Warnings: AU.

Home Leaving

It is time.

You can feel it your bones, emanating from deep within the marrow: a deep longing that goes beyond simple duty. You can hear it in the blood pumping in your ears: the sound of battle, the glory of names singing out from the ramparts, the ringing triumph of saving others. You know this well, this instinctual calling that is as intrinsic to you as the Virtues themselves.

You know it all too well.

It is time. You know this, lying in your bed. It might be the last time you ever see a bed, and so you linger there, wanting to enjoy your last good night's sleep. Perhaps you should stay a little longer? But it is Time, and your old friends need you. Britannia needs you. The Virtues need you because you are the Avatar, and this is your Duty. Your Destiny. Your only life.

You understand this, and hate yourself for it.

You get out of bed, throwing the covers down on the floor. Bending down to pick them up, you consider not making the bed as you do every morning, to prove once and for all that you exist, you live, you are in this world right now. Because, last time, you almost didn't make it home.

But you make the bed anyway, because you are you and virtuous people should keep a clean house.

You meander down the stairs and pass by the many swords hanging from the wall. Experience tells you that those swords will not survive the trip, and a good breakfast is far more important. You stop in the office to organize a few stray papers you stayed up late grading the night before and wonder if your students will be upset that you still haven't finished grading their last test. A glance over at the bookshelf confirms that your spellbook is still there, collecting dust, before heading toward the wafting smells of breakfast.

And there, you are greeted with a kiss on the cheek and the exuberant shouts of, "Daddy! Daddy!" from the three fair-haired children already seated at the table. You smile at your wife and tell her that breakfast smells delicious, as always. She thanks you and asks if, perhaps, this means that the shed will finally get repainted?

You assure her it will, even if you have to fight past all the demons of hell to do so.

Breakfast is exquisite, as always. You make a point to again tell Shannon that, even if you say so every morning. And in that way, you wash the dishes, put Sally-Anne's hair in pig-tails, and sneak the last three slices of cake into the kids' lunchboxes when Shannon isn't looking. Little, devious Devin, who had tried to do as much last night, breaks into a big, tooth-gapped smile. You ruffle little Sam's hair, who as the oldest of the three, makes a point of rolling his eyes. And you share a last, lingering kiss with your wife of thirteen years, with your Shannon, and wish, desperately, that it wasn't time. But it is time and there isn't anything you can do about it but say goodbye.

And even still, amidst the I Love You's and Bye, Daddy's, you only say "Duty calls."

Briefcase and spellbook in hand, you leave and don't wonder whether or not you're coming back.

It is time for work.