Disclaimer: Not mine
Chapter 1: Only A Dream
As the last shovelful of dirt was tossed onto the grave of his daughter, he fell to his knees, his face in his hands. Beside her grave, was the one of her twin brother. "Zoe," he cried out. "Wyatt!" Too numb for tears, he remembered the happy, bright-eyed children that had reminded him so much of their mother.
"Ashley," he whispered, his gaze shifting to the grave of his beloved wife, dead seven long, lonely years. He staggered to his feet, collapsing again at the foot of her headstone, leaning his head against the cold, hard slab. Then the tears came, cascading down his face in a salty river, and he sat there, unmoving, for several hours, sobbing for all that he'd lost. His forehead still resting against Ashley's grave marker, he choked the words out. "I love you so much. I'm so sorry I didn't save you. I'm so sorry I didn't save them."
Had he not been a coward, he could have ended his life right then and there, but a small voice somewhere deep inside of him told him that Ashley would never forgive him. Her judgement he feared more than any god or hell that he might face. The same small voice screamed at him that this was his punishment for failing to protect those that he loved. He would be forced to live without them, always haunted by their memories, his heart always aching for them, until his life was over at last.
His head snapped up as he recognized the voice that he hadn't heard in seven years. "You?"
She fell to her knees beside him, tears staining her cheeks as well, and spoke only two words, a reference to a statement made long ago, a question that even in his dazed and numb state he understood.
He took one look at the three graves surrounding him. The graves of the three people that he loved the most in the world.
"Anything that I have left to give."
Andros shot up from his sleep, terrified for a moment that it had been much more than a nightmare, that he would wake up and find himself alone. Then he heard Ashley's soft breathing in the bed next to him, and he lay down again, pulling her close, and burying his face in her soft hair. She was still here. No one was going to take her from him.
Ashley stirred. "Andros?"
"Go back to sleep," he whispered hoarsely. "I'm sorry I woke you up."
"What's wrong?" Ashley asked sleepily, rolling over. Even in the dark, Andros could see the concern in her dark eyes.
"Nothing," he muttered, beginning to feel ashamed of himself. "Just a nightmare."
"What's wrong?" Ashley brushed his hair out of his eyes to look at him.
"Zoe and Wyatt were dead," he whispered. "So were you. You'd been dead for seven years, and then they died too, and I was alone. And then - and then... I saw someone... who I knew... anything... "
"Andros," Ashley whispered, taking his hand. "It was only a dream. I'm right here, and I'm never leaving you, I promise. I'm stuck with you forever, remember?"
Andros managed a laugh, but he couldn't shake the feeling that something was very wrong. Without another word, Ashley wrapped her arms around him. His arms went around her, and he held her close, listening to her breathing grown steady and even. As she fell back asleep, Andros loosened his hold on her, and slipped out of bed to go check on his children.
The twins were nearly five months old now, and slept through the night most of the time. Wyatt was curled up in his crib, but Zoe was wide awake, her hazel eyes gleaming up at him. Andros picked up his baby daughter gently, as if she was the most fragile thing in the world. He rocked her back to sleep before kissing both his children. He tried to lie down quietly, but Ashley woke up again.
"Sorry," he whispered, kissing his wife gently. "I'll go to sleep now."
"Andros," she muttered, opening one sleepy eye. "If I didn't love you, you'd be dead right now."
She was joking, but Andros didn't laugh.
"I love you, Ashley," he breathed into her ear before drifting off into a blissfully dreamless sleep.