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As in any other dream, images shift without preamble or context. The morning sun comes from above her head, and that’s how she knows she’s in his room.

As in any other dream, she rolls around to see his peaceful face, asleep.

His features are relaxed, bathed in sun rays. For the longest moment, as in any other dream, she watches him.

It’s a stolen moment, it feels. His head lies on his arm, shoulders hunched towards her, skin bare for her only.

For her only.

And she drinks.

Over his cheekbones there are thick and dark eyelashes, his spot just below his left eye nearly covered by them.

As in any other dream, his skin isn’t marred by dark circles under his eyes. There are no worry-lines above his eyebrows. He looks young and unburdened.

(It’s a dream, and if she were to dwell on it, she’d realize she’s never actually met him unburdened. But, as in any other dream, here he is.)

Then she traces her gaze down to his long nose, the sun creating shadows around it. It draws out to his cupid bow’s dimple, ending at his lips.

She ends by his mouth.

As in any other dream, her fingertips touch his lips gently, briefly. Although dry from sleep, they’re still as plush as she remembers them; her callouses drag against his chapped-ness.

Slowly, leisurely in a way dreams are, the form changes. While dragging, her fingers feel the shift, from where he smiles, closed-lipped, knowing, amused. She knows this smile.

God, she loves this smile.

As in any other dream, the smile grows, showing all the crinkles in his face, and the arm not trapped under her hand moves. His whole body comes forward, towards her, and his own callouses caress her naked stomach, her naked chest.

Apart from their hands, as in any other dream, they’re so soft against each other. Her lips soften his, her body softens his. His eyes soften hers, like they’ve always done.

They end up as tangled as they always did, although a dream. It’s both familiar and unreal; it’s rooted into her memories, things she holds onto so they won’t get lost in the years.

She has so many years; it’s probably easy to forget the small details.

Maybe that’s the purpose of those dreams.

--

It’s a different sort of missing, this is.

When she wakes up, if she wakes up, it’s a new year or a new month or maybe it’s another century; then it hits her, like punched awareness. As soon as she’s conscious, it reaches her.

In the dreams, it doesn’t hurt; then she opens her eyelids, a stream of thoughts running from all parts of her, and it spreads in her chest, moisten her eyes.

This missing, this lacking.

This urge, too.

She swallows the absence, and works hard to make peace with the urge.

It fills her, while she’s at it, that this is who she is. These are the parts of her she’s never known, and now they’re conversing, they’re connecting. It’s difficult and it’s slow, but then she’s reminded.

She has centuries.

That by the finish line, she’ll be complete. That by the time they’re done, she’ll have mastered it, she’ll be powerful and unstoppable.

But that maybe she’ll be alone.

Once darkness takes in, once her body relaxes, although sometimes unwillingly, she isn’t. Sometimes with childhood friends, playing in a playground or learning how to write, holding the pencils unexperiencedly.

Or listening to new bands in middle school with her classmates, discovering new feelings, flirting for the first time.

Sometimes she dreams of first times.

Also when they’d be able to, hanging with Malia and Lydia, in companionship, although strangeness, collapsing in their differences, but uniting in their shared adventures.

They were all so opposite yet so loyal to each other.

While awake, it seems like a distant world, like a story she’s created for herself. She feels like asking to her mentors, if these people existed, if people exist at all.

But in her dreams, they’re as real as herself. Touching and laughing and responding, interacting, seeing, being.

Sometimes she dreams of her parents, an uncountable collection of memories to sort through, good, bad, confusing, embarrassing, affectionate.

They come back as her first fallen-tooth, one of many dinners together, discussing non-sense.

It seems non-sense, now, fighting for herself the way she does everyday.

She dreams of the time they dyed the tips of her hair blue, of learning how to drive, of coming home to them watching TV snuggled up together and thinking ew adults.

Of cooking with her dad because it was her mom’s birthday- and then she wakes up and can’t stand not to cry, thinking how old was she really turning, thinking will I have to lie too, thinking how long until I have a family of my own.

Thinking do I want a family.

Thinking how many families will I bury.

Thinking is it worth losing the ones I love to the time.

Then finding strength within herself, because as long as she has this, she’ll get through.

--

There are days in which she daydreams.

It isn’t new, but it also disturbs her, all parts of her. Distractions can’t be held during her training, and the slips always cause her too much headache.

But, in the daydreams, there is no risk and reward to be accounted for.

They’re kissing in the rain, his hands on her neck, her hands on his, the way they used to kiss. Hard and lingering and too wet.

She touches his face for the first time, the light touch of his lips to her fingers easing her throughout the day.

What a day.

The pleasure all over his face, his expression blissed out, looking into her eyes because that’s how he does everything. Eye to eye, showcasing his soul, putting it all out in the open.

Sometimes she daydreams of an impossible future.

The future they could’ve had, the distance through college, although she’s still not sure what she wants to be when she grows up.

(And she has centuries.)

Then, growing up, learning from their mistakes, fighting, making up. One day, getting one apartment together, like in those TV shows. Learning about his domestic idiosyncrasies, creating new ones for the two of them.

All the mornings and nights spent by each other’s side, intimacy spoken through without words.

And discovering each other, themselves. Also, saving the world from time to time, as she’s realized they’re prone to doing, wearing the hero’s mask like second skin because they can’t stand not to help.

Those are the worst kind.

During it, during the daydreams, she’s wide awake, she’s aware. It cuts through her, a wound she feels deep in her bones.

It’s how she’d pictured their future, optimistic as she’s ever been, alive and well, albeit scarred. Alive, well, and together.

Time weights on her, and she misses.

--

As in any other dream, there are entire lives between the lines.

Memories, as in any other dream, painted in lazy mornings, easy afternoons, peaceful nights.

At times, they come in demon form, bloodied and terrifying, all too real.

But she’s as optimistic as she’s ever been, and her light’s always been stronger than her dark. The love always outweighs the pain.

And there’s so much love.

Always.