Story: Radial: Unravel
Challenge: FOTD - Eurythmic; Fudge Ripple #22 - Foolishness
Word Count: 1,378
Summary: This time it's Milos's turn to have bad dreams, and Alex has no idea what he's supposed do about it...
Notes: This has been in my head for ages, it feels weird to try to write it. Also, I should probably try to make Alex an icon at some point...
The first time it happened, it took Alex by surprise. He lay with his arms folded behind his head, eyes locked on a ceiling he could make out every detail on despite the hour, and waited for sleep to claim him. At least, he assumed it would at some point, even if it didn’t feel like it right now. Beside him, Milos let out a soft moan as he rolled onto his back. Lucky bastard had dozed off hours ago, not that it was easy to tell from the way he tossed and turned, first stealing the quilt and then almost throwing it onto his increasingly irate bedmate.
The second moan caught his attention. He glanced across, half expecting to find that Milos was having some kind of wet dream—like hell he didn’t think like everyone else, no matter what he said—and instead found himself staring at glossy tracks trailing down the elf’s dark cheeks.
What the hell?
He’d shoved the sheets down at some point and the hitching of his chest was visible in the orange glow cast through the window, each breath he took ragged and loud. As Alex watched, fresh tears spilled down his face and the moans turned into mumbles, his mouth forming the words but the only recognisable sound coming out was a repeated “please, no”.
The stupid elf was having a nightmare.
Alex knew well enough that he had them: the best sign was usually waking up to find the quilt dumped on top of him and Milos so far across the bed his knees were hanging off it. But somehow he’d always had the good luck to sleep through them. Deciding that insomnia could go fuck itself, he rolled onto his side, reached out and gripped Milos’s farthest shoulder to give it a shake, pressing his arm across the elf‘s bare body in what he hoped was a comforting gesture.
He only narrowly missed the elbow flailed at his face.
The one thing he couldn’t miss, unfortunately, was the gasping cry of “get off me!” It was almost enough to make him think the elf had woken. Only a double-take made him realise his eyes were still tightly closed. The moans, the half-formed words, began to coalesce into pleas, entreaties, each one little more than a sob, phrases like “I’m sorry,” again and again, punctuated now and again by sharp cries of “no, don’t!” Then suddenly he was screaming, a godawful noise; how the fuck did his neighbours cope if these were the kind of nightmares he had?
Alex retreated hastily to his own side of the bed, as far from the elf as possible, and with the decreased proximity it seemed Milos’s nerves started to settle again. The screams lowered to sobs until finally they were barely audible and Alex felt him turn away again, pulling the quilt with him.
Only then did he risk a glance over his shoulder: Milos was curled in a foetal position, shoulders shaking.
Stupid elf. Couldn’t even keep his mouth shut when he slept. Rather than think more deeply about the contents of the dreams—not that it took much imagination to guess—Alex hunched over, drawing his knees to his chest, and through sheer force of will sent himself to sleep.
The second time it happened, it was no surprise whatsoever. He stared at the trembling body beside him and wondered just what he’d done to be stuck with this three days apart. Well, if he thought he was going to try to help him this time he’d got another thought coming; no one should be dodging flying limbs at stupid o’clock in the morning. At least he’d caught it early this time: the noises were quiet whimpers and, for once, the stupid elf was possessed of enough unconscious awareness that the back of his hand was pressed to his mouth, muffling the sounds.
The tears though... They were interesting, empirically speaking of course. He’d never seen Milos cry before. Not after that messy business with the broken arm, not after everything with that hefty elf-mongrel, not even when they’d first taken him in. He’d thought the elf had forgotten how.
Apparently he was just waiting until normal people were asleep until he shed them.
This time Alex tried to ignore him, closing his eyes and gritting his teeth: a tactic which only worked until the whimpers grew into cries and his trembling made the mattress shiver beneath them, rendering sleep completely impossible.
“Please, no...” Milos moaned, his breath catching audibly in his throat.
Oh god, not these again. He grudgingly opened his eyes again and watched Milos shift restlessly, the way his hands pulled at the sheets and then pushed them away again, how his heels dug into the mattress like he was trying to gain traction—if the stupid elf ever started sleepwalking, Alex decided he’d break both his legs for both their sanities—and decided that the best thing to do was get it over with as quickly as possible. He reached across, grabbed hold of Milos’s shoulder again and, before the elf could react, dragged him over onto his side, facing him. “Shhhh!”
Okay, so it wasn’t the most comforting noise he could make, but what did he expect?
What Alex didn’t expect was for Milos to press both hands against his chest, trying to push him away with more force than he’d credited the sleeping elf with. “No, leave me alone! No, please...”
God, he wouldn’t even shut up when he tried to wake him! He stared at him, from the red-eyed, tear streaked face to the hot hands pressed against his bare skin and wondered just what the fuck he was supposed to do now? Wait for him to smack him, he supposed, and it would be wholly his own fault.
“Why did you leave me?”
Alex froze. The words were mumbled but clear and his mouth was already half-open to reply when he realised that the body beneath his grip on the elf’s shoulder was shuddering again; he was still asleep, still crying, and these dreams weren’t the ones he was having before.
“I miss you...”
Alex thought back to the file, the photographs, the ages. No, not the same dreams: these ones were worse.
God, this was awkward. He didn’t have experience with this kind of thing, it wasn’t the sort of event he ran into often with his upbringing. He sighed and ignored the way Milos pushed at him again, then decided that if he was going to be a complete idiot, he might as well do so when no one else—particularly not the recipient—could see. Shifting his weight, he freed up the arm he’d been laying on and slid it beneath Milos’s head, hooking his uppermost arm under the elf’s shoulder and around his back and, grimacing to himself, pulled him closer.
For one moment the hands on his chest braced, a short, frightened whimper escaping Milos’s lips, and Alex wondered if he’d completely misjudged this... then the elf suddenly relaxed and allowed himself to be held close, burying his head between his hands against Alex’s chest to unleash a fresh wave of tears that put the other night to shame. Alex held him as his body shook, carefully running his fingers through the tangled blond mop of hair and wondered just what you did with five foot ten of naked, sobbing elf in your arms anyway?
Stupid, stupid idiot. Still, he’d started it, now he was stuck with him. And he realised it wasn’t so bad, as Milos’s sobs slowed to moans and then finally to silence, his soft, rhythmic breathing a pleasant sound after the previous excitement—and he used the word with as much sarcasm as he could muster, even as his own eyes began to fall closed. Milos was warm, even if the tears still drying on his chest weren’t, and if they woke up like that then he could blame it on being asleep, or blame it on him instead. Disavow all knowledge. Win/win.
The last thought he had, too fleeting to be quashed before sleep claimed him, was that actually, the sound and sensation of Milos’s breathing really was quite nice after all.