Disclaimer: Like I bother with these anymore...
A/N: This is part of the CATverse, the timeline of which can be found at http/ www . freewebs . com / catverse . htm (delete the spaces, if you have any sense at all). Despite the fact that this comes in one of the last two arcs, it has no spoilers for the major plot points that have yet to be revealed.
It's a funny place, the realm between sleep and awake. On the one end, you're aware and on the other, you're blissfully ignorant of all that's going on around you. It's a place that had no absolutes, only maybes, perhaps' and perchances. The whisper thin strands of dream and waking are waging a tug of war over you, each urging you to break the bonds with the other.
Jonathan Crane found himself in this territory between slumber and consciousness, aware and yet unaware of a great many things.
He knew he was comfortable and warm, which were strange enough in themselves, but were so enjoyable that he could hardly force himself to become ill at ease with the feeling. He also knew that there was warmth emanating more from his right side than his left, almost as though he had a heating pad pressed against him.
It was the side of his brain that was trying to be conscious that insisted he hadn't gone to bed with a heating pad; indeed, that side of his brain didn't remember going to bed at all…and furthermore, that pesky, alert part of him demanded to know why his right hand was tangled into something that felt like watered silk.
The drowsy, cozy side argued that it wasn't important in the least. Whatever that silk thing was, it was warm, soft and comforting to have glued to his side. Who cared what it was attached to or why it was there? The point was it was there, doing an awfully good job of being toasty and comfy.
Convincing as the drowsiness trying to urge him back into dreamland was, logic kept rearing its ugly head and he fought with it to make sense of all the foreign sensations that his sleepier self was perfectly willing to accept and revel in.
For a start, something was draped over his middle; a pressure that wasn't uncomfortable exactly, just different. Something was tickling his chin--again, not necessarily an unpleasant sensation and there was a sound he couldn't identify.
It was the sound that bothered him the most as he struggled bravely out of Morpheus' embrace while he tried to identify it. The noise was barely there; soft, regular, evenly paced, and he knew if he could just force his sluggish mind into putting the pieces together, he'd know what it was.
Still, he was dozing and hadn't broken sleep's spell completely, so he lay there for a few minutes more, just wondering but not really caring.
And then it happened.
The warmth at his side shifted; it moved and the ticklish whatever-it-was under his chin disappeared momentarily only to flutter over his jaw.
Then the unthinkable happened; something petal soft and warm ghosted over his cheek and all the pieces slammed into place.
The last threads of slumber snapped like high tension wire over his nerves and his eyelids flew open.
He became aware of a great many things at once. One, that ticklish whatever-it-was was, in actuality, a full head of bushy black hair; the warm, soft, watered silk covered heating pad at his side was a very female form in an overlarge pajama top that was only partially buttoned and the petal softness on his cheek was--unmistakably--a set of lips.
He was absolutely frozen in place, too confused and paralyzed by panic to even consider attempting something so ambitious as movement or speech.
That set of lips pressed a quick, chaste kiss to his and he was too stunned to return the gesture or fight it off.
For a second, Jonathan thought he'd finally flipped his lid. The hallucination at his side--which looked at awful lot like Techie--spoke in a fond tone he'd never heard her use before; sleep laden and soft, "Good morning, sleepyhead."
He didn't answer. Just stared at the clues that were in front of him and tried to make sense of it all.
Him. Bed. Woman (wife, his mind corrected). Her arm draped over his waist. His arm around her shoulder. Her head on his chest.
This math didn't make any sense. This was some kind of cosmic mix-up. This didn't happen!
What had happened?
She smiled at him, a smile that matched that weird soft tone she'd used. Fond and affectionate all at once. "The generally accepted response is 'Good morning to you too', though I wouldn't turn down a 'Hey, sexy'."
He continued to stare, feeling like he should know more than he did about whatever had transpired to put him in this most awkward of positions. "What?"
"You're so cute when you're bewildered," she said with a smirk, ruffling his hair warmly. "I'd think you'd be bright enough to piece everything together here, Jonathan…I mean, we are married after all."
She lifted her left hand and let the faint sunlight catch hold of the facets of the small diamond in the wedding ring that had been used in Atlantic city during that travesty of a marriage ceremony of convenience oh-so-long-ago.
"You mean…we…" He couldn't even verbalize the rest of the thought, his head was spinning so fast.
"Aw, don't be bashful. It was bound to happen sooner or later." She laid her head back on his chest (Bare chest! BARE CHEST! His mind screamed) and walked her fingers up his sternum. "Whoda thunk it, hm? I mean, considering the rocky start we got together…"
"Rocky start," he said, more to pass the time than anything else.
How do I get out of this? What did I do? OH GOD!
She chuckled low in her throat. "Yes, rocky start…I mean…you do remember how you published my diary, don't you, dearest?"
He still didn't answer due to the quiet panic attack he was having.
"That wasn't a very nice thing to do," she whispered, moving her head up so that her breath slithered over his ear. "Not a nice thing to do at all."
She pressed another kiss to his jaw and then let her head drift back up so that her lips brushed his ear with every movement her mouth made as she spoke. "I spent a long time trying to figure out how to get revenge, you know? An incredible amount of time…you wouldn't believe how patient I was."
Something in Crane's head clicked then. A combination of many factors that hadn't been noticed because he was too busy panicking over the fact they'd slept together.
They were both clothed. His pajama pants were still in place and her sleep shirt covered her more than amply.
The panic that had burrowed deep in his chest immediately gave way to rage as she breathed in his ear, "Gotcha."