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When it's over, he hears Zoe start to cry, followed by the sounds of Carter trying to comfort her as she weeps into his shirtfront.

Stark doesn't turn around.

His hand is still on Callister's shoulder, as if even now his touch might somehow keep him in the world.

"I didn't come all the way back to be left alone--"

He doesn't let go, even as he covers his face with his other hand to hide his own tears.

* * * * * * *

It doesn't take long to make the necessary calls to the right people to ensure that Callister will be taken directly to the funeral home instead of anywhere else. Stark informs them that he'll be in himself to make the arrangements for his burial.

Allison would handle it, he knows, if he were to ask.

He also knows that he won't.

* * * * * * *

The trip back is silent. Carter drives; Zoe sits in the back.

Stark rides in the passenger seat and stares out the window, remembering.

"I'm scared.  I'm not ready... What's gonna happen to me?"

"Remember what Alan Turing said?"

"He figured God could give a computer a soul if he wanted to.  Do you think that's true, dad?"

"I know it is."

* * * * * * *

At his request, Carter drops him off at Global so that he can pick up his car.

The car's there, that much is true, but he has absolutely no intention of going home to be alone with his thoughts. Not tonight.

"It was my fault. I should have never sent you away in the first place."

Instead, Stark heads for the secured project room in Section Eight.

It's only a small step from there to the end of the universe.
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Nathan Stark

March 2010

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