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Say The Words

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Mina stared at her hands silently as she listened to her siblings argue in front of her. They had been yelling since her brother had come home with his grand plan to get their family back into good standing with the leaders of their people, the Genii. The fact that they were yelling about her did not spur her to join the argument, even though it was her future they were debating.

“You can’t just marry her off to one of Cowen’s men. Especially not him!” Mina’s sister fumed.

Their brother Caleb threw his hands in the air in frustration.

“Your well-being is my main responsibility, and I’ve run out of options to get us back into Cowen’s good graces. What else would you suggest I do Thali?”

“The marriage is not the idea that I am opposed to, it’s the person you want to marry her off to. He’s a cruel man and he is much older than her! Couldn’t you pick someone else? Ladon would be a much better choice. He’s closer to her in age and is close to Cowen.”

Caleb sighed and shook his head.

“I didn’t choose who she is going to marry. I brought the idea before Cowen and he made the choice. Commander Kolya is one of his most trusted men and is in good standing within the Genii. Not to mention that he is one of the best fighters we have and could protect her.”

Mina decided she had finally had enough of their bickering and stood up from her chair, bringing her siblings’ eyes to her.

“I wish the two of you would not act as if I am a child. I know that this decision is for the best, and I am willing to do my part to bring the Delaine name out of the dirt. Even if that means marrying someone that may not be the youngest or kindest man available.”

Thali looked at her sister with pity and crossed the distance between them, placing her hands on her shoulders.

“Are you sure Mina? You don’t have to do this.”

Mina met her sister’s eyes, giving her a sad smile.

“Yes I do. As a Genii, it is my duty to help my family and my people. If this is how I do it, so be it.” Mina embraced her sister and jokingly added, “and please don’t offer Ladon as an alternative. I’ve known that man my whole life. He’s a snake in the grass, and we both know it.”

Thalia chuckled quietly and returned her sister’s embrace. Caleb cleared his throat to get their attention.

“Does that mean that you will marry him?”

Mina pulled away from her sister and turned to face her brother.

“Yes Caleb, I will follow your plan and marry him.”

........................................................................

Acastus Kolya stood before Cowen’s desk, not sure what to make of what the man had just said to him.

“You wish for me to enter into an arranged marriage? Are you sure I am the best candidate for this? Surely someone younger would be better, someone like Ladon or Mekhai?”

Cowen shook his head and walked around the side of his desk to stand beside Kolya.

“Caleb Delaine came to me in an effort to restore his family name to good standing to fix the mistakes made by his father. His suggestion was to marry off his younger sister Mina to someone trustworthy and in good standing. My mind immediately went to you.”

Kolya raised his eyebrows at the mention of Mina being the younger sister of someone that was barely 30. His mind went to Sora Tyrus, who he had taken under his wing after her father’s passing. He wasn’t sure how comfortable he was with being married to someone close in age to one of his students.

“Again I suggest someone younger. If this girl is young, surely she will want a husband that she could live out her days with.”

“She is nearly 28, so not as young as you are thinking. I’m sure things will work out. If you are truly unwilling, I will find someone else. If it eases your worries at all, you could simply view this as an order and be done with it.”

Kolya closed his eyes in thought. He had never seen marriage as a priority. He could always go with Cowen’s idea and view it as an order. Arranged marriages were not common among the Genii, but not unheard of. The couple usually was able to work things out and live in a way that suited them both.

“I will marry this girl.”

Cowen nodded in approval and moved to sit behind his desk again.

“Very well. I will let Caleb know. I imagine the engagement will be short and then you can resume normalcy after the ceremony.”

Kolya bowed his head in agreement before turning and leaving the room. He made his way down the corridors of the underground facility until he reached the entry to the surface. As he walked the path towards the above ground settlement, his eyes drifted to the groups of younger people milling about. One of them could be his future wife. Since he had no idea what Mina Delaine even looked like, he was at a loss when it came to finding her within the crowd.

Kolya entered his home and glanced around. There was nothing of significance in the home that showed someone actually lived there. Maybe having a wife would do him some good, put a little color in his life. He walked back to his bedroom and grabbed a small box out of the drawer of his bedside table.

He opened the box to reveal the one thing left to him by his mother. Though he had never really planned on marrying, he had kept the ring after her death. It was simple, a silver band with a royal blue stone attached. It only seemed right that Mina should have the ring, given she was not likely going to want anything else from him.

His mind kept going back to what Cowen had said, this was simply a business arrangement. Romance had nothing to do with it. He decided that he would leave Mina to her own devices and simply be her husband by law, and nothing else.

Chapter Text

Mina paced back and forth across her bedroom, stopping every so often to look at the dress laying out on her bed. The dress was simple and traditional for a Genii wedding, ironically so since it was her mother’s and had come from a completely different culture. The dress was not the problem, however, it was what the dress represented. She was getting married in a few hours, to a man she had never met and was 15 years her senior. A man that was well known amongst the Genii as being cold and harsh. Mina’s thoughts were interrupted by her door opening and her sister entering the room.

“Mina? Are you alright?” Thali inquired quietly.

Mina looked from the dress to her sister, inhaling slowly and focusing her thoughts.

“At the moment, not really. But I will be. I just want to get this over with.”

Thali looked at her older sister with sympathy.

“You never know, this might turn out better than you think. For all we know, there could be a good man under that harsh exterior.”

Mina smiled at Thali’s suggestion, always the optimist. She let out a long sigh and picked the dress up off the bed. Thali moved forward and helped Mina into the dress, lacing up the strings in the front and back. Once the dress was on, Mina could feel the pressure of what she was about to do increase on her chest. Suddenly she felt like she couldn’t breathe and her eyes began to water.

“Mina? What’s wrong?” Thali asked with concern, guiding Mina to sit down on the bed.

Mina’s breaths came in gulps as she bent over, her head in her hands. Thali gently rubbed her sister’s back, offering small soothing noises.

“You don’t have to do this, you know. I can go talk to Caleb and we can call the whole thing off.”

Mina shook her head and sat up, brushing the dampness from her eyes. She took a few deep breaths before turning her gaze to Thali.

“I can do this. I made a commitment to help my family, and I plan to follow through with it. This isn’t how I pictured my wedding day would go, but it’s how it’s going to be I guess. Can you do my hair for me?”

Thali sighed and nodded solemnly, grabbing a brush from Mina’s bedside table. She watched her sister’s expression in the mirror as she styled her hair, watching Mina’s eyes express her fear and sadness. Once her hair was finished, Mina stood up and gazed at her own reflection in the mirror.

“It’s time to face the music.”

…………………………………………………..

Kolya stood silently at the front of the empty event room within the tavern. He didn’t know what he was expecting. He didn’t have many friends, and the ones he did have were off planet on missions. From what he had heard about the status of the Delaine family, it didn’t surprise him that they wouldn’t have many people there for them either. He chuckled softly to himself at the fact that he had something in common with his bride to be.

His attention turned to the door to see Cowen and Mekhai walk into the event hall wearing uniforms that matched his own. Both men nodded in greeting and joined him at the front of the room.

“You ready for this?” Mekhai asked.

Kolya turned to the younger man and raised an eyebrow.

“This is simply me following orders Mekhai, nothing more.”

Cowen smirked at Kolya’s statement.

“At least give the girl a chance Kolya, you may enjoy having a wife around.”

Their conversation was cut short by the door opening again and a young redhead with short hair poking her head in the door. Kolya was taken aback by the woman’s young appearance, concerned that he was looking at the face of his wife to be.

“Is everyone ready?” the young girl asked.

“Yes Thali, we are ready,” Cowen answered her.

The door closed again and Kolya turned to look at Cowen in disbelief.

“I thought you said she wasn’t that young. I’m not sure I am comfortable marrying someone who is barely an adult Cowen.”

Cowen returned Kolya’s accusatory statement with a look of confusion.

“What are you talking about?” he gestured to the door, “You mean Thali? She’s not the one you’re marrying. You are marrying Mina, that was her younger sister.”

Kolya let out a sigh of relief and focused on the door again, waiting for the woman he was really going to marry to walk through it. He was disappointed when the door opened to reveal the same girl as before. She walked across the room from the door and stood at the other side of Cowen. He glanced at her, surprised to find her looking at him with disdain. He turned his gaze back to the door to see two more people entering the room.

Kolya had met Caleb Delaine before, but never his sisters. He suddenly wished that he had met them before this day. Mina’s red hair matched her sister’s, but fell past her shoulders in gentle curls. She walked slowly across the room on her brother’s arm, and Kolya’s eyes never left her face. When the pair reached the front of the room and joined the rest of them, Caleb released Mina’s arm and took his place between Thali and Cowen. Mina stood opposite Kolya and looked up to meet his eyes. Kolya was surprised by the mixed emotions he could see. Fear, sadness, confidence, and hope mixed together with the soft hazel color.

“We are here today to join together in matrimony this man and this woman,” Cowen started, bringing Kolya out of his trance.

“Who gives this woman to this man?” Cowen continued, turning his gaze to Caleb.

“I Caleb Delaine give this woman, my sister Mina Delaine to Commander Acastus Kolya to be his wife,” Caleb stated clearly.

Cowen nodded in acceptance and turned back to the pair before him.

“Could the two of you please join hands?”

Kolya lifted his hands in front of him with his palms up. Mina brought her hands to meet his and gently placed them over his. He marveled at how small and delicate they appeared compared to his. He closed his hands over hers, grasping them as gently as possible.

“Mina, please repeat after me. I Mina Delaine, daughter of Markand and Nola Delaine, take you Commander Acastus Kolya to be my husband.”

Mina took a deep breath before repeating the words exactly as Cowen had said them.

“I Mina Delaine, daughter of Markand and Nola Delaine, take you Commander Acastus Kolya to be my husband.”

Cowen turned his attention to Kolya, saying a similar thing. Kolya met Mina’s eyes, seeing the fear and sadness he had seen before prevalent above everything else. The poor woman was terrified of marrying him. The honorable man in him wanted to put a stop to this and save the beautiful woman before him from doing something she clearly didn’t want to do. The soldier in him knew that this marriage was ordered by Cowen, and if he didn’t do it, he would pay for it and Mina would likely be married off to another man she didn’t want to marry. Finally, the part of him that was nothing more than a man, who saw a beautiful woman standing before him, wanted nothing more than to take his chance and scoop her up while he had the chance.

“I Commander Acastus Kolya take you Mina Delaine to be my wife,” he strongly repeated Cowen’s words.

Cowen gestured to Thali and Mekhai, indicating for them to hand the rings to the couple. Kolya accepted the ring from Mekhai and watched as Thali handed Mina a simple silver band, giving her sister’s hand a reassuring squeeze as she did. Mina slid the ring onto his finger, and he did the same for her. The rejoined hands and both looked to Cowen.

“I now pronounce you husband and wife. Mina Delaine, you are now Mina Kolya. Commander, you may kiss your bride.”

Kolya looked down at his new wife and released her hands. He gently took her face in his hands and closed the distance between them, placing a soft kiss on her lips. The kiss lasted only a few seconds before he pulled away, not wanting to make her uncomfortable. His hands fell from her face to his sides. When their eyes met again, he swore he could see a change in her emotions. Her fear and sadness had faded slightly and the hope had returned. The corner of his mouth quirked up slightly, but returned to its neutral position when Mina quickly looked away.

A hand grasping his shoulder forced him to look at Caleb, who was extending his hand for him to shake. He shook the young man’s hand, his gaze shifting to Mina embracing her sister behind him. He watched the pair of women turn and leave the event room together, leaving the men alone.

Chapter Text

Mina walked down the path that ran through the village, arm in arm with her sister. On her back, she carried a pack with her belongings. She was meeting her husband at the edge of the village to go to her new home. Once the ceremony had ended, she and Thali had returned home to gather her things. Neither one of them had said anything about the ceremony or the fact that Mina was now married to a man that she had never met until that day.

“There he is,” Thali said quietly, breaking the silence between them.

Mina looked to the end of the path before her to see her new husband and Caleb standing together. She swallowed her nervousness and closed the distance between the two pairs. She released her sister’s arm and embraced her for a few seconds before moving to her brother. As Caleb wrapped his arms around her, he leaned down and whispered into her ear.

“It won’t be as bad as you think it is. I can’t promise you will be happy, but he will take care of you.”

Caleb released her and took a step back, giving her a small smile. Mina returned the smile before turning her attention to Kolya. He offered his arm to her, which she took, and they continued down the path, leaving Caleb and Thali behind.

As he led her down the path, Mina looked up at him. His face expressed no emotions, but she could sense that he felt as awkward as she did. She wasn’t sure what he expected out of this marriage. She didn’t even know what she herself was expecting. There wasn’t clear expectations when it came to an arranged marriage. This arrangement was nothing more than a businesslike transaction to her family, and orders for him. While she racked her brain for ideas on how to make this marriage mean something besides good standing for herself and her siblings, she didn’t notice that they had turned off the main path. Eventually Kolya stopped in front of a small house. Mina pulled herself out of her contemplative state and took in the dwelling before her. It was not exactly what she had expected of a man that had dedicated his life to the Genii military. She had suspected that he lived in a bunker in the underground part of their civilization, not a quaint little farmhouse.

“Welcome to your new home,” Kolya said, uttering his first words to her outside of their wedding.

Mina pulled her arm out of his and walked forward, opening the door to the house. As she entered the main room, she took in her surroundings. The kitchen and dining area sat off to one side, with a small living space on the other side of the room. A hallway at the back held three doors, a bathroom and two bedrooms.

Mina heard the door close behind her, indicating that Kolya had followed her into the house. She turned her gaze from the room to look at his face again. This time, she was able to see something more than a blank stare. He almost looked worried, like he was awaiting her opinion of his home. The fact that he seemed to value her opinion touched Mina’s heart. She gave him a reassuring smile.

“It’s lovely. Different than I expected, but I think that I will enjoy making this my home.”

She watched as relief washed over his face. It seemed to soften his hard appearance, which changed Mina’s view of him. When he wasn’t actively frowning, he had a handsome face. When his eyes met hers, Mina realized that she had been staring and looked away quickly.

Kolya crossed the room and opened one of the doors on the back wall, revealing a bedroom with a single bed and a dresser. He looked to her and gestured to the room.

“I hope this room will be satisfactory for you.”

Mina’s face must have expressed her confusion for Kolya closed the distance between them and gently grasped her hand. Mina started slightly, as she hadn’t been expecting him to touch her. She instantly regretted her actions when he quickly released her hand.

“I know that this marriage is not something you wanted. I expect nothing from you and I wanted to give you your own space. I don’t plan on making your life any more difficult.”

Mina could see the sincerity on his face, and she wasn’t sure how she was supposed to feel. It almost seemed like he had been hurt by her reaction to him touching her, but when she looked in his eyes, she saw nothing that showed he felt anything towards her besides indifference. She could have sworn that she had briefly seen something at their wedding in his eyes that could only be described as lust or affection. The brief kiss they had shared had sparked something between them, but that spark seemed to have disappeared. Part of her wanted to kiss him again just to test it out, but her self-control and want to avoid the awkward conversation afterwards stopped her.

“Thank you Comman…” Mina started, stopping herself from finishing her formal addressal, “what would you like me to call you? Commander just doesn’t seem like something you should call your husband.”

The corner of Kolya’s mouth rose in a smirk.

“You may call me Acastus.”

“Very well. Acastus, thank you.”

Mina pulled one of the straps from her pack off of her shoulder, and walked into her new bedroom. She opened the bag and began to unpack her belongings. As she began her work, she glanced out the door to see Kolya had disappeared. She hadn’t heard the door close, so she assumed he was still in the house.

Her mind returned to her previous thoughts of what it would be like if she tried to reignite the small spark she had felt between them a few hours ago. They were stuck in this situation together, so maybe they should make the most of what they had been given. The room she was standing in pulled her back to reality. He had purposefully given her her own room, separating her from him. He had said that he did it for her benefit, but what if she had misread the feelings she thought she saw in his eyes. What if he really wanted nothing to do with her?

Chapter Text

Over the next two months, Mina slowly settled into her new life. She had made a few personal touches to her new home, making it look like someone actually lived there. Judging by her husband’s sense of being out of place at home, she assumed he had not spent much time there before her arrival. Being a military man, she figured that he spent most of his time below ground in the bunkers with most of the other military families. In their two months together so far, she hadn’t been able to get much out of him about his personal life. She knew that he had grown up in this house, but once his parents had passed and he made serving Cowen and his predecessor his priority, he had no use for his surface home. Marriage had never been high up on his list of priorities, he had told her hesitantly. When she had expressed to him that it hadn’t been a plan of hers either, he seemed to relax, but still remained distant.

Most of the time, he was below ground training others or attending to other matters assigned to him. Her time was spent on the surface, working on the farms with her sister and the other farmer families. Every night, the two of them returned home, she prepared dinner, which they usually ate without much conversation, and they retired to their respective bedrooms. This was not at all what she had expected married life to be, but then again, their marriage was not one born of an actual relationship. This was strictly business, for both parties. That was what she continued to tell herself every morning and night as they went their separate ways.

Some days while she was working in the fields, she would watch the young married couples around her that genuinely cared for each other. They seemed to be happy and their lives together had some meaning. A few times, she had noticed Thali looking at her with pity when she noticed Mina’s observant behavior. Mina wouldn’t go so far as to say that she felt jealous of these other couples, but she definitely felt something. She felt empty, like something was missing. She hadn’t felt this way before marrying Acastus, but now that she was married, it seemed that something inside her had changed. She actually wanted to be happy, wanted to feel loved and wanted, wanted to feel married. S

he kept these feelings to herself, not even expressing them to Thali. It was bad enough getting her looks of pity when she didn’t have any concrete proof that something was wrong. If she knew that something was going on inside her, Mina knew that Thali would only increase the frequency of the looks. It wasn’t just her either. Mina had noticed several other people, including her brother, giving her looks of pity since her marriage had begun. She didn’t feel that her exterior behavior had changed in any way, but deep down she knew that they could all see a change in her. Today, she had dodged many looks as she moved about the field. It was getting to be almost unbearable. She stopped her work and turned to her sister.

“Is it that obvious?”

Thali looked up from her work, brushing her hands off on her apron.

“Is what obvious?” she asked.

“That I feel different and incomplete since my marriage. Everyone seems to have formed a permanent look of pity when I am around.”

Thali sighed and stood up from the ground, grabbing Mina’s hand and pulling her to a more isolated area of the field where they could talk privately.

“I don’t think it is as obvious to everyone else as it is to me, but something has definitely changed about you. You never really had an interest in marriage before, but now whenever you see a couple or a family, you get this look on your face.”

Mina tilted her head in confusion, narrowing her eyes.

“What kind of look?”

“Like you want that life. You want to be married and have a family.”

Mina held up her left hand, displaying the ring on her finger.

“I am married, remember? And I’ve never been much a motherly type.”

Thali looked at her sister with raised eyebrows, crossing her arms over her chest.

“What?” Mina asked, “It’s the truth.”

“I meant happily married to someone you love and who loves you back. As for the not being the motherly type, you helped raise me. At 11 you took on the role that neither Caleb or dad could fill. You took mom’s place, and then 5 years later, you took dad’s place too. If anything, I would say you are overqualified for motherhood.”

“I don’t think there is such a thing as being an overqualified mother,” Mina joked, cracking a small smile at her sister.

Thali rolled her eyes and reached out to take Mina’s hands.

“If family and happiness is something that you want, reach out and get it. On your wedding day, you said you wanted to make things work. Talk to Kolya, get to know him. For all you know, he could want the same thing.”

“I don’t think so. Our marriage is just an order to him. He’s only doing his duty, following Cowen’s orders.”

“But somewhere within him, he is just a man. And you are a great catch. Any guy would be lucky to have you!”

Mina laughed softly at her sister’s declaration.

“I’ll make sure to tell him that.”

“Make sure that you do. I know of one guy that would kill to be in his shoes.”

Mina sighed and shook her head.

“Oh will you quit with that. Ladon does not have feelings for me. We haven’t even seen each other in over 5 years. He probably doesn’t remember me, much less have feelings for me. I don’t know how you got it into your head that he liked me. Especially since you were 10 when you met him.”

Thali tapped her head with her finger.

“I just know things. And I know that Ladon has been head over heels for you since you met. Sora told me when we were younger, and she knows him better than I do.”

Mina rolled her eyes and walked away from her sister back towards the area they had previously been working in.

“You are both delusional. The point is moot anyways. I am married and I have never felt that way about Ladon, no matter how he feels. You know that. He’s too pompous and thinks he knows everything.”

Thali laughed and followed Mina across the field.

“Well since Ladon is off the table for you, I guess you’ll just have to make things work with your husband.”

Mina shook her head again and threw a small handful of dirt at her sister. Thali let out a small shriek and moved further away from her. The two laughed as they continued their work, Mina feeling better than she had before. Even though nothing had really been said that would help her in her current situation, spending time with her sister always lifted her spirits. The cheerful mood that had fallen over her did not last long, evaporating at the sound of a loud explosion.

All the heads in the field turned to the source of the sound. Mina’s eyes met Thali’s and they both turned and ran in the direction of the sound. They were joined by other concerned people running towards the commotion. Running through a small patch of trees, the group came upon the clearing where the testing was done for some of the smaller explosive experiments.

They were greeted with the sight of debris scattered throughout the clearing, several people laying on the ground, and a cloud of smoke covering the area. Mina noticed one of the people laying on the ground had blonde hair and quickly ran over to his still form. She rolled the man over and her suspicions were confirmed when she saw her brother’s dirty face covered with scratches.

“Caleb!” she shouted, shaking his shoulder.

To her relief, Caleb coughed and opened his eyes, blinking a few times. He let out a low groan and sat up slowly.

“Uhhh, what happened?”

“That is exactly what I would like to know,” called out an irritated voice from a few feet away.

Mina turned her head to see Cowen rise from where he had been knocked over by the blast. He certainly did not look happy. His anger seemed to be directed at a smaller figure that approached a piece of debris. Mina narrowed her eyes, gazing through the smoke to see what poor soul had caused this unfortunate incident and angered Cowen.

“I thought it was ready!” Ladon shouted from his place near the debris.

Caleb let out another groan as he attempted to stand.

“Well you were wrong,” he stated bitterly.

Thali joined her siblings and helped Mina get Caleb to his feet. They both took an arm on their shoulders and wrapped their arms around his waist, helping him away from the debris field and guiding him to sit on a log. A man about Mina’s age came running into the clearing, carrying a bag. He made his way over to where they were sitting, pulling medical supplies from his bag.

“I came as soon as I heard the explosion. I really wish I was informed when dangerous tests are taking place so I can be ready for injuries,” he said in an irritated tone.

“I didn’t inform you because I was told that this test would be successful. I didn’t think your services would be needed Corric,” Cowen fumed as he walked closer to where Ladon was still crouched.

“I don’t know what went wrong!” Ladon yelled.

“You don’t need to yell Ladon, we can hear you just fine,” another voice called out from where Cowen had been.

Mina turned to look in the direction of the voice and was surprised to see her husband standing there, brushing stray debris from his clothing. He walked over to where she and her siblings were sitting. He glanced at her for a second before turning his attention to Caleb and the medic named Corric. Corric had tended to Caleb’s wounds and looked up to Kolya.

“He’ll be fine. Ladon on the other hand, may have hearing damage. That’s probably why he’s yelling.”

Kolya jerked his head in Ladon’s direction.

“Go tend to him. He’s not doing any good stumbling around yelling.”

Corric nodded and walked away from Caleb in Ladon’s direction. He placed his hand on Ladon’s shoulder and led him to a place to sit so he could check him out. Kolya glanced at Mina once more before turning and walking over to Cowen. Mina narrowed her eyes at the scene briefly before turning her attention back to Caleb. She untied her apron and poured some water from her canteen on it, using it to wipe some of the dirt off her brother’s face.

“Are you alright?”

Caleb winced as she grazed over a scratch on his face.

“I’ll live. Not sure about Ladon though. He seemed really confident that this test was going to work.”

“What were you testing?” Thali asked.

“Ladon’s been working on containing a smaller explosion so he could observe their progress on the main weapons they’ve been working on. He thought he had succeeded in creating a method to observe them, but it seems he was wrong. Either his containment system is faulty or they haven’t worked out the kinks in the smaller explosives.”

“If it wasn’t ready, why did he test it?” Mina asked, “and why were so many people put in danger to test it?”

“Cowen’s really been pushing him to work harder. After the news that the wraith have woken up earlier than expected, he’s been pushing all the teams to the breaking point. I was here to offer moral support to him, but now I kinda wish I hadn’t been here.”

Mina sighed and again looked over to where her husband was talking with Cowen. She had never been a big fan of Cowen’s, sharing her father’s opinion of the man. Now his decisions to push Ladon’s experiments had put her brother and many others in danger. From what Caleb had told her before, she knew that they hadn’t been anywhere close to having a working method of fighting the wraith. Now Cowen was pushing to get things done faster. They simply didn’t have the resources to make it work.

The people that had gathered in the clearing had started to disperse, returning to their work. Corric returned from tending to Ladon to report to Cowen and Kolya.

“He’s mostly alright, but his hearing will be out for a while. Expect a lot of yelling and him not being able to hear you for a while.”

Cowen threw his hands in the air in exasperation.

“Wonderful. I thought maybe we had made some progress, but it seems that we have taken a step back.”

He turned and stormed off the field, Kolya and Corric following him back to the entry to the underground bunker. Mina watched the three men walk off before looking back to where Ladon was wandering around, picking up random pieces of rubble and looking at them with disappointment.

“Thali, why don’t you take Caleb home? Finish cleaning him up and make sure he gets some rest.”

Thali nodded and helped Caleb to his feet, holding onto his arm as they walked to support him if he needed. Mina walked over to where Ladon was standing and gave him small wave. He looked up at her and blinked in surprise.

“Mina! What are you doing here?” he asked loudly.

Mina raised her hand, motioning for him to speak quieter.

“You don’t need to yell. My hearing is fine. It’s yours that’s damaged,” she told him, raising her voice so he could hear her.

Ladon turned his head so he could hear her better.

“Sorry,” he said not quite as loudly, “doc said my eardrums were hurt in the blast. I can’t hear myself talk very well.”

Mina nodded in understanding.

“Are you alright otherwise?”

Ladon’s expression fell as he gazed around the clearing.

“My pride is wounded and my head hurts, but other than that I’m alright.”

Mina bent over to pick up a piece of Ladon’s experiment off the ground. She turned it over in her hands, looking at the charred parts.

“I think you need to work a little more on this.”

Ladon shook his head and took the piece from her hands.

“I really thought it was ready. I had hoped that we had finally gotten somewhere and that Cowen would be happy with my work.”

Mina was not used to seeing this side of Ladon. In the whole time she had known him, he had always been too over confident in his abilities. Being appointed as Cowen’s chief scientist at such a young age had not done anything to lessen his ego. It was one of the things that had pushed her away from him when they were younger. This disappointed, downtrodden Ladon was someone completely different. She reached out and placed her hand on his shoulder, an encouraging smile on her face.

“I’m sure things will work out better next time. Maybe make sure it works before testing it around Cowen and other people though. Avoid this kind of disaster in the future.”

Ladon returned her smile in gratitude. She watched his eyes rake over her face, and she began to think that maybe Thali had been correct. Her suspicions were confirmed when Ladon’s expression changed as his gaze fell on her hand.

“Are you married?” he asked in a surprised tone.

Mina followed his gaze down to the ring on her finger that she had been waving in Thali’s face earlier.

“Yes. I got married 2 months ago. Arranged marriage.”

“Who did you marry?”

“Kolya. My brother and Cowen made an agreement to help my family get in better standing.”

Ladon’s mouth turned down in a frown. Mina was sure now that Thali had been right. He did have feelings for her. Now she was married, and to his commanding officer. She took a step back, putting some distance between them.

“I’ll let you get back to work on your experiment. I’m glad you are alright. Bye Ladon.”

Ladon raised his hand in a half-hearted wave before he walked away to collect more pieces of his failed experiment. Mina sighed and walked across the clearing back in the direction of her home. The work day was nearly over, so there was no point in returning to work. She spent the remainder of the afternoon preparing dinner.

When Kolya returned home from the bunker, she had everything ready. All through dinner, she kept covertly glancing across the table at her husband. He hadn’t said anything since arriving home, which was nothing out of the ordinary. Even outside their home, when she had seen him after the explosion, he hadn’t said a word to her.

As was the usual, they finished their meal in silence and she cleaned up afterwards. She walked to her bedroom door, turning to look at him sitting in front of the fireplace. He had a glass of liquor in his hand and he was silently looking into the fire as he often did after dinner. She wanted to say something, anything to strike up a conversation. Maybe do what Thali had suggested earlier and talk to him about her unhappiness. She opened her mouth to say something, but no words came out. She let out a sigh and simply said goodnight before entering her bedroom, closing the door behind her.

She changed into her sleeping clothes and laid down to go to sleep. Her mind kept wandering to her conversation with Thali and her conflicted feelings about having a family and happy marriage. Ladon’s smile and disappointed expression appeared in her mind, stirring up doubt.

Had she made a huge mistake in agreeing to marry Acastus? Would she have been happier if she had gone against her brother’s plan? Maybe someday Ladon would have told her how he felt and they could have moved forward together. Now she would never know, and she was here in her own bed in her husband’s childhood home. As she thought over her situation, for the first time in a long while, Mina quietly cried herself to sleep.

Chapter Text

Mina stood in her kitchen, staring out the window at the dreary weather outside. She never knew what to do with herself on days like this. There was no work to do in the fields, even if it wasn’t raining. She didn’t have much to do at home and had no real friends outside of her siblings. Thali had plans with her friends and Caleb was always busy with his military duties, so they didn’t even have time for her. To say that she was lonely wouldn’t be completely accurate, as she liked having time to herself, but she was bored out of her mind.

She looked around her simple home, and her eyes fell on a music box sitting on the mantle. She had never really noticed it before and wondered if it had always been there. She walked over to it and turned the key on the side, winding the gears inside. The box began to play a soft melody that she had heard before. It was a song that her mother had played when she had been a child. Mina began to slowly sway to the music, memories of her childhood filling her head.

She remembered following her mother’s guidance as she moved smoothly around their living space, demonstrating different dance moves that she had learned. Her father had always sat silently watching, a smile on his face. Caleb had tried to join in a few times, but he was an ungraceful being, often times tripping over his own feet while dancing. He didn’t have the grace that Mina and their mother possessed. As the memories flooded in, Mina began to imitate her younger self’s movements. She spun around the room, moving her feet and arms in sync in flowing movements.

Mina was so caught up in the music that she didn’t hear the door open. Not aware of her surroundings, her dancing caused her to bump into her entering husband. Mina let out a yelp of surprise and stumbled in her movements. Kolya reached out and gently grabbed her arms, preventing her from falling over. Mina regained her balance and looked up at her husband with surprise.

“I’m sorry Acastus. I didn’t know you were home.”

Kolya released his hold on her arms and gave her an apologetic smirk.

“I’m sorry I startled you. You looked like you were enjoying yourself. I see you found my mother’s music box.”

Mina flushed lightly and brushed some hair away from her face that had fallen loose during her dance. She hadn’t expected him to come home and find her dancing.

“Yes. It caught my eye and I was curious if it worked. The song it played was a song that my mother would play when I was younger. We would often dance to it as dancing was a large part of her culture on her home planet.”

Kolya walked over to the music box and rewound the key, starting the song over. He turned back to Mina and held out his hand. Mina raised her eyebrows in confusion, but stepped forward taking his extended hand. He pulled her closer to him and placed his other hand on her waist. He began to lead her in a slow dance, swaying to the music. Mina felt a smile form on her face as they danced together. This was not something that she expected she would ever do with her husband. He was actually a decent dancer. The song seemed to end too soon and Kolya stopped their movement.  He released his hold on her hand and removed his other hand from her waist.

“You are a wonderful dancer Acastus. Where did you learn to dance like that?”

Kolya gave Mina a small smile, gazing back over at the small music box.

“I learned from my mother as well. Like yours, she came from another planet and another culture. She thought it was important that I learn to dance. She said it would be an important factor in impressing the ladies. Can’t say I’ve ever got much use out of the skill however.”

“Well I found it impressive, so I guess she was right.”

Kolya turned his eyes back and met hers, and Mina swore that she could see something there that resembled the affection she had noticed on their wedding day. They were standing so close to each other, and like she had before, Mina felt the desire to close the distance and kiss him. Their moment was interrupted by a loud knock at the door. Kolya’s warm expression slipped away and he moved away from Mina to answer the door. He pulled it open to reveal a dripping wet Thali. Mina rushed to her husband’s side, pulling her soaked sister inside.

“Thali! What are you doing out in the rain? You’ll make yourself sick!”

Thali waved her hand at her sister, dismissing her concerns.

“I come bearing good news! Alaina had her baby, a little boy!”

Mina softly laughed as she grabbed a towel from the kitchen to wring out her sister’s dripping hair.

“And you felt the need to come tell us that in the middle of a rainstorm?”

“Well, you told me to let you know when it happened. I know that you are always interested to hear when babies are born, since you love them so much.”

Mina’s smile faltered as she turned her gaze to her husband. He didn’t seem to be listening to the conversation and had moved to sit in his usual chair, ignoring the sisters. Thali followed her sister’s gaze and realized what the issue was. She lowered her voice so that only Mina would hear.

“Have you not talked to him yet? I thought you were going to do that.”

Mina shook her head and replied in a low tone.

“I never said I was going to talk to him. That was your idea, not mine. It’s not something I feel like discussing right now.”

Thali rolled her eyes and returned to the topic of Alaina’s new baby, not wanting to make a scene in front of Kolya.

“They are having a gathering in a few days to present him and reveal his name. Alaina told me to pass on a message to you saying that you were invited. She actually said that you were both invited as her husband knows yours well apparently.”

Mina looked over to her husband again, clearing her throat to get his attention.

“Did you hear that Acastus? Callistair and Alaina Dart invited us to their gathering to celebrate the birth of their son.”

Kolya nodded his head in confirmation.

“I’ve known Callistair for a long time, so I suppose it would be right to honor his invitation.”

Mina turned her attention back to her sister, giving her a small smile.

“You can tell Alaina that we would be happy to attend. I look forward to meeting the newest member of the Genii.”

…………………………………………………………………………………………..

A few days later, Mina found herself once again in the event room that she had married her husband in nearly three months prior. The room was filled with people that had gathered to celebrate the birth of the Dart baby. Callistair and Alaina had revealed his name to be Lowell. They had presented him to all in attendance and everyone had offered their congratulations. Even Cowen was present at the celebration, honoring the couple with his blessing on their child’s future. Mina gazed around the room, taking in the sight of all the merriment around her. There hadn’t been much celebrating in quite a while. Ever since the revelation of the early awakening of the wraith, her people had been on edge. It was nice to see them in a happy setting once again.

Her gaze fell on the new parents, who were both beaming and conversing with guests. Like she had before, Mina began to feel the gnawing feeling of emptiness in her gut. She felt like something was missing, much like she had felt when gazing upon other couples she came across. Alaina almost seemed to be glowing with happiness, even though she looked exhausted. Mina knew that Alaina had always wanted a family and had told her so on many occasions. The two of them had grown up around each other, both coming from surface dwelling families and being a similar age. Now Alaina had fulfilled her dream, and she was sharing her happiness with anyone that would listen.

Mina was pulled out of her thoughts by a soft nudge to her elbow. She turned to look at Thali, who was standing next to her. She had that look of pity in her eyes.

“You are making that face again,” her sister pointed out.

Mina sighed sadly.

“I may as well admit it, I want that. I want a child. I want a loving husband.”

Thali reached over and took Mina’s hand giving it a squeeze.

“I know you do. Your face throws it all out in the open. But, you might want to know that I’m not the only one that’s noticed.”

Mina looked at her sister with confusion.

“What are you talking about?”

Thali looked pointedly across the room at something, indicating for Mina to look as well. Mina looked in the direction her sister had indicated and was surprised when she saw her husband’s face looking back at her. Their eyes locked for a moment before Mina quickly looked away.

“Are you sure he’s noticed? He could simply be looking in this direction.”

Thali shook her head and gave Mina’s hand another gentle squeeze.

“I’m pretty sure he figured it out. He’s been watching you for a few minutes now. I saw his gaze go from you to them and back again. He looked concerned and surprised. I think it is time you talked to him Mina.”

Mina nodded in resignation and looked over in her husband’s direction again. He had looked away from her, but he still had a troubled look on his face. Mina had a feeling that he would bring it up soon if she didn’t herself.

As the celebration dragged into the evening, Mina excused herself from her sister’s company and made her way outside to get some air. She walked down the path a little ways away from the building, before sitting down on a rock. She gazed up into the night sky, counting the stars to distract her mind from the millions of thoughts swirling around inside.

“You lied to me before, didn’t you?” a voice said, coming up behind her.

Mina jumped slightly at the sudden voice. She turned around to see her husband standing a few feet away.

“Excuse me?” she asked.

Kolya closed the remaining distance between them, sitting next to her on the rock. He wouldn’t look at her, but Mina could tell he was bothered by something.

“When you told me that family was not a priority to you, you were lying weren’t you?”

Mina opened her mouth to protest, to prove him wrong, but no words would come out. He finally turned his head to look at her and she was surprised to see that his expression seemed almost sad.

“You want a family. You want what Callistair and Alaina have. You only told me that you didn’t because you thought you lost your chance. I want you to know that isn’t true. I’m giving you an out…”

Mina scrunched her face up in confusion, not sure what he was talking about.

“An out? What do you mean?”

“I want you to be happy. You didn’t ask to be married to me. If you want to find someone that you can love and have a family with, I won’t stop you.”

Mina’s eyes widened in response to his words. He was offering her a chance to find love wherever she wanted. He didn’t realize that what she really wanted was to find that with him, not someone else. She wasn’t sure how to phrase that in a way that wouldn’t scare him, as he didn’t seem to want the same things from her.

“Oh Acastus, that isn’t necessary. I am perfectly fine with how things are. I don’t need to find someone else. I don’t need a family. I’ve already had the chance to raise a child, as I helped raise Thali.”

Kolya shook his head, surprising Mina by reaching out and taking her hand.

“It’s not the same. Are you sure that you don’t want to find someone else? Someone you can be happy with?”

Mina looked at her husband’s concerned face and realized that this was the perfect time to tell him how she felt. She didn’t have the courage to form the words, so she took a small step in the right direction. Leaning forward, Mina placed a gentle kiss on Kolya’s cheek.

“I’m sure.”

She watched as Kolya’s eyes widened in surprise at her kiss. He stayed silent but she could sense that he was confused.

“The one thing I do want is to have a better relationship between us. I’m not asking you to love me or anything, but I would like us to at least have a friendship. Something more than simply saying goodnight and good morning to each other and sharing meals.”

Kolya’s surprised expression faded and was replaced by a small smile. He gave her hand a gentle squeeze before releasing it and standing.

“That I can do.”

Mina returned his smile and stood as well. The two of them silently walked back towards the celebration, keeping a small space between them. Mina could feel some sort of progress building between them and she continued smiling the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

Mina and Thali were busy at work in the crop fields, when their work day was interrupted by the sound of a man screaming. Both women’s head shot up and turned in the direction of the scream. Mina halted her work and acted quickly, running in the direction of the other workers in the field. She soon came across the sound of the scream. One of her fellow farmers, a man named Liam was lying on the ground, clutching his leg. Bright red blood was seeping through his fingers and falling onto the ground. Mina’s eyes slid over to the farming instrument on the ground that had caused the wound, a pickaxe that had broken off the handle and hit Liam in the leg.

“Oh dear,” she muttered under her breath as she kneeled beside the bleeding man, “Liam I need you to hold very still. We need to get this bleeding under control.”

Liam’s face was twisted with pain, but he nodded in agreement to Mina’s command. Thali came up behind her kneeling sister and covered her mouth to stifle a gasp.

“Oh god! Liam!” another woman shouted as she came across the scene. Liam’s wife Annie had joined them on the ground, grabbing onto her husband hand.

Mina quickly reached behind her and undid the strings for her apron and proceeded to tie the clothing article around Liam’s upper leg. She pulled it as tight as she could in an attempt to slow the bleeding. The small group around Liam was growing steadily as more people came over to see what had happened. Mina turned to one of the men in the group and shouted a command at him.

“Quickly! Go get help!”

The man was quick to obey her command and took off towards the town, searching for help. Mina knew that they had little time, as Liam was still losing quite a lot of blood. She waved some more people from the group over and started issuing commands to them.

“Grab his arms and legs! We need to get him closer so the help doesn’t need to come so far. You two grab his legs and you grab his arms. Annie I need you to hold his head. I need you to help my sister support his body while I apply pressure to his leg. Thali give me your apron.”

Everyone did as she said, and Mina pressed her sister’s apron over the wound, applying pressure as the group of them slowly moved Liam across the field. When they reached the edge of the field, they were greeted by the help she had sent for. Two men with a stretcher met them and they gently placed Liam on the stretcher. As the men carried him towards the entrance to the compound for medical help, Mina continued to walk alongside, holding her hands on the ever bleeding wound. The small group moved as fast as they could, with Annie running in front of them telling people to move out of the way.

Liam had lost consciousness as soon as they had put him on the stretcher, which concerned Mina. Soon enough they had descended into the compound, rushing down the hallway towards the infirmary. When they entered the room, Corric was ready for them, meeting them at the door and taking Mina’s place. Mina stepped out of the way and watched as Corric rushed to save Liam’s life. Annie sobbed at her side, shaking like a leaf. Mina wanted to reach out and comfort the woman, but her hands were covered in blood.

She felt almost as if she were in a haze, watching Corric work before her. She almost didn’t register the person that touched her arm to get her attention. She shook her head to clear the hazy feeling and turned her attention to the person. The woman beside her guided her to a sink to wash the blood from her hands. Once she had been cleaned up, she followed the woman’s direction to a small waiting room off the infirmary. Annie was already there, pacing back and forth across the small space. Her head whipped towards Mina as she entered the room.

“Did you hear anything? Will he be alright?” she asked in a shaky voice.

Mina shook her head again and gave the woman a sympathetic look.

“I’m sorry Annie, I don’t know how he is. They ushered me out.”

Annie’s hands went to her hair and she began to anxiously run them through it. Her eyes fell to Mina’s front, which was still covered in blood. She began to sob again and returned to pacing the room. Mina found a seat, knowing she couldn’t do anything to help Annie.

They waited in the room for what felt like hours, Annie almost leaving track marks on the floor from her pacing. Finally the door opened, revealing the same woman that had brought Mina to the room. She looked relieved.

“You can come in Annie. Liam is out of surgery.”

Annie practically ran from the room into the infirmary. Mina stood from her seat and moved to follow her. The woman at the door held out her hand to stop her.

“Corric wants to speak to you as soon as he tells her how Liam is doing. He asked me to tell you to stay out here.”

Mina nodded and retook her seat. A few minutes later, Corric came through the door and made his way across the room to where she was sitting. He offered her his hand to shake, which she took. He released her hand and sat beside her.

“You are Mina Delaine right? Caleb’s sister?”

“It’s Mina Kolya actually, but yes.”

“That was some quick thinking that you did. Where did you learn that?”

Mina’s mouth quirked up in a small smile as she remembered that it had been her mother that had given her the medical training. She had made sure she knew how to take care of a wound in case she needed to help someone in their militant society.

“My mother taught me when I was younger. I’m surprised I remembered what to do since I was 10 when she taught me.”

Corric seemed impressed with her skills, especially since they were so unpracticed.

“I could use someone with your quick thinking to help me. If you hadn’t been there when Liam was hurt, he would have bled out before the help got to him, not to mention before he got anywhere near me. We don’t have enough help down here and I can’t be everywhere I’m needed.”

Mina looked at Corric in confusion. She wasn’t sure what he was saying to her.

“I’m sorry, are you offering me a job?”

Corric let out a light laugh.

“I guess I am. I will have to talk to Cowen about it, but I could really use your help. You wouldn’t have to leave your current post. You would actually be where I need you, on the surface. I can’t always get there when I’m needed.”

Mina’s smile widened at the idea that Corric was proposing. She could do something that would be helpful and more productive than her daily farming tasks. At the same time, she wouldn’t have to abandon Thali and lose the time she spent with her sister.

“If you can talk Cowen into it, I would be more than happy to help.”

Corric looked relieved that she had accepted his offer. He stood and offered her his hand again to shake.

“I look forward to working with you in the future.”

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

As Mina emerged from the entrance to the underground portion of the settlement, she was ambushed by her younger sister.

“Mina!” Thali shouted her name as she grabbed Mina’s arms to grip her full attention, “what happened? Is Liam alright?”

Mina nodded in answer to her sister’s question.

“He lost a lot of blood, but he will be alright. Had I not thought quickly, he would have been much worse. Thankfully the training I got from mom came in handy.”

Mina watched as her sister’s face fell at the mention of their mother. Thali always had a hard time discussing the woman that she had never met. When she was younger, she had thought it was her fault that she had died, but luckily she had grown out of that thought process. Mina quickly changed the subject, moving away from the topic of their mother.

“You want to walk me home, I desperately need a change of clothes, and people might get the wrong idea if I am walking home alone in the dark covered in blood.”

Thali’s expression quickly changed from the down state she had entered. She let out a small chuckle and linked arms with her sister.

“People might think you killed someone,” Thali joked.

Mina laughed at her sister’s attempt at humor.

“Who would I have killed?”

Thali shrugged as they walked on, having trouble thinking of a person that her nonviolent sister would want even want to hurt, much less kill.

“I don’t know, but you still look suspicious.”

Mina laughed again, glad the mood had changed so quickly.

“Thanks a lot Thali.”

The two sisters walked through the darkness until they reached Mina’s home. It was still dark inside, which meant that her husband had not yet returned. Mina bid her sister goodbye and entered her home. She walked into her bedroom to change into some non-bloody clothing, not bothering to turn on lights as she went. She lit a candle as she entered the room, not wanting to bother turning on the gas lamps. While she was searching for some clothing in the dim lighting, she heard the front door open, signaling that her husband had returned home.

“Mina?” she heard him call out as he turned on a light in the main room.

Mina stopped her search for new clothing and exited her room to see her husband standing in the middle of the main room. As she walked into the light, her eyes soon caught sight of the bright red liquid on his forehead. She let out a gasp.

“Acastus! You’re bleeding!” she shouted at him, running to grab the first aid kit from the bathroom.

Kolya’s hand went up to his head and he brought it back down to see blood on his fingers. He shrugged as if it was nothing.

“I didn’t even notice.”

Mina sighed in frustration as she gestured for him to sit at the table so she could stitch him up. She muttered under her breath about bleeding men as she got to work.

“How did this happen?”

“Sora was lucky today and managed to strike me. I bandaged it up earlier, and I thought it was fine. I guess I was wrong.”

Mina was surprised at the small spark of jealously that she felt at the mention of Sora. The girl was well known among the Genii for her good looks. What was her husband doing spending time with Sora?

She shook her head to clear that thought, remembering that it was her husband’s job to train the members of the Genii military. She wasn’t quite sure where the jealousy had come from. It wasn’t like they had a normal marriage. He had already given her a chance to find someone else, so he wasn’t connected to her in that way that would encourage her to be hurt by him paying attention to another woman.

Mina scowled at her own thought process, turning her focus back to what she was doing. She finished stitching up the wound on her husband’s forehead and wiped the remaining blood off with a wet cloth.

“All finished,” she said, walking around to the front of Kolya to get a better look.

Kolya looked up to thank her and she saw his eyes widen.

“Mina! You are covered in blood!”

Mina looked down at the front of her clothes. She had forgotten that she had been interrupted from changing them by her husband’s entrance. Kolya stood from his chair and gently grabbed her arms, his eyes scanning her as if he was looking for wounds.

“A man was injured today in the field by a pickaxe. He was bleeding a lot and I helped get him to the infirmary. I haven’t had a chance to change my clothes yet. I was in the middle of doing that when you came in, also covered in blood I may add.”

Kolya used his grip on her arms to turn her around, guiding her in the direction of her bedroom.

“You can go clean yourself up, don’t let me stop you.”

Mina did as he suggested, returning to the main room minutes later in bloodless clothing. Kolya was sitting in his chair, and he looked up when she entered the room. Mina gestured at her clothes.

“There. No more blood. For either of us.”

Her husband gave her a small smirk as he stood from his chair. He crossed the distance between them and gently grasped Mina’s hand. She looked up at him in confusion, but he said nothing. He simply led her to the kitchen, pulling out a chair for her. Mina sat in the chair and for the first time noticed that the table was set before her. In the short time she had been gone, he had fixed a simple salad for dinner. This was the first time she had seen him prepare food in the three and a half months that they had been married.

“You didn’t need to do this Acastus. I could have made dinner.”

Kolya shook his head as he sat across from her.

“You’ve had a busy day it seems. Why don’t you tell me what happened?”

Mina recanted the day’s events to her husband, excitedly telling him about the job that Corric had offered her. He seemed to think that it was a good idea.

“It will give you a chance to see what goes on beneath the surface. Not many people that are raised on the surface have that chance unless they join the military. Our lives will be a little more connected this way.”

Mina tried to grasp what he was trying to say. It almost seemed like he was happy that she would be working closer to him. Corric had said he needed her on the surface, but the way he made it sound, he needed help everywhere. Maybe this was the thing she needed to get closer to her husband. She smiled to herself at that thought. The accident was almost a blessing in disguise, as it brought her to a new point in her life.

As they finished their simple dinner, Mina glanced across the table at Kolya a number of times, trying to gauge what he was thinking and if it matched up with hers. She felt a small amount of hope flare up in her chest. Maybe this was their chance.

Chapter Text

It didn’t take long before Cowen approved Corric’s request for Mina to join the medical staff. Corric came to the house two days after their conversation with the news. When she heard that Cowen had approved the decision, she was relieved. Farm work had never been her plan for life, just one that had been handed down to her.

“You can come in tomorrow and I will give you an overview of how things work,” Corric told her before leaving her to celebrate.

When Kolya came home that night, Mina startled him by yelling the good news as he came through the door. She waited expectantly for his reaction, hoping it would give her some insight into what he thought of them working closer together.

After he got over the initial shock of her springing the news on him the instant he walked through the door, he gave her the first genuine smile she had seen from him. He further surprised her by grabbing her hands and gently squeezing them.

“That is wonderful news Mina,” he said, his smile lighting up his face.

Mina returned his smile and glanced down at their connected hands. Ever since she had initiated contact with the simple kiss on his cheek, he had seemed more willing to touch her. The quick change from the silent brooding man she had known since their wedding to the man before her now gave her hope. Maybe she had been right and there had always been something there hidden behind the invisible wall of chivalry.

As these thoughts bounced around her head, Mina felt the overwhelming urge to close the distance between them, if only to embrace him. She quickly dashed that thought, not wanting to push things between them. Progress was slow, but it was still progress. She pulled her hands away, careful to keep her happy expression visible so he wouldn’t take offense.

“I’m looking forward to working in a different environment. But for now, I have things to do, so go about your business.”

Mina made a shooing motion in an attempt to keep the mood light. It seemed to work, as her husband let out a deep chuckle as he moved away from her in the direction of his bedroom. She went to work preparing dinner, keeping her back to the room. She could hear him enter the room again and make his way to the living space, but what she noticed more was the sense that she was being watched.

She didn’t dare turn around, afraid that she would see him looking at her and not know what to do with that idea. Lately, she had been feeling more aware of her husband and his actions. She wouldn’t admit it out loud, but she could feel something growing inside her. Her sister would say she was falling for her husband. The thought made Mina laugh quietly to herself.

“What’s so funny?” a voice said behind her.

Mina jumped at the sound and spun around to find her husband standing behind her. She was brandishing her spoon at him in defense. The smirk that she had secretly come to love appeared on her husband’s face. He looked down at the spoon she was pointing at him.

“Are you going to attack me with that? I didn’t mean to startle you.”

Mina shook her head and lowered her spoon. She placed it on the counter beside her and turned her attention to the man before her.

“Sorry about that. Did you need something?”

Kolya reached around her and placed his hands on her upper arms, pulling her off to the side away from the stove. He released her and picked up the spoon that she had relinquished. Mina raised her eyebrows in confusion at his actions.

“Acastus what are you doing?”

“I am perfectly capable of making dinner, you don’t need to be the one that is always slaving away in here. I didn’t marry you to just have you be a homemaker.”

Mina was surprised at his statement. Other than the simple dinner he had made two nights ago, he had never offered to help before. She was secretly grateful, as she actually detested cooking. She stepped away to let him work, moving to set the table instead. As she worked, she kept her eyes fixed on him. She wondered where this behavior was coming from. Why was he suddenly being so nice to her?

Once the dinner was ready, they sat together at the table to eat, not saying much. Mina kept glancing over at Kolya throughout dinner, trying to get a sense of what had happened to make him act this way. One of the times she looked at him, she was alarmed to find him looking right back at her. She quickly averted her eyes and looked down at her plate.

“What’s bothering you? Is there something wrong with the food?” he asked with mild concern.

Mina shook her head and without looking at him, stood up from the table and gathered her dishes.

“It’s nothing. I was just surprised by your gesture is all.”

Mina could feel the warm atmosphere suddenly cool. She internally kicked herself for even saying anything. She placed her dishes in the sink and focused on the darkness outside the kitchen window. The silence in the room was deafening. Even though he hadn’t responded, Mina could sense that she had offended him. She had basically called him lazy by saying that him contributing was surprising. The sound of a chair being pushed back broke the silence and she heard him walk away from the table. She sighed and started washing her plate, keeping her head down.

She jumped when Kolya startled her for the second time that night. He was behind her again, standing very close to her. She didn’t turn around, afraid to look at him.

“Mina,” he said softly, lightly touching her arm to get her attention.

Mina turned around to find him closer than she had expected. Her eyes widened in surprise, but she kept her head down.

“Yes?”

She felt his hand under her chin as he encouraged her to look at him. Once she was, he released her.

“I’m sorry if I offended you in any way. I didn’t mean to. If cooking is something that you want to do, I will leave it to you. I simply wanted you to know that I don’t expect it. I don’t expect you to keep house for me. I am not the only one that works all day, and you deserve a break too.”

Mina’s eyes looked straight into his, and she could discern his honesty. He didn’t want her to be a simple housewife. That was why he had been so happy that she had been approved to join the medical team. He wanted more for her. She was touched by his concern for her happiness.

“I appreciate that you feel that way Acastus. I actually hate cooking,” she offered breaking the stillness between them with a small guilty smile.

He let out a genuine laugh, causing Mina’s smile to widen.

“Well I guess that settles it. I’ll be cooking from now on.”

Mina laughed along with him, glad that her worries about offending him had been unfounded. They were still standing rather close together and she could feel his body heat radiating off of him. All she would have to do is stand on her toes and she could meet his lips. Her eyes drifted to the area of his face in question. Koyla seemed to notice her attention and his own eyes raked over her face. Mina swore she could see him moving even closer to her and she reciprocated. They were so close, just a few inches between them.

That was as close as they got however. He suddenly pulled away from her and put some distance between them, clearing his throat. Mina tried to not let her disappointment show as she wiped her damp hands on her apron. The dishes could wait until the next day. She walked away from the scene of the almost kiss towards her bedroom.

“Goodnight Acastus,” she said over her shoulder before entering her room, closing the door behind her.

She sunk to the floor, her back against the door. Her heart was beating fast and her face felt flushed. He had nearly kissed her and had pulled away. What happened? Did he doubt her or was he simply caught up in the moment?

 

~~~~~~

The following morning, Mina emerged from her room to find her house empty. A small note was sitting on the table. Mina picked it up to read it.

Mina,

Hope you have a good first day.

Don’t let Corric overwork you.

Acastus

Mina smiled at the sweet note. She hadn’t expected it at all. After their awkward encounter last night, she expected he would be running for the hills, not leaving her notes wishing her luck on her first day. She clutched the note to her chest and felt her heart swell. She gathered her things and placed the note in her pocket before going out the door.

When she arrived in the infirmary, Corric was nowhere in sight. She glanced around and noticed a door that could very well be his office. She walked over to the door and raised her hand to knock, but stopped when she heard voices inside. The conversation sounded very heated. She recognized one of the voices as Corric’s and the other one belonged to a woman. Mina couldn’t decipher what they were saying, but figured it was a private conversation. She walked away from the door and sat on a chair on the other side of the room. Before long, the door opened and the woman that Corric had been talking to came out and quickly crossed the room before exiting. Mina got a glimpse of her face and could tell that she was upset. Her eyes were drawn back to the door by the sound of Corric’s voice.

“Mina. I didn’t know you were here.”

He seemed embarrassed that she had witnessed the argument that had happened. Mina decided to quell his fears and waved her hand dismissively.

“I haven’t been here long. But I am here and ready to get to work.”

Relief washed over Corric’s expression and he closed his office door before crossing the room to where she was.

“Why don’t I show you around then?”

 

.After Corric had given her the tour, he put her right to work. Three people had come into the infirmary with various injuries. One of them was Sora. Corric had sent Mina to deal with her while he tended to the other two. Mina tended to a few cuts on Sora’s arms and face. Sora told her that they were from training.

“What are you training for? It’s not like we get attacked on a regular basis.”

Sora looked at Mina suspiciously.

“He hasn’t told you has he?”

Mina suspected she was talking about her husband but played along as if she didn’t know who Sora was talking about.

“Who hasn’t told me what?”

“Your husband. Cowen assigned him to train a task force. Eventually we will be ready to strike back against those Atlanteans. Take back what belongs to us.”

Mina wasn’t sure what Sora was talking about. She knew that the relationship with the people of the ancient city was strained, but didn’t know why. Whatever the reason, Cowen felt that he needed to act against them. This explained what her husband had said about Sora hitting him during training.

“Well it seems you have some work to do. Your injuries are minor, but they could be much worse if you ended up on the wrong side of fight against a stronger fighter.”

Sora scoffed at her words and rolled her eyes.

“What do you know? Until recently, you were just a farmer.”

Mina’s lips formed a thin line as she finished bandaging up Sora’s cuts. It was better if she just kept her mouth shut. Sora was almost as prideful as Ladon sometimes, she always had been. After she was finished, she gestured to the door to signal that Sora was good to go. The young woman jumped off the table and walked confidently out of the room. Mina glanced over to the two men Corric was tending to. They seemed worse off than Sora, more cuts covering their chests and arms. It seemed that Sora had gotten off easy.

The rest of the day Corric spent teaching her procedure for the infirmary and introducing her to the limited staff. It was a lot of information that was given to her in a short time. She tried to memorize everything he told her. It wasn’t long before more people came in with various injuries and maladies. Corric hadn’t been kidding when he said he was understaffed. Mina was busy until he told her she could go home.

When she finally got home, she felt exhausted. She hadn’t expected to have to do so much on her first day. Farm work was hard labor but didn’t require a lot of mental power over the course of the day like this job required. She collapsed into a chair in her living room, not caring that it was her husband’s usual chair. She leaned on her hand, going over everything she had learned that day. As she sat there, she could feel her eyes start to drift shut. It wasn’t long before she fell asleep sitting in the chair, her face resting in the palm of her hand.

That was how Kolya found her when he returned home. He almost didn’t notice her when he came in. He glanced around the room when he didn’t see her and his eyes caught glimpse of a small figure in his chair. He crossed the room to find her sound asleep.

“I said not to let him overwork you,” he said softly.

He reached out and pushed a stray clump of hair behind Mina’s ear. As he looked down at her, he felt a rush of affection. She looked peaceful when she slept. He didn’t want to disturb her. At the same time, he had slept in that chair before. It was not comfortable and he woke up with a sore neck. He left her on the chair for a few minutes, disappearing into his bedroom to shed his uniform.

When he returned, Kolya bent down to her level, reaching underneath her legs with one arm and placing the other behind her back. He lifted her into the air, surprised by how light she was. Her head fell sideways into his chest as he carried her to her bedroom. He felt his heart swell at the contact and he smiled. Placing her gently on the bed, he moved to remove her boots from her feet. He pulled the blanket over her unconscious form and brushed the hair behind her ear again. He moved to leave the room but paused before leaving. Without much more thought, he bent down and placed a soft kiss on Mina’s forehead. Mina shifted at his touch and Kolya froze, afraid that he had woken her. When her eyes remained closed, he let out a sigh of relief. He stood up and left the room, quietly closing the door behind him.

Chapter Text

When Mina awoke the next morning, she was instantly confused. She slowly sat up in bed, trying to figure out how she had gotten there. Pushing the blankets aside, she noticed she was still wearing her clothes from the day before. Her boots sat on the floor near the foot of the bed. Sliding off the bed, Mina walked over to the door, opening it and peering into the main living space. Her husband sat at the table eating breakfast, and he looked up at the sound of her opening door.

“Good morning,” he called out from the kitchen.

Mina padded out into the room in her stocking feet, taking a seat across from him at the table. He looked amused, so she assumed her hair was a disaster. Self-consciously, she smoothed it down, running her hands through the tangles.

“The strangest thing happened. I swear I fell asleep in that chair last night,” she said pointing across the room at his chair in front of the fireplace.

Kolya nodded and returned to his breakfast.

“You did. I put you in your bed last night. You would have woken up with a sore neck if I had left you there. I’ve slept in that chair before and severely regretted it in the morning.”

Mina took in his words and tried to remember if she had noticed that she had been moved. She must have been sound asleep when he moved her.

“Well thank you Acastus. I didn’t mean to fall asleep out here but I was so exhausted when I got home.”

“I told you not to let Corric overwork you,” Kolya said with an almost scolding tone.

Mina smiled at the memory of his note, which was probably still crumpled up in her pocket.

“It wasn’t so much being overworked as having to learn a lot in a short time. I wasn’t expecting having to treat patients on my first day. Speaking of patients, I heard that you put some of them there, including a certain redhead with too much confidence in herself.”

Kolya paused his eating and looked up at his wife. He wasn’t sure, but her tone almost sounded like an accusation.

“I assume you are talking about Sora. Did she tell you how she got her injuries?”

Mina nodded in response, not saying anything. Kolya sighed and stood up from his chair, moving closer to where Mina was sitting.

“Cowen has assigned me to train a strike force consisting of our best fighters. He plans to use them to infiltrate the ancient city when they aren’t expecting it, and he wants me to lead the attack. We don’t know when the opportunity will present itself, so I’ve been training them as best that I can in a short period of time.”

Mina nodded again and she looked down at her hands. She knew that if this mission failed, whenever it happened, it would mean that she would most likely lose her husband. As that thought crossed her mind, she thought of him saying he was training the best fighters.

“Is my brother on your strike force?”

Kolya shook his head, not sure why Mina was asking that.

“No he’s not. He’s in the back up group of soldiers that will support us if needed. I only selected a few that have the skills needed to infiltrate the city.”

Mina’s mind again drifted to someone else that would likely be on that strike force.

“Sora, Mekhai, Ladon, Kai. Those are the type of people you are taking?”

“Well not Mekhai. He’s leading the support troops, but yes to the others.”

Mina was weighed down by his confirmation. She had a good chance of losing her husband, but not her brother. She was bothered by the fact that Kai would be going, as he was starting a relationship with Thali. This mission had the potential to cause a lot of pain. Leave it to Cowen to come up with a plan like this.

“Whenever this strike happens, I hope it goes well. We have a lot to lose if it doesn’t.”

Mina watched her husband’s face to see if he understood her hidden meaning about not wanting to lose him. If he did, he didn’t show it with his expression. Mina stood from her chair and placed her hand on his arm.

“Let me know before you leave on this mission.”

She didn’t give Kolya a chance to respond before turning and walking away to get ready for the day. Entering her room, she closed the door behind her and leaned against it. She absentmindedly fiddled with her wedding ring, the thought of losing her husband ever present in her mind. She hadn’t expected this reality when she started to fall for him. It hadn’t occurred to her that she may lose him.

 

Mina spent the rest of the day feeling like she was in a fog. She could hear Corric speaking to her, and she did as he asked, but she didn’t really feel present in her work. She was glad that Corric didn’t know her enough to know that something was wrong and ask what was going on. The pressure of the worry only increased as the day went on. Sora came into the infirmary again, this time with a nasty cut on her lip. As Mina stitched up her split lip, she thought about what her husband had said that morning. He was training them harder than he normally would, and it seemed that they continued to fail.

“Do you feel ready?” Mina asked Sora as she put the finishing touches on her wound.

Sora looked at her with a confident look on her face.

“Of course. We have been training every day for this. We will not fail.”

Mina wished she had the same confidence that Sora did. She walked away from the young woman and was surprised when the infirmary door opened to reveal Ladon. He looked equally surprised to see her but quickly switched his focus to Sora.

“It’s time. We need to get ready.”

Mina felt her heart stop at his words. The time had come, and much sooner than she thought. She watched Sora jump off the medical table and follow Ladon out of the infirmary. Mina wanted to follow them, tell them not to go, stop them from going to their deaths, but her feet were frozen in place. She only moved when Corric came up behind her and cleared his throat to get her attention.

“We need to go brief them on what medical supplies are important that they retrieve. I want to make sure we get all we can.”

Mina followed him through the door and down the hall, feeling like it was her that was walking to her death rather than the fated strike force. When they rounded the corner, she saw the group of soldiers preparing to go. Corric approached the group and began to tell them what he needed, providing each of them with a list. Mina watched silently, her eyes scanning the group. It consisted of the people that she had listed off that morning, plus eight others. Her husband was nowhere in sight. As soon as she thought that, she heard his voice behind her.

“Let’s move out. We need to go to Manaria first to gain access to the city. Our time is limited, as this storm will do a lot of damage to the city. We need to get in and get what we need before it hits.”

The entire group nodded in acceptance and moved together down the hall towards the exit to the surface, leaving Mina standing with her husband and Corric.

“We will get whatever supplies are available. I’m sure you will have more than you need doctor.”

“I don’t think there is such a thing as too many medical supplies Commander. I wish you luck and that you return safely.”

Kolya nodded and turned his attention to Mina. She took in all the details of his face, afraid that this would be the last time she would see it. He didn’t look worried at all, which concerned her even more. Sora and Ladon would be overconfident enough. They didn’t need another overconfident member on their team, especially their leader. Mina reached out and touched her husband’s arm, letting it drift down to his hand.

“Good luck Acastus.”

His mouth twisted into the smirk she loved as he gave her hand a reassuring squeeze. Without saying anything, he released her hand and followed his team down the hallway. Mina stood frozen in place, watching him walk away. As soon as he disappeared from her sight, she felt herself start to panic. The overwhelming urge to chase after them and stop them rose in her mind again. Before she could stop herself, she took off down the hall and followed the group to the surface. She caught up to them before they got very far and called out to her husband.

“Acastus!”

He paused and turned around at the sound of her voice. The rest of the group stopped in their tracks and looked back as well. Mina closed the distance between them until she was standing just under a foot away from her husband. Without much more of a pause, Mina launched herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck, pulling his face down to hers. She crushed her lips against his in desperation. She was delighted when she felt him reciprocate the kiss, wrapping his arms around her back, pulling her closer to him. After what felt like hours, Mina broke away from the kiss, burying her face in his shoulder.

“Please come back to me Acastus,” she whispered before releasing him.

He released her from the embrace, his hand reaching out to cup her cheek. His expression was so mixed, Mina wasn’t sure what emotion she was seeing.

“I will,” was the only thing he said before pulling away completely and continuing his trek to the gate.

Mina watched him walk away again, this time with a little more hope. She hoped that she had just given him something more to fight for, something to come back to. As she watched him pass the group and take the lead, her eyes grazed over Ladon’s face. His expression was a mixture of sadness, anger, and jealousy. Mina wasn’t shocked by his reaction, but she figured he would do more to hide it. Her attention was torn from his face by the feeling of someone touching her shoulder. She glanced to her side to see her brother standing beside her.

“They’ll come back. We just have to have faith.”

Mina reached up and placed her hand over his on her shoulder.

“I hope so.”

 

For the remainder of the night, Mina alternated between laying down starring at the ceiling and pacing the length of her living room. Thali and Caleb had come to sit with her until they heard something. Corric had given her a radio, telling her that he would call her if he needed her help when they returned. Mina knew she wasn’t the only anxious one in the room. Thali had been sitting in the chair nervously biting her nails. Caleb sat silently at the table sharpening his knife. He was waiting for orders to report to the gate to go with the support troops to assist Kolya’s strike force.

The sound of static coming from the radio caused all three of them to jump. Mina and Caleb both looked at the device, waiting to hear orders for one of them. Mekhai’s voice came from the device, calling for the reinforcement troops to gather at the gate. Caleb looked at his sisters, dread in his eyes. Mina shook her head vigerously.

“It only makes sense that they need backup. I don’t know how Cowen expected them to succeed with such a small group.”

Caleb said nothing, not wanting to extinguish Mina’s hope. He grabbed his knife off the table and walked over to the door. Mina and Thali followed him and stood on the porch as he walked away in the direction of the gate. Thali reached out and grabbed her sisters hand, holding on tightly.

“They can do this. They’ll come back to us,” Mina whispered, trying to reassure herself more than Thali.

It wasn’t long before the radio buzzed again, this time with Corric’s voice. He was calling Mina to the compound. Mina and Thali looked at each other with concern before they both took off out the door. They reached the entrance to the compound in record time, nearly running into Corric as they approached.

“What’s going on?” Mina asked, out of breath from running.

Corric’s expression was grim. He looked between the two sisters, his eyes lingering on Thali.

“It’s not good. The original strike force lost many of its members. Apparently Atlantis isn’t going down without a fight. Unfortunately, most of the support troops have been lost as well.”

“What? How?” Thali asked desperately.

“It seems that someone raised the Atlantis gate shield and stopped most of the troops from getting through. Sadly, most of the company was killed as soon as they entered the gate.”

Mina felt her grip on her sister’s hand slip as Thali fell to her knees, a sob escaping her mouth. Not only were things not going well for the original strike force, but now it was a possibility that Caleb had been killed. Corric crouched in front of Thali and placed his hand on her shoulder.

“Caleb was one of the first few through. I think he made it through before the shield was raised. I can’t be sure, but that’s what I saw.”

Mina felt numb. The world seemed to be going by around her but she was oblivious to it. Things were going just as bad as she had feared they would. The next time they heard a radio, it was Ladon’s voice coming through.

“We are retreating. The city is going to be lost any minute.”

Mina pulled Thali to her feet and the pair of them raced towards the glowing gate with Corric not far behind them. When they reached the gate, they were met with the sight of four men coming through in pairs carrying supplies between them. Thali let out a shout of joy when she saw Caleb, rushing forward and throwing her arms around his neck. Mina was relieved that Caleb had made it back, but her eyes focused on the blue glow of the gate. She watched expectantly, waiting for more to come through.

The small group in front of the gate ducked out of the way as bullets came flying through the gate. Following the gunfire, a person stumbled through the gate, sprawling out on the ground. Mina ran to the man’s side, helping him to his feet. It was Ladon. She felt the panic raising in her chest again as she looked at the gate again. She grabbed Ladon’s shoulders and shook him.

“Where is he Ladon? Where is my husband?”

Ladon looked over his shoulder at the gate, panting from his escape.

“He was right behind me!”

Mina’s question was answered when another figure fell through the gate onto the ground before the gate closed behind him. She abandoned Ladon and rushed to his side, gasping in relief when she saw her husband’s face. Her relief quickly evaporated when she felt stickiness on his shoulder and saw that he was unconscious.

“Corric!” she screamed, pressing her hand against the bleeding wound.

Corric ran to her side and cursed when he took in the sight before him.

“Help me get him to the infirmary!”

Mina watched helplessly as Mekhai dumped the supplies off one of the stretchers and helped Corric lift her unconscious husband onto it. She prayed fervently that he would survive.

“Please let one good thing come out of this disaster.”

Chapter Text

Mina followed Corric and Mekhai as they carried her unconscious husband to the infirmary. She had left Caleb to tell Thali about Kai’s death, not sure that she would be able to watch her sister’s world crumble while her own was on the edge itself. When the group reached the infirmary, Mekhai helped Corric move Kolya to a surgical table. Mina watched nervously from the doorway as Corric cut away her husband’s uniform. He looked up from his work and saw her standing in the doorway. He nodded his head in her direction while speaking to Mekhai.

“Get her out of here. She doesn’t need to watch this.”

Mekhai moved towards her and grabbed her arms, attempting to pull her out of the room. Mina struggled in his grasp, attempting to stay where she was. Unfortunately for her, Mekhai was strong and managed to pull her from the room. Once the door closed behind them, he released her struggling form. Mina tried to move past him to the door but her blocked her path.

“Let me through!” she yelled in his face.

He held her back and shook his head.

“You can’t be in there. Corric needs to focus and he can’t do that with you watching his every move. The Commander is in good hands. Let him work.”

Mina reluctantly stopped trying to get past him and let her head fall into Mekhai’s chest. He awkwardly patted her back in an attempt to soothe her as she let out desperate sobs. After a few minutes, she regained her composure and pulled away from him. She walked over to a chair and sunk into it, staring silently at nothing.

She sat in that chair for what to her felt like forever, too overwhelmed to do anything but stare blankly at the wall. Mekhai stood guard in front of the door in case she tried to enter again. He only stepped away when it opened from the other side. Corric walked through the door and gave Mekhai a reassuring nod. Mekhai let out a sigh of relief and gestured to Mina. Corric crossed the room to where she was sitting and crouched in front of her.

“Mina?” he asked, touching her hand gently to bring her out of her brooding state.

Mina’s eyes focused on him as she realized that he was speaking to her. She quickly stood up from her chair and looked frantically at the door. Corric stood from his crouched position and touched her arm to grab her attention.

“He will be fine. He has a lot of healing ahead of him, but he’s alive.”

Mina let out a relieved sob and flung her arms around Corric, nearly knocking him over. He was more receptive than Mekhai had been and gently returned her embrace. She released him and stepped back, a hopeful expression on her face.

“Can I see him?”

“He’s unconscious and will be for a while since I sedated him for the pain, but you can go sit with him.”

Mina turned and nearly ran into the recovery room, the door swinging wildly behind her. She slowed her pace when she saw her husband lying unconscious on a bed. She walked over to him and took  in the sight before her. He was connected to a few machines that were making various noises. His entire left shoulder was bandaged. Mina reached out and pushed his damp hair back from his face. She gently ran her hand down the side of his face before leaning down to place a soft kiss on his cheek.

Stepping away from the bed, she grabbed a chair from against the wall and placed it next to the bed and sat down. She grasped her husband’s hand in hers and held tightly, as if she was willing him to heal fast. It wasn’t long before she felt her eyes drooping in exhaustion. She leaned on the side of the bed and let her eyes drift shut, quickly falling into an exhausted slumber.

 

Ladon came into the infirmary the following morning with a pounding headache. Sheppard had done a real number on him when he knocked him out. Thinking it was more than just a headache, he wanted to get Corric’s opinion.

“Corric? Are you here?” he called out as he entered the room.

The man in question walked out of his office, waving at Ladon, signaling for him to be quiet. Ladon looked across the room and saw Mina sound asleep in a chair at Kolya’s bedside. He scowled at the sight, but quickly changed his expression as Corric approached him.

“What can I do for you?” he asked quietly.

Ladon gestured at his head while grimacing.

“I was knocked out during the siege and my head still hurts.”

Corric narrowed his eyes and seemed to be staring at Ladon’s eyes. He gestured for Ladon to follow him to the exam table. Ladon sat on the table as Corric pulled a light from his pocket. He shined it in Ladon’s eyes. Ladon shied away from the light, wincing in pain. Corric made a quiet humming noise.

“Are you nauseous at all?”

Ladon thought about the question and remembered that he hadn’t felt like breakfast when he woke up with the splitting headache. His stomach had felt like it was churning, still did a bit. He nodded in response, instantly regretting it when a sharp pain went through his head.

“Sounds like a concussion. Why don’t you go lay down on that bed over there and I will get you something for the pain. I want you to stay here where I can monitor you for at least today. I’ll let Cowen know what’s going on.”

Ladon did as he was told, sighing at the thought of Cowen. He couldn’t be happy with how the mission had gone last night. They had lost many soldiers, Sora was left behind, and Kolya had been shot. Apart from some medical supplies, they hadn’t gotten much out of the mission. He glanced across the room at his commander lying unconscious. It was his fault that the mission had gone south. They were only meant to retrieve what was rightfully theirs, not attempt to take the city.

Ladon’s gaze went from Kolya to the sleeping woman at his side. His eyes softened at the sight of her and he sighed. Even though she was sleeping, he could see the worry in her face. He felt a twinge in his heart that the worry was directed at Kolya rather than him.

“Here you are…” Corric said as he approached with the pain killers, stopping mid-sentence when he noticed Ladon staring at Mina.

Corric let out a sigh of pity. Ladon turned away from looking at Mina and focused on Corric. He shrugged as if to ask what Corric was sighing at.

“Are you ever going to let that go? She’s married Ladon. Even if she wasn’t, you know she doesn’t feel the same about you.”

Ladon scowled as he took the meds from Corric.

“How would you know? She could.”

Corric shook his head and took the bottle of pain killers from Ladon, handing him some water.

“You are in denial. If you wanted her, you should have done something seven years ago when you had the chance.”

Ladon scoffed at Corric’s opinion.

“Denial? That’s rich coming from you. Have you told my sister that you’re in love with her?”

Corric narrowed his eyes and shook his head again.

“That’s different. Things between me and your sister are complicated.”

“Just like this situation,” Ladon countered.

Corric walked away from him towards the supply cabinet to return the bottle to the medicine supply.

“No Ladon. My situation involves two people that have too many responsibilities to have a healthy relationship. You’re in love with a married woman that has never showed any interest in you.”

Ladon had to admit that Corric had a point. Mina had never reciprocated his feelings. He had been in love with her since he met her, and all she had shown him was a range of feelings from contempt to polite friendliness. He didn’t respond to Corric, not wanting him to know that he was right. He laid down on the bed, facing away from the couple across the room, not wanting to see the woman he loved sit at another man’s bedside.

Chapter Text

Mina awoke from her post at her husband’s bedside not long after Ladon had settled in. She rose her head from the bed and groaned as her necked creaked in pain from sleeping at the awkward angle. She turned her head and looked at her still unconscious husband. Unconscious, but alive she told herself. Mina gave his hand a gentle squeeze before standing up from her chair. She looked around the infirmary and noticed Ladon laying on the bed across the room. He seemed to be awake.

“Ladon? Are you alright?”

He rolled over on the bed to face her direction. He gave her a pained smile.

“Doc says I have a concussion. I was knocked out during the mission by the wonderful Major Sheppard. My head is pounding like a hammer, but I’ll be alright with some rest.”

Mina shook her head in disapproval. This mission had been a disaster, just as she had feared. Her husband was shot, Ladon had a concussion, and many men were dead. No one had said what happened to Sora, but Mina hoped the young woman was still alive and not dead.

“I’m glad you aren’t seriously hurt. I can’t say the same for my husband,” she said, gesturing behind her at Kolya’s unconscious form.

Ladon looked around her at the man in question. Mina could see a look of resentment in his face. She wondered if that was the same resentment she had seen before they left or if something that had happened on the mission. She felt so in the dark about the events of the previous night that had caused so much harm.

“Ladon, what happened? What made things go so badly?”

Ladon’s eyes didn’t leave Kolya’s form as he began to tell her what had transpired.

“We were only meant to retrieve what was owed us and then leave. It seemed the Commander had grander plans for us. He decided to try and take the entire city in the name of the Genii.”

Mina groaned and buried her face in her hands. The overconfidence that she had worried about had reared its ugly head.

“What about Sora? She didn’t come back with you.”

Ladon shrugged in response.

“I don’t know. She went off on her own on some personal revenge quest. Kolya tried to call her back, but she ignored him. We had no choice but to leave the city, which meant leaving her behind. I’m guessing that she is still alive. I don’t imagine Teyla Emmagen would kill her unless she had too. I’m sure they have her locked up somewhere in the city if it survived the storm.”

Mina was confused by Ladon’s story. She knew that Sora had a falling out with Teyla. She didn’t know the details, but she couldn’t imagine what would drive Sora to kill a woman she had known for most of her life. Especially Teyla, since Mina had never met someone as kind as her.

“Well, I hope that she’s alive. We’ve lost enough good soldiers.”

Their conversation was brought to a halt when Corric entered the room. He walked over to Mina and nodded towards the doorway.

“Why don’t you go home Mina? There isn’t anything you can do here. I’ll radio for you when he wakes up, but it won’t be for a while now. I’ll need your help with sorting the supplies they managed to bring back, so I’ll need you focused and well rested. I don’t imagine sleeping in that chair all night was very comfortable.”

Mina rubbed her sore neck. Corric was right, she needed some actual rest. She also had a sister to comfort. Mina wasn’t sure if she was quite ready to face Thali. After what Ladon told her, it seemed that her husband had led them all into a death trap. It didn’t seem right that she would get her husband back but her sister wouldn’t be getting her boyfriend back.

Mina gave Ladon and Corric a small wave before walking out of the infirmary. She made her way to the surface and walked in the direction of her old home. When she reached the door, she hesitantly raised her hand to knock. The door swung open to reveal Caleb, who didn’t look like he got much sleep either.

“How is she?” Mina asked, concern for her sister covering her face.

Caleb sighed and gestured for Mina to enter the house before closing the door behind her. He rubbed his eyes tiredly as he led her to Thali’s bedroom door. Mina couldn’t hear anything, so she assumed her sister was sleeping. Caleb pushed the door open and called out to their younger sister.

“Thali? Mina’s here to see you.”

Mina entered the bedroom and walked over to sit at her sister’s side. Thali didn’t move, but Mina could see that her eyes were open which meant that she was awake.

“How are you doing? I can’t imagine this is easy for you.”

Thali sniffed and wiped some residual moisture from her face. She wouldn’t look at Mina, but Mina could tell that she had been crying for quite a while. Her whole face was as red as her hair. Mina wasn’t sure what to do. She had comforted her sister many times when she was a child, but now she had no clue what to do.

“Can I do anything for you?” she asked, hoping to get some kind of response.

The one she got was not what she wanted. Thali turned to her and gave her an angry look.

“You can leave me alone,” she said in an empty sounding voice before turning back away and closing her eyes.

Mina felt her heart constrict at the rejection from Thali. It seemed like she didn’t want anything from her. She slowly stood up from the bed and walked out of the room, closing the door behind her. She could feel her eyes watering up and her heart felt heavy. Caleb looked up when she exited the room and he was startled by Mina’s expression.

“What happened?”

Mina shook her head and wiped at her eyes.

“She doesn’t want to speak to me. She told me to leave her alone.”

Caleb’s concerned expression changed to one of confusion.

“What? Why? You are her favorite person in the universe. Why would she want you to leave?”

Mina bit her lip and fidgeted with her hands before looking up to meet her brother’s eyes.

“Because I still have a husband, but she lost Kai. And it’s my husband’s fault he’s dead.”

Without saying another word, Mina hurriedly walked out the front door and took off down the path in the direction of her other home. She kept her head down so people that passed her couldn’t see the tears running down her face. When she reached her home she went straight to her bedroom and laid down on her bed. She let her tears flow freely until she fell into another restless slumber.

 

Mina was later startled awake by the sound of her radio buzzing. Corric’s voice followed once the buzzing sound ended.

“Mina? Are you there?”

Mina quickly sat up in bed and grabbed it off her bedside table. She frantically searched for the button and pressed it down.

“Yes! I’m here!” she practically shouted into the radio.

“He’s awake. He’s not in the best mood but he’s awake. If you want to come see him, you can.”

“I’ll be there as soon as I can.”

Mina swung her feet off the side of the bed and stood up. She quickly got herself back into some sense of order and left her house, nearly running to the entrance to the underground compound. She pushed past people in the hallways and quickly reached the doors to the infirmary. She came to a screeching halt when she heard yelling within. Pushing the door open a crack, she peered into the room.

Cowen was standing in the middle of the room between Ladon and Acastus’s beds. He was pointing an accusing finger at her husband, his voice booming in the enclosed space.

“Your mistakes have cost us so many men and resources. You did not follow the orders you were given. Not only that, but you didn’t even get what I sent you there for besides the medical supplies. You also left Sora behind to be a prisoner.”

Mina gazed over at her husband. He seemed to be taking the verbal beating without complaint. He looked disappointed, but she wasn’t sure if that was because he knew that he made mistakes or if he was simply disappointed that he had failed in his mission. Ladon on the other hand looked like a child that had been scolded. His face was downtrodden and he wouldn’t look at either Cowen or Kolya.

Cowen continued his tirade for several minutes before informing Kolya that after he was healed, he would face the consequences of his actions. After he was done, he turned and stormed from the room, nearly running Mina over in his hurry to leave. He didn’t even give her a second glance before storming down the hallway. She watched him go before turning to enter the room. Three sets of eyes turned to her when she entered the room with various emotions behind them.

Corric showed pity. Ladon showed embarrassment. The worst was her husband’s. She could only see the disappointment and anger. She knew that was directed at her but she had hoped to see another emotion when he awoke from his sedated state. Corric crossed the room to speak with her, pulling her back through the door into the waiting room.

“I’m sorry you had to see that. Cowen showed up not long after I called you. I didn’t have time to contact you again and tell you not to come. If your husband was in a bad mood before, I don’t imagine it was made any better by what just happened. If you want to go see him, you still can, but I wouldn’t recommend it.”

Mina’s face fell in disappointment. This was not the reunion she wanted to have with her husband. Any progress that had been made before he went on his mission had come to a grinding halt the moment that mission failed and he was berated for it. She nodded in acceptance before turning to leave the infirmary for the second time that day. Before going through the door, she turned to Corric again.

“At least tell him that I was waiting for him. Tell him that I wanted to see him.”

Corric nodded and Mina walked through the door, letting it swing close behind her. As she walked down the hallway, she could feel the joy she had felt earlier slip away and more heartache pile on top of the load placed inside her by her sister’s earlier rejection.

 

 

Mina waited until the following day before returning to the bunker. She didn’t want to make it look like she was avoiding seeing her husband. Besides that, she knew Corric needed her help. When she reached the infirmary, Mina skipped walking through the recovery area and walked right to the supply room. To her relief, Corric was in the room already working. He looked up as she entered the room.

“Hello Mina. Are you here to see the Commander?”

Mina shook her head and pointed to the pile of supplies that he was cataloguing.

“I’m here to help you with this. You said you needed my help.”

Corric looked unsure but picked up a clipboard and handed it to her. He instructed her on how to catalog everything before saying that he unfortunately had other duties to attend to.

“I’m glad you are here. I’m afraid I don’t actually have the time to do this. If you need any help, just come find me.”

Mina waved him away, indicating he was free to go back to whatever he needed to be doing. He left her to work. She worked on logging everything that had been brought back for many hours. The busy work was good for her, as it kept her mind off of her various problems. Her husband didn’t seem to want to see her and her sister wanted nothing to do with her. She worked constantly throughout the day, only stopping to take short breaks. When she had successfully logged everything, she went to work putting it all away. Corric came into the storage room to find her nearly done with the work.

“Have you been in here all day?” he asked.

Mina nodded as she put the last few things on the correct shelves. She picked up the list that she had made and handed it to Corric.

“Everything is catalogued and put away. I hope it’s to your standards.”

Corric looked over the list and gazed around the very organized room. He looked impressed.

“Good work Mina. I wish I had hired you sooner. This supply room has always been very unorganized.”

Mina smiled at his praise. She had always been very organized. It drove her siblings crazy. She glanced up at the clock on the wall and was shocked at how late it was.

“Wow. I can’t believe it’s so late. I should probably be getting home.”

Corric gestured behind him in the direction of the recovery wing.

“Aren’t you going to see you husband?”

Mina’s smile faded as she thought about the rejection she had felt yesterday when she entered the room to see him.

“Does he want to see me?”

Corric shrugged.

“I don’t know. He’s been very quiet all day. Once Ladon left, he spent most of the day sleeping. He was talking in his sleep. Most of it was nonsense but I was able to pick out two things.”

Mina raised her eyebrows quizzically. She didn’t know Acastus talked in his sleep.

“What did he say?”

“He kept muttering about Major Sheppard. According to Ladon, he’s the one that caused so many problems on the mission. The only other thing I could decipher from his mutterings was your name.”

Mina’s eyes widened in surprise.

“My name?”

She felt her heart swell warmly at the sound of that. The warmth seemed to crush the nearly overwhelming heartache she had been feeling. She turned away from Corric and left the room, making her way into the recovery wing. As she entered, she looked over at her husband’s bed. He looked to be awake, but he was simply staring up at the ceiling. She slowly approached his bed as to avoid startling him.

“Acastus?” she called out softly.

He turned his head to look at her and she could swear she saw something light up in his eyes, but it was quickly covered up by his gloomy expression. He looked away as suddenly as he had looked at her without saying anything. Mina moved to sit in the chair that she had fallen asleep in the first night.

“How are you? Are you in much pain?”

Kolya’s face scrunched up in a way that she guessed was meant to be a version of shrugging without actually moving his shoulders.

“Nothing I haven’t experienced before. Not the first time I’ve been shot. It will heal.”

Mina started to reach out to touch his arm, but thought better of it and pulled her hand back.

“Well, I hope you heal quickly. The house seems empty without you there.”

She hoped that she had conveyed that she missed having him around without directly saying it. Now didn’t seem like the best time for grand gestures and expressions of feelings. When he didn’t respond, Mina sighed. She stood up from the chair again and stepped around to the end of the bed where she would be seen.

“I just wanted to come by and see you before I went home. I hope you aren’t in too much pain. Goodnight Acastus.”

Her stomach in knots, Mina turned away from her husband and walked away from the bed. Her feet felt heavy with every step she took towards the door. She desperately wanted to hear him tell her not to go. When she reached the door and he hadn’t said anything, the crushing sensation that had been lifted earlier returned. Mina walked through the door with her head hanging down. She slowly trudged home in the dark, collapsing on her bed when she reached it. She felt too numb to cry and didn’t feel like sleeping either. She simply stared at her ceiling like her husband had been doing, letting the numbness spread over her entire body.

Chapter Text

Another week passed before Corric was comfortable with letting Kolya return home. When Mina was finally able to get him home, part of her wished that she could send him back. In her few visits to his bedside, he had barely spoken to her. One of the times, he was angrily lashing out at everyone around him, so Corric had turned her away before she could see him. Now that he was standing here in their home, she was unsure of what she was supposed to do. He hadn’t spoken the entire walk home and he still remained silent as he walked over to his chair and eased down into it. Mina watched him wince in pain as he adjusted his arm that hung in a sling.

“Can I get you anything Acastus?” she asked hesitantly, keeping her distance.

He gestured with his good arm in the direction of his liquor bottle, indicating that he wanted a drink. Mina shook her head in disapproval.

“Corric said you weren’t supposed to have an alcohol for a while. He said it will slow down the healing process.”

Kolya scoffed at her answer and went back to ignoring her presence. Mina sighed and walked towards her bedroom. She stopped and scooped up the bottle he had asked for and carried it into her room, deciding to remove the temptation by hiding it out of sight. She placed the bottle in the bottom drawer of her dresser under some of her lesser used clothing, including her wedding dress. Before closing the drawer, she ran her fingers gently over the dress. When she had stood up and married her husband, she hadn’t foreseen this outcome. She didn’t expect to be caring for an angry man with a gunshot wound that wanted to drink away his pain. She closed the drawer and walked back out into the main room.

“Are you hungry at all?”

Her question hung in the air as he refused to answer her. Mina sighed again and made her way to the kitchen to make some dinner. He had to eat eventually, so she may as well have something ready for him when that time came. She sat alone at the table eating her dinner, watching his sit silently on the other side of the room.  If this was going to be a regular thing from now on, Mina would surely lose her mind. She had gotten used to his companionship and now it had been stolen from her before she had a chance to appreciate it. Once she was finished with her dinner, she placed his in the cooler box and walked in his direction.

“If you decide you are hungry, your dinner is in the cooler.”

The only response she got was him shifting in his chair. She ignored his flippant attitude and acted as if nothing was wrong, gently patting his knee sympathetically.

“I know you’re disappointed Acastus, and I know you are in a lot of pain. Things will get better again; I know they will. You are too valuable to Cowen for him to cast you off completely.”

This time she was granted a response, but not the one she wanted. Kolya stood up from his chair quicker than she expected, knocking her over to the floor. He looked down at her with a furious expression covering his face.

“There is no way you could know that. Things are not that easily fixed. You can’t always have your brother step in and fix it for you by marrying you off. Although it seems that plan has failed as well since I no longer seem to be in good standing, so you are stuck right back where you were.”

Without another word, he stomped off to his bedroom and slammed the door behind him. Mina sat on the floor, frozen in shock. In the months that they had been married, he had never shown her anger. Now it had come out in full force, and it slightly terrified her. She stood up slowly from the floor and walked into her own bedroom. Sitting down on her bed, she tried to keep her mind from going to places she didn’t want it to. He was just frustrated from his current situation, that’s all. Things will get better.

 

Over the course of the next few weeks, things did not get better. Every time her husband would try to do something that would require the use of both his arms, he would get irrationally angry. Mina watched him break things and knock things over. She was immensely grateful that he was taking his anger out on objects and not her. Still, she flinched every time she heard the yelling and crashing that indicated another object in their home was a victim of her husband’s rage.

Every night when she returned from her work in the infirmary, Mina found him sitting silently in his chair staring into the fire. The only consolation she felt was that he would still eat dinner. He remained silent, but at least he was eating. He would finish his dinner and then disappear into his bedroom. Mina would watch him walk away and then proceed to clean up any messes that had been made during the day by his anger.

Things wouldn’t be so bad if she had someone to talk to. Thali still wasn’t speaking to her and Caleb was busy all the time. Since they had lost so many of their soldiers in her husband’s failed mission, Cowen had enforced more military training. This meant that Caleb had virtually no free time. It also meant that there were more injuries coming into the infirmary. By the time she returned home, Mina was exhausted. Still, she pushed through her nightly routine of cleaning up the carnage of her husband’s rage.

One day she was on her way home when she ran into a group of people returning from the fields. Among the group was her sister. She kept step with the group and called out to her sister.

“Thali! May I speak with you for a minute?”

Thali stopped walking and crossed her arms over her chest, pinning her sister with an annoyed stare.

“What do you want Mina?”

Thali’s attitude towards her pushed a final button inside her and Mina could no longer hold in the emotional baggage she had been burying.

“I want to talk to my little sister! Is that so much to ask?”

Thali seemed taken aback by her sister’s outburst. However, she maintained her cold front.

“What do you want to talk about?”

“I miss you Thali. I miss having someone to talk to. I miss my best friend. I don’t know what you hope to accomplish by giving me the cold shoulder for weeks on end.”

Thali’s annoyed expression quickly changed to match her sister’s fiery anger.

“Do you know what it feels like to have someone you deeply care about ripped away from you? Someone that didn’t have to die?”

Mina was shocked that Thali would ask her that question.

“Of course I do! I watched both of our parents die! You were too young to remember, but Caleb and I had to stand and watch while they executed our father by firing squad! I was 16 and I watched him die right in front of me!”

Thali’s angry expression softened and transformed into one of regret.

“Mina…I didn’t…”

“Do you want me to feel as miserable as you do? Well you got your wish! You lost Kai, and that is truly horrible. I lost something too. My husband barely looks at me and he only speaks when he is lashing out in anger. I finally was getting the chance to have something good in my life and it once again has been taken from me.”

Mina could feel the angry tears rolling down her face, but now that she had started, she couldn’t stop.

“Had he been taken from me like you lost Kai, maybe I could recover. This is almost worse. He’s right in front of me and I can’t do anything to help him. You have the chance to move past your loss. You will always remember Kai and it will always hurt that he was taken from you, but you are young and have the chance to move on. I have a duty to my husband and I am failing!”

Thali closed the distance between them and pulled her sobbing sister against her in a tight embrace. She made soothing sounds as Mina sobbed into her shoulder.

“I’m sorry Mina. It wasn’t right for me to be angry at you. You didn’t do anything. I needed someone to lash out at, and you were a convenient target.”

The two sisters stood there for several minutes, holding onto each other. When Mina’s sobs started to ease up, she stepped back, breaking the embrace. Thali wiped some of the tears from her sister’s face.

“You don’t always need to be so strong Mina. I wish you would have told me this sooner. Maybe I wouldn’t have been such a jerk to you for so long. You should have told me to get my act together. I’m no longer a child.”

Mina nodded at her sister’s words and was relieved that the anger between them had been dispelled so quickly. She embraced Thali again before motioning in the direction of her home.

“I should be getting home.”

Thali’s expression turned to one of concern and she looked her sister’s face over. She grabbed Mina’s arms and gave them a thorough look-over.

“He isn’t hurting you is he?”

Mina shook her head.

“No he’s not. At least not physically. Can’t say the same for my spirit. For once in my life, I feel like giving up. Every day I feel a little more of my strength seep away.”

Thali gave her the look of pity that Mina had come to be accustomed to. She linked arms with her sister as they began the trek back to her home. Thali released her when they reached her front steps, but grabbed her hand again to get her attention.

“Give him time Mina. Caleb has been telling me over and over that he’s sure no one regrets what happened more than Kolya. I’m sure the names of all those we lost are floating around in his head. It is probably eating him alive and he doesn’t know how to deal with it. Time will tell, if you give it the chance to.”

Mina smiled at her sister’s words. Even at 17, she was wise beyond her years. She waved at Thali as the younger woman walked away and turned to enter her house. She was surprised to find it dark. She turned on the lamp near the door and looked around the room. It was a complete disaster. She followed the trail of carnage to her bedroom door, which was wide open. Mina turned on the light for her room and was surprised by what she found.

Her entire dresser looked like it had exploded. In front of it sat her husband, the bottle of liquor that she had hidden empty in his hands. He appeared to be unconscious. Mina clambered over her belongings to his side, pressing her fingers to his neck, searching for a pulse. She let out a sigh of relief when she felt the thrumming beneath her fingers.

Mina reached out and removed the empty bottle from her husband’s hands, placing it on top of her dresser. Situating herself against the dresser, she gently eased her unconscious husband down so his head was resting on her lap. Taking extra care to protect his injured shoulder, she pulled one of her spare blankets out of the mountain of things on the floor and draped it over him. Exhausted from her busy day and her outburst with Thali, Mina quickly fell asleep leaning against her dresser, softly running her hands over her husband’s hair.

Chapter Text

Mina was awoken by someone softly calling her name and tapping her shoulder. She slowly opened her eyes and blinked from the sunlight coming through her window. She focused on the face in front of her to see her brother. He looked concerned.

“Mina, what happened?” he asked, gesturing to the piles of clothing covering her bedroom floor.

Mina moved her head around in an effort to ease the stiffness. She looked down to see that her husband was still unconscious on her lap. She gently moved his head to rest on one of the piles of clothing and reached out her hand for Caleb to grab. He took a hold of it and pulled Mina to her feet. Mina reached out and grabbed the bottle that sat on top of her dresser and showed it to her brother.

“It seems my husband was determined to drown his sorrows. I hid this from him when he first came home. I guess he found it.”

Mina bent down and placed her arms underneath her husbands in an attempt to get him upright.

“Help me get him on the bed.”

Caleb moved to help her and together they were able to move Kolya from the floor to Mina’s bed. He looked around the room, shaking his head at the mess. Mina began to pick up her clothing, sorting it into various piles on top of her dresser.

“Not that I’m not grateful, but why are you here?”

Caleb glanced down at the sleeping man on the bed and gestured to the living space. Mina followed him out of her bedroom, closing the door behind her.

“You didn’t show up in the infirmary, which concerned Corric. He sent me to find you.”

Mina swore under her breath, looking at her kitchen clock and noticing the time.

“I didn’t know it was so late.”

She walked over to the table by the front door and grabbed her radio. She pushed in the frequency for the infirmary and waited for Corric to respond.

“Corric Indo here,” his voice came from the radio in her hand.

“Corric this is Mina. I’m so sorry that I’m not there. I will be there as soon as I can.”

A moment of silence caused Mina to panic slightly. Had she lost her position because she had overslept? Corric’s voice coming through the radio again brought a gasp of relief from her chest.

“Come in when you are ready. I’m glad you are alright. I’ll see you soon.”

Mina placed her radio back on the table and headed back for her bedroom.

“Thank you for coming to get me Caleb. I’m going to get ready and do a bit of cleaning up before I leave.”

“Do you want me to help?” Caleb asked as he looked around the house, noticing the entire mess outside of her bedroom.

Mina shook her head, picking up random items as she walked.

“You have other things to do. I’ll see you later.”

Caleb started towards the door but stopped when Mina spoke again.

“Please don’t tell Thali about this. She has faith that he can change and make me happy. I don’t want to dash the only hope that she has right now.”

Caleb didn’t respond but gave his sister a grim look before exiting her home. Mina made her way to her room to try and find something to wear out of the piles she had started. Careful not to wake her husband, she quickly got dressed. She picked up the remaining clothes on the floor, adding them to the piles. As she moved around her room, she was surprised that she hadn’t come across her wedding dress yet. This confused her, as it was one of the things that had been on top of the liquor bottle.

As she glanced around her now much cleaner bedroom, she noticed a bit of white sticking out from underneath the end of her bed. She bent down and pulled the article in question, holding it up for inspection. It seemed that her dress was the only thing that hadn’t been tossed haphazardly in her husband’s search for the bottle of liquor. Mina carefully folded the dress and placed it back in the drawer. She wondered why he had spared the dress but nothing else in their home.

Choosing to not think on it any further right now, she walked back out of her room and began picking more things up in the living room. After she was satisfied with what she could do in a short time, she left her home to go to the infirmary. When she arrived, she was glad to find it empty. The entire time she had been worried that Corric was swamped with patients and that she had abandoned him to deal with them without her. Corric must have heard her enter the room, as he peered out of his office when she entered.

“Ah Mina, good you’re here.”

Mina felt embarrassed that she was late. It was a first for her. She was never late for anything.

“I’m terribly sorry Corric. I had some trouble last night with my husband and was dealing with the aftermath this morning.”

Corric looked concerned and similar to what Thali had done the day before, he scanned her for visible injuries. Mina sighed and crossed her arms over her chest defensively.

“No he didn’t hurt me. He hasn’t hurt me at all. I wish everyone would stop jumping to that conclusion.”

Corric’s expression changed to one of pity.

“It’s a valid concern Mina. Your husband is going through a lot and the anger I saw from him while he was here was concerning. I don’t think he would intentionally hurt you, but something could still happen.”

Mina knew Corric was right. The first time that her husband had lashed out in anger, she had been terrified that he would turn his anger on her. So far he hadn’t, but it could still happen. She wanted to think that it wouldn’t. She hoped that whatever had been sparked between them before the horrible mission that had started all this would keep him from lashing out at her.

 

Thali Delaine liked to think that she was a rational person. That ideal disappeared the moment someone she cared about was being hurt. Despite what he had been asked, Caleb told her what had happened. During her break, Thali stormed across the village in the direction of the Kolya home, determined to give her sister’s husband a piece of her mind. When she arrived at the house, she surged forward, pounding on the door. The door opened to reveal a very irritated and tired looking Commander Kolya.

“Thali? What do you want?”

Thali barged past the man and look around the space. Even though it had been mostly cleaned up, she could tell that the house had been trashed. Some of the furniture was still askew and things were missing that could have been broken. She whirled around to face Kolya, her anger boiling to the surface.

“Have you no shame? Why did you feel the need to trash the house? My sister has done nothing but take care of you since you returned and this is how you repay her?”

Kolya seemed surprised at the anger exploding out of the young woman in front of him.

“I never thought highly of this marriage arrangement, but she was determined to make it work. At some point, she even seemed like she could be happy. But all of that disappeared the moment you stepped through the gate.”

Thali was nearly seething, more so at the fact that he wasn’t responding in any way to her yelling.

“Do you have nothing to say? Apparently lately all you do is yell and destroy things. I won’t let you destroy my sister. You don’t deserve her, you never have.”

Thali didn’t give Kolya a chance to respond before she stormed back out through the door and back in the direction she had come from. Kolya stood in his doorway watching her walk off, stunned by her words.

 

Mina walked slowly down the path towards her home. She had stayed late to help Corric in an effort to make up for her being so late. In reality, she dreaded going home. She was afraid to see what state her husband would be in after waking from his alcohol induced slumber. When she had told Corric what happened, he told her that even though it wasn’t good for the healing process, Kolya would be fine once her sobered up.

Mina walked up her steps and walked into the house. It was dark apart from the small amount of light that seeped out from under her husband’s bedroom door. Wanting to avoid the situation all together, Mina walked straight to her room and closed the door. Turning on the lamp in her room, she was taken aback by the sight before her. The piles of clothing that she had left on top of her dresser were gone. She opened the drawers to find all of her clothing neatly put away. She wasn’t sure what to make of this development. She decided to leave it alone for now and changed into her sleeping clothes, collapsing on her bed.

Staring up at the ceiling in the dark, Mina could swear she heard music coming from the other room. It sounded like the song that she had danced to with her husband that played from his mother’s music box. She sat up in bed and listened more carefully. Now she was certain that she was hearing correctly. Swinging her legs over the side of her bed, she padded to her door and opened it slowly, trying to avoid making a sound. Stepping softly, Mina moved to stand outside the other bedroom door. The sound of the music floated out from under the door, bringing the memory of her dance to her mind.

Even though they hadn’t been the best of times, they were still better than what was happening now. At least then, her husband showed more than just anger. When the song came to an end, Mina realized that tears had begun to stream down her face. Sniffing, she wiped them from her cheeks and returned to her room. Lying down on her bed, she thought back to all the positive memories she had experienced in the past few months. She hoped that they wouldn’t be the only ones she would have.

Chapter Text

A week passed before Mina even saw her husband again. He had been spending most of his time in his room or gone from their home. When she did see him again, she was given the silent treatment. There was no discussion about what had happened the night he ransacked their home or the fact that he had cleaned things up afterwards. Mina decided that if he was going to continue to give her the silent treatment, she would give it right back. She spent more time at the infirmary, trying to stay far away from home as long as she could. The silence was driving her crazy. It almost made her miss the yelling.

One day while she was working in the infirmary, her husband came in to see Corric. Mina glanced up from the records work she was doing at her desk for only a second to register who had walked through the door. She briefly met eyes with Kolya before looking back down to her work. Luckily for her, Corric noticed him enter as well and called him over. Mina kept her head down, but watched him walk across the room with slightly lifted eyes. Corric examined Kolya’s shoulder and seemed satisfied with the healing that had taken place.

“Well Commander, it’s time for you to be out of your sling. You aren’t done healing though so I will have to say you cannot return to duty quite yet. I do recommend that you get some exercise to prevent any stiffness.”

Kolya nodded in acceptance and moved his left arm around to loosen it up. Mina saw him wince slightly but he seemed glad to be out of the sling. She hoped that would improve his attitude a bit. She looked back down to her work and tried to concentrate. Her attention was grabbed again when Corric called her name.

“Mina could you come here please?”

Mina stood from her desk and walked over to him, keeping her eyes averted from her husband. Corric handed her some kind of salve and a gauze patch. He gestured to the man she was avoiding.

“I’m afraid that I have somewhere to be. I need you to help your husband by applying this to his healing wound and bandaging it up. It will help with the scarring.”

Mina said nothing but moved to follow Corric’s orders as he left the room. With Corric gone, the room was still with silence. Mina applied the salve to her husband’s scarring shoulder and placed the bandage over it. After doing this on both the front and back, she began to walk away but was stopped by him grabbing her wrist. Mina’s eyes widened in surprise and she finally looked at his face.

“Commander? Is something wrong?”

Kolya looked torn between embarrassment and hurt. He didn’t release her wrist, but looked away from her.

“I’m sorry Mina.”

Mina wasn’t sure what he was apologizing for. His behavior for the past two months? His destruction of their home in search of the alcohol? She attempted to pull her wrist away and was surprised when he let go. She wasn’t sure what she was supposed to say.

“You are free to go Commander.”

She walked away from him to wash her hands. She wanted him out of here so she could think straight. He didn’t say anything else to her. He pulled his shirt back on and walked out of the infirmary. Mina glanced over her shoulder to see him go through the door. She internally scolded herself for what had just happened. He had apologized for something, saying the only pleasant thing to her in months, and she had brushed him off.

When Corric returned to the infirmary, Mina ignored his presence. She knew that he had left her to deal with her husband on purpose. Even though he never said anything directly, she knew he wanted things to get better for her. A number of times, the woman she had seen before had come into the infirmary and left upset after talking to Corric. Mina imagined that he was having his own relationship problems, and instead of fixing his own, he was trying to fix hers.

Instead of going home when she was done for the day, Mina headed for her old home. She didn’t want to return to awkward silence so soon after the botched apology earlier today. Thali was glad to see her when she arrived and invited her in. They sat together in the living room, sipping on some tea. Mina disclosed what had happened that day and the week of silence before to her sister. Thali listened intently and then an expression of guilt spread across her face.

“That might be because of me.”

Mina was confused by what her sister said.

“You? What do you have to do with it?”

Thali bit her lip nervously and looked away from Mina.

“I may have yelled at him…”

Mina nearly choked on her tea and coughed to clear her throat.

“You what?!”

Thali shrunk away at the loudness of Mina’s question.

“The day after he destroyed your house, I went over there and yelled at him. I said he didn’t deserve you. I thought it would help him get his head out of whatever hole it has been lodged in for the past few months.”

Mina groaned and leaned forward, burying her head in her hands.

“That is the opposite of helpful Thali.”

Thali looked down at her hands in shame and fiddled with the material of her skirt.

“I know. I’m sorry Mina. When Caleb told me what happened, I just got so angry. I want you to be happy.”

Mina lifted her head and gave her distressed sister a half-smile.

“I appreciate that. I don’t know if what you said made things better or worse. I almost prefer the yelling to the silent treatment.”

Mina and Thali finished their tea, moving onto more pleasant conversation topics. When it started to get late, Mina accepted the inevitable and left for home. She walked down the path in the dark, wrapping her arms around herself for warmth. When she reached her home, it was dark inside. Either her husband wasn’t home, or he was holed up in his room again. There was no light coming from under his door, but that didn’t mean anything. Mina went into her own room and closed the door. If he was home, she didn’t want to interact with him. One awkward moment per day was enough for her.

 

Over the next two weeks, Mina and Kolya actively avoided each other. Occasionally they would bump into each other in the evening, but they would both move away from each other and go about their business. Mina desperately wanted to say something to him, but she felt that it wouldn’t make things any better. He had returned to duty, overseeing the training of military members. She spent all day in the infirmary. Every so often, men would show up with injuries that were inflicted by her husband. It seemed that his injury hadn’t slowed him down much.

Mina was exposed to another awkward moment when he came in for another exam on his shoulder. Corric wanted to be sure that he was healing properly. This time, he didn’t ask her to do anything as his previous meddling hadn’t done anything to help.

Mina was soon busy when Ladon came into the infirmary holding a towel to his head. Since Corric was busy with her husband, Mina rushed over to help Ladon. She reached up and moved the towel to reveal a large gash.

“Ladon what happened to you now?” she asked as she led him to an exam table.

Ladon winced as she cleaned the wound with a cloth. Mina looked closely at the wound to make sure that nothing was inside it. Sure enough, there were small metal fragments embedded in the wound. She grabbed some tweezers and started pulling the fragments out.

“This time it wasn’t my fault. Someone else’s work wasn’t constructed properly and came apart, hitting me in the process.”

Mina shook her head as she cleaned the wound again after being sure all the metal was gone. She got to work stitching the wound up, Ladon wincing every time she did anything.

“You really should be more careful Ladon. One of these days, you are going to get seriously hurt.”

Ladon glanced up at Mina with a small smirk on his face.

“Oh now you are concerned about my well-being. I don’t remember that concern being there when we were younger and you gave me a good crack on the head. How things have changed.”

Mina was suddenly aware that he was attempting to flirt with her. That was usually how he ended up with the cracks on the head that he was talking about. He would say something flirtatious and she would hit him.

Mina glanced over to the other side of the room where Corric was still speaking with her husband. She wondered if he had heard Ladon’s attempt at flirting. When her eyes met up with his across the room, she got her answer. He was looking right at them but didn’t seem to be expressing any emotion. Mina got the sense that he simply didn’t care. Another man was flirting with her right in front of him and he did nothing.

Mina could almost hear her heart break inside her chest. Her mind went back to what Kolya had said to her months ago when he offered her an out. He didn’t want her. Their moments that they had shared had meant nothing, simply him being caught up in the moment. She could have sworn that he wanted her when he had returned her goodbye kiss. It seemed that she thought wrong. With tears welling up in her eyes, she finished her work on Ladon’s forehead and indicated he was free to go.

When she turned back around, Mina was glad to see that Kolya was gone. She cleaned up the mess from treating Ladon and returned to her desk. She crossed her arms in front of her and buried her head in them, letting the tears flow. She sat like that for several minutes, quietly crying into her arms. A hand on her shoulder startled her and she sat up quickly. She wiped her eyes with her sleeve and looked up at Corric, who had touched her.

“Mina? Are you alright?”

Mina nodded weakly and tried to pull herself together. By the look on his face, Mina could tell that Corric didn’t believe her. He reached behind her and pulled her jacket from the back on her chair and handed it to her.

“You can go home for the day Mina. Unless some disaster strikes, I don’t foresee us being terribly busy for the rest of the night.”

Mina took her jacket from his hand and gave him a grateful look. She walked slowly home, her mind reeling with what she had learned that day. When she reached her home, she looked around. This place had begun to feel like home before the failed Atlantis mission. After they had returned, the warmth of the place had disappeared. This was no longer a place for her. Her husband didn’t want her here.

Mina went to her bedroom and pulled her pack out from under her bed. She began pulling her clothing out of the drawers and placing it in her pack. When she had nearly everything of hers packed away, she came to her wedding dress. She held it in her hands, looking down at it with disappointment. It was her mother’s, but looking at it broke her heart. It reminded her of what she almost had and lost. She carefully laid it out on her bed and closed up her pack. Mina walked out into the hall and grabbed some paper and a pen from the desk and began to write a letter to her husband. When she finished, she folded it up and placed it on the kitchen table. Returning to her room, she grabbed her pack and hoisted it onto her back.

When she reached the front door, Mina glanced down at her left hand and noticed her wedding ring. She walked back over to the table, removing the ring from her finger. She placed the ring on top of her letter and left the house, not looking back.

Chapter Text

Caleb and Thali welcomed Mina with open arms when she arrived on their doorstep with her pack on her back and eyes red from crying. She returned to her old bedroom, sinking onto her bed and her pack falling to the floor. Her broken heart was heavy in her chest but she felt empty. Even though things had been hard these past few months, it hadn’t occurred to her that she wasn’t wanted. In that single moment in the infirmary that day, it hit her all at once. Mina laid down on her bed, blankly starring up at the ceiling, hoping the numbness would spread to stop her heart from hurting so badly.

Mina had only been laying there for a short time before she heard yelling coming from downstairs. She sat up and cocked her head to listen more carefully, trying to discern the voices. One of the voices was definitely her brother, but the other sounded muffled. She stood up from the bed and opened her door a crack so she could hear better. Without the door blocking the sound, she could tell who the other voice belonged to. It belonged to her husband.

“Where is she? Let me see her!”

Mina stepped out into the hallway, but stayed away from the top of the stairs. She wanted to know what was going on, but also wanted to avoid the impending conflict.

“She doesn’t want to see you!” Caleb responded to her husband’s angry question.

“I need to talk to her. Mina!”

Kolya’s voice almost sounded desperate. Mina felt her broken heart swell. What did he want? She took a few steps forward to stand at the landing at the top of the stairs. She looked down at the three figures standing at the doorway. Caleb was physically blocking the doorway, preventing her husband from entering the house. Mina crossed her arms over her chest defensively, trying to keep her face blank.

“What do you want Acastus?”

He looked up at her in desperation, gesturing at Caleb.

“I want to talk to you. Will you please tell him to let me in?”

Mina moved her hand to signal to Caleb to let Kolya pass. Caleb moved out of the doorway, but kept his eyes on the man. He grabbed Thali’s arm and pulled her off to the side so she wouldn’t do anything rash. Kolya entered the home and moved to stand below the stairs, looking up at Mina.

“Can you come down please?”

Mina shook her head in response, keeping her feet firmly planted.

“I’m fine up here. Now what do you want?”

He sighed at her refusal to descend and held up his hand. Between his fingers was her ring that she had left with her letter.

“I want you to come back. I’m sorry for how I’ve been acting these past few months.”

Mina shook her head again.

“Why should I? You don’t want me there, you never have.”

Kolya lowered his hand and his shoulders drooped in defeat.

“I know it may seem like that, but Mina it’s not true.”

At those words, Mina could feel anger boiling up in her chest. He was lying to her face. She abandoned her resolve to stay upstairs and quickly descended, startling the other three people in the house. She pointed her finger accusingly at her husband.

“That’s a lie! If you wanted me there you wouldn’t have trashed my room! You wouldn’t treat me like I barely exist. I am your wife and you never have seen me that way. To you I’m not your wife, not a woman, or even a person. I’m just the thing you got stuck with because you were ordered to have me. I’m basically an object for you to keep in your home.”

Kolya was taken aback by her words. He reached out to touch her, but Mina backed away from him.

“No. Don’t touch me. I don’t want you to ever touch me again!” Mina screamed at him, her anger turning into tears.

Mina continued to back up, moving back towards the stairs. She kept facing him, not wanted to turn her back on him.

“You once told me that I didn’t have to do this. I could have an out and be happy. Well, I’m taking it. I’ll go to Cowen and have our marriage annulled and you can go back to your old life.”

Kolya stepped towards her and held up his hands.

“Mina stop. Listen to me. I’m sorry that I hurt you with my actions. I was so wrapped up in my own pain and feelings of guilt that I didn’t see I was hurting you. I tried to apologize but I wasn’t sure what I should apologize for. When I was given silence, I left it alone, hoping things would smooth over.”

Mina stayed at the bottom of the stairs, her watery eyes focused on her husband, taking in everything he was saying to her.

“You are more than an object to me. To say I don’t want you is far from the truth. I have wanted you since the moment I saw you. I made a promise as your husband and I want you to be by my side. But like I said before, I didn’t want you to be forced into anything, so I kept my distance. I waited for you to make the first move. When you did, it made me so incredibly happy, but I had to leave. If I hadn’t left on that mission, this never would have happened.”

Mina’s expression softened. She had been wrong. He truly wanted her after all. Part of her felt guilty for accusing him of not wanting her when he had all along.

“Acastus…” she started, not sure what to say.

Kolya stepped closer to her and held out his hand again with the ring resting on his palm.

“Please come back to me Mina.”

Mina felt a small twinge in her chest. She had said the same thing to him before he left for Atlantis. She reached out and took to the ring from his hand and held it in her own. She looked down at it for a few moments before looking back up at him, meeting his eyes. His face held a hopeful expression. She could feel the pieces of her heart melding together in her chest.

Closing her hand around the ring, she closed the distance between them and wrapped her arms around his midsection. She let out something akin to a sob as she buried her head in his chest. Kolya returned her embrace, holding her tightly against him.

“Are you saying yes?” he murmured into her hair.

Mina pulled away slightly so she could look up at his face. His brown eyes stared deeply into her hazel ones. She couldn’t grasp any words to answer him so she simply stood on her toes and pressed her lips against his. They stayed connected like that for a few moments before separating. Mina released him from the embrace and opened her hand to reveal the ring again. Kolya took the ring from her hand and slipped it back onto her finger, squeezing her hand gently before pulling away.

Mina flexed her hand, fiddling with her ring with her thumb. It felt right for it to be back on her hand. The short time she had been without it, her hand had felt odd. She was brought out of her thoughts by the sound of someone clearing their throat. Mina and Kolya both turned in the direction of the sound and saw Caleb and Thali. Mina blushed in embarrassment. Throughout the whole ordeal, she had forgotten that her siblings were standing there.

“That was very touching. Now that this was resolved, are you going to treat my sister better?” Caleb asked with a threatening undertone.

Kolya wrapped his arm around Mina, holding her close.

“I made a promise to take care of her, and that is what I will do. I have been shirking my duty, and I mean to make it up to her.”

Mina smiled up at him before turning her gaze back to her siblings.

“I guess I don’t need to be staying here after all.”

Thali nearly jumped for joy that her sister was happy again. She returned Mina’s smile before walking upstairs to grab her sister’s pack. She returned and handed it to her. Mina took the pack and left the house with her husband. Similar to the first time he escorted her to their home, he linked her arm with his the entire way there.

When they walked through the door, he turned on the lamp by the door. Mina dropped her pack but stopped short at the sight of her letter laying on the floor. It looked like it had been dropped there as if in shock. She bent down and picked it up. Turning to face her husband, she noticed his sad expression at the sight of the paper.

“I only read part of it and I panicked,” he admitted.

Mina noticed the edges of the paper were crumpled where he had gripped it. As she looked over her words, she noticed splotches on the paper where her tears had fallen while she was writing it. She wasn’t even completely sure what it said.

“Do you want to know what it says?” she asked, holding the paper up.

Kolya reached out and took the letter from her, crumpling it up in his hands. He tossed it into the trash bin in the kitchen and took Mina’s hands in his own.

“I don’t want you to have to relive what you were feeling when you wrote that. I didn’t have to get very far to feel your heartbreak. I’m so sorry that I made you feel like that Mina.”

Mina wondered how many times he was going to apologize. It was a nice change from the yelling and the silent treatment. Still, part of her still felt hurt. She wanted to forgive him completely, but there was still the lingering thing in the back of her mind.

“Why didn’t you say anything earlier today?”

Kolya looked at her with confusion, not sure what she was talking about.

“What are you talking about?”

Mina felt another pain of guilt go through her. Maybe he hadn’t noticed Ladon’s attempt at flirting. Her reason for doubting him may be unfounded.

“The whole reason I walked out. Another man flirted with me right in front of you and you said nothing. That made me think that you didn’t even care.”

Kolya seemed to realize what she was talking about and the smirk that she had so dearly missed spread across his face.

“You mean Ladon? I didn’t even notice. He’s had a thing for you for years and nothing has come of it so I figured it was nothing.”

Mina’s jaw dropped in shock.

“You know?”

Kolya chuckled in response.

“I’m not completely blind. I’ve been training him for a long time and have overheard many of his conversations. I always assumed he was talking about Sora, but I figured out it was you when I saw his face after you kissed me.”

Mina stared at her husband in surprise.

“It doesn’t bother you?”

Kolya closed the distance between them and pulled Mina close to him. He bent his head to give her a soft kiss before replying.

“Not when I know that I have you, and not him.”

Mina was surprised by his sudden affection. It was such a change from his behavior of the past few months that it nearly gave her whiplash. Still, she liked the change. She reached up and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulled him into another kiss like the one she had given him before. He seemed even more eager to reciprocate this time. Mina was shocked when he lifted her from the ground. She pulled away from him and gasped.

“Acastus your shoulder!”

He smirked at her and surprised her by shifting her in his arms to a bridal carry.

“It’s just fine.”

Mina laughed at the sudden change in position. She didn’t often realize how tall her husband was. Now that she was in her arms, she felt like she was flying. He carried her across the house, with her smiling and laughing softly the whole way.

Chapter Text

Waking up in a bed that was not her own was a strange experience for Mina. The feeling that she was not alone was also strange. Mina lay very still, staring at the celling in silence. As happy as she was that things had taken a better turn, now she was stuck in the awkward moment when she wasn’t sure what was going to happen. She felt movement on the bed next to her and quickly shut her eyes. Hoping to avoid the awkward conversation, she pretended to be asleep.

Luckily for Mina, her husband hadn’t noticed she was awake. He left the bed to get ready for the day, leaving her to her supposed slumber. Mina’s eyes flew open again and she returned to staring at the ceiling. She was suddenly aware of the fact that she had left her pack near the front door. She sat up and wrapped the spare blanket around herself, sliding out the bed and padding over to the door. Sure that her husband was in the bathroom, Mina opened the door and slipped out of the room. As she crept quietly away from the door, she kept her eyes focused on her pack on the floor. Not looking around the room, she crossed the space quickly.

“Nice outfit,” a voice said from the kitchen.

Mina let out a shriek and nearly dropped the blanket she had wrapped around her. She spun in the direction of the voice and saw her husband looking at her with an amused expression. Mina clambered to make sure she was truly covered. Kolya chuckled at her efforts.

“I’m afraid it’s a little too late for modesty.”

Mina glowered at him as she snatched her pack from the floor and quickly retreated to the bathroom. Slamming the door shut behind her, she buried her face in her hands in embarrassment. Apparently he didn’t feel any awkwardness, which made it even worse. She was alone in this. She got ready for the day slowly, prolonging the inevitable. She emerged from the bathroom, dropping her pack and the blanket in a heap between the bedroom doors. She would deal with them later. Peering around the corner, she couldn’t see her husband in the kitchen anymore. Feeling that she was safe to come out, Mina walked into the kitchen to get herself some breakfast.

“Morning.”

Mina shrieked again and prepared to throw the spoon in her hand at the owner of the voice, Kolya chuckled at her reaction and moved forward to take the spoon from her.

“Again with threatening me with a spoon. I’m going to hide them if you keep doing that.”

Mina held the spoon out of her husband’s reach and returned to making herself some breakfast.

“You think you’re funny, but you shouldn’t sneak up on someone in a room with knives. You might get hurt.”

Kolya moved to stand behind Mina, wrapping his arms around her, stopping her movements.

“Considering you keep attacking me with spoons rather than knives, I think I’m safe.”

Mina felt her cheeks flush at his sudden closeness, but most of her initial embarrassment had disappeared. She turned around in his arms and held up the utensil in question.

“So far you have been lucky.”

Kolya smiled down at her and leaned down, placing a soft kiss on her lips. Mina forgot about the spoon and wrapped her arms around his midsection, returning his kiss. He pulled away and placed another kiss on her forehead.

“Good morning,” he said again.

“Good morning Acastus. Now if you are done sneaking up on me, I would like to eat my breakfast in peace.”

Kolya took a step back, releasing Mina from the close embrace. He left Mina to her breakfast, returning to the bedroom to finish getting ready. When he returned, Mina was finished with her food and was nearly ready herself. The two of them gathered their things and left home together. Reaching the compound, they both turned to go their separate ways, but Mina stopped Kolya by grabbing his hand. He turned to look at her and she stepped closer, going on her toes to place a kiss on his cheek. She then released his hand and continued on her way to the infirmary.

When she arrived at the infirmary, Mina almost had a skip in her step. She walked over to her desk, calling out a cheerful greeting to Corric. He raised an eyebrow at her happy entrance, having gotten used to her usual quiet demeanor.

“What’s gotten into you this morning?” he asked.

Mina simply smiled at him and shrugged.

“It’s just a good day, that’s all.”

“Uh-huh,” Corric replied.

Mina ignored his response and started looking over the things he had placed on her desk. He always had work for her to do. Like he had told her, Corric planned to make full use of her organizational skills. His records were a mess, and Mina had been reorganizing them bit by bit. She knew the medical history of many people within the Genii that she had never met. As she worked through the never ending pile on her desk, Mina came across three files that she felt needed to be brought to Corric’s attention.

“Corric? Are you aware that there are three women that are all expecting babies relatively soon?”

Corric emerged from his office and walked over to her desk. He took the files from her and glanced over them. Mina watched his face scrunch up in confusion.

“No I did not know that. I mean, I know all of these women and know what their health has been like, but I never made the connection that they would all be due around the same time. That could very easily become a problem.”

Mina wasn’t sure why he was so concerned.

“How so?”

Corric gestured at the empty infirmary. The only other staff members he had were off working other places. The position he had originally planned to give Mina had been reassigned when he realized her organizational skills. He promised it was temporary, but so far, she had spent most of her time at this desk. Most of the time, it was only the two of them to care for any patients that came in.

“I am one person. If all three of these women were to go into labor around the same time, that could spell disaster. I don’t suppose you have any training in child birth?”

Mina shook her head.

“Sorry Corric. My only experience was the birth of my sister, and I was 11 when that happened.”

Corric returned the files to Mina and walked over to a bookshelf against the wall. He pulled a rather thick book off the shelf and carried it back to Mina’s desk, handing it to her.

“It’s not the same as hand’s on training, but it will have to do in a pinch. I want you to study this very thoroughly. I need you to be prepared to help me if the situation arises.”

Mina thumbed through the book, her eyes widening at the large amount of information she could need to learn in a short time.

“I’ll do my best.”

Corric gave her a grateful look before returning to his office. Mina placed the book on the corner of her desk. She would have to tackle that project later. She still had a lot of work to do when it came to organizing Corric’s records. It was probably best she got that done as soon as possible in case any more serious things popped up that he wasn’t aware of.

Once the day had blurred past her, Mina was ready to go home. She had worked extra hard to make sure she could get as much done as possible. Several paper cuts and some sore eyes later, Corric sent her home. She grabbed her book from her desk and started her trek home. She was glad that the house was empty when she reached it. She needed some alone time to get started on her heavy reading load.

Walking over to one of the chairs in her living room, Mina sunk down into it. Her eyes skimmed over the sight of her pack sitting on the floor where she had left it there that morning. Her mind was pulled away from the task of reading to think about what she was supposed to do with her clothes. Was she supposed to put them back in her old dresser? Was she supposed to move into her husband’s room? It hadn’t been discussed. Nothing had been. Things had just escalated and no serious discussion had taken place. Mina decided that she would put that problem off for later and delved into the large volume on her lap.

When Kolya returned later in the evening, he found her still in the chair, deeply engrossed in her book. He peered under her hand at the title and raised his eyebrows questioningly.

“Doing a bit of light reading?”

Mina looked up from her book and smiled at him. Slipping a small piece of paper in to mark her spot, she closed the book and placed it on the end table.

“It seems that the Genii will be gaining three new members in quick succession soon and Corric is not prepared to handle their entrance by himself. He wants me to be prepared in case he needs my help.”

Kolya nodded in understanding and started walking in the direction of the bedroom. He stopped short at the sight of her pack sitting on the floor. He looked back at her and pointed at the bag.

“Aren’t you going to unpack?”

Mina’s smile faded and she avoided his gaze. He noticed her hesitation and crossed the room again to where she was sitting. He crouched down in front of her, taking her hand to encourage her to look at him. Mina bit her lip and refused to meet his eyes.

“Mina what’s wrong?”

“I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do. Things changed so quickly and we never talked about anything.”

Kolya seemed to grasp what she meant. He took her chin in his hand in an another attempt to get her to look at him. This time she cooperated and met his gaze.

“When I said I wanted you by my side, I meant it. We are husband and wife. What’s mine is yours. That includes the bed. The arrangement we’ve had up until now was for your own comfort. How we proceed is entirely up to you.”

Mina was touched that he felt that way. When he had pointed out the pack, she had been worried that he would think she wasn’t going to stay.

“I would have unpacked earlier, but I didn’t want to make any assumptions. But by me not unpacking, I don’t want you to think that I’m prepared to bolt at any minute.”

Kolya stood from his crouched position and pulled Mina to her feet as well. He took her entire face in his hands, and like that morning, placed a kiss on her forehead.

“I never intend on chasing you away again. I would like nothing better than for you to stay.”

Mina smiled and wrapped her arms around him, her head resting against his chest.

“Good because I’m not going anywhere.”

They stood together in silence for a few moments before Mina pulled away from the embrace. She reached down to grab her book off the end table. As soon as she had it in her hand however, her husband removed it.

“I think you’ve done enough reading for tonight. It’s getting late.”

Mina turned and looked at the clock. He was right. It was late. He had returned later than usual so she hadn’t realized how much time had passed. Now that she thought about it, she was exhausted. Right on cue, her mouth stretched in a yawn. Kolya returned the book to its previous position on the table and grabbed Mina’s hand. He pulled her in the direction of the bedroom, grabbing her pack as he passed it. When they entered the room, he placed it on the bed and released Mina’s hand.

“I’ll leave you to unpack your things. I’m sure you didn’t get any dinner since you were buried in that book. I’ll be back shortly.”

He left the room and Mina was alone. She opened her pack and began pulling her belongings out. She felt like she was experiencing her first night in this house all over again. Opening a drawer in the dresser, she discovered space and began to put away her clothing. Once all of her stuff was put away, she changed into her sleeping clothes and placed her empty pack on the floor beneath next to the dresser.

Right on time, her husband returned with a bowl of soup for her that he had warmed up. She took it gratefully and sat on the edge of the bed to eat. While she was occupied with her dinner, Kolya disappeared again. When he returned, he had showered and returned in his sleeping clothes. Mina placed her empty bowl on top of the dresser. She could deal with it in the morning. She turned her attention to the bed.

Kolya pulled back the covers and climbed in. He patted the space beside him, indicating that she should do the same. Mina hesitated. She hadn’t had any trouble last night, but this time it was different. She mirrored her husband’s actions and pulled the covers aside, climbing in beside him. She remained upright however. He gave her a questioning look.

“Sorry. Other than last night, I haven’t shared a bed with another person since Thali was ten. It’s a bit different for me.”

Kolya resituated himself and patted the pillow behind her. Mina followed his nonverbal instructions and laid down. Once she was horizontal, he wrapped his arm around her and pulled her towards him. Once they were situated, Mina found herself resting her head on his shoulder with her hand on his chest.

“You’ll get used to it, I promise,” he uttered softly.

He placed a kiss on top of her head and tightened his arm around her. Mina felt secure with his arm around her and she could feel her eyes start to droop.

“Goodnight Acastus,” she whispered sleepily.

“Goodnight Mina.”

Chapter Text

It took Mina less than a week to get used to sleeping in the same bed as another person. Each night she would fall asleep in her husband’s arms, feeling more secure than she ever had before. Along with the comfort of his embrace came her inability to sleep without it. She had been sleeping alone for so long but in such a short time, she had become dependent on his presence. She learned this when he was late coming home one night.

Mina had returned late herself, tired from a busy day at the infirmary. She wasn’t surprised to find her house empty. Her husband had come home late before, usually because he had some business to attend to. She imagined that Cowen was making him work hard to pay for his mistakes. She waited for a little while before climbing into bed, settling into her usual position. It felt completely different without him beside her. Mina shifted positions several times, turning from one side to another. She flipped onto her back and sighed in exasperation.

“What’s wrong?” a voice asked from the doorway.

Mina sat up quickly and turned to see her husband standing in the doorway. She crossed her arms over her chest and gave him an accusatory glare.

“Where have you been?”

Kolya smirked at her tone and walked over to the bed, bending down to give her a kiss. When he pulled away, Mina’s angry expression had faded.

“You know you can’t always do that.”

Kolya shrugged.

“Do what?” he asked innocently.

“Upset me and fix things by kissing me.”

“Why not? It seems to work.”

Mina glowered at him and flopped back down on her back. She turned away from him and closed her eyes. He chuckled at her response and climbed into the bed after changing into his sleeping clothes. Mina was finally granted what she had been waiting for when he wrapped his arm around her waist.

“You want to tell me what I did that upset you?”

Mina ran her fingers along his arm and pulled it closer to her.

“You were late. I need you here to sleep.”

Kolya didn’t say anything, but Mina could sense that he was pleased by her revelation. He tightened his hold around her waist and Mina felt her exhaustion take hold, pulling her into a restful sleep.

The next few days were full of excitement. One of the women that had been on Corric’s list went into labor, forcing Mina to test out what she had been learning from her reading. Corric wanted her help to give her some practice. When it was all over, Mina felt exhilarated. Mom and baby were both healthy and Mina had learned more than she had from the book. The act of bringing a child into the world was not a glamorous one but it was beautiful. As she got the new mom settled into a bed, she smiled at the little bundle in the woman’s arms. She congratulated the mother and left her to rest.

Mina walked over to Corric’s office door, looking in to see him filling out the necessary files to document the birth. He looked worn out, not from the birth, but from something else. Mina glanced around his office and noticed a pile of clothing in the corner along with a blanket on his small couch. She cleared her throat to get his attention. He looked up from his work and gave Mina a questioning look.

“Yes Mina?”

“Traya is settled in. If you don’t need me for anything else, I’ll be going home for the night.”

Corric gestured to the paperwork he had been filling out.

“As soon as I finish this, you can file it and head home.”

Mina nodded and gave his office another glance.

“Corric, have you been sleeping here?”

Corric looked over at the pile of clothing she had noticed and gave her a guilty look.

“Yes I have. For the past few nights at least. I wanted to be here in case something happened, like Traya or one of the other women going into labor.”

Mina narrowed her eyes at him. She could tell he wasn’t being entirely truthful. There hadn’t been any appearances of the mystery woman for a while, so obviously something had happened there.

“Is that all? You aren’t avoiding someone?”

Mina could tell she hit a nerve when Corric winced slightly at her question.

“Not avoiding per say. Just want to keep things quiet for a while. I’m tired of fighting. It gets us nowhere.”

Mina nodded in understanding.

“I understand that. Who is she?”

“Dahlia Radim.”

Mina was surprised by the last name.

“Radim? Ladon’s sister I’m assuming?”

“Yes. But things don’t always work out the way we want them to. She’s almost as busy working as Ladon. Cowen works her almost as hard, if not harder. It’s not good for her health, but she won’t listen to what I have to say. She wants to do all she can to serve the Genii, even if it slowly kills her.”

Mina understood why Corric would be worried about that. Her own husband’s desire to serve the Genii had gotten him shot. Cowen was a demanding leader.

“I’m sorry Corric. Hopefully some progress will be made on whatever they are working on. If things slow down, maybe the two of you will have a chance.”

Corric gave her a grateful look before turning back to his work.

“I hope you’re right.”

When Mina left the infirmary a short time later, she wasn’t expecting to run into her brother. He was headed to the place she had just left. He had a bruise over his eye and a split lip.

“Caleb! What happened?” Mina asked.

“I was training and may have slipped up a bit. Took a nasty blow to the head.”

Mina gestured behind her to the infirmary doors.

“Head on in. Corric will check to make sure you don’t have a concussion or anything.”

Caleb patted his sister on the shoulder before walking into the infirmary. Mina watched him go and was surprised when another hand touched her shoulder.

“I’m afraid I may have hit him too hard.”

Mina turned to the sound of the voice and saw her husband standing beside her. She should have known he was the perpetrator. She let out a quiet laugh.

“Isn’t the brother supposed to beat up his sister’s partner, not the other way around?”

Kolya laughed at her comment and reached down to take her hand.

“I guess that’s how it usually goes, but not in this situation. You heading home?”

Mina nodded and squeezed his hand, smiling up at him.

“I’m going to stop by and see Thali, but then I’ll be going home.”

“Ok. I’ll be late again tonight, so don’t wait up for me.”

Mina gave him a disappointed frown, which made him laugh again. He leaned down and gave her a light kiss.

“Don’t pout. I’m sure you’ll be fine.”

He kissed her again and released her hand before walking away. Mina watched him disappear around a corner before walking toward the exit to the surface. She reached her sibling’s house before long. Thali was glad to see her.

“Mina, how are you?”

“I’m fine. Or I should say, I’m better than fine.”

Thali could see that her sister was in a much better mood than the last time she had seen her.

“I take it things have been going well?”

Mina smiled as she thought about her husband. To say she was smitten with him would be all too true. Now that the unspoken attraction had come to light, she spent most days like she was floating. Thali waved her hand in front of her sister’s face.

“Hello? Mina, are you in there?”

Mina blinked and refocused on her sister.

“Yes did you say something?

“I asked if things were going well. I guess I got my answer. Are you happy?”

“Yes I am,” Mina said with a dreamy smile.

Thali laughed at her sister, shaking her head.

“You look like you are up in the clouds. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you so happy.”

The two sisters sat and talked for a while, covering a variety of topics, including Calbe being injured in training.

“Isn’t Caleb supposed to be the one being a tough guy? He’s the older brother.”

“That’s what I said! I guess when your sister’s husband is one of the main trainers for the entire Genii military, it’s a different story.”

Mina and Thali laughed at their brother’s expense. Caleb had always put up a tough front, even had some backing behind him. He was a good fighter, having been trained by their father from an early age. Mina had suffered many bruises from being his sparring partner growing up. Their father had wanted them to be prepared, hoping they would follow in his footsteps. Mina smiled sadly at the thought of her father. Thali gave her sister a questioning look.

“Hey. Where did your mind go? You look sad.”

“Just thinking about dad. He was an excellent fighter. I imagine he could give Acastus a good fight if he was still around.”

Thali laughed at that thought.

“I’m sure dad would have scared off any men that came sniffing around either of us. Even the commander, as tough as he is. But I’m sure he’ll strike fear into your daughter’s boyfriend’s hearts someday.”

Mina’s smile faded at Thali’s mention of a daughter. In her happiness fog of the past week and a half, the thought of her previous wishes had been covered up. The subject of children hadn’t been discussed. The only time they had talked about it was when he told her she was free to have a family with someone else.

“You disappeared again Mina. What’s going on now?”

“It’s nothing. I just don’t know if there will be a daughter to for him to embarrass.”

Thali rolled her eyes at her sister.

“You still haven’t had that conversation? I think it’s time you do.”

“It’s too soon. We’ve only been ‘together’ for just over a week. I can’t spring children on him so soon.”

“Mina, you’ve been married for almost six months now. I don’t think it’s too soon to talk about it.”

Mina shook her head. She didn’t know if her husband even wanted children. Her concern before had been on if he even wanted her. Now that she knew that, she had another obstacle in her way.

“We have time. I don’t want to scare him off. I’m only 28, we still have plenty of chances to have children, if that is what we decide to do.”

Thali pursed her lips in concern.

“You know that isn’t quite true. There’s a reason our people get married and have children so young. It’s not safe when you get older. Look at mom. She was 37 when I was born.”

Mina knew Thali was right. Most of the women she knew had children before they were 30 to avoid any complications. That wasn’t the only thing that worried her. She also had the problem of having an older husband. Having lost her own father at 16, she knew it was hard.

“When the time is right, we’ll talk about it. We just aren’t ready.”

 

When Mina returned home from her visit with her sister, her spirits had fallen a bit from their conversation. As she walked past the spare bedroom that used to be hers, she glanced in. She could very easily picture a nursery. She could almost hear the sound of little feet running across the wood floors of her home. She could even picture the small faces of the beings she could bring into the world. A little boy with curly brown hair with brown eyes to match. A girl with bright red hair and blue eyes like her sister.

Mina felt a pair of arms wrap around her from behind and she looked up to see her husband standing behind her. He looked down at her with a curious expression.

“What are you still doing up? And why are you standing here, staring at nothing?”

Mina looked at the clock and noticed it was late. How long had she been standing there imagining a possible future? She turned around and embraced her husband.

“I didn’t realize the time. I was simply lost in thought.”

The two of them walked away from the empty bedroom into their own. Mina’s previous thoughts were buried when she was distracted by her husband kissing her. It seemed that he could fix things, at least temporarily, by kissing away her problems.