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"We could make it work, you know. You stay with the fleet a few months a year and come home on leave every so often, I appoint a deputy to handle District matters and the Council of Counts, and we could both spend plenty of time doing what we love, between us."

His face was anxious, the cryorevival scars on his neck flaring red against pale skin. Too pale. He's always too pale. She tried to push away the idea that more sunlight might do him good.

The desperation in his voice wrung her heart. But her heart didn't rule her head yet; not crazy enough to go down into that gravity well.

"It's different for you, Miles," she said, breaking the short, uncomfortable silence. "I can't stand being planetside for more than a few days before I get itchy feet. I'm a spacer, born and bred, and you know it. A half measure of everything might end up being nothing at all."

He sighed her name, sadly.

"Yeah, I know." He was still again for a moment, rare enough for him.

"I'm sorry," she said, quietly. Truthfully. "It's not you."

A nod. A sentence begun, choked before being spoken.

"This is the end, isn't it."

"It doesn't have to be."