For the Hurt/Comfort Bingo Card prompt: "earth blowing up, escaping to space"
Erica watches the destruction of her entire world and dream or not, it feels terribly real.
Erica looked down at Earth through the wide viewscreen of the Visitor mothership. She couldn't turn her head away because Anna had one hand around her neck, strong fingers keeping her in place, claws pricking at her skin.
"We're done with your tiresome, backward planet," Anna whispered in Erica's ear. "We've taken what we need."
It wasn't something Erica wanted to hear. This wasn't victory. The aliens weren't leaving her and her planet alone. This was something terrible, she knew it.
Behind her there was a dead body but she couldn't see who it was, couldn't remember. He'd died to save her, that much she knew. It had been a pointless sacrifice, Erica thought, because Anna was probably going to kill her soon anyway. She'd escaped merely to be witness to Anna's victory.
"Say goodbye," Anna said. And Erica could only watch as Earth exploded. She couldn't shield her eyes as the white light hurtled towards them, couldn't find her voice to scream as she lost everyone and everything.
Erica struggled back to consciousness, gasping for breath. Just a dream. Just a freaking dream. She put her head in her hands and tried to calm down. Her heart was racing and she was covered in sweat. She rolled out of bed and headed for the bathroom.
A shower calmed her a little and at least it cooled her down. Erica towelled off her hair and glanced at the clock. Three am and there was no way she could go back to sleep.
She picked up the phone, wanting to hear someone's voice – anyone's at this point. What would she say though? Who could she reasonably rouse at this hour without due cause? She replaced the receiver and thought for a moment. Perhaps a drive would help.
Jack padded sleepily to the door. "Who is it?"
He fumbled with the lock, flinging the door open, jolted awake. "What is it? What's wrong?"
She shook her head. "Can I come in?"
"Of course." He gestured, and she pushed past him, went to the lounge. He locked the door again and followed her, took a chair opposite the one she'd chosen. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." Erica took a deep breath. "I'm sorry I woke you. I think I just needed to see someone, talk to someone."
He smiled. "It's all right. It's a hazard of the vocation. Don't be sorry." That got him a weak smile in response. "Is it about Tyler?"
"No. Sort of. I was dre–" She cut herself off, self-censoring in embarrassment. "I didn't even mean to come here. I was driving around and somehow I ended up on your doorstep."
"You couldn't sleep?" he asked sympathetically. She nodded. "Any particular reason?" he asked.
She looked away a moment. "It's stupid."
Jack leaned forward, pitched his voice to be soothing. "It's not stupid. If it's upsetting you, then it's important to you. I won't judge you. This is safe place."
Erica nodded. "Okay. It was just a dream though." She gave him a wry smile.
"A bad dream," Jack said. "Nightmares can be very disturbing. Just because they aren't real, doesn't mean they can't be frightening. Was it something that you have faced, or something that you fear facing?"
Erica told him the details; the way she knew without knowing how she knew, the feel of the claws, the terrible destruction she'd witnessed. He stayed silent, listening, letting her explain it as best as she could. When she stopped talking and looked to him for his response he sat back, thinking.
"Given our unique circumstances I'd say this was a very valid nightmare," Jack said at last. "Fear of loss is a common theme in dreams and the Visitors are probably more than capable of destroying us all if they so choose. It's no wonder your subconscious is obsessed with these things."
Erica nodded. "It was just so vivid. I felt as it were happening as surely as I'm sitting here. I sometimes think about Anna winning but I try not to – I guess my subconscious has other ideas."
She was silent a moment and then she looked over to him. "Any more words of wisdom?"
"If it wasn't for these particular circumstances I'd say you have a God complex," Jack said but he smiled when he said it. "You felt loss personally, the body behind you and the guilt that he'd saved you. But you also felt the loss and responsibility of being the last human alive. It's as if you were trying to own all of the guilt, as if the destruction of the Earth was your fault, that it was only your failures that let it happen."
"I can do pretty well with guilt," Erica admitted. "And I'm not even Catholic."
Jack stood and crossed the short distance to her, crouched down in front of her. "You're not alone in this," he said softly. "You are never alone."
"Thank you." She put one hand on his shoulder and he put one of his hands on her knee.
"We're going to win, Erica. We have to." He pulled away and got to his feet. "Would you like some tea?"
"I'd love some." She snuggled down in the winged armchair, making herself comfortable.
By the time Jack returned with the tea she was asleep. Jack sipped at his own drink, flicking his eyes over to her sleeping form from time to time, ready to wake her if she showed signs of distress. At last he closed his own eyes and slept. He'd pay for his vigil in the morning with a stiff neck - this chair lacked the support of the one Erica had chosen - but it was a price he was happy to pay. The only way they'd win was if they looked out for one another, whatever it took, whatever that entailed. And something as simple as a sympathetic shoulder was something he could always give, would always be willing to offer. Vocation aside, they were Fifth Column, and they were friends.