It was the nightmare. I'd had the damned thing multiple times, a couple of times a year since the original event happened.
In the nightmare, I was going to be too late.
In the nightmare, I wasn't going to save Jer.
Usually, if Jer is in bed, some part of me realises that it's a nightmare. Or Jer, sensing my distress, holds me tightly which helps. The scene plays out as it really happened. Jericho is seriously hurt but alive.
Real Jericho wasn't in bed so in the dream I dive past Chuck and wrap my arms around Jericho.
I do know it's a nightmare. In the nightmare, I also know that he's dying, I hadn't been fast enough to save him.
"No!" I howl to the world as I hold Jericho close. He's about to breathe his last. He's going to die.
The nightmare changes in a way that it has never done before. Jer doesn't stop breathing while I hold him. Instead, Jericho's eyes open. Those beautiful blue eyes look deep into mine. "Thank you, Sam. You saved me."
"Pop? Are you okay?"
I blinked, trying to clear the shreds of the nightmare from my mind. "What are you doing, Goby?"
Jericho was just returning and paused by the door.
"You were having a very bad dream, Pop. I came to fix it. I did fix it, didn't I?"
I blinked and glanced at Jericho before looking back at Goby. "You changed my dream?" He nodded solemnly. "Yes, you did fix it. But how?"
"Goby? Thank you," I told him as he turned to go back to bed.
"I'm glad it worked," he replied.
Jericho got back in bed. "Jer? What happened?" I really wanted an explanation now, not later.
The next morning dawned and Jericho slipped out of bed early to make breakfast. The smell of waffles filled the boat and soon we were all eating.
"So, love, about last night?" I started.
"Sam, remember I told you that all Striders have magic? That's how Goby controlled water when he was still a toddler?"
"Goby, you and Seahorse and Anemone are Striders. Being a Strider means you have magic. You've had at least some control over water since you were small, though you haven't used it much lately. I think it's because you've been growing up too far away from salt water. Living here, with sea all around us, should help with that." Jericho took a deep breath and paused for a moment. "What you did last night was Dreamwalking. It's a very rare type of magic. It has the potential to be very powerful as well. You changed your father's nightmare, yes?"
"Yes, I did."
He shrugged. "Dunno, Pop. I could tell you were having a nightmare. When I touched you, I could see what you were seeing. I knew how to take control and change it."
"I don't know much about Dreamwalking. As I said, it's rare. It's certainly the only Strider power I know of that can do what Goby did last night, change someone's dream. I've heard tales that more powerful Dreamwalkers can enter the sphere of dreams either in spirit or in flesh. And some Dreamwalkers can even force others to the sphere of dreams. A Dreamwalker can always leave, but those they force into dreams can't. You could lock someone in their own dreams or nightmares forever. There is an old old Strider tale of an evil Dreamwalker who did just that to a number of people."
I shuddered at the thought of being trapped in that nightmare. Always finding Jericho dying.
"Monica," replied Jericho gently. "You might have magic too. You are half Strider, after all. And Goby's magic doesn't require water."
Monica looked at me. "Pop, do you think so?"
"Sorry, kiddo, but that's strictly his department," I replied pointing at Jericho. "If your father says you might have magic, I'll agree with him. I come with a 100% guarantee of no magic."
"That's not true and you know it, Sammy. You were touched by magic from the moment we bonded. I know that you've experienced magic since then."
While the jury was still out on Jer's promise of an extremely long life, we did share emotions and intense physical feelings. After that attack, I helped Jer heal. I nodded slowly, "You are right, there is magic in our bond."
"Dad, what's bonded? I thought you were married," asked Monica.
"It was after that, I told Jericho that I still thought we should marry. To make our union legally binding on land," I said quietly. "Married is a lot easier to explain. But the bond means we'll never part." I glanced at my watch. "Damn, I have to move it and so do you two."
"If you have any more questions, I'll do my best to answer. I'm not an expert on all things Strider, and no one is an expert on a family of half-bloods. We just have to wing it." Jericho said to all of us as we prepared to leave.