A/N: I don't own Bare. This is a two part story (second part is already written) about the times in Peter's life when he couldn't fall asleep. Please read and review.
There had been four previous instances in Peter's life when he found himself unable to fall asleep. When this occurred he would spend the entire night tossing and turning but he still was unable to find a comfortable position. He would just lie in bed and watch the sun as it slowly crept over the horizon and beamed in through his window.
The first time it happened was when Peter was four. It was the night before his first day of Kindergarten and no matter what he did the little child could not convince himself to sleep. He wrapped his arms around Bubba, his stuffed dog, and shut his eyes so tightly that it almost hurt. A few seconds later he opened his eyes to find that he wasn't in dreamland; he was still awake in his room.
"Sleep." He told Bubba as he rubbed the furry head, "We need to sleep."
"Peter?" A muffled voice called as a light came on outside his room. Peter immediately through the sheet over his head. The door opened illuminating part of the room; Peter lifted one corner of his sheet and saw a tall shadow step into his room. He couldn't believe that there was a burglar in his house and that the person knew his name. "Peter, where are you?"
"Mommy?" Peter asked as he uncovered himself, "Are you the burglar?"
"What are you talking about honey? And why are you hiding?" Claire asked as she sat down next to her son on his bed.
"I heard someone call my name and I thought it was someone breaking into the house so I wanted to hide so they didn't steal me or Bubba. He would get really lonely if I went missing and left him here." Claire smiled at her son and pulled him onto her lap.
"Don't worry honey no one is going to take you from here. I thought I could hear you and I wanted to see if you were still up. Do you have any idea what time it is?" she asked him and Peter shook his head, "Well it's nearly one in the morning. You have to be up in five hours to get ready for school. Can you try and get some sleep?"
"I've been trying Mommy, but I can't. Neither can Bubba…we both keep trying but we can't." Peter hugged his dog to his chest.
"Well, just keep trying, I'm going to go…" she began but the child cut her off.
"Where's Daddy?" he asked gazing up at her with his sweet brown eyes.
"He had to work late, I'm sure he'll be home soon." Claire didn't know if she was saying that last part to comfort the child or herself.
"Okay. Goodnight Mommy." Peter waited for his mom to leave the room before he tried to drift off again. Once again he was unsuccessful. He squirmed around for a few minutes before kicking off his blankets and climbing out of bed.
As quietly as he could Peter took off his Power Rangers pajamas and pulled on the outfit his mother had put out for him to wear. When Peter was fully dressed he walked over to his backpack and began to triple check that everything was in its proper pocket. Finally Peter grabbed his stuffed dog, kissed him and laid him down between his folder and crayon box.
Peter then climbed back into bed with his eyes wide open until Claire came in two hours later to wake him up.
When Peter had just turned eight he knew something was going on with his family. His mother had spent several nights at her friend Sarah's house and the next day she would come home crying and kissing Peter's father as she apologized for being a bad wife. He shrugged her off and told her to make them dinner because he sure as hell wouldn't do it.
"There's all this stuff about homos in the paper today. Something about a fag disease, looks likes God is finally punishing those fudge packers."
"Paul, don't talk like that at the table please." Claire said as she pulled a box of pasta from the pantry.
"Why the hell shouldn't I Claire?" he grumbled as he turned the page of his newspaper frowning.
"I just don't think it's a topic to discuss in front of the children." At the mention of their existence Peter and his five year old sister exchanged a look before immediately returning to watching the television.
"They'll find out about this stuff anyways Claire, if not from us then at school, there's no point in sheltering them. Peter?" his head snapped up, "Do you know what a homosexual is?" Peter swallowed hard and cleared his throat.
"It's a person who likes a person who is the same as them." Peter answered nervously
"That's right, and do you know what happens to those fuckers?" Paul asked without looking up from the paper.
"No…" Peter glanced around the kitchen hoping that the answer was posted somewhere in the room.
"This happens to them." Paul shoved the newspaper in Peter's face and he quickly turned away trying to shield himself from the image. "Look Damnit!" he yelled as he yanked Peter's hand away from his eyes. The picture that Peter saw was something he had never imagined could be possible. The person he was staring at no longer looked like a human, he still had eyes, a nose and a mouth but his face was covered in sores. Long, blistering, dark imperfections crowded the man's face. Peter instantly felt sick to his stomach. There was a before picture of the man, he was laughing and petting a Golden Retriever, even in the black and white photograph Peter could see that his eyes shone with life. When Peter looked back at the other picture the man's eyes had become jaded and tired, he was living but nothing more than a walking corpse. The caption read: James Ridding a thirty year old homosexual man was diagnosed with GRID (Gay-related immune deficiency ) in 1981 and re-diagnosed with AIDS in 1983 might soon be facing the end of his life.
"Paul! Stop it!" Claire yelled as she snatched the paper away from Peter who had gone pale and numb.
"Don't tell me how to raise my kids Claire!" he yelled and snatched the paper back from her grip and handed it down to Peter. "I want him to read the entire damn thing. You and I are going to go have a talk in the living room."
Peter sat still and unable to move. In the next room he heard his mother and father shouting. Single sentences from their fight came flooding in through the walls.
"…fuck you, what do you know?"
"…can't scare him straight…."
All the time Peter read silently. Suddenly the kitchen door flew open and Peter's dad came storming in. Claire quickly followed, her face distorted and painful tears streaming from her eyes.
"No. Please. No." she begged as she held onto his shirt.
"Get off me." He yelled as he pushed her away, she just ran after him as he fled up the stairs. Peter and Grace looked at each other not entirely sure of what they should do. Almost instantly the two came flying back into the room. Paul was holding his briefcase that sloppily had a shirt hanging out the side.
"Claire, I told you it's over. I'm not going to sit around here waiting for you to realize that Nuestro niño es un maricon." Both Claire and Paul looked at Peter who was torn as to what he should do. When they normally fought he pretended like he couldn't hear, but this time he swore they were fighting about him.
"Please don't go. We'll get counseling…or something…" she sobbed and tried to hug him but he shoved her away so hard she tumbled to the ground.
"Fuck it Claire, I'm leaving for good this time." Everyone sat in shock and silence until the front door slammed bringing Claire back into the reality that her kids had just witnessed everything.
"Don't worry, he's just going to hang out with some friends, he'll be back in the morning. Are you two tired? Goodness, it's nearly eight, why don't you two go to bed." Peter and his sister pushed themselves away from the table, plates never filled, stomachs growling and went to bed. Light was still illuminating the summer air.
Even after it had gotten dark Peter realized that it wasn't going to be easy to fall asleep. Images of the man flashed through Peter's head – James Ridding – he had a name. That was what bothered Peter the most. Not the fact that the man's house had been vandalized, his dog killed and that he had been beaten up twice; it was the idea that he had a name. A name meant someone had given birth to him, loved him and raised him. Peter thought of his own mom. He pictured her finding out that Peter himself had contracted a disease and was going to die. Would she still care?
The article said that James' lover died two months earlier to the same disease. The fact he had lived this long was a miracle. There was nobody in his room; no cards on his bedside table. Did people really just stop loving him? Surely someone…his mother, distant cousin, kindergarten teacher…cared enough to write the dying man a note or to send him flowers.
The picture wouldn't escape Peter's thoughts. Every time he closed his eyes to sleep a sad looking man appeared. He was lonely, forgotten and out casted. His family and friends had left him to die a painful and lonely death. His only salvation was that anything had to be better than the hell he was living.
At four in the morning Peter heard a soft knock on his door. Small hands pushed it open and Grace waddled into his room.
"Hi Peter." She said as she saw her brother was awake.
"Grace, you should be asleep."
"I can't." she said and for the first time Peter noticed the tears marks that stained her innocent face.
"How about you try and sleep in my bed. I'll hold you tight like Mom does when you have a nightmare and I won't let go until you wake up." Grace didn't say anything but climbed in bed with Peter and nuzzled her way against his body.
"Peter?" she asked as she tilted her head back to look at him, "Last night we forgot to sing Happy Birthday to you."
"It's okay." Peter said as his arms tightened around his sister and she slowly drifted off to sleep. She was protected in the arms of her older brother.