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by Nicole Clevenger

by Nicole Clevenger (c)May 2003

Notes and Disclaimer: Yes, they belong to my genius idol Joss Whedon. No, this probably isn't at all how he planned for things to go. Mea culpa, and all that jazz.

She isn't always just in his nightmares.

Though there are plenty of those, and she's often a major - or at least supporting - player. Scenes of battle and fire, death and more death. Blood running fast and unstoppable onto dry dirt, cold metal, warm hands. Getting there too late - always too late - to prevent whatever horrifying end lies in store for her on that particular night. Or to stop what waits for someone else - another he's sworn himself to protect - with her at his side to witness his failure. So much a part of his life and his past, she appears in many of the moments his mind relives again and again throughout the countless restless nights.

Sometimes, though, she comes to him in a different kind of scene. Skin on skin, soft curves against hard angles. Sweat and heat and need, lust and love stirred together in a cloud of dizzying sensation. In some ways, these dreams are far worse than the usual nightmares. He always has to force himself to look her in the eye the next day.

A person can't control where their subconscious leads them in the middle of the dark night. So why does he then feel guilty when he passes her in the morning? Ashamed as if he's used her without her permission, invalidating in the space of one REM cycle all the respect and trust upon which their relationship is based. Awakening limp and spent, the imagined taste of her lingering like smoke in his mind, knowing that that first meeting of the day will be a struggle of submerged awkward embarrassment. At least on his part.

He prides himself on the thought that she never actually notices those fumbled morning greetings. Or, if she does, she has no idea as to their cause.

She is a friend, a comrade, and another man's wife. Things happen as they happen, and no amount of thinking or wishing can change the course of events already taken place. Not that he wants their relationship any other way. He values her role in his life, values the person she is to him and the person he is with her. If things had been different... But things aren't different. And it never does anybody any good to dwell on such possibilities.

He doesn't need to be looking for any more complications.

There are dreams about others, too, dreams that fade away when he opens his heavy eyes. People real and imagined, present and past, close and unattainable. He steers a wide arc around thoughts of her as fodder for conscious fantasy, because he is never able to separate the simple physical aspects from the person as a whole. Never able to pretend that she's anything other than what she is, even if just for a few moments in the darkness of his bunk. He's never been much for Make Believe.

But in dreams, people become anything and everything. Familiar souls with unfamiliar faces, acting out of character in ways that seem perfectly plausible when wrapped in the arms of sleep. He doesn't have the time or the patience for discussions of repressed motivations in dream theory, nor does he ever stop to think about what he might do had he the ability to control these nighttime imaginings. Would he end them, if he could?

Yes. Or no. Maybe somewhere, deep in his lonely heart, he relishes this chance to be with her. Free from consequences and convolutions. It doesn't matter. He never stops to think about it.

Her toned body pressed between him and the wall; her height a near match for his and he can feel her feminine solidity from his chest to his toes. Frantic hands roaming and clutching, a chaotic flurry of desperate clinging groping. Fueled by the awareness that they could be stumbled upon at any moment, that this end of this shadowed corridor is not the place for such unconsidered abandon. But any thought is quickly overruled by the urgent need to touch, to feel, to give in to this singing screaming desire.

He wants to taste every inch of her.

The swell of firm breasts through leather and cloth, the heat of her finding him ready and anxious inside too-tight pants. The way she arches against him, a breathy whisper of a moan when his tongue finds the hollow where her jawbone meets her ear. Soft skin still smooth despite the hardships of this life, salty and warm in the way that only living skin can ever be. He can feel her pulse on his lips, rapid beating to match the rise and fall of her chest against his own. The scent of soap and arousal wafting between them as their bodies instinctively move together, trying to connect even through layers of fabric.

Her eyes, opening to meet his with that steady stare only slightly unfocused by the haze of physical sensation. Shirts pulling out of waistbands with frenzied half motions, tugging from odd angles to make the space to slip strong hands past manufactured synthetics onto planes of muscled flesh. A ripping sound hastily dismissed as lips meet, tongues sliding past teeth to fill soft wet caverns of warmth. Calloused palms moving over curves and angles, lightly tickling sensitive surfaces in their relentless exploration.



Switching directions, down instead of up. A tongue trailing damp and hot, following the V of a neckline as a clever hand finds its way past a waistline, past a belt, into confining pants. The sound of distant footfalls can only be marked as imaginary and ignored in the face of this inevitable traffic accident of yearning hunger. His hand flat against her abdomen, pressed there by the weight of clothing and desire trapping him at the wrist as seeking fingers move ever closer to their destination. She pulls him ever closer, his body's lean bulk threatening to force her through the bulkhead at her back. When she takes hold of him he groans into the soft silkiness of her neck.

They are on his bed, tangled sheets spilling to the floor as he moves inside her. They are in a tent, rocking together to the rhythm of filtered moonlight. They are on the hard ground, a stray rock stabbing into his spine as she straddles him. He can see the stars blanketing the sky behind her halo of unfettered curls.

Her breaths get shorter, matching his as the spaces between them disappear with the ever-increasing insistence of thrusting hips. Feeling her body shifting against, under, over his as he thrusts again and again and again, endlessly breathing her name into the concavity of her ear. Forgetting who and where and what he's supposed to be, mind wiped blissfully clean of everything except the knowledge of her body and the music of her name.

Her lips part, her breath catches. A look of surprise and wonder as the first rush of liquid heat fills her. Her body tenses in a seizing of pleasure and fulfillment, and his name escapes her lips in a way he will never hear in his waking hours. That one syllable, overflowing with passion and significance, is all he needs to push him over the edge. Every single time.

When he awakens, he is always alone. Yes, in so many ways these dreams are far worse than the usual nightmares.


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