Miracles

A soft hand, ghosting rhythmically back and forth, back and forth across his brow. Warmth all around, and liquid-smooth satin sheets beneath his cheek. He cracks open an eye, then quickly closes it again, groaning as he stretches.

"Thought you'd never wake up. I've been waiting for you." He can hear the smile in her voice, feel the softness of her hair against his neck. Her voice is tranquil, but there is something boiling beneath the surface. Something he must remedy, if he can only remember what.

"I…was dreaming." He moves to take her in his arms, smiling as she snuggles against him. Everything will be all right, so long as he doesn't look.

"Was it a nice dream?" Her voice is soft, as though she is close to drifting off herself. She lets her fingers trail over the skin his deteriorating shirt has exposed as she speaks.

"I'm not—I'm not sure I liked it very much." Blindly, he runs a hand over the place where her neck meets shoulder, caressing the soft skin there. "You saved me from it."

"I'll always save you," she agrees, as if it is the simplest thing in the world. She is amazing that way.

"How? How can you always be here for me?" It isn't that he doubts her; never, ever that. But sometimes he wonders at the things she does, how she can be so young and so old, so tender and so fierce, all at once. How a soul so incredible can fit inside a being so small. "Sometimes I think it would take a miracle to save me."

"Miracles happen." She brings her hand back up to his forehead, moving her fingers over his brow, unphased by the cracks that are rapidly forming in his skin. "It snowed in Sunnydale, once."

"Is that what you are? A miracle?" Angel lets the smile return to his face as he leans up to kiss her. He struggles to see her in the dim light, wishing to meet her gaze, just once.

"Close your eyes."

Around him, darkness swirls and the weight of the water crushes down. Sand has begun accumulating around the base of the casket-prison, swept along in the ever-changing currents at the sea floor. Beauty, and emptiness.

Everything will be all right, so long as he doesn't look.