Patterns Rating: PG-13
Diana deRiggs

"How could you not know he was cheating on you?" Elassar was incredulous.

"Tyria, there are SIGNS ... it's not like you caught him starting to cheat when you noticed. That'd just be too fortuitous. And you know better!" She shoved him. "YOU could have told me!"

Elassar's mien was mournfully wrinkled. "Really ... really? You think I could tell you? You credit me the guts to do that? When the signs are for you to see - you're the one intimate with him! I figured if I noticed, you surely would have noticed. I was surprised you didn't do anything!"

"Okay, wiseguy ... tell me what I should have seen." Tyria was annoyed at Elassar for coming to tell her that her husband was cheating on her. Even so, she rattled around the little kitchenette that came with the rented apartment she shared with her husband and new-born baby, and brought out a plate of biscuits and caf. Elassar was her friend; she knew that. So why would he bring such news to her? "You have no proof to give me, either, I'll bet."

Elassar blinked at her. "You really are a trusting soul, Tyria. It never occurred to me that you would be so delusional, considering your past experiences, and all."

She sighed, "Is this about me thinking I'm a Jedi?"

"What?" He was honestly perplexed. "Wha— no! It's not about you except that you haven't been observing Kell well enough to know this yourself." He looked a bit pensive, "That's not very Jedi of you, Tyria."

There it was ... the jibe never failed to sting at her. It's not that she was a bad Jedi, even though she had very weak abilities to commune with the Force. She was observant; trained as a Toprawa Ranger, she was great at surveillance and infiltration.

But something was missing — almost damaged — about Tyria Sarkin.

Basically, she failed to trust anyone, and so had a tendency to protect herself from harm — any harm. This made her a bit ... unwilling ... to view the obvious. Or, perhaps, she simply didn't know about things that one human should know about another human.

"Elassar ... what are you saying I should have seen?" Tyria felt tired.

"Sweetie ... you're kidding, right? You know, right?" Elassar hadn't touched his tea or biscuits. "Everyone ... I mean, I thought it was instinctive for girls ... I've heard women can smell when a man is cheating!"

That hurt, too. Was she not a girl?

He leaned forward, conspiratorially. "It's changes, Tyria. Any change from his normal behavior, that's when to be suspicious!"

Rolling her eyes, Tyria leaned away, "He's an intelligence operative, Elassar. He even ... he will even have to sleep with the targets ... it's not cheating ... not really ..."

"No, that isn't what I mean, and you know it, don't you?" Elassar crunched on the stale cookie and literally washed it down with too—hot caf, which seared his mouth, but he dared not complain. It did calm down his excitement at discovering his friend had not known about her husband's infidelity. And now that he was calmer, he wondered if he'd made a mistake saying anything.

"I mean ... we learned about those categories in workshops, back when we became an Intelligence unit, remember? It's how spymongers can win people over: money and sex in the case of men, and love in the case of women."

"Are you saying someone is trying to recruit him? Is Kell in trouble?" Tyria was confused.

"I mean, there are patterns."

"Such as ...?" Tyria grew more apprehensive.

"Well," started Elassar, warming up the task despite himself, "um, there is time ... he's spending it differently, away from home. And money and grooming and sex — you can get more sex from such a man, or less. And he'd accuse you of being untrue, out of guilt. It's all against the benchmark of his personality."

Tyria was quiet, saying nothing for a long stretch, and Elassar nibbled nervously on the overly hard and dry biscuits. There was no caf left to help him swallow it, so he chewed for the whole time.

Inside her head, Tyria knew Elassar was right. She'd noticed all these things. But she'd thought her husband had been reacting to Doran's recent birth. Men are allowed to go a bit crazy when their wives are birthing, right?

But that should not include infidelity. Though she knew since he was an undercover operative, he would often be required to be intimate with others. She had no right to ask, nor to deny him. After all, she might have to do the same in her job, in the same unit.

"Who with," she finally whispered to her friend, asking the uncomfortable question.

He fidgeted uncomfortably, "I'd rather you see for yourself ... since you don't believe me. Yes ... it'd be better if you saw ... I know where they are ..."

"Is it someone I know?" Tyria felt a burning need to know.

He hung his head, the horns that marked his membership in the Devaronian race nearly touching the table as he slumped down. His shoulders shook with sobbing. "I can't ... I can't ..."

Angry, she grabbed him by his horns and pulled his hear up. "You have the guts to come and tattle on Kell, but you protect the bitch he's fucking? Wait ... it's a woman ... right?"

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