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Rial wakes up in the night to watch Plourr sleep.

He watches the first night that they sleep together after she’s out of bacta, sitting up and watching as she shifts, wiggles a little farther under the blanket, sighs and stills again. He watches her breathe, counting each rise and fall of her chest. He touches her face, just below half-healed cuts, reassuring himself that she’s there and she’s breathing and she’s alive.

That he hasn’t killed her.

He sits and watches the next night as well, and the one after. He chews his lip and brushes her hair off her face. You had to make that decision, Pernon, you didn’t have a choice. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. His mental voice sounds annoyingly like his father and Rial ignores that train of thought, because regardless of the outcome, regardless of the fact that she’s lying here right now, he still made the decision that she would die.

It wasn’t your fault, Rial, they’re the ones who were going to kill her. Not you. And now the voice in his head sounds like his mother, patiently exasperated, if there is such a thing. But it is his fault, the little irrational part of his mind insists, he should have been there, he should have insisted on more security…

And what it all comes down to in the end is that he made a decision and had it thrown back in his face.

Rial gets out of bed, pads quietly into the living area and sits on the couch, staring blankly at the framed holo of their wedding that’s resting on the table. Someone caught them in an unguarded moment and Rial wonders briefly what was happening because he’s smiling, and so is she. Real smiles, not publicity smiles. She looks like she’s laughing.

He made the decision. He chose Eiattu over her, and he resigned himself to living with that. It was his choice. And even when he’d gone into Milliways, he’d already started adjusting. Because that’s what Rial Pernon does. He adjusts. He adapts. He does what needs to be done, when it needs to happen. Regardless of the circumstances.

And then she was there. Alive, and his world tilted and shifted and wasn’t right and now that she’s back, he has to adjust again.

And there’s always, now, going to be that fear of her not being there.

 


Plourr’s standing in the doorway, he realizes, watching him. She looks worried, and he does his best to grin. Stands up and crosses to her side, brushing her cheek with a kiss. Her eyes ask him why he was up, but Rial doesn’t have a proper answer to that and just draws her into another long kiss.

They go back to bed, but Rial stays awake, watches Plourr sleep.

Watches her breathe.

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February 2009

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