(I'm going to assume that some time between Kartik and Gemma sharing a dream in the cave of sighs and Gemma receiving Tom's hat in a box, the two spend a night together in the real world.) Gemma wakes up screaming with Kartik beside her and realizes that a door, once opened, can't be closed so easily.
I know that I am in a dream, but my terror is real. I am running down the cobbled streets of India. I follow the same path as I did all those months ago when my life was changed forever. Every shadow stirs and twists until coalescing into faces. Deranged smiles and clawed hands beckon to me from every direction.
They whisper a thousand little mutterings that say everything and nothing. The shadows clear and I see a figure lying in a pool of dark red liquid in the distance.
"A gift, Preistessss," the shadows hiss. I move numbly toward the figure that is still and lifeless in its own blood.
Thick black curls. Soft dark skin. Black eyes that stare at nothing are haloed by long lashes and a straight nose sloped down to unnaturally pale lips.
My heart clenches in my chest. A scream rips through my throat.
I wake up with a hand over my mouth to stifle my cries from being heard by the entire house and my head tucked against a broad, muscular chest. An arm is wrapped around my shoulders, and I can barely believe that that arm is so warm and alive.
I can guess the time to be shortly after midnight. Kartik knows how dangerous it is to stay late, and when dawn comes, he is always gone. He doesn't spend many nights with me, but I am grateful that this is one of those occasions.
"Shh, Gemma, "He whispers into my hair, "Shh, I'm here. It's alright."
My cheeks are slick with tears and the room seems too cold. His hand releases my mouth and replaces it with his lips, not pale but full and dark. All of him is dark; it's as if he materialized from the shadows for me. What a foolish thought, but I can't help myself.
Kartik ends the kiss and eases me onto my back, wrapping a strong arm around my waist and pulling my back tight against his chest.
"I dreamed…" I begin to say hoarsely, but Kartik cuts me off, "I know."
He plants a kiss on my neck, "I know what you dreamed." I feel his heart pound against my back. It is a calm, strong beat and my sluggish mind fixates on the reality of it's rhythm for a few seconds before his words catch me.
"You know?" I ask.
I feel him nod against my shoulder. He runs calloused fingers through my mane of red curls absently and kisses my shoulder.
"Some doors, once opened, can be entered both ways," he murmurs against my skin, "We looked into one another's dreams, Gemma. I suppose that door was left open."
A feel a hard lump lodge in my throat, and hot tears sting my eyes. "You died," I whisper as my fingers tighten over the smooth skin of his back. The image of his body lying lifeless on the street is as clear to my minds eyes as his living body is to my real eyes.
"Maiṁ tumhārē sātha mērē pyāra hūm̐" His deep voice rumbles thick Hindi into my ear. My translation is not quite good enough to make out every word, but one sticks out at me; Pyara means love.
He tightens the arms that are around me, and his fingers entwine themselves with mine, "Sleep, Gemma. I'll be with you. Always."