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As expected, I saw some of the light dim from her eyes when I confessed to killing her partner. I’d lost a part of her. The way she used to look at me, I’ve seen many times by many different women. Although, seeing it from her meant something. Now, I’ve extinguished it.

Lying in bed last night I couldn’t get her look of repulsion out of my head. Before telling her yesterday, I wondered why I should feel guilty for bringing her here. Why I should feel guilty for finding pleasure in her presence. Now I know. It’s because even though it gives me pleasure, it causes her pain. For the life of me I can’t understand why Shy being here makes me feel anything at all, but it does. It’s been too long since I last cared about another human being, not since Echo. But seeing her reaction to the brutal truth of what happened to her partner, I do feel guilty. She’s innocent, and instead of protecting her, I brought her here. As much as I try to stuff my feelings in that little compartment with all the rest, it doesn’t work. This was my cross to bear, but I made it hers. My norm is not giving a shit about anyone’s feelings. It’s always the job. That’s all that matters.

Walking up to Weapons, I see Shy watching me. This time her eyes are soft as they track me down the hall until I reach her. It helps to set my mind a little more at ease. I will never admit this out loud, it’s hard enough admitting it to myself, but I was worried about how she might see me after I confessed to killing her partner. Now, I’m just grateful she still sees me at all.

“He has that effect on a lot of women. Don’t feel bad,” I hear Godfrey say, softly.

Shy breaks her gaze, turning to look at Godfrey. “No, I wasn’t . . . I mean, it’s not like--” she breaks off mid-sentence. “Oh hell, what’s the point,” she murmurs.

My inward smile comes at the stumbling of her words.

“Follow me,” I instruct.

Shyira follows me like I ask, no . . . command. Perhaps she’s more inclined to cooperate now, or perhaps she’s up to something.

“Where to now, boss?” she asks, sardonically.

“Back to your room. You’re done for the day.”

“Really?” she asks, a little wearily.

I don’t answer her as we continue down the corridor toward her room. She’ll learn to take my word at face value. We reach her room and I punch in the code. The door slides open, but Shy doesn’t go in. She stands there staring at me.

“What am I supposed to do now? You people don’t even have a television,” she protests.

“Not my concern. You can meditate for all I care.” I turn walking away, but before leaving, I inform her, “The doctor will be here in an hour to give you your physical therapy regimen.”

My harsh words are for her own good. This is no day spa. This place, and these people are extremely dangerous. The sooner she realizes no one gives a shit about her comfort the better off she’ll be.

There’s new intel on my desk that I desperately need to look at. As I opened my door, I find Delaney waiting for me. He’s slouching in the chair across from my desk as if he’s been waiting all day for my return. I pause in the door frame for a moment before continuing in, closing the door behind me. I do not have time for this. Making my way around the desk, I take my seat. Interlacing my hands together and placing them on my desk, I wait for Delaney to speak.

“So, how’s it going with the new recruit?” he finally asks.

“No different than any other,” I answer, turning on my computer.

“No different . . . really?”

“What do you want me to say, Delaney?” I give him a look. “She’s capable of doing the job, or I wouldn’t have brought her here.”

“While we’re on the subject, why did you bring her here, Michael? She wasn’t part of the profile.”
“Are you questioning my judgment?” I stand while asking the question. Resting my hands on the desk, I lean forward getting in his face. Friend or not, I think Delaney sees in my eyes now isn’t the time.

“I would never question your judgment, Michael, you know that. It’s just; I’ve never seen you go off book like that before. It was almost like it was . . . personal. Except, I know you better than that. Nothing is ever personal with you.”

“Then what’s your concern?” I ask, impatiently.

Delaney stands. “No concern, here,” he says giving up, making his way to the door.

Sonja comes across the comm as soon as the door closes behind Delaney, “Michael. My office, now.”

Taking a deep breath, I log off my computer before making my way to Sonja’s office. What the hell does she want now? I wrap my head around the fact that whatever it is, I’ll do it because that’s who I am. Punching the code in for Sonja’s office, the door slides open and the General is standing next to her as she sits at her desk. I stand at the mouth of the door, my eyes darting between the two.

“Michael, please come in and take a seat,” Sonja instructs.

I do as I’m told. I leaned back in the chair with my hands clasped loosely in my lap, waiting for whatever they have planned for me.

“How did Shyira do in training today?” She asks, as if she were actually human and cared.

“Fine.” I give back.

“The General said she seemed distracted,” Sonja retorts.

That has me looking at the General for the first time. He stands glaring at me, but I look back at Sonja before answering.

“Today was the first time she’s been out of medical. Naturally, she was curious. She understands the severity of her training. No need to worry about her focus.”

“Do you think she has formed an emotional bond with you?”

The General speaks for the first time. Things stir in me at his question. I can’t answer right away for some reason. I sit there for a minute staring at the General. His eyes narrow. I think my silence catches him off guard.

“No, as far as I know she hates me for killing her partner,” I finally lie.

The way Shy watched me let me know she doesn’t hate me. She’s angry at me, certainly, but not hate.

The General nods. “You’re free to go, Michael.”

I stand and leave, but in the back of my mind I wonder why they needed to see me for that. They could’ve asked me those basic questions over the phone. I learned long ago that when it comes to the General and Sonja, they are anything but orthodox.

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