“Dude! You're a dad!?”
Snapper glared at him, “I haven't told anyone else, don't wake them up.”
“Got it. But what's weighting on you?”
“The… Just, the weight of it. In general. She said she'd like to date, and see where it goes. And I can visit them one way or the other.”
“I should. Would be an idiot not to give it a chance, wouldn't I? And there's so few pteryxe left, I should be there to raise them.”
“Hey, no kids involved but been there. Dating someone you don't like?” Scraptooth gestured cutting his throat. “Don't do that. Bad for the kids too.”
“Liked her well enough to roll around. Pretty laugh, nice face, good chemistry between us.” He smiled a little for the first time in a while. “But that's not it either. It's…” He trailed off into silence.
“Start small.” Scraptooth said gently.
“Well. I think about, my father used to talk about raising me right. Was mad about me joining the army… for a lot of reasons. But what stuck with me was the time he was drunk and told me not to dare die before he did. Too many pteryxe have buried their children as it is.”
Scraptooth winced. “He's not wrong.”
“And I think I really understand what he meant now. Or I'm starting to, at least. I never thought about starting a family, and how if you're lucky the kids are still there after you're gone. Helps you get why someone would die to end a war, or be willing to go through with one. A little bit of you is left.”
The night moved on. Snapper fell asleep where he was at some point and the sky, black as ink, slowly lit up with rimlights.
The day was boiling.
They were cold blooded- the heat was usually reason for mirth for claws, but today was too much and even them had to stop on the rare ocasions they ran into shadow. Only Snapper, who was flying too high for it, remained unaffected. Kicker found herself more than a little jealous of him and his wings as the day progressed.
At around midday, a small light blinked in the sky, making her spit out a curse under her breath as she took a mirror to blink a roger-roger to Snapper, wishing it wasn't bad news.
What followed was a series of blinked lights between them, the first advising Kicker to continue running to keep appearances. Then, in quick succession, the situation: Two bugs following them at a distance. No weapons or communication devices sighted. Skilled at tracking but not so much as to be reason for alarm, and experienced with the terrain. Not a particularly dangerous species, either. Most likely to be civilians.