Fai&Sakura, prompt: smiling through it all

Even in her dreams, his hands are cold.

Fai told her once, when the sun was shadowed by rain, that winter hugged him too tightly in the land of Celes, and could never truly let him go. No matter how sweetly the sun asked and tried to warm his bones. It was never sweet enough, hardly as sweet as her.

His spindly fingers skim over the curvature of her hips, and it's not the magician's touch of ice that causes her to shiver and gasp. It almost scares her, these dreams she has of him, when she mistakes them for visions in the morning and she loses herself to a searing spreading blush. Her mind is too sleep addled, her auburn hair mussed by restlessness, and the bed she wakes on too big for one person alone. She misses him, she misses them all. Yet it is Fai who holds her close and whispers secrets in her ear that she dreams of most of all.

She misses the acid rain; the companionship of her four friends, the delightful café shop when she was but a chef and all she knew was the truth in a simple smile. The secret that hides underneath.

In her dreams, his breath is warm and his mouth is soft, softer still when she kisses him, and heat surges through her solar plexus—and it is she who initiates contact, who craves this intimacy, who arches from his touch. Then she wakes, and guilt washes over her once more, as she hears that they have returned, safe and sound.

Until Fai grins at her, pale as ever and the same as she remembered, the man with a mended smile and her desert flower embrace is enough to enough to make his frozen heart melt. His hand is cold as he cradles the underside of her jaw, and this is reality, Sakura knows, as she beams at him in return. This is real. For a second, she leans into the cool palm of his hand, loses herself in the flutter of a heartbeat. Then she draws away, and says nothing about the weight of his gaze, how Fai watches her with an expression that she won't make sense of.

The same expression she catches herself reciprocating.