The trees loomed over him like talons, clawing at the star-filled sky. He shivered a little, shifted closer to the flame he had finally coaxed out of the scraps of dry wood he'd been able to amass. He had wasted time he should have spent gathering firewood, first in a fruitless search for his suddenly absent father, and then, panicking, looking for the trail they had been following. He shivered again. It was a long time 'til dawn, and he did not dare sleep lest his tiny fire go out.
"Dad?", he said, in a small voice, half-afraid, half-hoping his father was hiding, watching him, just out of reach of the nimbus of light cast by the fire. "Dad..."
* * * * *
The clock by his bed ticked away the minutes, counterpoint to the murmured night time hush of the hospital. He sighed and moved his shoulders a little to ease the pain in his back, glanced again at the clock. 3:13 am.
He closed his eyes. Behind his eyelids, he was once again running, running along the platform, running towards her outstretched hand, reaching out with his own.
His eyes popped open. He could not bear to dream.
Soundlessly, his lips moved."I caught this morning morning's minion..."
* * * * *
The Consulate building sighed at night, settling more deeply onto its foundations. The room bulged with brooding objects. He lay on his back, his eyes on the ceiling. It seemed sleep was to be added to his catalogue of losses today: his home, his few possessions, his friend and almost, almost, the curious stranger wearing Ray's name.
Ray's words came back to him, reaching out across a now unbridgeable distance. His own voice surprised him in the dark. "we have this thing called friendship... This is something a friend would do...".
* * * * *
It was dark and cold, and they were skidding, flying, dangerously out of control. The land dipped and curved, hiding death in every hollow. He slid away from Ray, and shouted his name, reaching out his hands. Their quest, coming to this bone-crushing end, in an explosion of pain…
Half-awake, he called out in a stifled voice,"Ray! Ray!"
An arm flailed, wrapped around him, and a sleepy voice muttered, "Wha..? Huh..?"
In the pre-dawn gloom, he could just make out the familiar shape of the cabin. "Nothing." he whispered, "A nightmare. Go back to sleep."
The arm around his waist tightened, and he heard Ray grunt, felt Ray give him a clumsy rubbing pat on the stomach. He closed his eyes, and slept.
End Reaching by calathea
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