It's mostly fragments. Never the vivid, aching dreams that she remembers from the bleak time After Angel. No accusing visitations in the night. No horrible reminders of the things she'll never have from him, no dark warnings of things to come. Those were never his style anyway.
Mostly, it's ordinary things. Moments, things that happened and things that never will. The sense-memory of his hand, brushing against her shoulder. A slow smile, tongue caught between his teeth, eyes promising everything of sex. The pale curve of his shoulder, impossibly solid under her hand, and the graceful arc of his body caught in mid-flip as he kicks up off the ground to face her. Cigarette smoke, and leather.
In the long, slow hours of morning, thick with sleep and still sheltered from the coming day, she can make the dreams last. They stretch out of the night like smoke, drifting around her, drawn in with slow breaths and expelled into the oncoming morning, and when she does wake it takes her a minute to figure it out. She wakes with a sense of just-absent warmth, wakes impossibly aroused, wakes amid the slow tracks of tears.
This morning, she wakes with his voice whispering in her ear, too soft to hear the words. Just a low, gravelly murmur, sending shivers through her soul. Lies there, liquid with sleep, listening to the dream of his voice. Shifts just a little, just enough under the twist of sheets so that her thigh brushes against the cool outside of the bunched comforter, abandoned in the night. Feather-light touch, and it makes her heart race.
She's just conscious enough to know it isn't real, and just enough asleep that she doesn't care. The morning sun glows through her closed eyelids and she's comfortable here, cocooned in the clean, scratchy motel sheets, and cool, clever fingers blaze a trail along her inner thigh, down to brush against the back of her knee, and upward, raising goosebumps in their wake. As it reaches the top of her thigh, the trail slows, turns inward, tracing the soft hollow where thigh and pelvis meet, she parts her legs a little in an almost-unconscious gesture, long ago familiar.
It was never like this, but it could have been.
Her heart is racing, and the wash of arousal seeping through her system brings a corresponding surge of adrenaline that threatens to drag her away from her phantoms and into the light of day. Other thoughts are creeping around the edges of her brain now, and she forces them back, keeping her breathing even, keeping her eyes closed. She needs this. Needs him, if only for a little while.
More awake now, and fighting it every inch of the way, she lets her own hand take over the fading trails of his ghost-touch. His voice is quiet now, just a memory, traces of it hidden in the hum of the air conditioner. A rumble, making her bones vibrate at just the right frequency, and she trails her own fingers down, across the slight curve of her belly, inside the jut of her hipbone, threading through the curls of her pubic hair, trailing lightly across her suddenly-aching clit.
Feel it, love, his voice purrs beneath the rumble of the distant freeway. Let yourself go.
And she does, stroking herself with the light, delicate touch that most reminds her of him, deceptively gentle, giving just enough to make her ache for more. Just enough to stoke the hot glow low in her belly, just enough to maintain the fiction of his cool legs tangled her own. His voice brushes against her soul, and the light flick of her fingertips answer. This was always their language.
Heat builds under her hand, and she arches against the sheets, stroking a little harder. Beneath her closed eyelids he's touching her everywhere, caressing the curve of her breast, cool mouth fixing on one hardened nipple, and right at this moment, it's not her own hands, and he never went away.
Love you so much, his ghost-voice whispers, and it sends a jolt of heat through her. Slick moisture gathers under her fingers, and she abandons the slow tease and lets herself go, stroking harder, quicker. Her breath comes in ragged gasps now, and she squeezes her eyes shut against the soft glow spreading through the room.
Arching her head back against the pillow, she whispers his name as she comes. And from somewhere, reaching back out of the dream, his hand brushes against her cheek, and comes away wet.
A little later, she wakes fully into the new morning, the room filled with sunlight and already warm with the promise of a summer day to come. Her legs are tangled up in the sheets, warm now from her own body heat, and the pillow is damp from sweat, and tears.