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A Nightmare

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'Vic?'

Oh god, over the speakers Thomas sounds like he might cry any minute. Vic rubs a hand over her eyes and blinks a few times, trying to get herself to be more awake. She had been asleep for less than two hours when her phone started ringing on the nightstand and she was ready to curse her lungs out at whoever dared to wake her, but now, that she heard how thin Thomas' voice is, she only sighs.

'Maso, you should be sleeping,' she says softly.

'Can you let me in?,' he asks. 'I'm at your room.'

She doesn't reply, instead throws the blanket back and pads to the door to open it. In front of it is indeed Thomas. A very rumpled looking Thomas, that is, hair a mess, eyes bleary, and a red imprint on his cheek, proof that he slept only minutes ago with his face resting on his hand. His gaze is cast down to the hotel floor.

'What is it?,' she asks.

'Nightmare.'

Of course it is. It's the first time he comes over for help on this tour, but she could tell by his even grumpier than usual mood in the morning, by how needy he was, always touching someone as if to reassure himself, that the nightmares are back.

Vic reaches out a hand, takes his and pulls him into the room. It's silent as she closes the door, as she gently coaxes him to the bed and sits him down on it, as she joins him and takes his hand again.

Thomas has always had a very odd relationship with sleep. If you ask him, he will tell you that he loves sleep, and this is true. Vic knows that, knows that he loves long lazy mornings spent in bed when he can just snuggle back into the blankets again after waking up. She also knows that insomnia and nightmares have been kicking his ass on a regular basis since he was a kid. It comes and goes in phases, but he had been doing pretty okay for a while. Then the American tour happened.

'What was the nightmare about?,' Vic asks quietly.

He shrugs.

'Don't want to talk about it.'

Something serious then, like she suspected. Thomas has slept in her bed more than once in the past, obviously. He's done it so many times Vic lost count. At this point she is decently good at reading him, predicting what he needs when he looks at her with lost hazel eyes. If she is right, then what he needs right now is a distraction to calm him down a bit. The distraction she always provides when he asks her for it.

She asks, just to make sure she hasn't read him wrong.

'What do you need?'

His eyes tear away from the floor and flicker towards her.

'Touch me?'

He says it like he does when he gets like this, with the tiny glimmer of need shining through the tremble that is still left from the nightmare. Vic nods. She maneuvers both of them into a lying position and pulls down Thomas' pyjama bottoms and his underwear to mid thigh. Then she takes his dick in hand and strokes.

It doesn't happen every time Thomas comes over to sleep in Vic's room. Most nights, she will kiss him until he is smiling in her arms, sleepy and content enough, and then she will lay him down on the bed and snuggle against him, pet the soft bit of skin between pelvis and ribcage or on his shoulder until either of them falls asleep. Sometimes, though, when it is especially bad or when his brain has latched onto the nightmare too much to think of anything else, too much to let him even talk properly, what she needs to do first is get him out of his own head. She will cuddle him after, but she gets him off first.

(It's the only time they ever do this. It's always soft and quick and Vic wouldn't want it to be any other way. Sometimes, she is glad that he asks for this, that she is allowed to give him this, even if it means that he hasn't been doing well.)

'There we go,' she says when the first moan escapes his lips. And then, because she knows he likes it, she adds, 'Good boy.'

It doesn't do all that much for her. Yes, the noises Thomas makes are fucking delicious, and she loves them. She loves him. Loves him in this weird not quite brotherly but also not romantic and still so, so intense way. But she is tired, too, and she does this for him and not for herself, strokes him slowly until his moans turn into quiet whimpers.

'Fuck, Vic,' he gets out between two breaths.

God. Vic would pull him close and never let go if she could.

'It's okay,' she says, 'you can let yourself go.'

Her hand speeds up and she mumbles another praise, keeps stroking until he spills on his own stomach, her name on his parted and bitten lips.

Vic wipes him off with a tissue from the nightstand, his stomach muscles flexing under the slightly tickling touch. He is pliant in her hands now, lets her move him around as she pleases when she pulls his underwear and pants up, and when she comes back from the bathroom after washing her hands he is still lying in the exact same position she left him in.

Trying to be as quiet as she can, she joins him on the bed again, sits down and moves him until she has his head in her lap. Automatically, her hand goes into his hair, tries to comb out the knots. Fuck, now that he is sleepy and soft, blinking up at her with tired eyes in the dim light of the table lamp on the nightstand, he reminds her so much of that shy and timid kid he used to be. A specific image comes to her mind; sixteen-year-old Thomas just as tired he is now, even more awkward-looking with his gangly limbs. He had knocked at her door like he did tonight when they were at X-Factor and he had said that he couldn't sleep, that his mind was racing with new experiences and unprocessed emotions and so he came to hide out in her room. They slept cramped together in the tiny bed. Damiano found them all snuggled up the next day, barely had the heart to wake them. Vic knows that Thomas no longer is this teenager, is well capable of standing up for himself now, but still, right now, when he is curled in on himself, expression somewhere between confused and relaxed and only a few minutes away from sleep, she can't help the need to protect surging up in her chest.

'Vic?'

Fuck, he still sounds like he might cry.

'Mhm?'

'Hold me?'

Anything you need, Vic thinks, as she lifts his head and places it on a pillow. She turns the light off and shuffles down, pulling him against her chest, her arms wrapped tightly around his back. It takes roughly two minutes before his body starts shaking. Only when Vic feels the wetness on her chest does she realize he is actually crying now. This doesn't happen often, hasn't happened in years. She buries her nose in his wild mop of hair, makes little soothing noises as her fingers stroke over his naked shoulder.

'Talk to me,' she mumbles.

He shakes his head.

'Maso, please,' she says, 'I can't help you if you don't let me.'

There's another head shake. She can feel his quick breaths on her wet skin, can feel how shaky it is, and fuck, she wants to kiss him all better because she has never been able to stand seeing him cry.

'Thomas.'

'Fuck, I don't even know what's wrong,' Thomas whispers.

Vic waits for him to continue, fingers still stroking his shoulder.

'I just feel so - so lost.' He sniffles. 'And - alone? Fuck, I don't even know. It's so much, all of it and all the fucking time, and my brain can't keep track of all the things that are happening.' He tries to take a deep breath and ends up sniffing again. 'It's stupid because I know I'm not alone and I know that you're here and that I can talk to you and Dami and Ethan, too, but then these stupid fucking nightmares started again and then -,' he interrupts himself with a sigh. 'Fuck, I shouldn't be putting all this on you.'

Vic shakes her head. She wants him to put this on her. As long as Thomas or Damiano or Ethan (fuck, she needs to check in on Ethan, she realizes, she hasn't done so properly in over a week) keep her mind busy, she will be okay herself. This is how she deals with stress. Keep busy, never slow down, make sure everyone else is alright.

'I want you to tell me,' she says.

'Vic, I know you,' he says, 'you're trying to distract yourself from your own struggles by taking care of me.'

'Well, you came here to get taken care of. And it works, doesn't it?'

It sounds angrier than she intended it to, more defensive, and Thomas flinches in her arms and she immediately curses herself for scaring him.

'Shit,' she says, 'I didn't mean to be harsh. I'm sorry.'

His breath is still shaky. Still, he nods.

'I know I should be happy that we're here,' he says after a few seconds, 'and I am. But right now, I just want to be at home in my bed and get some real sleep.'

Vic doesn't say that even at home he probably wouldn't be sleeping properly because insomnia and nightmares don't care where you are. Instead, she kisses the top of his head and nods as well.

'I know. And me too. But it's only another few days. Then we'll be back in Rome.'

He hums. When a few seconds later he still hasn't properly replied, she gently pokes his side.

'Hey, Maso?'

He looks up at her. She grins.

'Rolling Stones,' she says.

He sighs, a little frustrated because she has been having a lot of fun winding him up like this all the time since they first heard that would be opening for the Stones, but when he buries his head back at her chest, she can feel him smile against her skin.