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Old Familiar Friend

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Jay knows it’s going to be a bad day the moment his eyes drift shut after turning off his alarm. He feels Antonio shift beside him and he knows he should get up, knows he should have breakfast while Antonio showers, but he can’t quite bring himself to do anything about it.

He definitely knows it’s a bad day when he feels the end of the bed dip with Antonio’s weight and he hasn’t managed a single conscious thought other than ‘I should get up’ and ‘I don’t want to.’

“Shower’s free,” Antonio says softly, hand resting on Jay’s foot, and Jay sighs in response, rubbing at his eyes as though that might make it easier to open them.

He drags himself out of bed, more because he doesn’t want Antonio to worry or ask questions than anything else, and makes his way to the bathroom.

He stares at his reflection as he waits for the hot water to come through, and groans softly, hanging his head. He looks as tired as he feels, like he hasn’t slept in weeks even though he managed a full eight hours the night before.

He’s not sure how long he spends standing under the shower, staring off into space, but Antonio’s light knock at the door sends a flash of guilt right to the pit of his stomach.

“I made you toast,” he calls through the door.

Jay’s honestly grateful Antonio has chosen to respect his privacy in that moment, respected the closed door, despite how many times they’d shared the bathroom in the morning, because he’s not sure he could handle Antonio looking at him right now. He’s not sure he could handle anyone looking at him right now. The very thought has his skin crawling, and he's already imagining the myriad of ways that will pose as a problem throughout the day.

He hates days like this, days where everything he does feels detached and mechanical. He hates that he can’t appreciate waking up next to Antonio, or the warmth of the shower waking him up, or the taste of whatever he eats, whether it be as simple as toast or as elaborate as pancakes.

Most of all, he hates the way he can feel everyone else hating him, too. He knows he’s difficult on days like this. He knows he snaps and snipes and is hard to be around. The worst part, he thinks, is the way Antonio seems to avoid him like the plague, because even though the thought of being anywhere near anyone else sets him on edge, all he really wants is for Antonio to hold him close and tell him it’ll be okay.

He sits down on the closed toilet seat, only half-dressed, as his eyes sting with tears that he tries desperately to blink back.

He understands why Antonio wouldn’t want to be near him like this, he honestly does, but right now the thought that Antonio’s likely already left for work, that he has to do the rest completely unprompted, has his chest aching and his eyes burning.

He stifles a sob, jumping as the bathroom door opens, but it’s too late, he’s already too far gone, and tears spill down his cheeks as he hangs his head, shame filling him up.

Wordlessly, Antonio kneels on the floor in front of him and delicately takes the shirt from his balled-up fist. He swipes furiously at his eyes, breath hitching as he tries to keep his tears at bay. He knows he’s being ridiculous. He isn’t the first person in history to have bad days, and nor will he be the last, and yet the earth keeps turning, the world keeps moving, and everyone else manages to get on with their day.

“Please don’t cry,” Antonio whispers helplessly, cupping Jay’s face with a firm hand, catching tears on his thumb. “I can’t stand to see you cry.”

“Then go,” Jay stutters out, pushing at Antonio’s shoulders.

“No, that’s…” Antonio sighs, but he doesn’t reach for Jay again. “That’s not what I meant.”

“I’m fine.”

“You look it, too.”

Jay’s head snaps up, and he’s surprised to find Antonio smiling at him. Hesitant, but still smiling.

“Shut up,” Jay sniffs.

“Can I hug you, or do you want me to leave?”

The question catches Jay off guard, and for a moment he’s stunned into silence, but then Antonio offers him a sad smile before moving to get up, and Jay reaches out for him.

Antonio pauses for what feels like forever before taking Jay’s hand, moving back in close, slowly, like he’s approaching a spooked animal. The moment Antonio’s arms are around him, Jay grips him back fiercely, pressing his face into the crook of Antonio’s neck as his tears threaten to spill over again.

After a while, they pull back, and Jay knows his face is a mess, but the world feels a little lighter than it had before, and he knows that’s all Antonio.

“How can you still look so attractive while crying?” Antonio asks with a soft laugh.

Jay swats him lightly on the shoulder, half-sniffing, half-laughing. “Shut up.”

“What? It’s true. You’re beautiful.”

Jay offers him a small but genuine smile in response, not quite sure what else to say, what else to do. He feels lucky, all of a sudden, to have Antonio in his life, and though that’s not a revelation in the slightest, it takes him by surprise to actually feel something when he’d started his day so numb.

Wordlessly, Antonio helps him put his shirt on before standing, holding out his hand for Jay to take.

“Your toast has likely gone cold,” Antonio says softly as he leads Jay out of the bathroom. “But I think it’s a bagels and fresh coffee kind of morning anyway, don’t you?”

“We’ll be late,” Jay says with a small shake of his head, reluctantly letting go of Antonio’s hand so they can put their coats on.

“So we’ll be late,” Antonio says with a shrug.

Jay laughs, surprising himself by how genuine it feels, how at odds it feels with the darkness still clinging to him. “I’m blaming you if Voight tries to kill us. I’m not going down for your bad choices.”

He's grateful Antonio doesn’t point out that it’s entirely Jay’s fault they’re running late, and as Antonio takes his hand again, he feels like maybe he can face the day after all, with Antonio by his side, ready to catch him when he inevitably falls.