Vong War Annals – “Without a dawn” 6.01.08

             Sleep had come restlessly, elusive for hours despite her exhaustion, and now she awoke cold, shuddering and sweating, twisted in her covers.  Rain pounded against the windowpane, thunder rolled above, rattling the house to its foundations with its deep growl.  Arilyn squeezed her eyes shut, not wanting to be awake but knowing unbroken, dreamless sleep would continue to escape her grasp.

            Davil hadn’t come home last night after the reception, which was likely for the best, she reflected, as much as she missed him being home.  It would have been the kind of night that she would have crept into her brother’s room and curled up in his reading chair near the window with her blanket and waited for sleep to come while listening to him breathing, feeling the ripples of his dreams through the Force.  It was comforting, somehow, in some way.
            Her own dreams of the night before had been less peaceful and more nightmarish-she wasn’t quite sure whether they had been mere nightmares or Force-granted visions of the same sort that had plagued her mother for most of her life.  I hope they’re just nightmares.
            She slowly untangled the sheets that bound her, a cough rattling her ribcage as she settled again on her side, hugging an old stuffed toy against her chest.  Lightning lanced through the sky outside her window, rain pounded against it, sparkling in the dim, catching what little light there was.  The clouds were heavy, and even as she tentatively cast her senses into the sky, she could tell these storms wouldn’t pass anytime soon.
            So much for having the breakfast outside.
            Arilyn eased out of bed, flipping sweat-damp red hair out of her face.  I need a shower before I’m even remotely fit to be seen by anyone not my family.  The fact that the people that would be coming over were in truth a sort of extended family was one she ignored.  Bare feet whispered on the wooden floor as she made her way down into the hallway.  Her mother was laughing downstairs, she could hear it, and light from below illuminated the stairs, though only slightly.
            “In the kitchen!”
            She padded through the living room to find both of her parents in the kitchen, her mother perched on a stool at the island and her father with his head in the refrigeration unit.  Tilting her head to one side at the sight, her gaze flicked toward her mother, who was nursing a mug of caf with a faint smile on her face.  “You sending him out for groceries before this thing?”
            “I might be.  Tag was supposed to come give me a hand, but something came up.  Kingston should be here in twenty minutes if the storm doesn’t delay her.”
            “Is she going to try to bring an X-wing through this storm?”  Mike’s voice was muffled by its depth into the fridge and the sound of him moving things around inside.
            Indy rolled her eyes.  “You have to ask?”
            He pulled himself out and closed the fridge.  “Right, I forgot.  We need eggs and more milk.  And bacon.  Lots of bacon.”
            “Pick up a loaf of bread, too.”  She grinned at him as he poured himself a cup of caf.
            “Do you want some, Ari?”
            “No thanks, Dad.”  Arilyn watched him a moment as he filled his mug and joined her mother at the island before putting on a kettle of water to make a cup of tea.  “…so I guess you two kissed and made up, huh?”
            “All week long.  A week?”
            “Ten days,” Indy corrected.  She regarded her daughter with a serious gaze, one Arilyn had to fight hard not to wince under.  Arilyn turned around, getting a bag of tea out of the canister on the counter.  “Your brother doesn’t seem very happy about all of it, either.”
            Arilyn shut the canister loudly, the ceramic clanging against itself, turning quickly toward her parents.  “You don’t blame him for it, do you, Mom?”
            “Of course I don’t blame him for it.  He doesn’t even blame him for it.  That’s why I brought it up.”  Indy glanced at Mike, then back at her daughter.  “Do you think he’s ever going to be able to forgive him?”
            “I don’t know, Mom.”  It wasn’t a hard answer to give.  The kettle began to hiss; she took it off the burner and slowly poured the water into her mug.  “You were his hero, Dad.  You were his hero and someone else laid bare every flaw you had to him, larger than life.”  She sighed a little, leaning back against the countertop.  “He loves you and hates you all at once, like you and Thomas, but worse.”
            Mike stiffened.  “I hated him.”
            Wife and daughter let the comment pass.  Arilyn shook her head again.  “It’s not going to be an easy road to forgiveness, Dad.”
            He licked his lips, glancing at his wife.  “No road ever is.  Especially not the important ones.”
            His daughter stared at him for a few long moments, cradling her mug of tea with both hands.

            Wind whipped loose hair against her face as she stood in San Insia, staring at the memorial, rebuilt from one that had been destroyed when they were children.
            “He was their hero.”
            “He was your hero, too.”
            “It’s real?  This time?”
            “You felt it.  You know it’s real.  So’s what you have in your hands.”
            “Why me?”
            Her arms closed around him.  “You know why, Dav.  Deep down, you know why.”

            She squeezed her eyes closed for a few long moments and exhaled quietly.
            “Ari?  Are you all right?”
            She nodded quickly.  “I’m fine, Mom.  Just…something from a dream, that’s all.  Want me to roll Mikey out of bed?”
            “Let him sleep a little while longer,” Mike said quietly.  “He got in late-you were already asleep, but I heard him come in.  Sabacc with some boys from fleet.”
            It was silent in the kitchen for a few long moments, the sound of thunder rolling and rain filling the void.  The house comm went off; Indy went to answer it, leaving her husband and daughter alone in the kitchen.
            “Dad?  Do you want company going for groceries?”
            He smiled faintly.  “I’d love company, kiddo.”
            “I’ll go get dressed, then.”
            Indy came back into the kitchen as Arilyn headed for the stairs.  She could hear them talking in the kitchen but couldn’t make out the words.  Whatever was said, she realized, didn’t really matter.
            Then again, a lot of things didn’t really matter anymore-only the most important things.  She glanced over her shoulder, back toward the sound of her parent’s voices, her mother’s laughter, soon joined by her father’s.  Something tightened in her throat as the realization struck her that she may never hear that sound again.
            With stinging eyes, she headed toward her room to get dressed and go shopping with her daddy one last time.

~ Erin

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