by Maggy

A Tracker filler

August 9, 2003

A/N: No spoilers. This takes place in the wee hours before "Without a Trace," the episode in which Mel discovers the fate of her boyfriend Rod Archer.

This is my first Tracker fiction. I haven't seen the whole series yet, so I apologize for anything anti-canonical.
Thanks to "Satinette" who pointed out that spoiler little detail about Cirronians and sleep. 8-) I hope the subsequent adjustment makes sense.

Feedback or constructive criticism to Maggysfic AT Aol DOT Com.
Please do not archive without permission.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters and deeply respect the intellectual property rights of those who do; I only borrowed them for a few minutes.
I have earned nothing taxable for writing this story.
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The blonde woman started from sleep, sitting upright with a gasp. She'd had the dream again, only this time... Mel caught her breath in a sob. One minute she was in Rod's arms, overwhelmed with love and contentment and hope for the future. Just as his blue eyes met hers lovingly, and he moved his mouth to claim hers-- he was gone, swept away from her, arms outstretched, his lips forming her name silently. Mel cried out, helpless. When she tried to run after him, something held her back, preventing her from moving.


The voice wasn't Rod's. It was deeper, emanating an odd timbre.

Fully awake now, she realized that someone was kneeling at her bedside, grasping her arm gently. Her eyes focused slowly through unshed tears.

Cole. It was Cole beside her.

Mel's tears overflowed, and she turned quickly from his penetrating gaze. Matter-of-factly, she wiped her cheeks.

"What are you doing here, Cole?" she asked wearily, glancing at the alarm clock. "It's 4:20 a.m. It's still dark outside."

"I know it is earlier than you like to wake up, Mel, but when you screamed, even though you did not call me, I came in case you needed help."

She sighed. So that was it. "I'm sorry I disturbed you, Cole. It was only a nightmare."

"A night-mare? A mare is-- a horse?" Cole's head swiveled slowly, first to the left, then to the right, and then, as he turned his shoulders, behind him. She knew his otherworldly vision was seeking horses in the darkness, and couldn't restrain the unwilling smile that touched her lips.

"No, Cole. A nightmare is-- a bad dream."

"Dream. That is the higher function of the human brain during certain phases of deep sleep. Mel, why is one of them named for a horse?"

The smile became a reluctant chuckle. "I have no idea." The sadness remained in her heart, but she felt better. Somehow, in spite of-- or perhaps, because of-- his awkward alien naiveté, Cole had an unerring capacity to help her regain perspective.

Their eyes met for a moment, and she realized that Cole was still clasping her upper arm. She looked down at his hand, almost brown against her blonde porcelain skin. Her arm tingled slightly under his warm touch. She opened her mouth to remind him to let go, but he spoke first and drove the words from her brain.

"Who is 'Rod'?"

Mel caught her breath in a gasp. "Why? Where did you--" Her mind caught up with itself abruptly, thinking in the parallel, multi-level pattern necessary for a conversation with Cole. "Oh. Is that what I--?"

"You cried out. You seemed very upset, Mel."

"Sometimes the dreams... they seem so real..."

"Who is Rod?" he asked again.

She swallowed hard against the dream's lingering pain. "Rod was -- is-- someone I cared for very, very deeply, Cole. We were going to spend our lives together."

"Why are you not... spending your life with him, Mel? Did he... die?"

Unable to face his innocently curious gaze, Mel covered her eyes with her hands, and, to her horror, she began to cry. Cole released her arm, but didn't move from his position on the floor. After a moment, she felt his gentle touch on her hair.

"I'm sorry, Mel. I did not intend to cause you pain. I'll go now."

She drew a shuddering breath, trying to pull herself together. She hadn't cried over Rod in months. But she hadn't had the dream in months, either. "No, Cole." Mel reached up to catch his hand before he could step away, letting go when he stilled his movement. "I-- I don't know what happened to Rod. That's why I was crying. He left one evening, and he never came back, nearly two years ago. No one knows what happened. The police are still looking for him." She shook her head weakly. Her voice dropped to a whisper. "But, sometimes, I think I see him. I'll be staring out the window of the club, or I'll be walking along the street, and suddenly there he is! But in the next second, I realize I was mistaken, that I just wanted to see him so badly my mind played a trick on me. In those times, it feels like-- like I'm living a nightmare. I just wish--"

"What do you wish, Mel?"

She turned her face toward Cole, recollecting herself, and shook her head again, firmly this time. "Nothing." She sighed once more. "Oh, lord, I have to get some sleep. Vic's meeting me for breakfast at 7:30."

In one smooth surge, the Cirronian was on his feet, looking down at her. "If you have more bad dreams, Mel, should I leave you alone?"

She closed her eyes for a moment, trying to recapture the feeling of well-being that had dominated the early part of her dream. Instead, she felt only the deep ache of losing Rod, again and again, each time she had the dream.

Mel opened her eyes to meet his unblinking gaze. "No, Cole. When you have a nightmare, there's nothing worse than being alone."

He nodded and moved toward the hall. Mel settled herself back under her covers, snuggling a little into her pillow.

She sensed rather than saw him pause in her doorway. "Mel?"

"What is it, Cole?"

"My people do not follow the sleep cycle of humans, but... if it had not been you who found me, the day of the escape, my existence on this planet would be like... living a nightmare. Thank you, Mel."

She caught her breath, remembering what he'd told her about his own family. Perhaps he really did understand what she was feeling.

After a moment, she said simply: "Good night, Cole."

"Good night, Mel."