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Changes are Takin'

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It started with a simple, "Ray.”

Both Ray and V looked up at Fraser's voice. They turned toward each other, blinking slowly, then V shrugged and went back to what he was doing. Ray shuffled over to Fraser, who gave V a considering look, and the incident was forgotten.

Except, it kind of wasn't, at least not by V. He puzzled it over in his mind, trying to figure out why on earth he'd thought Fraser had been calling for him. Ray and V kind of maybe sounded similar, but not enough to explain it. It wasn't like he hadn't tried to remember his name – he had, both on his own and with Fraser throwing out any possibilities that began with a V. The guy must have memorized a baby book or something, but nothing sounded at all familiar. It was frustrating, but at least he wasn't the only one with the issue - Ray was having no better luck remembering his last name. He didn't seem to care, though, and V was sure it was at least in part because full name or not, Ray was definitely making progress in becoming whatever new thing he and Fraser were. He gained more language daily, and his movements were much more natural, as was his coloring. If it weren't for his almost glowing eyes and not quite right smell, V was pretty sure he'd pass as human.

V, on the other hand, seemed stuck where he was. He didn't feel the Hunger, and he could talk a little better, but that was pretty much it. But annoying as that was, it was the lack of a name that kept nagging at V. Names were important. They meant something, meant family and history and he was sure if he could just remember his, he'd unlock a lot more information, especially regarding the people he dreamed about nearly every time he slept. But try as he might, the harder he pushed himself, the less real any of it seemed.

A few days later, it was dumb luck that finally solved the mystery. He'd gotten his jacket caught on a branch, the sleeve ripping as he awkwardly struggled to move away. V wrinkled his nose in disgust at the now-ruined garment, and shrugged the jacket off. As he did, something fell to his feet. Looking down, he saw a vaguely familiar black shape. As he knelt to pick it up. Fraser and Ray approached; they probably wanted to see why he'd fallen behind. 

"What have you got, V?" Fraser asked, gesturing toward his hand as he stood back up. V looked at it and shook his head, not remembering what it was or why he'd been carrying it in his pocket. But when Fraser reached for it, he instinctively gripped it tight, holding it to his chest. 

Fraser blinked, then gave him a look that was hard to interpret. "May I?" he asked, voice gentle, and just held out his hand, making no more moves toward V.

V considered it for a long minute before being able to convince himself to hand it over. "M-mine," he got out, and didn't release it until Fraser acknowledged it with an, "Of course. I only want to see it for a moment. I promise I'll return it to you."

V appreciated the care Fraser took with it, turning it over before carefully opening it. Ray and V both leaned in, wanting to see what was inside. V vaguely remembered opening it before, maybe even recently, but his stupid zombie brain had no recollection of what was inside. It obviously meant something though, given Fraser's wide-eyed stare first at whatever he saw, then V.

V leaned in even closer to see, but it was just a lot of scribble and a picture of... wait, was that him? From Before? He turned his own wide-eyed look to meet Fraser's and pointed down at the picture? "Me?"

Fraser smiled. "It most certainly is. And now I see what the earlier confusion was about. I'm very pleased to meet you, Raymond Vecchio."

Raymond Vecchio. V almost felt the name rather than just heard it, and found himself blinking against an onslaught of images and voices. He was warm, no cold, and when he reached out to take back his wallet from Fraser, his hand was trembling.

“You okay?” he heard Ray ask, from seemingly very far away. V didn't know how to answer; he most definitely was not okay, but what was he? He looked up, confused and saw Ray's expression change from concern to amazement. “Fraser?” Ray whispered. “Look.

V looked from one to the other, and Fraser smiled widely. “You found your emotional connection,” he said. “You're like Ray now,V. You've changed.” He pulled what turned out to be a small mirror from his pack and held it up so V could see himself. It looked like the picture, only pale and dirty, and his eyes were now a vivid green. He peered closer, turning his face this way and that, trying to connect what he saw with the man he was beginning to remember.

“See, V, no k-kissing after all,” Ray said with a grin. V shook his head, frowning.

Ray frowned right back. “What, you wanted a kiss?”

“No.” He rolled his eyes. “My n-name. Not V.” He stood up straighter, and his voice was clear and strong when he said, “It's Vecchio.”