Written for the DS_Flashfiction Dreams Challenge. With thanks to Brooklinegirl again!
He was walking through an empty hallway. Dark blue twilight, and the walls were dark blue, and the floor was dark blue, with a few streaks of white cutting across it. Doorway. It led to the living room. He didn't know where his flashlight was. He always had it with him, whenever he crossed this hallway, walked past this painting. It was gone. Unsettled, he clutched his gun harder, felt his knuckles burning. The drip of the faucet in the kitchen - wait, the shower - no, it was outside - it was raining - did it always rain when he passed this plant? The rain - the waterfall - was cold, and he felt it rushing down his face, felt it on his sandaled feet as he walked through the grass - fresh summer grass - it tickled his feet -
A crash. He jerked, turned around. A door slammed. The rain stopped spattering. He hit the bathroom door with his boot, it gave way, and he saw her, sliding down the shower stall, water hitting her face, and she was hiding it from his flashlight, her lipstick livid red between her fingers, her clothes clinging to her -
The bedroom was quiet, save for an echo of his own gasp. His t-shirt clung to him, tightened around his throat. It was too hot.
Stella. He closed his eyes again, took a deep breath. She was here. He was fine. It was over. It was over.
"Same nightmare?" Stella leaned over him, met his gaze in the dark. Her hand on his chest anchored him, quieted down his heartbeat. He nodded in answer. "It's okay, Ray, it's done. You're fine. You're all right."
He took hold of her dry hand, squeezed it, attempted a smile. It was done. He was fine. He was all right.
He met her halfway, gave her a kiss in the dark. She settled her head against his chest and smoothed down his sweaty t-shirt. Slowly, quietly, he fell back asleep.
He was walking through an empty hallway. Dark blue twilight, and the walls were dark blue, and the floor was dark blue, with a few streaks of white cutting across it. Doorway. It led to the living room. His flashlight was cold, like his hands, and his feet, and the tips of his ears. He was freezing. A whine, low and constant, filled the room. He didn't know where it was coming from. He saw his breath in the air, white mist, curling. His steps echoed in the darkness, bounced off the empty walls, the empty rooms. Every corner his flashlight lit up was spotless, nothing at all surrounded him but woodwork on the walls. The whine continued, and he walked towards it, walked forever, it seemed, his feet were numb, his legs felt like cotton, he was going to fall, but he couldn't. He was walking the beat, he had to continue, there was a reason he was here, and he would know where he was going. If only he could remember how he got there, or where he was, or why-
A shriek. His gasp was loud in his ears just as the low whine stopped. His eyes stung. He wanted to move toward the sound of the whine, but his feet had frozen in the snow, and he'd forgotten his snow-shoes, and he was stuck, and he had to help, but his dream-catcher was missing -
A door slammed. The painting was a blur to his left as he rushed towards the sound, the shower getting louder with each second - he slammed on the door with his boot, it gave way, and he saw her, sliding down the shower stall, water hitting her face, and she was hiding it from his flashlight, her lipstick livid red between her fingers, her clothes clinging to her -
The pillow was damp and itchy under his face, and he drew in a shuddering breath. The alarm filled his ears with noise. He dragged his hand out from under the blanket, hit the button. The sudden quiet was short-lived, replaced immediately by the honking outside, vendor's yells, the morning dragging him out of himself even through the closed windows. He rolled over and stared at the ceiling. The sun made the paint look yellow, like summer, though it wasn't warm at all. It was February, and the skin on his exposed arm was covered in goose bumps. He turned to his other side, closed his eyes, felt his heartbeat turn regular, pace by pace. His head felt cloudy. He hated Tuesdays.
He was walking through an empty hallway. Dark blue twilight, and the walls were dark blue, and the floor was dark blue, with a few streaks of white cutting across it. Doorway. It led to the living room. He walked toward it. His flashlight was cold, but it felt good, because the rest of him was warm, too warm, his neck was sweating. He turned a corner. The living room was brighter than the hallway, twilight blue, the moon, it was a full moon -
The living room floor was empty. Something nagged at him, like he'd seen it before, only it hadn't been empty, not at all - but it was. Deadly quiet in the house, nobody there at all but him and his flashlight, his blues and his gun. He was walking the beat. Had he been called there? The person on the other line had breathed heavy, like it was difficult to talk, and mentioned a disturbance. But the living room floor was empty, and he knew this living room, the floor was never empty - but the armchair was in its place in the corner - the pattern of the rug spotless in the blue light - the room was neat, every piece of furniture just as it should have been, because he knew - Fraser always kept things neat - he was still at the Consulate, he'd be back any minute, and Ray had - Ray had told him he'd do dinner, but - there was something - he had to do something - he was walking the beat -
He remembered a shower -
The shower -
He headed towards the bathroom -
Passed Dief's water bowl -
Passed the plant -
The painting was a blur as he ran towards the door, felt his boot connect with the wood as he kicked it open -
The curtain was drawn halfway, the shower head dripping a drop slowly, one drop, two drops, three. He moved toward the bathtub, shut the water off completely. He watched the water slowly swirl down the drain. A slow minute, his heartbeat returned to normal. The shower dripped its last drop. He turned off the light, walked out, and turned toward the kitchen.
He jerked, turned around. It was still dark in their room as he opened his eyes. Reflection of moving headlights over the ceiling, a breeze through the open window. A shadow in the corner of his eye. He turned his head slowly.
"Ray, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to wake you. I thought you were not yet asleep." Fraser stood in the doorway, his body melting into the darkness of the hall. Out of the blur, Ray picked out the outline of Fraser's duffel bag, the soft shape of his flannel shirt. He massaged his eyes with the heel of his palm and yawned.
"You're back," he rasped. He watched as Fraser pulled away from the doorway, came closer. The bed shifted when Fraser settled his weight on it, dropping his bag to the floor. His hand on Ray's chest anchored him, planted him firmly in their room, their bed.
"Are you all right?" Fraser whispered, as if there was somebody else asleep in the room.
"I'm fine. I'm all right," Ray whispered back. He settled his own hand over Fraser's. Their fingers parted and tangled and squeezed.
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