Guest Room

Kara sat up in bed and clutched her chest. There was a familiar pounding at her front door. She threw a robe around her toned frame and went to answer it without bothering to check the time—at some point the hour no longer mattered and it was just late.

Without flipping on the porch light she unlocked the door and swung it open against yawning hinges to reveal Myles Pope. He had a cut above his eye and he wavered around like an old boxer—high again. Kara rolled her eyes and pulled him inside.

She cleaned up his cut in the kitchen and he shared a hit of ‘phoria with her. “Like old times, yeah?” he said whistfully.

Kara snorted and hopped onto the countertop, her robe slipping slightly open. “We’re too young to have old times. How do you like working at the elevator? Good pay?” She tried to redirect him. There was nothing she wanted to rehash about their deployment, and it was better for him, too, if they didn’t stray down that path. It always led to dead friends, dead enemies, dead nobodies.

“Nah, I quit that place weeks ago. They wanted to transfer me topside. I don’t do orbital anymore, ever since…” He got lost in a memory and stared into nothing.

Kara grabbed him by the shoulders and pulled him close, wrapping her legs around him and pressing her lips to his. His hair was damp with sweat. He reeked of smoke. His life was a mess. But he was familiar. He still remembered everything she’d tried so hard to forget, and she was drawn to that fact as hopelessly as any gravity well. He responded to her every motion like they formed a feedback loop. It was mindless, and that’s when they were happiest.

“Hey,” he said, pulling away, “you ever talk to Sully?”

“Huh? Sometimes, yeah. Why?”

“You don’t tell him that we do this, do you? Like, no one knows but you and me, right?”

Myles was a barely functioning junkie who brought the war with him everywhere he went. She had no affection for him, nothing in common with him beyond randomly being assigned to the same starship. So why was she tearing up?

“The guest room is down the hall,” she said, her voice cracking, and she disappeared back into her bedroom and shut the door.

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