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One Proper Way

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"I just don't get it. Why'd she have to die?"

[ There is a human quote I have heard about soldiers, Marco. 'There's only one proper way for a professional soldier to die: the last bullet of the last battle of the last war.' ]

He's bitter. His laugh-lines have turned to frown lines in the last two years or so - they were on their way there even when they were still fighting, Ax realizes in hind-sight.

"We weren't professionals. We were kids. She was--" He breaks off, shaking his head as if to dislodge the words he wanted to say. Psycho. Seeing red. Broken.

Weren't they all, though? Ax knows what broken is. He feels it in the edges of himself.

He saw Tobias, his shorm, shatter as Rachels' blood spilled across the glossy floor of that battleship.

Cassie he hasn't seen in months; nobody's heard from her in as much time. (Sometimes he wonders, when he sees a lone wolf on his wandering through the woods.)

And Marco and Jake - they manage to hold themselves together, somehow. Not perfectly, not totally, but enough.

It is enough. (Ax pretends he does not see the tears tracing down Marco's face.)

It is enough.