Carth and Arod have a chat.
"She looks just like Mom."
Carth leaned back in his chair with his caffa mug. "You like to know a lot, huh?"
"I try," Arod replied. He seemed preoccupied with the ripples his caffa would make.
Carth passed the holos of his niece back to his brother. "Does Tam know about her?"
Arod nodded. "Yes."
"So it's only just me being left out of the loop, then."
"I'm an asshole, I get it," Arod sighed. He tapped a knuckle against the table. "You were never good with words, just punch me in the face, it'll be less painful that way. Get on with it."
"I'm not going to hit you," Carth said. "I just don't get why you'd tell Tam about having a baby, but not me."
"I didn't tell him right away, either, she was probably six months standard by that time. Her mother and I were going through a little..." Arod waved a dismissive hand. "I just didn't want any congratulatory pats on the back without knowing what was going to happen with that, first."
"Oh." Carth frowned. "Well, what happened with that?"
Arod took a long sip of caffa. "Let's just say that I got Maris and my wife and her boyfriend got the house."
Carth blinked. "You're still married?"
"A technicality," Arod replied. "We do it for our daughter, of course and not because there was no prenup."
"You know that Tam is finally married now, too?" Carth cleared his throat and refilled his mug of caffa.
"I heard that," Arod said. "I'm afraid to ask if it's to some stripper."
"Marnie?" Deep creases appeared above Arod's brow as he thought. "Oh."
"Yeah," Carth said. "He says her kid still hates him, though."
Arod stared at his mug a long moment before he finally murmured, "I could see that."
"It's not like he's trying to replace the kid's father or anything." Unsure of what to do, Carth sipped his caffa and swallowed despite it being cold.
"It's tough," was all Arod would say.
"A support beam went through her leg," Carth blurted out. "She almost bled to death."
Arod just looked at him.
"She looks good, though," Carth continued. "I mean, on the first anniversary of... well, I guess she didn't leave her room for three days, but you know."
"It's tough," Arod repeated.
Carth exhaled. "Yeah."
“Do you hate me?” Arod asked. “Not all the time, but sometimes?”
Carth stared at his brother until he felt the mug in his hand begin to slip. With that thin face and those sharp features Arod always looked more like their father than their mother. “What are you talking about, Arod?”
Arod shrugged, too proud to meet the other man’s gaze. “I think you probably should. I asked Tam that same exact thing and he said no right away. It made me feel like punching him in the back of his head.”
“That’s just Tam…”
“Yes, yes, we know he has a very punchable head.” Arod’s eyes darted over the holos in his hand before he stuck them back into a shirt pocket. “But everyone got hit and I was here on Alderaan safe.”
“You were on Alderaan for years,” Carth said. “Tam was off planet, too.”
“But he’s supposed to be.”
“He’s supposed to be?”
Arod shook his head. “I should look after you guys. Nobody should have been on Telos, it was a horrible place, that’s why I’ve been on Alderaan for as long as I have. But I left everyone else there.”
“You didn’t know it was going to be—“
“Of course I didn’t,” Arod cut in. “But I knew it was a decrepit little backwater hell that I left as soon as I was able.”
Carth’s jaw tightened. “It was home, Arod.”
“So you’re happy you stayed there?” Arod asked. “You’re happy that your wife is dead? You’re happy that your son is—“
“You don’t know that.”
Arod’s eyes went down to the check pattern on the tablecloth. “Sorry.”
“There was no body. I submitted DNA and got nothing in return, I just, I mean, I know…”
“What?” Arod still wouldn’t look at him.
Carth sighed. “I don’t think I’m going to see Dustil ever again. Just that he doesn’t have to be dead if there’s no proof.”
“I suppose,” Arod murmured.
“Yeah.” Carth shoved his drink away like it was a beer mug instead of a caffa cup.
Arod’s eyes followed his brother’s hands. “So what do you think you’re going to do once you leave Alderaan?”
Carth shrugged. “Not sure. Maybe reenlist. See if somebody needs me.”
“Do it,” Arod said. “It’ll be good for you.”
“You think?” Carth swallowed. “Maybe it’s too soon. I don’t know, I don’t want to make things worse.”
“You’re not supposed to be the stupid brother.” With his eyes still downcast, Arod’s mouth curled into a smirk. “Go be the hero. You’re going to lose your mind without the weight of the galaxy on your shoulders to keep you grounded.”
“We’ll see,” Carth told him.
“You’ll see,” Arod replied. “I already know.”
Carth rolled his eyes as he stood. “I’ll give you a call as soon as I’m planetside.”
Arod’s smirk spread into a genuine smile. “Good.”
“Give your daughter a hug for me.” Carth pushed his chair in and walked towards the door.
“Yeah,” Arod said. “Carth?”
Arod looked up. Two pairs of identically shaped eyes reflected near strangers at the other person behind that identical shade of brown. “I’m glad you came.”
Carth nodded. “Me too.”