It was the silly things they argued about. Her mother had always told her that the big things were the ones to worry about, money and sex and there had been something else, but Inyri hadn’t really been listening to her at the time, and she figured it stopped at money and sex anyway. Iella said the big things were money and sex, and Iella was as good as having another mother under some circumstances, and told her that the silly things were simply going to take training.
Unfortunately, Wes Janson was not a housepet, and even if he had been, she was fairly certain she would have taken him back to wherever she’d gotten him from and declared him as untrainable.
This morning, it was because he’d made the bed and left his socks at the end of the bed. And it wasn’t that she didn’t appreciate him making the bed—she truly did. But Wes had this tendency to go to bed with socks on and kick them off at the end of the bed and then leave them there and make the bed without fishing them back out. And it was especially annoying on days like today when he asked her where all his socks were and had that innocent look on his face that wasn’t his look when he knew he had done something wrong, but the innocent look that was his look when he really didn’t know what he’d done.
She told him. And then dumped every one of his dirty socks over his head as he sat there on the couch. He blinked and then picked the one off the top of his head and set it beside him on the couch.
And that was the beginning of the argument that had her sleeping at squadron headquarters. The argument that started with why, since he was retired now, couldn’t he do some more chores around the house, and oh, that sex that he was ever planning on having again wasn’t happening anytime this week. Or this month if he kept pissing her off.
And that, naturally, got them onto an argument about a big thing—sex—and here Inyri was sleeping on a bunk in her trainee squadron headquarters, and cursing at her husband in her head.
“Men,” she muttered, pulling the standard issue blanket up to her chin and wishing it would reach all the way down to her toes when she stretched out. It didn’t, of course, and she wished Wes was here instead of her, so she could be at home in her nice comfortable bed with the fluffy comforters and no socks at the end of the bed.
And her nice big pillows. Those would be nice too. And their apartment didn’t smell like transparisteel, either, because their apartment didn’t have decking.
It did irritate her. Because really, it was her home too, and why did she have to leave when they had a fight? It was his turn to leave. He could sleep on the couch. Or he could sleep at Hobbie’s. Of course, if he slept at Hobbie’s, there was no telling what kind of debauchery the two of them would get up to. She’d sent him over there one time to think about what he’d done wrong and he’d come home the next day still drunk and had completely forgotten about what he’d done wrong.
But the worst thing was, this was the fourth night in two weeks she’d slept here, and he’d slept two nights on the couch, and that made six nights out of fourteen they hadn’t slept in the same bed, and four of the eight nights they had slept in the same bed, there had been socks in the end of the bed.
And then some of the things he’d said to her in their argument. Her face felt warm despite the cool air piping into her quarters in remembrance of the anger she’d felt.
Tears began to stream down her face and Inyri Forge-Janson quietly cried herself to sleep. Again.
She went back to their apartment the next evening once she was off duty. Most of their arguments work that way. After a day, they would ignore the fact that anything had happened and make up. She fully expected to come home and for Wes to be cooking up one of his delicious dinners and then they would sit in front of the holo and snuggle up together until they dozed off to sleep.
The lights were all off when she opened the door and frowning, Inyri cautiously stepped inside, turning them on. Her hand strayed to her sidearm. “Wes? Wes, are you here?”
Silence met her, and she moved further into the apartment, wondering if her husband was hiding somewhere. The scrap of flimsiplast on the kitchen counter told her otherwise. Wes’ handwriting was scrawled over it with a brief message.
Gone out. Don’t know when I’ll be back, so don’t worry about sleeping at headquarters. There’s some Ithorian takeout in the fridge.
She bit the inside of her lip, although there was no one in the apartment to see her if she chose to lose her temper, and crumpled the flimsy in one hand before throwing it out.
Dumping the rest of her gear on the counter, Inyri bypassed the sofa in their living room and headed for the bedroom to get out of her uniform. The bed was deliberately unmade and with malice aforethought, someone had dumped every dirty sock he had on top of the pillows.
So much for this argument being over quickly. She threw the socks in the same direction she’d thrown the flimsiplast—right down the trash chute, and threw the pillowcases in the laundry.
Two minutes later, after being unable to get Wes on his comlink to inform him he would need more socks, she changed the code on their apartment door to Lujayne’s birthday, a day he never remembered, and set about making a meal out of junk food and leftover elba beer.
The sheets smelled like him, she thought in her state of semi-consciousness. It was enough to be irritating and comforting at the same time.
Then she heard someone bang at the front door and the muffled yell, “Inyri! Inyri!”
She dragged herself from the bed and didn’t bother to turn on any lights. She knew he’d just keep banging against the door all night if she didn’t let him in.
He stumbled into the apartment, and she turned around towards the bedroom without speaking to him. He didn’t really have the ability to string together anything coherent and simply stripped off his clothing and climbed into bed beside her.
She rolled over on her side so she didn’t have to smell the alcohol on his breath and dozed back off to sleep.
She woke up early the next morning and rolled out of bed into the morning light. Wes was stretched out beside her, his arm out to pillow her head, eyes closed peacefully in sleep. Shivering, she slipped her robe on over her gown.
She gently pulled the blanket up over his chest and walked around the bed to pick up his discarded clothing from the night before. She placed his boots at the side of the bed and pulled his belt and wallet from his pants before tossing his pants into the laundry basket. She picked up his shirt, checking the front pocket for anything and pulled out a scrap of flimsi. Glancing at it, it read Mephonda, and listed a com number.
Looking over her shoulder at him, she crept into the front room and turned on the lights and noticed something on the shirt she hadn’t the evening before in the dark or in the dim light in the bedroom. A red stain was across his collar in precisely the shape of a woman’s mouth.
Inyri’s grip tightened on the shirt, and she crumpled the flimsi in her hand, her head whipping around to look in the bedroom where her husband lay peacefully asleep, unaware of the wrath preparing to rain down on his head. Her eyes focused on the shirt and the stain, and Wes Janson was going to regret this for the rest of his life.
But first, she was going to find out straight from the source what had happened. Crossing the room, she sat down in front of the com unit and smoothed out the flimsi. She looked at it a moment before punching in the number.
“Sithspit!” a woman answered. “I just now got to sleep! What do you want?”
Inryi took in her appearance at a glance. The woman was her polar opposite. She was wearing scads of makeup, heavy on her eyes, that she hadn’t bothered to take off, and her blond hair was teased into a coif that looked like it would require her to shave her head before it could become untangled. Her voluptuous figure was in stark contrast to Inyri’s stick thin body, but Inyri had justice on her side. “I’m sorry. Are you Mephonda?”
“Yes, I’m Mephonda. Who is this?” the woman said, her tone irritated.
“I’m just looking for Wes,” Inyri said, trying to keep her tone as pleasant as she possibly could while grinding her teeth.
“Wes left hours ago,” Mephonda said, crossing her arms in front of her chest. “I don’t know where he went after that.”
Inyri gave her a tight smile. “That’s all right. I’m sure I’ll find him.” She cut the connection without a further word to the woman. Curling her hands into fists, she walked into the kitchen, pulled a plate out of the cabinet, walked back into the bedroom and with deliberate malice, smashed it against the tile in front of the refresher unit.
Wes jumped, suddenly awake and scrambling for the blaster that wasn’t there and was confronted by his wife standing with her hands on her hips, her robe slightly open and her hair falling about her shoulders, a look of his impending doom on his face. “Get out,” she said.
He paused for just a second. “Inyri? Sweetheart?”
“Don’t you dare call me sweetheart,” she said, her voice venomous. “Not when you came home from Mephonda’s with lipstick on your collar. Get out of my house.”
Wes climbed out of bed. “No.”
“Either get out of this apartment right now, Wes Janson,” Inyri said, “or I will get my blaster and shoot off any body parts that you might ever want in the future. Or better yet, I’ll call Corran and get him to mess with your mind so you’ll do it to yourself.”
“Now, Inyri,” he said, holding out his hands pleadingly, “We were just at a club. Nothing happened.”
“Funny. That’s not what Mephonda said when I spoke to her this morning,” Inyri said. “Get your clothes. And get out.”
Trapped, Wes grabbed a few articles of clothing from the closet under her glare and put them on. “Inyri—“
“Out,” she said. “I’ll let you know when it’s safe for you to come back.”
He backed himself out the door, and Inyri stood there looking at it for a moment, too stunned to do anything, firstly because of what she’d discovered, and secondly, because she’d never expected him to go.
Rhysati simply stood there while Inyri folded up uniforms and loaded them into the laundry basket. “So, you’re moving into the squadron barracks?”
“Yes,” Inyri said, stacking the uniform neatly. “I have someplace to go and Wes doesn’t, so I’m going to go.”
“And you’re not kicking him out why?” Rhysati asked. “If he’s cheating on you, why are you giving him someplace to keep doing it?”
Inyri didn’t say anything, despite the fact that Rhysati had an excellent point. She didn’t think that Rhysati was quite ready to believe that Wes had fallen into the arms of another woman yet either, but looking at herself in the mirror, that morning, Inyri had believed it. Her normally beautifully shiny hair was dull and her bloodshot eyes stood out from a pale face with a red nose.
Rhysati sighed, sitting down on the edge of the bed. “Did you ever ask Wes out right?”
“He didn’t deny it,” Inyri said.
“But you all have hardly been communicating well,” Rhysati pointed out.
“When he wants to explain it to me,” Inyri said, shutting the dresser drawer, “he knows where I am.” She looked up at Rhysati. “My marriage is going nowhere fast. All Wes and I do anymore is argue.” She hung her head down and moved the basket to the side. “Besides, I’m not really surprised.”
“Which would be part of the problem,” Rhysati said. “But why aren’t you surprised? The rest of us certainly are. Inyri, we thought the two of you would be together forever. Wes always looked at you like you were the only woman in the world. So what happened?”
“I can’t give him what he wants,” Inyri said, leaving it at that. It wasn’t necessarily that she disagreed with Wes on this particular issue. It was just that the fact that there would be no little Wes Jansons running around their apartment that had put a strain on their marriage. And while they could have followed Gavin’s example and adopted, Inyri wasn’t quite ready for that. She wasn’t ready for the fact that her time on Kessel and some of the places in the mines that she’d been had destroyed her ability to give Wes children.
And everything had been collapsing since. She pulled out a few more things, dumping them into the baskets. No one knew about these problems, because Inyri hadn’t been able to take the thought if anyone else knew. She’d cried for days, and when she’d cried herself out, gone back to work.
And Wes had ended up finding solace elsewhere.
Her hair hid her face from Rhysati’s view long enough for her to brush away a tear from her cheek before continuing. Giving him the apartment was the least she could do.
She took perverse pleasure in shooting down members of her trainee squadron. Inyri Forge was an ace many times over in true combat, but the havoc she was wreaking in the simulators would have struck fear into the heart of the most seasoned Imperial pilots. The chatter of her trainees was slightly amusing as she mowed them down mercilessly.
The new mark on her screen appeared, and Inyri frowned as it began to pick off her computer simulated wingmates. Frowning, Inyri kept after her last mark, waiting for whoever had joined the squadron to come after her.
It worked. The X-wing zoomed after her Interceptor, far enough behind that the slower craft couldn’t catch her in time to keep her from blowing the last member of her squadron out of the sky.
The last X-wing had destroyed the last Interceptor Inyri had, and she turned on it. Her squadron was still watching her and wondering just as she was who this upstart happened to be.
She circled around, taking a reckless head-on approach, firing her turbolasers, sending red shots out to puncture the X-wing’s hull. The X-wing dodged quickly, running fast into a vertical loop.
Inyri cursed under her breath as the X-wing fell in behind her. It moved from side to side, and Inyri knew she had a fifty-fifty chance of breaking in the proper direction. Frustrated, she broke port—right into turbolaser blasts. Her solar panel took a hit, and the ship began to spin out of control. Inryi fought the stick for a moment until her panel went dark, and it was suddenly indicated that she’d been hit by a torpedo.
The canopy raised, and Inyri climbed out. Her squadron was already waiting for her, most of them having the decency to still look ashamed that she’d taken them out, a few still smiling because they’d seen their squadron leader shot down.
She stood, waiting, until a figure appeared out of the simulator and Hobbie Klivian’s smug face appeared. She glared at him, and he didn’t flinch. She turned to her squadron. “You’re dismissed. Get some more practice in. I expect not to have to shoot you all down next time.”
They filed out, joking and pushing one another, and Inyri looked at Hobbie. “And what do you happen to be doing here?”
He shrugged. “I thought I’d come see you.” His smile fell, and his face turned somber. “I thought maybe you could use some company.”
“I’ve had enough company,” Inyri said, gathering up her things. “And the last thing I need is my husband’s best friend.”
“I haven’t seen Wes,” Hobbie said, a crease over his brow. “Which is part of the reason I came to talk to you.” He looked at her. “Come on. Let me take you out to dinner.”
“We’re the greatest pilots ever known, no matter where you’re from! No matter where it is we’ve flown, we’re the mighty Rogue Squadron!” Inyri and Hobbie both cackled, barely holding each other up as Hobbie, being ever more chivalrous the more inebriated he became, attempted to get Inyri back to her squadron headquarters. He poked at the entrance code to her quarters and swore when it wouldn’t open.
“Here,” Inyri said, trying not to giggle as she pulled out her keycard. He took it, almost dropping it into the floor, and swiped it through the reader. The door opened, and Inyri dragged him inside before the rest of the squadron woke to the racket and decided to see what was going on.
They laughed once the door closed behind them, like teenagers who had suddenly gotten away with something they shouldn’t have. Inyri flopped down on the bed. “Who wrote that song about Rogue Squadron anyway? It doesn’t rhyme!”
“Yes, it does!” Hobbie said defensively. “From and Squadron do rhyme.”
“They do not!” Inyri said.
“They do too!” Hobbie said. “Wes and I wrote the song, and we say that it rhymes, and so it rhymes!”
Inyri lifted her head off the bed long enough to look at him before erupting into another peal of laughter. “I should have known! That’s why you wanted to sing it!”
“You started it!” Hobbie said. Inyri turned herself around, putting her feet against the wall and hanging her head over the edge of the bed, upside down. Her hair pooled on the floor, but she didn’t seem to care. Her face was already flushed from the alcohol they’d consumed at dinner, and then afterwards, but it was becoming more red from hanging upside down.
“I never start anything,” Inyri said confidently, or as confidently as anyone ever could from the position she was in. “I finish things, but I don’t start them.”
“You’re full of poodoo,” Hobbie said, getting down on the floor so he was at eye level with her.
She giggled again. “Your butt is up in the air.”
He looked behind him and put his butt down. “Not anymore, it’s not.”
She gently slapped him on the top of the head. “Come up here. Things look better upside down.”
Hobbie crawled up onto the bed and obediently hung his head upside down. “Hee. Upside down is good.”
“Told you,” Inyri said. “Everything looks better upside down. They look right.”
Hobbie propped himself up on the bed. “But it gives you a headache.”
Inyri scooted herself down so she was lying completely on the bed. Her hair was over her face, and she closed her eyes. “Going to have a headache anyway, so we might as well start now.”
She felt him shift his weight beside her as Hobbie rolled over to stare at the ceiling. “It was good to get out,” he said. “I haven’t been out and had fun like that in—a long time.”
“Not since you got back from Semsara,” Inyri said, the alcohol keeping her from having any verbal discretion.
Hobbie sighed. “Yeah.”
Inyri looked over at him. His eyes were fixed on the ceiling, despondently looking upwards, but not really seeing it. “Hobbs?” she said softly.
He turned his head to look at her. Her hair had fallen across her face and he reached over to tuck it behind her ear. “Yeah?”
She leaned forward, pressing her lips to his. He stiffened in surprise, even as his hand pushed through her hair, and he pulled back. “Inyri—“
“Shut up, Hobbie,” she said, moving closer to him, and kissed him again.
He didn’t protest again.
Inryi woke up, but didn’t open her eyes. There wasn’t any need to, really. She wasn’t on duty until the afternoon, she was happy lying in her bunk, warm under her covers, and there was a comfortingly male presence beside her with an arm wrapped around her.
Smiling happily, Inyri nestled closer and took a deep breath of contentment—
--and realized that this male presence didn’t smell right. Oh, he smelled nice, and was most assuredly male, but it wasn’t right.
Inyri opened her eyes. Hobbie’s head was lying on the pillow next to hers, his expression peaceful in sleep.
Inyri looked up at the ceiling in shock, trying to remember exactly what happened. The events of the night before began flow back, and her face flushed red. She held her breath for a moment before letting it out, and she closed her eyes again, hoping she’d go back to sleep and wake up and this would all be a dream.
But Hobbie didn’t seem to be disappearing from her bed, or turning into someone else, which would have been preferable, because Inyri was pretty sure that hooking up with a random stranger would have been far better than sleeping with your husband’s best friend.
Willingly sleeping with your husband’s best friend. This was a screw-up on galactic proportions. She hadn’t just slept with Hobbie, she’d seduced him. On purpose, which was almost worse.
And they were in her quarters. There wasn’t even a way she could sneak out and hope that Hobbie thought he’d dreamed it all. This entire situation couldn’t get much worse.
Hobbie opened his eyes.
He blinked for a moment. “Hi.”
She stared at him for a moment. “Hi.”
He seemed to be thinking for a moment, taking in his position, and Inryi realized that neither of them had any clothes on under the sheets. “I didn’t dream what happened last night, did I?” he said.
She looked at him. “No.”
He blinked again, taking in this new information. She’d always known he wasn’t very good at functioning in the morning, especially after a morning of drinking, but his arm unwound itself from around her waist. He sat up in the bed, rubbing his eyes. “Sweet Force.”
Inryi felt her eyes tear, but she closed them again. “Please let this all be a bad dream.”
“I don’t think people have sex like that even in their dreams,” Hobbie said, his voice suddenly hoarse.
She sat up, pulling the sheet around her for some modicum of modesty. “This is awkward.”
“What’s Wes going to say?” Hobbie said, pushing his hands through his hair. “I’m his best friend. You’re his wife.”
“You think I don’t know that?” Inyri said sharply. Wes was the last person she wanted brought into this conversation. “That’s why we don’t tell him.”
He refused to meet her gaze as her words sunk in. “It’s not fair to keep this from him.”
“Telling him would be fair?” Inyri said. “Yes, Wes, we got drunk and slept together, sorry?”
Hobbie glared at her for a moment, but he kept his mouth shut. “I don’t like this.”
“It’s the way it’ll have to be,” she said, snugging the sheet more tightly around herself.
He got out of the bed, and she looked away long enough for him to pull clothing on. He was pulling his shirt over his head when she turned to look at him again, and she flushed when she noticed the scratches along his back. Hobbie turned back around, running his hand through his hair again. His shirt was still untucked and Inyri closed her eyes.
If she’d been sorry, she might have felt better. As it was, she felt horrible because of the fact that she didn’t feel horrible. Inside, some little voice was insisting that Wes Janson deserved every bit of this. The only part of it that was sorry was the part that had used Hobbie Klivian and was causing him so much pain inside. “I’m sorry,” she said, staring down at the blanket. “I never should have dragged you into this.”
He sat down on the edge of the bed and gently pushed her hair behind her shoulders. “This is still half my fault, Inyri. I wasn’t exactly fighting you off last night.”
She gave him a rueful smile. “Good old Hobbie. Willing to take the responsibility for anything. I’m a force of nature, Hobbie. You didn’t have a chance.”
He sighed. “Thanks for your lack of belief in me.”
She dropped her gaze. “I’m still sorry, Hobbie.”
He folded his arms around her in an awkward hug, awkward because he was trying as hard as he could for it to be a platonic hug, and his arms were trying to fold themselves around her like they had the night before. “Don’t apologize to me, Inyri. Don’t ever apologize to me.”
“Rhysati?” Inyri said, staring down at her reflection in the caf mug.
Sitting outdoors at the café, they had an excellent view of the traffic flying by, and Rhysati turned from watching a spectacular near accident to look at her friend. “I know that tone.”
Inyri looked up. “What tone?”
“The tone that says I’m about to say something that I hope you’re not going to take seriously,” Rhysati said. “What did you do?”
“I didn’t do anything!” Inyri protested.
“But?” Rhysati said.
Inyri squirmed uncomfortably. She’d opened her mouth now, and Rhysati wouldn’t let it go at this point. “Say, theoretically, you and Nawara were having an argument. A bad argument. And you were upset and got drunk, and went out and did something you shouldn’t have with a friend of his. Would you tell him about it?”
Rhysati stared at Inyri for a moment while taking this in. A taxi came too close to the restaurant and shielding popped up around the café, leaving the taxi to blare its horn. “Oh, sweet Force. You slept with Hobbie, didn’t you?”
Inyri’s mouth dropped open. “Good stars, Rhysati, when did you start reading minds?”
Rhysati’s eyes lit up. “You have the dreamy-eyed look of one who has recently been in bed with Hobbie Klivian, Inyri. It’s not that hard to spot.”
“I am not dreamy-eyed,” Inyri hissed. “And yes, I slept with Hobbie. But we were both drunk. It wasn’t like we meant for it to happen. But what do I do now? Rhysati, I slept with his best friend!”
Rhysati sighed. “Inyri, are you still interested in saving your marriage?”
Inyri looked down at the rapidly cooling caf again. “I don’t know that it can be saved, Rhysati. I don’t know that either of us are willing to try.”
Rhysati looked at her friend. “Inyri, your marriage is not going to work unless you try. So you need to go to Wes and talk about this.” She held up a hand to forestall Inyri’s inevitable comment. “But what Wes doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”
Inyri stomped out of her apartment, holding a few more articles of her clothing that she’d managed to gather during the last yelling match. Perhaps, if Mephonda hadn’t been there, she’d have been able to continue with the discussion.
But as it was, Mephonda had been sitting on the hoversofa—her hoversofa—that she and Wes had bought when they got married, calmly sitting there watching Coruscant Hourly, the remote in one hand. Wes had been standing in the doorway to the bedroom, apparently rummaging around for something to wear out.
She had to admit, throwing the knickknacks at his head had felt good.
Throwing them at Mephonda’s head had felt better. The woman had ducked behind the table that Inyri had trucked all the way from Kessel, shouting, “She’s crazy, Wes! What’d you go marry her for?”
The short argument that took place outside the apartment had been conducted at top volume and caused Mrs. Anderson, a rather elderly woman who lived next door, to poke her head out, gasp in shock, and immediately retreat back inside the safety of her own domicile.
Considering the volume and amount of profanity being thrown about, it was no wonder Mrs. Anderson was shocked. With her last few things in her arms—her formal dresses she’d stripped out of the closet and wadded up in her arms, all the rest of her socks, and a squadron picture that featured Lujayne and actually belonged to Wes.
She almost blurted out her secret right then and there. As Wes tried to splutter out a reason for Mephonda being in their apartment, it had been on the tip of her tongue, but she turned around and left instead, because there was some little part of her that said no matter what Wes had done to her, she wasn’t going to make him lose his best friend too.
Which really didn’t answer the question as to why she managed to find herself at Hobbie’s door. Leaving all her things in her speeder, she slammed the door, and ran up into his apartment complex. She repeatedly ran the annunciator, and banged on the door.
Hobbie answered the door. He’d been having a rather uneventful evening, which really was the way he liked it. Granted, he was trying to write an account of the Battle of Coruscant and the events leading up to it, but he was having a case of writer’s block that wouldn’t go away. Inyri’s face suddenly made him realize why that was the case.
“Hi,” he said. Remembering his manners, he gestured for her to enter. “Uh, come in.”
She entered nervously. Hobbie’s apartment was surprisingly clean for a bachelor’s place, other than the papers and datapads strewn all over the table in the kitchen. One of the older analog computer models was taking up space in the table. “Am I interrupting anything?”
“No!” he said, almost too quickly. “Not at all. I was just working.”
Inyri strode over to the table. “The Battle of Coruscant? For your new book?”
Hobbie shrugged. “They offered me an option on two more after the one on Hoth sold so well. Coruscant was destructive, but it was one of the decisive battles of the war. And I was there, so I’ve got a bit of a first hand view.”
“What are you doing your second one on?” Inyri asked.
Hobbie shrugged. “I thought I might work on the chase for Zsinj, but there’s too much Intelligence in there. Endor’s been covered to death. I haven’t really decided. I have to finish this one first, though.”
She nodded, and he paused. “Inyri? Not that—I mean, it’s not that I—why are you here?”
Inyri pulled out one of the chairs to his table and slumped down in it. “I don’t know. I just ended up here.”
He moved a stack of files and sat down in the chair next to her. “What happened?”
Inyri made a face and put her head down on the table. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Reaching out, Hobbie brushed her hair behind her shoulders again, like he had the morning before. “Did you have another fight with Wes?”
She curled up in the chair, pulling her legs into her chest, and her fact contorted into something between pain and anger. “There was a woman in my apartment, Hobbie. A woman of—negotiable affection, if you get my meaning. One he’s been running around with for at least the last week.” She glared. “Why did you think I moved out in the first place?”
The shock on Hobbie’s face was clearly evident. “He said you all were having an argument over—over the—“ he looked down at the floor helplessly. “Over the baby thing.”
She stood up, pacing down the small area of Hobbie’s kitchen, finally slamming her hand against the counter. “This is not about the baby thing! This is about the hooker thing, and the fact that my husband went to one of them instead of working out his problems with me, Hobbie, and because he never would have looked at another woman until the baby thing! That’s what this is about!”
Nearly collapsed against the counter, tears running down her face in anger and frustration and sorrow, for the first time, Inyri let all of the stress and pressure and hurt start spilling out. She found herself enfolded in arms not long after that, ones that held her close and heard whispered comfort. Hobbie held on to her until her heaving sobs stopped. “Inyri,” he said quietly.
She looked up at him. She’d known him for so long, and she’d seen a lot of expressions go across Hobbie Klivian’s face. Laughter, sorrow, joy, pain, but this expression, she wasn’t sure she’d ever seen on his face before. It was one that hinted at love.
The first time she’d found herself in bed with Hobbie Klivian, she’d felt guilty. The second time, there was no guilt involved at all.
The warm sunlight streamed in the window, and Inyri stretched lazily. She heard a brief noise from beside her, and realized that Hobbie was hiding under a pillow.
She hadn’t felt this good in a long time. She nudged Hobbie with an elbow, and he made a sound between a moan and a grunt. “Wake up.”
The muffled “No,” made her laugh. “Why not?”
“’M hiding,” she heard him say. “From the sun.”
That caused her to burst out laughing and she whacked him on the head with her pillow. Like a turtle coming out of it’s shell, Hobbie suddenly appeared. “Hey, that wasn’t fair!” His own pillow suddenly slapped itself against her head, and she tackled him in a half-hearted attempt to smother him with it.
By the time they finished, they were both out of breath from laughter. Hobbie grinned at her, finally good and awake, and with a burst of energy, he bounded out of bed, pulling on discarded clothing. “I’ll start some caf.”
Inyri followed him more slowly, stretching out again and relaxing in the moment. For this brief moment in time, there were no demands on her from anyone. The sun was shining, someone made her feel wanted, and there was caf in the kitchen. Life didn’t get much better than that.
She pulled on her clothes from the night before, fluffing out her hair in an effort to keep it from seeming too slept on. “That smells heavenly, Hobbie.”
“Squadron strength caf,” Hobbie said. “One of the four major food groups, the other three being Ithorian takeout, Ithorian takeout and that new Corellian place down the street.”
Inryi opened his refrigeration unit reproachfully. It was full of takeout leftovers. “This can’t be good for you.”
He shrugged, opening up a cabinet and pulling out a box of pastries. “Not really, but it’ll do for now. Breakfast?”
Inyri pulled one out, and Hobbie did the same. “Good stuff,” she said.
The inevitable awkward moment had arrived and Inyri munched on her pastry in silence while the caf gurgled in the maker. The ringing of the door made them both jump, and Inyri moved to grab mugs out of the cabinet while Hobbie swore. “Who is over here at this hour of the morning?”
“It’s nearly midday,” Inyri said, pouring the caf into mugs. She picked them both up in one hand, holding her pastry in another, and sat down at the table with hers.
When she saw who was visiting, she nearly spat her caf back out in her mug. Wes was standing in Hobbie’s living room, having pushed his way into the apartment, and now stood staring at her in disbelief. “Inyri. What are you doing here?”
She blinked at him a moment, searching for any available excuse. “I’m helping Hobbie with his book.” She gestured behind her at the papers littering the table. “Didn’t expect to see you here. Shouldn’t you be out with Mephonda?”
He looked pained. “Inyri, please listen to me. Mephonda isn’t who you think she is, okay? She’s not a hooker—okay, well, she is a hooker, but the point is, I haven’t been paying her.”
“Oh, you’ve been getting it for free then?” Inyri said coldly. Her caf suddenly didn’t taste very good, and she stood up to pour it out. Hobbie was standing in the doorway of the front door, quietly watching what was happening.
“Inyri,” Wes said, in a tone that was pleading with her to listen. “I’ve been working for Intelligence.”
The room became so deathly silent that Inyri could hear nothing except the sudden weight of guilt crashing back down upon her shoulders, and the mug from her hands clattered down into the sink. “You’ve what?” she said quietly.
He took a tentative step forward. “I’ve been working for Intelligence, Inyri. Mephonda saw something that was vital towards bringing down a weapons smuggler. We might be able to use that information to get more. But she’s had to have protection until we could catch him. That’s why things have been the way they’ve been lately.”
He took another step forward. “Inyri?”
She dropped her head down towards the floor. “You could have told me, Wes.”
“I was under orders not to tell anyone,” he said quietly. “Straight from Cracken himself.”
“Since when has that ever mattered to us?” Inyri said, her eyes flashing now. “You should have told me, Wes.” She threw up her hands. “We didn’t used to keep things like this from one another. So why did you keep it from me now? Were you spoiling for those arguments? It’s not like those things can be unsaid.” She closed her eyes, hoping he would just disappear.
“Inyri,” he said. “I’m sorry. I don’t have an excuse for that. Just, please, let’s work this out.”
Inyri finally met his eyes. “No,” she said softly.
The word made Wes take a step back as if she’d thrown a brick at his chest. “What do you mean—“
“I can’t trust you, Wes,” she said, standing up straight. She took a few steps and brushed past him. “And I can’t trust myself.”
From the look on Hobbie’s face, he seemed to understand that she wouldn’t be back. He moved out of the way as she opened the door and walked out into the hall. She made it all the way out to her speeder before she broke into tears.
She cried because of what she’d done. She cried because of who she’d hurt. She cried because Wes Janson didn’t come after her.
Inyri brushed the tears off her face, climbed into her speeder and drove off for the squadron barracks. It was all she had left.