Disclaimer: Still not mine. I just think the pages look funny if you don't have something up here.



Matthew woke at noon.

The sun shining, arching through the window in broad beams. It was warm and welcoming, heating his sheets like the napkin in a basket of bread. He lay there a moment, allowing all the details to register some sort of sense in his mind. Then he remembers, and he leapt from the bed.

"Alfred!" he shouted, grabbing the stairway banister for support. Where was he? The house was empty, oh god, what if –?

The front door thumped open and Alfred strode in, face flushed with effort. He blinked in confusion then grinned. "Oh hey, Mattie! You're awake!"

Matthew stared at his brother. He wasn't even bandaged. "Al…what are you doing?"

"Packing the car," Alfred said, hoisting a suitcase – one of Matthew's – into his grip.

"Packing the…why?"

Alfred shrugged. "This place just ain't working. No inspiration. I'm thinking I might try an urban environment, like I was telling you about last night."

"Last night?" Matthew racked his brain for the words, but all he remembered was a shadow leaping from the trees, an iron pipe in his hands, Alfred bleeding on the floor…

He padded down the stairs grabbed his brother's arm and tugged Alfred's head down where he could see it. There was no sign of clotting or scars among the golden locks. Nations healed fast, but surely…

"Um, Matt? Alfred said from under his brother's arm. "You're kinda breaking my back here."

Matthew let him go. "S-Sorry."

"No prob," Alfred grinned, adjusting his grip on the suitcase. "You had a rough night, bro. Seemed like you were having a pretty crazy dream. That's why I let you sleep in!"

A dream?

"Oh." Matthew rubbed his neck. "Um, thanks."

"Any time. Now go get dressed, 'kay? We're nearly ready to go."


Just a dream.

Alfred let his grin fade as his brother headed upstairs, and sighed in relief. He took a moment to check his appearance – especially the foundation on his wounded scalp – in the hallway mirror before he fished out the door key and hauled the last of their luggage outside.

Lying to Mattie made him feel a bit guilty. After everything they'd gone through, it felt wrong to dismiss it as some kind of dream, but it was too risky. Talking about it was too much like telling a story.

It took him about twenty minutes to negotiate the last of the bags around the boxes of non-perishable foods they hadn't eaten, all the while thanking heaven that he'd been able to find the keys when the snow began to melt. When he returned to the house, he found Matthew waiting with the last of his bags. "Ready to go?"

"Yeah," Matthew sighed, passing the bags over. "Did you already kill the generator?"

"Sure did."

Matthew pouted. "You're in such a hurry."

"Hey, I gotta chase down my inspiration!" Alfred laughed, taking the heavier of his brother's bags and leading the way outside. "Besides, I wanna see how much more awesome Vancouver's gotten since your awesome Olympics!"

That, at least, brought a smile to Matthew's face. "You'll just have to see, eh?"

Alfred grinned, tossed the car keys dramatically and strode to the driver's seat. Matthew climbed into the passenger side, buckled his seatbelt and said, "Hey, did'ja ever get a response to those pictures you made?"

"What pictures?"

"That weird Photoshop job you tried to scare me with yesterday."

Alfred froze. His eyes darted to the trees, and he could have sworn he saw a tall, dark figure standing in the shadows.

He shuddered and slammed the car door. "Let's just get out of here."