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The dull roar of the ocean was a lazy dog at Miranda’s feet, lapping around his toes splayed out in the silky sand. The lolling waves, however, only ever reached their pleading hands to his ankles, unhappy in their duty of replacing socks but fulfilling it all the same.

“Love…” The chilling lilt rang over the coast, and Miranda tightened his grip on the busted zipper of the jacket hanging off of his frame. The bottom of his coat, damp from the spray, flapped about in the Bora as he turned away from the ferocious gust of wind.

Miranda opened his mouth to reply to the disembodied voice, but the urge to speak melted away as the wind’s hands undid the bobby pins in his hair. Miranda’s mane billowed out, a snowy streak to add to the desaturated sky. His hands rose to his wrinkled brow, and he struggled for a minute to brush his hair away before halting to gape at the sight before him.

His fianceé materialized in front of him, a flawed facsimile of how he had looked the first time that the two had met fully conscious- right down to the very same nightshirt flapping in the wind. But his purple cotton pants had been rolled up to his knees, and his usually haughty demeanor had been replaced with a haggard expression and empty hands.

“Love…” Anders allowed the single syllable to spill from his mouth before the two lovers splashed their way across the ten-foot divide between them. The cold waters of the coast licked their ankles with the passion that was missing from their embrace. Anders tucked his head into the crook of Miranda’s neck and shivered as two chilled hands locked into each other above the knot in his back. “I’ve missed you so much.”

“If only you knew…” Miranda set free an exhalation from the bottom of his lungs. A few of Anders’ eyelashes brushed past his neck as his eyes fluttered closed. “How am I here?”

“That’s not important.” Anders raised a hand to drag his fingers down Miranda’s bony spine. “Miranda, do you forgive me?”

Miranda pulled away from Anders with an incredulous look on his face. Their eyes met as he answered, “There’s nothing to forgive.”

“There’s plenty to forgive.” Anders rubbed the dark circles under his eyes, pulling in the taut skin and bringing some relief to his dry eyes. “For starters, I didn’t bother to give you a proper childhood, leaving you emotionally stunted and unable to comprehend many basic concepts of adulthood. It was selfish of me to want the first successful prototype of my revised version of humanity as my romantic partner, and I’m sorry.”

“I…” Miranda took a few steps back from the pitiful figure in front of him. The bottom of his foot slipped on the smooth surface of a rock, and he stumbled a few feet more before he regained his balance.

Something flickered in the corner of Anders’ eyes, and the only color in the entire scene- a single bead of scarlet- rolled down Anders’ cheek. “There’s more. Want me to go on?”

“No, love.”

Anders’ face lit up for a moment before fading again to his desolate state. He lifted his eyes above Miranda, following the path of a stray flock of birds inky and black against the sky. “My time here runs short.”

“Don’t make me say goodbye again.” Miranda’s fists clenched as the sun, absent until now, peeked out from behind a cloud and cast its rays upon the coast. The water around both of their ankles fizzed into golden streaks, all leading away from the coastline with shimmers. His chest contorted on the verge of tears of his own as Miranda added, “Please.”

“I’m sorry.” Anders reached a hand towards Miranda, and he reciprocated the action, but the air around them shattered right before their fingertips touched. Miranda was thrown back onto a sea of blankets, and Anders faded from view.

“Love!” Miranda thrashed about, fighting back whatever presence had thrown itself onto his chest, until the whitened ceiling came into view. The flickering rays of light from the window, divided by the creases in the curtain fabric, brought the new morning to the androgyne’s attention. It was a dream, idiot.

Miranda pushed himself up with shaking arms. Any sheets that hadn’t fallen to the floor in his struggle were crumpled at his feet and begging for attention. He reached for those at the foot of his bed and froze when the doorknob of his room jiggled.

“Good morning, Miranda.” Claude peeked her head in, acknowledging the mess around the bed with ever widening eyes. Her eyeliner was smudged, but not nearly enough to recreate the pitiful figure still lingering in Miranda’s mind. “It’s breakfast time.”

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