While they slept, Michael dreamed.
He was back home, standing on the porch looking out over the backyard. It was autumn, and the sun was shining.
April was standing in front of the big pasture, her back to him. By her side, Toby sat, wagging his curly tail gently as April scratched him behind one of his ears.
Michael stepped off the porch and started walking towards them. They seemed to sense him coming, and Toby turned and ran up to him, barking and wagging his tail at its maximum speed.
Michael patted his head when he reached him, and the dog circled back to April.
Michael's eyes followed him, leading his line of sight to fall on April.
She was turned sideways, her neck twisted so she could watch him approaching her. Her left hand rested on her distended abdomen. She was very pregnant.
When Michael reached her, she wrapped her arms around his neck and they kissed passionately.
After they'd parted Michael realized he could hear April's heartbeat, and not only hers. He could hear a smaller, faster heartbeat as well.
Their unborn child's heartbeat.
As an angel, Michael's hearing ability had been heightened compared to humans, just like every other sense. He'd heard the sound of many heartbeats. He'd heard the sound of many little hearts over his existence.
But hearing the heartbeat of his child was different. He was overwhelmed with joy.
He placed his hand on April's belly and grinned as the baby moved from within it.
He kissed April again and she rested her head on his shoulder.
They were watching Toby sniff at the ground when the air of Michael's dream seemed to shift. It felt heavier, and the skies darkened. Toby was barking, then suddenly he was gone and Michael found himself in the forest at night, with April clinging to his arm, fear in her eyes.
"She's here!" she shouted.
Michael reached for a weapon, but found none on his body. The machete and its sheath were missing. He had nothing to protect April with.
There was wicked laughter and out of nowhere the aswang rammed into them, throwing April back, tearing her away from him.
Michael had no time to save her. Before he could even take one step forward the aswang was ripping April's throat out. She didn't even have time to scream, but Michael did.
He woke up from the nightmare with a start. He sat up in his sleeping bag, his face sweaty. He was breathing heavily and he could hear his heart pounding, it seemed, in his ears.
Michael glanced to his right where April was lying. She'd been asleep, but was now stirring because of his movement.
She rolled onto her back, swung her left arm over her stomach, and opened her eyes at half-mast to look at him.
"Are you okay?" she inquired.
"Yes," Michael replied. "It was just a nightmare."
In an effort to comfort him, April laid a hand on his arm. "What was it about?"
"We need to get going," Michael said, unzipping his sleeping bag.
"Tell me," April insisted.
Michael sighed. "It was the aswang. It attacked you and I was helpless to save you."
"Is this about your powers?" April asked.
"No," Michael said, before hesitating. "Maybe. I just...I'm just worried we won't get out of the forest before the aswang finds us again. She is stronger than I expected her to be, and now that she knows about the baby..."
April nodded. "She'll be more driven. I know."
She ran her right hand through her hair. "I wish you hadn't had to choose between me and your powers. I can't imagine how it feels to lose a part of who you are. To lose what you depended on most of your life."
"The only reason I ever think about it is you," Michael told her. "I just want you to be safe."
"You saved me the first time without your powers," April said. "You can do it again if something happens. Hunters have been doing it for ages."
Michael lowered his head and covered her mouth with his.
When they parted, April sat up.
"I'm starving," she proclaimed. "How about we eat some oatmeal then head out?"
Michael smiled. "Sounds like a plan."