“You didn’t come to bed last night.”
She shifted her shoulders, drew the shawl tighter around her shoulders. The yarn was soft against her fingers as she tangled them through the knots of its pattern, the garment smelling of laundry soap, faintly, Dalsuna’s cologne. The patch of grass between the house and the edge of the water was small, but large enough for them to play with their son without too much fear of him toppling over into the canal. She sat in the center of that grass, her bare toes slowly going numb in the morning damp and chill, watching as the sun slowly crept up over the canal and the parkland beyond. It was a rare sight, that much green on the other side of the canal. How her husband had managed to find it, she wasn’t sure—nor had she ever asked.
She was wise enough now to know when to leave things alone.
Sometimes, at least.
“I took a walk,” she said, patting a spot in the grass next to her. “I couldn’t sleep—wasn’t going to be able to sleep. I’d meant to clear my head and come back, but I ended up at Mickie’s and then I ended up at the school.”
“You went flying.”
She nodded, staring at the sunrise as he settled next to her. Calloused fingers wrapped around hers, squeezed gently. A faint smile curved her lips and she squeezed back, glancing at him. “I didn’t mean to make you worry.”
“Me, worry? Why would I worry? It’s not like my wife isn’t a former intelligence officer who’s probably pissed off more than her share of people on both sides of the not-war-anymore. It’s not like I’ve gotten used to you being there to reassure me when I wake up in a cold sweat at three in the morning after another nightmare.”
She winced. “I’m sorry, Dal.”
He exhaled a long breath, then wrapped his arms around her, resting his cheek against her braided hair as she leaned into his embrace. “It’s okay. It took a couple seconds, but I could still feel you, so that was enough.”
“I should’ve been here,” she murmured into the soft cotton of his shirt. She closed her eyes and breathed in, tension draining from them both with each breath, each beat of their hearts. “I hadn’t meant to be out all night. I thought I was just clearing my head.”
“The old ghosts swam back up, huh?”
She nodded, pressing her face against his shoulder. Her voice came muffled; likely he felt the words more than heard them. “There’s so many. And so much I just—left behind.”
“What brought it on this time? It’s usually not for no reason.”
“A letter from an old friend,” she said softly. “Reassurance that he’s okay. He told me I did the right thing.”
“But you’re still not sure.” He pulled back, peering down at her with a furrowed brow. Those green eyes of his snared her all over again, like they had the first time she’d seen him in the mess hall on a base that didn’t exist anymore a hundred light years away. “Even after all this time.”
“No,” she said slowly. “I did the right thing. But it’s not over. Not yet.”
His frown deepened and he canted his head to one side. “What’s not over?”
“The war,” she whispered, then leaned into his chest again. “We’ve all just stopped fighting for now. But it’s not over. I don’t know if it ever will be.”
“It is for us,” he said, squeezing her tight and burying his nose in his hair. He was quiet for a moment, then added, almost too quietly to hear, “At least for now.”
She nodded. “Yeah. At least for now.”
They sat there together in the grass as Corel cleared the horizon, its light glittering on the water of the canal and off the metal and glass of the city around them.