He wakes in a wash of icy panic, breath petrified within his lungs.
Heart thundering and stomach clenching, he rolls sideways - out of bed, his feet landing upon a floor that rocks and sways like the sea.
He makes for the door, pitching as a boat set adrift in a storm - staggering out of the room, out of the building, and into the night.
He folds to a stop - body rattling, ears roaring ...
Just a dream, his churning mind repeats.
Just a dream.
Just a dream.
Only ... it's rooted in memories, and there's more truth to it than lies.
Rain falls, drenching, penetrating his bones.
It slowly thaws the ice in his chest.
The roar in his ears peaks before ebbing, returning his breath in painful fits and starts.
Water drips off his hair, catching in his lashes.
It rolls off the tip of his nose, and shivers at his nostrils.
His clothing is soaked, and his bare feet ache as they rest in a shallow puddle.
He's uncomfortable … but it’s grounding.
Not the hollowed-out haunting of his dreams.
… Not the devastating emptiness of loss.
Warmth comes, like a beacon in the dark.
It comes in the form of strong, embracing arms, sliding carefully around his waist.
A comforting weight presses against his back - a body he’s mapped a thousand times over, familiar in a way that anchors him.
He closes his eyes, saltiness catching at the corners of his mouth.
“Same dream?” A murmur by his ear, a chin in the crook of his neck.
He doesn’t reply.
He doesn’t need to.
This person knows him more intimately than he knows himself.
They are the one who will, without fail, always find him ...
Even in his darkest corners.
They stand like that; one sturdy, one shaking, in the pouring rain.
Slowly, he feels his fractures mending; sewn together by unseen threads.
Eventually, a tender whisper, “Come back to bed?”
Arms loosen, but don’t disappear.
He allows himself to be turned, to meet eyes that see straight through him; see all his faults, yet never look away.
He sags gratefully against a chest that cups his cheek so perfectly, and he catches the heartbeat echoing there.
Let me hold you, it beats, gently coaxing. Let me hold you, until you're whole again.
He presses against it, like a moth to a flame ...
... Enveloped by a love so staggering, so full, that he still can't quite believe it is his.