I am beside myself with thanks and love.
Here is the comic, accompanied by a little ficlet written by me. Thank you so much Brancher!
Genre: drama, romance, rated PG
Characters, pairings: Dan/Laurie/Walter,
Universe and time period: Comic-verse, Clockwork Eden AU, October 1987
Word count: 587
Notes: Gift art by: brancher
Walter never tasted hot spiced cider before. It’s one of many simple pleasures, discovered by most people in their youth, that he is only coming to know as the hair above his ears begins to fade from burnt orange to silver. He drains the last from his mug and licks his lips, the sharp flavor of cinnamon lingers on his tongue. He leans against the railing of the front porch and exhales slow. His breath, warmed from inside by the cider, condenses in the cool autumn air. Over his shoulder he can hear Daniel and Laurie discussing which trail to take.
It doesn’t really matter. Wherever they wander the trees will be gold and red mixed with fading green, the breeze will be fragrant with the sent of fall, and they will traverse it together; watched over only by the creatures that dwell there.
“We can take the trail that leads through the…” he pauses, trying to remember what Daniel had told him they were called. “Aspen trees.”
Dan looks over his shoulder, a broad grin on his gentle face. “Okay, buddy.”
The path takes them along the fringe of the western woods. Dan points out birds as he sees them, identifying each one with ease; American Kestrel, Red-winged Blackbird, Northern Goshawk, he prattles on excitedly. The crisp breeze carries fire colored leaves through the air like flying embers; Laurie laughs and runs ahead. She spins around with all the grace of a dancer, and her dark hair flutters about her like raven feathers.
Walter trails a few paces behind, watching quietly as Laurie moves like an apparition gilded in October sun, and listening to the deep musical quality of Daniel’s voice, not bothering to absorb much of what he’s saying.
Somewhere he can hear a dog barking in the distance, and he closes his eyes. When he opens them there is only the forest with its swaying branches, the pale yellow autumn grass; Daniel and Laurel. He remembers with a kind of sedated comfort that he is, in a sense, dead, and this place is Valhalla.
He catches a deep red leaf as it drifts anchorless above him. He studies it, turning it by the stem between his thumb and forefinger. He slips it into his pocket and continues on in his partner’s tracks.
They find their way back just as the sun is sinking below the western woods, and Dan goes about readying the living room fireplace while Walter follows Laurie into the kitchen to scavenge for leftovers. Dan joins them once the logs catch and the trio dines on an assortment of mismatched remnants of a week’s meals. Laurie heats up the last of the cider, this time spiking it generously with bourbon, (much to Walter’s disapproval), and it’s not long before she and Dan are on the sofa in front of the fire, drifting off under the warm yellow glow.
Walter settles in beside them, but holds himself a few inches removed. He looks upon his dozing partners and wonders at how he ever found his way into their quiet post-apocalyptic heaven, and what their lives might have been like without him around to haunt their steps. They look beautiful to him sleeping together in the flickering light, simple, yet profoundly rare. That he can have a place beside them; a quiet sanctuary in which to fade away in peace with the decades to come, it is the gift of the Valkyrie, a last right to he whose life offered him no other.