A/N: The title of this fic and the names of chapters are all titles of songs by The Strokes. The songs inspired the chapter content and overall work in some way. If you want, you can listen to these songs to kind of see where I'm coming from. For the most part, they fit the mood pretty well.
Disclaimer: This contains male/male romance. However, there is a large amount of story that occurs outside of the romantic elements, so I'd encourage you to keep reading even if that makes you uncomfortable. Hopefully you'll keep reading and be pleasantly surprised.
Is This It?
Can't you see I'm trying?
"One of the few parts of town that doesn't look like shit, huh."
Falco's voice was barely louder than the quiet chugging of the Maglev train. Fox lifted his head up, seeing undisturbed vegetation and fully intact buildings zipping past at 560 kilometers per hour.
Fox responded with a simple, "Hmm," before looking back down at the magazine. He felt like Falco was smiling at him, but didn't bother to look up.
"Ya know, magazines aren't going to help ya deal with stress."
He didn't need to be reminded. In his hands in bold, black print, words kept taunting him.
"Our Nation's Protectors…Until Death."
"Projected Cost of the Aparoid Invasion—37.8 billion credits: and that's Corneria City alone. After accounting for repair costs for multiple cities on multiple planets (the Fichina Climate Control Center, an investment you won't see put in good use in your or your children's lifetime, will cost you 22 billion credits out of your tax money), the total estimated cost comes to a whopping 2.6 trillion credits. The breakdown? Your—"
"With the unfortunate deaths of nearly all of the CDF members, everyone is wondering what happens next. How will the military be able to recruit thousands of new members after this appalling tragedy, and more importantly, how will Corneria stay safe until—"
"A stone memorial to be constructed in the middle of Cornerian Square is planned on being constructed to remind us of those who gave their lives for—"
Fox started to get nauseous—an indicator that the Maglev train was slowing down (or stress was getting the better of him). He shook the newspaper, folded it, and placed it in the container bolted to the wall above him. The Maglev crawled to a complete stop.
He was going to get up, but something tugged at the back of his shirt. "Not our stop," Falco said, pulling him back into the seat.
"You're kidding," Fox muttered, watching as other passengers got up, trying to squeeze out of the doors as others squeezed in. "We had to have been here for at least half an hour."
"It's only been seven minutes."
"Damn it." Fox scratched his head, tensing as the Maglev churned and began moving again. The process of having to read and interpret words would have taken his mind off things, had everything he read not been about said things.
Three weeks ago, the Aparoid Queen was destroyed, and every single Aparoid in existence self-destructed.
Since then, he's attended about 3 different (repetitive) ceremonies and gala dinners celebrating his team for victory.
Since then, he's landed himself into millions of credits more debt (that would probably have to be paid off via military service, damn it) due to the destruction of the Great Fox.
Since then, he's managed to barely keep a relationship (could he call it that? He wasn't sure) at best rocky.
Since then, he's found out that Peppy, General Pepper, and Star Wolf were still alive, which would have been amazing (it still was) had he not found out that this implied Pigma Dengar was still alive as well—
"C'mon, after the Lylat Wars you weren't this tense." Falco patted him on the back a little too hard. "Lighten up a bit."
Fox responded to this with his usual, "Hmm." He didn't know why he was so pissed off at everything. He just was, and everybody else seemed to be reacting to it.
His comm buzzed in his pocket. He fumbled around to pick it up, covering his left ear to hear better. "Hello?"
"Fox, where are you?" Peppy's familiar voice sounded slightly metallic from the speakers.
"I'm still on the train," he said, noticing Falco turn his head in interest. "I'm on my way."
"I've had meetings with Katina's and Aquas' Ministers of Defense, yet you're in the same city and still manage to be late?"
"The opposite side of the city, and besides, you can't expect much from me when you want to meet at 7:30 in the morning."
Fox heard a laugh on the other end. "Relax, it's fine. I do expect to see you shortly, though."
Beep. Fox sighed and put his phone back in his pocket. He lifted his head to see out of the window again; trees and vegetation disappeared, tall white buildings replacing them. He saw the deep-blue star emblem of the Cornerian Naval Base flash by on one of the buildings.
A few seconds later, he felt a bit dizzy again. He looked up, seeing walls and pillars of buildings slow down to a halt. The doors opened, and he walked into the terminal.
Normally, the subways and roads of the Cornerian Tactical Center, dubbed the CTC, weren't ever crowded. Today, the sound of footsteps and coats brushing against arms muffled the roar of the Maglev. People hauling briefcases, people mumbling into a comm., looking worried; Fox stopped bothering to mutter, "Pardon," after the fourth person he bumped into.
He jogged up the stairs leading outside. Despite the cloudy overcast and biting cold, the small rays of natural light were refreshing. He stretched his limbs a bit before continuing on. Falco crossed his arms, looking at him.
He knew the enormous white buildings of this district better than his own apartment. After exiting the subway, he walked right, bumping against people scampering in and out of the Cornerian Stock Exchange and 2nd National Bank buildings. "Kinda glad," he thought, "that I didn't invest into something as unreliable as stocks."
Not that it mattered; his father dropped an 80-year-unpaid-loan for a now obliterated cruiser on him.
Fox winced. He turned left, crossing an already busy street. He kept trudging forward, moving around people. Falco was somewhere around him, but he didn't know exactly where since there were too many people walking around.
A few minutes later, he approached the busiest intersection in the CTC. On one corner was a Starbrew Café, emitting scents of coffee to the street. On another corner was the government library, doubling as a wireless center. On the corner he was on was a wide, windowed building, pillars covering its walls.
It was the Cornerian Defense Base, and his destination.
He trotted up the stairs, opened the wooden double doors, and pushed through the rotating door after it. There was only one pathway to the main room, and a security guard with a metal detector was covering it.
Fox pulled out his ID—"I need to get a new license," he thought, cringing as he looked at his 22-year old toothy smile—and lifted his arms as he went through the metal detector. There was a beep, and he showed the security guard his ID. "Probably just my belt," Fox said.
The security guard, a middle aged hound, lifted his eyebrows and smirked. "Oh, you can go on. I see you all the time."
Fox went on, walking to the elevators on the left wall. He heard a voice behind him mutter, "Hmph, so much for security."
"It's not like he doesn't know me," Fox said, pushing the button.
"Just sayin', just sayin'…"
The elevator opened with a ding. Someone struggling to keep papers together in her binder stumbled out before they walked in. Fox noticed two people that couldn't have any older than him in the elevator, so he walked to the corner after Falco pushed the 8 button, trying to avoid eye contact.
"McCloud!" The voice was too excited; he couldn't have been older than 14. "It's McCloud and Falco Lombardi!"
Fox looked up and smiled at the two beagles. Falco just made a noise and turned his head. "Yeah, that's us," Fox said.
"You're like, military legends!" one of them said, grinning. The other one was trying his hardest not to laugh or something; he was just looking at the two with a dazed stare, covering his mouth.
"Of course…" Falco muttered.
"What are you two doing here?" Fox asked. They looked too young to officially be in any part of the military. They didn't even look natural in the suits they were wearing.
"Oh, we're in the Cornerian Flight Academy. We're sending these papers over," he waved the manila folder in his hand, "to General Frome, our instructor sent us you see-"
The elevator dinged, and Falco didn't hesitate to walk out. The teenager was left stammering, and Fox just forced a laugh. "We have to go, sorry," he said, walking out with Falco.
He heard a, "Bye!" from behind him and kept walking down the hallway.
"Damn, those people annoy me," Falco said, as if he was holding yelling at the kids before.
"You don't have to be so harsh," Fox said. "Besides, you don't seem to mind when it's women idolizing you."
"That's cause I know I'll get something out of it. But I need some fuckin' space every once in a while, jeez…"
Fox turned around to Falco and raised an eyebrow.
"Hey, not like you haven't abused your hero-status," Falco chuckled.
"I don't plan on it anymore."
"You say that now." Falco smirked, then turned to a wooden door labeled 8F7. "Maybe that's why you're so stressed all the time, hmm?"
"Right…" Fox patted down his jacket as Falco opened the door. "Meaningless sex will solve all my problems."
He walked behind Falco into the office, instantly noticing that the room reeked of magnificence and nobility. The deep blue carpet and dark red drapes were the only striking colors; the rest of the room sat back, neutral. Lights were on, but it was still distinctly morning. Large, black and white pictures of old Generals hung on the walls; the only sense of a personal touch was a small picture frame on the desk, showing a family of three, smiling hares.
Sitting at the wooden desk was an all-too-familiar person. It was strange to think that Peppy Hare, his lifelong friend, was now General of the Cornerian Army.
The hare only had a small smile, but his face seemed beaming. "Well, look who finally showed up!"
Two couches were in front of the desk, facing each other. Krystal and Slippy were already sitting in one. Krystal smiled (but it was probably just fake, polite), as he and Falco sat in the other couch.
Falco slumped against the arm of the couch and loudly tapped his foot before speaking. "Any reason we didn't just go to Katina instead of meeting here, Pep?"
Peppy stared at Falco, smirking. Falco sighed, and said, "General…"
"Well," the hare began, "can you blame me for wanting to see my teammates again? Former teammates I suppose, but it's all the same. I was too drugged up at the hospital to remember anything, really."
Falco didn't look amused. Honestly, Fox was wondering the same thing; Peppy had already briefed them all before, it was only last night when he called them all and told them to meet this morning.
"Alright, fine," Peppy said. "To be honest, the situation in Katina seems to be looking much better. Yesterday, Husky Squad went in and patrolled the outskirts of Katina. There was only one unidentified cruise ship flying around Katina, and when asked to leave, they left."
"The distress signals were an overreaction, then?" Slippy asked, looking a little relieved. The toad seemed to love the feeling after successful missions, but hated carrying out the missions themselves.
"No, I think they acted appropriately." Peppy was pulling out drawers in his desk, rummaging through folders. "There's still report of suspicious aircrafts flying a couple hours away from Katina. The threat of a large-scale pirate attack is still there, but for now, Husky Squad will contain it."
"So, why did you call us here?" Fox asked.
"Well…" Peppy's voice was muffled, coming from underneath the desk. "There are other problems but I can't seem to find it…"
As Peppy rummaged through the doors, Fox's eyes drifted towards Krystal. Her eyes locked on his on contact, and her stare looked almost disbelieving.
"What?" it seemed to say.
The rattling of papers stopped. Peppy walked towards them, waving a small, manila folder. "I wanted to meet you in person for two reasons," he began. "One, we're in deep financial troubles, to the point where we may not be able to do anything for the next couple of weeks."
"How come?" Krystal asked. She seemed pissed at him before, but her voice showed no signs of any irritability.
"We need another Great Fox, obviously, but because our old one was destroyed we owe a large sum of money, around 700 million credits, to the Cornerian Army and Space Dynamics. But with Corneria tight for funds, they're reluctant to give us another to loan, even for short periods of time."
Falco looked up. "So? You're General of the Cornerian Army now, you can do whatever the hell you want."
"True, but I have limited authority on how the army spends their funds. I know next to nothing about the economy regardless, but I'm trying to convince them that we could prevent losing that much money in damages from pirates and the like."
"What's it all mean?" Slippy asked.
"It means until I get some things sorted out, we won't have a Dreadnought-class heavy cruiser for a few weeks, meaning we can't take on most of the missions we'd like for money anyway."
"No perks for saving the Lylat system, huh," Fox thought.
"Secondly," Peppy began, "I want to help Star Wolf."
Those words didn't sound right together.
"They saved our lives, and by extension they saved Lylat's lives. I feel that's more than enough to wipe their criminal records, but with good reason others don't feel the same way."
"What are you trying to—"
Peppy put up a paw, interrupting Falco. "I'm attempting to convince other generals and Chiefs of Police to essentially set them free; it's the least we can do in thanks. I called you over to ask if you'd help me, in the conferences and everything."
Fox was thinking, confused, but Falco was the one who asked the question first. "What was the point of calling us over here just to ask that?"
"It's a more persuasive question in person."
Peppy's gaze seemed to confirm that statement. "Err…" Fox began, "I guess. It's not—"
"Great!" Peppy grinned. "We're actually having the conference in an hour, in room 3C5 in this building."
Of course it made sense to call them and talk in person before asking, as it made refusal a lot more awkward. Peppy wasn't stupid. Still, it was an odd how much he wanted confirmation by them, going by the measures he took.
Regardless, sitting by people they've tried to kill at least five times now was strange.
They were sitting at a long, rectangular table in a windowless, bleak room. When they arrived, they made it a point to sit across from the three who were already here (which was a bad idea now that he thought of it, because he had to intentionally look away the entire time). No one had spoken since they arrived, although Falco occasionally glared at Leon.
The silence was getting the better of him. With his face buried in his paws, he stared at the table, unsure of whether to speak or not.
Someone broke the silence, thankfully. Fox looked up; Slippy was looking down, twiddling his thumbs.
"Umm…I just wanted to say, thanks."
Slippy looked as if he was giving a speech on universal TV.
"Thanks for saving us back there, I mean." Slippy seemed to regain some of his composure. "That maneuver you guys did at the Aparoid Homeworld, I mean we'd all be dead if it wasn't for…"
Slippy trailed off, looking down at the table. Panther, who Fox now noticed was much taller and intimidating in person, just scoffed and turned away, glancing at Krystal.
No one had said anything for a while, leaving the room in an eerie silence. The only audible noise was the drone of the heater. When were they going to come in, so they could start this—
"Why the hell are you guys even here?" Leon spat.
Falco was quick to retaliate. "You're lucky we even agreed to do this for you, you ungrateful son-of-a-bitch."
"I'm ungrateful?" Leon forced a laugh. "Oh Gods, sorry you and everyone else is alive."
"Like anyone else in your position wouldn't have done that—"
"What makes you think I want to live in this Cornerian shithole, anyway?"
"I dunno, cause it's better than sucking ass to cheap thieves and drug cartels?"
"Falco, like always, you make no fucking sense. You'd be begging for an ounce of the life I had on Sargasso."
At some point, Fox stopped caring to hear what they were actually saying. Amidst the shouting, he turned to look at the other two. Wolf stared at a blank space in the wall, disinterested. Panther seemed amused though; he kept chuckling every time one of them yelled and insult, and then glanced to Krystal…
…who smiled back. Something welled up inside of him, but it subsided after a few seconds. Fox turned away, disgusted.
A loud thud—a chair fell back on the ground. Falco was half-standing on the table, clutching Leon's neck.
"Physical violence now, huh?" Leon asked, smiling. "When will you grow up?"
"Leon, shut up." That wasn't from Falco, surprisingly. Wolf was glaring at the two. "You're both just irritating."
Falco narrowed his eyes. "What makes you think that—"
The door handle moved, and Falco scampered back into his chair. Peppy and two other unfamiliar people, who both looked around Peppy's age, walked in the room and sat down at the end of the table. They looked around at everyone, seemingly emotionless.
One of the people sitting down, a dark bloodhound, stacked his papers and forced a cough. Peppy shrugged. "Time to begin this conference, I guess."
The bloodhound looked almost taken aback by Peppy's informality, but Peppy ignored it and continued. "First off, I'd like to introduce the Cornerian City Chief of Police, Richard Keith," he gestured to the man on the left, who smiled, "and the Lord Chief Justice, Maxwell Sabas," he gestured to the man on the right, who grunted.
"And you two already know who these people are."
Fox forced a smile.
Sabas cleared his throat again. "Listen, everybody appreciates everything you guys did for Lylat." His voice was uncomfortably loud. "However, that doesn't give you all the clear on your past criminal charges. Your—"
"Hold on, hold on," Keith interrupted him. "Considering what happened during the Aparoid Invasion, I think it gives them 'all the clear' on their past offenses."
Sabas folded his arms. "How does that make any sense?"
"How does it not? What's your criteria for something like this?"
"Excuse me for asking," Wolf cut in, his voice spilling with sarcasm, "but what's the point of us being here if you're just going to yell at each other?"
Sabas scoffed. Keith smiled and began to speak. "Well, the details of what happened are still a little murky."
"We need to know what happened during the Aparoid invasion, specifically, that for some reason allows you to roam Lylat free."
Peppy glanced at Sabas. "I already told you what happened."
"We need the information directly from the source. Anyway, I thought you rammed your mother-ship into the Aparoid planet, or something crazy. How could you—"
"We'd like multiple opinions," Keith said, relieving some of the tension. "To all of the details."
"Opinions that are less biased, hopefully."
"The overall information can't really be biased. These two mercenary teams were on opposite sides up until this point, if I'm not mistaken."
Sabas ignored this comment. "Fox," he began, "what happened during the Aparoid Invasion? More specifically, the destruction of the Aparoid Homeworld."
The memory seemed so distant now, it was hard to believe it had only happened three weeks ago.
"Star Wolf assisted us with the invasion," Fox said. "After passing through the shields and getting into the core of the planet, they took care of a swarm of Aparoids that would have killed us otherwise. From there, I fired Beltino Toad's self-destruct program into the Aparoid Queen, which killed her and every Aparoid in existence. I haven't seen Star Wolf since."
"So you're saying that they assisted you," Sabas began, "but there's no hard evidence to suggest their assistance caused your survival and Lylat's survival."
"No, that's not what I'm—we'd probably be dead if it wasn't for them. No, I'd certainly be dead if it wasn't for Wolf, he personally saved my life."
Wolf stared at him, blank. Sabas tapped a pen on the table, thinking. "And that was a for sure—"
"Yes, I was for certain going to die was it not for him."
Keith, shrugging his shoulders, looked at Peppy and Sabas. "Well," he began, "I don't see what the big deal is. Why do you insist on convicting them?
"I insist on it because that's the only logical course of action. Even if McCloud's testimony—"
"—is true, that doesn't change the nature of these criminals."
"But it's something that should be able to be dropped altogether, right? The fact we're even able to debate about this now is thanks to them."
"That mindset, ignoring obvious facts and the like, is exactly how the majority of the Cornerian Defense Forces were wiped out."
Keith glared at him. "That's a completely separate issue. Don't bring it up. Besides, that was a—"
"A tragedy, yes," Sabas glared back. "But it was easily preventable, and it is relevant because it's the same thing that could happen in this case."
"When have we ever commited mass murder?" Leon asked, not looking at the justice. Sabas raised his eyebrows and smiled. He stacked his papers again, and opened the portfolio, flipping through them.
"Leon Powalski," he said, then cleared his throat. "Let's see, breaking and entering, expulsion from the Cornerian Flight Academy due to aggravated assault and battery, breaking and entering of federal property, arson, aggravated battery, manslaughter, smuggling of drugs…that's all in one year. The rest of the list goes on and on."
"And Wolf O'Donnell, you've got the same things. Breaking and entering, expulsion of the Cornerian Flight Academy due to reckless behavior—"
Wolf's ear twitched, and he muttered something inaudible.
"—breaking and entering of federal property, arson, smuggling…I mean, if you think it's a smart idea to let highly active criminals free because of circumstantial assistance, go ahead."
Keith put a paw to his head and sighed. "Look, that's ignoring the fact that—"
"The fact that what, Keith?" Sabas was clearly angry, and staring Keith down. "Panther's the only one I'd consider clearing charges for, only because he's had a clean record up until joining their team. But still, these people are clearly criminals and will clearly commit more offenses if given the chance."
"So why not wait until they do commit the crimes to charge them?"
"What kind of backwater logic is that? There's no point in waiting for the glaringly obvious to happen—"
"We should wrap this conversation up," Peppy interrupted. "It's not working out the way I intended."
"Which was what? Letting these criminals free?"
"No, using time well. There's virtually no point of Star Fox and Star Wolf of being here if we're just going to waste their time bickering with each other."
Good thinking, too, Fox thought. Everyone was just getting uncomfortable being referenced as if they weren't there.
"So then," Wolf muttered, "what's our sentence or whatever?"
Sabas groaned. "It'll take me time to make an informed decision."
"Given that, you know," Wolf went on as if Sabas didn't say anything, "our property's been seized and all."
"I said I need time, okay?"
"And you're the highest ranking judiciary power in Corneria—"
"Look," Sabas said, clutching his head and looking as if he was going to rip his fur out. "If anyone sees your tails outside of Corneria, consider yourself arrested. …You're all safe for now, until I make a decision."
Star Wolf—and everyone else in the room, it seemed—was unresponsive. Sabas, however, looked infuriated.
"That's that, I suppose," Peppy said, getting out of his chair. "You're all free to go." He walked out of the room, Sabas and Keith following suit.
"That's it?" Slippy glanced at everyone. "Do we just leave?"
Nobody said anything. Slippy feigned a laugh, then slipped out of the room.
One by one, people got out of their chairs and left. Fox put his head on the table and stared at the wood. He would have gotten up, but he was feeling oddly lethargic.
Fox turned his head, seeing Krystal still seated a couple of chairs to his right. She was looking at the table before, but then she turned and made eye-contact with him.
Her eyes were telling him something, asking him something, but he didn't know what.
Before he could say anything, she turned away, got up, and left without a word.
"No point in being in an empty room by yourself, Fox," he mumbled, walking out the door. He made his way to the elevator, wondering what he was going to do to fill his day.
Same thing you always do. Bury yourself in newspapers and politics until you get bored and tired.
What did he used to do, before the Aparoid Invasion—no, that's not right, before the Lylat Wars? He honestly didn't remember what he did on a day to day basis.
Probably because you were too busy getting drunk.
He remembered being hired for random odd jobs. He remembered going to some new bar Falco would show him every other day. He remembered actually enjoying those military parties and celebrations. But…
Muscle-memory had apparently carried him outside the building, out to the front steps. Fox sighed—it hadn't warmed up much since the morning. He figured since he was already here, he'd get a cup of Starbrew and wake himself up.
Halfway down the steps, he stopped in his tracks. Wolf was sitting on one of the steps, staring somewhere. Fox found it odd that he didn't know the man that he had nearly killed, had nearly been killed by, and that had saved his life.
"Not that talking to him would change that," he thought, walking on. But something compelled him to stop and turn around.
He walked towards him, noticing he was smoking, unsure of what to say. Too late now—he was standing in front of Wolf, who turned up to look at him.
"Err…" Fox began. "I didn't know you smoked."
"We've barely talked," he said, his voice low, "and you're gonna make judgments on my health?"
"What? No, I'm just saying."
Wolf gazed at him a couple seconds longer, then laughed. "Whatever, McCloud." He twisted his cigarette on the concrete, using it as an ashtray.
He looked back up again. "What did you want?"
"Just to say thanks, I guess."
Wolf grunted. He looked back down at his cigarette and kept pushing it into the concrete, but the light was already out.
"What was that thing about your property getting seized, anyway?" Fox wasn't sure where the question came from; he wasn't thinking about it a second earlier.
"Really, why are you talking to me?"
Fox was about to retaliate, but Wolf just went on. "Sargasso was seized by the Cornerian government."
"I'm just surprised they didn't do it earlier." Wolf looked back at him again. "What? You didn't expect it? Not sure why now, but Sargasso's been an illegal criminal hideout, and Corneria's known about it."
Fox did his usual, "Hmm," in response. Wolf laid his head back on the steps, staring into the sky.
"If you don't have a reason for being here, you should leave."
"Oh, yeah," Fox said. He didn't realize how much time he seemed to have wasted. He got up and turned around. "Later."
"When are you expecting to see me later?"
Fox raised his hands. "Excuse me for trying to be polite."
Fox flicked the lights on, revealing his home. Open newspapers were strewn on the table, a blanket was on the floor near the couch, and one of the light bulbs in his chandelier still wouldn't turn on. His apartment usually wasn't messy, but recently he didn't seem to care.
He looked at the room and frowned, then turned the lights back off and walked to his bedroom. His bed was messy as well, but he was too tired to do anything about it. He pushed a newspaper off his bed and fell back on it, staring at the ceiling he could barely see in the dark.
He supposed he should have gotten up, taken a shower, brushed his teeth, and all that, but he was too exhausted for any of that.
His comm buzzed in his pocket. A couple of seconds later, he reached to get it and flicked it open.
YOU HAVE 1 NEW TXT MSG. He opened it, and read what little of a message there was.
Fox frowned. It was probably someone who sent a message to the wrong person by mistake, so he looked at who sent it—
There wasn't a name after the From: section, and after To: it just said McCloud, and only McCloud, which wasn't what he was listed as on his comm.
Whatever. He was going to put his comm back in his pocket, but it buzzed in his hands. He flipped it open, reading the message.
"It's all the time you have."
Fox pushed himself to side of his bed and flipped on his lamp, the dim light comforting him. This was eerie. He looked at his comm inbox, looking for the message.
It wasn't there. His most recent message was from Krystal, from yesterday.
His comm buzzed again. This time, someone was calling him. He put the comm to his ear.
No one answered. It was completely silent—no static, no breathing, nothing.
Someone exhaled. Fox's heart skipped a beat, and he slammed his comm shut. He stared at it for a few more minutes, waiting for any more messages or calls.
"It's probably something stupid," Fox mumbled, his voice comforting him in the silence. He put his comm back in his pocket, turned off the lights, and laid back down on his bed.