Oh, The Places You'll Go

Wait For The Sunrise

Notes: I asked people to give me years from my Lost and Found 'verse and promised snippets in return. slidellra asked for 2000 (and 2001 and 2002 and ... *hearts*) and this is what she got. Beta by the rather wonderful sisterofdream.

When Ray woke up in yet another nondescript, flea-bitten motel and realised he couldn't even name the faceless town he'd ended up in, he knew it was time to go home. Time to walk back into the house with his tail between his legs; put his second failed marriage down on the kitchen table, failed career in the closet under the stairs and take his failed ass off to bed. He'd been sent to that room often enough by his old man, so it wasn't as if the feeling of shame was new.

His Ma would chase after him. Tell him he was skinny and hadn't been eating enough (he hadn't been eating enough) and he would shrug and say he was just fine, Ma, and I'm a grown man now so could you please just. Not. And he'd slide into cool sheets looking forty and feeling five and fifteen and fifty-five all at the same time. And maybe Ma would stroke his head and chase the kids away with her hands and the bad dreams away with her words. And maybe he'd fall asleep with the patterns she was weaving from her stories lying gently over him: a patchwork quilt of family and magic and strange men in red and adventures and love.

Or maybe he would wake in the dark and see them there, the voiceless ones, the nameless ones. The ones that watched. The ones that waited with sorrowful eyes and bleeding hearts and guts and brains and mouths.

He'd met Stella and she'd been golden. Perfect light to fight against the darkness that threatened to swallow him. She was going to save him, he was sure of it. Steal the dark from his soul and feed it to the crocodiles in the Florida swamps. Wash him clean again in the ocean. Burn bright through the night, a steady flame to guard against the ghosts and the ghasts and the things that crept and crawled over his skin.

He should maybe have made that clear. He should have told her I am not who I am and I don't know where to find me. He should have said help me look.

Instead he said marry me and come away with me and they were the wrong words falling from the wrong lips. He could only blame himself when the sandcastle crumbled under his clumsy feet. Only himself.

And so he'd gone. Trying to outrun himself, no longer startled by the fact that the good memories caused as much pain as the bad. Trying to leave one behind in each motel room, neatly folded with the towels on the bed. In Jacksonville, a tongue licking soil from a boot. In Albany, blank, staring eyes, glassy green like a lake in winter. In Tupelo, brown hair scattered across a pillow, soft warmth under Ray's hand. In Little Rock, he abandoned blonde hair that replaced the brown, ocean water instead of pillow, and instead of warmth, cool, wet skin.

It didn't work. In Shreveport he found the boot behind the spare blanket. In Palestine, dead eyes stared up at him from his toothbrush glass. In Austin he shook the brown hair out from between his folded shirts and in Corpus Christi the blonde hair fell out with the sand he shook from his shoe.

He ran harder, faster, further and the road signs blurred past his head and it didn't matter where he was going only that he was gone.

And then one day he woke up, head pounding, mouth dry, empty Scotch bottle tucked against his side. He had no clue where he was, barely even knew his name but still he remembered every last thing he was trying to forget. So he yelled at the world for cursing him, cursed himself for yelling, and rolled out of bed to pack, wincing in the harsh southern sunlight. He picked up what was left of his life from the bedside table with his wallet and his keys, stuffed it in his pocket and didn't let the door hit him on the way out.

He sat in his car with the engine running for a long time, staring at the shapeless blue of the sky. Finally he shifted in his seat, tapped his pocket, put the car in gear and turned it north. Ray Vecchio was going home.

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