Title: Angst on a Shoestring II: In-Between Time
Author: Susan P. <suzotchka67@operamail.com>
Warning: All Angst, No Smut (ok, the merest hint of a whisper of smut)
Rating: G
Spoilers: None
Permission to Archive: ScullySlash, Down in the Basement, all others please ask first. No one other than myself should post this to any mailing list or newsgroup without first obtaining my permission.
Note1: This hasn't been beta-ed either, so if you catch any mistakes I would appreciate it if you'd point it/them out. Feedback would be most welcome.
Note2: For those who do send (specific) feedback for this part to the list, you might consider adding spoiler-space.
Summary: Help me make it through the night...


"I love you."

"I love you, too."

"No! Not 'I love you, too,'" she burst out, surprised at the vehemence of her own response. "I love you. I am *in* love with you."

She turned away then. Afraid to look her at her best friend--afraid to see the answer in her eyes. To show the need in her own.

The other woman said nothing. Why didn't she say *something*? Anything to put an end to the torment of not knowing. The silence was a roar in her ears.

She felt rather than heard the woman step up behind her. She was so close. And then their bodies were pressing together. Impossible to tell who leaned into whom. Then those arms were around her. *Her* arms. One was across her shoulders. The other warm across her belly. They held her tightly. Securely.

She felt the other woman's breath warm against her right ear.

The woman leaned in even closer, her lips brushing that ear as she spoke. "I. Love. You. Too."

She shuddered in her friend's embrace, and her mind raced, considering the possibilities, only to be stopped dead at the touch of those lips on her neck.

When she found her voice, she managed to murmur, "Ginger..." She turned in the woman's embrace, only to find...

Nothing.

"Damnit."

Her return to consciousness had been gradual. And sudden. Some subtle shift between the blackness behind her eyelids and awareness. Just a dream. Another one. She drew her knees up and burrowed further into the pillow she had been clutching--like a lover--in her sleep. She squeezed her eyes shut, trying to will herself back to sleep--to the dream.

But it wouldn't work. It never had, anyway. She rolled over and looked at the clock. 3:13. That horrible in-between time of night. She sighed and pushed herself up. Bracing herself against the headboard, she brought her knees up and wrapped her arms around them.

The ache between her legs was an uncomfortable reminder of the dream, and she tried to ignore it. She could try to bring herself relief, but knew it would be an empty exercise. Because that was how she felt. Empty.

The tears came then, and she sat in the darkness for some minutes, shaking with silent sobs. And with a need that was more than physical.

3:45. She sat there still, in the dark, rocking back and forth. Her tears had already dried, and her eyes were swollen and sore. Gritty, as though her eyelids were lined with sandpaper.

She was tired. Drained. But there would be no more sleep tonight.

She unfolded her now-stiff legs and swung them over the edge of the bed. She rose slowly and made her way to the bathroom. She turned on the tap and splashed cold water onto her face several times. When she was finished, she had to fumble for a towel in the darkness. Finding it, she just touched it to her face once, preferring to let it dry in the cool air of the room.

She carefully made her way into the front room and over to her desk. Only then did she turn on a light--the desk lamp. She reached into the desk drawer for the slim leather-bound volume and placed it on the desktop. She pulled the chair out but stopped short of sitting.

On impulse, she moved to retrieve one of the candles she had placed around the room, brought it over to the desk and lit it. If anyone had bothered to ask why, however, she couldn't have answered with any certainty. But it was oddly comforting somehow.

She sat and stared at the candle for a moment before opening the journal to the nearest blank page. She then stared at the page for a moment, before picking up a pen to write...

How odd that I should be denied satisfaction even in my dreams. I would think that I might live out my fantasies there, at least. But no. Every time--every *single* time, it seems--I have a dream that is even remotely erotic, something always happens to destroy it. The dream changes, or I wake up. It's almost as if there is some time bomb in my subconscious set to go off at the first sign of romantic or sexual activity in my dreams.

Sometimes I wonder whether the dreams just reflect my present reality. After all, it's been so long since I've really been held, and my relationship history is best described as very few, very far between and very short. Maybe my subconscious is just ill equipped to provide what my conscious has yet to experience. The more disturbing possibility is that I simply can't *imagine* the alternative to my present existence. That would imply that I wouldn't know how to handle the possibility of such happiness in my waking life. Would I? If I ever managed to tell you how I feel and, if by some miracle, you felt the same, *would* I know how to deal with it? Or would I only screw it up, and our friendship with it? Would it be any different with anyone else?

Because it's not only when I dream of you. It could have been anyone in that dream and the result would have been the same. It's just that it's more disturbing when it's you I'm being denied. That I'm denying myself. To come so close to you, even if only in a dream, only to lose you. And to lose you more than once in those dreams. It's so hard.

I *felt* you in this dream. Felt your arms around me. And when I woke up, it was like I could still feel your touch. Or a memory of it, at least. It was *so* real. One of my more vivid--and coherent--dreams. And when I awoke I ached for you. I was aroused, yes, but it was more than that. My whole body craved your touch.

I've never experienced that kind of (psuedo) sense-memory before. At least not that I can remember. I'm not even sure now that it was real. It seemed real, in those first few moments after waking. But was it?

If so, does it mean something?

I wish I knew.

End AoaSII