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Killing the Past and Coming Back to Life

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Christine Palmer tucked her legs underneath her on the sofa as she slowly sipped her cup of tea, closing her eyes as the tension of this harrowing day slowly ebbed from her body. As soon as Stephen had made her comfortable he had excused himself to talk with his companions, Wong and Karl she thought their names were, in private. She was still absorbing all that had just happened; the world almost coming under the control of a mad sorcerer who wanted to twist it's reality to his own means, and Stephen himself now having mystic power and having to stop the villain. She rubbed her temples and shivered as she recalled Stephen in the hospital and in need of her help. When last she'd seen him he'd been broken and devastated by the horrible injuries to his hands that had done medical wonders, the tools of his trade that had made him proud to the point of arrogance. This time when Stephen needed her help that arrogance was pretty much gone and there was a vulnerability she hadn't thought him capable of. Christine barely had time to take in his new appearance and eastern-looking garb when she'd literally had to restart his heart. She shivered again recalling how the power inside him was so much that the de-fibrillator literally exploded in a shower of sparks. How he was still alive and able to save the world she would never know. How he was still standing tall after everything he'd gone through...

Christine took another deep breath before having another sip and letting the hot liquid warm her bones. Stephen Strange had always been an intriguing mystery to her. The most gifted surgeon she'd ever met and with the biggest ego. And yet also so dedicated to saving lives. Not many liked the man but somehow she saw something likable in him. Part of it was her way of always wanting to befriend those who were shunned by most. Another part was her admiration of his skill and how he would do anything to save his patients. She figured anyone with at least that capacity to care couldn't be all bad. And also if she were truly honest with herself, she found Stephen Strange to be one of the most magnetic personalities she'd ever met. He cut a tall and impressive figure and wasn't conventionally handsome, but had cheekbones that could cut glass and the most mesmerizing eyes. Technically green but in a certain light they could appear blue or even gray. It just added to the mystery that as time passed she yearned more and more to unravel.

As Christine had another sip of the soothing tea she let her thoughts drift more. After she saved Stephen's life they shared a searing kiss full of promise and for the first time she dared to believe he'd been sharing the same yearnings she'd had. She shivered once more as she felt an echo of the delicious heat that went through her body at the touch of his lips and his hands framing her face...

Christine thought she heard the sound of a flutter and then she gasped as red fabric wrapped around her. "Hey...!" she squeaked, startled. Her first instinct had been to struggle but the cloth didn't tighten or try to confine her, merely kept her cocooned in it's warmth and left her hands free to keep drinking her tea. As she started to relax again she realized that it was Stephen's cape that had been draped over the back of one of the plush chairs. "Holy shit, it's alive.." she murmured, wondering again when this had become her life.

"If it had wanted to kill you it would have. But clearly it likes you," a deep voice said from the open doorway. Christine turned with a start and saw Stephen smiling at her as he approached. "Sorry for startling you, from both myself and the cloak," he added as he sat beside her on the sofa. "Wong and Karl have left for home. Are you alright?" he then asked. He tentatively reached for her hand, and when she didn't resist his warm fingers closed around it. She could feel the scars and callouses on his skin.

"I-I think so. This is very good tea, thank you," Christine said, managing a smile for him. Stephen's face was worn and bearing cuts that appeared to be already healing. "So.. this is what you've been doing on your sabbatical, eh?" she asked in an attempt at humor.

Stephen blinked a moment before he chuckled. "Ah, yes. I was looking for a way to heal my hands and I ended up learning the mystic arts. That's the short version," he said before sobering. "Christine, I... I'm so sorry for bringing you into all this. I-I didn't know where else to turn..." he offered on a sigh.

"Stephen, I've always been glad to help you in any way. You don't have to apologize," Christine assured him.

Stephen smiled again, letting his head drop for a moment. "You're one of the few people in my life I've come to trust. And you've always treated me like a human being, even if I didn't deserve it," he said.

"Even the worst people deserve some kindness," Christine said, her eyes widening and her cheeks pinking as she realized how that sounded. "Not that you were that bad..." she added hastily before hiding her face behind her free hand with a groan.

The chuckle that rumbled from Stephen's chest was as warm as the cloak around her. "I understand what you mean, not to worry. But let's be honest, I was a raging egomaniac," he said.

"I.. won't argue with that," Christine replied with a soft giggle. "And so, you've gone from master surgeon to... master of the mystic arts," she added.

"Ahm, I think I'm still a ways from that last part," Stephen said humbly.

Christine couldn't help her smile. "I'm liking this side of you," she said.

Stephen quirked an eyebrow. "The non-raging egomanical side?" he offered.

"Mmm, hmm. And I'm getting to like the magical wizard part of you," Christine replied twinkling.

Stephen scowled. "I am not a wizard. Do I resemble Harry Potter?" he grumbled.

Christine merely looked right at him, not at all buying his grumpy act. Stephen couldn't hold his facade and and the corner of his mouth quirked up in a smile. He always admired how she could see right through his bullshit.

"No, you don't. Otherwise this would've made me invisible, right?" Christine offered with a smirk as she tightened Stephen's cape around her. "What is this, anyway? It seems to be alive," she added.

"It's called the Cloak of Levitation, and you can say that it is," Stephen replied as he reached over to touch the fabric. Christine seemed to shiver and then melt at the contact through the cloak. He swallowed as he felt a little thrill at her response. "It can feel and respond to others' emotions. I guess it sensed you needed some extra warmth," he said.

"It's good to have around," Christine said. She then giggled as the high collar tickled her cheeks.

Stephen rolled his eyes with a shake of his head. "It also tends to be a little... affectionate," he said. "Would you like some more tea?" he then asked.

"I'm okay. I just want to relax a little more. Decompress," Christine said, having another look around the library they were sitting in. "This is some place you have here," she added.

"This house is called the Sanctum Sanctorum. It's very different from where I used to live, but I'm coming to think of it as home," Stephen said. He was surprised that he was revealing so much to Christine, but she was... sort of a friend and he trusted her. He literally trusted her with his life. And now that he looked at her on the sofa and nestled in his cloak, not as a colleague but a woman like any other, he noticed for perhaps the first time how beautiful she was. He always thought her attractive; he wasn't blind. But he'd long thought emotions were a waste of time. Kissing her after coming back to life, feeling warmth and tenderness for the first time in ages... clearly his low opinion of emotions was an erroneous one. As it turned out he'd been wasting time after all.

"Are you alright, Stephen? Are you in pain?" Christine's voice broke into his thoughts and he felt her hand on his cheek.

"Yes, I'm... I'm fine," Stephen said, laying his hand over hers. "Just... thinking what a fool I've been," he added softly. Christine simply looked at him kindly and he went on. "For years I'd been obsessed with wanting to be the best in my field, and as much as I wanted to save lives I also wanted what being the best would bring me. Fame, wealth, material things... I wasn't in it to make friends," he said, running a hand through his hair. "And yet I managed to make one good enough to help me in my direst need. Someone who was good enough to stay with me after the accident and to restart my heart just a few hours ago." He looked right into her eyes and he now noticed their deep hazel color. "I-I truly can't thank you enough, Christine..." he offered.

"You would have done the same for me," Christine replied, her thumb brushing over his cheekbone.

"You really think so?" Stephen replied with a sardonic smile.

"You might have been an asshole but you were still a doctor. You wouldn't have broken your oath and... I like to think you like me," Christine said, her last words sounding shy as her hand slowly came away from his face.

"I've always liked you, even if I didn't say as much," Stephen replied, his smile a little softer.

Christine suddenly felt even more shy. She never saw until now what a nice smile he really had. "I-I always liked you, too. Even if you were an asshole," she said on a light chuckle.

The corner of Stephen's mouth quirked up again. "And now?"

Christine couldn't help smirking again. "I'm still deciding. But since you just saved the world, I guess you're okay," she quipped.

Stephen laughed. "You're pretty damned okay, yourself," he replied, brushing a strand of her honey-blond hair behind her ear.

They locked eyes once more, the only sounds in the room their soft breathing and the flutter of the cloak. Just like in the hospital the emotions between them suddenly intensified and their pulses quickened as they felt it like an electric charge. Christine felt Stephen's large, warm, palm cup her cheek and she leaned into it. Before she could let herself think she brushed a soft kiss against his calloused skin.

Stephen's breath hitched at the touch and he brushed his thumb over her cheekbone. Christine seemed to go pliant and then the cloak softly floated back to it's former place on the chair. Christine didn't seem to notice but Stephen quickly realized the cloak's intent. After a moment or two of indecision, he slowly leaned close and pressed his lips to hers. He was gentle at first, gauging her response and not wanting to push. She tenderly kissed him back and he felt that same thrill as he had back in the hospital. He cupped the back of her head in his hand and lightly swept his tongue over the contours of her mouth.

Christine's nerves sparked at the contact and she let out a soft moan. Stephen's lips were plush and soft, his long fingers through her hair gentle. As her tongue caressed his she framed his face in her hands. One hand slowly made it's way to his thick hair and her fingers dove right in. As Stephen moaned into her mouth it went straight to her core. Minute by minute their kisses became messier and more passionate.

In an instant Christine felt a weird shift in perspective. She realized she was now on her feet but didn't care to dwell on that mystery as she was now about to unravel the mystery in front of her. She and Stephen were practically wrapped around each other and kissing feverishly. "Ah... yes, Stephen..." she urged breathily, tilting her head as he started to kiss her throat. Suddenly she heard a hitch of a breath as the sensual contact was lost. Christine blinked in confusion and as she came out of her daze she realized they were now in a different room. As she looked around and then noticed the king-sized bed she quickly sussed out which room they were now in. She turned to Stephen and... he looked downright mortified.

"Christine, I... I'm so sorry. I must have gotten carried away and... literally popped us in here," Stephen stammered.

Christine gaped. "You mean... with magic?" she asked.

Stephen's cheeks pinked. "I didn't intend to, I swear. I'm not expecting anything from you..." he replied.

Christine bit her lip to keep from giggling. She never imagined she would see a less-than-confident Stephen Strange, and she found this side of him endearing. But there was a whole other side of him she was eager to know more of, and frankly the change of venue was just fine. Before he could babble any more she placed a gentle hand on his mouth and then kissed him soft and slow.

Stephen groaned as this reclaiming of his lips, his arousal surging afresh. His arms wound around her waist and he slowly slid his hands up and down her back. Their kiss deepened and intensified with the excitement of exploring new territory, and he ached to knew every line and curve of her.

Suddenly his fingers felt something much softer and silkier than the fabric of her surgical scrubs. It was skin, her skin. And yet he was feeling fabric as well and there was a plush and yielding surface beneath them. Stephen gasped softly as he reoriented himself, realizing that they were in his bed, and that they were both naked. "Oh, hell!" he exclaimed as he felt his cheeks grow hot once more. "Christine, God... I don't know what's wrong with me..."

Christine was too surprised to say anything at first. One second she was losing herself in the most intense kisses any man had ever given her, and in the next she was laid bare in this luxurious bed and Stephen was over her wearing nothing but a blush. She didn't even hear his apologies at first because she found herself fixated on his naked body. His frame was tall, lean, and corded with hard muscle, his chest smooth and sculpted as if it had been rendered by a master artist. She let curiosity get the better of her and took a furtive glance at his manhood. Despite his embarrassment he was fully erect and there were even glistening drops of pre-come at the tip. Stephen's size was considerable and she could feel her most intimate parts go molten as she imagined how he could fill her. The sound of his words came to her ears and she looked up to see anxiousness in his green eyes. She swallowed before smiling softly and reaching up to cup his strong jaw. "Stephen?" she asked, lightly running her hands up and down his chest. "Do you want me?"

Stephen shivered at her touch and let out a breath he hadn't been aware he was holding. "God, yes... for so long," he murmured, and it was the truth. He'd imagined time and again what it would be like to have her in his bed, but he was a wholly different man, then. Back then Christine Palmer would have been just another conquest, another beautiful woman he would have dazzled with his wealth, magnetism, and sexual prowess. It shamed him now to remember how petty and shallow he'd been.

Christine's gentle words broke into his reverie. "Stephen, it's okay. Because..." Her fingers lightly caressed his skin as she bit her lip for a moment. "Because I want you, too."

Stephen swallowed and ran his fingers through her honey-blond tresses. "I didn't mean to push..." he offered gently.

"If I thought you had I would've stormed out by now," Christine replied. "Your magic seems to know what you want better than you do. Perhaps you should listen to it," she added, guiding his hands to her breasts. "Touch me, Stephen..." she urged breathily, arching her hips to rub against his cock. "Kiss me.." she mewled as she heatedly claimed his mouth.

Stephen moaned, eagerly swiping his tongue over her contours as she felt her lithe fingers tangle into his hair. Christine's pert breasts felt soft under his hands and he flicked his thumbs over her hardening nipples. Their lips parted so they could breathe and he heatedly kissed and nibbled the column of her throat. He then slowly kissed his way down to her breasts and locked his mouth around one of her nipples. The moan that escaped her went straight to his aching cock.

"Ngha, Stephen!" Christine keened softly, her fingers tightening a little in his hair. The touch of his mouth and hands set her nerves on fire and she arched up for more. She always imagined Stephen to be a focused and skillful lover and he was also attentive, which she found even more arousing.

"You're lovely, Christine. So lovely..." Stephen murmured between kisses as he switched to her other breast. She was every bit as stunning as he imagined and he delighted at how responsive she was. One aspect he always enjoyed about taking a new lover was learning her body and discovering what made her shiver and moan and come apart. And yet it had always been about his pleasure and his alone. He only saw his partner's satisfaction as just another boost to his massive ego. But now it wasn't about ego. He cared for Christine, wanted to take care of her. And this time it wouldn't merely consist of calling her a cab in the morning.

Stephen flicked and swirled his tongue around the hard nub before letting go with a very light scraping of teeth. Christine gasped softly and it made him smile. "Just relax, enjoy..." he murmured gently before slowly kissing his way down her body. Along the way his fingers mapped her skin, orienting themselves with every dip and valley.

Christine mewled and squirmed under Stephen's ministrations, her fingers twisting into the sheets around her. She couldn't help wondering if this was how he always treated his lovers and yet she sensed a tenderness in him. Tenderness wasn't something that was usually associated with the great Dr. Strange. Now and again their eyes would lock and there was a gentleness in his gaze, such as she had never seen before. She found herself melting for reasons other than the sensual magic he was weaving. His lips reached her fluttering stomach and his tongue languidly dipped into her navel. "Ahh..." she gasped as she arched up again. Stephen's strong hands went to her hips to still her and then moved to nudge her thighs apart. Christine's heart skipped a beat as she eagerly parted them and she swore she was literally dripping with anticipation.

"Beautiful," Stephen murmured, his voice gravelly with desire. He licked a slow line along the seam of her nether lips which made Christine whimper and shiver. His warm breath puffed over her core before he pressed close and lapped at her slick folds. She tasted glorious and he moaned in pleasure.

"Nghaa... ahhh!" Christine cried out at the contact. Stephen's tongue was as skilled as his hands, gliding over her heated skin and exploring the most intimate part of her. The soft scraping of his beard even added to her pleasure and the liquid heat slowly pooled in her belly. She rolled her hips to press closer and felt the gentle and deep massage of his fingers on her body. He brought her close to the edge and back again and again, and her hand was deep in his hair as if she were holding on to an anchor.

Stephen had always thought himself attuned to a woman's body but since learning the mystic arts he realized he was barely scratching the surface. He could literally sense the life energy within Christine, her arousal so intense it made his cock throb like nothing else ever had. That energy was his main focus, as much a guide to her erogenous zones as her shivers and moans. The movements and speed of his tongue varied, and whatever he did elicited such delicious mewls and whimpers from her lips. "Oh, God... Stephen, don't... don't stop..." he heard Christine urge breathily. Stephen could feel her about to fall over the edge and he pressed his tongue to her clit with a low moan.

"Ahhh! Unnngghaa!!" Christine thought she would explode and she thrust up for more. Stephen's licks either swirled or fluttered over the bundle of nerves and the liquid fire seemed to burn through her. "Stephen, I... I'm going to..." She couldn't finish as the orgasm suddenly burst forth, making her body shudder as it never had before. "Nnnnngghhhaaa!!!!" she cried out, her vision full of stars that exploded like the firecrackers she felt inside. She mewled through her final shudders as she sank against the pillows, and Stephen's tongue slowed to a gentle roll until her body calmed. Christine felt as if she was floating as she caught her breath, wondering if she would ever be able to form words again.

Stephen eased back and took in the sight of Christine flushed, panting and sated, and once again his breath was taken away by her beauty. He shifted to lay by her side and gently took her into his arms. She melted into his embrace with a moan and snuggled into his chest.

"Wh-what about...?" she began but he silenced her with a kiss in her hair.

"This is all about you, Christine. I can wait," Stephen assured her.

"You're willing to risk blue balls for me?" Christine managed with a shaky giggle.

Stephen chuckled. "Dear girl, I risked everything for the world just hours ago. I'm willing to chance it," he replied with a wink.

"Why couldn't I have known this Stephen Strange sooner?" Christine asked with a soft smile in her eyes.

"I've asked myself that since the moment I saw you again," Stephen said, brushing a damp lock of her hair away from her eyes. "I thought it was all over when I couldn't practice surgery anymore, and you swore that it wasn't. You showed me kindness and compassion like you always had, but I never appreciated it, never listened..." he added, closing his eyes with a shake of his head.

Christine looked up at him, resting her chin on his chest. "Is that was this was? A way of saying, 'Thank you'?" she asked, unsure how that made her feel.

"Of course not... Well, yes, but..." Stephen began, rubbing a hand over his face. "This wasn't just 'Thank you', Christine. This was also 'I care for you deeply and I always have and I'm an idiot for not seeing what was in front of me' and... and I won't ever be so blind again," he finished.

"You care for me?" Christine asked softly. She cupped his jaw and her thumb brushed over his beard that was still slick with her essence. "Are... are you saying you want to see me again? After tonight?"

"Every night and every day if you so wish," Stephen replied, turning into her palm to kiss it. "I never realized how much I need you, Christine. How much I always needed you..." he added, looking deeply into her eyes.

Christine melted inside and she smiled again. "I care for you too, Stephen," she murmured, kissing him deeply and tasting herself on his tongue. "And I would very much like to see you again. We've wasted so much time..." she whispered against his lips, her body growing warm once more.

"Too much time.." Stephen murmured huskily, kissing the corners of her mouth and then moving over her jaw to settle onto her pulse point. He felt her shiver at the scratch of his beard as well as the heat of her arousal steadily growing stronger. "Are you ready for round two?" he asked twinkling.

"If you warm me up some more," Christine purred smiling, threading her fingers through his hair. She closed her eyes and lost herself in the feeling of Stephen's lips over her skin and the soft slide of the sheets under their bodies. Stephen moaned as he caressed and licked her breasts once more and rubbed himself against her increasingly wet core. His skillful and gentle fingers skimmed over every line and curve of her body, finding every sensitive spot and making her mewl and moan. She couldn't believe how fast she felt ready again. "Ungha... Stephen, please," she breathed.

"What, Darling?" Stephen asked, lightly running his tongue along the swell of her breast.

"P-please... let me feel all of you..." Christine managed.

Stephen smiled and wrapped his arms around Christine's waist. He pulled them up so he was in a sitting position with her straddling him. He smiled gently into her eyes and smoothed back her tresses. "Your hair's like spun gold," he murmured. He teased her folds with the tip of his cock before gliding into her welcoming heat with a moan. They fit perfectly like they were always meant to be.

"Ungha..." Christine groaned softly at the joining of their bodies, feeling herself stretch to accommodate him. He filled her completely and she clutched his broad shoulders as his strong arms held and supported her. She could feel the throb of his cock as he kept still to let her body adjust, and then he slowly pulled back all the way before pressing into her once more. He kept up this steady rhythm and it was dizzying, like she was floating on a gently rolling sea. "Ahh, ohhh... oh, yes... so... so good, Stephen..." she murmured, her fingers raking up and down his back.

"Nnngh!" Stephen groaned hoarsely at both her ministrations and the delicious friction. He thrust slow and deep, learning her most intimate physical secrets. He heatedly kissed her along her shoulders, her neck, the shell of her ear. "Good god... so tight," he murmured roughly, his hand skimming up her back and settling on her neck as he claimed her lips yet again. He swore he could drown in her kisses.

"Mmmngh..." Christine moaned as she greedily plundered his mouth and met him him stroke for stroke, breathing him in. His scent was a mixture of some kind of incense, sweat and his own masculine smell, and it was intoxicating. She wanted more of him, all of him. They finally had to break the kiss for need of air and she feverishly brushed her lips over his throat, shoulders, and chest. His muscles felt powerful under her hands yet he was so gentle and she felt secure in his embrace.

Stephen sped up his thrusts and changed angle with every pass. The sounds of their physical union and mingled moans filled the room and it made a most beautiful symphony. "Nngha... you're glorious, lovely girl... simply... glorious," he managed between his low grunts as he drove into her. He angled again and a soft cry escaped her lips.

"Ahhhh! R-right there! Harder! D-don't stop! So... so close!" Christine keened, snapping her hips to meet his rhythm. Once again she felt the heat inside building like a rising tide. Her eyes locked with Stephen's, their foreheads touching as her fingers tunneled through his hair.

Stephen could feel as well as hear how close she was, and he reached between their bodies to slip his fingers between her legs and stroke her clit. Christine cried out again, and Stephen felt her pull at his hair as her muscles contracted around his cock. "I've got you..." he murmured
huskily.

Christine's fingers slipped from Stephen's hair to dig into his shoulders, and she kept moving with him at an almost punishing pace. The friction of both his cock and fingers was too intense and the tide inside her crashed. "Ohhhh! Oh god, Stephen... unnngghhh!" she managed as she climaxed even harder than the first time. No man had ever made her feel this good and she yearned for this moment to last.

Stephen kept thrusting and stroking as she came apart, which made a most breathtaking sight. The way her body trembled and swayed, the parting of her plush lips as she cried out in ecstasy. Since learning the mystic arts he'd beheld many stunning things in other dimensions, but at this very moment he felt blessed to behold Christine Palmer. He held onto her tight and buried his face in her neck, slamming into her one last time as he came hard with a low groan. His vision was full of stars brighter than he'd ever seen and he could feel a literal entwining of their souls. Never had he known that sex could be like this, that he could feel so connected with a lover. Christine was more special then he had ever fathomed and he couldn't deny how foolish he'd been.

They stay wrapped around each other as they caught their breath and their bodies calmed, languidly caressing each other as tender kisses brushed over sweat-slick skin. "That... that was incredible. You literally rocked my world," Christine whispered to Stephen with a blissed-out smile.

Stephen twinkled into her eyes. "As you have mine," he replied before kissing her soft and slow.

Christine happily gave in as she threaded her fingers through his damp hair. Some long, sweet moments later they parted for air and she hugged him close as she rested his head on his shoulder. "I can't stay for very long. I have a morning shift at the hospital," she murmured regretfully.

"I have a solution," Stephen replied. Smiling wickedly, he called on his power and the glowing sigil appeared as he waved his hand.

Christine gasped as she noticed the quick flash of light and she looked up at Stephen quizzically. "What did you do?"

Still smiling, Stephen replied, "I literally stopped the world around us. You can stay here with me as long as you like and still make your
morning shift."

Christine gaped. "You mean you stopped time? Outside of here?" she asked.

"Yes," Stephen said, and with each passing second his smile slowly fell. "Unless... you didn't..."

Christine stopped him with a sound kiss, grinning when they eased back. "I think I'm getting to like magic," she said.

Stephen laughed. "Stay with me, dear girl, and you'll see plenty," he replied. They lay back into the pillows and with another gesture of his hand the covers enveloped them.

"Now you're starting to show off," Christine joked with a smirk.

Stephen raised an eyebrow. "You didn't think I completely changed, did you?" he playfully retorted. "I'll treat you to more of my talents at breakfast. I make quite an outstanding omelet," he added twinkling.

Christine giggled. "Mmm, I'm eager to find out if you can put your money where your mouth is," she replied, letting out a yawn as she cuddled close to him.

"As soon as we wake up," Stephen murmured with a soft smile, taking in the clean scent of her shampoo as he kissed her hair. His fingers lightly caressed her skin as he heard her breathing even out. "Sweet dreams, Christine," he murmured, gently squeezing her hand which rested over his heart. He felt truly content for the first time in ages and made a silent vow to always protect and cherish the woman in his arms. As he pondered his new reality and all it's possibilities, his eyes closed and he drifted into sleep.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Christine slowly came to wakefulness and could feel movement against her. Soft sounds of distress came to her ears and she blinked her eyes open. Stephen was squirming in his sleep and his face was contorted as if in pain. Christine's throat went tight and she couldn't help aching for him just as she had when she kept vigil by his hospital bed after the accident. She sat up a little and gently squeezed his shoulder. "Stephen. Stephen, wake up," she urged as she began to shake him.

"Wha-what?" Stephen startled awake as his eyes snapped open. His breathing was quick and fast at first, slowing as he calmed down and reoriented himself. "Christine? Did I wake you?" he asked worriedly.

"It's okay," Christine murmured with a soothing caress of his jaw. "You appeared to be having a nightmare," she told him gently.

Stephen blinked, his brow furrowing as he remembered. "Yes, I.. I was," he replied as he took a cleansing breath. "I... I think it's now hitting me... everything that's happened," he added softly.

"Will you tell me?" Christine asked him gently. Seeing Stephen this vulnerable brought out her instinct to protect and care for him.

Stephen rubbed a hand over his face. "I was dreaming about the accident... haven't had that dream for a while. And then it... melded into these other images of..." He let out a sigh. "Christine, I... I've seen things you would never believe, things that would defy description. Colors and shapes you could never imagine... And then next I see I'm fighting Kaecilius, the city is twisting, I'm falling into darkness and then flying back up into the light..." He blew out a breath as he ran a hand through his hair.

"Stephen, you've been through more than one traumatic experience. This is a natural response. I wouldn't be surprised if I have nightmares about bringing you back..." Christine said, shivering as she hugged her knees to her chest.

Stephen swallowed hard. "Oh Darling, what I put you through..." he murmured, putting his arms around her and holding her close.

Christine relaxed against him, so warm and solid. "I would've done it again," she replied with a feather-light kiss on his chest.

"And I'll always be grateful," Stephen said, kissing her temple. "I don't think I'll get anymore sleep," he added on a sigh.

"I don't think I will, either," Christine said, smiling up into his eyes. "You might as well get the world moving again."

Stephen huffed out a chuckle and raised his hand, the glowing sigil appearing over it as he undid his spell. "We might fit in a light doze, at least. And we could share a shower before breakfast," he offered twinkling.

Christine giggled. "You might as well start the water, because it's sure to be a long one," she said wickedly. "But first... I'd like to properly thank you," she purred.

"Christine, you don't have to..." Stephen began, but was silenced with a kiss.

"I want to. I want to help you forget your nightmares. Please let me?" Christine whispered against his mouth.

"I'm never going to be able to refuse you, am I?" Stephen asked with a soft smile.

"You'd better not," Christine replied twinkling before slowly trailing languid kisses over his torso. By the time she was under the covers and wrapping her warm lips around him, Stephen's nightmares had melted away.