He wonders why it is so much easier to fall asleep behind his desk than in his own bed. He wonders how he can be so utterly exhausted that he practically has to pry his eyes open with his fingers to keep them from closing, and then the second his head hits the pillow he is wide awake, his mind racing along at a million miles a minute.
It is more than just unpleasant memories that does it. He never did sleep well, even before he became a cop. Before he got to see first hand the terrible, horrible things some people were capable of doing to each other. Before the first work-related nightmare came along.
The job does not help. He honestly could not say whether or not it makes his sleeping habits worse, however. He knows that sometimes he lays awake thinking about past victims, or their sick, twisted murderers. He knows that sometimes he wakes up in a cold sweat from a dream where he was the one being buried alive, or beaten to death, or strangled. Or worse, his partner was.
What he does not know, is whether this has made getting to sleep harder than it has always been. He does not think it does. He wonders, if it has not, if that is a good thing.
He wonders when he started to prefer falling asleep at his desk over a case to trying to sleep in his own bed. Or when sneaking into the office in the middle of the night to get some extra work done became the preferred alternative to tossing back in forth in bed, waiting for sleep that sometimes never came.
He knows that he sleeps best after a long, grueling case where he and the others have been run nearly ragged trying to solve it, no matter what else he may pretend in front of the rest of the team. He has been through enough sleepless nights by now that being tired has as much of an effect on his performance during a case as being hot or cold does-he will certainly complain about it, but when it counts it does not matter.
He knows he is not the only one who has trouble sleeping. They all do, though perhaps not with the same regularity as he. Gibbs copes by holing up in the basement, Abby parties. Ducky-he really has no idea about Ducky, but he has seen the dark circles under the eyes of the M.E. on more than a few occasions. He wonders if Kate has seen enough yet to experience those sleepless nights. If he were to guess, he would say she probably has
He yawns, growls at his mind for kicking into overdrive before he even made it to the bed, and gives up on trying to get any sleep tonight. He tries to decide whether he wants to wander aimlessly around the apartment for a little bit before trying again or to go in and get some work done.
He ends up popping a movie in instead and flopping onto the couch in the living room. He does not really feel like going over cold cases tonight. Not after the last one. Nearly a month has passed, and he still wonders if maybe it would have been better if he had not found something in that file that did not quite match up. He shudders at the memory and turns the volume up for him to actually hear what was being said.
He finally dozes off in time to catch a few hours of sleep before it is time to get ready for work. It is not a lot, but it is something, though he has not yet decided which is worse-no sleep or having to wake up after only a couple hours. At least with the former he is simply dead tired instead of worn out and groggy.
A shower, breakfast, and an hour later he is on his way to work, the dark shadows under his eyes the only outward testimony to his restless night. Gibbs will see it, and Abby. Ducky never misses things like that. Kate probably does not know him well enough to notice yet.
They will not comment. They know their line of work causes sleepless nights. They know it will not impede his ability to do his job. They know acknowledging his night vigil will not change a thing.
And if his sleeping difficulties are somewhat more frequent, more common than theirs it does not really matter. It is, after all, simply a part of life.
He can deal with that, even if he does not like it.
Disclaimer: NCIS is not mine.