When Henry can’t sleep, it feels like his entire body is on fire. He feels pins and needles in the soles of his feet, his legs itch, his flesh crawls, his heart is beating against his chest like a jackhammer and he can’t fucking breathe. But then again, when can he breathe? He’s been awake for hours, too many to count, and he’s on the living room sofa of their apartment. His right hand is empty, his fingers are twisting and turning over each other and he doesn’t think he’ll ever get over that absent feeling, that soothing warmth where a cigarette should be. He is cold and distant now, and when he can’t sleep, he often thinks that maybe cigarettes were the only things that made him likeable at all. They talk about him, now, like he doesn’t exist. Like he’s already gone. They told everyone that he’d be like this, distant, reclusive, that he’d turn in on himself like the edges of a piece of paper set on fire. That he needed time. That he needed support. That he needed love and patience and god, he needed people to deal with all the shit he would put them through because this kind of thing makes people go crazy.
He used to watch “Cops” for fun, as a joke, but now he watches it because that’s the only thing on at four in the morning. He wants sleep, he begs for it, he prays for. Usually silently but there are moments when he chokes on his own tongue and finds himself whining out, hands over his eyes, for something, anything, to turn him off for a split fucking second. He’d tired of being awake, he’d tired of thinking thinking thinking. Because thinking is all too easy when you haven’t got time to do anything else.
He knows Tim is in the bedroom, probably curled up on top of the blankets, fetal and on edge. Henry hasn’t seen him take a deep breath in months. He hates himself for making him this way, constantly wary, ready to leap up and literally any moment, to swing into action. There is no such thing as relaxation in their house anymore. Except, maybe, for the deep sleep that their little, snoring dog, Franny, seems to find in the most inopportune times. There is a deep-seated fear that Henry could break at any moment, and no one is sure whether they’re more concerned about the physical or psychotic kind. Henry doesn’t dare peek into the bedroom to catch a glimpse of the sleeping man, afraid that the door’s sliver of light could catch him and wake him from the sleep he needs.
It is Tim who peeks in on Henry. Too often, it seems as if Tim is constantly worried that he’ll look into the other room and Henry will be gone, disappeared into thin air like smoke. Tonight is no different, and the bedroom door pulls open to reveal a sleepy, muzzy headed Tim in the doorway, squinting into the darkened living room. He whispers, under his breath, “Baby…” and pads towards Henry, kneeling down beside his face. He kisses him wordlessly on the forehead and Henry flinches. It is affectionate, careful, but Henry knows he’s checking for a fever. Tim finds his hand and intertwines their fingers carefully, and Henry looks up enough to see that Tim’s eyes are wet. Always wet. Fuck.
“I love you.” Henry whispers through chapped lips and Tim smiles, a small, tight lipped smile, and squeezes Henry’s hand. He says he knows. And then he asks if Henry wants him to read to him, and Henry nods a yes. And Tim does, and his voice is small, cool, collected. And he has always had a way about him. Henry will forever have a fire inside, raging, burning, ready to swallow him whole, and Tim will always have a way about him. A way that quells the flames, pushes them far enough back for Henry to catch a breath.