Paul's eyes flickered open, staring into nothing but darkness. He shifted, one hand sliding out across the covers for... who? Who was he waiting for? He knew that he was waiting for someone but... no names, no faces came to mind. That was strange. Suddenly more awake, but not completely, he rolled onto his back, awake enough to realise that something must have made him that way. Normally he either couldn't sleep at all and as a result he'd smoke and drink his way through the mornings - whether it be tea, coffee, or something stronger - or he'd fall into such a deep sleep that it was hard to wake him at all. The drugs did that. Come down off of crank or crack and your body didn't want to do anything but sleep... so then why was he awake now? The amount of cocaine he'd consumed before yesterday's gig should have been enough to keep him out until at least this afternoon...
He pushed himself up so he could see the glowing numbers of his clock. 5:01 a.m. So what the hell? Groaning softly and rubbing his fingers over his forehead where he could feel the beginnings of what would be a very serious hangover if he let himself stay awake much longer. He was about to collapse back onto the pillows again when something flashed in front of the numbers of the clock; 5:02. His heart leapt into his throat and he froze, not wanting to move, listening hard... he knew the floor in his room – how much noise it made when you were trying to be quiet. He knew that no human-sized thing would be able to move that quietly across the only light in the room like that. Maybe... a rat or something? He knew he was lying to himself though. In the silence of the house at this hour he would be able to hear even the smallest of rodents rummaging around in the darkness.
After several moment of complete silence and no other strange happenings, however, he calmed down, shoulders relaxing, a very soft breath flowing out of his nose. He hadn't realised he'd been holding it. His eyes were starting to adjust now – that was a comfort, but he knew he was too awake to fall back to sleep. Bloody hell. His mind was probably playing tricks on him. No wonder with everything that had happened in the last few days.
He'd isolated himself as much as he could after finding Chris's letter (God, how he wished it hadn't been a suicide note, a letter asking for forgiveness, even that it hadn't taken so fucking long to find it...). Barry had tried to get close to him after they played yesterday's show, and Paul had tolerated it, even thought he might want that affection that Barry very rarely showed so sincerely. The boy's fingers actually curling around Paul's hand for the several seconds it took for Paul to find it hard to breathe, and he had to stand up and leave the room. It was too much. He had to get out of this downspiral, but once, when Chris died, had been enough. He wasn't so sure he could do it again, but he knew he had too... That was the hardest part. It was just that everything... everything he'd built between himself and that terrible night had been broken down and torn away.
Sighing softly, he pushed the covers off of himself, scrounged around in the dark for the gig clothes he'd cast off before falling into bed in exhaustion, and pulled a fag out of his pack, placing it between his lips. His head was already throbbing dully and he wouldn't be surprised if he spent the better part of the morning kneeling on the bathroom floor. Some water would help. Maybe he could escape that unpleasantness this time, if he was lucky. He lit a match, and his eyes scanned the room in the half-second it took for light to fill the room, flicking, casting shadows. The flame was extinguished in a second though, with a jerk of his arm, the quick sound escaping his throat scaring him, if possible, even more, because in that last moment before the light was gone, leaving the room even darker after seeing it illuminated, Paul had, without a doubt seen liner-ringed eyes, dead, hollow, heroin-addled fixed on him from the corner.
Paul wasn't breathing. He was fairly certain his heart wasn't beating as he dropped to the ground to find his matchbook because he'd dropped it along with the match, because he sure as hell wasn't going to venture over there to flick on the overhead light. His hand hit the cardboard and he heard it spiral away across the wood. Fuck it, he flew across the room, slamming the side of his hand into the switch and the room was flooded with light, half blinding him, but of course, nothing... Chris would have been less than three feet from him if he had really been there. Still Paul wheeled around and took in the room, through squinted eyes. The pain in his head jarred him, stabbing at the backs of his eyes, but he didn't care.
He wasn't sure if he was disappointed or relieved. Fuck he had to get a handle on himself. He was going to drive himself insane if he kept thinking like this. He took a breath, his eyes roving over the room once more before falling on his matchbook which had almost hit the opposite wall. He retrieved it, realized the fag he had in his mouth wasn't burning. He lit up, inhaling deeply and calmed down enough to realise he was being stupid.
Still, his walk from his room to the kitchen for water was certainly more hurried than usual. He didn't let his eyes wander. He downed the water from the tap, tapped his ash in the sink and stepped outside. The fresh air would help to clear his head and maybe get rid of the throbbing that was spreading back to his temples; God knew he needed it.
He finished his cigarette, then lit another one. By the time he was done, taking his time, the sky was beginning to lighten to grey. Another comfort. He could almost laugh at himself now... but certainly not enough to tell anyone about it. He tried to recall if he'd seen things like that after Chris's death but he couldn't remember. He'd blocked so many of those days from his memory.
In the kitchen at 5:30 in the morning Paul made himself some coffee and he was starting to feel better. A little jittery maybe, from the drugs, the nicotine and the caffeine and the fact that he hadn't had food in his system for almost a day and a half.
He made it through 'til that evening with little mishap except Nick's poking and prying, and that didn't last long anyway. Paul wasn't so easy to crack. Barry was distant from him until supper was over, but when Paul caught his eyes and smiled at him Barry and Tom were sitting beside him in less than five minutes, dealing cards, laughing. He was forgiven for weakening, for failing them and almost forgiven for not telling them what was going on. It was something like old times - a little more cautious. But, Paul thought, it was just a letter. He would put it away somewhere where he wouldn't keep seeing it. He knew he couldn't bring himself to throw it out. By eleven, Paul's headache hadn't left and he headed up to bed early. Barry's eyes followed him as he stood, but then looked down at the cards he was stacking... like Chris... Chris used to stack the dishes when they—stop it.
Paul could feel Tom's eyes on him as he left the room... Tom wasn't a stupid boy.
He hit the overhead light in his room and left it on as he closed the door and pulled his clothes off. He wanted a shower, but not tonight. He had been on the verge of nausea all day and the thought of standing up for even another ten minutes wasn't appealing. Finally he flicked the light out and climbed into bed. The sheets were cold and he curled up under them, feeling a vague panic... he could not be frightened of the dark... he couldn't keep thinking about Chris. He hadn't seen him this morning. It had been a trick of the light – the flame flashing off something – reflecting...
FuckfuckFUCK. He knew he was awake and he knew it was still the middle of the night before he even opened his eyes... he wouldn't open them... He buried deeper under the covers, but he knew that sleep wasn't going to be an option. Shouldn't have gone to bed so early. With an annoyed sigh directed at only himself Paul blinked himself into wakefulness and stared at his ceiling. It wasn't overcast tonight. The moon lit his room a little. He felt a cool calm wash over him and he rolled onto his side – oh, no.
Chris was lying next to him, his hair wet, sticking to his face, far too fucking pale and oh shit, oh shit, water dripping from his eyelashes, rolling down over his face like tears as he gazed into Paul's eyes. That was the worst part. He looked so normal. Like he'd just woken up and was reaching out to touch Paul's face... and fuck he did and his hand was freezing and wet and his clothes clung to him – his shirt sleeve dripping and twisted around his arm and Paul couldn't look away or make a noise. He couldn't even fucking move.
Chris said something – lips moving but nothing coming out. "Paul," Paul understood, "Paul, Paul..." but there were more words... what, Chris? What?
Chris's chest expanded in a sigh and then he let it out, water spilling from his mouth and Paul shut his eyes and jolted back.
Jolt. He shot up into a sitting position, but Chris wasn't there... it had been a dream, thank God.
He touched his face and felt a sickening jolt in his stomach because it was wet, but no... No. This wasn't the cold water of the Reservoir...