They took Bobby into the surgical section of the base’s med unit and Sam was left to wait in the hall. Dr. Cara, the doctor Sam had initially spoken with, assured him that the damage was likely reversible. The wound was at the base of Bobby’s spine, so healing it required extreme delicacy.
“In better news,” said Cara. “The head wound will heal without difficulty.”
Sam’s shoulders relaxed and she smiled.
“We’ll take him into surgery to assess the damage to his spine,” Cara continued. “I’ll keep you updated with anything new.” She offered him another quick smile and headed back into the med unit.
Sam shivered. Though he’d acquired yet another jacket and an extra layer of clothes, he still felt cold. The thin material of his own clothes underneath were made to breathe in the suffocating heat of Tatooine’s desert, not hold in warmth against the frigid temperatures of Hoth.
Even indoors it was cold, though that should’ve been no surprise to him. The base was a maze of corridors carved from ice and stone, with numerous man-made additions to keep its structure. Crew quarters and the med bay, he was told, were separate and insulated to keep them comfortably warm, though Sam couldn’t bring himself to leave the chilly hallway outside the main med bay. Not until he knew for certain that Bobby was not going to be paralyzed from his back injury.
The ‘waiting area’ was really only a few chairs pressed against the wall; there must not have been room in the insulated med unit. Sam had glimpsed it earlier, crowded with beds and equipment. Sam supposed most people weren’t able to sit around and wait for news, if the hum activity in the base was any indication.
He closed his eyes and leaned back in the chair, tucking his freezing hands under his armpits. It was so hard for him to believe that only a few days ago he’d been picking through debris in the sand, the twin suns scorching his back. Far too much had happened since then.
Sam swallowed the surge of emotion rising his throat when he thought about Ellen. He pictured the burning homestead, the acrid smell of smoke and burnt flesh… He remembered a night a dozen years ago when he was curled up in bed shivering and sweating in the throes of a bout of Dust Fever. Ellen was at his bedside. She wiped at his forehead with a cool, damp cloth and murmured that it would be okay…
It still felt impossible to believe she was truly gone. Sam pressed his eyes shut tighter to keep the tears at bay.
Sam’s heart lurched against his ribs as he opened his eyes. He’d know that voice anywhere. “Jo?”
Sure enough, standing before him in a puffy gray jacket, her long blonde hair tied back in a braid, was his adoptive sister, Jo.
“Oh my God, Sam!” Jo exclaimed happily as Sam jumped to his feet.
“Jo!” He pulled her into an excited, tight embrace, and she laughed into his chest. They rocked back and forth for a moment, grinning like fools. He knew she’d joined the Alliance, but the odds that she was here in this base, at this moment… He squeezed his arms around her, hardly daring to believe she was really in them, hugging him back for all she was worth. God, he’d missed her!
She reluctantly stepped back. “What are you doing here? I heard Dean was back. Did you come with him? I can’t believe you’re really here!” She grabbed his neck and hugged him tight again. “How are you? How’s Mom? I thought you’d never get away from that rock!” She giggled and grinned.
Sam felt his smile sliding off and his initial joy at seeing her familiar face sputter in his chest. She doesn’t know about Mom. He gently grasped her arms, guiding them away from him. Her pretty features creased with worry the moment she saw his expression.
“Sam,” she began, her voice quivering. “What happened?”
He made her sit down as he explained about the death of their mother. She was too stubborn to cry openly in the hallway as her peers bustled by, but a few tears escaped and Sam held her hand tight. He’d shoved his grief away to deal with all the events of the past few days, but watching Jo absorb the news made him feel it all over again and he struggled not to break down too.
After that, he summarized the rest of his story. She in turn gave him a brief account of her adventures and why she hadn’t called nearly as often as she’d hoped. Months after departing Tatooine to join the Alliance, Jo had been sent out on a number of covert missions, which made contact impossible. The last time she’d sent a comm, Jo had been fresh off one such mission that she’d more or less barely made it out of. Ellen had taken one look at her beat-up looking daughter and launched into the usual lectures. Jo said they’d had a big argument, and then both had been too stubborn to comm back and apologize.
“She never told me,” said Sam. “She would just bring it up every so often that she didn’t know where you were and that you didn’t call anymore. Usually whenever I tried to bring up the subject of me leaving.”
“We left it on bad terms,” Jo nodded and swiped at her eyes. “I wanted to call… I wanted to call a hundred times. But you know me – and her.”
He knew exactly how stubborn their mother could be and couldn’t quite fault Jo entirely – she had that same streak of belligerence in her, and the two of them had always fought. But he was hurt that his sister had never reached out to him, especially when he continued to defend her decision to leave and fight with the Rebels.
“You could’ve called me,” Sam offered sadly.
“You would’ve tried to force us into kissing and making up.” Jo almost smiled. “I should have.”
She went on to explain that after a couple months of relative downtime, she was sent on increasingly dangerous missions. Twice she was captured by Imperials and once even tortured for information. Sam felt white-hot anger coil in his chest at the thought, and Jo must’ve sensed it, because she laid her hand on his arm and leveled her gaze at him.
“Hey, it was my choice – I chose to get out there and fight. I volunteered for the mission knowing full well what could go wrong.” She gave his forearm a gentle squeeze. “The important part is that it’s over and I got out.”
Sam’s jaw ticked. She made it sound like it was trivial and everything was fine, but he couldn’t stop the protective anger still pulsing in his temples. Jo almost smiled again, her expression understanding, and she changed the subject before Sam had the chance to dwell too much more on what she’d revealed to him.
“I’ve been going by Jo Turner out here so nothing ever fell back on you and Mom,” she said. “And it worked, too – they never found you. Well, until…”
Sam chuckled humorlessly, and his mind flashed to Dean, changing his name to protect his family, too. “Yeah, you can blame your buddy Dean for that one. And me – I’m the idiot who picked up the disc of plans and brought it home. I should’ve left it. I shouldn’t have gone after the damn pod.”
“The hero who picked up that disc and brought those plans here,” Jo corrected, and nudged his shoulder affectionately with hers. She elbowed him gently when he didn’t look at her. “Hey – and brought them here,” she repeated, big brown eyes serious and locked on his. “Which means we finally have a real chance to turn the tide.”
He nodded. He understood the importance of it all, of course. He just couldn’t help feeling like nothing in the damn galaxy could ever be worth losing his mom. Or knowing that his sister had been tortured for the cause.
The pair leaned against one another in companionable, if heavy, silence for quite some time, each lost in their own thoughts. Sam eventually broke it first.
“Wait, Turner?” he glanced at her, a smile tugging at his lips despite the situation. “Like, Rufus Turner from the market, who died a few years back?”
“Mmhmm,” Jo confirmed.
“It’s just that Bobby – when we were getting checked at Mos Eisley, he pretended to be Rufus too. Fake licenses and everything.”
“Well,” said Jo. “Great minds.” She tapped her temple and shot him a knowing look, making him smile.
Jo stayed with him and they swapped stories until Dr. Cara emerged from the surgical unit with news of Bobby’s condition.
“He’s going to make a full recovery,” she reported, and Sam’s knees almost buckled with relief. “Again, the repairs are complex given the location of the injury. He likely won’t have sensation in his legs for a week or two, but we’ll be doing regular bacta treatments to significantly speed his recovery. He’ll be walking again in no time.”
Jo gave Sam’s shoulder a squeeze after the doctor departed. “He’s okay, Sam,” she said. “I’m sorry, I’ve got to go – I was supposed to be at a strategy session more than an hour ago.”
“No problem,” Sam replied. All the worry over Bobby was draining out of him and taking his energy with it. The exhaustion must’ve shown in his face, because Jo gave him her classic Sam-do-what-I-tell-you-right-now-or-I’ll-slug-you look.
“And you need to go lay down somewhere.”
He was about to protest on principle – surely he could be doing something useful somewhere? – but he knew better than to argue with Jo when she had that face on. Besides, he was still cold, and he really was feeling tired. A warm bed sounded a lot like heaven at the moment.
Jo looped her arm through her brother’s. “C’mon. This way.”
Rage poured from Azazel like heat waves off a sand dune. He was exercising an incredible amount of restraint as a fresh set of med-bots continued to tend to his wounds. He’d already lashed out and fried three of them. He’d also severely injured a pair of officers who’d shakily come in to report that the rebel ship Impala had blasted into hyperspace and their damaged fighters had been unable to pursue it.
Azazel looked down at the arm currently having copious amounts of bacta and bandages applied to it, and his lip curled with fury. That damn Jedi and his grenade! Azazel had tried to get away, to shove the thing far from him before it exploded, but he hadn’t reacted fast enough. His right arm and the right side of his face were seared with severe burns.
He snarled in pain as the bot wrapped another layer of burn gauze over his scorched forearm and fought off the urge to snap the bot in two. He needed these injuries tended to, and fast, if he was to continue pursuing the Impala. It was a frustrating development that they’d managed to slip away from his skilled pilots, but Azazel was secure in the knowledge that he’d had the foresight to attach a tracking device to the rebel ship while it had been in the Death Star’s hangar bay.
He allowed himself a small, self-satisfied smile. That Winchester asshole wouldn’t know what hit him. His smile widened. It was going to be all the more sweet to report to the Emperor that the Rebels were finished, and that Winchester, the ultimate thorn in the Empire’s side for far too long, was ashes along with them.
The doors to the med bay opened with a soft swish and in came General Raphael. His dark brow was already beaded with sweat and Azazel could feel the fear rolling off him.
“What is it?” Azazel barked, sensing bad news. His temper flared.
He’d made it quite clear that no one was to disturb him until he exited the med bay fully patched up or unless there was a substantial update in the pursuit of Winchester’s ship. He sent the med-bots away with a sharp flick of his fingers.
Raphael swallowed. “M-my lord,” he began, his eyes darting to the retreating bots. “We’ve, ah… our long-range sensors have… sir, we…”
“Say it,” Azazel growled. He did not like where this was going – Raphael was normally steadier than this. It had to be truly major if he was sputtering and sweating like a little, green Lieutenant.
Raphael swiped at his brow and cleared his throat. “My lord, the tracking device has ceased transmitting. It was likely damaged in the… in the firefight, and has q-quit. We’ve… sire, we’ve l-lost them.”
Azazel became very still and silent as he processed this information. Raphael began shaking and fought in vain to hide his weakness.
“Do you,” Azazel began, his voice deadly calm, “have any suggestions for what I might report to the Emperor on this matter?” He turned burning yellow eyes on the general. “What I might say about letting Winchester slip away?”
Raphael started stammering and spluttering. Azazel was out of patience. With a growl, the Sith lord whipped his uninjured hand up in a fist. Raphael gasped and wheezed, and his body slowly lifted in the air until his feet were dangling off the floor. He clawed at his throat to no avail and Azazel tightened his grip. Two minutes later, Raphael stopped struggling and Azazel released his limp body. It crumpled to the floor.
When Azazel roared, the very walls shuddered and shook. He recovered himself and paged Colonel Zachariah. The colonel hurried into the med unit and stood at attention moments later.
“Use every available tracking method to find the Impala’s last known course,” Azazel ordered, his voice razor sharp. “Send out all available probes. Rally the Destroyers in this quadrant. I will not lose them a second time.”
Zachariah nodded rapidly. “Yes sir, of course. Right away.”
Azazel got to his feet and stormed over to the Colonel. Impressively he did not flinch, though his eyes did dart to the unmoving form of Raphael on the floor nearby.
“And congratulations on the promotion,” said Azazel. “General Zachariah.”
Dean rubbed his tired eyes. He and a number of others had been taking shifts, pouring over the stolen plans all night, and still hadn’t found the crack they needed to destroy the Empire. Hell, he’d take ‘chip away’ at the Empire over ‘destroy’ at this point, if it meant finding a weakness (no matter how small). His gut churned. Maybe the thing was as indestructible as the Imperials, and Azazel in particular, boasted it was.
“There has to be something,” Jo, seated to his right, grumbled and pressed her palm to her brow.
He glanced her way and she looked as tired as he felt. He was glad the end of his shift was coming up.
He’d had a short nap after debriefing Benny and the others; though his body had wanted sleep, his mind had struggled to allow it. After fighting to sleep a little longer, he’d given up and took his turn analyzing the plans. Adam kept them all supplied with a homemade coffee facsimile that tasted like shit, but gave his body the energy boost it needed to soldier on.
Dean leaned back in his chair with a sigh. “We’ll find it. We just have to keep looking.” He scrubbed his hand through his hair.
Jo rolled her shoulders and stretched out her arms before leaning back in her chair as well. “So you didn’t tell me you were travelling with my brother.”
Dean’s eyebrows shot up. “Your–? I didn’t know the kid was your brother.”
She nodded. “Adoptive, but yeah.”
“Huh.” That’s a hell of a coincidence, Dean thought and chuckled. The galaxy gets a little smaller every day.
“Also heard you… ran into Bela,” said Jo carefully, sending him that sideways look of hers she got whenever the subject of the merc came up.
Dean exhaled heavily. “Sam and Bobby hired her. They didn’t know any better.”
She’d heard from Benny earlier the summary of what Dean had been through over the past several days; she didn’t need him to recount it.
“Nothing happened,” he spit out, feeling the question rising to Jo’s lips before she had the chance to voice it. He also didn’t need to justify or explain anything pertaining to Bela. Especially because neither Jo nor Bela were his girlfriend, thank you very much.
“I didn’t say anything,” Jo shot back, though less defensively than he’d been expecting. “It’s not like we…” she trailed off and shrugged. “I just heard you ran into her, is all. And I know your history. And she brought you here. I was surprised – sue me.”
“She’s leaving the first chance she gets, believe me,” Dean replied bitterly.
He jerked forward in his seat with a frustrated growl and put his attention back on studying the Death Star’s schematics. He pointedly ignored the knowing smile playing around Jo’s lips as she much less aggressively returned to the glowing plans.
Dean’s shift was finished less than twenty minutes later and he gladly handed his seat off to Ash. Ash’s drawling Ploomarian accent was thick as ever when he greeted Dean with a slap on the back.
“All right, boy,” he said. “Move outta the way and let the real experts take a gander at these here plans.” He cracked his knuckles and flashed Dean an amiable side-grin. “Doctor Bad-Ass is in.”
Dean laughed. “Good luck, pal,” he said. “You’re gonna need it.”
“Well, thanky.” Ash stretched lazily in his seat. “Oh, and Dean-o, those sensors oughta be up ta snuff now. Soon as day breaks, you and the boys can put ‘em back out there.”
“Thanks Ash,” Dean nodded. “I appreciate it.”
“Ain’t no problem,” Ash drawled, waving Dean off. “I bulked up the shielding on those puppies an’ did some recalibratin’, so they oughta last through this planet’s damn snowstorms now.”
Dean thanked him again, and exited the room.
As he left Ash with Jo and the others to continue their work, he smiled to himself. If anyone could find a hole in the Empire, it would be Ash. Despite his terrible mullet haircut and sloppy manner of dress (often looking like he’d rolled out of bed wearing someone else’s dirty castoffs), the guy was an inexplicable genius, straight out of the finest schools the galaxy had to offer.
Ash was easily their best engineer and analyst, and the only reason why he hadn’t started in on the plans sooner was because he’d been fixing up those fried sensors. According to Benny, it was the third time Hoth’s brutal temperatures and intense blizzards had knocked the damn things out of commission, rendering the base blind to weather, potential threats, and more. Dean hoped Ash’s latest batch of modifications would stick.
He made for the hangar bay, curious about Bela’s progress on repairing her – damn it, his – ship. Last he’d talked to her, she’d been complaining loud and long about the number of holes and problems the Imperials had given her. He doubted she’d be in a much cheerier mood, especially since it was taking longer than expected to round up her promised reward money.
Sure enough, as he approached the parked Impala, he could hear faint clanging and colorful language filtering down the boarding ramp. Dean chuckled and climbed aboard. He found Bela in the engine bay, up to her elbows in parts and wires, grease streaked across her cheek and in her pretty brown hair.
He crossed his arms over his chest and leaned against the doorway to enjoy watching her swearing creatively at the mess surrounding her.
“Couldn’t sleep?” he asked.
She whirled and cursed again, startled. “Where the hell did you come from?”
He laughed. “Just finished my shift. Thought I’d check in.”
“Well, I’m fine,” Bela snapped. “Except that those damn Imperials did a royal number on my baby – ”
“My baby,” Dean corrected her irritably.
“And every time I fix one issue, I find another.” She sat back and sighed with frustration.
“Why don’t you take a break?” he suggested.
“Because I don’t need one, and what I do need is to make this bucket of bolts ready to go as soon as bloody possible, so I can get the hell out of dodge.”
Dean ignored the insult to his ship, crossed the cramped room, and reached down to lift the hydrospanner from her hand. He sat beside her on the floor and picked up the chunk of hyperdrive engine she’d been fiddling with. It was large, heavy, and tubular.
“There, see?” she pointed to a fried section on the outside and Dean nodded. She passed him a set of fresh wires and he got to work. He balanced the engine piece across his knees.
“Look, you know how much this is going to hurt me to say it,” began Dean. “But as much as I can’t stand you – ”
Bela huffed a laugh.
“You’re smart and creative, and you’re a damn good pilot. The Alliance needs people like you. You could stay – you should.” He pulled apart the blackened panels and wires and started reattaching the new ones.
“Darling, you know I don’t pick sides. We’ve talked about this. You stick to your part of the universe and I’ll disappear into mine. That was the agreement, yeah? Don’t get soft on me now.”
Dean snorted derisively. It was the same ol’, same ol’ with her. He snapped the blackened panel back onto the new wires – the panel was sooty, but otherwise undamaged. Besides, they had no replacement, so this would have to do.
“So as soon as your repairs are made,” said Dean flatly. “You’re gone.”
He flipped the engine piece over in his lap and reached inside, pulling out its inner workings to see what else needed fixing. Engine grease streaked up his arm.
“That’s right,” she replied coolly.
He abandoned the hyperdrive and climbed to his feet, clutching the hydrospanner with an angry, white-knuckled grip. He shook his head.
“You’re leaving in the middle of a shit-storm, to save your own skin. Again. And leaving me in your dust, again.”
She shrugged and stood, brushing herself off. “I rescued you earlier, didn’t I? And brought you home? That should earn me some points.” She tossed him a teasing smirk.
Dean snorted. “This is Aridus all over again.”
“Oh no, darling,” said Bela. “Aridus was much worse. Although I seem to recall you never thanked me for that rescue, either. Seems to be a recurring theme with you…”
“Bela, I’m never going to thank you for making my life hell.”
When she opened her mouth to protest, he held up his hand.
“Should I list the incidents alphabetically or chronologically?” He tossed the greasy hydrospanner onto the workbench.
“Dealer’s choice,” she returned with a sultry smile.
“Kalabra City,” Dean said sharply.
He shot her a look that read like hell, and said, “You were following me.”
She shrugged. “I followed you a lot.”
She shrugged again. “Bored.”
“They arrested me for public indecency!”
She snickered into her hand. “I know. I’ve always treasured that. That, and the little incident on Garos.”
“You call that a little incident?” he balked.
Bela inhaled. “Well… more of a happy accident, really.”
Dean growled, “Stealing my wallet and speeder the morning after was an accident?”
“No,” she dipped her head and looked up at him through long lashes. “Meeting you the night before.” Her pink lips curved in a soft smile. “Like I said: happy accident.”
For a moment, he thought he might give in to the way his heart was pounding and kiss her senseless. His mind filled with memories of the night he’d met Bela. His lips certainly remembered how she tasted, even if he’d spent God only knew how many hours (weeks, months, years) trying to forget the damn woman thereafter. He couldn’t stand her, he never wanted to see her again, and yet every time he found himself in her presence, he was an addict who needed just one more hit.
He hadn’t been lying earlier: she really was smart and creative and a damn good pilot. And he really did need people like her in the Alliance. But he also would have been lying if he denied that he wanted her to stick around because he also cared about her, despite the number of times she’d screwed him over. Despite the fact that she drove him nuts and he also basically hated her and wanted nothing to do with her.
He wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction of knowing he cared, however. Instead, he tilted his head to the side and smirked.
“Accident is right. I should have never gone into that bar. Would have saved myself a world of trouble.” He moved away from her, turning his attention back to the engine parts strewn across the workbench.
“Oh, come now,” she said behind him, voice teasing again. “And miss out on all our merry adventures?”
Damn it, Dean thought, grinding his teeth as his usual frustration with Bela flared up. He just couldn’t let that one go, even while he knew he should. “You have a funny definition of adventures.”
“Lycos,” she returned happily.
Dean whirled on her. “That?! They threw me in an Imperial holding cell for two days. ‘Hold this,’ you said. ‘I’ll just be a second,’ you said. And idiot I am, I did it, and they freaking tackled me in the street!” he snapped. “I got lucky a random meteor crash blew out the windows of their stupid little jail.” He jabbed his finger at a thin scar below his temple. “That so was not an adventure!”
She laughed, light and tinkling, and it only irritated him that much more. “At least you weren’t naked that time.”
“Or unconscious,” he grumbled. He raked his hand through his hair, heedless of the streak of engine grease on his palm.
Really, if he were to tally it up, she’d gotten one over him more than half a dozen times compared to his paying her back perhaps three or four times. Granted, he was usually in the process of trying to do some actual good in the universe and didn’t have time to devote to trying to screw her over in kind (or else he was attempting to extricate himself from whatever situation she’d left him or put him in). She, meanwhile, was usually making sure she got paid in some form or another, or ensuring he got caught holding the bag (metaphorically, and twice, literally).
She’s not worth this much trouble, he told himself. No one is.
Dean advanced on her, unable to stop himself just yet, naming more of the locales where they had encountered each other. “Jiroch, Atzerri, Wroona?”
She ticked off a finger one at a time as she answered, “Long con, not my fault, and just for fun.” Her eyes twinkled with amusement and memories. “Come on, you enjoyed that one. Besides, I talked that Imperial moron into letting you go unscathed. I’ll bet he didn’t last long when his bosses found out exactly who he’d had in his possession.”
“Not the point.”
“Then make it, darling.” She raised her chin at him, and scooped up a rag from the bench. “Don’t play such a victim – you’ve repaid the slights I bestowed on you in kind. Herdessa, that Skip in Smuggler’s Run?” She reached up and wiped at the engine grease he’d smeared across his face and in his hair.
Dean couldn’t help a bark of laughter at the memories – at least on Herdessa, she’d been the one arrested as he sped away, leaving her incredulous in the dust.
She pursed her lips unhappily. “I still have the scar from Mon Gazza.”
He caught the arm that was worrying at his hair and pulled it down between them. “I barely clipped you.”
“Except my ship was damaged, courtesy of you, and I was stranded without bacta and – ”
“I only shot you down because you shot me first.”
Bela huffed. “I only shot you because – ”
“Sweetheart,” Dean interrupted. “We can do this all damn day.”
She watched him for a long moment, her irritation melting away the longer she stared. He held her green-eyed gaze, he held her arm, he held his breath, and could feel himself slipping. He wanted to ask her to stay again, wanted to plead, wanted to feel her lips on his one last time –
“Don’t,” she whispered, pulling out of his grasp and creating some distance between their bodies. “Don’t look at me like that.”
“Like what?” He glanced away then, suddenly uncomfortable, like he’d given too much away. He scooped up a fusioncutter and began fiddling with it to occupy his hands.
Bela sighed through her nose. “I’m not staying, Dean. I’m getting my reward, and I’m going. I don’t know how many times you’d like to have this conversation, but the results will be the same. I don’t get involved in politics – all I want is my paycheque.” She tossed the rag she’d been using to clean him back onto the bench.
Dean bit the inside of his cheek.
“And besides,” continued Bela, tossing her hair over her shoulder. “Do I really look like the patriotic revolution type?”
“It’s not about that,” he burst out. “It’s not just a little revolution, or ‘politics’ – it’s about freeing the entire galaxy from an unjust, mass-murdering, totalitarian institution that actively works to destroy free will and democracy!” He could feel his cheeks getting warm – he hadn’t come here to fight with her or have a debate, but conversations with her hardly ever went any other way.
“That’s your job,” said Bela, her tone a tad icier than before. “You’re the blessed hero out to save the universe. I don’t know how many times I have to remind you, darling, that I am, always have been, and always will be the scum you believe I am.”
“Bela, I didn’t say – ”
“I am only in it for the money. I’m simply not interested in tangling in your galactic war.” She took another step back from him. “And for the record, I really was going to leave you behind on the Death Star to be executed. I don’t like complications – you know that.”
Dean nodded, genuinely stung, and pissed that he was actually hurt by her words. He clenched his jaw briefly. “Right, sorry. I keep forgetting you’re a heartless bitch.”
Bela colored, but didn’t deny it.
He tossed the fusioncutter her way and she caught it. “Have fun with your repairs.”
Dean stormed out of the Impala before she said another word, too angry to continue speaking with her. And angry that he was angry, because it was Bela and he knew she was a selfish thief, and that was why he’d parted ways with her once and for all several months back. He’d given up on her, he’d moved on and stopped entangling his life with hers. But here she was, stirring up shit he thought he’d buried, and here she was, screwing with his emotions and tossing him around like a waterpod on the boiling ocean of Baal’ik.
Dean retreated to his quarters, barely refraining from punching a hole in the transparisteel wall. He flopped down onto his bed and reassured himself that likely tomorrow, Bela would be gone for good, and he wouldn’t have to deal with the way she made him feel any longer.
It was exhausting to hate someone and care for them so much at the same time.