Daxion: Chapter Two

Amira

I woke to someone touching my shoulder.

Not yet awake, I rolled to the opposite side of my bed as fast as I could, almost falling off the bed completely. I grabbed for anything within reach, ready to use it as weapon, when the lights turned on.

“Jeneva!” I lowered the datapad I’d been reading late into the night and set it back down gently, as if to hide the fact that I was going to hurtle it at my sister’s head. To be fair, I didn’t know it was my sister at the time.

“I thought waking you gently was a smart plan.” Jeneva tried to smile. “I guess it backfired.”

“Why are you waking me up in the first place?” I snapped. I closed my eyes and took a breath. I’d promised Jeneva I would work on my temper.

Not that she was keeping up with any of her promises.

This was the first time I’d seen her in a week, maybe longer. It was difficult to keep track of the days on the ship. Not a lot of windows.

“It’s nearly midday.” Jeneva blinked in surprise.

I was a late sleeper, it was true. After last night’s misadventure, it was hours after midnight before I got back to my room.

“I waited in the refugee bay for hours, but you never showed up. I figured you were here.”

“So, you just came in?” I asked. “Wait, how did you get in?”

“You never changed the code from when this was my room,” Jeneva explained.

Jeneva now bunked with one of the strike team leaders, a Skotan named Vrehx. From what I could tell, he was great at what he did around the ship. Jeneva seemed happy too, happier than I ever remembered her being.

The memories left a bitter taste in my mouth. When we were kids, I always remembered Jeneva being unhappy or uncomfortable. No one in our family realized it at the time, but Jeneva could sense other people’s feelings and moods.

When she was a kid, she couldn’t control it. She was often in great amount of pain, especially after our parents died, so she picked up and moved to the middle of the forest for over a decade. She left with no explanation and hardly a goodbye.

It wasn’t until we were reunited on the Vengeance that I learned all of this.

“That doesn’t give you the right to come and go as you please,” I sniffed.

I was so angry at Jeneva for so long. If I’m being honest, I’m still angry. After I almost lost Jeneva for a second time, permanently, I swore I would try to build our relationship into what it was always supposed to be.

Which was harder than I’d hoped.

“And you don’t have the right to sneak off the ship, the only safe place for miles, in the middle of the night,” Jeneva shot back.

Now I knew why she was in here.

“Did your boyfriend report me?” I glared.

Jeneva gave me a stern look. “No, Dax came to talk to me privately. Vrehx doesn’t even know. I can’t believe you would do something so risky and stupid!”

I wondered if Jeneva could feel what I was feeling now. “He had no right to go to you.”

I couldn’t think of anything else to say. Last night was not a shining moment of genius for me, but that didn’t mean that Valorni could go around telling everyone.

It wasn’t his business anyway. He did his job.

He kept me from doing something dangerous and stopped me from technically stealing, which I felt guilty about. There was no need for him to get involved any further.

“He’s concerned for your safety,” Jeneva argued.

“Well, that makes one person,” I muttered.

“Excuse me?” Jeneva’s eyes narrowed.

“Maybe if I had someone to talk to, like a sister, I wouldn’t have tried to go through with such a stupid plan!” I exclaimed.

“You can always talk to me.” Jeneva looked hurt.

“Only if I can find you. This ship is huge, Jeneva. I don’t even know where you do your work. I never know when you go out into the field. I wouldn’t know if something happened to you!”

“Of course, you would know.” Jeneva spoke in a soft, gentle voice, as if I were a child. “Just like how I would know if something happened to you.”

“Last week, I got sick and had to spend the night in the med bay with Dr. Parr.” I folded my arms across my chest.

It wasn’t anything serious. I just ate some alien food from the mess hall that I didn’t know I was allergic to.

“Oh.” Jeneva looked down at her feet. “Are you okay?”

“No, I died.” I rolled my eyes.

“That isn’t helping, Amira.”

“What’s not helping is you coming into my room in an attempt to be the sister you never were!” Tears welled in my eyes, and I looked away before Jeneva could see them.

I wanted this to be better.

I wanted me to better.

I really did. But it was so hard to get out of my head, out of the past.

“I actually believed you were serious when you said you wanted to be more involved in my life. I guess that stopped when you met your alien soulmate.”

I reacted badly the first day I was brought to the Vengeance. Jeneva had gone out of her way to rescue me and quite a few others. I was in shock, scared and surrounded by aliens plus my long-lost sister.

I snapped. I yelled. I was mean.

It earned me the title of “Jeneva’s ungrateful little sister.” I’d been able to drop that title since, but it still bothered me. Jeneva abandoned me for years, right after our parents died, but I’m the one who had to do all the work to fix our relationship because I had one bad day?

I’d done everything I could for people in the refugee bay. I helped Dr. Parr when she had her hands full. I helped Vidia teach lessons to the kids.

I even learned how to knit, so I could make blankets and socks! It was cold as hell on the ship sometimes.

But it was never enough to make Jeneva pick me over Vrehx.

“I don’t know what to do,” Jeneva said so quietly, I could barely hear her. “You’re angry with me when we don’t spend time together, but when we do spend time together, you push me away. I don’t know how to win.”

“I get angry when you tell me you want things to be better and then don’t follow through,” I explained. “I push you away because I don’t like feeling that you think you can show up whenever you want and expect things to be perfect.”

“For the first time in a very long time, I have a real life. I can be around people and not feel like my head is going to explode. Can you understand that?” Jeneva pleaded.

“I can understand that it must have been horrible dealing with that growing up. I can understand how you thought the only solution was to live far away from people. But I don’t understand why you shut me out of your life for ten years.”

I didn’t expect this. I wasn’t prepared for this conversation. We hadn’t talked about any of it since we were reunited.

“I couldn’t bear to face you.” Tears slipped down her cheeks. “I’d caused you so much pain.”

“Did it ever occur to you that I would’ve been in much less pain if you’d just talked to me?” I pressed. “No, rather than own up to the damage you did, you decided to hide. That was a choice you made. I’d be able to forgive that, forgive everything, if you’d stop pretending that a few civilized conversations and a joke here and there are enough to fix what’s broken.”

“It’s better than nothing.” Jeneva didn’t sound convinced by her own words. “I want to be the sister I should have been. I just don’t know how.” Understatement of the year.

“I’m not trying to hurt you, but the bottom line is that I don’t trust you. It’s hard for me to trust people. It takes time.”

I didn’t want to say it was her fault that I had trust issues. It might be true, but she was already hurting. I didn’t need to make it worse.

“I understand,” Jeneva nodded.

“I think it’s best if you leave now. This was a lot. I think we both need some time.”

I didn’t want her to see how shaken I was. I was a minute away from a complete breakdown. I didn’t like anyone seeing me in that state.

“Okay.” Her voice was weak with defeat as she slowly left the room. She paused at the doorway. “We’ll talk later, okay?”

“Okay,” I replied. I doubted that she would reach out to me later.

The door slid shut. I sat down on the bed, my legs shaking. My breathing was ragged as my throat felt tighter. I buried my face in my pillow and screamed.

After my parents died, I refused to let myself be swept away by grief. I had to keep pushing, so my life wouldn’t fall apart.

I came up with system for dealing with my emotions: The Five-Minute System. What the name lacked in creativity, it made up for in efficiency.

I set a timer for five minutes. In that five minutes I could do whatever I needed to do: cry, scream, break something, whatever. But when the five minutes were up, I had to get it together.

I pulled up the stopwatch on the mounted clock and started the countdown. I think I’d subconsciously trained myself to respond to the timer. Not even two seconds had passed, and I was on the floor, hugging my pillow and sobbing.

I refrained from breaking anything. Nothing here actually belonged to me. When the timer was up, I calmed my shuddering breaths, washed my face and started the day.

I needed to get out of that damn room.

***

Daxion is a work in progress. I’d love to know what you think!

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