Kevin slept like a rock. As soon as his eyelids shut, they stitched together, and nothing short of a good eight hours of sleep could rouse him from slumber. The meds he’d just started exacerbated the fact that it took a stampeding marching band to pull him back up once he went under.
But some nights went awry.
Some nights, a gentle hand on his shoulder was all it took to wake him, and some nights, that gentle hand accompanied a harsh whisper in his ear.
“Babe, I think someone’s in the house.”
He gasped as he bolted straight up in bed, his body breaking out into a cold sweat, the burnt smell of the heater replacing the normal fragrance of coffee he’d grown accustomed to waking up to. When he reached a blind hand under his pillow for the gun he’d spent years sleeping with, he came up empty. He had no choice but to sleep without it now, but the reach had become instinct, muscle memory. Though his years in the army meant he didn’t need fire power to be lethal.
“Did you hear that?” Troy asked from beside him.
Kevin shook his head to get his bearings. He threw off the covers and climbed out of bed, sliding feet into flimsy slippers and his arms into the light robe he’d tossed on a nearby chair the night before. He felt Troy following him to the door as he tied the belt around his middle to secure the robe in place. With an ear pressed to knotted oak, he waited….
Silence, nothing but the sound of blood rushing through his veins and shallow breathes.
“I don’t hear anything,” Kevin whispered, but as soon as he spoke, a thud sounded from somewhere on the other side. “Okay, that I heard.” He went for the knob and gave it a twist, pulling it ajar just enough so that he could peek out into the darkened hallway.
Silence… then another thud. But that could’ve been his heart beating a wild cadence on his ribcage.
“Do you want me to go first?” Troy asked, his sarcastic wit unappreciated by Kevin considering the circumstances.
He gave a scoff in reply. Troy could handle himself, but Kevin had trained his whole life for situations like this.
Kevin took a few deep breaths then stepped out into the hall, comforted by the feel of his husband’s warm presence behind him and armed only with his own strength and cunning. He knew better than to worry. As long as he had Troy with him, he knew he’d always be safe.
They proceeded down the hall to the staircase where Kevin took a careful look over the banister to survey what he could of the first floor. The bulbs from outside cast just enough light through the windows for him to make out the furnishings in the darkened room. He witnessed no signs of life until the thud came once more from a far window.
At least they hadn’t made it in yet.
He shot a look to Troy and received a silent nod of support to continue. He felt Troy’s hand on his back as they started down the stairs, fingers twisted in fabric, and he relished the contact. Adrenaline coursed through him, but Troy always had a way a calming his nerves.
Not a day had gone by since they met that he didn’t draw upon the strength his husband instilled in him, and in everyone they knew, to get him through the worst of things. Troy became an eternal refuge from all his fears and doubts, and Kevin didn’t know what he’d ever do without him.
As if to remind him of the task at hand, he heard the mysterious sound again, but as they drew closer to the window, it became clear by the shadows dancing on the glass that the source belonged to a tree limb that grated against the outside wall.
“Well, don’t I feel like an idiot,” Troy said, a squeaky laugh accompanying his admission and doing wonders to mask his obvious embarrassment. “Frightened by the wind.”
Kevin found it all too endearing. “Your secret’s safe with me, darling… you know, there are advantages to be had from intruding trees waking us up in the middle of the night.”
Troy’s playful smile turned sultry in a flash, his voice a syrupy melody as he replied, “What kind of advantages exactly?”
Just as Kevin started to reach for him to offer a demonstration, a voice interrupted them. “Mr. O’Connor, what are you doing out of your room at this hour?”
“Troy heard a noise,” he said, turning around to find an orderly barreling toward them. He looked back to where Troy had stood, but his husband had disappeared.
Kevin’s eyes darted around the room in search of him before reality exploded in him like a frag grenade ripping through his chest. That night came flooding back: the crash, the sirens, the body. The blood. His heart began to ache and his stomach churned as acid bubbled up into his throat. He felt dizzy and confused, and all he wanted to do was find Troy.
The orderly let out a heavy sigh when he reached him. “Another rough night, I see… come on, let’s get you back to bed.” Kevin stayed silent as the burly man took his arm and began to lead him up the stairs to where the patients slept.
He feared Troy had gone for the night, but when they got back to his room, he saw his husband sitting in the window with his back to them as he looked out into the night. Kevin kept his eyes on him–a smoky silhouette distorting the moonlight–indifferent to the orderly tightening the straps on his wrists and ankles. He knew the routine; it went smoother when he didn’t fight back.
“You keep getting me in trouble,” Kevin chided as soon as the orderly left them alone.
Troy turned and smiled at him. “You know I’ve always had a thing for seeing you tied up.”
Kevin closed his eyes and let his head fall back against the pillow, though he couldn’t help but smile when he felt the bed dip beside him and the faint chill of lips ghost along his neck. “I love you.”
“I love you too,” Troy said before his voice dropped to a whisper. “Now, about those… advantages….”
Okay, so I might’ve cheated with this one because I wrote this for a creative writing class, but I tweaked it and expanded on it, and now I really want to continue it.
Anyway, onwards and upwards!