There was nothing left here that could keep him.
Disclaimer: Not mine. never have been, Never will. All Hasbro's, Marvel's, DDP's etc. except for Sandy and her children.
AN: The following fic has been beta'ed by her royal Finkess Rach :o) Thank you so much :o). If you feel a need to cry, yell or curse, please consult your writer. ;o) This is for Amy, whom I have promised a Flint piece. Enjoy it, girl ;)
Dashiell Faireborn sighed as he stared out the window. It wouldn't be much longer. In a few minutes he would embark on his big journey.
The decision had not been hard for him. There was nothing left here that could keep him. It was the best for him and especially for his friends. They had seen him suffer in the years after Alison's death, and now it was time to relieve them of their burden.
Of course, some of them had not understood his decision. Conrad had taken it especially hard. For days, he hadn't talked to Dash. Then he had tried to convince him to stay, but in the end he had to accept Dash's choice and helped his old friend in any way he could, just as Ed and Sandy had done.
The Steens... they had been the hardest to tell, especially their youngest daughter, his godchild Allie.
The little girl had been crying and screaming, even pummeling him with small fists. Both he and Sandy had tried to explain it to her why he had to leave. It had taken some time, but finally she had understood, as well as a nine-year-old could. Telling Josh and Emily, who were like his own children to him too, had not nearly been this hard. But then again, the bond between little Allie and him was much stronger. It wasn't just because she'd been named after his late wife. It was because he could see so much of his Alison in the child
She was very gifted when it came to languages. Out of curiosity, she had asked Daina for a few Czech words and had surprised everyone by pronouncing them properly first try. She had practically soaked up every word up like a sponge. Little Allie was also a natural born actor. So far, she had been the star in play produced at her school and reaping in lots of applause. One day, Dash was sure, she would be a famous actress. He just wished he could be there when she received her first Academy Award.
But most important of all, Allie had given him one thing: hope. With the little girl, he had found a reason to fight for. The moment she had held tight to his finger had been the moment that changed everything for him. He didn't know why... he just knew that Allie had relit his fire.
Suddenly, he felt so very tired. There was still some time before his departure. A little nap could not hurt. At least he would be relaxed...
Dash had barely closed his eyes when he heard the voice calling him.
"Daaaash. Time to wake up!"
"Mmmm, mommy, just five more minutes."
"I'm not mommy, honey, and I'm afraid we don't have five minutes to spare."
Rubbing his eyes, Dash slowly rose from his bed and looked at his visitor.
A big smile crossed his face when he recognized the person.
"I was hoping you would come for me."
"Wouldn't have it any other way. Are you ready to go?"
"Absolutely. But not before I said goodbye."
"No problem. Let's go."
Together, they walked downstairs where Ed and Sandy were sitting together with Conrad, Shana, Courtney, Wayne, Lonzo and Hawk. Dash remembered that Marvin had been there earlier too and wondered where the cook had disappeared to until he heard voices from the front yard. He walked over to the window where Lonzo stood and watched Marvin playing with the Steen children.
"That man should have kids of his own," Dash said, then turned Lonzo. "Take good care of yours, man. And of your beautiful Lydia."
Then, Dash walked over to Sneedens. Courtney had her cheek resting on Wayne's shoulder, and the hard-as-nails drill instructor held her hand. Shaking his head, Dash grinned.
"You know, to be honest I always thought you would kill each other within the first year of your marriage. Thank God that I was wrong for once. Hug your kids for me." He gave Courtney a kiss on the forehead, and Wayne a playful punch in the shoulder. Like Lonzo, neither of them reacted.
Now came the really hard goodbyes.
"Shana..." Dash started. He was deeply disturbed by the way she looked. Her eyes were red and puffy, as if she had been crying. "I'm glad that you chose Conrad. He'll need you more now than you think. Take good care of him." He leaned forward and gently kissed her cheek. Then he turned to his best friend. "Conrad... I know I have been an idiot for a while... hell, I think I've always been an idiot, but an even bigger one over the past few years. Yet you always had my back as best as you could. I'll miss you."
Taking a deep breath, he leaned forward and grabbed Conrad in a bear hug.
After letting go of his friend, Dash turned to Hawk. "Okay, sir. I'm leaving them all to you. I'm not asking you to take good care of them because I know you will. You always did, even though it did cost you quite a few gray hairs I'd say. Well, then," Dash said and stood to attention with a salute. "Good luck, sir."
Smiling sadly, he turned around to the couple that had become part of his family in the past years.
"Sandy, Ed..." he started, but couldn't bring himself to speak. There were so many things he had wanted to tell them, but somehow, he couldn't turn his thoughts and feelings for them into words. One look now told him he didn't need to; they already knew. So he just hugged Ed and gave Sandy a kiss on the cheek. "Thank you... for everything."
He walked around the couch to his companion. "I'm ready."
"Just a second," the person said and walked to Sandy to whisper something in her ear. Raising his eyebrow, Dash waited until his travel guide came back to him. "Now we can go."
"Okay... but can we go through the backyard? The children... I can't..."
"No problem. We can go wherever you want. Come on, they are waiting for us."
Dash didn't need to be told twice. Casting one final glance around the room, he followed his long awaited companion outside and into a new life.
Sandy looked around the somber group in her living room. They all knew what would happen today. They had been knowing it for a year now. It should have been enough time to be prepared, and yet, it hurt terribly. Losing friends always did, even if it was best for them.
Suddenly, she had the feeling that something was touching her cheek, as if somebody was kissing her. Then, she heard a strange female voice whispering: "Thank you for taking care of him."
"Honey?" Ed asked, noticing the strange expression on his wife's face. "Are you okay?"
"Um, yes, I... I'll be right back."
Slowly, she stood up and walked upstairs to their guest room, her heart pounding heavily in her chest. A sense of dread came over her when she stood in front of the door. Somehow, she knew what she would find on the other side. Bracing herself, she opened the door.
She walked into the room that had been Dashiell Faireborn's home for the past two months, and towards the bed that he had not left for the last three weeks.
Six months ago, Dash had come to their hospital with strange stomach aches. At first, they had suspected an active gastric ulcer, but once the test results came back they had actually wished for that. At least that would have left him a chance.
The cancer tumors in his liver didn't.
Faced with the choice of living another two years with constant chemotherapy or dying after six months without any treatment, Dash had chosen the latter. He preferred to spend the remainder of his life in quality, not quantity. In the end, he had wrestled three more months from death.
When Sandy reached the bed, she knew that the grim reaper had now come to collect what was his. Dash was lying on the mattress, still, eyes closed, his hand covering the back of a picture frame on his chest.
Swallowing, Sandy reached for his neck, searching for a pulse and found none. A quiet sob escaped her throat. Then she noticed the peaceful look on his face and the smile. Taking a deep breath, she leaned forward and kissed his forehead. "Goodbye, my friend," she whispered. "We'll miss you."
Carefully, she took the framed picture from his chest and pulled the blanket up to his neck.
A slight wind reminded her of the open window. Dash had always kept it open except when it rained. He loved to breath in the smells from the gardens in the neighborhood.
As Sandy came closer to the window, she heard a woman squeal with laughter. Looking out, she suddenly saw the woman, dressed in a long white dress, playfully running through her backyard and suddenly being caught by a man in a white shirt and white pants. The couple embraced each other and kissed.
Suddenly, the strange woman looked up at Sandy and smiled, pointing her out to the man. When he looked up, Sandy almost dropped the picture.
"Dash," she whispered.
The man smiled brightly at her and waved. The woman did just same.
Quickly, Sandy looked down at the picture in her hands, and immediately she realized who the woman was.
Covering her mouth with one hand, Sandy looked out of the window again and found her backyard empty. Slowly realizing what was going on, she turned back to her friend, saw the smile on his face... and couldn't help but smile too. Placing the photo of Dash and his wife Alison on the nightstand, she gently brushed her finger over the woman's face.
"Watch out for him, Alison. He's one of a kind."
Then she wiped the tears from her eyes and made her way downstairs to let the others know that Dash had finally found his peace.