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too worried to be sleeping

Chapter Text

I heard a glass shatter on the wall in the apartment above mine
At first I thought that I was dreamin'
But then I heard the voice of a girl
And it sounded like she'd been cryin'
Now I'm too worried to be sleepin'

 

 

Alex had a long day. Whoever said law school was hard was right. He’s been home for hours, papers and books spread all over the floor, and he’s not even halfway done. Sleep won’t come early tonight.

It’s three am when he finally gives up and decides to try again tomorrow. He takes a shower and almost falls asleep under the spray of warm water. Just as he’s getting ready for bed, Alex hears something in the apartment next to his – it sounds like glass shattering on the floor. Then, the voice of a man, choked up, like he’s been crying.

He wonders if he should do anything about it. He’s really, really tired, but he knows he won’t be able to sleep peacefully if he ignores this. He pulls a hoodie over his head and crosses the hall to apartment 3B. He knocks, and after a few moments of waiting, a man opens the door, and Alex is speechless for a moment. He’s gorgeous, locks of blonde hair falling in his eyes, a soft ocean blue. How had he never noticed him?

Looking closely, he can also see his bright red nose and the purple skin under his red rimmed eyes.

“Hello?” The hesitant, almost scared voice snaps Alex out of his thoughts. The man holds the door open just enough for Alex to see him, but not inside the apartment.

“Hi. I’m Alex, I live in apartment 3A. Are you okay?”

The man blinks. “Sorry?”

Right. He probably seems like a creep right now. “I was getting ready for bed when I heard something shatter. It sounded like it came from here, I just wanted to ask if everything was okay. And offer help, if you need any.”

The man keeps looking at him with such vulnerable eyes but tries to compose himself, and clears his throat.

“That was really thoughtful of you, but it must have come from somewhere else.” He adds, “I’m okay,” in a weak voice, like he doesn’t believe his own words.

Alex is nowhere near convinced, but it’s obvious the man doesn’t want to talk right now, and Alex doesn’t want to push. “I must have heard it wrong,” Alex says slowly, tentatively, trying to give him an out, and he knows he made the right call when the tension in the other man’s shoulders snaps a bit.

“Must have been the wind outside.” He shrugs slightly.

“Of course. I’ll be going then,” Alex says, and turns to walk back to his apartment.

“Wait.” The man’s voice calls him back, eyes just a little bit clearer than when he opened the door. “Thank you, anyway. For checking in. I’m Henry.”

“Nice to meet you, Henry,” he says, and receives a small smile in return.

“You too, Alex.”

With one last nod, he watches Henry close the door and turns back to his own apartment, still thinking about those beautiful eyes, however sad.

He doesn’t get much sleep that night.

The next day, as Alex takes the stairs to his apartment after a long day of classes, he bumps into Henry, who’s just leaving the elevator. He’s so distracted he doesn’t notice him until it’s too late, and their chests collide, making Alex drop all his papers on the floor.

“I’m so sorry, I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

Taking a good look at him, Alex knows whatever was going on yesterday still hasn’t ended. Henry looks tired, and there’s still a tension in his shoulders, his jaw visibly clenched.

Henry’s already gathering his things by the time Alex snaps out of his trance.

“No, no, I’m sorry, I was totally lost in my head and didn’t notice the elevator doors opening. You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m good.” His voice is forcibly cheery and breaks slightly by the end. Alex doesn’t believe him for a second and starts to get more and more worried.

Calm down, dumbass, you don’t even know the guy.

Before he can say anything else, Henry hands him back his things and stands up. “See you around then, Alex.” With a quick nod and rapid steps, he’s unlocked the door and entered his home before Alex could even finish saying “Thank you.”

He stands there for a moment, looking at Henry’s door and down at his stuff. He shakes his head and unlocks his own door, preparing himself for another all-nighter of studying with endless cups of coffee until his brain can’t take it anymore.

And he tries, he really does.

He tries to focus on the words in front of him, textbooks and papers spread all over the table, laptop balancing dangerously on his knee, cursor blinking mockingly at him from an empty document. He tries to keep in mind on the pages in front of him and not across the hall, but it’s a futile task. He can’t stop thinking about Henry.

Remembering the smooth British accent he heard, he gives up on studying for now and makes a plan. School can wait.

Ten minutes later, he’s knocking at the apartment in front of his again, a cup of hot tea in his hand – he always has some around for when June comes to visit him. He hopes his neighbor likes Earl Grey.

The door opens to reveal Henry again, now dressed in a dark blue hoodie that brings out the color of his eyes, and grey sweatpants that make him look inexplicably soft.

“Hi.”

“Hello.” Henry’s very visibly confused.

“I brought you tea.” Alex points to the mug in his hand. “I hope you like Earl Grey.”

“I—I do. Alex, why did you—”

“We don’t have to talk,” he smiles gently. “But you’re obviously going through something, and you want me to leave, I will. Feel free to tell me to fuck off.” That drags a smile out of Henry, however small. “But I made you tea, because I hear British people are crazy about it and it brings them comfort, and if you want some company, my door is always open for you.”

Henry stares at him with disbelieving eyes before hesitantly reaching for the mug. Taking a small sip, his eyes automatically close at the feeling. When he opens them again, they look directly into Alex’s. “Thank you, it’s perfect. And… I’d like that. Company, that is. If you mean it.”

“I do,” he promises. “Have you eaten?” Henry shakes his head, blowing on his tea. “I have a lasagna for two in the freezer, twenty minutes in the oven and it’s ready. Do you wanna come over right now?”

Henry smiles, a little shy. “I’d like that. Meet you there in five?”

“Of course.” Grinning with pride, Alex crosses the hall again, contemplating how the hell he’s going to clean up the mess inside before Henry arrives.

He’s opening the door to his home when Henry calls him back. “Alex?”

He turns to see Henry still watching him from the doorway with soft eyes, hands wrapped around Alex’s mug. “Thank you, again. For everything you did.”

Alex’s heart clenches in his chest. “It’s my pleasure.”

He doesn’t stay there to watch Henry close the door, he doesn’t, but he does see the corners of Henry’s mouth tug up a little, and thinks he did something right.