It had taken a couple weeks for Shawn to unpack all of his button-downs from Gus's vacuum space-bags. ("We need to save space, Shawn. My car is only so big, and your gum ball machine is already taking up half the backseat.") He'd worn each one out of the bag, washed them, and, load by load, introduced them to their new home.
Now, with his eyes turned toward Gus's ceiling, he wondered if his wardrobe would survive the night, or if Jules would throw open their closet, tear all of his clothes off their hangers, and set them on fire in the backyard.
After the wedding, Gus had cleared the couch for him. He'd piled his throw pillows on the floor and spread blankets over the cushions as Shawn had found the bathroom. He'd claimed Gus's spare toothbrush, avoiding his own face in the mirror, and stripped down to his boxer-briefs, waiting for Gus to retreat to his bedroom. He'd felt too large for the couch as soon as he'd crawled under the blankets.
On his back, Shawn blinked at the shades of black and gray that covered the room, following shadows from one wall to another. He squinted in the dark to read the clock on the mantel. Its sound filled the room. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. He shut his eyes, counting each hollow tick as he tried to draw a deep breath, to force it past the heavy, gnarled knot in his chest.
One. Two. Three. Four.
Five: number of giant chocolate chip cookies he'd seen Jules eat in a day.
Twelve: age when she broke her ankle.
Thirty-eight: nights they'd slept beside each other in the bed they bought together. Nights he'd woken up and silently catalogued the details of her face, her freckle patterns, her birthmarks. Nights he'd fallen asleep with an arm draped over her. Nights she'd wrapped her arms around his shoulders - her lips against his ear and her thighs against his hips - and pulled him close to her, into her. Nights when she'd wanted him.
Nights when she'd loved him.
He released a fractured breath and tried to push all the images out of his mind. He ground his head against his pillow, wondering if he could knock himself out, if Gus had a stash of sleep aids, anti-histamines - anything. He wondered if he should give up on sleep and go for a drive. Head north until the sun came up.
He wondered if Jules was awake, too.
He reached down and grabbed the corner of a throw pillow. Shifting onto his side, he hugged the pillow to his chest and squeezed. He lowered his head, drawing the pillow closer, holding tighter, before he hid his face and whispered into the fabric.