Billy couldn't help thinking of Pong as Charlie bounced from one board to another. He'd come home late after three weeks on the hunt expecting to find Charlie in bed. Instead Charlie was bouncing around the garage covered in chalk, his hair limp and dark circles under his eyes. Billy had been standing there for five minutes and still wasn't sure if Charlie had seen him.
Charlie whipped around, the chalk snapping between his fingers. "You're home?"
"Yes I am. When's the last time you slept?"
Charlie blinked. "What time is it?"
"What day is it?"
"It is very early on Friday morning."
"47.73 hours." Charlie replied then turned back to a board. He stared at it, erased a chunk of equation with his hand then started writing again.
"Don't you think maybe you should sleep?"
"Can't or won't?"
"Can't. I've got to... this... It's not right."
Billy slid quietly up behind Charlie and carefully wrapped his arms around him, not too tight but tight enough that Charlie had to drop his arms.
"Your brain is sleep deprived, Gorgeous. That's why it's not working."
Charlie whimpered. "I can't stop thinking."
Billy had been warned about this. Don had warned him, Alan had warned him, Larry had even warned him that there would be times when Charlie's brain would just go into overdrive, go a little haywire and at the end of the day there wasn't much anyone could do except maybe drug him and Charlie always refused.
"If you can't stop thinking then maybe you need to think about something other than math."
Billy kissed the back of Charlie's neck. "Give me two hours to try to shut down your brain and if it doesn't work you can come back here."
Charlie stared at his equation then tried to lift his arm to start writing again. Billy held him a little tighter. "Please, Baby. Trust me."
Charlie sagged against Billy's body. "Okay."
The first thing Billy did was drag them both upstairs and into the shower. He turned up the water so it was just verging on too hot. Billy thought maybe it was working. Charlie seemed placid enough then he followed Charlie's gaze to the drops running down the side of the tub. He put his hand over Charlie's eyes.
"I can still see them." Charlie whispered. "I know how they move and flow and merge, right down to the molecular level. I can…"
Billy kissed Charlie hard, demanding entry to his mouth, nipping at his lips. He kept going until Charlie groaned just a little. Billy pulled back. "Tell me one thing that has shut your brain down before?"
Charlie blinked twice. "When I was ten I didn't sleep for three days," His voice was flat. "So I took some of my mom's sleeping pills. I took too many and almost died. But my brain got quiet."
Now Billy knew why Charlie always refused any kind of sedative. "Okay." Billy turned off the shower and moved them both quickly into the bedroom. "Lay on your front. I want you to hold still, don't move but tell me exactly what is in your head even if it's going to go over mine. I want to hear all the numbers." Billy lowered his voice the way he usually did before they engaged in something kinky.
Charlie was very still for a moment then just nodded and began talking math. It instantly went over Billy's head. Charlie was usually pretty good about not rubbing his genius in anyone's face. If anything Billy always got the impression that Charlie was a little embarrassed by it, but what was coming out of Charlie's mouth was pure math. It wasn't even prose or concepts, just strings of numbers and Greek letters with the occasional 'of' or 'the'.
Billy started touching Charlie. It was how he was hoping to spend the night to begin with. He started with Charlie's feet. Not rubbing them, just stroking them softly but carefully so as not to tickle. As he stroked his knuckles across Charlie's arches for just a flash of a second the numbers faltered so Billy did it again and again for at least five minutes. Then Billy kept going, slowly working his way up Charlie's body. Any spot that made the numbers glitch out he paid extra attention to, stroking it over and over. He must have stroked just the small of Charlie's back for twenty minutes listening to the stream of numbers start to slow and falter.
Then finally, like slowly creeping up on prey, Billy worked his fingers into Charlie's hair and began to rub his head. The numbers slowed and were broken up by the occasional soft sigh. Billy glanced at the clock. He had been petting Charlie for 93 minutes. His voice was faltering and his whole body was limp, melting into the bed. His words were becoming mumbles and with a soft breath they stopped. And with a second breath Charlie was asleep.
Billy let out a long breath of his own but it had been three weeks since he'd had his hands in Charlie's hair so he kept stroking Charlie for another hour, just to make sure he slept.