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Zolf stared at the ceiling of the cell willing himself to fall into the inky blackness of sleep. He was exhausted and wanted nothing more than to slip into unconsciousness, but his restless mind wouldn’t give him the peace he so deeply desired.
Sighing, he glanced around the room. Cel was snoring quietly in their hammock, one arm draped over the side, Carter was snoring loudly from where he’d slumped by the wall and Zolf very much wanted to stuff a sock in his mouth. Barnes had finally managed to nab the guard’s cot and Azu had kindly volunteered to sleep on the stairs. That left Hamid sleeping next to him, curled tightly in on himself, whether for warmth or comfort Zolf wasn’t sure. He wished he had guts to offer Hamid the chance to snuggle up with him like Azu so often did, but their relationship wasn’t like that, no matter how much Zolf wanted it to be. If things were different, if maybe he’d been more open, better at expressing his feelings he could've had that same intimacy that Azu shared with Hamid. But things weren’t different.

Zolf was glad for Azu and her constant reassuring presence, she made him feel safe and he saw how much Hamid valued her. That unwavering loyalty and trust between them was so pure, and Zolf hated to admit it but he was jealous. He wanted that same trust between him and Hamid, wanted the offhandedly affection and intimacy that they shared. But Zolf had spent so long being a rock, to hide a tumeriol of emotions always bubbling under his skin, that he wasn’t sure Hamid would ever reach out to him like he did with Azu.
Zolf thinks he's getting better, making steps to be more open, more vulnerable. It’s still hard and sometimes alcohol is needed to break down the walls a bit (or a lot considering everything he unloaded last night) but even with the effort he puts in to fixing his relationship with Hamid the rift between them still feels so vast. Zolf wants nothing more than to just reach out and pull Hamid back to him but he’s scared of the consequences. What if he drives Hamid further away? What if they can never fix this rift? What if-

Hamid twitches and mutter’s Zolf’s name, distracting him from his train of thought. Hamid’s coiled so tightly in on himself it looks painful, face set into a grimace, his eyes squeezed shut ,flickering as he mutters. He twitches and Zolf recognises that Hamid’s having a nightmare, seemingly a bad one at that. He reaches out concerned, but then pulls his hand back, unsure of what to do.
“Hamid?” He whispers. No response. Hamid’s muttering becomes more frantic and he starts to become more distressed, twisting and turning, limbs getting caught in his blanket.
“Hamid?” Zolf says a little louder and he shuffles over to Hamid’s side, What shoudl he do? Should he wake him? Should he grab him to do that? Shit! Why’d he have to be so bad at this?
When Hamid cries out Zolf grabs his shoulder to shake him awake. Hamid startles with a scream and slashes wildly around him, tearing the blanket off and gouging Zolf’s arm.
“Argh, Hamid listen to me!” Zolf grabs Hamid’s wrist with his uninjured hand forcing Hamid to top struggling and stare at him, “You’re alright, you’re safe, its okay, you’re okay” Zolf rambles staring into Hamid’s eyes, trying to will him to breathe and realise where he is.
“Zolf, I- I-“ Hamid gasps as he attempts to collect himself. He drops his wrist and retracts his claws “I couldn’t, couldn't save them Zolf. Sasha… Grizzop, I-“ Hamid chokes out. “And then, then I saw you and there were monsters and I couldn’t do anything, and I was just so helpless and, I, I don’t know what to do” Hamid starts to sob. Pressing his hands to his eyes and folding in on himself. Zolf’s heart breaks and on impulse he wraps his arms around Hamid and holds him close.
“Hey, Hey it’s alright, just uh, just a nightmare right. I’m still here”. Zolf feels Hamid sob further into his shoulder and he curses himself for his wording. Of course all that talk about not being able to save people would cause Hamid to think about whatever happened to Sasha and Grizzop, and now they're gone. ‘Still here’ gods what was he thinking? That just drives home the point that Sasha and Grizzop aren’t here.
All Zolf can do is hold Hamid and whisper to him words of reassurance and comfort- neither of which he’s very good at, but he’s not sure what else to do. They stay like that for a while. Hamid clutching Zolf’s shirt, his face buried into his chest as Zolf gently holds him, rubbing him back and attempting to sooth him. Hamid shifts slightly and Zolf realises he should probably let Hamid go.
But the selfish part of him doesn’t want to let Hamid go. He wants to hold him like this forever, be this close to Hamid forever. Take all his pain away and refuse to let the cruelness of the world take anything more from him. He wants to promise that everything will be okay, wants to never let anything hurt him again. So they stay like that, Zolf trying so hard to help Hamid be okay, and to try and mentally convey everything he feels through the action.

He hears a slight movement in front of him and opens his eyes . He sees Azu looking at him, she gives a quizzical head tilt.
“Everything okay?” She mouths. Zolf nods in reply, he’s got this, he can be here for Hamid. Azu gives a small smile and nods a silent “thank you” before settling back down on the steps.
Zolf shifts to move so he can look at Hamids’ face to gauge how he’s doing. As he does pain flares up his injured arm and he flinches, biting back a swear.
“Zolf are you okay?” Hamid looks up at him, concerned written over his face.
“It’s fine Hamid. Just a scratch” Zolf gives a half smile and attempts to hide his bloodied arm.
“Oh gods, Zolf I’m so sorry”, Hamid takes his arm ever so gently and Zolf’s heart flutters when Hamid cups his hand.
“Really Hamid, it's nothing, er I can heal myself anyway so no big deal”.
“No you can’t Zolf, were in an anti- magic cell, oh dear, I’m so sorry”.
“Er, yes, well I guess you’re right bout that” Zolf stammers. Hamid’s staring at him with such concern and care that it warms Zolf, and it doesn’t help that he’s just so damn pretty because now Zolf’s heart is fluttering and he can barely form words to speak.
“Hold on I’ll bind it for you” insists Hamid, and Zolf’s just about to ask where he’s going to get the bandages from when Hamid starts tearing strips off his shirt and Zolf’s words get caught in his throat as he tries not to stare at Hamid’s exposed skin. He manages to tear his gaze away from Hamid’s waist and instead watches Hamid methodically wind the strips around Zolf’s hand, trying to very much ignore the way his heart jumps every time Hamid strokes the back of his hand. He notices how Hamid’s tongue sticks out slightly and how his brow furrows with concentration as he ever so gently wraps up Zolf’s arm. When Hamid looks up at him through his lashes to see if he’s okay to continue Zolf can only nod, his mouth unable to form proper words as he feels his chest fill with butterflies and a deep blush spreads across his face.
“There, all done!” Hamid finishes with a sheepish smile. And Zolf realises Hamid is holding his hand. He curls his fingers around Hamid’s and squeezes, grateful that Hamid can’t see well enough in the dark to notice how much he is blushing.
“Thank you Hamid, you er, you didn’t have to-“ he’s cut off as Hamid cups his face with his hand to silence him and stares intently into his eyes. Zolf’s face gets significantly hotter and his heart tries to beat out of his chest.
“You don’t need to thank me Zolf, I'm just fixing an injury I caused” and when Zolf tries to interrupt Hamid silences him with a look. “I should be thanking you, for helping me out, for comforting me, for being there when I need it. I- I’m sorry- again for you know” Hamid gestures at Zolf’s arm. “And I guess also sorry for waking you”.
Zolf shrugged, “was already awake anyway, couldn’t sleep anyway”. Hamid squeezed his hand again, and Zolf really wished his heart wouldn’t jump quite so much every time he felt Hamid’s thumb stroke the back of his hand. “Besides, wasn’t gonna let someone I lov-“ Zolf cut himself off quickly, cursing his sleep deprived brain for not being more careful, “someone I... care about suffer. Still very aware of Hamid’s hand on his face he tried to awkwardly reach out to squeeze it but ended up patting Hamid’s hand as he tried to work out if the gesture would be appropriate.
Hamid suddenly seemed to register that he was still holding Zolf’s face with one hand and that the other was wrapped around Zolf’s hand. He dropped them quickly into his lap with a start and looking pointedly away from Zolf’s face. Zolf could have sworn that he saw a blush creeping over Hamid’s cheeks, but it was probably just the light.
“I um, I guess I should let you get back to sleep” Hamid let out a nervous laugh and refused to meet Zolf’s eyes. Zolf cursed himself for trying to push it too far, Hamid was probably weirded out now thanks to Zolf.
“Right, er I guess so” Zolf muttered “you going to be okay now?”
Hamid shrugged and wrapped his arms around himself. “Don’t think I’ve been okay for a while now Zolf”. “I’ve not slept without nightmares since, well since forever, they just aren’t normally this...vivid”.
Hamid’s eyes are awash with that same sadness and pain Zolf so desperately wants to take away, so he pushes down his fear and regret, ignores his brain telling him to stop, and reaches out to hold Hamid’s hands. “Well we might as well try to get some rest, gods know we need it”. And Zolf really hopes Hamid understands what he’s trying to say, trying to offer.
Hamid stares at him with an unreadable expression, and Zolf worries that he might have acted too quickly and made a bad decision before Hamid gives a fond smile.
“I’d like that”.
So they curl up together, Zolf wrapping his arms around Hamid as the halfling nestles into his side. He swears he hears Hamid’s heartbeat quicken, although it could just be his own heart pounding in his ears. Smiling he holds Hamid a little tighter in his embrace as he hears Hamid start to snore.
They both sleep well that night.