There are a number of well-established and more or less accepted theories on why humans dream. Freud coined the term "daily residue" and posited that dreams were a kind of wish fulfillment. It's a theory that holds water. After all, a lot of people have dreams about the things they want most but are unable to attain in their waking life.
Another theory is that dreams serve a sort of problem-solving function, allowing the mind to work through its issues and often ending with the dreamer arriving at some kind of solution. Because of the hint of precognition in this theory, it's been largely discredited as the psychic disease becomes more and more a verifiable mental illness. In fact, some psychologists cite problem-solving dreams as a symptom of the psychic disease.
Dreams are also said to be the mind's way of sorting and processing long-term memory, are the result of random brain activity and everything else in between. The accuracy of the theory largely depends on the dreamer, it seems.
Jack Runner has his own theory of dreaming, which he applies only to himself, since he doesn't know anyone else whose dreams are as odd as his. Dreams, he believes, are his mind's way of fucking with him.
He thinks about that theory as he looks up at the charcoal grey sky and watches the rain turn to feathers. He doesn't expect to feel them caressing his shoulders, his chest, his back and his thighs, but he does and realizes that he has gone from walking fully clothed though a cold rain to walking naked in a fall of soft feathers.
It's a pleasant sensation; it's gentle and sweetly erotic. It reminds him of the angel he once loved. For a moment, he gives in to the illusion. He feels Azrael's lips on his, but when he reaches out to pull Azrael closer, there's nothing there.
Jack opens his eyes just in time to see the drift of feathers turn into blades. He dives for cover through a doorway that hadn't been there a second ago.
The space he finds himself in is small, much smaller than he had expected. The he notices that it's full of clothes. He pulls a shoe out from under his ass. "Very fucking funny," he mutters.
He can't get out of the closet. There's no back door, and the rain of knives is coming down harder. He crouches in the dark, drumming his fingers on his chin and wondering just what the hell is going on. He feels the distinct hand of outside influence, and he's not amused.
"Whatever you are, you better get out of my head," Jack says. "Now. Before I do something unpleasant."
A tiny faerie appears on Jack's shoulder. "Oh, pooh," she says. "You're no fun. Lighten up a little, Jack."
"This isn't my idea of fun."
"Right. Your idea of fun involves a bottle or two of whiskey and lots of time alone. That's just not healthy, Jack."
Jack plucks the faerie off his shoulder.
"Ow! Not by the wings, asshole!"
"Sorry." He drops her into his palm. She stands up, brushes herself off and puts her hands on her hips. "Okay. Now will you let me get back to my regularly scheduled fucked up nightmares?"
"No. I can't. I'm not the one in control. I'm as much a figment of your rather odd imagination as the rest of this."
"If you were a figment of my imagination, you'd be a scantily clad boy faerie instead of a scantily clad girl faerie. Is that a skull on your thong?"
The faerie grins. "It is." She lifts her filmy black dress to better show off the skull design on her black thong. "And what makes you think I'm not a boy faerie?"
Jack sighs and glances out the door. The knives have stopped falling. The ground is littered with feathers and gleaming blades. It has begun to rain again, but Jack isn't sure that what's falling from the sky is water.
The faerie giggles. "It's the kind that warms up when you rub it."
"This is the worst dream I think I've ever had. And it had so much potential to be a good dream for a change."
The faerie snickers again. She puts her hand demurely over her mouth when Jack glares at her.
"If you're not the one doing this, who is?"
"I'm not at liberty to say."
He clenches his fist around her. She yelps and struggles to free herself. "How about now?"
"It's a trickster. That's all I know. There are so many of them. It's not a big one. Just a little one. I don't even know if it has a name."
"Can you take me to it?"
"Not if you squeeze me to death!"
Jack opens his hand. The faerie shakes herself, and then she kicks his nose. He snarls at her.
"Asshole," she says. "This is the last time I take an assignment in your head."
"Fine with me."
"Get dressed. You can't go out there naked."
"Why not? Who's gonna see me?"
"Well, you have to put on shoes at the very least, or you'll cut your feet to ribbons. You'll look silly with just shoes on."
"Whatever." Jack stands up and starts going through the clothes hanging in the closet. Then he stops. "Um ..."
"These are all women's clothes."
"You really expect me to put on women's clothes?"
"You've done it before, haven't you?"
"That was for an undercover job. And I didn't enjoy it."
Jack's cheeks burn. He grits his teeth and picks a slinky red dress that seems to fit him too well. He slips his feet into a pair of red pumps, which also fit suspiciously well, and steps out of the closet.
He finds himself stepping onto a dance floor. The faerie giggles and vanishes before he can snatch her off his shoulder. He growls under his breath and wonders if Dr. Carmichael can tweak his computer so he doesn't dream any more.
The ballroom is empty except for a man standing in front of the bandstand. He taps his foot in time to music that Jack can't hear. He's dressed in a tuxedo, complete with tails, and he has large white wings arcing gracefully from his broad shoulders.
Jack takes a few steps forward. The winged man turns around and smiles. Jack sees both Azrael and Sam in the man's face, and there are occasional flashes of someone he doesn't recognize. The man glides forward, wraps his right arm around Jack's waist and takes Jack's hand in his left. Jack tries to get away.
"You look beautiful," the man says.
"Let go of me and get the fuck out of my head. This isn't funny," Jack says.
The man doesn't act like he hears Jack at all. "Dance with me."
"I can't dance. Especially not in a goddamn dress."
The invisible band starts up. The winged man whirls Jack towards the center of the dance floor. When Jack looks down to find his feet, he finds instead that the ground is a very long way away. His mystery partner puts a curled finger under Jack's chin and tilts his head up. Jack can almost see through the disguise the trickster wears, but the disguise is much more captivating.
"Don't look down, Jack," the trickster says.
"What do you want from me?"
"Nothing. To dance. That's all. You don't get to do this again, and you're wasting time."
"What the fuck does that mean?"
Before Jack can protest that fact, the trickster kisses him, first with Azrael's mouth, then with Sam's, then with an unfamiliar one. "I still don't want to wear a dress," Jack says a long, breathless moment later.
The dress and the pumps vanish. So does the trickster's tux. Jack leans in for another kiss and plunges his fingers into the soft white wings.
"Jack? Are you gonna sleep all day?" Sam asks.
Jack groans and turns to face the clock on the nightstand. It's almost noon. He pulls the blankets over his head. "Might as well," he mumbles.
"And pass up coffee?"
Jack sits up quickly. "Coffee?"
"I went down to the Ark. Here."
Jack reaches out to take the cup from Sam, and a slender white feather tumbles from his hand.