Joe knows something is missing when he first starts to wake but it takes a couple of seconds to figure out what it actually is. Then he realises that the space beside him is empty, that the absence of heat means it has been for a while. That realisation, and the one that the fact of her absence was what disturbed him, wakes him fully and he sits up, turns his head to see Caitlin standing at the window, staring out of the window through a crack in the curtains. The light in the room is dim with that eerie half light that precedes the sunrise and Caitlin's back is perfectly rigid, draped in the shirt he remembers her peeling off him and tossing on the floor last night.
"Hey." The word, when he says it, is many things; a greeting, an admission that he's awake, an enquiry as to her welfare. He sees her head dip, turn slightly in his direction, but not fully all the way around, not even enough so he can see her full profile. The bit he can see, though, is enough to have the hairs on the back of his neck standing up.
"Hey." Her voice is soft, sad and then he's standing up too, ready to go over to her. He stops at the end of the bed, noticing once again that she's wearing his shirt from yesterday so he grabs yesterday's trousers, pulls them on before going to stand behind her. Once there, his fingers ache to touch her but he holds back, watching as her fingers dance over the panes of glass, leaving tiny icicle patterns in their wake.
He skips asking her if she's all right, knows the answer. "What's up?" he says instead and this close he can see her smile.
"All week," she says, still not looking at him, "I've been walking around feeling like I'm forgetting something. It's been driving me crazy. And I went to sleep last night and I had a dream... and when I woke up, I remembered what it is." She bites her lip so hard he can see indentations in the flesh when she speaks again. "Today is... would have been... Ronnie's birthday."
It's the only word Joe can think of to say, the only one he needs to say. Because he's been here, once upon a long ago, and he remembers all too well what it feels like.
Caitlin huffs out a small laugh as the icicle patterns on the window thicken and harden. "I know I'm being silly," she says and that has him looking at her sharply, narrowing his eyes. "He's been gone a long time and we're together now but I still..." She shakes her head. "I just feel bad and I didn't want to disturb you..."
Somehow he doesn't just think that she's talking about his sleep. Joe reaches out carefully, lays a hand on her shoulder. Her fingers still on the window and she looks over, looks into his eyes. "He was part of your life for a long time too, Caitlin," he tells her. "I don't ever want you to think that you can't talk about him with me." He turns her gently to face him. "I lost a wife," he reminds her. "I understand."
Caitlin closes her eyes, closes her arms around his waist and buries her head in his chest, all but falling against him. Holding her tightly, Joe rests his cheek against the top of her head. "You can talk to me about anything," he murmurs. "No secrets, remember?"
He feels her chuckle, her breath cold against his chest. It makes him shiver, but it's not unpleasant. She tightens her grip on his waist. "God, you give the best hugs," he hears her say and the sudden change in subject surprises a laugh out of him. Out of her too and she rolls her head so that she's looking down, forehead pressed against his chest. "I sound like Felicity."
"Nah," he decides. "You sound like you..." He places one finger under her chin, tilts her head up, smiles because he knows she only gets like that with him. "And that's fine with me."
Standing up on tiptoes, she brushes her lips over his just as the sun rises over the horizons and peeks through the gap in the curtains. The ice on the window panes starts to melt, tiny rivers of water flowing down the glass and Joe leads Caitlin back to bed, lies her down and pulls her close, just to feel her in his arms.
It doesn't take long before she falls back asleep, and it's even less time until he joins her.