It had been a long day. It had felt twice longer because it had also been awfully demanding. Lots of waiting, then re-shooting the scenes over and over and over again. So now, when it was 3am, Robert had all the reasons in the world to ignore his phone that was ringing on the bedside table.
A few hours ago, when he finally got the chance to go to sleep, he had practically collapsed to bed. He usually muted his phone at night but apparently he had forgot it.
The phone kept demanding his attention and he started to feel rather irritated. Then he came up with the plan of ignoring the call, muting the phone, taking a better position and falling back asleep in a minute. But when he reached for the phone and checked the caller ID he knew he couldn’t ignore this call.
"Mark?" Robert asked.
Something in Mark's voice was wrong. He sounded sleepy, sure, but there was more than that.
"What's going on?" Robert asked.
Mark sounded like he was struggling to get the words out of his mouth. People who used a strained voice like that were usually in tears or in pain.
Robert sat up, feeling not sleepy at all. The long silence at the other end of the line made him feel a little nervous.
"You still there?" Robert asked. He didn’t want to worry but couldn’t really help himself.
Mark's voice was just as calm and friendly as always but there was a hint of confusion in it.
"I shouldn't have called," Mark continued. "I'm sorry I woke you up."
"No, no. Mark. Talk to me. Tell me what's wrong."
Again, there was a long, dead silence. Every passing second made Robert grip his phone tighter.
"Would you like me to come over?" Robert asked. He needed to hear Mark say something.
More than that, he knew he couldn't get back to sleep anyway. If Mark asked him to, he would go. No question about it.
"Uh... Could you?"
Mark's voice was no more than a whimper.
"I'll be right there.”
Robert had never been slow in his movements but now he was like a mercury. Putting on his t-shirt, the jeans (his favourite pair) and sneakers, he ran out of the door.
The air was warm and the night was quiet. The sand crunched under his shoes. Other than that, Robert only heard a lonely bird singing. It was probably looking for his mate. Robert knocked on the door of Mark's trailer but stepped inside without waiting for an answer.
Mark was on his bed, curled up into a ball. He looked very small and fragile. When Robert sat on the edge of his bed, Mark didn't turn to look at him. Robert could hear Mark's teeth clattering. Putting a hand on his shoulder, he asked:
"Are you hurt?"
Robert looked around. He saw a bottle of painkillers next to Mark's bed. It was half empty.
“The meds are not working?” Robert asked.
Robert swallowed before speaking, his voice very serious:
"Do you think we should go to a hospital?
“No,” Mark said, shaking his head. His movements were small and slow.
Robert felt helpless. If even the medication didn't work, he had no idea how he could make Mark feel any better.
“It's all right,” Mark said, waking Robert from his thoughts.
Robert turned to look at Mark who had turned to face him. Mark's smile, so full of warmth and empathy, made Robert’s heart beat a little faster. The way Mark made him feel was like magic.
“Is there anything I can do for you? Anything at all?” Robert asked, practically begging for Mark to give him something concrete to do.
Mark didn't answer. Robert felt useless. Mark had called him for help. He should know how to handle this. When nothing else came to his mind, Robert laid down next to his friend. Putting his arm around Mark's shoulders he hold him tightly against his chest.
Mark buried his face against Robert's shoulder. He squeezed his eyes shut and breathed heavily. Robert tried to calm him down by murmuring comforting words to his ear. Words his mother had whispered to him when he had been a child, afraid of nightmares and monsters under his bed.
At some point Mark loosened his grip but still kept his face buried on Robert's shoulder. Robert rubbed his back soothingly.
“How’re you feeli-- No, scratch that. Do you feel more or less okay than you were when you called me?”
“Mostly I’m just tired.”
“Ok. Well, get some sleep then.”
Mark didn’t say anything.
“I’m not leaving if that’s what you’re worried about,” Robert said. “Unless you want me to. But even then I probably won’t because I don't think you should be alone right now.”
Mark's smile was so grateful Robert felt a little ashamed. He loved to have Mark around. In fact, he could probably move in with him and live happily ever after. He was ridiculously happy every time he was around Mark, working or otherwise.
Mark laid himself down, still moving slowly. He closed his eyes and sighed.
“I’m sorry if I’m being a trouble…” Mark mumbled.
“You never could be,” Robert cut him out.
“But I’m glad you’re here. Thank you.”
“Shut. Up. And go to sleep.”
Mark fell silent with a smile on his face.
Robert was sure Mark had fallen asleep when he stood up to go to the bathroom. But Mark stopped him, grabbing him by the wrist, without even opening his eyes.
Robert squeezed his hand slightly and whispered:
“Still here. Just sleep now.”
When Robert came back, he noticed Mark watching him intently.
“I told you I'd stay. Are you scared or something?” Robert asked, smirking.
“No,” Mark said in a serious tone. “Not now when you are here.”
Then he closed his eyes again.
After a couple of hours of sleep Mark woke up — and felt much better. He smelled toast and coffee: Robert had made them breakfast.
“Morning, sunshine,” Robert greeted him. “Feeling better?”
“Much better, thank you.”
Mark barely ate but kept company to Robert.
“We spent a night in the same trailer," Robert said. Then he winked and sipped his orange juice. “People might talk.”
Mark huffed a laugh.
“But hey, I won’t mind,” Robert said, standing up. “Now, I’ll have to go and get a shower. They’ll be pissed if I come to the set unprepared.”
“Yes, of course.”
“You think you’ll be able to do your scenes today?”
“I’ll sure try.”
“I know you will,” Robert said, giving Mark an encouraging smile. “See you.”
Robert was out of the door before Mark could say another word.