She awakes choking on the thick air. Beside her, he jolts with a curse and turns and wraps his arms around her, murmurs tender nothings to pull her back from one nightmare and into another.
Shh. Shhh. I'm here. Don't be afraid. I'm here.
The world around them lay dormant and still -
- and so did their impending death, lying a few feet away.
Are you there?
She reaches for the wall, feels its coldness against her skin - and yet, when she closes her eyes, she can see him, his face contorted with grief and pain and worry - like her own is.
Are you all right?
She doesn't answer.
She doesn't have to.
They will see each others' scars soon enough.
And then she feels herself getting lifted, and before she can even speak, he's running, running, and the world fades into a slow hum.
Her heart races and she closes her eyes and screams, and against her shoulder his chest rumbles and it takes her a second to realize that he is laughing.
She clutches him tighter and laughs along with him.
We cannot be afraid.
He drags a finger down her cheek and kisses her forehead, and she steps closer to him, holds on to his arms as though they are her anchors.
His mind is a mess of imagined pain and deaths - his and hers - and her breath quickens in recognition of his own unvoiced fears.
You won't lose me.
He kisses her again, his mouth branding her skin.
I better not.
This - all of it - is our fault.
She looks at his eyes, finds grief and anguish in them, and a sob threatens to strangle her throat. He pulls her close, needing contact as much as she does, and she finds slivers of solace in his warmth.
We will make it right.
She stands her ground - alone - and she smiles at him as she does so.
He returns her smile and does her bidding.
It doesn't take long for her blood to turn cold and her soul to shatter.
Have we made things right?
She touches glass and her skin feels cold. Closing her eyes, she reaches for his hand, clutches it, and she smiles.