1) Things you said at 1am
The city lights outside their flat’s window glimmered softly in the distance. On the lower bunk, Nine was softly massaging his temples, his fingers digging in when the dregs of his migraine twinged through his brain. His eyes remained shut.
Outside, Twelve turned off his bike and took the stairs two at a time. He slid into the flat, and shut the door quietly behind him. The window of the flat had no curtains. Perhaps it was time to invest in some.
He padded over to where Nine was sitting up, eyes closed, fingers on his forehead. Nine’s hair was sleep-ruffled when he had left, but now it looked like he had been carding his fingers through it. In frustration? Like he did when he couldn’t figure out how to hack into a system, when some part of their plan didn’t make sense. When his perfectionist tendencies got the worst of him. In pain? When he sweat through the night, whimpered in his sleep, sometimes fainted while walking in the sun. When he woke up screaming, when even the prescription grade pain killers that Twelve had stolen from a hospital couldn’t help him. When his iron levels had stopped increasing, leaving him always anaemic, always pale, always tired. When he-
“Twelve?” He whispered into the cool darkness of the room. Cool, because Twelve had insisted on an air conditioner, cool because he knew that the relationship between smothering Tokyo heat and Nine’s migraines was a directly proportional one.
We don’t have the money for frivolous expenditures, Nine had declared, vein twitching in his forehead.
It’s not frivolous if it keeps you safe, it’s not frivolous if it keeps you alive and comfortable. Twelve wanted to argue. But.
They only had so much time on their hands, and he was always more a man of action. Off he went with one of their cloned credit cards and bought them (nine, nine, only nine) a unit. Installed it when Nine was off somewhere figuring something out that he wasn’t telling Twelve (life insurance policies, for when he passed and so Twelve would have enough, like he hadn’t accidentally left the papers lying around).
The moon outside. The street lamps. The distant city lights. They filtered in and Twelve. Stood there. Their bunk bed, the bottom bunk he had refused to share until Nine turned the AC on and then Twelve slid in happily, like a cat, and curled up around Nine. His eyelashes, long enough to brush against the swell of his cheekbones, the shadows on his face- a trick of the light, the others exhaustion. His neck was bent, face still pointed towards the floor, hands raised to his head, still massaging, trying to get the soreness out. In his suffering, even in his creased bed clothes and the shorts he had hundred percent stolen from Twelve in his sleepiness, in the way that the light illuminated his body. The measured-ness of his fingers, the crackling sound his neck made he tilted his head towards Twelve and stared at him through half-lidded eyes.
What would I do without you.
Twelve took a deep breath. “I got you, well, a lot of aspirin. Turmeric? Peppermint? There was an old lady there who said that sniffing ginger does wonders for headaches.” He had forged a scrip for some opiates. They were in the bottom of the bag. He wouldn’t tell Nine about it. He couldn’t, because then he’d have to listen to him rant about “what if you get caught?” and “this will be over before it begins if you get caught!” and “how could you be so reckless?”
On and on around the mulberry bush they went, as if Twelve wasn’t hiding behind the bushes, praying to the gods that he somewhat believed in.
It’s not reckless if it’s for you. I won’t get caught, because you’ll get me out and erase any records. I don’t care, if it ends before it begins, if you’re in pain. I don’t care if it begins if you’re. Not there.
Nine looked up at him. Eyes still half-lidded, face still twitching. The shining beam of a helicopter shone through their room and Nine shut his eyes on instinct. Twelve’s breath caught in his chest.
“So, uh, pick your poison?” He walked over to Nine and stood in front of him. “I got you gatorade. It might help.” He held the plastic bag out to Nine and continued to stand in front of him. Not next to him. Not till they got new curtains. Could they get curtains at this time of the night? Could he just newspaper the window and then figure it out tomorrow?
Nine took a sharp breath. “Just ibuprofen please. The peppermint is… too much, right now. Maybe tomorrow.” Twelve reached in and found the bottle, popped a few of them in Nine’s hand. With another, he opened the bottle of gatorade, and held on to it.
“Open wide.” And Nine drank from it, silently. Eyes still shut. Not looking at Twelve. If he looked, he might see. If he looked, he’ll know. He can’t know.
He placed the pill bottle and the gatorade on the floor. Nine stayed sitting up. Eyes still shut.
Don’t look at me. You’ll know how worried I am about you and. You might stop telling me.
“I. Twelve. Thank you. I’m sorry.” Nine’s breath hitched and Twelve’s fingers flew to his forehead. Massaging the soreness away. “You didn’t have to go out at night to get me meds.”
Take the pain away. Make him better.
“Just don’t want you to be useless tomorrow, you know?” Nine could never be useless, not in Twelve’s mind, not in his heart.
The corners of Nine’s lips twitched and his head sagged a little bit into Twelve’s hands.
“Ah, Twelve.” Nine breathed out, in the boneless way he sometimes did after sex, after they were sweaty but still clinging on to each other, scared to separate. He opened his bleary eyes. His unfocused gaze drifted across the darkness of the room and locked onto Twelve’s. “You take such good care of me.”
Twelve’s thumb smoothed Nine’s brows, to seal the exhaustion away in his fingertips, to steal it all, to somehow leech his pain away and share his own good health with him.