Bad Dreams

She woke, sweaty and panting, and reflexively reached out her arm. But nothing was there, and she caught her breath. Just a dream.

She rolled over, and pulled the covers close. There were two types of dreams Riza Hawkeye hated. In the first, everything went wrong. She was too slow, arriving after everything was over. Or she reached for a gun that was not there…or pulled one out only to discover it was out of bullets. The worst was when she was frozen, unable to pull the trigger, and was forced to watch each of her comrades killed before her eyes. She felt each one get hit and go down, but could do nothing for them. She hated those dreams, but she did not cry when she awoke from them. She knew that, when it mattered, she would not hesitate. She would be prepared. On those nights, she clenched her fists and repeated, "I will not fail him," until she fell back asleep.

But this dream was different. In this dream, strong arms closed around her, and she could relax and fall into them. That voice would murmur, "It's over now. Everything is going to be alright…." And just when she thought nothing could be more wonderful than being this comfortable, she felt a kiss on her jaw, her chin….and then her lips were moving against his, protests forgotten and swallowed up by his mere presence. She was pushed back against the wall, and hands slid down her sides to rest firmly on her hips, and…

…and then she woke up, panting. She hated these dreams. It was worse than being useless – it was a betrayal of weakness.

What was wrong with her? He was her commanding officer. She had his back. That was as it should be. She did not want to alter what they had – she did not want this. He could not afford distractions.

"It will be years before he reaches his goal," she reminded her pillow firmly. She would be strong, for as long as he needed her…. And what then? The voice in her dream knew how to get her to respond; it had told her that time was past.

She shook her head. Then he would choose one of his admirers and settle down – one with connections or money. Men like the Colonel were ambitious in all aspects of their lives. She could help him get to the top…but she would not become one of…one of those girls he conquered without caring about. As things were now, she knew he cared. He looked out for all his subordinates. They were his family, they supported him, they were the people who really mattered. Not those girls he toyed with. He had no respect for them, for all his courteous words. She did not crave his flattery.

But he respected her. He respected her coolness, her dedication, her ability to protect him. He relied on her. She knew all of this…and yet why was that thought not enough to lull her back to sleep tonight?

Riza Hawkeye seldom cried. She hated when she had these dreams.