A/N: Thank you SnidgetHex and pallysAramisRios for reviewing! Here we are, the end at last. :(


"Stars Go Dim"

2395

Earth. A beautiful swirl of emerald, cerulean, and white marble floating in space that evoked feelings of nostalgia and home for so many humans who'd set their courses across the galaxy. For Rios, it was the heart of the betrayal he'd suffered, a place he could never feel at home on again. For Raffi, it was a self-imposed exile.

She stood by the transporter pad, her packed bag sitting at her feet.

"Will you be okay?" Rios asked.

Her mouth quirked with wry bitterness. "What's 'okay'?"

True.

"I got in touch with a guy," she went on. "Got myself a nice little setup with a private desert vista."

The polite way of saying a run-down trailer in the middle of nowhere. But it would be hers, and Rios couldn't begrudge her that.

"What about you?" she asked.

He shrugged. What was "okay" for the two of them except "still alive"?

"We had a good run," she said after another morose moment.

Rios nodded solemnly. "If you ever need anything…" He gave her a sincere look, a promise to always be there for her, no matter how far away their paths took them.

Raffi gave him a wan, fond smile in return. "You too."

He stepped forward and embraced her. "Take care, hermana."

She squeezed back, holding on for a lengthy moment, then pulled away and picked up her bag, stepping up onto the platform.

Rios went to the control console and met her eyes one last time. She nodded, and he engaged the transporter. He watched as Raffi disappeared in a swirl of lights, leaving the deck quieter and emptier than it had a moment before.

Rios lingered a beat longer, then turned away and went back to the helm to set a course out of the Sol system. That was it, the end of their crossed orbits, the two of them retreating to their isolated corners of the universe, faint flickers in a vast cosmos.

Blink, and they're gone.