Cleave Only Unto You
"HUSBAND!" she bellowed. I knew I was in trouble; she had NEVER called me that before. Not ever.
Okay, at that point, we'd only been married a few weeks, but I didn't except the namecalling to start so soon!
It was a sort of reverse-endearment that I'd heard Mirax call her husband, Corran. Corran didn't really care for it, and his wife brought it out when she was irritated at him. She called him other things if she was really peeved.
As for my wife, she does as many women do to their children, and refers to me by my full name when I'd committed a heinous misstep. "Wedge Wyns Antilles!" she'd holler. It always made me cringe, since I hadn't told anyone my middle name. (For those of you who hadn't realized, that's how I managed to find my sister, Syal Wynssa Antilles ...)
So to refer to me as a "thing" as opposed to a "who" was a large shift. What's more, she seemed to be emphasizing the relationship of this "thing" relative to her ... that can't be good, right?
She was pointing to a holo above her desk, showing our credits accounts. She has a complex way of figuring out where money goes and from where. When we had decided to get married albeit not very long ago I had happily surrendered by meager earnings to her care; I was never good at looking after credits.
I tried to track where her finger was leading my eye. Not that it was easy to follow a line, her hand was shaking! Of course, that meant she was really, really pissed off at me. I tried hard to remember if I'd spent anything I shouldn't have ...
"Twenty thousand daktaris ... did you think I'd be blinded by the amount and not notice??" The shaking had translated from her quivering finger into her voice.
I kept staring at the floating numbers, trying to locate the number "20,000" somewhere in the general area where she was pointing.
"It's a payment that dates back from before Adumar, nothing to do with you," I explained, referring to the mission where we'd run into one another and had, in the face of death, decided we were in love and couldn't live without each other. Was it only weeks ago? At that moment, it felt more like months!
She had stopped pointing and was standing with her arms crossed before her. I think she was still shaking. "It's to Dr. Qui Xux." She pronounced each syllable as if they were undesired fishbones.
"Like I said, from before 'us'." I was having trouble understanding why she was being like this. It had nothing to do with her and me!
"We couldn't afford to have a proper wedding, and you're paying a debt to Qwi?? Couldn't you have waited?" I could see that Iella was really working herself up. "Couldn't you have told me about it so I could budget?"
"No," I replied, trying to sound logical and matter-of-fact. "I thought it'd be a good idea to get it paid out. You know, start fresh with you."
"I didn't even know you owed her money! Why on earth would you borrow so much from her?" Iella was not giving this up.
"Um ... I didn't borrow it from her," I tried to defend myself, but I knew I'd made a mistake because Iella's fair skin was transmogrifying alarmingly through the red-end of the visible light spectrum.
"Oh? Did you buy something? And what would the great Wedge Wyns Antilles have bought from an impoverished Omwat?" I hated that Iella worked for Intelligence and knew anything about anything she wanted to know about. If she said Qwi was impoverished, it was likely the case. In fact, I knew it to be true.
"That's the point, Iella. Qwi has nothing to her name other than her skills and what the New Republic had given her "
Iella interrupted me with a loud sniff and perfectly enunciated words. "Including giving her a body guard!"
As clueless as I can be sometimes, even I understood that Iella was talking about me. I had been assigned as Qwi's bodyguard. I could not pretend it might have been someone else.
"Please, sit down," I tried to use a technique to calm people captured in the heat of battle. Of course, Iella hadn't been recently promoted to Director of Intelligence for no small reason.
"If you do not explain this to me this VERY instant, I will not only divorce you, I will beat the crap out of you!" This was no idle threat; Iella could kick the crap out of me without so much as trying.
"I'm trying," I complained.
She looked more furious, so I did as my fellow Corellians had told me to do talk faster! I figure any advice regarding handling a wife, as offered by Han Solo or Corran Horn, had to be useful.
"Iella, please ... there is nothing untoward about that payment! She had nothing after Kyp had destroyed her memories ... I mean, she only had me. People said she was taking advantage of me, but I have to tell you, that's not true. I got as much out of my relationship with Qwi as she did from me, and before you accuse me of being a cad, it was that she totally needed me. Truly and wholly, I was her whole world, and it was a wonderful feeling, after destroying and killing for nearly half of my life ... she was life to me. Surely, you must understand." I was babbling like a cretin; I was babbling to save my life!
It must have been working, because the tic in Iella's cheek was slowing. She seemed less full of vitriole, so she didn't seem so enormous! So I kept talking:
"She and I, it wasn't in the cards though. She knew it from the start I think, and eventually I knew it, too. But I wasn't ready to let go, and neither was she, so we let things be. And one day, she said to me, 'I don't know what will become of me when you leave. I have nothing, no memory of what I once knew I'll have to return to school. I've registered for some courses at a local institution. They're cheaper than the university.'
"I realize now that this was the first step she was making to become independent of me. But I wasn't ready for that. I needed to have her cleave to me ... so I made a promise: I told her that I'll always care for her, regardless of the future. And to prove it, I would pay for her education till she got to a point where she was the learned genius she was before her memories were destroyed.
"She didn't want to accept it, but she also admitted that it was an offer she couldn't refuse ... and she promised to work toward regaining her learning, and to not waste my faith in her."
Iella had stopped crossing her arms at his point, but I didn't know that it was an improvement. She was staring hard at me, her mouth agape, as if she was looking at a particularly offensive and stupid animal. "Cleave her to you, why you " she sputtered. So I kept talking:
"It was the most generous gift I could think of ... because I wasn't willing to marry her. I knew it then, I think. That was when I started to think of you, Iella ... I realized that I couldn't spend my life living with one woman ... when I was in love with another."
Iella's mouth was closing slowly and her lips had less of that tautly pulled look. I was doing pretty well, I thought!
"It wasn't just daktaris, don't you understand? I wanted to be responsible for recreating something the galaxy needed! I had been working as a builder and architect then, remember? I thought it was something I had in my blood, but I found out the hard way that I sucked at it. No building I designed remains standing; I was arrogant to think it was something which could be done by a former pilot.
"I was desperate to ensure I left something to the galaxy that was positive in a purely altruistic way. I wasn't going to marry Qwi, I knew it then. And even if I did, we could never have children ... so there was nothing I could leave to the galaxy.
"You have to understand at the time, I thought for sure I had lost you. I hadn't seen or heard from you since ... well, really since Diric died. I was sure you didn't want me. That's why I started dating Qwi in the first place, because the torch I held for you had been extinguished. The memory of what I'd lost with you ... well, I thought I should try to light another, even if the light it produced was nothing compared to the smouldering ember left by your rejection ..."
It was working Iella's featured had softened and her intense stare had become bright. A sure sign that tears were forming!
"But it's impossible to extinguish the truth, isn't it? It's why I've fought for so long. Because the galaxy deserved truth over tyranny ... and in dating Qwi, I not only realized that I loved you still, but that I had loved you always.
"So ... I hope you understand ... I had to give her the credits for her education. It was the least I could do, but the most I could afford. She was good to me, and I wanted to be responsible for her success and her contributions to the galaxy. Even if that meant she'd leave me behind forever. I didn't know I could win you back ..."
It worked! Iella was crying. I moved in to embrace her softly! Han has warned me about grabbing too fast or too hard when a woman was acting unsettled about you. Han is a wise man.
She held me hard and started sobbing and I breathed a sigh of relief!
"But," she sniffled, "promise me this is the end of your investment in her ... or in any other woman, you generous swine!"
She said it in a beautiful, loving way, so I promised as she asked. "And remember," I added, whispering in what I hoped was a husky, romantic manner, "I promised on our wedding day that, 'I forsake all others, and cleave only unto you ...' I meant it then, and I'll mean it forever, Iella."
(Good thing she didn't ask about debts to others who weren't women ...!)
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