I'm trying to make do the best I can with FP formatting problem. Once it's corrected I'll reformat. But for now, just enjoy the first chapter of this 2-shot.
Often,I wake up afraid.
Often, I wake up striking out at an attacker, defending myself.
Often, I wake up in tears.
Often, I wake up alone, having forced myself from a nightmare.
But, often, often, I wake up to a face hovering above my own, the difference in expression so drastic that it forces me from my bed to the floor.
Instead of anger, disgust and hatred there's only concern, wariness and quite a bit of frustration. "Again?"
I can't answer, not that he expects one, still far too unsettled and panicked to respond. A moment passes and I force calm on to myself and apologize to my roommate, my brother, for having woken him again.
He's back in bed before I can bother to make him do so myself and not long after I return to my own his breathing slows.
I watch him, envious of his ability to sleep so easily, to dream of things that don't frighten him, to look so much like me and not be plagued by my problems.
"Kole?" Perhaps, he isn't as sleep as I believed.
"What do you dream about?" he questions in the same sleepy tone, almost absently. "Maybe if you talked about it, it'd help stop them."
I lay, tensed from the moment the question left his lips, images, startlingly clear images bombarding my mind. "Ah, I don't know," I lie, my voice wide awake but no more than a whisper. "It's never really clear, just... disturbing."
A long time passes after I answer him and sigh in relief, thinking he's drifted off to sleep, finally.
"Kole?" he turns slowly to face my side of the room, more asleep than awake. "I'll listen, when you're ready."
I never could lie to him.
"Cameron! Kole! Breakfast!"
We trudge out of our bedroom in rumpled pajamas and with ruffled hair, Cameron's from oversleeping to compensate for stolen time last night, mine from hours of fruitless tossing. Yawning simultaneously as we enter the kitchen, our mom pecks us on the head as we take our seats for our traditional Saturday morning family breakfast. Today it's pancakes, turkey bacon, and fried eggs.
Cam perks up at the sight of food, as per usual, and immediately begins drowning every thing on his plate in syrup, making me snort, despite my exhaustion.
He grins as mom chides him, going on about him destroying all her hard work, while doing the same a few moments later.
I take my turn with the syrup last, using a significantly smaller amount before cutting into my pancakes with my fork and taking slow, tired bites.
Maybe I should just pour them a glass of syrup every Saturday morning. It'd be quicker.
Sure, it wouldn't be very healthy, but with the amount they ingest anyway, there wouldn't be much difference.
People only use my full name when I'm in trouble so it snaps me to attention. More than half of my food is already gone, none of which I remember eating. Mom and Cam are watching me worriedly, exchanging a conspiring glance when I rub a hand over my face. "Sorry, what?"
"I asked if you had any plans for the weekend, kid." she props an elbow on the table, resting her head on a fist. Her eyes are like a hawk, tracking my every movement. "Are you still not sleeping well?"
Cameron holds my gaze when I glance to him, his eyes telling me that he'll tell if I don't, so I shrug and mutter, "it's not so bad anymore."
"Really? You look like hell froze over. Cameron?"
"You look like crap, Kole." He's just upset I woke him.
I yawn and thank him with a light punch on the arm. "M'fine mom. Could use a few more minutes of sleep but nothing serious."
She watches me intently for a few moments, as if trying to figure out if I'm lying or not. "So, going out today?"
"No, think I'll just hang out here and relax. Don't do that, you look old," I tell her when she purses her lips at me, which makes her frown and harrumph and ignore me. Score.
"Well, how about you Cammy?"
Cam whines a bit at the nickname but says, "We're going to see a movie, maybe hang around downtown for a while."
The 'we' he referred to being him and his friends, not me and him.
I relax a bit, knowing that he'll be gone for the day and freeze. Glancing up, I find his gaze on me, watching me with suspicion and I quickly shove half a pancake into my mouth.
"Kole, chew your food properly."
Mom leaves shortly after breakfast, having an afternoon shift at the diner she works at and Cam retreats into the living to watch TV before he leaves.
I head back to our room to lie down and hopefully get in some dreamless sleep.
I do the most mundane things I can think of mentally, everything but think about the subject of my nightmares. I count sheep, do the multiplication tables in my head, imagine watching grass grow.
It makes me drowsy, sure, but doesn't quite put me to sle...
Again, I wind up on the floor. I lay there for a long while, eyes clamped shut, trying to get myself together so I won't wind up crying. The room is quiet, still, as I pry an eye open to glance at my watch.
A bitter laugh that quickly turns into a sob forces its way past my lips. It's only been half an hour since I came in here – I couldn't have been asleep for more than ten minutes, fifteen tops.
A sudden intake of air stops me from kicking the closest thing to me.
"Cameron," I sit up quickly to find him sitting on his bed, watching me with blank eyes. "Cameron," he breathes his own name again.
"What're you-" I begin but the next words from his mouth shut me up as I scramble to sit on my bed, mirroring his cross-legged position.
His whispers stretch across our otherwise silent room and suddenly, he's on his feet. He stops a few steps away from my bed, not that there was much room between them to begin with, and says, "Cameron, don't! I'm sorry! Cameron, please!"
I'm frozen, petrified as he reaches for my face. I realize I've been crying only once he swipes his hand gently along the trail of tears on my cheek.
"Cameron... Cameron... Cameron... Always my name, always me. Right Kolton?" He turns to leave but pauses before he shuts the door, "I'd mention that you talk in your sleep but you don't – you scream."
I don't go back to sleep once he's gone.
I've all but barricaded myself in my mothers room, having wedged myself into a corner the moment I could. I'm still there when my mother gets home, screaming as she spots me.
"Oh god, Kolton, you nearly gave me a heart attack. What's wrong, what happened?" I've had the habit of cramming myself into small spaces when something upset me since I was a child, so her questions aren't baseless, but I shake my head anyway. "Not ready to talk?" I shake my head once more, trying to shrink in upon myself. I'd never be ready to talk, not about this. "I brought home some food if you're hungry."
I don't bother answering her this time so, she simply sighs and kisses me atop my head before heading to eat dinner.
Sunday morning dawns, finding me crammed into the closet.
I never liked irony.
I haven't slept a wink since yesterday afternoon and I already know, today is going to be difficult.
I used to always be out with my friends, was on the community youth soccer team, always moving, always busy.
But, once my nightmares started and I started losing sleep, I started falling asleep everywhere. In class, on the bus, during practice, I'd suddenly find myself being shaken awake my teammates and friends.
Since then, I dropped my friends and soccer and adjusted to running on less sleep.
Hours later, mom locates me and drags me to eat, going on about starving myself and other things.
Cameron isn't at the table.
I've resumed my efforts, this time in the corner of the hallway. It's better this way. This way, there are no nightmares. And there probably won't be any when I eventually pass out from lack of sleep either.
Except, Cam keeps staring at me when he passes by, and he passes by often, on purpose.
I try to ignore him, but, as usual, I'm hypersensitive to his presence.
"Kole? Kole, wake up. Goddammit, stop fighting me! Kole!"
I force myself awake, not remembering having falling asleep, to find my brother hovering over me something between panic and more frustration on his face.
"Cam? What're – why? Get off of -"
He ignores me and pulls me into a hug. "What was I supposed to do? What, Kolton? I come home and you're just lying there in the middle of the floor!"
He's right, we're barely six steps from our bedroom door. He must have literally tripped over me when he came in the room.
"You think I don't know what you're doing? Kolton, you think I don't know you don't go back to sleep at night?"
"Cameron, can't breath."
He releases his death-grip on me slightly and hauls both of us to our feet. "Kole, is this... is this because you're gay?"
I try to pull out of his grasp but he just maneuvers us until he has me trapped on my bed. He goes on speaking but I don't hear any of it.
Maybe it's the fear, maybe it's the adrenaline, maybe it's the lack of sleep; I don't know what it is but it makes me surge forward, upward, reach for him and press my lips to his. His mouth is warm, dry and soft but unresponsive under mine. Regardless, it still feels like a little bit of heaven.