Robin sat in the living room of the quarters she shared with her husband, curled up on the comfortable couch. Their dog, Henderson, laid on the floor nearby, snoring softly. It was quiet, outside of the gentle, constant hum of the ship as it traveled through the stars.
She’d had such a hard time with those noises when her father had first brought her aboard, unsettled by them, but now they were a welcome part of her life, the background noise to her everyday. Her mind drifted back over those early days with her father, and she couldn’t help but smile.
It was a bittersweet thing. He’d been gone nearly five years now, and she missed him every single day. Now, after having recently learned she was pregnant, she missed him even more and was holding out hope that he’d be back before her due date. He deserved a chance to meet his grandchild.
She knew he was out there, somewhere, and that he’d come back. She wanted to be ready for him when he did, to give him things she hadn’t been able to before. It had lodged in her mind, the quest to improve the technology of his bionics.
Pulling herself out of her reverie, she went back to looking over the datapad she was cradling in her lap. She’d been watching the progress of a shipment of specialized Taimox Corp microservos, after a tip off from a contact she’d made at one of the larger trading stations.
She needed them, badly. Even with her father missing she’d been steadily and determinedly working on improvements to his bionics. Things hadn’t been easy in the wake of his disappearance, and the mess left behind after all the attacks, but as new races rose and added their knowledge, the years had started to provide her with a bloom of new materials and technologies.
She knew her father would be proud, if he were here to see it, and she wanted a finished prototype ready to go for when he returned.
The problem was the shipment was going to a shady corporation, for who knew what purpose, when she needed them much more. Even one would do, though it would be inconvenient. She’d gone to Rilan, to try and talk him into at least sending a team after them, but he’d shut her down quickly. Not even her sweetest look had managed to sway him, which had disgruntled her to no end.
Her father could return any day, and she’d be damned if she let him come back to the same level of pain he’d been living with for so long. Rilan might not believe that her father was going to return, but she knew what the tree had told her. It wouldn’t lie, not about something like this.
Henderson lifted his head and gave a soft ruff just before the door swished open. Daniel came in, carrying a bag full of take out containers of dinner from the mess. The dog jumped up to greet him, dancing around his legs as he went to settle his cargo on the kitchen table.
“It’s Anchean burgers tonight. One of your favorites.” She heard him say in the background, as he ruffled the fur on the back of the dog’s neck.
She didn’t respond right away, eyes scanning through the last of the report she’d been sent.
She looked up as the couch suddenly depressed, startled, and found her husband sitting across from her, a puzzled look on his face.
“Is everything all right?”
“What? Oh, yes, I’m just busy. Sorry babe,” she said, giving him an apologetic look, shifting so she could lean forward and press a soft kiss to his lips.
“Must be something important if it can distract you from Lin’s burgers. I half expected you to jump me when I brought them in.”
She laughed, but her heart wasn’t totally in it, and she couldn’t help but glance down at the pad in her lap.
Daniel reached out and lightly brushed her turquoise dyed hair back, tucking it behind an ear.
“Robin, honey, what is it? I can tell something is bothering you.”
She bit her lip, not sure she wanted to talk about it, but knew he’d pester her until she did.
“Those microservers will be arriving on Bastion in a week.”
“You’re still obsessing over those things?” He sounded mildly exasperated. “I thought Rilan told you to forget about it.”
“He did,” she countered, lifting her chin slightly. “But he’s wrong. I can’t just forget about it. I need them Daniel. You don’t understand.”
“What’s there to understand? You want the commander to send resources away from the company to chase down parts that don’t belong to us?”
“They’re not just any parts. You don’t understand,” she snapped, pulling away from her husband and half throwing herself off the couch. Henderson scrambled out from below her feet just in time. She stalked across the room and started to unpack the food, hoping that signaled her desire not to talk about it anymore.
Daniel was more sensitive to things than he used to be, at least when it came to her, and usually he left her alone until she felt like bringing things up again.
She heard the clicking of Henderson’s nails on the floor. The dog butted up gently against her leg, but when she turned she saw he was accompanied by Daniel, who was holding her abandoned datapad.
“What is this?” He held it up, waving it at her, the message she’d last been reading still open.
Robin nearly groaned. She’d forgotten to lock the screen.
“It’s nothing.” She grabbed for the device, but he swung it away before she could manage.
“It’s not nothing, Robin! Who is this Van Hua, and why are you messaging them about chartering their company for an operation on Bastion?”
She felt her cheeks burning, and sputtered.
“Well, if you hadn’t invaded my privacy and looked through my messages, you would have found out later. I was going to talk to you about it.”
“About what? I don’t understand, honey.”
Robin turned to face him. She pushed down her anger, and tried to look seeking instead. Her husband liked to make her happy; surely she could talk him into this.
“About… you and I taking a short trip away. To Bastion.”
“Are you kidding me? We can’t just up and leave. We’re on route to a job.”
“Yes, we can. We have an excuse if we tell them I need a specialist’s care. You and I can take a transport to the nearest station and go from there.”
“Robin, no. How could you even think of using your pregnancy as an excuse for this? Your need for those things has blinded you. You need to let this go.”
Robin felt her anger growing, and she turned on her husband.
“This is about my father, isn’t it? You never liked him! I bet you’d be happy if he never came back!”
“That’s not true, Robin. You know I would nev-”
“Then what is it? Why won’t you let me have this? I need to do it!”
“No, you don’t, Robin. It’s not worth the risk.”
“Why? Because you think my father isn’t coming back? The tree told me he’s alive! I know he’s out there!”
Tears blurred her eyes and her voice cracked. She needed those servos. No one else would use them in the way she could.
She felt a soft touch on her shoulders and then Daniel’s arms slid around her, drawing her against his chest.
Part of her wanted to fight him off, but it was a small part, and she buried her face against his shirt.
“I believe you, honey.” His voice came, gentle and soothing.”I’ve always believed you. I’m not saying don’t do it because it’s for your father. I’m saying don’t do it because of the risk. What happens if you get hurt, or killed? What would Domerin do if he came back and you weren’t here?”
His words felt like a bucket of ice water dumped over her head.
“It’s true your father and I didn’t really get on, but I don’t think he’d want you to do this for him. Am I wrong?”
Robin didn’t say anything right away, her mind fighting with her, trying to tell her all the reasons why she should push her husband away and finish making her plans. But, deep down, her need and stubbornness be damned, she knew he was right. If her father came back and she’d crafted him the perfect bionics, she could just imagine the look on his face if she told him she’d put herself in danger to make them.
She knew her father, better than most would ever be able to claim to, but her greed had blinded her.
She let out a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding, and her shoulders sagged.
“You’re not wrong. I just… I miss him. This baby has only driven that home more. I want to have something for him when he comes home. I guess I thought… maybe the work would call to him somehow. It’s stupid, I know.”
Daniel’s arms wrapped tighter around her for a few moments.
“It’s not stupid, love. Of course you miss him, and I know you want him to come home. He will, when it’s time for it to happen. I like to think I’ve learned a little something about your father over the years from you and I think, more than anything, he’ll be happy to see you. The rest is dressing. You’ll come up with something, but don’t get greedy, all right? It’s not worth your safety.”
“I hear you. I’ll let it go,” she said, and finally melted into him and holding him tightly.
Eventually she drew back and looked up at him, a little smile on her lips.
“I never thought I’d see the day you sounded like my dad, babe. I’m sure he’ll be delighted to hear that too.”
Daniel sputtered a bit, and it seemed she’d stunned him into silence for the moment.
Laughing, she drew away, and went back to unpacking their dinner.