On bad days, when Dennis has transformed from himself into a coiled spring of pure rage, the only thing that helps is to restrain him. Mac would feel bad about slamming him to the ground, except the look on Dennis’s face as Mac pins his arms above his head is so peaceful, almost heart breaking. The ever present tension (and Mac can always tell when it’s building, feels it in the air days in advance) melts out of Dennis’s body. He closes his eyes, and his erratic breaths slow to steady pants.
They stay like this for so long, silence thick between them. It’s impossible to know what goes on inside Dennis’s head. Mac has tried for so long to figure it out. His friend’s eyes are so unreadable on the good days; on the bad days, when they’re cloudy, unfocused, and strange, the only thing Mac can see in them is a cry for help. When Dennis’s eyes close on the bad days, time stands still.
Later, Mac kisses Dennis’s wrists softly, to remind him that he’s there. The first time, he did it when Dennis had fallen asleep underneath him. Now he does it openly, because Dennis makes soft noises when Mac’s lips touch his skin. Sometimes his kisses leave bruises. Mac notices every time Dennis rubs them absentmindedly in the aftermath. It hurts, a little, when they fade.
When Mac’s arms finally tire out, he lets go of Dennis’s wrists. Dennis always whimpers, thinking he’s going to leave. Mac shushes him, and lies on top of Dennis, resting his face in the crook of his neck. His friend mumbles something about Mac smelling good, and Mac smiles. Dennis smells good too, like himself, like home.
Dennis always falls asleep first, steady breathing transforming into quiet snores. Mac could leave Dennis like this, take him to a bed, even, but can never bring himself to do it. Taking Dennis to bed is too much denial, and getting in bed with him isn’t enough. What they’re doing isn’t a mistake; it’s a secret. So, on the floor and amidst the inevitable rubble from Dennis’s breakdown, Mac falls asleep on top of Dennis. It’s not comfortable, but neither are any of the feelings that make Mac want this so much.
The moment is gone by the time they wake. They stand up awkwardly, brushing themselves off. There’s uncomfortable, noisy swallowing. Their eyes don’t meet. Dennis gives him a curt nod, says thanks, and Mac knows that’s his cue to leave. He goes to the living room and turns on the TV. Dennis shuts his door, and stays in his room for a long time. When he re-emerges, he’s showered and changed his clothes. He sits down next to Mac and asks him what he’s watching, and everything is back to normal.
Mac never asks what led to the meltdown. He isn’t sure Dennis himself even knows most of the time. Asking what goes wrong, trying to prevent it, might ruin their quiet moments together. In that isolated bubble of time, it’s ok for Mac to take what he wants, just a little.
He doesn’t pray for forgiveness. Mac is certain these moments are blessed.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” – Galatians 6:2