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Bumps and Bruises

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There’s a tightness in her chest that hasn’t abated, despite the fact that it’s been almost an hour since they returned to the Tempest.

Normally, Catherine would take comfort in cleaning her armor and weapons. It has become a ritual for her, a way to wind down after a stressful mission.

But today she’s finding no comfort in it.

Instead, she’s distracted by the sound of Verand and Liam’s laughter echoing around the room, and it’s enough to make her drop the part she’s been working on.

“Are you okay Pathfinder?” Liam asks, looking over from where he’s standing.

Pathfinder.

The title still makes Catherine’s skin crawl. It is both a title and a responsibility she never wanted in the first place and it only serves as a reminder of all the disapproving looks and comments she has gotten from the Nexus leaders.

“You’re not Alec, but you’re all we have”

“Yeah, I’m fine” Cat offers Liam what she hopes is a convincing smile. Judging by the look on his face, it isn’t.

Luckily, he decides to let it slide. “Okay”

But Cat knows him well enough to know they’ll talk about it later. It’s not something she’s looking forward to.

They finish up their work in silence, and when she’s done, she heads straight for her room, ignoring the concerned looks the rest of the crew is giving her.

As soon as the door closed behind her, Cat finally let herself cry.

She had no idea how long it went on before there was a knock on the door.

“Come in” Cat calls.

“Hey,” Liam says as he steps into her room. For several moments, neither of them speaks, both unsure how to broach the subject.

“Are you alright?” Liam asks, moving closer to Cat. A part of her wants so badly to lean into him, to take comfort in his presence, but she can’t. Not right now. Not when he’s the source of her distress.

“I’m fine. Why wouldn’t I be?” She lies.

Liam frowns and Cat knows that he’s still not buying it. “Hey,” He said reaching down to cup her cheek. “You don’t need to do that, not with me”

Sometimes, it scares Cat how easily he can see through her. “I don’t know what you’re talking about” She can hear the defensiveness in her voice.

“It’s okay to not be okay” Damn it. She can feel tears well up in her eyes, making her vision blurry.

“Look, I know I messed up, okay? I shouldn’t have given Verand the codes, but-”

“Liam” Cat interrupts him. “I know you did it because you care. It’s one of the things I love the most about you” She can see Liam’s eyes widen, but before he can say anything she continues.

“But it still doesn’t change the fact that you didn’t tell me what you were doing. I would have helped you if you had, you know that. But you didn’t even try talking to me and instead, you go behind my back and I don’t find out about it until it’s almost too late” Her tears are now falling freely.

“You didn’t trust me,” Cat says quietly.

“Cat, I-” Liam starts, but again, Cat interrupts him.

“No. Just… Just go, please. I need to be alone right now” She says, turning her back to him. Liam wants to say something, but they’ve been together long enough for him to know that he needs to back off and give her space.

So he does.

Once she’s alone, she sits on her bed with her arms wrapped around her knees. It scared her that Liam had so much power over her. No one had ever had that, not even back in the Milky Way.

When her tears finally dried stopped, she laid back on the bed, too tired to take off her clothes and within moments, she’s fast asleep.