It was nearly an hour before Peter emerged, still rubbing his damp hair. Mira was sitting on the bed propped up against the wall and staring into space. She was absent-mindedly pulling on and twirling the one lock of hair that she cultivated, so deep in thought she didn’t hear Peter emerge. Perching on the bed next to her, he said quietly, “Mira? You okay?”
Mira didn’t jump. She simply blinked, focused on him and then slowly smiled. “Yes. I’m well. I was thinking. You managed to return your hair to its natural glory.” She trailed a single finger along his hairline.
He smiled. “Thank God. I was afraid I was going to have to shave it all off. I mean, it looks good on you, but …”
Mira chuckled. “I’d miss it.”
“How are you feeling?” he asked.
She got that faraway look in her eye again. The smile faded. “I’m not certain. I’ve spent so much time lately being…being something else. I don’t know anymore.”
He took one of her hands between his, gently stroking her fingers. “You want to talk about it?”
She focused on him again. “I don’t know if I like this person I’m becoming. I don’t know if I like being what is needed. I wonder sometimes…. I don’t know. I still haven’t arranged it all out for myself.”
“Some terrible things have happened, just in the short time we’ve been apart. To both of us, I think,” he said soberly.
Mira studied him for a moment. Then she gently pulled him into her arms until they were both curled up on the bed, cheek to neck, chin to head. “Tell me. Tell me what you have been doing.”
He took a deep breath before answering, savoring her closeness. Then he said, “The Phoenix was sent to patrol in Quadrant 37. We found a Centauri fleet that was trying to blow a jumpgate. We stopped that, then got into a pitched battle. We were lucky, I suppose … we only lost one fighter. Desell One. Ayeshalan.” Mira stroked his still damp hair as he continued. “She … she went out saving Storm One. I think it really hit all of us hard, more than we expected.”
“Yes. That is the way all true things are. Death, betrayal, love…they all hit hard.”
“We were on our way to Rolui when Ryath came back. She was on the Phoenix once before, on Abbai — I think Doctor Brannon must have treated her then.”
“Mmm…must have, I do not recall her. But, then I was a bit distracted at the time by many things, some more pleasant than others.” She stroked his back, now.
“By that time, I was so distracted by worrying about you … I got Captain Hale’s permission, and asked Ryath if she would help me find you. She more than half kidnapped me, but she did help.” He grinned wryly.
“I’m glad you came for me. I was convinced that I was forgotten.”
“We would never forget you. Not the Anla’shok, not the Phoenix. And definitely, not me.”
Mira smiled. “I didn’t dare hope. But, I’m glad for you all the same.”
“What happened to you?” he asked, craning his head a bit to look her in the eye. “The record said you were caught stealing food, but that didn’t sound quite right … you’re better trained than that.”
Mira frowned a moment and then began to speak slowly. “I have been…in the service of a group of people who are attempting to return some sanity to Centauri Prime. I have been given…tasks…of various sorts.” She paused a moment. “I was caught retrieving a package from a safe house. The government didn’t want to call me a spy until I gave them information they could use. If they called me a spy, I would have been quickly executed.”
“Do you think the government’s been on to the whole group, and that’s how they got you?”
“No. I’m certain the court is aware that there is dissent and a growing rebellion, but they don’t know anything specific. They needed information that they hoped that I had. They wanted the simplest information from me. Thankfully, I didn’t have it.”
“They weren’t too … ” he hesitated, trying to find delicate words to express an unspeakable thought, “intent about questioning you, I hope?”
“You’ll find no marks, Peter. They had so far preferred drugs and neglect to outright torture. I think that they were distracted. Besides, the drugs should have worked, if I had actually known anything. They simply couldn’t trust that I didn’t know anything.”
“Madre de Dios,” he murmured. “I’m so sorry, Mira.”
Mira shook her head. “I realized something, right as they were forgetting about me. I’m glad for their distraction. Besides, in comparison, it was not so bad as finding the dead ship, the White Star 21. It was simply a different kind of horror. After all, I knew that I wasn’t going to die.”
“I heard about that … I confess, I’m almost glad I hadn’t been assigned to the Phoenix yet. But what was it you realized?”
Mira chewed her bottom lip. “Secrets are only secrets if they are only known by one. I would tell you…but would you want to carry it and keep it secret? Would you keep it even from the Anla’shok…especially from them.”
He shifted slightly, to sit up and look at her. “For you … yes. But … can you at least tell me why?”
“I don’t want them to do anything that they would regret later.”
He considered this, then finally nodded slowly. “All right. I won’t say anything to anyone, until you give me the word.”
“Thank you. I need to know if what I suspect is true.” She sat up in the bed cross-legged. “I realized during my initial questioning, that I truly didn’t know anything. In fact, I had been very carefully been kept ignorant. I didn’t even know the correct name of my contact. Only places that she could find me should I need to contact her.
“After a little while, I began to wonder, what my interviewers were not. I wondered why I was kept so ignorant, but asked to run fairly dangerous errands. I never even knew what the errands were supposed to accomplish. I only knew that they were necessary.” She paused. “But, then, I began to wonder if I wasn’t meant to be noticed. I wondered if I wasn’t supposed to be caught. I was a distraction, a diversion. Somewhere else, there was a real spy and I was…what do you call it…running inference?”
“Interference, yes,” he said, his features darkening. “No wonder you don’t want the Anla’shok to know this. The Entil’zha would not appreciate one of her people being used like that,” he growled.
“Exactly. I don’t want anger at a betrayal to ruin what might still be a useful connection. I was sent to make contact with them for a reason. They used me to avoid contact with the Anla’shok. I want to know why they distrust us.”
He ran his hand through his fast drying hair, taking a deep breath. “There might be a way to do that from here,” he said.
Mira nodded. “Babylon 5 has many Centauri on it, any one of them could be a possible connection. But, which one?”
“Vir Cotto has been named Centauri Ambassador.”
“Yes, I had heard that…. It only makes sense. He was a loyal assistant to Londo for so long.”
“He’s been working for sanity among the Centauri for some time,” Peter said. “Not too long ago, we learned that’s become a bit more … official, if you know what I mean.”
Mira frowned as she processed that comment, “You mean to say that you think he’s behind the underground?”
“Perhaps not the sole driving force behind it, but one of the major ones.”
“That is very interesting…if I recall correctly, he was always very sensible. I wonder how he would react to my possibly telling the Anla’shok about his movement’s use of me?”
“Profound embarrassment. I think it’s highly unlikely he knows what happened to you. He might not trust the Anla’shok, but he respects us.”
Mira nodded. “And he would not want a group that he respects to know about this fox pass.” She paused. “I don’t think that was the right word,” she muttered, staring at her lap. “I can easily get into his quarters. I just need something to wear.”
Peter grinned. “It wasn’t, but never mind. And I don’t think some proper gear for you would be a problem at all.”
Mira smiled back. “Not a problem, just annoying. I don’t have my identicard anymore and it’ll take time to contact my friends here on B5 that can get me a replacement.” She sighed. “A few days, I think.”
“I was going to suggest that you record a brief message for the Anla’shok. I’m going to send my report via courier, in case anyone might be looking for us. In the meantime … I think we can work out something on the clothes, at least.” He grinned.
“Yes, you’re right, I should report in. Although I’ll need to think for a moment about what to say. As to the clothes, I’ll not accept suggestions that I go as I am…”
“I wouldn’t have a problem with what you’re wearing … but then, I’m not Centauri.”
Mira chuckled. “I didn’t think you’d mind.” Her eyes started twinkling as she leaned closer to him, causing the neck of her dress to gap open. “I recall that you didn’t have much of an opinion on clothing exactly.”
Finding himself unexpectedly looking directly into Mira’s cleavage, his cheeks colored a bit. “I mean, if it’s just you and I, I’d be happy with forgoing clothes altogether.” He reached out to touch her cheek. “Which reminds me … do you still owe me an anatomy lesson?”
That comment surprised a full laugh out of Mira. “Here, now! I recall a very enjoyable lesson that night! I’m insulted that you’ve forgotten it!”
“Forgotten? I hadn’t forgotten. But,” he added with a wicked grin, “It did seem a rather complex subject. Perhaps another lesson is in order?”
“Hmmm…well, it would be only doing my duty to tutor you through this particularly complicated subject.” Mira leaned closer still and blew gently on his ear. “I’d hate to see a student of mine fail his examinations.”
“I promise to study with all my heart,” he said, before putting a hand on the back of her head, drawing her in for a kiss.
Copyright (c) 2003 Mona Hinds and Jamie Lawson. All rights reserved.