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As Dreams Do

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Phoena Irina Eschelle Angelo is dreaming.

A few hours from now, she will wake in her little silver-walled rooms, and she will discover that her tossing and turning has thrown half her blankets to the floor. In the first moment of sleepy forgetfulness she will think to call a servitor, but then she will remember the Golden City and pick up the blankets herself to rearrange them on her bed (not very neatly).

Right now, though, she is dreaming.

Right now, Phoena Angelo is afraid—she, who has known fear only as a poison she pours into others' veins; she, who has never felt true personal fear—she is afraid.

Polar is here, crushing her against the lounger, his lashless eyes snaring hers—she's wanted him ever since she set foot in the Golden City, but not like this—oh, Powers, not like this—he's inside her mind and she can't struggle, can't move to defend herself because he's there, annihilating her resistance from within—those dark, dark eyes have her trapped, he feels her terror and savors it—she can't breathe and it hurts, it hurts—

The dream shifts, the way dreams do, and it is no longer Dru Polar but Tel Tellai-Angelo, the spineless dandy who always gazed at her with those adoring eyes, and she realizes—now that she cannot have him back—that she misses him, misses the easy companionship and comfort she might have had with him, misses his gentleness and trust. He's leaving the palace, going to Federates—to the Caldwells, even—in his desperation, and she feels no amusement at the irony and no more than the barest flicker of jealousy, only an odd heaviness—is this regret?—for the hurt she's caused him. You're losing your touch, Phoena, she thinks, almost lazily, now that her heart's slowed down, only she isn't sure that she cares, really—

The dream shifts again, as dreams do, and Phoena realizes—with the clarity that comes only from dreams—that she is going to die.

It's the dendric striker in Polar's hands, this time—and Phoena does appreciate poetic justice when she sees it, even if she'd far rather see it applied to someone else—and sadistic pleasure on his face as he watches her writhe out her life on a frigid glassy floor. There's terror, and pain—an eternity of pain, burning, burning, burning, devouring her body as the Shuhr have already shredded her mind and soul, and she knows that there is no redemption for Phoena Angelo.

The dream slides off into blackness, and she slumbers on. In a few hours, she will wake, and look around her gray rooms and straighten her blankets, and she will not remember. A sense of disquiet will remain, though, and it will trouble her (because why should she be unhappy in this glorious, powerful city?). She will shrug it off, or try to, and go out when they open her door again, and the last of her lingering unease will vanish at the sight of Micahel's aquiline features or Polar's captivating eyes, and Phoena will forget everything—until she dreams again.