Nights in Laidlaw are dark. It’s something Gordon used to enjoy.
You could see stars and stars, endless above you, right in the middle of downtown. Their street lights are dim, and stores closed at 9:30, and you’d be left with nothing but occasional headlights and pitch black alleys and the shining eyes of the town’s stray cats. It was pretty. It was a different kind of night life, one that Gordon really got used to after MIT, big cities, loud music. It was nice.
It was nice, once. It was nice.
It’s not nice now, as he’s listening to Tommy’s rambling turn into white noise next to him. The way the air feels tense, even though he knows he’s meant to be safe - Tommy’s never done anything to hurt him, and if anything did happen, Tommy’s there, right?
He’s right there. But Gordon feels alone.
The beauty of downtown is that the streets, however dim, are lit. But nearest to the park - where Gordon used to set up his telescope late at night, perfectly fine with the pitch black, perfectly normal - the distance between street lamps stretched further and further, until it was a marathon from one to the next. And Tommy is a noise he is tuning out, because the next lamp just flickered once, and twice, and three times - before turning off entirely, leaving too far a gap for him to feel comfortable with.
He doesn’t feel himself stop, but he stops. He doesn’t notice Tommy stop talking. His eyes are locked to the next lamp, silently praying that it’ll turn itself back on, one good deed from a God who’s been so blind to his plights before. They could do this, surely. Surely, they could give him this.
Tommy stopped nearly the moment Gordon did, and his voice is a little far away, but Gordon gets the gist. He can process a few of the words, and they’re words he’s heard before. When lightbulbs need replaced, when they buy new candles, when they replace the batteries in the flashlights - when the power goes out, and Tommy finds him under a table, or in the corner, or under the covers. It’s always the same questions.
“Are you okay?” and “Is it the lights?” and, God, Gordon can’t even respond, because he knows he’s been caught in it again. It’s sad, it always has been, that he’s stuck with this ridiculous fear years later. A fear for children. A fear for sad, pathetic little men, ones who deserve the trouble they get themselves into.
There’s a tentative touch at his left shoulder, one that slides down to grab hold of his hand, and it’s so soft Gordon barely registers it - and it’s a wonder he doesn’t register it as a threat, but he knows. He knows it’s Tommy, and Tommy’s only ever helped.
He’s come a considerable way. A couple years of therapy. But it’s still a struggle, some days, worse today than it’s been in a while. But he’s going to let Tommy hold his hand and reassure him, as best he can, that bad days don’t mean you’re not making progress. And he trusts Tommy, Tommy’s never hurt him before, so he can make an effort to believe him.