Every night when I prepare dinner for Dustil, I can't help but wonder if I made a mistake.

Am I happy? Well, that depends on what way you look at it. On the one hand, I get to spend all the time I want with Dustil, and watch him grow up. It's more of a joy than I ever would have imagined. And he's a relatively happy kid, all things considered. His main complaint with life in general is one I share.

The absence of Morgana- my wife, his mother.

We were both military, which may have been the first mistake we made. I mean, I know it's usually seen as a bad move to marry a military person. Being a military person married to a military person isn't any better. I was a pilot, she works more in the engineering end of things. I never did understand all that technical stuff the way she does. Still don't. Hell, I don't even understand the manual for the refridgeration unit, much less the operating system for the starfighter targeting systems. My attempts to do something so simple as replacing the lightbulb were completely fruitless. Force, I wish she were here. I sometimes forget she's not, and end up setting a place for her during mealtimes. I never have the heart to clear it away, and untouched it grows cold until Dustil quietly cleans it up.

I don't mess with her computer. It's still here, gathering dust in the corner. Come to it, I haven't even really looked at it since she left. I don't know how she managed to put so much of herself into a machine, but somehow, she did. It's much larger than it needs to be, but she always told me she liked it better that way because it gave her room to work. "You try squishing your hands into a tiny compartment," she'd always tell me. You could practically sit on this thing, though- Dustil used to, when she'd be working at home in the evenings. She'd make up a story around the work she was doing, and tell him about the adventures the variables were having. And the kid hung on every word, too. I somehow doubt that he understood what she was doing, but she had a knack for making it interesting anyway.

I continue to examine the computer. I never noticed it was actually dark purple, not black as I've always thought it was. I guess I never looked at it that closely before. Or maybe I'm just colour-blind, or distracted by the lights inside. I never could quite understand why she insisted on a clear door, but I guess the inside looks kind of interesting. I think it would be more interesting if I knew what everything was. Colourful wires twist between cards and fans, I have no idea how it all fits together. I'm sure if I tried messing with it, I'd break it. I already broke the chrono in the kitchen, I don't need to add to the list of broken items she'll have to fix when she gets back.

I look down at the meal I'm attempting to prepare in disgust. Throwing down the spoon and turning off the stove, I grab my jacket, my cane, and head for the outdoors. It's raining, but I don't care. I need to clear my head. I think I started moving too fast, though, my knee is twingeing again. Kriffing knee, it's the only thing that kept me home. I was the one who was supposed to go, to protect my family. Morgana, she's not a combatant. She's really good at what she does, but she's also a lot better at this whole housekeeping thing than I am. Dustil always laughs at me when he sees me trying to vacuum under the couch. I've gotten that stupid unit stuck under there so many times, it's not even funny. And I swear the painting on the wall is laughing at me. I don't know where 'Gana picked that thing up, but I'd love nothing more than to smack the smirk from its face. And yet I don't, because she picked it out herself. Damned sentimentality.

I walk to the end of the road, around the corner, and past the school. I've spent so much time in the area, I need only walk forward. It's not like I'd get lost, I'm sure to wind up someplace remotely familiar. I've been taking altogether too many of these walks lately, anyway. Can't sleep, not when I never get to hear from her anymore. Why they have to keep a software engineer so busy that she can't call her own husband every once in a while is beyond me. I've tried several ways to get to sleep, none of which have worked. Of course, they all have to be quiet, since I can't wake Dustil- no point in him sharing my misery. Though I think he gets a great deal of amusement out of watching me lie on the couch surrounded by supposedly "aromatic" flowers, with the sounds of crashing waves. Said I looked like I was lying in state or something. At least one of us is amused.

I can hear a rumbling off in the distance, there must be a storm coming. I consider just keeping going, since lightning doesn't bother me much, but I still need to get something for Dustil to eat. Reluctantly, I start heading back in the direction of home. I make it about halfway there before I come to an unpleasant realization.

It isn't thunder I'm hearing in the distance, and those flashes aren't lightning.

They're turbolaser beams. And they're getting closer.

I can see the smoke from the fires in the distance, and the tips of flames licking the horizon. Force, I wish I could run. My knee can't take it anymore, but I start walking as fast as my legs will let me go. The ground shakes beneath me, subtly at first, then more sharply, and with greater intensity. Like broken verses to a mockery of an opera.

I reach the walkway to my home, but the sidewalk rises like a wave to greet me. I try to move out of the way, but I can't move fast enough. Damn my knee. I feel myself rising, tumbling, and then I am dumped like a forgotten rag doll on the street. I can feel the blood trickling down my head… that can't be a good sign. I don't know where Dustil is, but I can't get up to try and find him. I continue to hear the merciless pounding of turbolaser beams, accompanied by a cacophony of screams. Amidst all this, I hear my name.

"Carth…. Carth!"

It's Morgana… she's come back for me. A bit too late, I think, but I'm glad I'll get to see her one last time. Within moments, she's at my side, throwing aside bits of duracrete and wiping the blood from my face with her sleeve. Mine are torn, sliced by duracrete and shards of glass. I attempt to smile, but this only brings tears to her eyes. I guess I'm in worse shape than I feel.

"Hey… gorgeous." I cough slightly, and I see blood appear on my collar. Internal bleeding, looks like.

"Don't, don't talk," she shushes me. "I need to get you to a med station."

"Don't think that's gonna help, sweetheart." I can feel the temperature dropping in spite of the raging fires. "I'm banged up worse than they can fix on the field."

"Don't say that!" She cradles my head, and I wish I could stay there forever, albeit a bit less bloodied.

"You need to find Dustil. He was in the house. I can't go looking for him, I'm half gone anyway. Go find our son."

"I'm not leaving you!" she starts to scream for the medics. Nobody is coming, though. They're overwhelmed, everybody is dying.

I can at least have the privelege of saying I died with my wife, the one I love so dearly, holding me tight.

"'Gana, I love you. Always remember that, okay?"

Her eyes fill with tears, and they fall freely from her cheeks to mine. "I don't want to let you go."

"And I don't want to go. Just… just find Dustil. Take care of him."

"I will." She sniffles, but I can hear the determination in her voice.

"By the way," I muster one last smile for her, "I… I broke the chrono in the kitchen. I ho.. hope you're not too mad."

Tearful as she is, I see her smile and a tiny laugh escapes her lips. Good, I'd rather see her laughing.

I shiver. And now it's my time to go.

FIN.