This,” said Corra sharply, “was not supposed to happen again.”
But Finn could sense her smirking. Corra wrapped her bedsheet around her bare chest and fell back onto her pillow, releasing a long, content sigh out of her lungs as she melted into the bed.
At her side, Finn had to bite down on the side of his cheek to keep the lazy grin from reaching his face. He hadn’t felt this relaxed in months. He was exhausted, but it was the satisfied kind of exhaustion that followed a particularly unexpected tryst.
Sliding his palms beneath his neck, he let his gaze wander back toward Corra, her landscape of bare skin. “Do you regret it, then?”
Corra turned her head to look him over, rather thoroughly: her eyes started at his face then raked down his chest. Finally she flopped her head back onto the pillow and smiled. “Nope.”