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After the Tribulations: Waking from Nightmare

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He has been gone so long and she has mourned as if dead, but now she believes he's coming home. Although still trapped, she calls to him. "I'm here, Crane! Crane!" His name on her lips is command, is I Love You, is plea.

"Sheriff, wake up," comes his much-loved voice, and for him she fights out of half-dream, half-nightmare. His hand on hers makes it easier.

He's sitting on the side of their bed, shirtless, a bit of toothpaste on his bottom lip. That blue-eyed gaze is fixed on her, framed by frown. "Abbie," he says, "beloved," and his hand tightens on hers.

That hand has pulled her in and out of various hells and through the seven Tribulations, held hers through the birth of their daughter, trembled under hers when they said their vows. She remembers these things now. She's awake.

"Sorry," she says, wetting her lips. "Nightmare."

"It seems a bad one," he says in that judicious English way she finds equally maddening and endearing. "Anything prophetic I should know about?"

"Asshole," she says fondly, and lets herself relax against their pillows. The bed smells of them and the sex they had last night. Memory-struck, she feels the lingering weight of him on top of her, between her legs, inside her as far as he could go.

"Why am I an asshole on this fine morning?" he says, eyebrow quirked, and then kisses her wrist. "In what way unlike every other morning, I mean."

She laughs, and the bad dream goes further away. "Just… we haven't had to deal with prophecies since the Tribulations."

"A blessing," he says, and this time kisses the tips of her fingers. "So then what was the dream?"

Awake, aware of where she is and what she has, she's able to say, "I was… gone, forgotten… and you had left." She swallows. "It seemed like… D.C., maybe? And you'd moved right on, found another Witness –"

"Nightmare indeed." He's stopped smiling. "An alternate universe of pain."

"'Alternate universe,' huh? You been reading Jenny's SF books again?" she says, easy enough to tease.

"Doctor Who with Gracie," he says dismissively, and then crawls into his usual spot in bed. The depression in the mattress rolls her closer to him, and she takes the initiative to climb on top. He arranges himself so that she sits astride him. She rolls her hips a little, feels his cock hardening under his sweatpants. His voice is thus a little husky when he says, "Why then did you call my name in the dream?"

"Because you were coming home," she says. "Because…" The word canceled comes to her mind, which is stupid. "Just… hope wasn't lost."

"I always will come back for you," he says, every word clear, every word a vow. "A world without you is horror indeed."

"Seriously. Who's going to keep you in check if I'm not there?"

"'In check' is perhaps not where I would hope to be kept," he says, huskier still, and undulates that long body so that she feels him pressing in, cradled where he belongs.

"Crane. My Crane," she says, and leans down to kiss him –

At which point Gracie pounds on their bedroom door. "Mum, Daddy! Is it time to get up yet?"

"Past time," Crane moans just for Abbie's ears, and pulls her pillow over his face in frustration.

Laughing, she drifts her hand down his chest. "Later, babe," she says to him. "We're together, and we've got time." Then, as she reluctantly climbs off him, she calls, "Just a sec, Gracie! We're here!"

One more glance at him, sprawled in their bed, and she grins. Yep. Everybody is right where they belong.