The sound of the clock on the wall was infuriating him. The most frustrating part is that he doesn't even know why. Hypervigilance being one of his many defects caused by the nightmare of his childhood would be his first guess.
Always looking for patterns around him, looking for danger where there never was. Cataloging everyone in a room subconsciously so there's no possibility of being caught off guard. Another downfall to having said hyperawareness is that he can't shut it off when he needs to sleep. One of his biggest conundrums.
He's been getting less and less sleep as of late which wasn't helping his cause at all. His night terrors were becoming more— well… terrifying. That's why it's in the name he supposes.
His hands were trembling worse than usual to the point that he could barely hold his scotch without spilling the amber liquid all over the floor and his hands. He usually doesn't try to drown his sorrows in alcohol like his mother but in this case he really needed something to take the edge off.
His face has been bleached of most of its color other than the stark splotch of pink where his mother had slapped him not three hours ago.
His throat was still tight with emotion from the altercation, eyes brimmed with anxious tears that don't fall, shock still coursing through him like a livewire. Could his mother really have known about the murders? Was she aware of his father drugging him? Did she… could she have helped…?
He was so sure before, but now doubt started to leak through. Why was he doubting now?
Logically, her actions could've been seen as defensive, suspicious, but now the more irrational part of him feels the stinging in the side of his face and makes him want to back away from the insinuations. He shakes his head slowly. He's just being stupid.
"I don't need you to love me, Malcolm. I just need you alive." Her parting words echo in the oppressing silence of his loft. He's a horrible son. How could he be so harsh to his mother like that. He completely disregarded her feelings all because he needed answers for his trivial bad dreams. He's not surprised she slapped him.
She also stopped him from going back to the psychiatric facility.
He's not allowed to see his father anymore who— as much as it pains him to admit— he needs for his casework. That's all. Can't she understand that he needs the information to save lives? That's all that matters, no matter the cost to himself.
He can handle it.
He did it before and he's fine.
He's ̶n̶o̶t̶ fine
If he can't talk to his father then he can't solve any cases and Gil will have to fire him just like the FBI did and then he wouldn't know what to do with himself because solving these cases is all he has, he's— if he can't solve cases without the help of his father what does that make him? What use does he have?
No, he won't stop seeing him. He can't.
He couldn't sleep now. Not with the adrenaline still pumping through him. He hates how long it takes for it to alleviate. Sometimes it's even days before his fight or flight response finally shuts down from its own exhaustion.
He's getting sweaty all the sudden from his low blood sugar so he rips his suit jacket from his shoulders and yanks on his tie. A sigh of relief escapes him at the removal of the noose that's been around his neck all day. His fingers fumble to unbutton his shirt, by the time he gets halfway down, his hands are too shaky to finish the rest. He tries to get toggle the last three but his lack of coordination just frustrates him further.
He rips the shirt open the rest of the way and the last buttons fly off and clatter on the floor. His mother bought him this shirt. Looks like he's ruined another thing with her.
His mouth goes dry and he tries to take another swig of his scotch, but his hands have started trembling so hard he can't even safely bring it to his lips.
Frustration culminates and bursts within him and he throws it at a wall. It shatters in a burst of glass and alcohol on contact. He runs a shaky hand through his hair roughly. His eyes catch on the red inked bandages wrapped around his hand.
Two broken glasses and a ruined shirt all in one day.
He's losing too much control.
He brings up his hand to scratch an irritation on his cheek but it ends up stinging from the residual alcohol on his fingertips. For a moment he wonders why it hurts so much but one glance at the dark red tinge under his nails gives him the answer. He strides over to one his the large windows bordering his loft and checks his reflection. Sure enough, there are four shallow red lines from his mother's nails.
If you didn't call the cops after you found the girl, then how long did it take you?
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He pries his eyes away from his reflection with a gasp as his throat tightens. Breaths coming in quick panicked bursts. His eyes immediately track to the floor out of instinct but catch on the scattered glass bits sitting in the puddle of scotch. The urge to clean up the shattered remains of the broken glass is overwhelming.
He goes to the mess and crouches quickly, frantically trying to pick up the shards with his trembling hands, paying no mind to the additional cuts he was receiving in turn. What's a few more on top of what he already has? A particularly sharp piece of glass slices deep into his left palm, the alcohol turning the wound to acid. He hisses and tosses the handful of glass jerkily back on the floor.
He can't even do that right.
The sight of the blood trickling down his fingertips makes him uneasy, although he's not exactly sure why. He sees blood on a frequent basis due to his profession of choice. Maybe it's symbolic. The blood on his hands like the blood of all those girls he could've saved if he had just called sooner.
Maybe his lack of sleep is making him jump at shadows.
Sleep always sounds like a better idea than it ends up being he's realized, so after the events tonight he decides to forego it all together. It's not the first time, and it most certainly will not be the last.
The blood drips from his hand unnoticed as he gets up and walks across the stretch of his apartment, reviewing all of his memories obsessively trying to find something new, a sign, a pattern, anything to give away more information.
The voices swirled in his head like a torrent.
For an undetermined stretch of time he paces around his apartment barefoot— wearing only his loose trousers and his unbuttoned shirt that hangs off him— unconscious to the world around him as he drowned in his own thoughts and memories. His legs weaken suddenly causing him to sit down on a bar stool. He didn't realize just how tired his legs were until he snapped away from his muddled mind.
He had a habit of that. Not noticing the pain he was causing himself until it was too late. A glutton for punishment Gil had called him once.
He looks at the aggravating clock.
It's 4:41 AM.
He had been lost in his head, pacing, for six whole hours. It felt like seconds and days at the same time.
God, he needs help. Anyone with a knowledge of psychology knows that loss of time is probably not a good sign.
He looks down at his throbbing hand. The blood from his palm had smeared all over his hand and long since dried. One look at his apartment has him realizing how much his finger was actually bleeding. There are trails of drips all throughout his loft, some of it smeared from him walking on it unknowingly and tracking crimson footsteps all over his hardwood floors.
He berates himself. A cut to the hand can be more serious than you think if it's deep enough.
It's not bleeding anymore but he feels the fallout almost immediately upon realizing his mistake.
He goes to stand up from his bar stool but his legs reject his weight and buckle, sending him sliding down the front of the bar. Exhaustion, low blood sugar, and low blood itself from his hand make for a deadly combination. His head is buzzing and floating and dark spots overcome his vision. His plan of not falling asleep was skewed as the buzzing reached its apex, blocking out all other noise until his consciousness quickly fades into nothing.
The kid didn't show up. Bright was supposed to be here an hour ago but he still hasn't shown up yet. Gil knows something is up. He's never late when there's a case. He either got distracted by his complicated thought process or he slept through his alarm because of the nightmares. Either way, Gil was going to make sure he was okay.
(And maybe pick up some breakfast because the kid is skinny as a rail and barely eats a thing.)
By the time he arrives at Malcolm's place with food, he can already sense something's wrong. Call it a gut feeling or even paternal intuition, because even though they aren't biologically related, his worry for the kid is enough to have contributed greatly to his amount of grey hairs. At times, Malcolm was closer to him and Jackie than to his own parents, who both had their own complicated issues.
Everyone knew about Martin by now, but Jessica, her problems were more complex. Gil knows she did her best to protect her children, but sometimes the way she would treat Malcolm was… questionable to say the least. He wouldn't fully call her abusive, she didn't deserve that, she would just get a little too rough with him, especially after her frequent bouts of inebriation. She would never get that way with Ainsley on the other hand, which stumped Gil to say the least.
He couldn't even recall how many times Malcolm would stay the night at his and Jackie's place when his mother was too drunk to take care of him properly. Ainsley had a nanny during those times, but Jessica claimed Malcolm was too old for that.
Gil stops in front of the door to Malcolm's loft, shifting the paper bag of freshly baked bagels to one arm so he has a free hand to knock, which he proceeds to do.
Three sharp raps on the dilapidated wood. The outside of the building looks like a dump, but the inside of his space is surprisingly high end and well kept. Malcolm really did nice work on the place. The sight of the boarded up window that he knows is next to Malcolm's bed does nothing to allay his worry.
Two minutes and two knocking attempts later, the door is still left unanswered. Now he really knows something is up.
"Hey Bright, you in there?" Gil raises his voice to get through the door. "Bright?"
The only thing to indicate that he's home is the sound of something being knocked over.
As his concern rises, he rummages through his pockets for the key Malcolm gave him for emergencies. It's doesn't fit the locks. Gil mentally facepalms. The kid changed the locks. Of all times for him to change them. He takes a shot on the off chance the door is magically unlocked and as he turns the knob he's filled with alarm.
It is unlocked.
Malcolm never leaves his door unlocked.
Gil steps inside cautiously, one hand on his gun ready to draw at a moments notice just in case.
"Malcolm…?" He calls out again. No response... until he hears a strangled cry echo from the top of the stairs. He drops the bag of food on the counter and advances a bit quicker this time, pulling out his gun. Once he reaches the top shock and alarm race through him.
There's blood all over the floor. It looks much too similar to the scene of a homicide. A broken glass lays shattered in a half dried pool of liquid near the top of the stairs. Gil follows the trail of everything to the bar where there's a knocked-over bar stool. The cause of it shaking on the floor, shouting incoherent noises. Gil holsters his gun immediately.
"Malcolm!" Gil shouts and runs forward to the kid. "Hey hey, it's just a dream," He consoles and tries to wake the younger man whose hands slam onto the floor and counter as he tries to squirm away from an invisible threat.
He grabs onto Malcolm's thrashing wrists and the kid reacts negatively, kicking his legs out and sending another bar stool crashing to the floor. His hands are covered in dried blood and for a horrifying moment Gil wonders if he started harming himself again.
"No— stop! She's— there was a—!" Malcolm shouts, his body trembling violently. " 'm sorry— Mm— you're… you're hurting me—"
Gil was worried that he was the one hurting Malcolm, so he releases his wrist. Malcolm's eyes are squeezed shut, his jaw clenched tight with no mouth guard to cushion his gritting teeth. His face displays nothing but pure anguish and terror and it saddens the police detective.
He wraps his arms around Malcolm's thin frame rocking back and forth in a soothing motion. The kid is still fighting— always fighting— whatever is tormenting him in his night terror.
Gil didn't know they were this bad again.
"Malcolm listen to me— it's a dream. You're safe. You're okay." Gil murmurs into the younger man's hair. Malcolm releases a muffled cry before stiffening quickly, breathing and gasping heavily. He stays still for a moment as if he's taking a second to process where he is, or when he is.
Malcolm melts in his hold as he realizes what happened. The scent of old leather and fall spices reminding him of the parts of his childhood with the person who felt more like his dad than his actual father ever did.
Someone who always made him feel safe.
"...Gil?" A barely audible whisper.
"Yeah it's me kid. I'm here." He pats Malcolm on the back and prepares to release, knowing the younger man would probably be embarrassed, but Malcolm squeezes tighter as his breath hitches. Gil knows it's bad if he's not trying to downplay it all.
For a moment they stay there, Malcolm hiding his face in Gil's shoulder, trembling like a leaf and trying to even out his breathing, Gil latched onto his surrogate son trying to will away all the nightmares.
Malcolm finally pulls away and immediately looks down at the floor in shame. This is where Gil would usually start telling him that he doesn't need to worry about it, but he's stunned into silence now that he has a proper look at the kid.
He's too pale, lips bleached of nearly all their color and his skin clammy. His dead pallor only enhances the dark streaks under his eyes and a large red splotch on the right side of his face. The red mark is coupled with four small scratches. Nail marks. To anyone else it might just seem like he scratched himself but he's seen this before. He's been hit by someone.
His eyes trail down to the rest of his disheveled appearance. He's still in his clothes from yesterday, for the most part anyways. He's just in the shirt and pants now, both of which hang off of him more than they used to. His ribs are all sharp edges and tight skin. Half the buttons of his black shirt are missing, meaning he was trying to get it off in a hurry, or his hands were too shaky. Gil is almost positive it's the latter.
He decides to deal with that later and pushes forward with the most alarming matters at hand.
"You wanna tell me what happened to your hand?" He asks gently, praying to God that he didn't do it on purpose. He hasn't done that since college. Malcolm gives him a quick glance before looking back at his hand which is cradled to his chest.
"I was just cleaning up some glass and I got reckless. One of the pieces cut me." He licks his lips and flexes his fingers ever so slightly. He looks back up and sees Gil tilting his head. "It was an accident. I promise." He reassures knowing full well what the older man was thinking.
"Okay, I believe you, but why didn't you clean yourself up?"
"I uh…" He rakes his teeth against his bottom lip. "I got distracted. I didn't even realize—" He trails off with a whisper shaking his head. His head is still ducked, chunks of hair falling in front of his eyes.
He glances up to see Gil staring critically at his face. More specifically the red mark on his cheek. The older man slowly brings up his hand and brushes his thumb lightly on the welt. Malcolm looks down again.
"It's nothing, I… It was an accident. I must've done it in my sleep."
For someone who can spot a lie from a mile away just based on eye movement and body language, this kid sucks at lying about his own well being.
"Don't lie to me kid. You and I both know the difference between injuries that are self inflicted and not. We wouldn't be such good detectives if we didn't."
Malcolm releases a heavy breath and lifts his hand to lightly touch the sore spot on his cheek. His left arm wrapped firmly against his torso. If Malcolm were analyzing his own body language, he would say it's a self-soothing gesture or a way to distance himself as much as possible without actually moving.
His mental turmoil manifesting physically.
"My mother stopped by." He says before huffing a self deprecating laugh. "Guess she wasn't too enthusiastic about the subject of my nightmares and what they allude to."
Anger flares through Gil. Malcolm didn't deserve this. He already has enough crippling anxiety and fear, he doesn't need anything else added to the mix. Jessica should never have hit him no matter how angry she got. Not with his past and not in his condition. His mind flashes back to Malcolm's earlier words during his nightmare.
"You're… you're hurting me—" He had whimpered. It's starting to make more sense now. Gil originally thought it was his grip on the kid's wrists that was hurting him but he wasn't coherent enough to feel that. It was something else.
"It's my fault really." He sniffs and wipes his nose before releasing another creaky laugh. His whole demeanor is very unsettling to Gil. "I basically called her a murderer with those accusations. I just… I deserved it at that point." He goes back to staring off at nothing, still not all there.
"No, Malcolm, you didn't. You never did." His sentence was heavy with multiple meanings. "Nothing you do should make her lash out like that." The profiler looks disbelieving but submissive, which is somehow worse than if he actually would have argued with Gil. He looks back at Malcolm's bloodied hand and the trail of crimson droplets on the floor. The shattered glass a screaming echo of the heavy emotions that incited its demise. "C'mon let's get you cleaned up." He says while still looking at the rest of the apartment.
Malcolm doesn't respond. He turns his head back to the younger man.
He's staring intently with wide eyes at his crimson stained appendage, still shaking like it usually does when he's under stress. It's worse now.
"Kid?" He insights. No reaction. "Malcolm." He raises his voice and Malcolm almost jumps out of his skin. For a moment he just sits there, still leaning back slightly away from Gil, a critical expression on his face. Then his posture crumples as he becomes aware of himself, hunching in on himself. His face twisted in a grimace.
"Hey…" Gil starts, his tone morphing into something softer. "Are you okay? Well, obviously you're not great but you know what I mean."
"If you say you're 'fine' I'm going to dock your pay." Gil cuts him off. The corner of Malcolm's mouth twitches in a small lopsided smile and he looks up at Gil before glancing to the side with a humored scoff. It doesn't last long though. Soon his expression sobers again and he closes his eyes, taking in a cleansing breath.
"I'm not… I'm not doing too great, Gil." He admits much to his chagrin. "But then again, what's new. I'll be fine. Eventually."
Gil's stomach turns with disappointment. He knew that was true but hear the actually admit it made it feel so much worse.
"She convinced the psychiatric facility not to let me see my father anymore." He bleats out in a dead tone. The older man is a little surprised Malcolm is so saddened by this.
"Maybe… that's for the best." Gil tries. He knows what seeing Martin has been doing to the kid. His shakes are enough to make an earthquake jealous and the dark circles under his eyes are darker than he's ever seen them before. "Kid, like you said before, it's not healthy… it's—"
"I need him!" He blurts out suddenly.
The volume and desperation of Malcolm's voice catches Gil off guard. Malcolm ducks his head with shame and hunches his shoulders, his voice becoming thick with emotion.
"I can't solve the cases without him— I… I'm not good enough. I need his help. I don't want— I can't— please don't fire me…" He pleads, still refusing to bring his head up.
Gil's heart breaks a little at the plea. Sure he's made threats of firing him when things got heated but Malcolm didn't actually believe he would fire him for that? Gil realizes the younger man has been dealing with crippling anxiety for most of his life, and knows that it's that same anxiety and self destructive tendencies that put those thoughts in his head.
"Listen, I know I said before that I was getting close to firing you, but I was just angry. I wouldn't dream of letting you go. Besides, who would screw around with JT as much as you do if I fired your crazy ass? That's quality entertainment."
Malcolm looks at him almost as if to make sure he's not lying. He must have been convinced because his mouth quirks in a small smile again as he processed what Gil just said. The sight of his meager genuine smile, laden with sorrow as it may be, says much more than his large false grin he puts on for show each day. It makes Gil's heart swell a little.
This is the real Malcolm.
Not some depthless, poster boy for a wealthy family who has daddy issues.
Someone who's sad and broken, but trying his best to make the best out of the cards he was dealt.
A broken glass.
He has cracks and jagged edges, but once he gets his shattered pieces back together he's still beautiful even in his brokenness.
Gil places his hand on the kid's shoulder in a firm yet comforting gesture.
"Listen if you ever need anything, I mean anything," He punctuates it with a soft squeeze to Malcolm's slim shoulder, "I'm here. I know we haven't been as close these past few years after Jackie… and both our lives got busy what with you becoming a big shot profiler and me being promoted to Lieutenant, but I would really like that to change. I care about you, Kid. I know that seems hard for you to believe because of those voices in your head but…"
He swallows down the emotion rising thick in his throat. "You're like a son to me. And if anything happened to you because you felt like you couldn't come to me, I wouldn't be able to live with myself."
Malcolm looked speechless. His eyes widened in realization and welled with moisture at the same time. He quickly swiped at his eyes with his thumb and forefinger before putting a layer of his emotional walls back up.
"Thanks Gil. That… that really means a lot… and…" He swallows nervously. "I've missed you too sometimes. A lot actually." He admits looking a little embarrassed at the confession. There's almost an air of relief surrounding the younger man.
If Gil had to be honest, he was shocked that Malcolm was being so open with him. Maybe he's just too exhausted to hold up those walls for so long.
Gil suddenly remembers why he came here in the first place. He looks down at Malcolm's injured hand again. That really does look like a lot of blood, He's not surprised the kid is so pale, he's probably lost about a pint of blood at this point. Thankfully he didn't smear it around his place too much, most of what's on the floor are still intact droplets. There's just a small area by the corner of the counter where he had inadvertently stepped in it, trailing it in a few red footsteps.
"Alright Bright, let's get you cleaned up now."
"You really don't have to—"
"Now what did I just say a minute ago?" He cuts Malcolm off, knowing full well where the kid was gonna go with that. Malcolm ducks his head in defeat. "C'mon, up we go—" Gil says cheerfully as he holds out his hand for Malcolm to grab onto. Malcolm does so with his good hand— which isn't saying much since it has a red-stained bandage wrapped around it— and pulls himself up.
He sways a little on his feet tilting backwards and catching himself on the bar with his elbows. "Whoa there—" Gil says, alarmed, as he reaches to steady the younger man. Malcolm turns so he's facing the counter and bracing with his forearms, trying to avoid putting pressure on either of his hands. He looks around a little helplessly and Gil realizes it's because his legs are most likely going to give out soon and he has nowhere to sit since the barstools have been knocked to the floor.
The older man rushes to get one of them up before Malcolm collapses into it tiredly. He lays his head on his folded arms for a second as he waits for the darkness cloaking his vision to recede. Once again, Gil notices this. He's finding it harder and harder to hide things from the perceptive police lieutenant.
By the time Malcolm looks up Gil is coming back up the stairs with the first aid kit that he obviously still remembers the placement of, and a nondescript paper bag.
"When was the last time you had something to eat?" He inquires casually, not making a big deal out of it with his tone because if you come off as too questioning, the kid will tense up and run away from the topic as fast as he can like a skittish horse.
Malcolm has to think about it. (Which makes Gil feel worse but he does well to hide it.)
"It's not—" Malcolm stops mid sentence at Gil's 'no excuses' expression. "I… yesterday. I think. What's today… Tuesday?"
"It's Thursday." Gil answers flatly.
"Okay then maybe it's been a bit longer…"
Gil rolls his eyes, at this point he's surprised the kid has survived this long. He does not know how to take care of himself properly.
"Well then it's a good thing I brought you a bagel."
Malcolm glances over at the paper bag and his stomach turns at the mere thought of ingesting food. He's long since gotten past the point of hunger, and now wallows in constantly bordering nausea because he needs food, but doesn't want to eat because he's nauseous. He can't keep anything down lately anyways. Whenever he has a bout of anxiety or panic or a nightmare, his stomach just can't seem to hold onto anything.
"Gil really, I'm good. I don't want anything right now. I'll get something on the way to the precinct."
Gil stops unpacking the first aid kit to look at him.
"Whoa whoa, Bright, you are not still going in today, this place looks like a crime scene and you damn near had a breakdown on the floor not ten minutes ago."
Malcolm's stomach drops with panic. Surely he's not getting taken off the case because of this? He doesn't know what he'll do if he's forced to stay home for the entire day. He wouldn't be able to handle it, being alone with his thoughts even longer than he already has been.
"What? I- I can't be suspended for this...I mean Gil c'mon It's- it's only a scratch!" The profiler exclaims with a growing desperation. "I can still be useful, I'll- I'll just do paper work or just observe! I'm technically a consultant anyways I mean I do get paid a little more than consultants usually do butIfigureditwasbecauseofmyskillset—
"Hey wait— slow down, you're not suspended. I didn't say that, just calm down." Gil reassures. Malcolm sucks in a breath and runs his hand through his hair nervously, brushing back the stray strands that had fallen into his eyes.
He realizes how he was starting to lose his composure a bit there.
He also realizes he was clenching his fists, causing both his old and new cuts to reopen. The older man follows Malcolm's gaze to his bleeding hands and gives an exasperated sigh.
"You're making my point for me, kid."
The younger man's posture sags in defeat.
"I know it's bad. I'm sorry. I just… I really need this case Gil. It's the only thing keeping me sane." Gil gives him an unamused glare. "For the most part." He elaborates. The lieutenant seemingly ignores his request for the time being, focusing only on the profiler's damaged hands.
As he grabs for Malcolm's wrist he finds the cuff of his shirt is soaked with blood. His shirt is black so it's hard to discern how far the blood traveled.
"I was gonna ask you to roll up your sleeves but you might as well take off the whole shirt now. I don't there's any chance of saving it." He says as he eyes the buttons scattered on the floor. Malcolm is a little apprehensive about exposing himself so much in front of someone else— which Gil of course notices— but at this point he's too tired to care anymore.
He does as he's instructed, sliding the rest of the shirt off his shoulders and dropping it carelessly on the floor without a second thought. Now that everything's out of the way, he lays both of his hands on the counter palm up for the older man to inspect.
Gil starts to feel a little sick when he realizes he can easily count the kids ribs and the ridges of his spine protrude through the skin and muscle of his back enough to be noticeable.
He's really glad he bought that bagel for him now.
Gil gives him a glare at the sight of the damage before sighing again. The detective's jaw clenches at the sight of the purplish bruising around Malcolm's wrists caused by his restraints. He knows Malcolm uses the restraints every night because of his night terrors and he's always hated the fact that the kid had to use them in the first place.
That was even before he knew about the bruises he now discovered. Now he despises it even more. This must've been a reason he was so apprehensive about taking off his shirt a minute ago. Why he always wears long sleeve shirts and jackets anymore. His nightmares must really be getting bad if their causing this to happen now.
There's a mixture of faded purples and reds, to sickly yellows and greens, telling the police detective that it's in different stages of healing, meaning there's layers upon layers of bruises built up over each other. This has been going on for at least a week and Gil hadn't noticed. He's a detective, he's supposed to notice these things, he berates himself.
There's also little cuts and scrapes on the outsides of his forearms he hadn't noticed before.
"Where'd those come from?" He asks, gesturing to them. Malcolm looks confused before looking down at what he's referring to.
"Oh, I uh—" He huffs a sheepish laugh, "I had a little run in with my window the other day."
Gil doesn't need to ask to know which window he was mentioning. He recalled seeing it on his way in. He would be worried that Malcolm had tried to jump if not for the disconcerting fact that Malcolm would know a fall from that height wouldn't kill him. Plus, if the kid did try something, he wouldn't want to make that big of a mess or commotion about it.
"How did you manage that?" He asks carefully, hoping he wasn't crossing any lines too close to Malcolm's much too sturdy emotional walls. He doesn't seem too bothered by the question. Then again, it's probably because he's so tired.
"Bad dream." He says simply, knowing full well that they both know that's the biggest understatement of the century. Gil just nods in affirmation, deciding not to broach the topic.
Knowing there's nothing he can do for the bruising or the small scrapes, he forces himself to ignore them and focus back on the task at hand. No pun intended. Gil thinks to himself dryly.
He pulls out the rubbing alcohol and douses a large cotton ball with the strong liquid.
"You know the drill. This isn't gonna tickle." He warns.
"But it's necessary so just… do it." Malcolm bleats tiredly, resting his head in the crook of his right arm on the counter while Gil works on his outstretched left.
The lieutenant sighs. His heart aches that Malcolm is so used to this. So used to pain.
He presses the soaked ball of cotton straight onto the slice in the younger man's palm causing him to groan quietly into his arm and tense up. After that, Malcolm is silent.
He goes as quick as he can while still being thorough, his pseudo patient only betraying the pain he's in with a flinch every so often when he presses too hard. He moves onto the kid's other hand which is attached to the arm he's laying on, but he doesn't seem to mind Gil working on it while he rests. He removes the tainted bandages and disinfects the cluster of slices peppering his palm before re-bandaging them with fresh gauze.
"I don't think it needs any stitches as long as you don't clench your fist like you seem to love doing so much." Gil explains while packing up the med kit. After a minute of silence he looks back at Malcolm. He's still lying motionless on the counter. In a brief moment of panic he feels the profiler's limp wrist for a pulse.
Slow but steady.
He passed out.
Gil's not surprised with how little sleep he's been getting. He contemplates waking him but if Malcolm is even getting a tiny bit of rest before the night terrors start up, Gil isn't going to interrupt it. He checks his watch. They don't really need to be at the precinct for a couple more hours since they were supposed to be out running leads anyways, plus Dani and JT are good enough detectives to handle some things on their own.
He doesn't want to leave Malcolm alone either so he decides to take this time to clean up the blood on the floor. He goes to the closet where the kid used to keep his clean supplies and was pleased to see that was in the same place as well. The kid always always was a stickler for organization. Maybe it's because he can't organize his own thoughts and emotions, so he tries to find anything that he can.
Forty-five minutes later and the floor is more spotless than it was before the accident, free of any blood or broken glass. He even had the time to eat his bagel and make himself a cup of coffee since he had forgotten to buy himself one in his haste to get here.
He sits for another ten to fifteen minutes before deciding to wake up Malcolm before he starts to dream. If Gil was being honest, he's surprised the kid's slept this long without screaming as it is.
He places his hand on Malcolm's shoulder and rubs gently. Not a second later Malcolm is jolting awake with wide eyes and a strangled cry of "No—" dying on his lips. He would've fallen out of his bar stool if Gil hadn't kept his hand on the younger man's shoulder.
"Hey, it's alright— it's just me." Gil reassures. Malcolm leans over the bar, catching his breath. Gil rubs comforting circles on his back as the kid calms down. The latter huffs unsettled before looking down at his dually bandaged hands.
"I look like an MMA fighter…" He blurts unexpectedly. Gil releases a chuckle at the randomness of the statement.
"Well hopefully you won't have to throw any punches any time soon because I wasn't kidding before, I will actually dock your pay if you open up those cuts again." He says with fake seriousness.
Malcolm snorts, slightly amused.
"No no, wipe that smile off your face, I'm serious—"
He's not serious.
He can't hide the smile on his face, especially not from a profiler like Malcolm. The moment is soon over though, and Malcolm's expression sobers once again to his usual stoic demeanor. He already misses the kid's smile.
"Sorry I didn't wake you sooner. I was hoping you were tired enough not to dream."
Malcolm gives him a thankful expression.
"It's alright," He says before looking at the clock, "That's actually the most uninterrupted sleep I've gotten for for a while." He adds with a forced smile. It was supposed to be a lighthearted, comforting statement, but to Gil it was just sad. He only slept for an hour but that was more than he's gotten in probably a week or more.
The profiler slides off his bar stool and gingerly walks around the bar to get a glass of water.
As much as Gil hates to admit, Malcolm does look more rested after they've received a case. Probably because he works himself so far into the ground that he's too exhausted to dream.
He glances back at the kid who looks surprisingly better after just that small amount of sleep. He's opening four different bottles of medication and swallowing them with an ease that only comes from experience. No doubt most of those are antidepressants.
Ever since Malcolm was in high school he's been taking them. Almost all of his cheeriness and energy that annoys JT and Dani so much are from his medication. It's not like it's fake, the kid's base personality used to be like that. Key word: used to.
Ever since he got older and the longer he kept visiting his father, the worse it got. He developed his tremors, started spiraling, and almost did some things he would regret. After he was admitted to the prevention wing at the hospital, they got him on the antidepressants as soon as they could.
He's seen Malcolm without them. He goes to some pretty dark places.
"Aren't you supposed to eat with those?" Gil questions with an eyebrow quirked.
"I thought the doctor just said that to get me to eat more." Malcolm replies before turning back to put his pill bottles away. Gil isn't entirely sure if he's joking or not so he just decides to let it go.
Gil studies the younger man before him, glad that he's still here today. He wasn't so sure he would have this back then. His eyes catch on the red stained edge of his foot and he makes a decision.
"Well kid, you better go get cleaned up while I call and check if the others have caught any leads because I am not driving you back to the precinct looking like a homeless MMA fighter."
Malcolm turns quickly and a bottle slips from his hand, he manages to get a hold back on it after clumsily juggling with it before it hits the floor.
"Wait so— you mean I actually… I get to go in today?" He asks incredulously, not even giving a second thought to his own clumsiness in his excitement. Gil chuckles.
"Yes, get with the program, I thought you were some big shot profiler? Now go get ready before I change my mind."
Malcolm's face brightens and it's enough to make Gil's heart to warm up at the sight. He's now making it his personal goal to get the kid to genuinely smile at least once a day.
Malcolm quickly passes the bar and heads for the stairs as Gil pulls out his phone to call Dani.
"Oh, but only on one condition though," Gil adds.
Malcolm stops in his tracks at the bottom of the stairwell and turns to look at him expectantly.
"You're gonna eat that bagel on the way there."