When in Dreams I See Her Title: When in Dreams I See Her
Author: seraC
Email: seraphcelene@yahoo.com
Spoilers: Deep Down
Rating: R for themes and horror
Archiving: Essential-Imperfect. All others please ask.
Summary: An interlude at the bottom of the sea.
Notes: Set between Tomorrow and Deep Down
Feedback: Is like air, highly necessary. Constructive Criticism also welcome.
Disclaimer: Angel and all related characters belong to Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the Warner Company, et al. I'm just taking them out for a little exercise.

"Now hear us as we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea."
-- Neil Gaiman, The Sea Change>

When in Dreams I See Her

Between dreams of Thanksgiving and Cordelia, the blood of his son on his lips and the snap of precious bones beneath his hands, Angel dreams of curious girls with sea-kelp tangled in their hair and large, seal-black eyes, shiny and round.

They come to him at night, he thinks -- he's really too far down to tell by the light and the days have long since bled into each other. He imagines that the stars glitter somewhere far overhead when they come to visit him on the ocean floor.

At first they come and stare, their sea kelp hair clouding around their narrow faces, occasionally tap-tap-tapping on the glass in the iron coffin with long, webbed fingers as if he were some strange animal in an underwater zoo. They crowd around, nudging each other and snarling a little, baring tiny, sharp teeth.

Angel shouts at them to let him out, cursing and begging. Angry at himself and Connor; that bitch, Justine, for stealing his beautiful son away and this time makes it twice. He shouts and shouts until the glass is flecked with spittle and the coffin fills with the bitter, acrid odor of old bile.

The girls, with their curious, shiny, black eyes and tangled hair, float languorously above him, humming and sighing at his ire. Sometimes, he thinks, he can hear them scratching at the padlock and rattling the chains that keep him locked up tight.

But nothing changes. He remains, waiting at the bottom of the ocean, watching mermaid tails flit through the dark waters above him.

Later, as days pass and Angel dozes, floating in and out of sleep and dreams of blood drying on his hands and bodies at his feet, they come and stay. Draped across the lid of the coffin, they tap the glass and giggle and devour unwary fish that manage to swim too near. They grin at him with small, razored teeth and drop bits and pieces of fish remains onto the window, squabbling over the bony carcasses and escaped morsels.

Angel lays quiet and watches them through starved, half-lidded eyes, and when he sleeps he dreams of carnage and the end of the world. Holtz is always there, at the end of all things, and Justine; sometimes Darla and sometimes Wesley. Angel wakes with a jerk and shout when he finds Connor's sly face nestled among the broken heads littering the ground at his feet. He howls, then. His voice resonates in the tight, cold, metal coffin and the mermaids scatter at the sound.

Angel is sorry for that. Sorry for the loss of their company and quiets, sinking dully back into his waking nightmare.

They always return, trailing shiny things for him to see or colorful fish from distant, warmer waters. The fish are usually quite dead and the mermaids bob them along, playfully, before chewing through neon scale to meat and bone.

The mermaids, with their matted, tangled hair, dance in circles above him, chasing their tails and each other for his amusement. He comes to love their narrow, pointed faces and round, black eyes. They stare at him, tap at the glass, and sometimes sing -- piercing, sweet, melancholy tunes that sink into his dreams, a soundtrack for his nightmares.

Three months later they still lounge around his coffin, rapping on the glass and playing, sighing and dancing above him. Angel stares back at them, silent. He is dreaming with his eyes wide open, balefully imagining the color of blood and Connor's broken head buried among a confusion of familiar bodies.