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Breathe in. Step. Turn. Breathe out.

The movements were second nature, something every child from his planet learned as soon as their wings held true. On their own, they helped with coordination and balance; in the wider forms, they formed the basis of almost every dance and martial art in his culture.

For J, they were a meditation.

He stretched his arms over his head, arched his back, and let his mind drift back.

The faces of the other Soldatos passed behind his eyes with the initial steps, acceptance and regret acknowledged and set aside with each movement; they’d all volunteered knowing they likely wouldn’t survive.

He brushed thoughts of Abel away with a sweep of his foot. Last he’d known she had boarded the last refugee ship. She could still be alive; he’d done his best to ensure that. And if she was alive, then maybe…

He shook his head, catching himself in a misstep. He stilled, centered himself again, and breathed before restarting the slow pattern.

His spouses. His steps stuttered again, and he broke the pattern to throw himself into a spin. Old pain teased his mind – he’d felt them die – only to be shoved back. He knew it was there; he could deal with it in time.

Which left thoughts of his children.

He stopped. His muscles ached – Tomoro would not be happy with him, putting this strain on his body this soon after healing – and he couldn’t think any more, not without…

He took a deep breath and reset his stance. Back to basics. He would deal with the complicated steps again when he was able to.

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