"You could farm. Shiloh's got great agriculture programs," Rufi said, stuffing her duffle bag with a lavender blouse.
"We gonna be farmers now?"
"Sure, why not?" Her laughter was musical. "I think that sounds like a nice life; don't you?"
Virgil reached in the closet and yanked a t-shirt off the rack. She waited for his response. He slowly took the hanger out from the collar, tossed it aside, and pushed the shirt into his bag.
The charming grin that had made her first find him attractive, despite the scars and stoic demeanor, filled his face. "Farming sounds like fun… It's honest work… You gonna be my little farmer's wife?"
"Why, you know it. Just think, Virgil: open space, growing our own food. Our kids… if we have kids, that is… well, our kids could grow up with fresh air, have all that land."
"You think we got enough credits to have a lot of land?"
"Things are cheap on Shiloh."
"You bet they are. Why do you think that is?" It wasn't a question. It was a statement.
Her radiant smile drooped to a frown. "Why would you say that? I'm… I'm trying here, Virgil. I'm really trying."
He walked over to her and brought her close. She tried to pull herself away but was instantly returned to his firm grip. "Listen here, little lady. I'll be your farmer husband, and we'll have those kids you're always talking about and a simple little life where we'll know all our neighbors' names and—"
"And never talk about zerglings or… or Rho Squad again?"
He squeezed hard. "Now why would you say that? The Corps will always be with me, Ru."
As close as they had gotten over the last year, there would always be a gulf between them. She couldn't possibly understand what he'd experienced.
"Doesn't mean you have to let them rule your life," she said.
She looked him in his eyes. Her smile came back, filling her whole face like a balloon bursting with helium. "I'm gonna be a farmer's wife."
He kissed her gently. "I appreciate this chance to start over. I do."
"Oh! Gotta go. The IDs should be ready. You, mister, need to have that closet cleaned out and be packed by the time I get back."
Virgil let her go and walked to the closet. He clicked the light and kneeled down. He lifted up a pile of shirts. Underneath was a dusty footlocker.
"You can't bring that, Virg."
"You gotta get rid of what's inside it too, you know? There can't be any evidence of who we were. You heard Daddy."
"I know it ain't easy."
When she left, he turned back to the footlocker and opened it. Memories wafted up with the dank, moldy smell from inside. He hadn't opened it in years. There were medals that he was once so proud of, now collecting dust and hidden away; a dried cigar; a hypersonic spike; one of Irmscher's unregulated fones. Then he felt something sticky. His initial reaction was to yank his hand back. Creep! Of course, it wasn't creep. It slowly came to him.
"Dave." The name came out in a breathy exhalation as he pulled out what he'd found. It was a half-used chunk of blue wax… thruster board wax. Virgil brought it up to his nose and took a deep whiff. The rich, nutty scent brought him back to the time he was trying to escape from.