[A/N: Posting these separately on Tumblr]
It happens like this:
There’s the faintest whiff of pine sap in the air when he opens his eyes, blearily, against the piercing brightness of unfiltered sunlight. It’s quiet except for the occasional rustle of leaves, and with the fuzzy, comforting calm that blankets his mind, he feels no need at all to move from his spot in the woods.
That’s when they come for him: an old man in an ill-fitting suit and raw devastation on his worn face, a bright pastel girl with a widely grinning mouth of shining metal, a stumbling boy with a cap and red-rimmed eyes. They say to him, ‘Grunkle Stan, it’s me, don’t you remember?’ and, ‘Stanley, I’m sorry, I should’ve,’ and, “Please come back.”
When they tell him that he’s a hero, he smiles at them. They cry when he asks them, what for?