Insomnia had found him yet again.
It never seemed to be very far away, like a specter that haunted him.
Greg laid in bed and stared up at the ceiling, a cigarette in hand, his mind wandering. Good things had happened in the three days since Hawkins had picked them up among the debris of the Perseus. After getting everyone to the infirmary to get looked at, (Greg had finally got some proper treatment for his back,) Hawkins had pored over the information they'd pulled from the Perseus. With this in hand, he'd finally gone to the Galactic Alliance and proven that they were getting fucked over by certain political elements.
For once, the response had been immediate and positive. The Galactic Alliance stopped hounding and investigating them, and instead started ferreting out Blackmore's and Jericho's contacts and supporters among their own ranks. There had even been talks of some of the things Eve had mentioned earlier: expansion, more ships, more personnel, research labs and containment facilities actually overseen by Anomalous Ops personnel.
Greg wasn't sure how to feel about that.
It struck a little too close to Dark Ops, Blackmore, Matheson, and all the others who thought they were doing the galaxy a favor.
If nothing else, he was looking forward to keeping his superiors in line.
He'd spent most of the three days down. The first one they wouldn't let him out of bed and he'd slept a lot. Well...he'd slept in between visits from Vanessa and Amy, who were as glad to see him as he was to see them. For the next two days, in between sleep and sex, he'd been helping the crew make repairs to the Dauntless, since a fair amount of damage had been done in the attack. From the way Hawkins had told it, you'd think the attackers had gotten their asses kicked squarely as soon as they'd gotten onto the ship.
Greg had also made sure to call up Allan and Callie as soon as he had been able. They were fine. Blackmore had never even gone after them.
Presently, it was the third night, and he was back in his own bed with Vanessa asleep next to him. She seemed to sleep easy, and he really did envy her that ability. With an abrupt sigh, Greg sat up, stuck the cigarette in his mouth and got dressed in the dim light. He hated laying there in bed, waiting for sleep to come to him. It just drove him fucking nuts. He felt like he was wasting time. His back was healed up and he was actually feeling half-decent after everything that had happened. Who knew, maybe he was making peace with his place in the galaxy.
Once he was dressed, he kissed Vanessa on the forehead and then slipped out of their quarters. Who would be awake right now? It was a total crap-shoot, honestly. Anyone could be awake. He moved out of the living quarters section and kept going until he came to the mess hall. There was usually someone there.
Sure enough, a single, solitary figure sat hunched over a half-eaten meal.
Genevieve. She looked up as he approached.
"Hey, Greg," she said quietly.
"Hey," he replied, sitting across from her. "You okay?"
"Yeah..." She hesitated, seemed to consider something. "I guess I'm worried."
"Why? What's wrong?"
"Nothing." She paused, then laughed softly. "Nothing's wrong. That's what worries me."
"What do you mean?" But he thought he knew.
She sighed and shook her head. "For most of my life, it's all been shit. If it wasn't shit, it was dangerous. The life of an assassin is. And then there was Trent...and all the chaos here. But just recently? It's all...settled down. I mean, I'm sure we'll run into some kind of mission again where everything goes crazy, but all of our enemies are dead, as far as I know. The guys who had it in for us have been exposed, the monsters are dead. Well, you know, the ones we know about. And my relationship with Jennifer is going...great. Perfect, even. I'm in love, and it's...really, really scary. It's too...quiet," she murmured.
"Like you said, it'll get loud again, Genevieve. Don't worry too much. It'll all...balance out, you know? You'll find a nice equilibrium between quiet and loud. You just need to give it some time. In the meantime, enjoy yourself."
Genevieve was quiet for a long moment, apparently digesting this information. "You're right, I suppose," she said. "Thanks...what about you? How is your relationship going with..." she hesitated, "I'll be totally honest, I'm not sure who you're in the casual relationship with and who you're in the more serious relationship with."
He laughed. "Vanessa is the one I'm currently sharing a cabin with. Although...I dunno, things have been getting kind of more serious with Amy. Vanessa's actually gotten close to her too...but then Amy's also started dating Stacker, so..." he shrugged. "I'm happy. We're all happy, at least, as far as I can tell. And we're having fun. I think that's...about as good as I can hope for, in all honesty. And I'm lucky to be as happy as I am," he said, hoping he sounded convincing. He was still having some pretty dark, low periods.
Apparently Genevieve bought it. "Good," she said, offering him a rare, small smile. He was glad to see that she was coming out of her shell more and more often now. As miserable as he might be, Greg really did want other people around him to be happy. Genevieve yawned suddenly. "I should get back to Jennifer. Thanks for the talk."
"Anytime," Greg replied.
He watched her put away the remains of her meal and then walk out of the room. After lingering for a moment, he stubbed out his cigarette, tossed it and lit up a new one. He felt like getting drunk, just then. That would probably help him sleep.
He left the mess hall and came to the lounge, where he found another single, solitary figure sitting on the couch he normally sat on, the one that faced the huge window that looked out into space. Currently, it was showing a great blue-green world, some planet they were orbiting around while Hawkins had the ship refitted and refueled.
"Greg!" Drake said as he sat down. He was holding a bottle of something strong. He passed it to him. "You want some?"
"Hell yes I do," Greg replied, taking it and draining a quarter of the bottle in one go. He pulled it away, took a huge breath, feeling the alcohol burn his throat, then passed it back to Drake. "Ah, that's a lot better," he murmured. "How's things going, Drake?"
"Good. Eric's up right now, overseeing the refueling process. He's convinced they don't know what they're doing, so...you know how he is with stuff like that. Anyway, I couldn't sleep with him not around. Luna gets all pissy when he's not there at night. She was crawling all over me, using her claws. Figured I'd come here."
"I see," Greg replied. They passed the bottle back and forth. "How are you doing?"
"I'm good. I'm kinda settling into my relationship more easily. I think there's going to be hardships, and it's going to be tough...but it'll be worth it. Relationships are hard, but the right ones are worth it."
"They are," Greg agreed. "It's good to hear that. Everyone seems to be in a good place."
"What about you? Are you in a good place?"
"Well...you know, for the most part."
"The most part? What's that mean?"
Greg sighed. "I'm still...dealing with loss. And, you know, being around Eve isn't helpful. But I'm dealing with it, getting past it. Vanessa and Amy are really helping. They're both actually really caring, once you get past Vanessa's hardcore exterior and Amy's smartass exterior. And I've pretty much come to terms with the fact that this is my life. This is the thing I'm going to do until I die. There's actually some comfort in that, you know?"
"Yeah, I know what you mean. I think there might not be much worse than not knowing what the hell you should do with your life," Drake replied.
Both of them continued passing the bottle back and forth until it was drained. After a very long while of silence, Drake finally spoke up.
"So...what happens next?" he asked.
Greg was staring at the planet, not really seeing it. "We keep going," he replied simply. "There's always going to be more for us to do."
"That makes sense," Drake murmured.
They both sat there and continued staring out the window.
There was always going to be more to do.
He was looking forward to the work.
YOU ARE READING
The fifteenth, and final, novel in The Shadow Wars. Greg Bishop finds himself in an all too familiar, and disturbing, situation: he has awoken in a cell with no idea of how he has gotten there, where he is, or why he has been locked up. As he escape...