Chapter 27: Goals

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“So if twice was a coincidence, three times is … ?”

Finn unleashed a broad grin as he absently turned a strand of Corra’s hair around his fingers. She lay propped up on one elbow, eyeing him as he sprawled out clothed only in the sheets next to her. God, how had this happened again? The first time Finn had ended up in her bed, she’d been distraught, feeling pitiful and inadequate over her failures and he’d lifted her spirits. The second time, they’d both been emotionally exhausted and simply sought physical relief in one another.

And this time … well, there wasn’t much of a reason this time, other than he was available, attractive and lived right across the hallway. When he’d knocked on her door after dinner, it was to ask her a question about their next meeting with Callahan. And then they’d had a beer or two. Then somehow they’d ended up here. In bed. Again.

He gave a playful tug on her hair. “I’m startin’ to think you have a crush on me, cap’n.”

With that, Corra swatted away his hand. “You’d like to think that, wouldn’t ya? That you’ve somehow swayed me from my general dislike and won my secret affection? What a champ.”

“C’mon, you like me at least a little.”

“I like some of you,” she corrected, regarding him through narrowed eyes. “I like your hair alright. And your face. And that scar on your back, I like that.”

“You and I both know the list doesn’t end there.”

Abruptly, she frowned. “You’re still being good about not blabbing this to anyone, right?”

“Haven’t told a soul,” Finn sighed, folding his arms beneath his neck. “I’m fine with being a notch in your bedpost. Always happy to be of service, ma’am.”

“Yeah, I bet.” Corra pursed her lips, suddenly thoughtful. “I gotta ask though. What about your Carthian ‘lady friend?’”

Finn knit his brow with an air of suspicion. “Elsa? What about her?”

“I don’t know,” said Corra innocently. “Just thought sleeping around with your captain might not bode well for a future with her at all.”

“Who said I wanted a future with her?”

“You did.”

“All I said was that we dated a while back in school and it ended. I never said anything about a future.”

“Oh, but you did,” Corra assured him. She pointed at his face. “You said it with your eyes.”

Finn snorted. “If I wanted a future with her, you’re right, I wouldn’t be screwin’ around with you, cap’n. No offense.”

“But you love her, don’t you?” she pressed. “I can tell y’know. You love her.”

Finn scrunched his expression in confusion, like he’d been accused of something foul. “Well, yeah.”

“You love her, so shouldn’t you try and be with her?”

“Probably. But that’s complicated. She’s on Carthis, I’m here … ”  He trailed into silence, as if hoping to end the conversation there. But when Corra nodded at him pointedly, he went on, “Which I’m fine with. I have a good feeling about the Beacon. Call it a hunch I guess. Wouldn’t feel right to make plans to leave. Not when the fun’s just getting started. Besides,” he added, cracking a small, knowing grin, “you’d miss me.”

“Would not. Does she know you love her?”

“She knows. Yeah … she definitely knows,” he muttered gruffly, giving a laugh that sort of died off with a tiny, wry grin. “But it’s not just long distance that’s the problem. It’s … just us that’s the problem. There’s too much just — badness there now. Guilt. Fixing us would be a huge undertaking and I don’t think she’s willing to go down that road. But we can’t cut it off completely, either. So I guess we’re in uh … a waiting period?” he guessed, raising his eyes toward the ceiling in something like defeat.

But then he glanced toward Corra again and forced a watered-down smirk to his face. “But who knows, right? In the meantime, I think she has a boyfriend she’s not telling me about.”

Corra cocked her head to the side, looking at him sadly, like he was an injured puppy. Then she lowered to the bed and curled against his side, where his arm circled around her, a comfortable tangle of limbs.

“Okay…So Elsa’s not really an option for now,” she went on, casting her eyes to the ceiling. “Fine. What about somebody else? Someone on the ship maybe? Like Alyx. You and Alyx seem to be getting on pretty well, eh? Talkin’ all the time. Laughing.” She kept nudging him. “Eh?”

Finn barked a laugh. “Alyx? No, she’s not interested.”

“What? Why not?”

“”Cause I got the wrong downstairs parts for her liking.” His eyebrows lifted meaningfully.

“Ooh.” She dropped her palm onto Finn’s bare chest with sudden realization. “So that’s the reason she didn’t work out with Cy-Cy.”

“I’m sure that’s not the only reason.”

She elbowed him, sharper this time. “Alright, what about Janora? That cute brunette deckhand? With the glasses. She’s totally got a thing for you.”

“That’s a shame, as she’s too young for me. And I may or may not have — er, recently befriended her roommate — “

“Laylan? Well…she’s nice too, why don’t you–”

“Hang on.” Finn turned on his side so they were eye-to-eye, staring at one another across the pillow. “Why are you so intent on setting me up with someone?”

“Because you’re lonely and I can tell and you deserve to not be,” she answered seriously. But then added, “Plus it’s fun to play matchmaker.”

“But it’s kind of weird, as I’m in your bed right now and all.”

“Being in my bed has nothing to do with being in a relationship unless you’re already in one,” she pointed out.

“Hey! I’ve got an idea. Let’s talk about your love life for awhile now.”

My love life?” she scoffed. “Can’t talk about a thing that doesn’t exist.”

“Surely there’s someone in the span worthy of your affection.”

“Worthy of the drama and the pain and the mess of a torrid romantic affair? No thanks. I’ll pass.”

It was then that Corra decided it was her turn to change the subject. Throwing Finn a glare, she sat up in bed, pulled the sheets around her chest and reached for the bottle of beer waiting for her on the nightstand.

“Hey,” she said suddenly, taking a long pull from the bottle and lowering it to her lap. “D’ya think my haircut makes me look too young? Is it bad? You didn’t say anything about it so does that mean it’s bad?”

“No, it looks great.” She tossed her freshly chopped hair with her hand. Finn watched in amusement, his palms folded behind his neck. “Sorry, was a little distracted by your other features. What made ya decide to cut it anyway?”

“I don’t know. Just felt like time.” The previous night, Corra had taken a knife to her long locks on a whim and hacked off seven inches of hair. The effect was staggering; she kept touching the back of her head in surprise. After a moment, she went on, feeling oddly retrospective, “I had it this short back on Kadolyne, but once I was freed, I stopped cutting it. ‘Cause of the new phase of life. Or…something.”

At this, Finn looked interested. He angled his gaze up at her, searching her over. “No kidding? First time cutting it since you were freed?” Absent-mindedly, he traced the line of her spine with his fingers and said, his voice careful, “Y’know, you’ve never told me much about your time there.”

“My time with Goddora? Well.” She sighed. “I was an ally. So I did a lot of chores mostly. Housework. Cleaning. Not so much cooking, I was never very good at that.” She chuckled. “What do you want to know?”

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