Lysar smiled as he opened the door. Standing in its way was his beloved partner, Rethais, and a handful of guards. Rethais had clearly been shopping on his way home as he was carrying a basket of goodies. With a wave of his hand, Rethais dismissed the guards and stepped inside.
“It is good to be home.”
“It is good to see you, dear!” Lysar was still smiling as he wrapped his arms around Rethais, holding him tightly, his dark blue and silver armour being a stark contrast against Rethais’s red and gold body. “You spend far too much time working.”
Rethais sighed, briefly embracing Lysar then letting go. “I know. And I am…” Rethais paused, then sighed again. “Are the kids here?”
“What? No…” Lysar frowned, then led Rethias into the main living area and sat him down at a well-dressed dining table. Heavy, plump cushions covered the seats while the fancy bowls and cutlery, the set they saved for special occasions, was laid out in front of him. The scent of four-day stew wafted in from the kitchen.
“No? Oh. Of course. Silly me…” Rethais tried to settle down but looked rather uneasy,
“You do not remember?”
Rethais sighed again. The uneasiness was getting far worse. “I apologise, my beloved. I have had a huge amount on my mind. What with half the planet being affected by an electromagnetic pulse. We are still finding more and more harrowing stories and…”
Lysar sat down in front of Rethais, tutting loudly. “You do not remember what our kids are doing?”
“Do not mock my words, Lysar!” Rethais snapped, before immediately calming down and apologising. “I am sorry… I know what they are up to. I had just forgotten that they had both cancelled coming home. I would have liked to have seen Relkay in a… less than dire situation, but he is doing well with his new duties. As for Revan…”
“Revan is doing as Revan does. Looking for knowledge and adventure, yet again…” Lysar’s smile returned. “Did you see what he recently dug up? A pair of untouched Thrakairon Blades. Apparently worth a few million. He is a vastly intelligent little one.”
Rethais nodded, staring somewhat blankly ahead. Lysar noticed that something was wrong, but couldn’t quite tell what. His beloved partner seemed far more exhausted than Lysar had planned, clearly recent events had taken their toll on Rethais.
“Is there something you wish to discuss?” Lysar asked as he stood up. “Something you wish to ramble and vent about while I finish off supper?”
“Hmph. I… I have just caught up with you, after so many weeks, I do not want to leave my worries on your shoulders.”
A smile slipped across Lysar’s face as he headed into the kitchen. Everything was pretty much done, Lysar just wanted to finish with some freshly baked bread. “I am always happy to listen.”
Rethais didn’t reply at first. He sat silently, waiting patiently for Lysar to return. When he finally did come back, holding a plate of warm, fresh, buttered bread in one hand and a large, full cauldron of stew in the other, a smile flickered then swiftly faced from Rethais’s face.
“I miss you a lot, Lysar. Being the High General… it is what I want but it has cost my family too much. I never see you. I never see the kids I birthed. And when I do see you all, I am too stressed to appreciate you all.”
“That is understandable…” Lysar gently filled up two bowls with stew then tore up the bread and left it floating in the dark, salty broth. “But there is more bothering you, is there not?”
Rethais nodded. “I… I am wondering if I am suited for this job. It was fine for General Elkay, he never had family to go home to. General Photeianos never had family either. But I have you, Lysar, and I never get to spend time with you any more…”
The High General paused, waiting for Lysar to sit down. Lysar dumped himself in the chair opposite Rethais, then helped himself to an extra piece of bread.
“Are you thinking of… giving up?”
“No. Not at all. But General Lepidas… he tries his best but really, I am doing all the work.”
“Then why not find General Elkay and bring him back into the fold? Or ask him for help?”
A clunk echoed through the room as Rethais dropped his spoon. The spoon collided with the bowl, sending a small spray of stew across the table.
“I know he is not dead. You told me. I do not know where he is, but you said he was alive and well. Maybe he…”
Rethais shook his head. “No, Lysar. Elkay and I did not part ways on… good terms.”
Lysar shrugged, then spooned some stew into his mouth. “Well, maybe you should be the better Rethan and change that.”
“You do not…” Rethais trailed off, then stared at his food. “You know what, Lysar? You are correct and I do not wish to argue with you. But for now, I think it would be nice to just sit here and relax and do more… pleasant things…”
The two Rethans smiled at each other.
“Yes, that would be nice.”