16. Coral

AN: I apologize in advance for the fluff factor of this drabble, but it's been a long time, and I have to stretch a little before I take off running, know what I'm sayin'? Enjoy if you can :)

After Tonight

It was lovely, really, these familiar faces beaming beneath a coral sky.

There was a boy, very young, with dimpled cheeks and an impish twinkle in his eyes. Three girls all older than she beckon for her to join in their vast amusement.

There is no fear. Only a sharp longing.

"Hello, Sunshine!" The man smiles up at her from the water far below, and the familiar warmth in his face makes her want to weep with joy.

"Hello!" she calls back. The tinny echo of her voice in this place causes her to giggle with its strangeness.

"Jump in!" The little boy at her side takes a flying leap off the small ledge where they stand, squealing during his descent and taking great delight in splashing the water's inhabitants.

This feeling is unparalleled. It was happiness so deep it made her bones ache. She could feel her heart straining, trying to get closer to the familial warmth generated by the people below her.

Maybe she should do it.

Maybe she should jump.

The ache in her bones rises to an impossible roar. She moves closer to the edge of the ledge, desperation beginning to take hold. She cannot let this feeling go. She will die without it. She cannot go back to being alone, with nothing and no one.

One foot is poised in the air –

But something changes. The sweet coral world with its fragrant flowers disappears in an instant and is replaced by physical embodiments of darkness and fear. The people from before, with the kind eyes and smiles and laughter, have all gone. Demons beyond physical description scream at her now, demanding that she jump, pulling and clawing at her, trying to drag her down into the abyss.

Their awful hollow screams drown out her own.

She must get away.

"Anya! Anya, wake up! Wake up!"

Anya's eyes snap open to see Dimitri, his brow furrowed, the salty ocean rain streaming in rivulets across his face. His hands have a painful grip on her shoulders.

She opens her mouth to whisper his name in relief. Nothing escapes her but a guttural moan of despair.

He crushes her to his chest, wondering what horrors she had to have seen in her dream that would have her ready to pitch herself overboard in a thunderstorm. They shiver together, bed clothes plastered to their skin as the rain begins to ease. Anya's trembling fingers find Dimitri's face just as his lips find hers.

And the storm that was fell completely silent, outdone by the fearsome power of true love.