Story Notes:
1/29/19 - Edited. No major changes, just tweaked some of the writing.
Author's Chapter Notes:
“...when I wak’d/ I cried to dream again.”
-William Shakespeare, The Tempest
To Dream Again
By Em

“...when I wak’d/ I cried to dream again.”
-William Shakespeare, The Tempest

Logan didn’t dream often. Most nights, he fell asleep so exhausted or numb he had no more than a vague recognition of mattress beneath him before he was out like a light until some noise or the creeping lightness of dawn woke him. Which was, really, a blessing, since when he did dream, they were usually nightmares.

Wars, mass extinction, death, oblivion…

But sometimes…

…if he was really lucky…

…he dreamt about her.

He dreamt about the smell of magnolias clinging to her hair, the warmth of summer on her skin, the slow drawl of her accent, the singing lilt of her voice, the lithe ghost of her fingers against his arm, her face hovering over his in the dark.

In the good dreams, he lifted his hands, cupped her face and brought her down against his lips, tasting the sweetness on her tongue, the pleasure in her sigh.

In the bad dreams, he woke up in her blood, her body rapidly cooling above him, her eyes surprised, but still trusting…still, unquestioning. Memories, more than dreams, really, his hands in her hair as he lay her gently down, the snick of his claws echoing in the dark.

And then sometimes…sometimes his dreams weren’t bad or good; they weren’t memories or fantasies, but something in the middle.

Sometimes, he dreamt of the burning house.

“I had a dream about a burning house / You were stuck inside / Couldn’t get you out…”

The dream was always the same. A big clapboard farmhouse. He could smell the fire and the burning wood and charred grass. He approached, walking barefoot over grass cooled with dew in pre-dawn darkness, passing tricycles and toys strewn on the grass - a wooden seat swinging from the porch roof in the breeze from the fire on squeaky hinges.

He walked inside the house calmly - always. He ignored the rooms with chintz furniture and didn’t even glance at the photographs curling in the frames on the walls. A piano in the living room, galoshes by the back door.

She was in the back bedroom.


Sometimes, she was asleep on the bed. Sometimes, she was brushing her hair at a vanity table. Others, she walked in sedately from the bathroom, a soft smile fluttering around the edges of sleepy jadeite eyes, lazily rubbing at her hair with a white towel - as if the house wasn’t burning around her.

And he always…always…always tried to get her out.

He carried her, dragged her, pulled her. Tried to get out the front door, the back door, the window. Hell, he tried to break through several walls.

But he could never get her out.

“Laid beside you and pulled you close / And the two of us went up in smoke…”

Eventually, he realized there was no way to save her.

So, rather than looking for ways out with her, he would find her and gather her in close. Sometimes, he laid them back on the bed. Sometimes, he tucked her against his chest as he leaned back on the headboard.

Sometimes she’d speak.

Go on now, sugar, she’d say. I’ll be right here.

Always, he held her as they both went up in smoke.

He didn’t feel the flames - only her arms around him, her heart beat against his chest; didn’t hear the crackling of the fire or the crumbling of the wood around them, just the soft murmur of her voice; didn’t smell the smoke, just the crisp freshness of her skin; didn’t fear the end of his very long life, only that he wouldn’t be able to keep hold of her, only that he’d lose her…again.

“Love isn’t all that it seems / I did you wrong…”

He shouldn’t have left. He’d always known that. Always felt it, always known it.

He’d promised her that he’d protect her, promised her that she didn’t have to run anymore, that he’d be there for her, but he hadn’t been.

He should’ve said screw it with everything else, and just stuck with her.

Maybe he couldn’t have changed things - maybe he couldn’t have saved her, but it didn’t matter. Because no matter what the end brought with it, at least they’d have been together. At least she would’ve known he didn’t leave her. That she wasn’t alone.

In his memories, he left.

But in his dreams, he didn’t have to.

“I’ve been sleepwalking / Too close to the fire / But it’s the only place / That I can hold you tight / In this burning house…”

He always woke up before the flames died, but he always fought it. Always tried to hold on…

Sometimes he talked to her - Marie, baby, don’t let me go, just hold on - sometimes he looked in her eyes, but sometimes he couldn’t face the goodbye in them. Sometimes he just buried his nose in her hair and held on ‘till it was over.

Waking up from those dreams was like waking up and realizing that a part of him was missing. Those dreams reminded him of what he was missing, what he’d never have again and they opened up the dark emptiness inside him wide and the pain of missing her howled through it like a storm.

But when he lay down, before sleep claimed him, he always always said a prayer to whatever god might be listening that he’d see the orange glow of fire in his dreams, smell the burning wood.

“I’ve been sleepwalking / Too close to the fire / But it’s the only place / That I can hold you tight / In this burning house…”

And yes, sometimes, she hated him in the dream. She fought him and yelled at him. She’d slap his hands away when he reached for her, anger and betrayal in her expression - You left me, Logan! Left me alone - before her face would crumple into tears. I was so afraid.

Her soft voice would break him, but it didn’t matter - he would seek her out every time.

It didn’t matter which Marie was waiting for him in the back room of that burning house - the aloof Marie, the playful Marie, the angry or scared Marie …the loving Marie.

The smile, soft and curved at the edges, her eyes sparkling and warm. I’ve missed you.

He’ll hold her hands tight in his, push her hair away from her face, his rough thumb grazing the soft fullness of her cheek. I can’t go back there without you, darlin’.

But he always does. He has no choice.

“Flames are getting bigger now / In this burning house / I can hold on to you somehow / In this burning house / Oh, and I don’t want to wake up / In this burning house…”

The dream was purgatory, neither heaven nor hell, but he craved it like breathing when he was dying. Like water.

Like the heat of a fire for limbs numb with cold.

Waking up from those dreams was like that first sharp bite of cold sinking into his limbs before the numbness set in - like the raw, frigid sting as a bullet tore through skin and muscle, leaving a pain in its wake.

Chapter End Notes:
The song quoted in the story is "Burning House" by Cam.
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