Conversations on the Utopian Ideal: Twenty Seven

Commander Amieta Invelen strode into the Captain's quarters without knocking - not a privilege enjoyed by anyone else on the crew. Strictly speaking, not one the XO should have either. Just one of the ways we've been sloppy, Amieta thought. And the Cluster hasn't fallen on our heads, has it?

Silver was at a work bench - real wood, of course - very carefully teasing apart the pages of a book that had clearly seen better days. Better centuries, even.

Probably another accounting ledger or a manual on second dynasty sewage treatment. Just so long as it's old. Amieta rolled her eyes and cleared her throat, and Silver looked up from the book with a barely perceptible start, and then a barely perceptible smile. "Ami."

Amieta closed the door behind her. One more habit we should never have gotten in to. Still, the carelessness they'd both slipped into worked in her favor now. "Silver, we should talk."

His gaze sharpened. "Is something - "

"No," she said quickly. "Nothing's wrong. It's - I'll make us some tea, okay?"

By the time the tea was ready, Silver had carefully stored away the guide to animal husbandry or whatever it was. Amieta poured for them both as he took a seat across the low table from her.

He took his tea, "We don't do this often enough, anymore."

"You're probably right." Ami shrugged, "A lot's changed. That's what I wanted to talk with you about."

Silver sipped his tea and waited. Politely. As usual. Used to infuriate me. Still does, sometimes. It's better, for this though. Better to be able to say what I need to say.

"Cia's ... she's not doing so well, right now. And how things are, between us ... she needs to be able to tell Dr Akell about what's happened. All of what's happened."

Silver frowned slightly, and Amieta hurried on before he could speak, "I know, I know what you're thinking. I think the security issue is pretty much gone, now. I don't think keeping things secret makes any of us any safer. It was you and me for a long time, and I know you just wanted to make sure I was safe. Make sure they couldn't use me against you. But there have been rumors, among the crew, for a long time. Anyone who wants to buy a few drinks for any of the crew on leave can find out that we've been a bit closer than employee and employer."

Silver set his cup down. "Ami ..."

Amieta interrupted him, "As for Cia, well. She's high profile all by herself, now. Not the wet behind the ears pilot she was when you first met her. If anything, more people knowing what's between you and her might make her safer. Knowing it's not just that you're good friends and that they'd be in for a pain shit-storm if they touched her. It might even keep you safer too. I mean, she's a director now." Amieta snorted, "She's probably scarier than you, to some people. Anyway, we can start slow. Just let Hiri - Dr Akell - know, to begin with. We're fucked anyway, if we can't trust her."

Silver finally managed to get a few words in, "If you're sure. Ami, you know it was always about safety. You, Cia, Camille ... It's-"

"-dangerous being close to a podder." Amieta finished for him, The more some things change, the more they stay the same, "I know. But Cia's a target whether you are in the picture or not. So is Camille, because she's Cia's sister. Also whether you're in the picture or not. And Silver, with the twins coming ... a lot of things are about to change."

He nodded, with the faintest trace of a smile. "Unexpectedly. Not unwelcome, of course. But ..."

"I know. How do you think I feel?" Amieta asked. "I feel responsible, you know. You two would still be polite acquaintances if not for the decisions I made. And Cia ... never asked for any of the complications, and she's kept our secrets whatever the cost. And Silver, you know what it cost."

"I know," Silver said quietly. "I was there, Ami."

"It's still costing her. What she can't talk about, to her doctor, hells, I'm half-convinced it's part of what's got her twisted around with Charlie." Amieta shrugged. "How can she get close to someone she's keeping a gigantic mindfuck of a secret from?" She sipped her tea, and watched him over the rim of her cup. "Unless you're thinking that's better. That she goes on keeping him at arm's length."

"That would be ... selfish." Silver said. He paused, and Amieta kept quiet, Let him work out the truth of it himself.

Their closeness was one of the things that made her such a good XO for him. Much easier to anticipate the Captain when you were that close. Easier to tell when he was going to get that you were right -That being most of the time- too. Eventually, he nodded, as she'd known he would. "You're right, Ami. I don't think we have to keep it quite so secret. Keeping everything quiet has served its purpose, but things change. Have changed."

Amieta finished her tea, "Thanks. I'll tell Dr Akell."

"And Cia?" Silver asked.

Amieta shook her head. "She needs to hear it from you, Silver. That it's your decision, not just me telling her what I want to be true. I know it's not ..." She glanced at the teapot and quirked an eyebrow. "Your cup of tea, that sort of conversation. But this really is something she needs to hear from you."

Silver nodded, "I'll just ... try to get used to the idea. It can be an adjustment. Letting go of things."

"Yeah, some things they don't make a skill pack for."


Amieta rolled her eyes, though with a smile, and left.

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