“The hell are ya doing? Ya ain’t sleepin’ on the floor, Ray.”
He’d had two paths: one left and one right. He’d emerged at the crossroad, one path steering him away from his whole life. The life he had never known. A life of magic, spirits, confusion and promise; the promise that finally, finally Ray would find himself. The promise that one day, he’d be accepted here, unlike anywhere he had ever been accepted before. Full blooded Indian or not. And for Ray, it was ‘or not’ but he was still sufficient, as it were, to embrace these people. His people.
“Oh, uh..” Ray stuttered, a pronounced blush forming on his cheeks.
He didn’t have many bags as such, only the clothes he had bought with him for his mission. The whole FBI gig that Ray… didn’t exactly have anymore.
Walter took the suitcase from him and before Ray could voice anything, he was already halfway up the stairs with it.
Ray was sure that he had never seen Walter move so fast. He staggered his gait, hastily wiped at the sweat coating his forehead and began to traipse up the staircase.
He stumbled into a small room. It was gorgeous: rustic and dated. Full of little knick-knacks, photos in ruined frames, small pieces of furniture that didn’t match but totally went together. His pale gaze fell apon the footstool Walter was using as a bedside table: his raybans; Ray’s own bartered pair; his cowboy hat and Ray smiled.
There was just something about the bedroom that… spoke to him. In a strange, mythical way. The room was speaking to him, calling him. Telling Ray that maybe, just maybe, this was his home. His rightful home.
“I’ll take the couch. You just get yourself some rest, Kola.”
“Yeah, remember that.”
It wasn’t as though Ray had never heard the word, he knew it meant something good but the way Walter said it: was unlike anything he had ever heard. It was special, Ray was special. Walter said it in such a way and he meant it.
Ray shook his head profusely, with the blush now firmly in place. He rolled about some words in his mouth, opening and closing it, stalling then, he pouted. Walter just looked at him with a hand on his tanned hip, an eyebrow raised.
“Raymond. Get some rest. You’ve had a real long ass drive back ‘ere. Ya look like—“
“A spooked white man.”
At that Ray saw something in Walter shift, something more than him literally strutting towards Ray.
“What’s on ya mind, Raymond?”
Ray looked away from him, finding something on the floor suddenly very intriguing. He knew that Walter’s gaze hadn’t left him; it hadn’t wavered and Ray sighed deeply. He slowly rose his eyes, blinking at the sudden realisation: Walter was mere inches from him. They were breathing in tandem and Walter looked so concerned. It unnerved Ray, it really did, he didn’t want anyone to have to worry about him. But Walter was talking, his voice oddly soft and self-assured.
Ray found himself melting. Giving into those words, commands for Ray to just lie on the bed and make himself comfortable. Demands that he just drift off and forget everything. About everything that had happened and for once: focus on himself. Tell himself and listen to himself, voicing what he wanted.
He was fighting with himself to keep awake as Walter pushed him further down into the pillows. Ray’s hazel eyes were slipping closed as Water’s figure blurred. He said something that Ray had missed and then, Walter was walking away.
Walter turned on his heel.
“Can you.. will you..”
“Can I, will I.. what Raymond?” Walter’s voice was still very soft and Ray blushed deeper. “Ray.”
Walter’s lip quirked up whilst Ray awaited his jokes, his insults. He was surprised enough that he’d even spoken.
Walter looked him up and down, limbs limp atop of the bed sheets.
“Sure thing, Kola.”
Ray slept peacefully throughout the night. Usually he slept curled up into a small ball, muscles jerking as he tossed and turned. But that night, he slept. Open and unafraid, he unravelled himself and turned over to Walter’s side of the bed, arms open and legs elongated, still dead asleep.
Ray awoke to an empty bed, to the smell of something cooking. Something sizzling. He had been stripped and placed under the covers. His eyes adjusted to his surroundings, the smell of the bed. The proximity that he and Walter had shared. Ray smiled to himself, he was beaming.
He slowly rose to his feet, made his way down the stairs. The smile only grew and grew the closer he got, the braver he felt. When Walter came into view, years had melted off of Ray. It showed in his face, his stance, his guard was down. Walter grinned and Ray took a seat, the biggest smile plastered his handsome face.