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[2008: JAN-FEB] Secrets and Lies


Ilene Torza
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Secrets and Lies

Inye peered around the corner before she dashed to the door a few meters away. She was pretty sure Korel didn’t know, and that was the way she planned to keep it. She’d had a few close calls though, and she didn’t want to take any chances, even if she was just meeting someone in the Vulcan Academy Library on the station. She nodded to the Vulcan clerk, Sarkel, at the desk and walked purposefully through the darkened room looking at the numbers on the stacks to find the one they’d specified. Sure enough, between the books she saw him.

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Korel was starting to suspect that Inye was up to something. His usually open wife seemed to be concealing something from him, but he couldn’t quite put his finger on why. It was mostly just a feeling. Take the other day for example. He’d been working on a power conduit on the promenade when he thought he saw her standing in the doorway of Twilight’s Edge. But she was gone when he looked more closely. Then, a couple days after that he thought he saw her talking to someone in one of the shops but when he went to call out, she wasn’t there. Then, later, when he’d asked her about it she denied ever being on the Promenade that day. He was beginning to wonder if he was loosing his mind or just getting overly jealous and suspicious of his wife.

And yet, she seemed somewhat distant from him. While they still shared their link, whenever he touched her, he had the vague feeling that she was hiding something from him, like there was a bit of gauze concealing part of her from him. He could still feel her, but part of her was distant – and yet she also seemed inexplicably happier than usual. It was a feeling that made him quite uncomfortable. He didn’t enjoy feeling that his wife was hiding something from him. To add to his suspicions, she hadn’t really wanted to use the canar, the stone that deepened their link, in several months.

He had sat watching her bustling about their quarters while he was eating breakfast that morning pondering the situation. Part of him wanted to confront her, to ask what she was hiding. Part of him feared her answer. He didn’t want to loose her, and yet, he was afraid that he already had. In the end he’d decided to watch and wait, and hope that he was wrong.

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She greeted Danny with a warm smile and a quick hug. She and Korel had known him for ages, ever since their Academy days. She glanced over her shoulder to make sure no one was watching and they slipped deeper into the shadows to carry on a whispered conversation.

“Have you made the reservation?”

“Yes, everything is all set for tomorrow evening,” he whispered back. “Are you sure he doesn’t know?”

“I think he might have seen me the other day when I was getting my dress. He was even asking about my being on the Promenade. It was hard to convince him that nothing was going on but I think he only has vague suspicions right now. Let’s just try to make it to tomorrow night, ok?”

They saw a movement in the shadows near the aisle and quit whispering until it passed, moving closer to the shelves and deeper into shadows. When it passed, she whispered, “Anything else we need to take care of? I’m on shift in 20 minutes.”

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He’d thought about following her, or at the very least using the system to track her comm. badge. He had the right skills to tap into the network. It wouldn’t be hard. A half-hour worth of programming and he could figure out what she was up to, who she was with. He wanted to trust her, to believe that she’d be faithful to him. But that vague feeling that something was up was growing and trust was becoming more difficult for him. That morning, in fact, she’d left for “work” an hour earlier than the duty shift started. The station was big but not that big. He’d even asked why she was leaving so early.

“Oh, I have an errand to run,” she’d said ever so casually. But she wouldn’t say what it was. She just kissed his cheek quickly and left him with his own fears and worries. She should know he was worried. He was sure she could feel it. So why didn’t she try to comfort him? Why didn’t she tell him he had nothing to fear? Was it because he really did have something to fear?

A plan to win her back had started to form in his mind. He’d charm her tonight, after work. They could have a candlelit dinner, romantic music, their first good talk in ages. And then, he’d bring out the canar, they’d deepen their link. And everything would be ok. It seemed like a good plan. He pulled down the ornate box on the shelf that held their canar and opened it, expecting it to be there, but it was gone. “Where is it?” he thought. “What have you done with it, Inye? Are you using it with someone else? Our stone? How could you?” It was the final straw.

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Fifteen minutes later Inye slipped out of the library and headed to sickbay, tugging on her jacket as she walked. It was comforting to know that everything was set for the following evening. She was tired of having to hide things from Korel. She frequently avoided touching him, fearing that he’d realize that she was concealing this whole thing from him. He had been asking her more frequently if she would like to use the canar but she had declined, knowing that the telepathic link it created could easily reveal her secret. She knew it hurt him every time she said no, but it was for his own good. Her growing fear that he would pressure her to use it had even driven her to taking it from its box and hiding it. He couldn’t know. Not yet.

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Korel went to engineering a little early and found an empty terminal to work on his program. He still felt guilty tracking his beloved but he couldn’t stand the secrets any longer; he wouldn’t accept the lies any more. He had to know what was going on, and who was stealing her away.

As he thought, it wasn’t hard to write. Some simple coding and the right commands easily yielded a program that would track her combadge. He finished just around the time the alpha shift started. As the program got running it showed her in sickbay. A few more commands and it began feeding information to the PADD he held in his hand, one he could carry with him as he went about his daily tasks.

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Work was uneventful for Inye. She had assisted the doctors in performing a number of routine physicals for station personnel. She had organized the stockroom. The most exciting thing was when she helped one physician patch up a broken leg from a holodeck misadventure, but even that injury hadn’t been urgent. On the one hand, it was nice knowing that for now, the station was at peace. But the routine, boring work left too much time for her to think and worry about the situation. She wished that something big would happen so she’d have to stay late. But nothing did. She sighed as her beta-shift replacement walked through the doors, knowing that it meant she had to go home to her husband. As she headed home, she made a detour through the Promenade, stopping at one of the cafés for a cup of coffee and one last chance to collect her thoughts and calm her emotions and excitement.

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Tinkering with power conduits could only keep Korel’s mind busy for so long. He had periodically checked the PADD, glad to see that Inye was still in sickbay. He hoped against hope that he was wrong. But in the back of his mind, he feared that she was getting more cautious and that tracking her may even prove difficult. Near the end of his shift he started a particularly challenging task that kept him on for a bit longer. He didn’t mind. He was afraid of going home, of letting her see his pain. He was even more afraid that if he went home she wouldn’t see his pain or at least that she wouldn’t care.

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Sighing, Inye drained the last of her coffee and set the cup down on the table in front of her. Steeling herself, she walked through the corridors headed for home. When the doors to her quarters slid open, she was almost relieved to see that Korel wasn’t there yet. His absence gave her a few more minutes without secrets. She thought of the events that were planned for the next day and smiled. It would be a good day. Walking to the replicator she ordered dinner for two.

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Korel had checked the records on the PADD and found that his wife had stopped on the Promenade for half an hour and that she was home now. He longed to run home to her, to tell her his fears, to have her comfort him. He longed to remind her how much she meant to him. Instead, he pasted a smile on his face as he walked through the halls. He pushed his fears to the back of his mind, putting up the same curtain that he felt from her. He called up happy feelings and pushed his love for her to the forefront of his mind, hoping that if they were strong enough, they’d mask the fear he felt during their brief contact.

The door to their quarters swished open and he saw the dinner she had prepared waiting for him. Maybe everything will be ok, he thought as he walked in. With a quick kiss to her forehead, they sat down to dinner.

The two Haliians talked quietly about their respective boring days, laughing about the little quirky events that had taken place as they ate. Rather than addressing the distance between them, they joked as if nothing were different. After dinner they read in silence, each in separate chairs. That night, although they slept in the same bed, the curtain each felt between them, built through the secret that neither was willing to discuss, was almost visible.

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Inye was the first awake in the morning. She made Korel’s coffee and his favorite breakfast: bacon, scrambled eggs, and toast. She had always thought it was a bit odd that his favorite breakfast was a Terran breakfast. He’d gotten hooked on it at the Academy. For herself she replicated a traditional Haliian breakfast pastry. As he ate she chatted gaily about anything and nothing, trying to keep the conversation going. She could tell that he was feeling a bit off and wanted to cheer him up.

Korel picked at his food trying to make a show of eating it while she was around. He laughed at her jokes and told himself that everything was fine. Inside his heart ached.

She gently kissed his cheek goodbye as she left for work. “Meet me in Twilight’s Edge tonight,” she whispered in his ear. “1800 hours.” With that, she was gone.

Korel tapped his combadge. “Hanii to Fritz.”

He heard his best friend’s voice crackle over the line. “Danny Fritz here. What’s up Korel?”

Korel could barely hold his voice together. “Danny I need someone to talk to. Do you have a few minutes?”

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Korel couldn’t explain why his conversation with Danny hadn’t made him feel better. Danny had tried to tell him that everything would be fine, but Korel was still worried. As the time for meeting Inye drew near, his sense of dread grew. He dragged his feet as he walked along the corridor.

It opened onto the promenade. Across the way he could see Twilight’s Edge. He even thought he saw Inye waiting for him at a table just inside the door. The area in between bustled with people: happy, busy people. He envied them. He saw a couple cross holding hands and laughing quietly with each other. He saw a woman holding her baby in one arm and shopping bags in the other, and imagined that she was going home to her husband. He envied the peaceful happiness that others seemed to be radiating and dreaded another evening of thinly veiled secrets with his own wife, the one he thought would be the love of his life.

Why does there have to be a secret? he thought. Tonight’s the perfect night. I’ll ask her what’s going on. We’ll get to the bottom of it. Even if she doesn’t love me anymore, at least there won’t be this secret. At least I’ll know.

Purposefully he strode across the space that separated them, determined to close both the physical and emotional gap. He was going to find out. He was going to confront her. He entered the bar and let his eyes adjust to the darkness.

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She was stunning. Rather than the uniform he expected, she was wearing a brand new dress. The deep green of the cloth accentuated her matching green eyes. The cut showed off her curves as she stood to greet him. He was mesmerized by her characteristic crooked smile and the sparkle in her eyes. He stood there confused as she kissed his cheek.

“Happy Birthday, my love,” she whispered in his ear.

“SURPRISE!” Suddenly the bar erupted into cheers. He looked around stunned. Danny was there with his most recent love interest. His friends from engineering were gathered at various tables nearby. A waiter wheeled out a giant birthday cake.

Inye hugged him and kissed his cheek lovingly. “I know you hate parties but I thought at least one birthday should have a special surprise. Besides, I have a secret to tell you.”

Korel looked at her with a question in his eyes. Her eyes sparkled and danced in the low light and a mischievous grin spread across her face. She leaned in to whisper in his ear.

“You’re going to be a daddy.”

Relief and joy washed over Korel as his fears melted away. A smile exploded onto Korel’s face as he picked his wife up and spun her around with joy. He alternated between hugging her close and covering her face with kisses.

“Really?” he whispered.

She nodded. “Really.”

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