Alison and I took a mini road trip to central WA, went to a three story antique mall, met the great grandson of the guy who founded the town in the haunted cemetery, and took women-laughing-with-salad pictures with flowers in a haunted ghost town.
A/N: Because I’m awful and their relationship needed a little bit of angst. This is an accompanying short to go withChasing Suns by the amazing @cupnoodle-queen, and a prequel to the upcoming instalment (Chapter 17) which should be up by tomorrow! There WILL be a second part to this, which will be a reunion, so don’t fret. Anyways, enjoy!
Raine tried to quell the bubbling panic that rose in the back of her throat, the crippling anxiety that gripped her heart as she pulled the thermometer out of her toddler son’s mouth and checked the reading. His fever had gotten worse, rising to 104º since that morning. She adjusted the cool, damp cloth on his forehead and grazed the back of her knuckles along his soft, plush cheek.
Lucas’ eyes were closed and his breathing was shallow, but even. He wheezed with every inhale, his face flushed and dotted with sweat. He’d kicked off his covers in an attempt to keep cool, but his pyjamas were damp with perspiration and Raine pulled them back up to his shoulders to prevent the chill from setting into his skin.
Raine rose to her feet, tugging helplessly at the end of her hair, still too short to pull back in a braid. She made her way downstairs, intending to get ice packs for Lucas from the freezer. Ignis stood at the end of the staircase, concern marring his features.
“How is he?”
Raine sighed, shuffling over to him and leaning her head against his chest, wrapping her arms around his middle. “His fever’s not going down,” she replied fretfully, the waver in her voice not going unnoticed. “I think we’re going to have to take him to the hospital if it doesn’t break soon.”
Ignis frowned. “Is there nothing more that we can do?”
“Nothing but wait,” Raine answered, her hold on her husband tightening. “I just…I feel so fucking helpless.”
Ignis hand came to stroke her hair, and he pressed a kiss to the side of her head. “He’ll overcome this, my love. Do not worry. He’s a fighter. He takes after you in that way.”
Raine opened her mouth to retort when suddenly Ignis’ phone began to ring in his pocket. She loosened her grip and allowed him to fish out the device before he accepted the call and pressed it to his ear.
Ignis gave the tiniest frown, and moved the speaker away from his mouth, covering it with his hand as he spoke to Raine.
“It’s the Marshal. I’ll just be a moment.”
Raine dropped her arms and let him go as he moved to the living room to take the call. She heard him speaking in a low voice, and tiptoed after him, unable to stop herself from eavesdropping.
Ignis’ other hand pinched at the bridge of his nose as he spoke to Cor.
“You’re certain about this?”
A pause. Ignis exhaled slowly through his nose.
“Very well. I shall wait for you here.”
Raine appeared at the threshold, her arms crossed over her chest, an incredulous look on her face. “You’re leaving?”
“There’s a daemon nest just outside of Hunter HQ,” Ignis explained. “Apparently it’s quite large and if not dealt with immediately, could cause the destruction of not only this city, but every safe haven in the area. They need every possible hunter available to keep them at bay before we come up with a strategy to eliminate the nest once and for all. The Marshal is on his way to retrieve me.”
Ignis heard Raine’s arms fall at her sides. “And you didn’t think to ask me about this first?”
“My love, Cor would not have called asking for my help if it hadn’t been absolutely necessary,” Ignis insisted. “We’ve already lost so many hunters to the daemons that have emerged from his nest. I will not sit idly by whilst my comrades put their lives on the line.”
“But Ignis,” Raine moved closer, taking hold of one of his hands. “You just started navigating without your cane. What happens if you get caught off guard, or if something happens to you and you don’t come back?”
Ignis was quiet for a moment before he tugged away from her grip. “I didn’t realize that you thought of me as incapable of protecting those around me.”
Raine desperately wanted to touch him, but the way his hands balled into fists at his side, she reluctantly decided against it. “That’s not what I said.”
“Then what was it that you meant? Or did I misunderstand your implication?” Ignis snapped, his tone clipped in a way that she hadn’t heard in years. Not since the night at the bar where he’d confronted her about their soulmate markings. The sound made her shrink away, and she physically took a step back.
“You’re putting words in my mouth,” she finally said, her voice tiny and shaking. “Your son is sick, Ignis. Our son. He needs his father here with him.”
“Does he need me here,” Ignis asked, his tone even in a way that frightened her. “Or do you?”
Raine let out a breath, shaking her head. “You know I need you here. I’m scared, Ignis. I’m fucking terrified. What happens if his fever doesn’t break?”
“Raine, you must understand,” Ignis took a step towards her, and she took in a sharp inhale. “You know that if I could, I would remain here with the both of you. But this is my duty. I’m needed in the battlefield. The hunters must succeed in eliminating this nest, otherwise it puts everyone in this city in danger.”
“They have recruits, I know they do,” Raine protested helplessly, taking his hand again and gripping it tightly. “They can spare one person. They can spare you. What’s more important to you than your own son?”
“I am doing this for my son!” Ignis snarled, unable to keep his voice from rising in volume. “I am doing this for his safety, and for yours! What is it that you are unable or unwilling to comprehend?” He felt Raine’s fingers tremble, and she let go of his hand.
She didn’t respond. He could barely hear her breathing in the awful stillness and heavy quiet of the room.
Ignis took a moment to calm himself down, took a second to breathe.
In and out. In and out.
“Raine,” he finally said, his tone as close to normal as possible, “I have to go. In your heart, you know that I have to help the hunters, otherwise it could put your safety and Lucas’ in jeopardy, and I cannot let that happen. The two of you mean everything to me, everything and more, and if I were to lose you, I don’t know what I would do.”
He waited for an answer, but none came.
“If I don’t return, Lucas will need you to protect him, to keep him safe. And should that duty not go to the parent that has both functioning eyes?” He tried to joke, but there was still no response. He knew she hadn’t left the room because he could hear tiny, shallow breaths, but he didn’t know why she wasn’t responding.
Ignis moved closer, a hand coming to her shoulder. He could feel her tensing, as if she was afraid to be touched by him. The thought alone made his heart clench in agony. He leaned down, wanting nothing more than to kiss her and erase all of the pain that he’d caused with his words and his inevitable absence. But at the very last second she turned away, and he was met with her cheek instead.
He tasted salt on his lips. She was crying. “Raine, my love, please, I—”
A sharp knock came at the front door, startling them both. Ignis moved to wipe her tears away, but she backed away from his touch, letting out a quivering breath before sniffling slightly.
“I have to go get ice packs for Lucas,” was all she said, before she retreated into the kitchen, not saying another word.
Ignis’ hand dropped helplessly to his side, and he could feel his heart breaking, shattering like glass against concrete. He soundlessly made his way to the door, opening it and greeting Cor with a slight bow.
“Ready to head out?” The Marshal asked, curiously observing the stiffness in Ignis’ shoulders, the barely noticeable furrow of his brow, and the way his mouth was set in a thin, straight line.
He turned his head back to the recesses of his home, though he couldn’t sense Raine’s presence in the gravid darkness that plagued his vision. After a moment’s pause, Ignis shifted, stepping forward, away from the safety of his home and towards the dangers that lurked in the eternal night.
He suppressed the hesitation that threatened to give him away, finally turning to Cor and giving a slight nod.
Today is Memorial Day. In lieu of traditional BBQ and outdoor activities, I’m staying in with my six year old on this rainy day to play Monopoly and assemble his first 1000 piece puzzle. Yay! Love being a mom❤
Also at the top of my list today is leaning into the impermanence of life. Situations change, people change and “this too shall pass” (as I keep hearing). Grateful for impermanence.