It’s the last full weekend of the month, which means the subject of this week’s post is “anything goes!” So here’s a little tale of Kit and Raine from Stowaway. A small slice of their life together, set after the end of the book, so beware that it’s generally spoilery.
After the Rain
A Stowaway flashfic.
Raine woke and reached out. Kit took his hand. He was sitting up in bed, a keenly alert look on his face visible even in the moonlight. Apart from reaching for Raine’s hand he remained completely still
“Is something wrong?” Raine asked quietly.
“I heard something.”
Raine lay breathing lightly and listening. “It’s raining,” he said after a moment. It was coming down hard out there. When it did rain here on Ryesh it didn’t mess around. It made up for what had usually been weeks since the last downpour.
“I meant something other than the rain.” There was a tiny hint of exasperation in Kit’s voice. Raine smiled and lay quietly again. He did hear something; a soft thump on the other side of the door.
“It’s the dog,” he said. Kit nodded.
“Yes, I heard her get up. After I heard the noise.”
She’d gone to investigate, Raine supposed. But had come back to lie in her usual spot outside their door, so must be satisfied all was well. Her tail thumped against the floor a couple of times before she went quiet. Kit sighed and relaxed from his unaccustomed stillness and silence.
“Must have been an animal,” he said, and lay down, snuggling in against Raine, who put his arm around Kit to hold him close. He’d changed, Raine thought. He hadn’t only learned to be still and quiet, all his frenetic energy held in control, but his body had changed too. Harder, more muscular. His breathing slowed. Raine thought he’d gone back to sleep, but he spoke suddenly in a soft voice.
“I like the rain. Reminds me of home.” His voice slurred a little, drugged with sleep. He quietened and slept, breath warm on Raine’s skin. Raine stayed awake for a while longer.
* * *
Kit was already up when Raine woke in the morning. Raine came awake slowly, rubbing his eyes, vaguely recalling waking in the night, half unsure if it had been real or a dream. Putting on his robe over his pyjama pants, he headed for the bathroom and then the kitchen. A glance at the house’s status board told him the downpour at least had not been a dream. He glanced out of the window.
Kit was outside, sitting with his feet dangling over the ledge, looking down at the plain below. The dog sat at his side her light brown fur made golden at the edges by the morning sun. Kit passed her a piece of toast.
Raine knew it was toast because of the crumbs and the buttery knife left on the table. Kit could made a mess performing the most basic of culinary tasks, notwithstanding his experience in The Light of Dawn’s galley. But he had made the coffee–even if he had dripped plenty on the counter and left a small drift of grounds beside the jar of coffee.
Raine’s mug sat upside down on top of the coffee machine. He took it down and poured coffee into the warmed mug, then took that and the pot outside. Though he thought he’d walked silently, feet clad in slippers, both Kit and the dog turned to look at him. Dawn woofed a greeting, Kit only smiled, looking a little tired.
“Ready for a refill?” Raine asked, gesturing with the coffee pot. Kit said nothing, just held up his mug. Raine filled it up.
“Thanks,” Kit said. Raine took the pot back to the kitchen to stay warm. It had a couple more cups worth in it, then he’d make another. Being a spacer had spoiled him, making him accustomed to having coffee continually on tap. He went back outside and sat on the other side of Dawn. Named for the ship that brought them together. Purchased at considerable expense, despite her lack of pedigree. Raine had been happy to pay, because a dog made the best intruder alarm of all, and protected you with her life too.
Not that they’d trained Dawn as an attack dog. Kit spoiled her rotten and she was devoted to him. If the worst ever happened, she’d attack anyone to protect Kit. She lay down and rested her head against Kit’s bare thigh–he wore only shorts under his robe. Raine enjoyed an appreciative look at his legs, then gave Dawn an ear scritch. Her heart belonged to Kit, but she deigned to allow Raine to pet her too. Raine knew where he fitted in the pack hierarchy in this house—a distant third.
“That cloudburst topped the water tanks off,” he said. “They’re showing ninety-eight percent full. That will save us using the pump for a while.”
“Good,” Kit said, nodding. The pump had to bring water from deep beneath the rock of the hill their home perched atop, so the occasional cloudburst or storm to fill their water tanks was always welcome. “Do you think the roads will be okay?”
“It’s all drying off pretty quick,” Raine said. They had a supply run to town planned today. On the plains below the ground steamed in places where the sun had already reached, evaporating pools of water from the rocky surfaces. “We’ll set off a bit later than planned.”
They could have waited for a couple of days, but he’d like to go anyway. Though not visible from up here, he knew the land would have bloomed with flowers opportunistically responding to the rare rainfall. He wanted Kit to see it. It could be a beautiful journey once they got down from the rocky hill they’d built a home on.
Quite a simple house they’d built, mostly made of stone, keeping it cool inside despite its position exposed to the sun. Solar energy gave them power. A greenhouse gave them fresh food. From here they could see all around the near-desert plain stretching away to what seemed like infinity, dotted with a settlement here and there. A strategic spot, hard to sneak up on. But so isolated Raine worried Kit would tire of it, and of having Raine as his only company for so much of the time.
“Do you miss Drexler?” Raine asked, thinking about what Kit had said in the night, about the rain reminding him of home.
“No,” Kit said. “I miss my mom. I was wondering what she’d think of where life has taken me.” He went silent and Raine waited, but Kit didn’t go on. Raine spoke instead after a while.
“We could stop in and see my parents when we’re in town. Maybe stay overnight.” A grimace flashed across Kit’s face. “Problem? You said you like them.”
“I like them fine. They don’t like me.”
Kit shrugged. “Well, they don’t talk to me much.”
“They don’t talk much, period.”
Kit smiled. “And yet you turned out to be such a chatterbox.” He went serious again. “I’m just afraid they hate me for turning their nice respectable son into a fugitive.”
“I’m not a fugitive. I’m only harbouring a fugitive.”
“Oh well, that’s okay then.” Kit drank the last of his coffee. “You’re a very good harbourer. You’re considerably better at harbouring than I ever was at being a fugitive. I was the worst fugitive ever.” He paused and then glared at Raine. “That was your cue to argue with me.”
“Sorry, I was raised to tell the truth.” Raine could smile about it now, a year on, despite the stress he’d gone though at the time. Self-induced stress, as he’d fought tooth and nail against his chance for happiness. He could smile at his own foolishness.
“It’s true, Kit, you weren’t exactly the most difficult fugitive to catch.” He leaned over and claimed his morning kiss, tasting coffee and feeling toast crumbs on Kit’s lips. He spoke quietly after they broke, staying close. “The tricky part started after I caught you.”
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