He sits under the stars and gazes up into the sky – tonight, like most nights.
Well, he says, quietly, to nobody in particular. No, not nobody – a very specific somebody.
What can I tell. I’ve been out here three more days and I’m still doing… swell.
The last bit is a lie. He is coping, and he is getting better, but the memories are still fresh. The sounds, the smell, the image… they still always come up whenever the Duke thinks of him.
We’re doing good out here. Well, mostly Eli. You would be proud of him.
He looks at the gun. ’Wrench’s gun’, he keeps calling it, even though Wrench is long gone. And the gun has been put to far better use since it left his possession.
Krogon, Matthew… only one bullet was not put to good use. One bullet fired too early, too carelessly, that if it had been saved for a better moment, might have-
Might have changed things.
The gun is empty now, and he suspects it will remain that way. He never did find any ammunition for it other than what was already in it. No matter. He doesn’t imagine he’ll want to use it again anyway.
He drops the gun in the river, and leaves to rejoin his companions.
He sits under the stars and gazes up into the sky. He used to do this every evening, at first. Now it’s rarer, but he doesn’t think he’ll ever fully stop.
It has been long now, and he is doing better. The final moment no longer haunts him as vividly, and he can find peace in remembering the man – his image, his sounds, his smell.
Sometimes the Duke meets someone he connects with. Someone that he can fall a little for, and who can fall a little for him in return. But he never really falls. He never gives his heart away. He doesn’t think he could even if he wanted to, and he doesn’t want to.
He produces a piece of paper from his bag. It has been folded and unfolded so many times that the fold marks have permanently distorted the contents somewhat, but it is still priceless to him. It is a photograph of him and his sister.
He misses her sometimes, but knows that this is for the best. He killed someone that was dear to her, and that’s not something you can get over. He understands that she is happier away from him.
She always looked up to him, but in truth it was she who was the better person. Wherever she is, she is doing well, of that much he is sure.
He sits under the stars and gazes up into the sky. He wonders, not for the first time, if some part of Snowy lives on, and watches from up there. He likes to think so.
He looks back down, across the camp fire, at his travel companions. It’s just the three of them, travelling across the land, making the world a better place in whatever ways they can.
Eli and Lili are his family now, and the road his home. Some people might say it ain’t much, but he ain’t some people. He is the Duke, and the Duke abides.
Because he has good company, he has food and water, and he has a car. And at the end of the day, is that not enough?
It is for the Duke.