21 December 2013 @ 01:48 pm
for Asher (dated 24th Dec 2013)  
It was like waking up from a bad dream, right where they had begun, everyone standing in the backroom like all they had done was blinked. People scattered in their own directions and Ray was left holding Daniel's hand, defensive at every sound, suspicious beyond belief.

He muttered to Daniel to stay close but when he looked down, he saw watery eyes looking back up at him, tired and scared, like they had been for God only knew how long. So Ray carried him instead, out of the arcade and into the light of a setting sun. Just because it looked like home - as much as it could in the month of December - didn't mean it was home.

Instinct pointed them in the direction of the Compound. His bicep ached, bruised but the cut was healing, so he shifted Daniel over to this other side, reaching for the gun tucked at the back of his belt with his free hand. A gun he hoped to hell would work here if needed. He held it up in front of them as he moved, the exertion of a stance he knew so well evident on his face.
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asher_talos: Sadcakes.[personal profile] asher_talos on December 26th, 2013 03:05 pm (UTC)
Asher had just barely been running on fumes for a few days now. Somewhere around the third or fourth day, when the places still left that hadn't been searched had dwindled down to next to nothing, that's when it had first struck him that there was an actual possibility that he'd never seen Daniel or Ray again.

Now, nearly a week and a half later, that possibility felt a whole lot more like a probability as he went through the motions of the day-to-day.

He'd been staying at the Compound again, because anywhere else just wasn't an option. The hut, the boat, the treehouse - being there would only pound home the fact that things were missing. Even going to the stables was a miserable experience, but unlike himself, the horses still had their appetites.

He was in a out quick, the horses fed and watered and then he was gone, headed nowhere in particular but walking did help. When his body was still, his mind just went on overdrive, and none of the thoughts were ever pleasant ones.
Ray Vecchio[personal profile] speakscanadian on December 27th, 2013 05:31 pm (UTC)
The first snowflake landed on the barrel of the gun. He brought it closer to his face to inspect the melting snow, then looked up at the sky, squinting against the light. He could hear a drunken rendition of a pirate song in the background and the dim jingle of fairies as they flew by. Compared to darkness and neon and soldiers hellbent on capturing them, it was a welcome change.

"Who those two?" Daniel asked worriedly, peeking over Ray's shoulder, then hiding again. Ray turned, just as the couple came into full view. He knew them, at least to look at. Islanders. Real people. A bark drew his attention away, a flash of white in the distance.

"Dief?" He called out hopefully, as loud as he could. "Diefenbaker!" The wolf pricked his ears, standing tall, and barked again before taking off in the opposite direction to get help.
asher_talos[personal profile] asher_talos on December 28th, 2013 03:26 am (UTC)
Seeing Diefenbaker around with the Mountie nowhere in sight had become fairly common in the days following Daniel and Ray's disappearance. As crazy as it seemed, it was like he was checking up on him, and he still wasn't sure if it was something that Fraser had put him up to or if he was doing it without being prompted to.

He tried not to think about it for too long since he didn't really appreciate either scenario.

"Is your owner trapped in a well?" Asher asked the wolf, moving to walk around him as he zipped right into his path, barking and whining up at him.
Ray Vecchio[personal profile] speakscanadian on December 28th, 2013 03:36 am (UTC)
Huffing out a sigh, Ray tucked the gun away and took off after Diefenbaker at a rather unleisurely jog.

"Why am I always the one that has to run?" He muttered to himself. The frustration was brief though and quickly overshadowed by his escalating relief at being home. Finally.

He followed the sound of barking, calling out the wolf's name again in between puffs and pants.
asher_talos[personal profile] asher_talos on December 29th, 2013 01:19 am (UTC)
Dief vanished and reappeared a few times over, running up ahead and then dropping back to make sure Asher was still there behind him. As obnoxious as he found it to be humoring him, he knew it would be much worse if he didn't. The wolf was stubborn, so much so that Asher had wondered on more than one occasion if he hadn't actually belonged to Ray back in Chicago.

The barking didn't let up, but between them, he heard something. At least, he thought he did. When he heard it again, any reservations he may have had following Dief was halved. He wouldn't let himself hope anymore than that, even as his pace quickened.
Ray Vecchio[personal profile] speakscanadian on December 29th, 2013 02:55 am (UTC)
Ray was fully expecting to see Fraser around the corner, possibly feasting on specks of dirt or boring someone to death with a heroic tale about moose. Maybe even helping a little old fairy across the pathway, all of which sounded incredibly normal and comforting.

He came to a sudden halt when he saw who was actually there, staring at Asher like he couldn't believe his eyes. His stomach still dropped out of him as if he really were witnessing Fraser doing something disgusting, but it slammed back into him soon after, like it was doing loop-de-loops on a rollercoaster.

There had been moments, scary, depressing moments over the past few days when he'd truly believed he was never going to see Asher again. It was surprising how quickly those feelings could reappear, even when standing right in front of him.
asher_talos[personal profile] asher_talos on December 29th, 2013 02:04 pm (UTC)
Mission accomplished, and Asher clearly on the right track, Dief all but abandoned him in favor of Ray and Daniel, whining and running in excited circles around them.

Asher considered the fact that it could be a trick at first, the Island just fucking with him again with its notorious poor sense of humor. It's a brief thought, nothing that stopped him from pushing forward. Noticing that Ray had stopped just made him move faster still.
Ray Vecchio[personal profile] speakscanadian on December 29th, 2013 06:46 pm (UTC)
No matter how hard it had been for them in the Grid, Ray had been acutely aware that it was more difficult for Delirium and Asher back on the Island. Asher, in particular, given his past and the doubled loss. One look at him proved that to Ray.

"Look who it is, Dan," he murmured, coaxing the boy to stop hiding. When Daniel looked around to see, Ray took the opportunity to put him on the ground, letting him run towards his father and giving Ray's arms a break. They ached beyond belief. His whole body did and he was done running himself.

Edited 2013-12-29 06:46 pm (UTC)
asher_talos[personal profile] asher_talos on December 30th, 2013 12:05 am (UTC)
"Daddy!," Daniel yelled, caught somewhere between laughing and crying, but running all the same. His arms were outstretched and Asher scooped him up as soon as he was within reach, pulling him in close, into a hug that was probably entirely too tight. He didn't complain, though. He just hugged right back.

"We got lost," he said, face buried against Asher's neck.

"You did," Asher replied, voice catching slightly. "But you're back now."

"And Ray, too."

Asher had about a million questions, but he wasn't going to bother with them just then. They were back, which was all that mattered. Later, he'd ask where they went, why Ray looked like hell and how they got back, but for now, he didn't bother asking anything as he walked up to Ray and freed an arm to pull him into a hug, too.
Ray Vecchio[personal profile] speakscanadian on December 30th, 2013 12:29 am (UTC)
Ray let out a shaky breath over Asher's shoulder, shutting his eyes to collect himself and hugging Asher back with his good arm. There might only have been one wrapped around him but it was as tight as two.

"I'm so sorry," he muttered around a swallow, close to being overcome by the situation.
asher_talos[personal profile] asher_talos on December 30th, 2013 01:57 am (UTC)
"Shut up," Asher whispered, rubbing Ray's back soothingly, even if the words didn't quite match the action. "You've got nothing to be sorry for."

Wherever they'd gone, he knew Ray hadn't gotten stuck there with Daniel intentionally, and whatever had happened, Ray had kept Daniel safe. The boy was in much better shape than Ray, and he doubted that had much to do with pure luck.
Ray Vecchio[personal profile] speakscanadian on December 30th, 2013 03:22 am (UTC)
Even as Ray heard the words, he still felt a pang of guilt that wouldn't shift, no matter how rationally he thought it through.

"The arcade," he said, trying to explain, make it clear that no-one - at least no-one who had made it back to the Island - was to blame. The last thing Ray wanted, or Daniel needed, was Asher harbouring any resentment or plans for vengeance.

"One second we were here, the next we weren't anymore." Describing where they had ended up and the sort of people Ray had found there could wait until it was just the two of them.

"It was just a second," he insisted, opening his eyes and pulling back, wanting to see Asher's face, read his expression.
asher_talos[personal profile] asher_talos on December 31st, 2013 03:08 am (UTC)
"Arcade?" Asher echoed. Now they had to worry about whether or not they were safe while playing a fucking game of ski ball?

"I'm just glad you're back," he said, leaning in and pressing a kiss to Ray's lips. "Both of you," Asher went on, looking at Daniel. "Your sister's going to be happy to see you."

Del, too, obviously, but the selfish part of him wanted to keep both Ray and Daniel to himself for a while. Not for any particularly lengthy period of time, but just handing the boy over to his mom and a virtual stranger after just getting him back wasn't something he was looking forward to.
Ray Vecchio[personal profile] speakscanadian on December 31st, 2013 03:50 am (UTC)
Brows knitted, Ray returned the kiss, grateful he'd been given the chance to do that again. When he pulled away, he cast a glance towards Daniel before looking back to Asher.

"He's amazing," he said, his tone as sincere as it could be. "Your son is incredible."

It felt important to say now, whilst it was just them, before they got caught up with questions and demands from other people. Before Ray forgot the most important thing he'd learned in the Grid.

"Actually incredible." He let out a half-laugh, awkward and breathy and full of relief. "He's a credit to his parents."
asher_talos[personal profile] asher_talos on January 1st, 2014 11:08 pm (UTC)
"You expected anything less?" Asher teased lightly, looking at Daniel. The only thing about him that seemed incredible just then was how incredibly tired he looked, just barely keeping his eyes opened as he rested his head on Asher's shoulder.

"Thank you. For keeping him safe."
Ray Vecchio[personal profile] speakscanadian on January 2nd, 2014 01:59 am (UTC)
"It was the other way around," Ray teased back, voice gravelly from exhaustion.

He took a step away from the pair, along with a deep breath, and rubbed his hands over his face. It was the first moment he'd had to himself, without having to worry about Daniel as well. It was only then that the thought struck him.

"What's the date?" Did they miss Christmas?
asher_talos[personal profile] asher_talos on January 2nd, 2014 02:32 am (UTC)
"December 24th," he said, pressing a kiss to Daniels hair.

Maybe the date gave him an excuse to not give the boy back to Del so quickly. He could slap a bow on him the next morning and call it Christmas gift.
Ray Vecchio[personal profile] speakscanadian on January 2nd, 2014 02:41 am (UTC)
Ten whole days.

The shock was quickly overshadowed by a renewed sense of relief and a surge of happiness caused a smile to grow wide on his face.

"Christmas Eve?" He laughed, feeling ridiculously giddy with tiredness and adrenaline all mixed together. "Serious?"

He moved close again, grasping the front of Asher's shirt and pressing in for another kiss, one Ray was actually aware of this time. "Merry Christmas," he muttered. "Merry what the hell's just happened Christmas."
asher_talos[personal profile] asher_talos on January 4th, 2014 01:28 am (UTC)
It was like a fucking cliche ending from a Christmas movie whose title alone would have made Asher roll his eyes, but he didn't care.

"Merry Christmas," he echoed before kissing him once more, smiling against his lips.
Ray Vecchio[personal profile] speakscanadian on January 4th, 2014 04:19 pm (UTC)
"We should tell Del..." Ray muttered against his mouth, even though he knew it would wipe the smile off it.

When he pulled away, he leaned down to give the scruff of Dief's neck a well-deserved scratch. "Go get Fraser," he told the wolf, before straightening back up.

Later, Ray would climb into bed and thank his lucky stars for the millionth time and stare at Asher in the dark for a while before whispering that he'd missed him. Then he'd fall into a sleep so deep that he'd miss half of Christmas Day.

But it would still be one of the best Christmases he's had in years.