1. Damon Salvatore
Raylan is running through the woods in some little town over in Virginia and, though he’d hate anyone ever calling him vain, he curses under his breath as his good dress boots hit a muddy puddle for the third time tonight. The fugitive he’s chased across the state line has been sharp, staying just ahead of him, but he thinks he’s quit running here in Podunk, Virginia. At least Raylan's hat is still staying put, hanging on to his head for dear life.
Cold, wet, and winded from his tromp through the soggy woods, he is apparently no closer to his man but about an hour from dawn. Raylan stops to catch his breath at an old barn in a little clearing, and he takes off his hat to run a hand over his damp hair. His breath appears like smoke in front of his face and he puts his hat back where it belongs. Leaning into the old wood feels like hard relief, and he closes his eyes to thank God that the moon is still so bright. Then, like something just doesn’t want him to rest, he hears a twig snap from the left followed by the squish of a foot hitting soft, wet mud to the right.
He’s upright, gun out and eyes darting all around, searching for his would-be assailants, the evidence of his breath orbiting his head for a fleeting moment. Two dark, person-like shapes take form quickly on each side of him, and he can’t see well enough to decide which one he should point his gun at or if that ship sailed the minute he stopped running.
“Whoa there, cowboy,” the one on the right says. Raylan swings around quickly, his gun pointed directly at the man stepping forward into the moonlight. The guy has dark hair and eyes so light that Raylan’s granny might have referred to them as “sin on Sunday.” The other man hangs back, blending into the shadows, casually leaning against a tree. It’s more than a little irksome that he doesn’t seem the least bit worried right now, but Raylan brushes his finger against the trigger and does his best to keep an eye on the both of them.
“I’d stay right there if I were you,” he says to Sin Eyes, and the fellow actually has the gall to smirk.
“There’s no need for that, Butch.” The man takes a step towards him and disappears with the sound of rushing wind. Next second he pops up behind Raylan with an “Or is it Sundance?” He can’t get turned around in time, and somehow the man is behind him again.
“Thing is,” he starts as Raylan turns back around to find him about a foot from the end of his gun.
“Do. Not. Move,” Raylan growls. He’s lost track of the other man, but he isn’t giving him a second thought right now anyway.
“What? Too fast for you?” He smiles and begins again. “Thing is, you’re trespassing. And,” he moves so his chest is touching the end of Raylan’s gun, blue eyes going wide and boring into Raylan’s, “you’re not going to shoot me.”
“I’m not going to shoot you,” Raylan repeats back dully. He knows he won’t, that for some reason he can’t, and it feels like he’s being pulled down, weighted to the ground but also falling endlessly into those too blue eyes. He lowers his gun.
“Oh, good man. Now, you are going to leave Mystic Falls and forget you ever came here. And my friend over there,” the other man waves from his post at the tree, “well, friend may be too strong a word, but that’s neither here nor there. This dim history teacher was never here and you lost his trail, ‘kay?”
“I lost his trail.” And he did, he knows it. He’s not even all too sure where he is right now, but he seems to be feeling like that’s not a problem. Weird, but okay.
“See? You’re getting it already.” He claps Raylan on the back. “Not too much longer and you can light out for the Territories, back to where you came from.” Raylan chuckles, and the guy gives him a smug smile before glancing over at his companion in the shadows. “I like this guy. Can we keep him?”
“Damon, come on,” his friend replies. “You did your mojo, now let’s just get out of here.”
“Lighten up, Ric. I know it’s a school night.” Damon dusts off a glassy-eyed Raylan’s coat at his shoulders and gives him a once over. “Now tell me the truth, do you think I could pull off the cowboy look?”
“Damon,” Ric warns.
“Can’t I just try on the hat?”
“Ugh, fine. Mr. Snippy today. And a little ungrateful, too,” Damon says half under his breath and half to Raylan. “No fun at all.”
“A real stick in the mud, you ask me,” Raylan drawls. Damon laughs, and grabs Raylan’s shoulders to stare into his eyes again.
“You’re good people, you know that? Now, wait here until first light and then head home. ‘Kay, buddy?”
Raylan wakes up to see the sun peeking through the trees. He must have fallen asleep against the barn when he stopped to rest, and somehow he knows he’s lost his fugitive in the intervening hours. The weird thing is – well, one of the weird things, this whole case has been weird personified – he feels like he really wanted to shoot somebody last night. And he’s feeling downright possessive of his hat all of a sudden.
Raylan sighs, looks to the east and swears he sees a flash of blue flood his sight. Maybe he really does just need to work on those anger management skills after all. Nah, can't give Art the satisfaction. Shaking it off, he decides he might as well find his car and head on back to Kentucky.
2. Derek Reese
He is never bored in Miami, he’ll tell you that much. Any day of the week – say a Tuesday – even when you think you are just going to the liquor store on the corner to pick up some milk in your favorite plaid shirt, you can always find something that catches your attention. On a good day, it’s just your run of the mill oddity. On a bad day, like today, it’s a criminal violating federal law.
Raylan abandons his carton of milk in the candy aisle and ignores the store clerk’s shouts as he follows the guy out the back and into an alley. Months ago a bulletin hit his desk that included a number of fugitives escaped from custody in California. It’s either a curse or some kind of Jesus-given savant thing that allows him to remember faces of evildoers so well. Whatever it is, he tries to focus on this current evildoer and keeps his hand on the piece resting in the waist band of his jeans as he tails him around the corner.
He’s got to have cause (just in case his facial recognition skills have steered him wrong this time), and his perp obliges when he reaches his truck and pulls what looks like a military grade rifle from the back. The guy replaces the gun, shuts the tailgate, and ducks around the truck nearly out of sight. Raylan has no choice but to come out from behind his dumpster vantage point with his weapon drawn. Trouble is his fugitive is just a bit quicker than he is.
It’s dark and the alley is not as small as he’d like, but Raylan has no trouble making out the man’s features once they are face to face, guns pointed at one another. Tall with some facial scruff, the guy looks every bit like a battle-hardened vet who doesn’t know anything else but war. Raylan’s knows plenty of guys who have that same look. More than that though, he is also definitely, 100% the man from the bulletin listed as a John Doe, wanted for murder.
“Deputy US Marshal Raylan Givens. You’re gonna want to put your weapon down and get on the ground.”
“Not happening,” is all the guy says for a moment.
“You’re making a mistake. Just put it down and this can all be over real quick.”
John Doe smiles and shakes his head. “If you were smart, you’d walk away and forget this happened, but you don’t look too smart.”
“Is it the accent?” Raylan quips. “‘Cause that’s not something I can really do anything about.”
“I don’t want to hurt you,” the man says seriously.
“I’d appreciate that.”
“But I will.”
“How’d I know you were gonna say that?” They stand there silently for a few moments. Raylan reckons they are about fifteen feet apart. He could take this guy down easily enough, but something tells him his opponent is probably a pretty decent shot.
“Still have that tattoo on your arm? The barcode thing?” That gets the guy’s attention and he takes a step towards him. “Hey, hey, hey. Whoa. I was just wondering. Saw it in your file, thought maybe it had a special meaning.”
“I’m not who you think I am.”
“I’m fairly certain that you are.”
“Turn around and go home. This is your last chance.”
“Looks to me like we’ve come to an impasse. Itn’t that what they say? An impasse?” Raylan sees his guy quirk a small smile, and the next thing he knows he’s on the ground.
He must have been out for only a few seconds, because he opens his eyes to a sideways world where a pair of cowboy boots and then the teenaged girl standing in them discard a crowbar that he’s sure just struck the back of his head. There’s no time to wonder how she snuck up on him, because he stays conscious just long enough to see her get into the truck with his tattooed fugitive.
When the clerk from the liquor store finds him on the ground behind the store a half an hour later, he helps Raylan to his feet and tells him he’s closing in ten minutes if he still wants that milk. The truck, the guy and the girl are long gone. He stands there for a few minutes, leaning against a wall and rubbing the back of his head only to come away with blood on his hand. And his gun is gone. It just figures.
Milk is the last thing on his mind when he walks back through the store and out the front door to get to his car. This might possibly be the weirdest thing that’s happened to him in a long while. He’s not sure he should even file an incident report seeing as how he didn’t get a license plate number or any helpful details whatsoever. But he will file one. Tomorrow.
He might just leave out the part where he was incapacitated by a girl though.
3. Malcolm Reynolds
Raylan is pretty sure that this is one of his more creative dreams when the British man wearing the bow tie tells him not to wander off – he’ll be back in an hour – just before he disappears into the crowd. He can’t remember why he’d followed him in the first place, but he is completely going with the whole blue-phone-box-time-and-space-travel-thing, because, hey, this is a dream. He seems to have ended up in a dusty open market in a town plucked straight from a spaghetti western. Could be worse, he supposes. For once his hat doesn’t make him stand out.
The saloon he finds down the street is dingy and dark, a nice contrast to the bright day outside, and the place is decorated with a weird combination of weathered wood furniture and electronics. It’s barely afternoon but there are close to a dozen patrons sitting around in the smallish place. Raylan sits down at the bar and does his best to ignore the Chinese cartoon on the giant television sitting above the various bottles of booze. He’s looking for any sign of a bartender when the man sitting two stools down quietly addresses him.
“Fine looking hat.”
“Thank you,” Raylan replies and looks over to tip his hat. No need to skip the niceties, even in dreams.
“Not really a hat-wearer myself, as such,” the man says. He’s clearly already had a few drinks and is hunched over the bar like he’s hunkered down for the day. “Though I do admire a man who can make a hat look like it’s at home on his head.”
The bartender appears and Raylan points to the man who likes his hat and says, “Same as him.” After a small glass of coppery-colored silted liquid is placed in front of him, his new friend lifts his glass and Raylan is obliged to do the same. They both drink deeply and Raylan immediately regrets not sipping his first. It’s awful, like burning gravel going down your throat. It tastes like a weak whiskey distilled with grease, red pepper and dirt, and wow is this dream realistic, he thinks suddenly.
His bar companion laughs and says something in Chinese at the face Raylan’s making. He moves to the seat next to him and asks if it’s his first time on Delphi Moon.
“Well, it’s a rarified occasion when they get folks as cleanly as you around here.” Raylan frowns a bit and the man clarifies. “The moon dust gets in everything.” He signals the barkeep for two more and he offers his hand. “Captain Mal Reynolds.”
“Captain?” The two of them shake hands and smile at each other.
“Got me a nice space-going craft.”
“Raylan Givens,” he says and then under his breath, “Everybody’s got a spaceship.” They sit there side by side for a couple of minutes just sipping their drinks, eyes forward. Raylan downs what left of his drink and has to cough a bit. It’s then that he notices what Mal has at the foot of his stool.
“Ya know, Zhang said you’d be a sore thumb,” Mal says with a little chuckle, “but I was thinking he just meant you were tall or some gou shi.”
“Yeah, Zhang.” The confusion on his face must be telling Mal that he’s made a mistake. Mal’s quicker and more sober than Raylan had originally thought, because they both whip back their coats to reveal a hand on a gun at exactly the same time.
“Who are you?” Mal asks in a low voice, Raylan’s eyes darting down to the gun at his hip before looking back up into his hard gaze. He is at least gratified to see that Mal has just done the same survey of Raylan’s own gun.
“I’m just having a drink in a bar on a moon, apparently.”
“Come again?” Mal’s gun hand jerks a bit and Raylan adjusts his grip on his own piece. “You seem like a decent sort of fellow, but if you make me pull, I’ll put you down.”
“Bet you say that to all the girls.” Mal smirks as if to say he’s not too worried.
“Look now, two things are clear: I’m a long way from home, and you are here to do some sort of deal.” Mal doesn’t agree or speak or even really move at all; he just keeps his hand on his gun. “I really don’t care what you do.”
“You’re a lawman.”
“I’m, for all intents and purposes, on vacation. I’d like to sit here and have another drink, and then I’ll be on my way. If that’s okay by you, we can just put our hands up on the bar.”
Mal stares at him for a moment and narrows his eyes. “I’m not altogether too confident you’re doin’ much truth-telling.”
“How ‘bout a show of faith?” Raylan slowly takes his hand from his gun and raises both to bar level. Mal does that same and they both place their hands on the bar palms down.
Each man signals the barkeep for another round, and Raylan finishes his in two gulps. It’s really not so bad once you get used to it. Raylan stands when the bartender disappears again (he’s not sure how he planned on paying for his drinks, but he figures maybe you don’t have to in this particular dream) and notices that a large man in bright purple has just taken a seat near the back where it’s darkest. Mal glances towards the man and stands to bend down and get the duffel bag at his feet.
“Thought you said you were leaving.”
“I reckon I will, if you don’t object.” Mal nods his head. “Captain,” Rayaln says and tips his hats for effect.
They part ways, and Mal heads towards the black depths of the grungy bar while Raylan steps through the front doors into the stark light of day to go find a Doctor.
4. Lee Adama
You know how you have dreams and sometimes one dream kind of blends into the next one and when you wake up you can’t remember where one dream ended and the other began? Well, Raylan is definitely having one of those kinds of nights. No sooner had he found the Doctor again on that dusty moon than he found himself stepping out of the blue box onto what looks like the edge of where a beautiful river valley meets the foot of a ridge of magnificent snow peaked mountains. He takes a moment to look around and breathe in the warmth and sunshine and the sight of possibly the most pristine, natural scene he’s ever laid eyes on.
There’s not a soul around and Raylan relaxes enough to want to take off his hat – only it’s not on his head. Could have sworn he had it on a minute ago. He’s not wearing his jacket either, but a blue plaid shirt instead. Wardrobe change. Huh. He takes a deep breath and reaches around to the back waistband of his jeans. His gun is still there, and he grins in relief.
The scene before him is truly spectacular and Raylan can’t fathom why the Doctor isn’t out enjoying this himself. Maybe this is old hat to him. Probably been there lots of times. He walks back to the phone box and tries the door, but it’s locked. After some knocking and then banging followed by bellowing, Raylan decides that his new friend just probably isn’t the mountain type. He doesn’t want to judge anyone unfairly, but he thinks the bow tie really should have given it away.
Raylan reckons it’s a good idea to look around because this is a dream, after all – might find something fun. He must be on another planet, probably an uninhabited one. Raylan grins and thinks this just might be paradise. In the quick, montage-like time of the dream, he walks down to the river and throws bank stones into the water, climbs over a few rocks at the base of the mountain, and tracks a few birds as they soar around above. It’s dark before he reaches the blue box moments later, so he gathers fallen limbs and starts a fire. Boy Scouts paid off after all, what do you know?
The chill in the air is just starting to reach through his clothes when he hears the snap of a twig behind him. “Came out when I wasn’t looking, huh Doc?” Raylan calls as he turns from the fire towards the noise. Instead of finding a man in a tweed jacket and a streak of unkempt hair, he is face to face with a wild looking man wearing leather pants, and sporting an impressive beard. The thing most concerning him at the moment, though, is the pretty big bow with a sharp looking arrow pointed at him.
“Hands up,” the man commands and Raylan obeys. He steps closer, the light from the fire illuminating his face. The two of them stare at each other silently for a few moments, each frowning and sizing the other up. Raylan has to correct himself from earlier, because everything about this guy looks wild except for his eyes. They are blue and alight with obvious intelligence and something else he can’t put his finger on.
“Which ship were you on?”
“I thought I knew everyone who settled in this area,” he says softly, as if to himself. He doesn’t lower his weapon or look away, but he’s clearly thinking.
“I’m not settled. I’m just, well, here. Name’s Raylan Givens.” He tries to lower his hand to extend it towards the bearded man – hopefully shaking is considered polite on this planet – but the man’s eyes get big and he gestures upward with the arrow. Raylan’s hands go back up.
“How’d you get here?”
“Not sure if you can see it over there in the bushes what with it being so dark out here, but there is a blue box, space ship thing that way,” and Raylan points with his left hand, “and let’s just say none of this was my idea.” The man doesn’t move, but Raylan thinks he might be smiling a little under the beard.
“Can I ask you a question?” The look of surprise on the man’s face is replaced quickly with a soft, indulgent expression of amusement. “How do you know English? Or is this like Star Trek and there is a translator thing around here somewhere?”
“Yeah, we’re speaking English, and I just thought it was odd.”
“We’re speaking Caprican. I’ve never heard of English.”
“Huh, must me a translator thing then.” Raylan grins and says, “Sorry, just wanted to make sure.” Something in that exchange must have made the Beard relax, because he slowly puts his bow down and extends his hand.
“Lee Adama.” Raylan shakes his hand and sees kindness in Lee’s eyes. “I’ve been climbing these mountains and mapping the area. Haven’t seen anyone in ages.” They both sit and Lee pulls three small carcasses from his leather pack. “I have some meat if you’re hungry.”
“Thanks.” They skin and prepare the animals, and in what seems like seconds they are enjoying tasty wild meat. Lee has been telling him about the area and all the wildlife and plants he’s found. He shows Raylan a book of crude drawings with facts written about each animal or plant he’s discovered.
“So you and the other settlers have made this place your home?” Raylan asks before taking the last bite of his surprisingly delicious meat. He wipes his hands on his jeans and watches Lee pick a piece of food out of his beard.
“Frakking beard,” he mutters and then smiles. “Yeah, it’s a fresh start.”
“Sounds nice.” Raylan leans back a bit to look up at the star-filled sky and clasps his hands up behind his head. They enjoy the night sounds of nature around them for a few moments and Raylan finally asks, “You have a family?”
“No.” If sadness passes over his features, it is only just for a moment, and he quickly asks, “Do you?”
Raylan chuckles a bit and leans forward, his forearms resting on his knees. “No, but what I do have is a very complicated relationship with my ex-wife.” The small smile on Lee’s face makes his nod of understanding almost unnecessary.
“That’s her. Winona,” Raylan says, handing Lee a picture he’s just taken from his wallet. Lee nods appreciatively and hands the picture back. “Oh, she’s just as dangerous as she looks, my friend.” Lee laughs and Raylan can’t help smiling. “A little crazy, too. And she does not fight fair.”
“They never do.” Both men laugh, and Raylan remembers the flask he has in his boot. Or it just got there. He’s not really sure.
“Drink?” He holds the flask up and Lee’s eyes go wide.
“You have alcohol? Frak yeah.” Raylan smiles and Lee produces a small metal cup that Raylan immediately fills.
“To dangerous women,” Raylan says raising his flask in the firelight.
“Wouldn’t want them any other way.” These are the last words Raylan can remember, because, like a lot of dreams, this one ends with no warning and no resolution, just an awaking to a different reality.
5. Sheldon Cooper
He’s not sure how these things happen to him, but they always do. No matter how far he goes or how hard he tries, outlaws just seem to find Raylan Givens.
Atlanta is supposed to be a vacation for him – a little rest and relaxation, good food, and maybe a Braves game – but his hotel is overrun with people dressed as Jedi and Harry Potter and God only knows what else for, after some inquiry with a friendly looking Klingon, a fan convention of some kind. Besides everything downtown being crowded and not a single table in a restaurant existing in a mile radius, he doesn’t really mind the convention. Matter of fact, he’s looking forward to telling some good stories about riding in an elevator with Boba Fett vigorously making out with Counselor Troi. As it happens, finding himself in a hotel bathroom in a standoff with a frazzled and strung-out Batman who has taken Spock hostage turns out to be the story of the trip.
The large bathroom is empty but for the three of them (guns tend to clear a room efficiently if not quietly). Batman is a good six inches shorter than Spock, but built, at least Raylan thinks so. Could be part of the costume. They’re at the back of the endless row of stalls, up against the wall, nowhere to go. Raylan almost feels sorry for Short Batman, ‘cause the guy’s grip on Spock’s arm seems more steadying than menacing, his gun hand shaking like a leaf. He’s got to hand it to Spock though: the guy is mostly calm and, not just because of the Vulcan eyebrows, looks pretty annoyed.
“That’s close enough!” Batman says, pushing his gun closer to Spock’s head. “Not another step!” Raylan, about five stalls from the end, keeps his gun pointed at Batman but stops where he is.
“Just gonna stand right here. Won’t come any closer.” Raylan’s been a marshal long enough to know how to read situations and especially people. It’s part of the job and part of what makes him good at it. Desperation oozes from Batman’s every shaky pore, and desperation usually means something stupid is about to happen in his line of work. He thinks he knows exactly how to wrangle this particular brand of stupid, just as long as the hostage cooperates.
“What do you say we have a little talk? Man to man.” He tries to sound casual, like hostage negotiation is his normal afternoon activity, but Batman just shakes his head. “Maybe we could let Spock go, put away our guns, and just you and me have a conversation. Sound okay?”
“No, no conversation. Spock stays here,” and Batman jerks Spock by the arm a bit. The Vulcan’s eyes go wide momentarily but he seems to calm once Batman’s grip is back to normal.
“You mind if I talk to Mr. Spock here then?” Batman doesn’t say anything so Raylan proceeds. “You okay there, Mr. Spock?”
“Yes, though I seem to be experiencing a spike in adrenaline that will not quit,” Spock replies somewhat haughtily.
“That’s to be expected.” Raylan smiles reassuringly. He’s not sure this will work, but he’s got to try something. “Now I don’t want you to become more alarmed, but in a few moments I’m going to have to shoot you.”
“What?!?!” Batman and Spock say at the same time.
“I only see this ending one way, and that’s with the Dark Knight going down. I can’t do that if I have to worry about you, so I’ve got to get you out of the picture the only way I can.”
“You can’t shoot the hostage! Isn’t that the first thing they teach you at the police academy? Aim for the bad guy?” Spock is outraged, as evidenced by the octave his voice just went up. Batman says nothing just pulls at Spock’s arm again and puts his gun closer to his head. This might work after all.
“Haven’t you seen that Keanu Reeves movie with the bus?” Raylan asks. “The most logical move would be to shoot the hostage.”
“It very well may be, but not when the hostage possesses two doctorates, a master’s degree and one of the most brilliant minds in theoretical physics on the planet!”
“I don’t think that matters. Keanu certainly wouldn’t take that into to consideration.”
“That was a movie and Keanu Reeves is an actor, for crying out loud!” Spock pauses in his indignation for a moment. “Or so he claims on his tax return,” he deadpans, and laugh-snorts a moment later.
Raylan smiles and swears he sees Spock wink at him while slowly reaching for his tricorder, but he’s trying to keep his eyes on Batman so he can’t be sure. Batman breathes deeply and Raylan thinks he is about to get his moment. “Ya know,” he starts, but Batman has had enough.
“NO MORE TALKING! JUST SHUT UP!” He lets go of Spock’s arm and grabs him by the neck to pull his head down to his level. It’s just enough movement and commotion that Raylan knows that it’s now or never.
He is in that space between seconds where time seems to stand still, that space just before he pulls the trigger where his mind and body are in perfect sync. Mind and body have both seen their chance, the shot lining up perfectly. It’s then that Spock makes his move. Mind and body hold back the shot, and time speeds up as limbs and sound and light swirl together in a flurry of furious motion.
“BAZINGA!” Spock yells as the crackle of a taser hits Batman in the arm pit. He screams in pain and drops his gun. Before he knows what’s happened, Raylan is running forward and kicking Batman’s gun away into a stall as Spock stands over him triumphantly.
It’s easy to cuff a Batman writhing in pain, just so you know. And it turns out Spock is appropriately logical. “I had my tricorder fitted with a taser for just such occasions,” Spock confides to Raylan. “Dr. Sheldon Lee Cooper, at your service. I’m always happy to assist in the capture of a wanted criminal.” Raylan manages to haul a whimpering Batman to his feet and walk him to the officers flooding into the bathroom. “Even Batman can’t mess with Texas!” Spock calls after his assailant as he is led from the room.
Not that it’s the most surprising thing about this vacation, but Raylan is actually looking forward to taking this man’s statement. He holds out his hand and says, “Good to meet you, Dr. Cooper. You can call me Raylan.”
It’s two in the morning when Raylan awakens to knocking at his hotel room door.
It’s a jarring knock, knock, knock followed by, “Raylan.” And knock, knock, knock again with, “Raylan.” He’s out of bed and stubbed his toe with a “oomph” as the last barrage of knock, knock, knocks hit before, “Raylan.” He finds the light switch and opens the door to a de-Spocked and plaid night-robed Sheldon Cooper.
“Hey, Dr. Cooper. What brings you to my door at whatever the hell time it is right now in the morning?”
“I can’t sleep,” Sheldon says bluntly. “And you said I could call you Raylan and that you were here if I needed you.” He pauses to look down at the floor and then back up at Raylan. “I need you.”
Raylan rubs his palm over his left eye and down the side of his face. “You’re right, I did say those things.” Sheldon doesn’t respond and Raylan wonders where the indignant, self-righteous guy from earlier went to. This man looks like a lost child. “I can get dressed and we can go down to the bar for a drink or something? You a whiskey man?”
“I don’t really drink alcohol, but I’d be glad to have a virgin cuba libre with you to pass the time.” He waits while Raylan gets dressed and soon they are heading down the hall to the elevators.
“What part of Kentucky are you from exactly?” Sheldon asks as Raylan hits the down button. “I’d say somewhere in the eastern part judging by your accent.”
“Yeah, near Lexington.” The elevator dings and the doors open. They walk inside, Raylan muttering, “How the hell?” Sheldon smiles and the doors close just a Raylan asks, “What are you a doctor of again?”
6. Olivia Dunham
Raylan does not smoke. At least not anymore. Not since before his mining days. He hasn’t had so much as an inkling of an urge to light up in years – that’s including the days after his divorce and the whole time he’s been back in Kentucky – but lately the complexities of his life have been bearing down on him in such a manner that both the comfort and repulsion of a cigarette is getting harder and harder to resist.
The roof of the federal building is deserted at 9:00 am, and Raylan is doing his best to block the wind enough to get a light. It’s a fine day – warm but not hot, the sky clear and blue, perfect for the sudden and violent appearance of two strangers out of nowhere. Raylan is taking his second drag on the first cigarette he’s had in twenty years when two figures appear in a flash of light across the rooftop, about forty feet away. If he didn’t just see it with his own two eyes he would not believe it, but there they are, a woman with long blonde hair standing there holding a man in her arms.
Raylan is stunned and the cigarette hanging from his mouth comically falls to the ground at his feet. While he pauses a second to take in the scene, his mouth hanging open in disbelief, the man and woman sway and then crumple to the ground as if they can no longer stand on their own power. Before Raylan can shake himself out of shock, his instincts kick in and he’s running towards the pair huddled together on the ground.
He’s nearly reached them when the woman raises her hand, palm out to yell, “Stay back!” Not one to have to be told twice, Raylan slows to a halt about eight or ten feet from them. The blonde keeps her hand up but gives her attention back to the man lying across her lap and being cradled with her free arm.
“Olivia,” the man says breathily, looking up at the woman, and it’s obvious he is having trouble breathing.
“Peter,” she replies and moves both hands to his chest. It’s then that Raylan sees all the blood. His shirt is soaked with it and it’s quickly covering Olivia’s hands.
He takes a step or two closer and is about to tell them he’s going to go get help when Peter starts to sit up, coughing and shaking, and pushing Olivia away from him.
“It’s starting again. Get back!” Peter is scooting away and leaving a trail of blood on the roof. Olivia reaches out to him, but he puts up his hands. “Olivia, you have to stay back!” And just like that – with their hands outstretched to each other – a crackling noise builds and seems to bring with it a wave of light and energy that knocks Olivia back and engulfs Peter within seconds. Raylan has had to shield his eyes, and when the light is gone he looks up to see that Peter is too.
Olivia lurches forward and moves on hands and knees to the spot Peter just occupied, her fingers running over the ground and coming up with nothing. Raylan closes the gap between them in two steps and crouches down in front of her. He reaches a hand towards her tentatively and Raylan says softly, “Olivia?”
Her head turns to him slowly and though she is not crying, Raylan can easily recognize the utter devastation that is making her eyes look so hollow. “That is your name, right?” She just stares at him, unseeing and nods slightly. “Are you hurt?” She doesn’t answer and he puts his hand on her arm. “I’m gonna go get help.” Raylan moves to stand, but her hand jerks out and grips his arm so that he has to crouch back down at her level.
“I need to go with him.” Her eyes bore into his and he has to look away for a moment. Her pain could overwhelm them both. “I have to help him,” she says with such conviction and steady strength that he can’t tell if she’s delirious or simply out of her mind with fear.
“Let me go get help and we’ll figure out everything else when I get back.” In response, she grips his arm tighter and bows her head a bit with a sigh. “I’ll be right back, I promise.”
He goes to stand again, but she grabs the lapel of his coat with her free hand and with surprising strength pulls him within a few inches of her face. “You need to shoot me,” she states seriously, her eyes darting down to the gun holstered at his hip.
If this were any other circumstance, Raylan might chuckle and shake his head, but this woman is all intensity and depth and sadness. He can’t see anything but the pain pouring out of her and masking the desperation that she is barely keeping at bay. He looks into her eyes and says gently, as if to a frightened child, “I’m not going to shoot you.”
“It’s the only way.”
“It’s not the only way.” Looking down at her bloodied hands on his jacket, Raylan shakes his head and manages to get Olivia to loosen her grip and let him go. She remains on her knees, arms in front of her as he stands and turns toward the access door. He hears the click plain as day before he’s even taken two steps.
“I need you to stop where you are, turn around, take out your gun and shoot me in the chest.” Raylan is already stopped and when he turns around Olivia is standing there with a gun pointed straight at him. “Good. Now take out your gun.” Raylan doesn’t move. “I don’t have time to explain this to you, but trust me when I tell you that there are things at work here that you can’t possibly understand. If I’m going to follow him, this is the only way.”
Grief can make people do crazy things, Lord only knows that he understandss that, and though Raylan is not clear about what he saw before, he knows that this woman can not actually be asking him to kill her. Can she?
“I know you must be upset,” Raylan starts somewhat condescendingly, but she cuts him off by firing a shot that takes off his hat. He draws his gun and points it at her faster than you can say “don’t mess with the hat.”
“I’m not asking nicely.” She almost smiles, albeit crookedly and with no hint of vulnerability. “I won’t miss next time.” Raylan takes a deep breath and shakes his head at her. This is insane, completely and wrongly insane. But something in her face tells him she isn’t; maybe it’s just the circumstance that is.
“Shoot me. His life and your life and every life in this universe may depend on it.”
Raylan watches her for a moment and closes his eyes for a second as he breathes out sharply.
“SHOOT ME!” She drops her gun and her hands to her sides and screams again, “SHOOT ME!” She’s barely gotten the words out when a shot rings out, Raylan hardly realizing he’s pulled the trigger.
The bullet leaves the barrel and time seems slows down, like slow motion in the movies, and he sees every little movement before it hits its target. Olivia – a woman he’s not likely to forget in this lifetime – smiles, relief washing over her features as the bullet makes contact, only it’s not with her. The air or the energy or the world ripples out in front of her like water held there by an invisible shield, blurring everything around her and knocking him back on his ass.
It is over in an instant, the fabric of the world or whatever it is righting itself and smoothing out before he can even get back on his feet. And of course, she’s gone. The only traces that she or Peter were ever there are the smears of blood on the concrete and the hole blown out of a beloved hat.
Men with guns burst through the access door and spread out over the roof like ants, Art bringing up the rear a minute later. Raylan’s explanation for the gunshots they heard fired (a pigeon made him angry) doesn’t sit well with his boss, especially considering the blood stains not entirely wiped clean from the concrete by the jacket Raylan is now holding instead of wearing. But everyone clears off and heads back down quick enough. Raylan grabs his hat before anyone can see the hole in it and stays put for a few minutes, deciding all this might have just been a big cosmic sign that smoking is not a habit he needs to pick up again.
When he gets back downstairs a few minutes later, he nods to Art in his office and smiles at the scowl he receives in return. Everyone seems to be looking at him, and he sees why when he sits down at his desk. On top of his computer’s keyboard is an official order from the US Marshal service Lexington office to report to anger management classes this coming Thursday night and for the following five Thursday nights at 8:00 pm at the community center on Jefferson.
Raylan stares at the paper for a few seconds and laughs. Well don’t that just take the cake.