I’m sorry. For everything.
“Son, you seem distraught.”
Arcann heard his mother’s voice but was reluctant to tear himself out of contemplation. The air was cold above the canyon, the breeze made sounds dissipate faster and he wasn’t aware of her footsteps when Senya approached him near the railing. Her gloved hand pressed upon his right shoulder.
“Is everything alright?”
It was alright. Odessen was safe, the Eternal Fleet was theirs again. The Commander was working hard to rally factions for peace. She worked day and night, sometimes days at a time when deployed to another system.
He barely ever saw her anymore.
“Ever since last week, when we returned from Zakuul, I have noticed you were absent from your chambers. I can’t help but worry.”
“I need to stay busy,” he replied with an assuring nod. “The Alliance needs all the help it can get, we must stay alert against any uprisings. We have known these times when father was alive.” He recalled traveling Wild Space and the Outer Rim with Thexan, crushing the resistance against the Eternal Empire. “I know we can’t afford the same mistakes twice.”
“You are valuable to us all, Arcann.” She leaned over to catch his gaze, and he faced her with a certain difficulty. “But watch yourself not to get overworked.”
His teeth were locked tightly and he managed a pinched smile if only to dismiss her concerns. It was a vain attempt, a mother always worried about her children. Arcann needed to actively remind himself that she had only one left.
He sensed her pain and her mental exhaustion. Senya looked down in turn, clutching at the railing that separated them both against a deadly precipice. His lips twisted with dread before he circled his mother in his arms.
“Oh,” she breathed with surprise. “Thank you.”
He held on to her for a moment, sufficiently long enough to realize how much he’d missed the comfort of another person being close to him.
Long enough to want more. From someone else. Of something else.