Somehow, I think I may have always known that it would end this way. The four of us comfortable, sitting in the shining room where all of us first really met- really met, not just a nod to each other at a conference room. We're all still smiling at each other, having just come off a laughing spree about the 'old days' and the 'good times.' That depresses me for some reason, I think that it's probably that I don't like to think that this part of my life is over and completed, sealed up in a nice manageable package. I hate it that- that all our talk is about 'back in the day' and that makes me feel that 'the day' is ending and the sun's setting on it, even though it's only been a month since the final closure of all this muddle. I don't want to think that, even though I know it's true. I don't think that I'd like to think that my time on Antarctica is finishing. I know I don't like to think that it's finishing. This was- is- the place that we all found a reason to continue on, in spite of the cold and the ice.

My mind's so bewildering now. I don't know if anyone but me, or even me, could follow my thoughts currently. I just don't want to leave The Station, or Antarctica, or Toril or Kesler or Mai. We've bonded to each other and the continent so much. But we have to, because that chapter- or that book, really- is done with, and 'The End' has been stamped down on the final page. I don't want it to be, and I don't think that any one of us wants to leave the pages of our adventure.

The smiles have dropped off of our faces, even Mai's. None of us wants to go, but-

I stare down into my glass of water. The ice tinkles slightly, and I wonder why. My hand is shaking. Kesler reaches over to me, with his typical C'mon buddy, can't be bad as all that, really, can it? expression, trying to cheer us all up, acting like this isn't hard for him either, acting like we'll come back someday and find every thing intact, with what's been our lives for the past seven months untouched. He knows that's not going to happen. We all do, and we're hoping against all possible odds that it won't happen. But it will. But our hope won't let us go, won't let us get rid of it. Hope is the cruelest emotion I can think of. Mai's buried her face in her hands, and her back's heaving slightly. Toril's just staring, out-of-focus, her military self trying to control itself.

It's like moving from a house, a house that you grew up in to another house, while at the start of your stay at the first house you knew this move would eventually happen. And it's so incredibly hard for us. We're adults, we should be able to accept that this- event- is happening, that what's happened has happened.

Why is this all so hard for us? There's no reason for it to be this hard. We're celebrated heroes now, with futures so dazzling we don't want to look at them right now. Why is it this hard? Is it because we've lost our purposes, along with our home?

And it's not even the last night before we have to go. It's the night before the last.