Stephen was definitely not the hand holding type. I could tell that any PDA wouldn't really be his thing. Stephen is serious, all about business. Stephen is Stephen. But he did put his arm on my waist, sometimes, or his hand on my arm. He'd brush past me or lean in closer to me more often than necessary. I noticed these things. I'd taught myself to become more observant in the Time We Do Not Speak About. He tried to be affectionate. Tonight, when I awoke with a jump, he wasn't any different.
"Rory?" He was sitting next to me, a book in his hand.
I sat up, rubbing my face. "Ugh," I mumbled as he looked me over. I'd fallen asleep on the not-so-comfortable couch without taking my make-up off. I must have only gotten about two hours of sleep before my nightmares woke me. Stephen put his hand on my arm. "You should have woken me up," I said groggily.
"I didn't want to disturb you. I wasn't sure if you'd go back to sleep." I couldn't see his eyes from the way the lamp's light reflected in his glasses, but I was sure he was looking at me anxiously. He knew I hadn't been sleeping well lately. Stephen stood, closing his book and holding out his hand to me. "Here, you get ready for bed, and I'll make us some tea." I took his hand and brought myself up off the couch. As we walked to the bedroom, I felt him squeeze it.
"Don't worry about the tea," I said. "Just stay here for a little while." He nodded and sat on the edge of the bed as I gathered up some clothes and stepped into the bathroom. I actually didn't care if I changed in front of Stephen, if I was honest. He probably wouldn't gawk at me like other guys would; Stephen was too mature for that. On the other hand, I wasn't sure he'd be completely thrilled at the thought. I was still pretty self-conscious about my scar and, even though I'd shaved yesterday, I still found myself worrying that I should shave again. I turned the sink tap off, wiped my face, and placed my toothbrush back in its spot. When I opened the door, I found Stephen in the same spot on the bed, reading his book again. I smiled a little, and threw my clothes into the pile on the floor.
"Is it interesting?" I asked as I walked around him to my side of the bed. Let me clear something up: Stephen and I hadn't slept together. I just always slept on a certain side of the bed in case he wanted to, an invitation. He sometimes slept on the floor, but he usually slept on the couch in the front room, insisting I take the bed. I did not understand this at all. We were technically living together, even if we did have a few roommates (who seemed to have no problem sleeping together.) I chalked it all up to Stephen being the polite, gentlemanly idiot that he is sometimes.
"It is," he said as he closed the book again. I knelt forward and kissed his cheek lightly. "Are you alright?" He asked, pressing me down gently and pulling the covers over me.
"Yeah," I replied. "I'm good. I'm just a little sleep-deprived."
"That's what I mean. What's happening? Why do you keep waking up?"
I shrugged. "They're just dreams. They'll stop."
"What if they don't, Rory? What are they about?" He scooted back a bit more, a little closer to me.
"Nothing, nothing. Everything's alright, just... just stay with me for a little while tonight, okay?" Stephen sighed, but nodded and slid back enough to rest his back against the head-board. He opened his book once more. I guess he thought he'd read until I fell asleep, then would go back to the sofa. Nope.
I turned on my side to face him. He didn't say anything. I wrapped my arms around his middle, resting my head on his chest. "Rory," he said, almost like a warning. Almost.
"Hm?" I hummed in what I thought sounded like my sleepiest voice. I felt him sigh, felt the way his chest moved as he took in the air, and then felt his hand on my head, his fingers in my hair. I smiled with my eyes closed, and snuggled into him. I was nearly asleep when he moved. I hugged him tighter.
"I'm not going anywhere," he assured me quietly. "I'm just putting my book down." I loosened my grip on him and heard the muffled thump of his book and rattle of his glasses as he placed both on the side-table. I heard a click as the lamp turned off and the yellow glow coming through my eyelids was extinguished. The bed moved with him as he pulled the covers from beneath him and laid next to me. His breathing began to slow. I scooted closer to him once again, putting my hand on his hip. His arm wrapped itself around me, pulling me close, bringing me in. I kissed his jaw, he kissed my forehead, and I let the leisurely rhythm of his breathing lull me to sleep. It was the best sleep I'd had in days.
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