Jack cannot sleep. It's not a constant problem, particularly not since the Falconers' season began. Exhaustion is a dear friend. But they've had three days off, this is the fifth night; a quirk of the schedule has left him feeling more rested than he has since the end of training camp. Which is great, until it's not.
Insomnia is one of the ways anxiety deals with his body. Not the sudden-onset full-throttle kind that almost throttles Jack, thank God: more the perfectly reasonable voice that begins 'You wanted to mention to Pilly that Beemer's favoring his shoulder again'...Beemer's not getting any younger, and that time Jack asked him about the shoulder he'd told Jack to fuck off in no uncertain terms; is asking him again outright better or worse than talking to the captain? should Jack just punt and tell the trainers? Will anyone thank him for any of this? Beemer's defense buddy is so damn cowed but if Jack has noticed it's a cinch that FUCKER Landis in Atlanta knows and Jack had maybe oughta say something before they meet them was that next week or two weeks from then? 'I am sorry to hear that my face resembles that of an informer--'
Jack swears. Breathes deeply: count of ten in, five hold, ten out... maybe six times before the monkey mind runs off chittering--what was that the trainer had said about Leduc's ankle, fuck, they needed him on the second line--
There are nights when uncomplicated masturbation puts Jack out like a cartoon mallet, but his mind is flickering around tonight like an injured moth and his gonads really aren't into it.
He swings his legs out of the bed, feet into slippers. Nothing hurts; he always notices. He remembers to breathe again and to be grateful. Thinks about the light he'd seen the other morning falling against the ugliest building in Providence (for which there was some serious competition). He is pretty sure there is no God, but there is grace. Providence. Roger Williams. Jack's head doesn't quite throb at the thought of Anabaptists, antinomianism, and Anne Hutchinson's sister, but it's not a night he feels like reading.
He pours milk into a cup, sticks it in the microwave, glissades across the truly elegant bamboo floors from the kitchen to the bathroom. Pees. Does whatever he can to change himself from The Person Who Is--I mean, Has Been--Awake to someone else. Who will get back into bed and go to sleep. He rinses his mouth, slides out toward the living room windows and the dull reddish glow of the streetlight.
The microwave goes off; Jack likes that it stops before its series of beeps runs out, as soon as he opens it. Doesn't go on beeping when the information had been received. Doesn't fuss, doesn't yammer. Doesn't ask stupid questions. Now he's here and it's all real, he's watched a couple of Kent's games, watched him handle the media scrum post-game, watched the way Kent's eyes flick around before he says whatever remark is nine-tenths appropriate.You have to know Kent to know he's conning them.
Deep breath. It isn't actually difficult to put Kent back out of his mind; right now Kent's not a problem. Actually, life isn't too much of problem, except that Jack is AWAKE.
There is such a thing as too much quiet, not that he'd ever have thought that while he was at Samwell. No one is playing MarioKart in the distance. Or Beyoncé.
He stirs a teaspoon of honey into his warm milk, a shake of cinnamon. Walks like a boring person back to bed, carefully not watching the potential splash. Cup set down gently on the bed-table, Jack gets back under the sheets. Success.
He can see his laptop lurking nearby. He'd told himself he wasn't this kind of guy. Not a stalker, not a perv...Roger Williams had wanted his colony to be a safe place for everyone with a troubled conscience. It didn't seem likely Roger Williams had included 'men who lay with other men as with women'. Well. Times change, Roger. I hope you'd understand. You were decent to the Indians.
The warmth of the milk, the sweetness, the cinnamon, are welcome to his mouth, but they don't exactly turn his brain off. The cinnamon. The cinnamon was from a faux-rustic storefront in Arlington Shitty'd taken them to one day when he and Jack and Lardo and Bitty had made some kind of goddamn astronomical conjunction and managed to be in the same place at the same time. Shitty had muttered about the rays of UST coming out of the car windows being visible from Alpha Centauri. Jack hadn't even had to mention pots or kettles, just looked at Shitty's tired sad manic face.
He opens his laptop finally, sighing deeply. Jack doesn't need a bookmark; he'd left the tab open. Runs the cursor back from where it had played itself out the last time he'd used it. Forty-five minutes of what Jack wants and needs and feels problematic for seeking out. A comfort like nothing else. He'd tried other sites, he knows this has more to do with the messenger than the message... and he wants to go to sleep. It wasn't a _person_ he's using as a means not an end, well... it's presented_as_ a means, isn't it? And maybe he'll take the knowledge he indirectly acquires and do something good with it... particularly if he gets at least seven hours of sleep that night.
Damn it. Jack is not a sneaky kind of man. He likes openness and simple rules. Fucking Internet culture. It's not like he's taking advantage of anyone. Watching a video, no matter how much the presenter had thought himself free from prying eyes... LOTS of people have seen it already, though this is the new one. He hasn't looked at the really old ones.
Jack moves and clicks the cursor about halfway into the action, where he thinks he left off. He'll feel bad about it in the morning.
He swallows the last cooling sip of milk, puts the cup aside, and scrunches down into his sheets, watching Bitty's hands roll out the piecrust. The warm, well-remembered voice pours over him as Jack sets his laptop aside again, open and turned toward him. "So you can use ice water, of course, but Lord knows, substituting half the water with vodka will give you a flakier result because the alcohol doesn't combine with the flour protein the same way as water does..."
Jack's eyes are closing. He can hear Bitty talking about using scrap dough to decorate the top crust. "... S and two hockey sticks for Samwell Hockey; I'm planning to send this to one of the guys who graduated last year--"
Jack opens his eyes. The logo on the pie is familiar. Its half-eaten remains are in a dedicated drawer of Jack's Sub-Zero refrigerator. He is watching the Making-of video for his own pie. That will make it easier to tell Bitty about him watching it. Or maybe more difficult--
Jack can feel the tickle in his mind toward worrying about what Bitty will say, how he'll react, how...'I mean, is telling someone their voice puts you to sleep a compliment?..'
He rewinds the video to the rolling-out again, breathing with the cadence of his friend's voice, relaxing into it like the memory of a long hug, the meaning of the words falling away. "....say it with flowers, but I don't know any better way to say it than giving them something I've made them to eat..."