Aeryn pulls the collar of her jacket up around her face and strides along the streets of Milville, half-lost in thought. Her grey eyes sweep the street in front of her, looking for...something...
One hand snuggles deeper into the pocket of her jacket, caressing the ornately-carved case of the silver pocket knife inside. An image plays behind her eyes, of a handsome man with sunset-red hair and laughing green eyes...she shakes her head to banish it, her throat aching with unshed tears.
The sign on one of the shops catches her eye -- "Drawn Dreams." Something about the place draws her closer, a warmth that plays around her like a spring breeze. Taking a deep breath, she pushes open the door of the shop...
Aeryn opens the door to Drawn Dreams and is suddenly face to face with a young man leaving the shop. The young man visibly flinches at the near collision, nearly dropping the Styrofoam cup he is carrying. Apparently there is reason for his reaction, as a massive bruise colors one side of his face. Despite the bruise, he is still handsome, with delicate features and russet hair. His winter jacket is ragged with wear around the cuffs and he shoulders a large metal framed backpack, that while intact, has obviously seen better days. "I'm sorry," he stammers, attempting to back out of Aeryn's way, hampered by the effect his heavy backpack has on his balance.
Aeryn's eyes, gray as a storm-swept sea, go wide at the sight of the youth. "It's quite all right," she says softly. Her voice is low, her speech slightly accented.
Her gaze takes in the bruise and the condition of his jacket and backpack, and her expression changes slightly. "My name is Aeryn; what's yours?"
The young man stops backing up and looks at her. He seems to relax slightly and responds, "I'm Matt." He hesitates a moment and then adds, "You wouldn't happen to know anywhere I could get something to eat around here?"
"I saw a pizza place across the street." Aeryn smiles at him, the expression transforming her face into something extraordinary. "Would you mind if I joined you?"
Matt smiles back, timidly perhaps, but a smile none the less. "Okay. I..." He looks down at the floor for a moment, then looks back up, his face a controlled mask. "All right. Let's go get something to eat. I'm hungry."
"So am I," Aeryn says lightly. She walks with Matt to New York Style Pizza. Once seated, she orders an iced tea and peruses the menu. "Would you like to share something?"
Matt, who had been clutching his cocoa and staring at the menu, blinks at her question and looks up. "Um, okay. Could we split a large pizza? And...and is cheese and pepperoni okay?" He is obviously nervous and hasn't even unzipped his winter jacket.
"Cheese and pepperoni is fine," Aeryn says gently. She takes in his nervous demeanor with a look of concern and reaches out to put a hand very lightly on his for a moment. "Don't worry -- I don't bite."
Matt seems to relax a bit. After a few moments he unzips his jacket, though he does not take it off.
When the pizza arrives, she takes a slice and gestures to Matt to help himself.
Matt's first slice disappears in practically no time. He eats his second slice at a more normal pace, even stopping to sip his cocoa. About halfway through the slice, he takes off his jacket, revealing a worn, somewhat to small T-shirt with the faded remnants of a picture of a horse clinging to it. While the T-shirt is in rather sad shape, the young man underneath is actually quite attractive, as is his face - barring the large purple bruise covering most of one side of it.
As she eats, she remarks, "I just got into town; do you know of any places to stay around here?"
Matt's eye's widen and he almost drops his pizza. "I don't...I..." Matt swallows and looks at the table as he tries to pull himself together. "I spent most of the money I had on a bus ticket when I left home a few days ago. I haven't eaten since the day before yesterday when I ran out of money, though I did get to sleep on the bus." He looks up at her with a pleading expression. "I can pay for my half though - the man at the shop gave me an advance for modeling." His shoulders sag and he looks at her with sad eyes. "I'm not really a runaway. I turn 18 tomorrow." He gives her a smile as he tries to hold back tears. "I'm not counting on having a cake tomorrow, though."
Aeryn's gray eyes go liquid with sympathy. "It's all right -- we'll find someplace together, eh?" She smiles a little self-deprecatingly. "That is, if you don't mind my company."
As she looks at the youth, she thinks, *First things first, Aeryn lass, as Ciaran would say. A good meal in his stomach, then a good night's sleep -- once the body's taken care of, then we start taking care of the soul.*
Matt looks surprised. "You would want too? I mean sure." Matt doesn't quite seem to believe what he's heard, but he seems to be a bit more upbeat. "Well, was going go back to the art store and was hoping maybe the guy would let me sleep on the floor after I worked for him." Matt gives Aeryn a slight grin. "Not that I'd mind something better but I can't really afford to spend much of anything. I don't know if that guy is going to give me anything more when go back or what."
Aeryn reaches over to give Matt's hand a light squeeze. "If you don't mind my company, I think I can manage something better than someone's floor -- unless you'd prefer that?" She gives him a slight smile. "Up to you; I've slept in less comfortable places than on someone's floor."
Matt shakes his head. "I don't mind your company. I just can't afford to waste my money on getting a place. Eating is more important than a bed. I don't want to be a burden, but..." Matt looks down at himself. "...I could sure use a shower."
Aeryn nods briefly. "Well, I have enough to get a room somewhere for the night, so if you don't mind staying with me, you can use the shower first." She gives him a wink.
Matt looks momentarily puzzled by the wink, but nods affirmatively. "Sure, I'll stay with you."
The rest of the slice disappears into Matt, and he reaches for another. As he picks it up, he looks slightly puzzled. "You know what's odd? That guy in the art store, he didn't even ask my name. In fact, he didn't ask me anything at all. Sort of odd, don't you think?" Apparently having accepted her as a least safe to talk to, Matt looks at Aeryn questioningly.
A shadow of pain crosses Aeryn's gray eyes. "Maybe you reminded him of someone," she says softly. Her voice catches, and she takes another sip of her drink to camouflage it.
Matt looks at her, unsure of what to say. After a couple of moments, he says, "So where are you from?"
Aeryn's eyes take on a faraway look. "Originally, Leinster -- that's in Ireland -- but I've quite been all over, the past few years."
"Wow. I had a friend who's family is from there." Matt blinks a few times and wipes the corner of his eye with his hand, wincing as he touches his bruise. "So what's it like there? Chuck..." He blinks again, trying not to cry. "He used to tell me these fantastic tales..." Matt's eyes water visibly and he blinks several times. "I know there aren't one eyed giants or elves in Ireland, but what was it like living there?" Matt squeezes his eyes shut and blindly reaches for another slice of pizza, apparently having forgotten about the remains of the slice in front of him. He starts eating the slice, opening his emerald green eyes to gaze at Aeryn.
Aeryn's voice takes on a nostalgic tone. "I grew up on my parents' farm just south of the village of Ballyferriter. It was so peaceful there..." She closes her eyes, a smile curving up her lips.
Aeryn regales Matt with tales of the pleasant parts of her life on her parents' farm for a number of minutes.
Aeryn finishes her story and pauses to nibble at another slice of pizza. She gestures to the remains of the food. "Do you want any more? Something more to drink, maybe?"
By this point Matt has wiped out most of the pizza. "No thanks. Though if you don't want any more, I'll...we should take the rest of it with us." He tips up his Styrofoam cup drains the last of his cocoa. He puts down the cup and covers up a yawn. "It sounds like it's nice in Ireland. Better than here." His eyelids droop and he adds sadly, "Too bad I'll never get to see it."
Aeryn smiles a little. "That's funny -- when I was younger, I thought I'd never get to see America, and yet, here I am." She gives Matt's hand a hesitant but gentle pat. "If you like, I'll tell you more about Ireland later on tonight."
"That'd be neat, if I'm still awake." Matt sounds tired enough that his comment sounds reasonable.
"Of course," Aeryn says with an indulgent smile.
She signals the waiter to wrap up the rest of the pizza and takes care of her portion of the bill, then looks at Matt's tired face with genuine concern. "If you're tired, my car's not far -- and I saw a motel not too far from here." She smiles. "And my promise to let you use the shower first still holds."
Aeryn's comment gets a faint smile out of Matt. "Good. Otherwise I might fall asleep before I get to use it." Matt digs out money form his pocket to cover his portion of the bill. Done with that, he puts his winter jacket back on. Eyes mostly closed, he starts to put on his substantial backpack. It seems to be somewhat involved process and at one point his eyes fly open as the backpack shifts. Once he has the backpack on and has collected the leftovers, Matt says, "I'm ready now."
Inside her head, a small voice niggles at her -- **He may look like Aidan, but he isn't.**
**I don't care!** she thinks fiercely. **He's so like my sweeting -- and he needs help. I have to try, at least.**
Aeryn nods. "My car's not far."
She leads the way out of the restaurant to a rather boxy-looking silver compact car which, while obviously not new, has been remarkably well-maintained for its age. She unlocks the door and pulls a snow brush from the hollow between the driver's seat and the door on that side. After dusting the snow from the windows, doors and the front of the car, she asks, "Would you like to put your pack in the trunk, or put it on the back seat? It's up to you."
Matt starts working his way out of the backpack. "The back seat would be easier to get it out of I think." Matt is almost out of the backpack by the time Aeryn has the back door open. He heaves the pack in the back, closes the door and loads himself into the front passenger seat.
When they arrive, Matt opens his eyes - as they had somehow become shut. He frowns and says , "You know, I probably look pretty awful. I could just wait here with the car while you get a room. Besides, it'll take me a while to get my backpack back on."
Aeryn scrutinizes his face for a moment or two and then nods, albeit reluctantly. "As you like." She disembarks from the car and heads up to the main entrance of the Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites.
By the time Aeryn returns, Matt has gotten his backpack on again, and is standing leaning against Aeryn's car with his hands in his jacket pockets. It is obvious that with the backpack on he will not fit in the car. Matt's eyes open slowly as Aeryn returns.
After about ten or fifteen minutes, Aeryn returns with a paper folder about the size of a brochure. Extracting two plastic cards with magnetic stripes on the back, she hands one to Matt, keeping the other for herself. "Room 307 -- around the back and up the stairs." She starts up the car again. "I'm going to move the car closer." With that, she suits actions to words, pulling the car into a vacant space near their room.
Matt follows on foot, his eyes mostly shut along the way. He reaches the back of the car about the same time as Aeryn gets out. He stands there with his eyes shut as Aeryn retrieves what she needs for the stay. Aeryn unlocks the trunk -- Matt can hear the click -- and pulls a much-worn wine-colored canvas duffel bag out of it. A line of what looks like Celtic knotwork is embroidered along each side; the thread might have been silver when new, but is now more of a dull gray color. The bag appears to be stuffed to capacity.
Matt follows Aeryn upstairs, opening his eyes occasionally for navigation or if the situation demands it. When they reach the door, he opens his eyes long enough to look at the door, glance at the plastic card and check for Aeryn. Having concluded that Aeryn would open the door, Matt waits until she unlocks it.
Once inside the room, Matt takes off his backpack while resting it on a dresser. Leaving it there, Matt goes and hangs up his coat by the door, then takes off his shoes and leaves them underneath, following a routine established when he still lived with his father. He straightens up and looks at Aeryn. "So it's still all right if I take a shower first?" He sounds like he doesn't really believe she'll say yes.
"Go ahead, luv," Aeryn replies, hanging up her jacket on the bar near the door and depositing her duffel bag on one of the double beds. She unzips the bag and extracts a small zippered vinyl pouch like that used to carry toiletries and a folded garment from its depths, then lowers herself to the bed beside her things. "I think I'll just sit here for a while."
Matt heads into the bathroom proper, giving the door a push that shuts it but isn't quite strong enough to latch it.
Matt undresses, making sure to turn his clothes right side out - another habit drilled into him by his father. He climbs into the tub and partially shuts the shower curtain. He is too tired to even rationalize why he won't close the opaque curtain - he just accepts that the thought of not being able to see someone approaching scares him. What mental resources he can muster are soon absorbed in an attempt to figure out peculiar and unfamiliar gadgetry controlling the shower is suppose to work.
Aeryn hears a scream of pain from inside the bathroom immediately followed by the various crashing and falling noises of varying intensity. Silence, broken only by the sound of the shower running, follows.
With a gasp, Aeryn bolts for the bathroom, the book she had been reading falling unheeded to the floor. "Matt? Are you all right?" Her heart racing, she bounds into the room, her eyes wide with fear.
The shower curtain is partially open, steam rising from the hot water streaming from the shower head. Matt is curled up on the floor of the bathroom in a fetal position, with his arms covering his head. Hotel sized shampoo bottles and soap bars are scattered around him. He is nude with his right side up, and a large bruise covers his hip, as fresh as the one covering the left side of his face. Two more bruises are on his back - both older, but in different stages of healing. His hip and his legs are wet.
"Don't hit me Dad. Please don't kick me again," Matt whimpers.
Aeryn goes on her knees beside him, putting a hand very gently on his shoulder. Her voice is soft and soothing. "Matt, sweeting...It's all right, you're safe...no one's going to hurt you..."
Matt relaxes a bit on hearing Aeryn's voice.
He lets her pull his head gently against her chest, rocking him soothingly back and forth as she croons to him under her breath in a soft, lilting language.
He falls asleep with her holding him. After about ten or fifteen minutes, he wakes up. "Laura?" he says sleepily.
Aeryn smiles at him. "Afraid not, sweeting -- it's Aeryn."
"Aeryn?" Disoriented, Matt opens his eyes and looks up. "Oh." In a plaintive voice he adds, "I'm sorry."
"It's all right," Aeryn says softly. She gently moves a wayward strand of hair out of his face.
Her eyes take in his bruises, and as she remembers what he'd said, she feels her gorge rise and her sinus cavity starts to ache with unshed tears. *Lady of Ravens, what kind of parent does that to his own child?!?* she thinks. *Almost makes you think that the Fair Folk who took children into the Hollow Hill might have had a good reason...*
Banishing the thoughts, she helps Matt to a sitting position. "You still want that shower, or do you want some help?"
Sitting on the floor of the bathroom, Matt looks like a wingless, broken angel. "Help me?" Incredulity, disbelief mix in Matt's voice. But behind it, a spark of hope has been lit - an ember with just enough warmth for Aeryn to feel.
"If you want," she returns. "Or would you prefer I waited outside while you took a shower?"
She feels the ember flicker to life, and something stirs inside her -- something she'd thought long forgotten, ever since she cradled her husband against her as he took his last breaths. Now, as she cradles this youth who looks so much like her lost love, she feels it stir to life once again.
She allows herself a small, secret smile. **So your spirit's not been broken yet, m'lad – thank the Lady for that. Maybe we can help each other.**
Matt looks at his battered body and says, astonished, "You'd be willing to get into a shower with me?" His bruised face turns to look at Aeryn's. Regret in his voice he tells her, "I would really like that, but I'm not going to take advantage of you." His emerald green eyes gaze into hers. "I'll manage."
Aeryn nods. "As you like." Then her mouth pulls up in a lopsided grin. "Though I certainly wouldn't mind -- I used to do that sort of thing with my husband."
The grin disappears; she falls suddenly silent, a sort of shadow covering her features. **Aidan, my darling...I still miss you...**
Matt starts to struggle up, wincing as he moves.
Shaken out of her brief reverie, Aeryn looks at him with concern. "You sure you can manage alone?"
"No," escapes from Matt's lips before his tired brain can censor it. Matt looks stricken at his honesty and sinks back down into a sitting position. Afraid of seeing rejection, he looks at the floor rather than at Aeryn. "I've been alone for so long. My best friend moved away two years ago and my father's become a stranger. So since my last girlfriend broke up with me at the start of last summer, I haven't had anyone." Still looking at the floor, he says with conviction, "I am nothing and no one. I have no future and probably will be dead before spring comes. I don't even understand why you've helped me." Matt looks up, causing Aeryn's view of russet hair to be replaced by emerald green eyes. "I've no right to ask for anything more."
Matt's face is practically unreadable, between his attempt at control and the mass of various emotions flooding him. But as he speaks his last words, hope grows within him. **Maybe she really meant what she said before.** Possibilities stirred in Matt's mind - a walk together, talking with each other, expecting her to be there when he woke, feeling her touch again. Fragile hope flickered like a match that might go out at any moment - or set things ablaze. **I should not hope that she will ask again...**
Aeryn looks deep into his eyes, and can -see- the fragile flame of Matt's hopes. She pulls him close, cradling him against her. "You're not alone," she says softly. "I'm here. I'll be here for you...I promise." She rocks him gently back and forth, humming a soothing melody softly under her breath; the same one her mother used to soothe her when she was a little girl.
As she holds him, she wonders at the feelings he's reawakened in her, and feels something start to struggle to life again inside her, after lying dormant for far too long.
Matt clings to Aeryn, tears running from his eyes. They are quiet tears at first, but soon they grow to great wracking sobs that shake Matt's body as he presses against Aeryn. In the safety of her arms, he releases the fears and the agony he's kept pent up inside him. The teardrops soaking Aeryn's shoulder are only a pale imitation of the torrent of emotions pouring out of him.
Eventually, the sobs diminish and then, cease. Matt straightens up so he can look at Aeryn. Naked, bruised and with tears still fresh on his face, he tells her, "I expect to see the trees turn green in the spring. I can be someone again, have a future, because of you." His emerald green eyes, bright with the light of hope, gaze into Aeryn's gray eyes. He takes her hand and holds it. "I will share what ever I have with you - my hopes and dreams, my love and..." Matt takes Aeryn's hand and places it on his chest. "I am here for you too."
The last bit of ice that's enshrouded Aeryn's heart cracks off and falls away, and a flower, its petals still tightly curled, pokes through and turns its head toward the gleaming light of Matt's renewed hopes.
Aeryn feels a warm spring breeze waft around her, and smells the fragrance of spring flowers as the very air seems to glitter with a myriad of tiny lights. She drinks it in like a benediction, and her alabaster cheeks take on a healthy glow.
She helps Matt to his feet and retrieves a towel from the rack, using a corner of it to gently dry the wet trails on his cheeks. "You don't know how much that means to me. I know what it's like...to be alone." She swallows hard, the cords of strength in her throat standing out in sharp relief. "No one should have to go through that -- no one." She clasps Matt's hand with a tenderness that's both maternal and somehow, something more. "We'll be here for each other."
Matt squeezes her hand back and then hugs her tightly, his body pressed up against hers. The sensation of contact, of holding Aeryn, feels wonderful to Matt, bringing an unconscious smile to his face.
Matt releases Aeryn, echoing her words, "We'll be here for each other. We...we aren't alone any more."
Matt notices the shower still running behind Aeryn. His euphoria fades a bit, and his fatigue starts to take over. "I want to take my shower." He hesitates, apprehension on his face. "But please don't leave. I..."
The thought of her leaving scares him. Matt knows that Aeryn leaving the room doesn't mean she will desert him, but still the thought scares him. Then her earlier offer comes back to him. "Stay and help me."
Aeryn nods. "Of course." She unbuttons her wet shirt and slips it off, revealing a silver disc, enameled with a black unicorn's head, hanging around her neck. She hangs the shirt on the bathroom door, then steps out of her jeans, socks, and underwear. She leaves the clothes neatly in a corner, laying the necklace carefully on top of the vanity.
Revealed, her figure is athletic, with clearly-defined muscles that move in almost feline rhythms. Her alabaster skin is marred by a whitish line of scar tissue on her left side just under her ribs. She removes the elastic band from the end of her intricate braid and pulls her fingers through it, shaking her long raven hair free; unbound, it falls to her waist. She seems a statue made of marble and onyx, save for her now-luminous gray eyes and the faint flush of color in her cheeks.
Fear relieved, Matt's mind wanders as Aeryn undresses. **A black unicorn? Wouldn't Dad hit the roof if he knew? Whoa, keep your balance - don't fall over! Isn't she lovely and where did she get that scar from? I wonder if - No, bruises don't leave scars! Wow, am I out of it...**
Aeryn steadies Matt with one arm while climbing into the tub. "All right, careful now..."
"Hot water!" exclaims Matt, nearly falling over. Saved by Aeryn, he checks the temperature of the water, then adjusts the shower. "Hot water hurts," he explains.
"Ah," Aeryn returns. **Now it makes sense.**
Steadying Matt makes washing awkward, but she manages. Her wet hair clings in a heavy sheet to her back, the faint crimping left by her braid nearly washed out.
While he repeatedly drops the soap and shampoo, Matt is saved from any significant mishaps by Aeryn. Contact with her leaves him betrayed by his body in more ways than one. Matt is to tired be embarrassed - or even to care if Aeryn notices.
By the time Aeryn helps Matt out of the shower, his eyes are mostly closed and he can barely dry himself.
Aeryn helps him dry off, then sits him on the toilet as she wrings the excess water from her hair. "Hang on just a moment," she says by way of reassurance.
It doesn't take long for her to dry off; her wet hair wrapped in a towel, she hunkers down so her eyes are level with Matt's. "Okay...I'm going to give you a hand up -- you're practically asleep on your feet."
Matt sits there with his eyes closed.
Aeryn leads him from the bathroom and sits him down on the bed that isn't occupied by her bag. "Do you have something to put on, or would you like a T-shirt? I think one of mine -might- fit you..."
"T-shirt?" echos Matt. It takes a few moments for Aeryn's little speech to process through his sleep-fogged brain. "Oh," he says, brightening. "I've got one with a dragon that Jimmy gave me that I've never worn 'cause I had to hide it from my Dad." Not realizing how obvious his next statement is he adds, "It's in my backpack."
Aeryn finds the shirt and brings it over to Matt. With a little help from Aeryn, he puts it on.
Afterward, Aeryn helps him into bed and smoothes the covers over him as a mother smoothes a child's blankets, dropping a maternal kiss on his forehead. She waits until he's asleep, then finishes her own preparations and climbs into the other bed.
Matt falls asleep even before Aeryn finishes covering him. He sleeps soundly for a while, but eventually one of his usual nightmares about his father starts. He wakes shivering and scared, but silent. Life with his father has made him learn that screaming is a bad idea.
He gets out of bed and goes over to Aeryn's bed. Matt stands beside it, still shaking. "Aeryn?"
Aeryn rolls over sleepily, gazing into Matt's face in the dark. It takes a moment for her whereabouts to register in her sleep-fogged brain.
"Aeryn, will you hold me? I'm..." He hesitates, but his fear of rejection is outweighed by his need for comfort. "...I'm scared." Tears run down his face as he shakes.
The fog of sleep clearing, Aeryn is awake enough to hear Matt's request. She pulls herself from the bed with the unconscious grace that is the gift of her kith, and takes Matt gently in her arms. "It's all right, luv, I'm here," she says soothingly. She can feel him shaking, and hums a lulling melody softly under her breath, hoping to soothe him.
She's so wrapped up in comforting Matt that she doesn't notice the tears running down her own cheeks.
Matt holds tightly onto Aeryn, his face next to hers. Gradually, as he calms down, the presence of her tears sinks in.
"Aeryn?" He traces the path of her tear tears with a finger. "What's wrong?"
Aeryn only realizes she's weeping as Matt's finger traces the trail of wetness down her cheek.
**You needed this,** says a little voice inside her head. **You've been holding everything in for so long -- you needed this.**
She scrubs at her face with the back of her hand, mustering a shaky smile. Her voice is rough with emotion. "It's been a long time...since I...had someone...there for me..." she says, her voice wobbling a little. "When Aidan died, I..."
She trails off, her heartbeat very loud in her own ears -- she hadn't meant to tell him about that, not yet -- but now it's out. **I shouldn't have told him -- he needs someone to be strong for him, not to burden him with my pain...**
As the thoughts whirl through her head, she's still holding on to Matt, the beating of her heart a drum in her ears, and in a small, objective corner of her mind, she wonders if he can hear it as well.
**She needs me! I'm not just some useless parasite like I'm sure Dad would say.** Amazement and wonder wash away the remnants of Matt's nightmare. **I can do something for her.** Memories of his last girlfriend telling him he was too needy and never gave anything back to her. **I can help her, and she'll stay!** Hope again bursts forth within Matt.
"I'm here for you Aeryn." Matt's voice sounds stronger and more determined than before. "You don't have to be alone any more." Matt gives her a smile. While there is sadness in his eyes, hope burns brightly within him. "It's hard when you lose someone you love. I've never had anyone die, but I've lost them just the same." Memories of his best friend moving away, past girlfriends - and his father, before he became a stranger. Tears threaten again, but he manages to maintain control. "Please, let me try to help you."
Aeryn's breath catches. **Sweet Lady, he means it!**
She tries to say something, but her voice breaks on a sob, and she holds tightly to Matt, her shoulders shaking as she allows herself the release of tears, a release she's denied herself for far too long.
Matt holds Aeryn, trying to comfort her like she did for him. He can't really think of anything more than just holding her and letting her cry - which is what he does.
When Aeryn's sobs are finally spent, she clings to Matt a little longer, unwilling to relinquish the contact, the warm nearness of him. She's tired, but in the wake of the tears there is a calm that wasn't there before.
"Thank you," she says softly.
"You're welcome," Matt says quietly, still holding her.
Aeryn gets hold of herself a bit more, and says, "Be right back." She goes into the bathroom and returns with a handful of Kleenex. "Here," she says gently, dabbing at the dampness on his skin and then mopping at the soggy trails on her own face.
Once that's done, she asks softly, "Would you feel better if we were both in one bed? Maybe then you won't have another bad dream."
Matt shivers for a moment, remembering a snatch of his dream. "I would like that," he replies quietly. Aeryn's crisis over, uncertainty starts to return to Matt. "If you wouldn't mind?"
"No," Aeryn says softly. A little shiver passes through her, and she does her best to conceal it. "Truth be told, I...really don't want to sleep alone right now either."
She leads Matt over to the bed she'd vacated, and helps him into it, then climbs in beside him, stroking an errant strand of hair from his face. "Now, go to sleep," she says gently. "And no more bad dreams."
The two of them fall asleep together.
This page first uploaded: March 20, 2003
This page last revised -- May 29, 2003