Sleeping at night was never the easiest thing for you to do. Whether it be the intense all-year long heat of Texas keeping you up or the fact your bro always dropped in on you when you were most vulnerable and least expecting, you were just never able to get sleep.
It wasn't much of a stretch after the game. Sleep still eluded you and you would have to waste away hours on end trying to fall asleep, dicking around on the internet, or staring at your best friends' chumhandles, as if staring long enough would will each bright color to come to life. This happened occasionally, but not usually. You'd have thought everyone else would have trouble sleeping too.
The main difference is that whenever you attempt sleeping and actually manage to nab some shuteye, your dreams are plagued with bright red, images of your friends fighting alongside you, bro dead, doomed Daves popping up in the corners of your dreams, dark purple ominous buildings towering above you, grists and imps everywhere. With death itself burned into the retinas of your dreams, it's practically impossible to escape to such solitude within your mind. Nights were spent wondering if something like the game will ever happen again, that you will wake up with the city on fire and your apartment empty, death and destruction awaiting you at the end.
You told Bro about it after suffering long enough and it basically came down the fact that maybe the heat in Texas really ain't helpin' and you need more moral support than he himself could provide, so you and Bro decided to take all your shit and move north. Specifically to Washington, John's state, which happened to be the closest one by. Rose was your second option, but damn it all if you were actually going to live with that snarky broad for the rest of your life. Even if you didn't live under the same roof, your best bro was always the better option. (No offense to Rose, of course.)
When you arrived in Washington, John was waiting for you with his dad, which you found you weren't really surprised about. You tenderly embraced him in a warm bro hug filled with lots of irony on your part and excitement on his, but maybe you were just a little bit happy to see him again. You then proceeded to gather up all your bags and John helped too as you made your way to a house on his street. This, of course, for convenience's sake, was arranged so you and him could cope with Sburb issues together, and besides. Why would you ever refuse to hang out with your best friend?
Though despite your closeness in proximity to your best friend, you still have nightmares. Those are never going to not be a thing. On one particular night, you wake up in a cold sweat, your chest rising and falling, and your brain thrown outta whack. You were basically in hysterics, and that is when you decided it would be a good time to go check up on John (maybe seeking some help, but you are not going to admit that.)
You pull out your iPhone from underneath your pillow and turn it on and start up the Pesterchum app.
-- turntechGodhead [TG] began pestering ectoBiologist [EB] at 3:54--
TG: so hey
TG: cant really sleep
TG: what about you
EB: dave, what are you even doing up right now?
EB: it's like four in the morning!!!
TG: no fucking duh you think i cant tell the time egbert
TG: says the knight of time himself
EB: just saying dude!
EB: but yeah me neither.
EB: i swear i can hear nanna laughing in my ear in that ominous and silly way she does and it just won't stop!
EB: it's pretty creepy.
TG: ok im gonna ignore the fact that that means you might possibly be completely insane because the game kinda ended so your nanna aint even here nor is she alive and ill just go along with it and say sometimes i think lil cal is still around watching my every move in the depths of night
TG: creepy little fucker
EB: wow you're right, that is really creepy.
EB: also i thought you said lil cal was the shit.
TG: oh trust me dude he is
TG: hes just creepy as fuck
TG: like an old man pedophile handing out candy to small children in dark alleys at night
TG: hes the old man in the black van and i am the young victim unable to escape his old sweaty mitts touching me all over
TG: fuckin perv
EB: yeah ok, this is gettin a little odd you can stop now.
TG: so you cant sleep either
EB: nah not really.
EB: come to think of it, i can't remember the last time i got a good night's rest!
EB: i wish i could wake up on prospit again, it was so nice.
TG: yeah i guess derse was chill as fuck
TG: sucks that jack kinda destroyed everything
EB: yeah. ):
TG: so whatre you doing right now
EB: nothing, really.
EB: just kind of lying in bed, wide-awake. my computer's still on so maybe i could watch some shit on youtube...
EB: ughhh my eyes won't keep shut! it's so annoying, i wish i could just fall asleep with ease.
TG: hey same here
TG: well get through this together bro dont worry
EB: ha ha, yeah.
EB: what are you doing right now?
TG: surfin the web
TG: updatin blogs yknow all that cool shit
TG: gotta keep my beloved fans posted
EB: of course! i should've known.
EB: what do you even talk about on your blogs? :B
TG: like i said
TG: cool shit
TG: because i am one cool motherfucker
EB: bluh bluh bluh! you are so cool, dave. you are the coolest. it's you.
TG: damn straight
TG: glad were on the same page man
TG: it really pained me to have my best bro not even see how much cool radiates off of me
TG: maybe itll even touch your dorky lame face
EB: wow, i am not dorky, and i am definitely not lame.
EB: i am AWESOME.
TG: yeah and so are your movies
EB: fuck you!
TG: whoa calm yourself egbert
TG: that was not sarcasm
EB: oh my god, it soooo was.
EB: i can see through your sarcasm like how i can see through your dumb coolkid facade!
TG: fuck you my facade is opaque as fuck
TG: and it is not a facade this is the real me egbert
TG: how could you not see that
TG: god damn
EB: whoa there, dave.
EB: calm yourself.
TG: ok you know what we are not having this conversation
TG: no stop
EB: bluh, fine.
EB: i need to get sleep. i am so tired!
TG: then sleep
EB: dave, you know as well as i do that that is not as easy as it sounds.
TG: yeah well
TG: enlighten me bro do you know any surefire ways to get to sleep
EB: i'm sure rose does.
TG: why dont you ask her
EB: she'd probably start asking me all sorts of questions and psychoanalyze me why i'm having trouble sleeping!
EB: also, all her purple text and huge words at this time of night will give me a headache.
TG: yeah youre right i wouldnt want to put myself through that bullshit either
EB: yeah, see.
TG: eugh jfc this is the worst
TG: sleep why doth thou elude me so
EB: is that even proper shakespearean?
TG: hell if i know
EB: dave, i think i have an idea!
TG: oh what really
EB: i'm going to send you a file and i want you to listen to it.
EB: and close your eyes, obviously!
TG: what is it music or something
TG: alright ill give it a shot
EB: great. one sec...
-- ectoBiologist [EB] sent turntechGodhead [TG] file listentothis.mp3 --
EB: did you get it?
TG: yeah thanks
TG: ill go check it out
TG: un minuto broski
EB: alright. :)
You click around with your mouse to open iTunes, and sync up your iPhone. You download the file John sent you and drag it onto your library, and then your iPhone. Once it finishes up, you unplug your iPod and fit the earbuds into your ears, plop down on your bed, and get comfortable. After a few seconds of searching for the song, you tap play. And close your eyes.
The song starts, and it seems like Egbert sent you some piano shit. Or not, because you have to admit it sounds pretty nice. It starts out soft, but gets faster gradually while still remaining calm and...pretty? Is that what you can call it? Before you know it, you already feel sleep behind your eyelids, pulling you into slumber. You're almost not even listening to the song anymore. You flinch awake towards the end when it starts to get more urgent, and you realize you have no idea how long you were out. You glance at the screen and raise your eyebrows. It's about a minute and a half long.
After tapping the repeat button, you reopen the Pesterchum app.
TG: yeah it worked
TG: i actually like blacked out for a moment there
TG: shit egbert what even was that black magic or something
EB: ha ha ha. maaaaybe!
EB: did you like it?
TG: yeah it was nice
EB: great! try listening to that, maybe it'll work.
TG: does the song have a name or what
EB: oh, hm. i think...
TG: im gonna go catch some more zs
TG: thanks man you really a bro helped out
TG: i guess
EB: hehe. i'm glad!
TG: so will you be able to fall asleep too or what
EB: umm maybe!
EB: i started getting a bit drowsy when you were listening to the song.
EB: i'll just close my eyes and see if anything happens.
EB: good night!
TG: oh egbert fuck no
TG: ugh fine
EB: yeah, there we go.
EB: now sleep, dave. shoo!
-- turntechGodhead [TG] ceased pestering ectoBiologist [EB] at 4:48 --
You close your eyes once again and prepare yourself for your first good night's rest in a long time. With the gentle piano playing into your ears, you weave in and out of consciousness. When you finally awake to the afternoon sun on your face and you realize you can hardly see, you blink your eyes open and are confirmed that yes, Egbert's plan did actually work.
TG: it worked
TG: so uh
TG: thanks i guess
EB: anytime, dave. :)
You end up using this plan of action for the next few months. And every single time, it works without fail. You don't know how or what Egbert did to get such a short, simple song of piano to lull you asleep, but it worked. You memorized every note and beat to the song, you've listened to it that many times. Still, much to your dismay, you get nightmares every now and then, but you guess that can't be helped. Sburb isn't ever going to leave your mind no matter what, and it definitely isn't going to leave your dreams either anytime soon.
John and the rest of your friends still have trouble sleeping too, and the thought of maybe putting something together to help them sleep would be something you could do. You think about it and try to put together ideas and beats in your head over the next few days. Eventually, you came up with something that definitely kicks major ass and sent it over to John immediately. The next day, he pesters you.
EB: wow, dave, this was great.
EB: the song you made!!
TG: oh yeah it was nothin
EB: it so was! i actually fell asleep.
TG: looks like not just egbert can pull the whole magic put-you-to-sleep gig
EB: looks like it!
EB: it's really catchy and great, thanks so much!
EB: it actually reminds me of chronicles a bit.
TG: yeah thats cause i remixed it for ya
TG: what you didnt notice
EB: now i do!
EB: oh jeez, dave. thanks!
EB: it's so awesome.
TG: hey yeah man dont sweat it
TG: its cool
TG: just had to return the favor for my good ol bro here
EB: ha ha, yeah.
EB: hey, by the way, dude!
EB: wanna crash at my place tonight?
TG: john are you proposing what i think you are proposing
TG: i dont think im ready for this
TG: this is a huge step in our relationship
TG: my heart is telling me yes yes yes but my brain is telling me no no no you are not ready to elope with egbert yet
EB: shut up, you horse's ass!
EB: that is not what i meant.
EB: i am asking if you want to have a sleepover at my house!
TG: fuck yes is that even a question
EB: sweet! my dad says to come over any time after five.
TG: looks like its 4 right now so ill just pack my shit and strife with bro and eat i guess
TG: not necessarily in that order but w/e
EB: but i have to go help my dad with dinner so i'll talk to you later, ok?
EB: later dude.
-- ectoBiologist [EB] ceased pestering turntechGodhead [TG] at 16:07 --
You walk out of the kitchen with a bowl of Capn' Crunch and into the living room, eating it mindlessly as you maneuver yourself around Bro's camera shit. You're not surprised when he jumps down from wherever the fuck he was behind you and taps you on the shoulder. You turn around, facing him with a mouth full of cereal.
"Whaf do you wan'." You ask, covering your mouth a bit so the food doesn't spill out.
"Wanna strife, little man?" He asks, smirking and clapping you on the shoulder.
You shrug him off and swallow. "Well I'm eatin' so I'm gonna hafta say no but—"
"Wrong answer. Meet me on the balcony." And with that he flashsteps away, one of his katanas missing from it's place on the wall above the TV.
You sigh heavily, place your bowl on the coffee table, and grab a stray sword lying around. This should only take a few minutes.
And it doesn't.
You fight with him on the balcony, similar to the one that John has, for about thirty minutes. The area is small and cramped and there really isn't a lot of room to move around which makes fighting a whole lot more difficult and a lot less easy to win against your brother. You're not used to the space, but you'll have to eventually, since this is becoming a daily thing, and has been for a while. You're not complaining or anything, it's just fighting the same person over and over again and never winning gets to be a little boring, a little draining.
It ends with you on your back, your sword all the way on the other side of the area, and Bro's foot against your abs. Luckily you're in shape so it doesn't hurt, but you did get a bit of air knocked out of you.
"Gotta try harder, lil bro." He says, giving you a disapproving look, and you roll your eyes, silently exhaling and letting your head drop to the side.
"Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now get your fuckin' shoe offa me before I rip it off, awright? I'm going to John's later and I hafta get ready an' shit."
"Who said you were goin' anywhere?" Bro asks, and you shove his foot off with your arm, sitting up.
"M'self. Now let me go, jesus."
He does, and you grab your sword and leave through the door swiftly. Wiping the sweat from your forehead and cleaning your shades off, you enter your bedroom to start packing. You gather some stuff up and zip it up in your schoolbag and sling it over your shoulder. Looking around your room, you check to see if you missed something. You grab your iPhone and turn it on, the Pesterchum app already open and running. You're already typing away before you leave your bedroom door.
TG: hey john
TG: im comin over a bit early that cool with you
EB: yeah sure. normally you come like, an hour late so this is an improvement!
TG: yeah well bro and i just strifed and im not really up to deal with his bullshit right now and i just wanna get outta the house
EB: oh, alright.
EB: well i'll be in my room! just come in and stuff. you know the drill.
TG: see ya in a few
Right as you were about to put your iPhone back in your pocket, you obviously were not looking where you were going because some kid came running up to you and bumped into you. Startled, you let out a short and sudden 'ah!' and the kid fucking screeches and apologizes before running away, and you only notice then that your iPhone is not in your hand.
It's in the road.
"Fuck—" you mutter under your breath and are about to lunge for it, but a car goes whizzing past and the only thing you hear in that moment is a bump and unsettling crack.
You stare in horror at your handheld device, destroyed to bits and pieces of metal and silicon, destroyed completely. You walk over warily to pick it up, but decide to just leave it because man, that shit is gone. You are never using that thing again.
And then it hits you as one huge, terribad epiphany: how are you going to fall asleep now
Maybe you can just stay awake with John all night? Pull an all-nighter? He'd be up for that. You know that in the past, when it's late at night and both of you are fucking tired, you just settle in his bed and both of you pull out your mp3 players and listen to the appropriate lullaby. And it goes off without a hitch, works like a charm. You two are out like a light.
You clench your jaw and sigh through your teeth. It's gonna be ok. No big deal, you can handle this. You'll just bother Bro to take you out to the nearest Apple store and buy you a new one. You doubt you even have some type of warranty thing on that old iPod, it's as old as shit. The newest generation came out anyways.
You're just worried if you're going to be able to sleep at all tonight.
Apparently you can't. Which was expected.
You and John have your backs to each other, curled up under the covers in his bed. It was almost two in the morning when you both agreed that sleep was a good idea. According to the alarm clock on John's nightstand, it's 3:13. You are about to scream.
You flip onto your other side so you're facing John's back and shake him.
"John," you whisper quietly, but urgently. "John, you fuckin' log, wake up." You poke and prod at his back until he grumbles and rolls over, looking at you blearily, eyes clouded over in his half-asleep state. He slowly pulls an earbud from his ear.
He attempts a whisper but it comes out as a low mumble from the back of his throat. He must really be tired. "What is it...?"
You stare at him, your eyes showing that you're wide-awake, and then he realizes it. John knows that your phone broke, because you told him exactly what happened, you even pointed out the window down the street where it was crushed. Raising your eyebrows as if to say "really?", he sighs and leans his head back against the pillow.
"Um... I can let you listen to my iPod... I have Chronicles on here... I think..." He reaches over to grab his mp3 player but you stop him with your hand, waving it in his face.
"Naw, man, it's cool. I just. Can't sleep is all. Was wonderin' if you were awake too."
John looks at you, although it's more like a sleep-induced glare. You try not to laugh at him.
"Uh, no duh, Dave. I was asleep. I'll stay up with you, if you want, though." He offers and you think it over. You'd kind of rather John just go back to his own business but god damn it, you are needy and impatient and you just want to be with John right now for some reason. You feel like sleep will come to you better if he's awake with you.
You nod. "Yeah, that'd be good."
With a sigh but a lazy smile on his face, John rolls over onto his other side so you and him are facing each other. You stare at him in slight confusion when he raises his arm up, as if he were inviting you into his arms...
"What." You say, and you're pretty sure John rolls his eyes.
"C'mere, Dave." He says, motioning with his head. You narrow your eyes at him in suspicion but shuffle on your side over to him, only a few inches separating you. He encloses you in another warm embrace for the day and you sigh into his neck.
"What are you doing this for," you ask after a minute, and John shifts a bit.
"Um, I dunno. It used to help me sleep when I was a kid and my dad held me. But I'm too old for that now, so..." He shrugs. "Maybe it'll help you; we'll find out, I guess."
You don't respond, but you are grateful. You don't think Bro has ever held you like this. And though you are what would be considered the "little spoon", you don't mind. You think John is the only person you would ever allow to hold you at night. Your arms are bent uncomfortably in front of you, your hands curled up into fists right against your chest, but you don't care. You enjoy John's embrace and damn it you are going to embrace this moment. You let him hug you and you just sigh, trying to get into a comfortable position. It's hard, and you move around a lot, but John doesn't let go and you don't want him to, so you try to deal.
You're finally drifting off, if only a little, when you notice John's fingers playing around at your back. Kind of idly tapping here and there, randomly. At first you think that maybe it's because you woke him up and now he can't sleep and he's bored, but after five minutes you're beginning to notice a pattern. It dawns on you that he's playing to a beat, to a tune, and...and you know those beats, that tune, and you can hear it in your head. And then you realize what he's doing.
John is single-handedly playing Chronicles on your back.
His fingers move slowly and lightly, pressing against the fabric of your shirt when necessary, but otherwise it's soft and sweet and you love it. You can hear his other hand drumming against pillow, must be playing the left-hand part.
You focus on the movement of his fingers and you breathe in and out, aware of the fact that he's aware that you're aware of what he's doing.
But then he starts to hum.
It's quiet and you can barely hear it, and he definitely is not a singer, but he knows the notes and he knows the key and he knows the melody, and you listen to him humming to the beat and drumming of his fingers playing against your shoulder blade.
You realize that Chronicles was written by John himself, not just something he printed off the internet and decided to play. No, fuck that noise, John made this shit for you; he wrote and composed it just for you so you could finally find solace in sleep. And he put his heart into it and thought of you while writing it, only you, and it works. That's why he knows it so well, why he knows every single beat and note better than you. What he had in mind works and that's when something immaterial in your chest breaks.
It's one of the most beautiful moments you ever could have imagined.
And you sleep.
You sleep soundlessly in the arms of a boy closer to your heart than you ever thought possible.
Before falling to slumber, you mumble quietly enough for just him, "thanks, john" and he tightens his grip around you, and you can almost feel him smile into your hair.
You think that is when you fell into a sleepless love with your best friend, John Egbert.