1 Year later
A black card laid upon the kitchen table. White text written on it, reading "I never truly understood _________ until I encountered _________.". Ashe held a finger over her lips, which were curled into a light smile. Keena looked at the ten white cards in her hand. She pulled two, sliding them face-down beside the black card, and then drew two more from the white deck. Rei chuckled lightly as she followed suit. Canis frowned, staring at his own hand.
"I'm still not certain I quite grasp the concept of this game…" He said.
Ashe put her hand down. "Just think like a terrible person. Not that you have it in you, Canis."
Canis raised an eyebrow. He looked back at his hand before he slid two of his own cards toward Rei's and Keena's. Ashe's smile broadened as she picked up a hand at random. She read aloud:
"I never truly understood," she looked at the bottom white card, "A balanced breakfast until I encountered," she flipped it around to look at the next white card, "Waking up half-naked in a Denny's parking lot."
The entire table snickered. Ashe read the next two cards off.
"I never truly understood Kids with ass cancer until I encountered Assless chaps."
Laughter broke out.
Ashe picked up the last two cards and read them off.
"I never truly understood Kamikaze pilots until I encountered --" Ashe stared at the final card and then broke out into hysterical laughter. She then finished the sentence. "Asians who aren't good at math."
Rei and Keena laughed out loud. Canis just smiled.
Ashe calmed down. "That one wins."
Canis took the black card as Ashe handed it to him. He then drew another black card.
"So I'm simply dictating the most humorous answer this round, correct?"
Everyone nodded. Canis cleared his throat and read the black card aloud: "Make a haiku…? It's a draw 2 and pick 3…"
Ashe drew two white cards along with everyone else. "Game-winning card, guys. And remember it doesn't actually have to be a haiku."
Everyone slid three cards toward Canis. At the same moment Ray walked into the dining room, presumable just getting home. He held a water bottle in hand, and wore a green track suit with a white stripe running down the sides of the arms and legs. He looked at the table and chuckled.
"Cards Against Humanity? You couldn't wait?"
Ashe smiled. "Well, if you would stop putting off your workout, then maybe you wouldn't have to do it so often."
Rei looked puzzled. "How much running did you do?"
Ray looked up in the air, thinking. "A little more than six miles, or ten kilometers if you want an exact measurement."
Keena blinked. "You ran more than six miles? How ripped are you trying to get?"
Ray smiled. "Until the Missus is satisfied. Mostly just because the longer and more intense my workout, the longer and more intense the reward."
Rei frowned. "What reward?"
Ashe rolled her eyes. "Don't say too much, Ray. You know that stays between us."
Canis snickered. "He means the cardio portion of his 'workout'." He said, reading off the white cards afterward. Ray drew three cards at random. He chuckled and rearranged them before setting them down. Canis picked up his stack.
"BATMAN!, Civilian casualties, Dead parents…? That's on several levels of messed up. Luck of the draw, Ray. That one goes to you."
Ray sat down in an empty chair. "If I'd known you two were visiting I would have came by earlier. Any luck on your search?"
Canis folded his arms. "Not as well as I had hoped, but we've managed to make contact with a small group in the northern hemisphere recently, presumably because the human population is much smaller on that portion of the planet. Most of the reason we came out to visit was because we would be departing for a while."
Rei shifted uncomfortably. Ray assumed the news had already been broken out to her and Ashe.
"How did you manage to contact them? Do you know how many there are? I doubt you wrote a letter and sent it off on a black mayfly."
"Markings, scents, etcetera. Other members of our kind would be able to recognize our symbols. With Arcan having been alive, we believed that there could have been other survivors out there. We place them on trains, truck trailers, other objects that would be traveling far and wide. We knew we'd made contact when similar symbols were returned. Because I doubt they would be as comfortable around humans, we would be going to them. As for how many, there are five of them. Three males and two females. They were apparently only pups when they fled further north to escape your planet-wide conquest."
Ray frowned. "The more I think about it the less I convince myself that I razed an entire planet rather than just a large area. If your species populated the entire planet I wonder why they became endangered when most probably never so much as saw me."
"The alien army you had at your disposal was almost just as troublesome. You had these things digging up from literally everywhere. It's likely casualties could have also been caused by starvation or sickness as well. They weren't just out to get us, but they devoured and destroyed food sources and water supplies as well. It's hard to hunt what isn't there. I know you're trying to make our situation more hopeful, but you'd had all the bases covered."
"Can I do anything to help?"
Canis gave a light smile. "I know you're adamant about helping out, but you've got a family of your own. You can help by continuing to take good care of them." He stood up, and Keena followed his example. Canis turned to Ashe and nodded. "We appreciate you having us, but we'd best be going."
Ashe stood up and gave them both a brief hug. "You're welcome. We'll miss you both!"
Ray gave Keena a quick hug of his own and a firm handshake to Canis.
"Will I ever see you again?" Rei asked.
Keena immediately folded her arms. "Don't worry. I'll make sure Mr. Solitude visits every so often, even if I have to drag him down here with me."
Canis smirked. "Automatically assuming that I'd leave her high and dry? I'm not that cold. No I'd never wanted to develop a serious attachment to Glenn, Jace, Ashe, or Tracksuit of Shame over here, but I'll admit that I do have a bit of a soft spot for Rei."
Rei laughed. "Don't worry, if he doesn't I would hunt him down anyway."
"Heh. Your father's crew just felt more like babysitting children. Jace could never shut up, Ashe was temperamental and whiney, Glenn was that 'I'm better than everyone' try-hard, and Ray was just…that guy."
Ray looked down confused, stretching his green jacket. "Does it really look that bad?"
Ashe immediately went on defense. "I don't whine!"
Canis lifted an eyebrow. "Point made."
Ashe's face grew bright red out of embarrassment. Canis continued. "I jest of course, I really mean stubborn and head-strong." He cleared his throat. "That was one of the features, along with Ray's determination to protect the family, that I couldn't help but admire about Rei. You could think of that trait as a good thing. When she gets her mind set on her goal, she wouldn't even let the law slow her down. Right, Rei?"
Rei's face almost matched the shade of her mother's. "If you say so, but I couldn't have gotten far without help from either of you."
Keena laughed. "You were doing all of the pushing. We were just making sure it was in the right direction."
Rei pulled them both into a long hug. "Thanks, guys. For everything."
Canis's familiar warm smile held on his face. "Don't worry, kiddo. I'll make a habit of visiting fairly often."
He donned his cloak, and Keena her sunhat. Rei gave them both a final hug before they walked out the door. The family waved the two of them off as they departed from the beachside villa.
"Goodbye!" They called out. Canis smiled and called back.
"Not goodbye. See you later…Rei Hadron."