AUTHOR'S NOTES: I bet you're asking, "Where's the Van/Wendy fluff? Where's the cheesy clichéd drama? Where's Kameo?!" In due time, comrades. This is a post-birthday gift for Watanabe Emi, who, if you all remember, would like to see a little more Ray/Joshua in this world.

Slight shounen-ai and incest if you squint…or you can choose not to squint and keep it all platonic.

Pre-anime…pre-Shino might be the more appropriate term. XD

The landscape was dark, desolate and deserted. He tried wrapping his nightshirt around him more tightly as a cruel wind blew past him – only to find out that he didn't have his clothes on.

Squinting into the distance, he could see a tall figure, long hair lifted by the strong gusts that also buffeted the black and gray curtains of mist, which seemingly clothed the figure in extremely austere threads. He called out to the stranger; only to find that no sound came from his lips. All succeeding efforts were just as futile, and he could feel himself shivering as the wind continued toying with him.

One cloud of mist was blown into the vague silhouette of what looked like a second person, and as quickly as it was scattered, the figure disappeared.

He stepped forward and began to run, feeling sharp rocks cut his feet. A particularly annoying stone tripped him, but he didn't fall onto the barren ground.

Instead, he fell into an infinite abyss, which was blacker than the blackest black, if that was possible. There was nothing to grab, no one to save him, and he kept on falling…

That is, until he opened his eyes.

Ray Lundgren glanced at the clock that sat beside his lamp; only a few minutes before midnight. And yet, he still couldn't put down the book on automated armors he had only recently acquired. After brushing a lock of his blond hair away from his ice-blue eyes, he turned the next page, willing himself to turn in once he finished the chapter he was currently on.

But just as his fingers touched the page, there was a knock on his door. It swung open before he could ask "Who is it?" and revealed a young boy with tousled, wavy blond hair and a rather…haunted expression.


Shutting his book with a snap and placing it aside, he asked, "What is it, Joshua?" Just when I was finally about to call it a night…

"I can't sleep," was the somewhat hesitant reply.


"I…I had a nightmare."

Raising his eyebrows, Ray sighed, somehow half-expecting that answer. If he didn't know better, Josh was past that "I had a nightmare" stage, which meant he was too old to be knocking on his brother's door because of such a simple, childish reason. "It was just a…a dream," he said with a yawn. "Go back to sleep, Josh."

"But I can't!"

"Go to sleep. Don't you know how late it is?"

Joshua pouted. "Yes, but I really can't sleep!"

"Get a glass of warm milk or something. You probably won't even remember what you dreamt of in the morning."

"It didn't work."

"Well, what do you want me to do?" By now, all Ray wanted was to finally get some sleep, and was close to getting out of bed and dragging his little brother back to his own room.

He didn't expect to hear Joshua's response, or even expect him to answer at all.

"C-can I sleep with you for one night, brother, just one night? I don't think I can sleep alone…in my room…maybe that's why…" His voice trailed off.

Ray stared at his brother, who stared back with wide, bright blue eyes. For a few moments, not a single word passed between them.

And whether it was the petulant pout, the constant cajoling, or just those pleading eyes gazing longingly at him, or perhaps because he just wanted to sleep already, Ray found himself moving aside and patting the empty space beside him. The boy instantly crossed the room and clambered into the adolescent's bed. Opening his arms, he gave Ray a big hug, something the latter didn't expect – and at the same time, sort of expected.

"I dreamt…I dreamt that you were taken away from me…everything was so dark…you were gone…I was alone…I don't want you to leave me, brother…I want you to stay with me…please…"

For his age, Joshua was smart, and could understand a lot of things most kids wouldn't be able to for a few years – and things not even some adults could comprehend, but because of that, it was so easy to forget that he was still…well, a kid. Kids would be kids for a while; there was nothing anyone would be able to do about it. And right now, Ray could only hold him close, patting his back and feeling Joshua shake with suppressed sobs. They were huddled together in bed, as though it would be the last night they would spend together.


"You'll stay with me, right? I don't want to be alone."

Ray sighed again. This was just one of those times when Joshua reminded him that being a child prodigy also meant being…well, a child.

"I won't leave you, I promise. Now go to sleep. Don't you know how much time we've already wasted?"

With a nod and a little smile, Joshua lay down with Ray, who was more than willing to share his blanket and couldn't help but return the smile before falling asleep.

The Lundgrens fell asleep at the same time.

The inhospitable desert was back.

Winds howled as though they carried the weight of the world, in time with the cries of distant animals seemingly pleading for help. The sky was concealed by an endless sea of depressing gray mist.

Only this time, he had clothes on, and more importantly, the fog parted to reveal someone's hand reaching out for him. He took it, clutching it and feeling its warmth contrast sharply with the blowing gales. In no time at all, he felt warm too, and the landscape began to dissolve into something brighter, something more beautiful, more welcoming…

And then he ran into the arms of the figure waiting for him all too eagerly, and the two of them embraced fiercely as the background completed itself into what looked like a blissful paradise. They were the only ones around, and yet, it was all right; it was perfect that way…


He rubbed his eyes and opened them in time to see his older brother already wide awake, but still lying in bed, watching him.

"You looked like you were dreaming. Did you have a good dream?"

But somehow, Ray already knew the answer to that.

/-falls over and dies- THIS IS NOT MY FORTE –shoots self-