The summer wind off the ocean was salty and cool, gently caressing the faces of the two men who sat on the beach in lawn chairs, curling their toes in the sand and passing a bottle between them.
One of them, short blonde hair and vivid blue eyes, built strongly, a pair of silver tags resting against the blue fabric of his t-shirt, turns to his fellow, equally strong, one eye (or lack thereof) hidden behind a black patch, the other cocoa brown and bright, smile impish, skin dark and handsome. He smiles back, crooked.
"Today was a good day."
"Aye, t'was, m'lad. How'd ye like everything?"
"Jesus, it was great. Just like you said it'd be."
He smiled, a bit softer, looking down at the bottle that'd just been pressed into his hands. Homebrew cider, strong enough to take the paint off a Buick. Tavish made this stuff himself, always had, and in its way it'd always be Jane's favorite drink. Pressing the bottle to his lips, he drinks deep, relishing the sharp burn and the faint taste of what may have once been apples.
"I'm glad I came here."
"I'm glad ye did too. I've wanted to show ye all this for a long time."
Tavish smiled at the American fondly, taking the bottle back from him and taking a long drink of his own before settling the brown glass into the sand between them and staring back out to sea. The only sounds were the woosh of the wind and waves, the occasional cry of a gull.
Jane feels more at peace here than he has anywhere in his life. Maybe it's the sun and the breeze and the sea, maybe it's the alcohol in his belly, maybe it's the man at his side- his friend, his dear, dear friend, the only one ever to regard him with true warmth and understanding.
He'd come so close to throwing that away for shoes, for damn shoes, and the thought of it makes his stomach churn, a flush of shame rise to his cheeks slightly. How could he ever believe
and even in believing, how could he ever
The Soldier looks up, into the concerned face of the Scotsman, who lays a warm and comforting hand on his shoulder.
"Ye're thinking about it again, aren't ye."
"Stop thae', now. Ye came tae me for forgiveness and ye've been given it, as ye gave me yours. It's alright. Over an' done. That's why ye came home with me, aye? To get away from all'a that nonsense? They cannae' do a bloody thing t' us here, y'knae. It's over, Jane. We're alrigh'."
And it was alright. They were alright. They'd trod all over the good parts of the island, walked the highlands and poked around old castles (where Tavish swore there were ghosts lurking), crawled all the best pubs and indulged in warm, home-y Scotch cuisine as well as a fantastic array of whiskey and beer, with the promise to do it all again the next day, maybe to go hunting for the elusive Loch Monster. And now they were on the beach, looking out to sea, before heading in for the night (despite having a mansion in New Mexico, Tavish hadn't the heart to sell off his old homestead in Ullapool, which is where they were staying the week.)
"This is going to sound really stupid
"So it ought tae be par for the course with everything else comin' out yer gob." Tavish's grin was teasing, and the Soldier could tell he wasn't serious.
I don't want to leave. Goddamnit, I don't. If we go back there they're just going to try some other fuck-all thing, and
Christ, I've never run from a fight in my life but I don't
I don't want this to end, damnit. I like it here, I do."
"Is that all?"
Tavish laughed his infectious and jovial laugh, his eye twinkling with mirth and fraternal affection.
"Well m'lad, it's up tae you, but the way I see it there aint' no reason we cannae do jes' that, aye? They wouldn' dare try tae drag us back if we didnae' want tae go, we'd blow 'em to ruddy bits. Nae- this place's good for ye, I can tell. We can stay as long as ye want."
I'd like that."
"Thought ye would."
Reaching over, he gives Jane's short blonde hair a ruffle, laughing, and picks the bottle out of the sand, offering it back over. It's accepted with a laugh and a smile in return.
The doctor shines a light in his patient's eye, frowning a bit. Barely a response. Same as it has been since the day he was brought into the main BLU Medical Center. He remembers the story well, as he is aware of his patient's infamy- Jane Doe. The BLU Soldier who'd dared to severely breach contract by befriending the RED Demoman, Tavish DeGroot. Then they had started battling, fiercely. No one knew why exactly, the story changed depending on who you asked, and rumor had it the higher ups had something to do with it.
No matter what the reason, the outcome was the same, at least according to the witnesses. The Soldier had slain his friend. He'd laughed, and laughed, and then started screaming, and screamed until his voice finally gave out, and then, well... he'd fallen still. He didn't laugh, or scream, or say a word, or even move. He barely responded to outside stimuli at all. Completely catatonic.
The Soldier's team Medic hadn't been able to do anything for him, and as a last desperate act, called HQ, who had arranged for him to be sent here, where he'd remained since, ever still, ever silent.
The doctor sighed, shaking his head. His patient, he knew, might never revive. Sometimes they didn't, no matter what you did. It was the guilt, he imagined.
At least, from the tiny upward pricking of his lips, he seemed to be having a good dream.
A/N: Sorry about that. I study at the Cat Bountry School of Cruel Twist Endings. I've actually had this idea floating in my head for some time and finally found time to spew it from my brainmeats onto (digital) paper. I hope you enjoyed it.
'Aislingiche', for the record, is the Scottish Gaelic word for 'dreamer'.