Some of Pete's bad days can't be fixed with extra affection. Gabe knows that. Brain chemistry is a complex and baffling thing that he can't do anything about, even in his most arrogant Cobra-spouting state of bravado. Those days, he makes himself hold back to just being quiet and being there.
Today's mood, though, feels more like storm clouds than the Big Dark Sadness. He suspects an argument with Ashlee about Bronx-time, a parking ticket, or Tumblr being broken.
"Hey, Wentzlet," he says, tossing his backpack down and bending to kiss the top of Pete's head over the back of the couch. "You look cozy."
"Not really," Pete mutters, glaring at the TV. "My head's fucking killing me."
"Did you take anything for it?"
Pete shifts his glare to Gabe. "Don't tell me what to do."
That's a no, then. "I'm gonna make tea, you want any?"
Gabe goes the kitchen and puts the kettle on. He brought a happy little blue enamel teakettle with him when he moved in, and Pete drew a smiley face on its side in Sharpie one night when they stayed up until three AM reminiscing and bullshitting. It makes him feel good every time he sees it, and he likes to think some of that energy settles into the water, too.
While the water's heating, he gets out the bottle of ibuprofen and fills a glass with cold water from the filter in the fridge. He takes those to the living room and sets them on the table in front of Pete.
"I didn't ask for--" Pete says, but Gabe keeps moving, heading back into the kitchen and getting the teabags out. He hums to himself while he waits for the kettle to whistle, pitching the sound just loud enough for Pete to hear without reaching the point where Pete could claim it was keeping him from hearing the TV.
When he comes back and sits down at the far end of the couch, the water glass is empty and Pete's slowly rubbing circles over his temples. "You want me to do that?" Gabe asks, his voice light and casual. No big deal. Pete's free to say no without any guilt.
Pete glances at him, unsure and shadowy. "You don't mind?"
Pete scoots down the couch and leans into him. The stiffness in his body only lasts a minute before he sags against Gabe's side. Gabe expected as much. Pete is eternally touch-starved and craving. He sets his tea aside and shifts to get his arm around Pete, his fingers rubbing slowly at the tension in Pete's neck.
"That's not my head," Pete mumbles.
"Gonna start here and work my way up, if that's all right." Pete doesn't say anything, so Gabe keeps going, slowly working the knots of out of his neck before moving up to rub his scalp in slow, careful strokes. Pete sighs softly, a little huff of air that sounds like it hurts coming out.
"You don't have to talk about it," Gabe says quietly, scratching his fingernails gently along the shape of Pete's skull.
Gabe kisses the top of his head again, letting his arms slide down and wrap around Pete, holding him close. "Love you, you little hooligan."
"I'm still too grumpy for cute nicknames," Pete says, but Gabe can hear the smile in his voice.