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Three months to the day since Cayde's death. The Dawning was coming up, and Zavala wanted no part of the seasonal festivities, so he buried himself in his work. Shiro-4 still hadn't arrived as requested, and Lord Saladin was trying to smooth out an issue between Arach Jalal and Executor Hideo.

Another day like the one he was experiencing and Zavala was tempted to head to Mercury, and go looking for Osiris, drag him back and let him deal with the whole flaming mess currently in his lap. Ikora was in the new Underwatch monitoring two strikes and a Nightfall in the Tangled Shore out beyond Mars. They were getting closer to finding Uldren Sov, and there were significant bounties riding on his kill or capture.

Zavala was hoping for kill, and as much as he wanted to be the one pulling the trigger, he knew it wouldn't be him. He couldn't abandon his post for something as petty revenge, even if it was for Cayde-6.

He sighed. Ah, Cayde. Three months gone. Three hell-filled months of staving off war with the Reef, cementing an alliance with an Fallen faction, and helping oversee the day to day operations in the tower and in the field.

Zavala put down the data pad he was holding, no longer interested in its contents, and he felt Ajax bump his shoulder.

“Shaxx is outside, requesting entry,” the Ghost said.

“Let him in,” Zavala said.

The door whooshed open, revealing the big Titan. He entered Zavala's quarters, helmet under one arm, looking around the room with a frown.

“This place hasn't changed in years,” Shaxx said. “You could really use a new decorator.”

Zavala rolled his eyes. “Why are you here?”

“Ikora sent me. She's worried about you,” Shaxx said.

“And she decided you would be an appropriate distraction?” Zavala asked, standing.

“That's not fair, Zavala,” Shaxx said. “Even I've noticed how you never talk to anyone anymore, and if you do, it's only about work. You're killing yourself. Throwing yourself off the tower would be more merciful than this death by inches.”

“Ajax would just resurrect me,” Zavala said.

“It might be the best sleep he's had in weeks,” the Ghost muttered.

“I heard that, Ajax,” Zavala admonished.

“Well, I'm not wrong,” Ajax snapped. “Good luck reasoning with him. Traveler knows I've tried.”

The Ghost transmatted away, and Shaxx cracked a smile. “So you've even managed to alienate Ajax. That must've took some work.”

Zavala resisted the urge to tell the other Titan to fuck off, but it wasn't polite, but he was well past polite.

“Shaxx, leave. I have work to do,” Zavala said.

“No. You're done with work tonight,” Shaxx said. “Come out with me, and we'll go down into the City, drink, and crack some heads just like back in the old days.”

“It would be highly inappropriate,” Zavala said.

“You could use with a little inappropriate,” Shaxx said. “Have you forgotten you're not the only one mouring? Cayde was my friend, too.”

Another sigh, and Zavala's shoulders drooped in defeat. He sat back down on the couch, and Shaxx joined him.

“Do you remember the 'lucky pants' incident?” Shaxx asked.

Gods, how could Zavala forget?

“I loved your reaction, and how you threatened to throw him off the tower if he didn't shut up,” Shaxx said. “Except it wasn't the kind of 'lucky' you were thinking. He'd never lost a match in the Crucible while wearing those pants.”

“And he never shut up about how he looked while wearing those pants,” Zavala said.

“You noticed?” Shaxx asked with a grin.

Zavala gritted his teeth. “No.”

“Eh, he only did things like that for a laugh. Someone had to,” Shaxx said.

“Many of Cayde's actions were inappropriate for a member of the Vanguard,” Zavala said.

Shaxx snorted. “Have you also forgotten half the things he and Andal got up to when Andal was still Vanguard? Or the occasions when Tevis would come back to the City?”

Oh gods, how could anyone forget? Two of them was bad enough, but all three hunters on a tear? The forces of the city usually ended up getting involved, along with off-duty Titans earning extra currency freelancing.

Andal had been a quiet, thoughtful man, unusual for a hunter. Professional in his duties as Hunter Vanguard, but when it came to Cayde and Tevis, they were his favorites, but then again, they were best friends. All that was left of Andal's original pack after he became Vanguard.

“You're getting maudlin,” Shaxx said. “I can tell from the look on your face. Andal and Tevis made their choices, and paid for them. No one made them do what they did.”

Tevis had died alone, on Mercury, separated from his Ghost, killed by Vex. He'd been Void-touched, in the end. Andal also died alone, murdered by a mad Fallen rogue named Taniks. And Cayde was gone, now, too.

Zavala was sure Cayde hadn't had a death wish, but he suspected Andal's death had been suicide by Eliksni.

“I know what you're thinking. Stop it. Come out with me, and we'll give Saladin a reason to regret ever coming back,” Shaxx said. “And confuse the hell out of him. That alone will be worth it, don't you think? C'mon, brother.”

Shaxx stood, offering Zavala and hand. He grasped it, letting the bigger Titan pull him to his feet. Shaxx hadn't called him “brother” in years, and for now, it was enough.


The next morning. . .

Zavala sat on the edge of his bed, clutching his head in his hands. Ajax was purring on his pillow, ignoring him. He was dying, and his Ghost was going to let him perish. At least the urge to vomit had passed, but Saladin giving him an amused look was almost too much.

Disapproval he could take from his friend and old mentor. But not something approaching humor.

“I could express my disappointment over your actions last night, but I suspect they'd just be ignored. Bravo. Those Hunters were impressed. I would be, if I wasn't questioning your sanity for going out and causing trouble with Shaxx,” Saladin said. “However, I am relieved to see you actually let someone convince you to blow off some much-needed steam.”

“Blame Ikora,” Zavala muttered.


“Blame Ikora. She sent Shaxx to check on me,” Zavala said, laying back down, pulling the covers over his head. “But why are you here?”

“I also came to check up on you,” Saladin said. “But there is something else. You know we were monitoring a Nightfall last night? Well, it was successful. Ezra Tiel and his fireteam eliminated Uldren Sov.”

Zavala sat up. “What?”

“Sov is dead,” Saladin said. “They brought his body back as proof. And Ezra wanted you to have this.”

Zavala watched as his friend reached under his cloak, pulling out a hand cannon. He took the gun, turning it over in his hands. It was Cayde's personal weapon, the Ace of Spades, recognizable by the spade engraved on each side of the handle.

“I thought you'd want it as well,” Saladin said.

“You know Uldren killed Cayde with this,” Zavala said.

“I know. But it's home now. Do with it as you will,” Saladin said.

“Thank you,” Zavala managed. “I'd like to be alone now.”

Saladin nodded, leaving his friend. And once he was alone, Zavala finally broke.


Gwynn was bored. When he was bored, he was destructive. Sabotaging his captors kept him busy, but he'd done as much as he could. Sabotage, which, to date, included downloading all the information on every drive available before wiping them and an attempt at breaking out of the room where he and his fellow Ghosts were being held.

A failed attempt. He was out of his cage, but he couldn't hack the door. Nor could he get the others who were still somewhat functioning to even try.

Of the six Ghosts, Gwynn was the most sane, considering his Light had been drained, like the others. He was also determined to get back to Earth, and the City, find someone bigger than he, and bring them back to exact revenge.

Something he couldn't do unless he escaped, and like his chosen namesake, he was strong, and fast, and most important, cunning. He'd stayed alive, and functional. Broken, but determined. Saville and Athachles had self-terminated and along with Perdicus, their shells lay dissected on a table in a corner of the room. Perdicus had been vivisected shortly before the prison break a few months before.

Neria floated near the ceiling, humming to herself, and Levant would rant in Eliksni on occasion.

Neither would acknowledge him, and Gwynn was starting to think he'd end up like one of them. But he wasn't going to die lightless and alone. He was going to escape, and find a Guardian.