Erik was at a loss of what to do.
It wasn't at all often times that this was the case.
The mop of sleek, straw-coloured hair, usually very still feign for the steady rise and fall suggesting sleep, was now a restless, tumultuous feathered mess sprawled all over the sleeping sparrow's pillow. Erik stood witness to the event, slowly pouring himself a cup of coffee; Samuel, if he was awake, would add that it was becoming to Erik's seventh cup that night, and that Erik now bordered on completely dependent. Erik shivered a little as he recalled the time he tried to introduce the wondrous, roasted bean to his boyfriend. Who knew that something with such high caffeine content could have such a devastatingly de-stimulating effect on a person?
Samuel continued to sleep, and Erik continued to gaze over him, and the clock behind them on wall continued to tick on softly, as always. Erik's brow creased, his grip on the cup tightening in his hands. His observational eyes roamed the figure below him. Something did not quite correlate. A lot, in fact, did not quite correlate. Erik, all creepiness aside, had picked up on a few common threads and habits his boyfriend had when he slept, two of three major normalities currently not evident in the scene before him.
One. Samuel found a comfortable position, and stuck to it.
Oh, and when he stuck to it, he stuck to it. If Samuel happened to think that the crook of your elbow was a great place to plant his big fat sleeping face on whilst you were trying desperately to write your history paper due the next morning, then he had no compunction about overstaying his welcome right then and there. There was almost no moving him – quite a light and lithe boy in the small awake hours of his existence, Samuel has mastered the uncanny ability to leaden himself down as he if he were nailed to the ground in his subconscious state. Real nice, that.
Two. Warm and squishy were his prompts, even in the most unlikely of places.
Jumpers, beanbags, scarves, grass, pencil-cases, stacks of books, window panes, and Samuel's personal favourite - Erik's stomach - everything under-the-sun had been a victim to Sleeping Samuel's sedated cheek. Erik once found Samuel had seized reign over Erik's own dog to rest his head upon. Poor mutt.
Three. Samuel never stirs.
This, in fact, is true. Erik often likes to tell people around him that he believes the boy could sleep through an earthquake without a peep. As worrying and almost admirable as that is, Erik counters the balance of the two with his tendency to wake up relatively easily, thus eliminating the chances of such a danger when the two of them are together. Needless to say, Erik does worry during their separation (this, he won't readily admit to).
The list of observations continues, right down unto Samuel's preferred sleeping side, his left-cheek, to the constant and slow rate of his breathing, indicating whether he is having a dream or not, to the slight throaty moan Samuel makes just about seven and a half seconds before he is about to wake up. Erik mentally check listed each as he watched over the boy each time, and yet this time, he was thrown off completely.
Erik was at a loss of what to do.
Samuel was tensing and tossing and turning. Upon Erik's summon out onto the steps in the biting, four-in-the-morning air, he had foolishly forgotten to close to door. A simple task, yet with quite implicit consequences when overlooked. It wasn't until after Jay's bitter confession that Erik had seen his love-lost friend down the street before making his way wearily back inside to a warmth of his own, shutting out the wintery night with a clink behind him. Erik sighed as he realised his mistake upon five seconds of his arrival back inside – no room in the house was void of the chill that had seeped its way throughout the quarters and was now overhanging their heads, compressing their shoulders like a thick, inescapable cloud. Erik rubbed the back of his neck wearily, pouring himself a new hot pot of steaming coffee. In passing across the living room in getting back from the kitchen, Erik discovered Samuel's sleeping form sprawled out across the floor next to the couch where the boy was previously napping. Erik almost laughed at the sight, before the chill of the air around him reminded him that the grounded, shirtless boy below him was likely somewhat close to freezing to death. Erik hastily placed his cup down, pushed his black frames further up the bridge of his nose with his index finger relatively calmly before fully orientating into panic mode.
Samuel never writhed like the way he was now. And not only that, but he barely ever spoke in his sleep (well, at least nothing coherent anyway). He was far too much of a deep sleeper for that. But now Erik stood witness to his boyfriend acting intensely unusually for a boy normally extremely placid and relaxed, in either a conscious state or not. The chain of events sent cogs winding and gears clicking into place somewhere deep within Erik's mind; electrical impulses acted courier as they sped along the highways of his thoughts; in a fraction of a fraction of a snap, Erik formed the bitter conclusion, leaving his logical mind in no doubt that something was wrong. Something was very wrong; and Erik had no idea the means of which to go about it.
It was that god for saken door and the cold that followed through it. It all must have started something. A gust of wind, or perhaps a gale must have blown through momentarily, although Erik didn't remember feeling a gale – it must have been that Samuel rolled over off the couch and onto the floor himself, and was now trying to communicate his coldness to Erik through his sleep. That must be it. That must be-
A singular, resonating syllable travelled through the sleeping boy's lips, making its way through the space between them and striking a note throughout the air before soundly burrowing itself deep within the busily working mind of Erik, seamlessly interrupting all thoughts at once.
And then it was-
And then Erik was leaning towards the sleeping figure, elbows locked and palms digging into the carpet as he peered from down his black glasses and down the bridge of his nose to the boy lying beneath him, dumbfounded, trying to catch every syllable conjured from his lips. What on earth was he-
"Stupid, stupid boy. Come back, stupid..."
Erik froze. And waited. And watched. Until finally –
"Don't... forget your...mmphh...stupid...mmm...baseball...card..."
In the empty spaces between Samuel's voice, Erik felt his own breath become far too loud as he became far too conscious of everything around him. The air around him didn't stir, but Erik felt an uncomfortable heat flush from the palms of his hands, and he struggled between the choice of running away or gripping Samuel's shoulders to force him to spit out the remaining words from his mouth; of which option he chose neither, but instead to stay, knees and palms digging into the carpet, to watch over Samuel despite the frightening words he uttered causing Erik's eyes to squeeze shut and his hands to tighten and his urge to simultaneously hold onto Samuel and save him pain by walking away from him even more strong. Erik was frozen; and certain images were rising from the buried content of his memories. Samuel's voice wasn't cynical enough – he wished it were cynical, truly cynical, yet he knew Samuel wasn't capable of such a thing. It was far too clear, and much too precise, and so perfectly levelled, and so painfully calm, ordered, genuine, soft, syrupy, warm, everything ironic in the contrast in his words, everything Erik wished he had the ability to be, yet didn't want to hear now. Not when it was those words he was hearing. Not this time.
Samuel's quietly agnostic tone reverberated around the room once more, before the boy's voice fell limp, and his tightened fists softened, and his expression wilted, and the shadows under his eyes seemed to intensify in their darkness. His eyes remained closed.
All fell silent, save for the raspy breath of Erik clinging onto the sleeping boy's wrist a little painfully tight as the boy slowly awoke, groaning the transition from asleep to awake as his eyes opened and he blinked up at the blue hair and the black glasses and the deeply pained eyes watching over him. He raised himself up and, falling himself back down against the foot of the couch, seemed content enough with his placement. Erik's strong gaze caught Samuel shivering a little but trying to conceal it by gripping his hand just above his elbow a little too tightly, and he sunk down level to the foot of the couch to graze his side against his boyfriend, sharing warmth between them. Erik felt a little collection grace his senses amongst the chill as he removed his shirt and began forcing it upon his boyfriend, to which the latter resisted. Erik laughed; Samuel scowled, and threw the shirt somewhere which Erik would probably stumble upon in a few days and, in finding, think back to this very moment.
"I dreamt about you."
It was a simple statement enough, but the complexities behind it left Erik speechless. There seemed nothing left to do then aside from running away, but Erik was getting a little more than tired of that. Knowing that he would be unable to face up to himself once more if he did anything but otherwise, Erik formed his contention, swallowed it down slowly and assuredly, and turned to face Samuel, laying his hand faintly on the other's wrist.
"I think we have a long overdue conversation."
Samuel snorted, contrived, but smiled a little, relaxed.
"I always thought you were more of a thinker than a talker."
Samuel was rubbing the salt in now, but he smiled nonetheless, and Erik smiled, too.
"I guess sometimes one has to voice their thoughts."
Samuel's palm unfolded and fell lax from his wrist, Erik taking ample opportunity to swiftly claim it as his own, stealing each of the other boy's fingers in turn.
"It'll hurt to talk about it."
A fact. Samuel's mouth twisted in anxiety. Erik brushed it aside with his lips, saving the thought for later. His hand traced from Samuel's palm to his shoulder and his lips to his neck, and in between the kisses found the words he needed, yet those that he needn't have spoken. Fear remained. But when did it ever leave? Erik touched it, and let it touch him back, before it left him save for the wispery remains, the bulk anticipation dissipating off his shoulder like a cloud.
Out of the dark and the cold and the bite of a buried memory, a promise was born.