Chapter 10: Rising Conflict Pt. 2

“If you’re referring to your old friend, then that is an entirely different conversation and–”

“I’m referring to Vescent–”

“Which is a political climate that you do not understand–”

“And I know that the real reason that you won’t leave–”

“–and is frankly–”

“–is Carthis wants Vescent for its empire,” Fiearius finished firmly, fixing Gates with a glare.

“None. Of your. Business,” Gates concluded, returning the glare.

Fiearius found himself nodding slowly. “Right. Of course not,” he agreed quietly. “I just do all the work. Not my business what happens afterwards.”

Gates frowned and put his hand to his temple again. “Admiral–” he began, but Fiearius cut him off, shaking his head.

“No no,” he said, grabbing the bag he’d come in with and heading for the door. “I understand entirely. Politics? The fuck do I know about that?” He nodded. “Well if you’ll excuse me, I’ll be off to do what I’m good for.” He made the shape of a gun with his index finger and thumb and fired it into the air before rolling his eyes and stalking out the door.

——–

With a sigh, Cyrus shut the bedroom door behind him, quietly and carefully as he could. “Well, she’s asleep,” he said to Addy, crossing towards where she sat on the couch in their temporary apartment on Vescent’s base. “Three rounds of tears. And only two of ‘em were hers.”

Addy laughed, pushing a book away from her lap. “Guess that means you won’t let me go check on her, right? Even though I miss her already?”

“Don’t even think about it. You wake her up? I’m not helping you put her back down.”

Addy raised her palms in surrender and shifted over to make room for him beside her.

With an exhausted sigh, he dropped into the couch. “Who knew vacations were so draining,” he mumbled as she picked up her book again and cracked it back open to her page.

“Anyone who’s gone on one with a four year old.”

He pulled a smirk across his face and folded his palms behind his neck. They lapsed into silence. It was an exhausted familiar silence he’d grown accustomed to. The one that he’d realized came pretty much every night after Kalli was in bed and it was just the two of them. Usually that silence ended up being filled with talk of work. Plans for New Genisi. An article one had read about the latest tech conference. But lately, on Vescent, it had just been…silence.

Of course, they were tired. Their daughter was a whirlwind that left them dead on their feet day after day. Surely, Cyrus knew, that was what lead to these long quiet nothings once the sun went down. It had never bothered him before. There was no reason for it to bother him now.

Still, he suddenly found himself a little edgy, desperate to fill it.

“Maybe you and I should go some place,” he suggested, reaching out to gently stroke her arm with the back of his hand. “Just the two of us. Get away for a bit.”

Addy closed her book a few inches and looked over at him, intrigued. “Where would you want to go?”

Cyrus shrugged. “Not sure. Somewhere warmer… I wonder if I’m still wanted on Paraven…”

“Tarin’s nice this time of year,” she put in, closing the book entirely now.

“Yeah, but we always go there,” Cyrus sighed. He pushed himself up and spun towards her, crossing his legs on the couch in between them. “C’mon, I want to go on an adventure.”

A smile flashed across Addy’s face and she too swung her legs up, mimicking his pose. “Someone missing their days as a fearless space pirate?”

Cyrus laughed. “Never. But…maybe a little.” He took her hands in his and squeezed. “Let’s go steal something valuable and sell it.”

Now, Addy laughed out loud. “What?”

“You heard me,” he declared. “We’ll seek out our fame and fortune, make the Span our own. People will shudder when they hear our names.”

She was still laughing when she pressed her hand to his forehead. “You feelin’ okay, sweetie?”

“Better than ever.” He grinned.

“And what will become of our offspring while we’re off pillaging, may I ask?”

“Oh we have plenty of willing babysitters,” he told her, waving off the concern. “Petro, Leta, Fiear–”

Addy barked a shocked laugh. “You want to leave our daughter on the flagship of the Soliveré fleet?!”

“Better off there than with us,” Cyrus mused with a wry grin, snaking an arm around her waist and pulling her closer. When she just regarded him with a confused tilt of her head, he clarified, “Because we’re dangerous.”

“Right, of course,” she chuckled, then kissed him on the forehead. “Sorry, dear, but you have got to be the least dangerous person I know.”

Cyrus frowned at her dully. “That’s not true.”

“When Kalli learned to walk, you dressed her in so much protective padding in case she fell that she could barely even waddle.”

He shrugged. “I didn’t want her to get hurt.”

“You still won’t let us keep a gun in the house, despite practically everyone offering, insisting even, that they give us one.”

“We shouldn’t need one!” he defended.

Addy scoffed good-humoredly, but her next comment, to Cyrus’ surprise, reeked of bitterness. “Not to mention how eager you were to put us both in retirement as soon as the war started.”

Cyrus felt a bit like she’d slapped him in the chest. He blinked at her as his hands slipped away from her waist. “We’re not ‘in retirement’…” he muttered under his breath.

It didn’t take long for Addy to realize what she’d said and try to backpedal. “No, I know, I don’t mean ‘retirement’ exactly,” she said hurriedly, looking away from him. “I just–” She sighed. “It’s nothing.”

“It’s not nothing,” Cyrus said, sounding unintentionally cold. This wasn’t the first time this had come up. Or at least this wasn’t the first time they’d skirted the edges of it. There was something bothering Addy and though she always seemed reluctant to come out and say it, he could sense it nonetheless. Something that was slowly gnawing at her and affecting the way she looked at him when they woke up in the morning and the way she lay in his arms at night. Cyrus had gotten used to trying to ignore it, just as she had. It had long been a mutual understanding that it was best to avoid conflict if they could. For Kalli’s sake, of course.

But Kalli wasn’t here. And Cyrus was feeling particularly bold this evening.

“Just tell me.”

As stunned as he’d felt a minute ago, Addy seemed even more so. She stared back at him, her lips pursed in thought, her eyes flicking over his face as though trying to read something in it. How much he could handle, Cyrus guessed, feeling a touch offended by it.

“It’s nothing, really,” she insisted, though she didn’t meet his eyes when she said it and within an instant she was on her feet and pacing away from the couch.

“Addy…” he scolded and she glanced back at him.

She let out a sigh and lifted her shoulders in a shrug. “It’s just–I don’t know. We used to be fixing ships, Cy. Sailing across the Span, having those adventures you talked about. And those ships are still out there, changing lives and doing important things and…”

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