Without a Reason

Prompt: Five times Rachelle thought she might love Justus and told herself she didn't. by Kabobbles. 5 Things Meme—of the Ficlet Variety


Liana Mir

Series Listing

16 — 02. Summer

When the Clock Strikes Midnight

16 — 02. Summer through 03. Autumn

Wake and Thrive

16 — 03. Autumn through 17 — 01. Spring

Its Own Absolution

16 — 03. Late Autumn

After the Grief

16 — 03. Late Autumn

Battery Acid

17 — 02. Summer

Accounting for Redemption

17 — 02. Summer

Counting Heartbeats

18 — 01. Spring

Song Between the Waking and the Dreaming

20 — 04. Winter

Echoes of Anchor Lost

21 — 01. Spring

Don’t Remind Me That It’s Over

21 — 02. Summer

Welcome

21— 02 Summer through 22 — 01 Spring

Name Me Another (or Glass Angel, Redux)

22 — 01. Spring

Glass Angel

22 — 01. Spring

Pause the Sonata

22 — 02. Summer

Without a Reason

22 — 03. Autumn

Learning Legato

23 — 02. Summer

Acceptable Cost

23 — 02. Summer

History Lesson on the Night Train

23 — 03. Autumn

Abyss Looking Back

23 — 03. Autumn

Collateral Damage

23 — 03. Autumn

Five Reasons I Love You

23 — 03. Autumn

Little Things

23 — 03. Autumn

Owning Beauty

23 — 04. Winter

Dream the Dance

23 — 04. Winter

Snow Day

24 — 02. Summer

As the River Breathes

AU 21 — 04. Winter

Normal written in coffee grounds

Without a Reason

It’s one thing to not understand Rachelle’s messed up team relationships; it’s another to ask whether she loves a man she’s never even considered loving.

22 — 02. Summer
Kingdoms and Thorn Science Fiction
Flash Fiction Short Story

End of the first quiet summer before everything went out of the frying pan, and it was a good time to gather, all together again for a little while at least, and hold a new bundle of life in their arms, laughing and kissing her and passing her back and forth while the new parents could hardly keep the light of love out of their eyes. Pure unmitigated joy was rare among the teams, but this was a moment joy did not have to share with sorrow or captivity—the first child born to them after the Thorn Rebellion was done and over with, the first child with neither threat nor fear hanging over her pretty, down-soft head.

Rachelle could have been surprised that Wolf and Whisper had invited her team to meet Anya, their first and much-beloved infant daughter, but there was more respect between the two teams than it would at first seem to an outside observer.

She nodded her greetings to Rett upon entering before joining Ashen near the counter, leaning over said counter, and raiding the coffee pot just on the other side.

“Predictable,” Rett commented.

Rachelle shrugged and poured herself a mugful. “Head over heels yet?”

Rett chuckled while Ashen gave them both a puzzled look.

“Cute kid,” he commented, “but I’ve a feeling she’s going to be as stubborn as her parents.”

Rachelle shot him a glance, then looked back to Whisper’s head bent over her daughter and Red Wolf beside her, looking the epitome of extremely nice guy next door. “They’re strong,” she said in an assessing tone. But stubborn?

Mirth sparked in Rett’s eyes. “They’re alphas and I made him leader for a reason.”

A brief knock and the three of them watched one of the girls let Protector and Justus in the front door, both from Rachelle’s team, the first closer to Justus than to her.

Red Wolf nodded curtly. “Justus.”

“Wolf.” Justus nodded as curtly back.

The exchange was less hostile than usual. Amazing how a baby could lower the hackles between two men who had reportedly known each other before. What was it Justus always said? Forgetfulness is its own absolution.

Rachelle watched the interchange intently until Ashen quietly interjected, “I do not understand your relationship with him.”

Rett caught in his breath, knowing how loaded that sideways question really was.

“That’s because you’re not general purpose,” Rachelle retorted.

Ashen looked troubled, a fleeting surprised flinch in her gaze. It took a great deal to hurt her, and Rachelle exhaled regret. The two of them got along solely because of their taste in books and their own shut-down ways of coping with the hand they’d been dealt by the Department, but there was respect there and Rachelle hadn’t meant to undermine it.

Rett glanced between Ashen and Rachelle, then excused himself. He did understand and Rachelle couldn’t exactly blame him for making an exit.

Rachelle took another scalding sip of coffee. Most people didn’t understand her team relationships, but they eventually got what they were at least and that, for some reason, they worked for Rachelle and those she was close to.

But Ashen’s response was slow and hesitant, still grappling though she too had been an operative. “You love Meld,” she began leadingly.

“He’s my brother.” Rachelle shrugged. “Justus isn’t.”

Ashen thought about that then asked, “Do you love him?”

Rachelle nearly choked on her coffee. Love Justus? She turned to study him once again from her vantage point. He was holding Anya with an intense look in his eyes of something like longing, something like loss. He had had family once, birth family—brothers and sisters and parents and a plenitude of friends. Now he had a team.

The words were true. Rachelle loved Meld. He was her brother in all but blood, sitting quietly and observantly beside Protector, waiting his turn to hold the baby. She would do anything for him. But Justus… Ever since he moved to Riving and settled in there, cities away from where Rachelle lived, she would not likely go out of her way to to see him without a reason, unless she thought he needed her.

Of course, he did.

“I care about him,” she said abruptly. “He’s my team member.” Never bothered to say, even to herself, just how much.

Ashen’s brow remained furrowed. Rachelle set her mug on the counter and went to the couch where Justus was.

He was reluctant to give up Anya, but let Rachelle hold the tiny little life, that precious girl who didn’t have the weight of their awful, messed up history hanging over her head. Rachelle surprised Justus by settling in beside him and tucking herself under his arm. She snuggled the baby against her and let him feel that sense of belonging again for this one moment.

“I didn’t know you liked children,” Justus commented dryly. The words were laughable. He knew exactly how she felt about children—or almost exactly.

She lifted one shoulder in a semblance of a shrug, a gesture that wouldn’t disturb the sleeping child. “I can take them or leave them,” she said, as she had said about so many things—romance, marriage, children. “But once they’re here, how can you not love them?”

Whisper smiled at the sincerity in Rachelle’s words. Wolf held Whisper in much the way Justus held Rachelle, and nobody commented on the difference.

#


Kingdoms and Thorn Science Fiction

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