There it was again.
Hank didn't have to strain his oversensitive ears; he was only a room away and could clearly hear that Alex was once again wrapped up in a familiar nightmare. It had taken a few days for Hank to figure out the pattern, but tonight he was prepared.
On unnaturally silent paws, Hank made his way swiftly into Alex's room. Alex was tossing restlessly, fighting a remembered foe. The dream escalated rapidly, but this time Hank was ready.
Alex gasped, sat upright and flung his right arm out. Before the cry of "Hank!" fell silent on his lips, Hank encircled Alex's forearm in his blue paw and cried, "I've got you!"
It was not the response Alex's overtaxed mind was used to. Alex's fingers clutched convulsively at the fur on Hank's arm. "Hank," he repeated, but this time he was looking for assurance, not rescue.
"I won't let you fall, Alex," Hank responded. Blue eyes looked into yellow, and Hank was relieved to see sense beginning to overcome fear.
Alex gulped a deep breath. His left hand absently pressed into the mattress and gathered up the blankets. He scanned the familiar room in the dim light. But he didn't release his hold on Hank.
Hank wanted to give Alex the time he needed to get settled but the silence made him uncomfortable. He'd been so pleased with himself when he realized that Azazel was haunting Alex's dreams and figured out that the best way to intervene was to do what he hand in real life – stop the fall. But now that he reached out to help Hank felt at a loss for what to do next; he was better with machines than people.
Alex used Hank's steady grip as a lever and pulled himself up out of the bed, but he was shaky and quickly sat back down on the edge of the mattress. Hank quickly sat beside him to discourage getting up again too soon.
Alex took a deep breath, "You didn't let me fall." Alex tipped his chin slightly in Hank's direction and he didn't seem inclined to pull his arm away from where it rested on their laps.
This time it was Hank whose grip tightened unconsciously. "I won't…ever."
"Thanks Hank," Alex said softly into the darkness between them. He leaned a little against Hank's left shoulder.
Hank didn't fight the grin on his face as he pushed back, "You're welcome."
The silence that remained wasn't uncomfortable at all.