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you are brave, sweetheart

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Henry wakes up and there it is. If Bea were here she would call it one of his ‘moods’ because Pez once told her ‘depressive episode’ sounded too terribly tragic.

Regardless, the same sense of nagging is in the place where his ribs meet, the guttural emptiness in his chest, and the pit in his heart, like some person ripped out his left ventricle just to fuck with him; is still most denfinitely there. It feels so utterly physical as it vibrates through his bones. There’s a heaviness to his limbs that makes it feel impossible to move even though his bladder is begging him to. 

In an objective sense he knows that this will pass, that this episode is fleeting. He knows that his head will concede soon enough, but right now the ache running through his veins feels especially digient. Everything also feels abundantly useless. Every attempt a being happy, every therapy session, every trail and tribulations for medication that didn’t make him feels like a zombie, every mention of the word neurotransmitter, all feel futile. 

It’s not even that he is sad. It is so much bigger; as hard as he may try, he’s not able to stuff this into some reclusive part of his brain because it is a part of his brain. It’s also nothing. He feels nothing. Just a hollowed out like a shell of the person his normal is. If he had to describe how he was feeling currently on one of those hospital pain scales, with the series of happy to sad faces, he would have the chart sent off to space and unceremoniously flung out of the spacecraft so that it would instantaneously combust.

The thing is, his life is incredible. He lives in New York with his boyfriend, America’s golden boy, stunning and smart. The person loves him not despite all the messy parts, but because of them. Alex, who is inexplicably bright and vibrate with life. Alex, who saw what all of this could cost them and their families and still chose him. He can be himself, live his truth, help young people who feel like how he felt, and he’s a god damn prince. Yet he’s still very much depressed.  

So, in lewd of walking over to the toilet, he reaches over Alex’s mildly concerning collection of sticky notes and his equally concerning pile of cornetto wrappers, and picks up Pride and Prejudice. Judging by its battered spine and the amount of annotation covering the pages he should basically have it memorized at this point. But the words don’t register in his head and the harder he tries the more they blur together. So he settles on rolling over and staring at Alex. 

Alex wakes up, takes notice and raises an eyebrow at him. Normally this would make him smile, Alex would then say something clever, they would kiss, and it would all be very lovely and picturesque and mind numbingly domestic. Yet on days like this none of that happens. He instead manges to see through the gilded cage Henry spent so long attempting to construct. Trekking through the vignettes of tightlaced smiles and stuck out jaws to uncover the threadbare person underneath. Therefore, he doesn’t say anything and instead settles for running a hand through Henry’s hair and pressing a kiss to his forehead. Alex wrangles up the bed till Henry is eye level with his chin, allowing him access to the expansive area where Alex neck meets his strong shoulder. He tucks his head there and tries to turn off him mind for a little while longer. 

There’s a ping a Alex’s phone. Eyes wander to the notification, it reads ‘SOHO”S BALTHAZAR BRUCH, WE’RE REAL FUCKING NEW YORKERS’ and Henry feels entirely awful. Because this was suppose to be their weekend. For the first time in weeks it wasn’t going to be packed full of appearances or press conferences. This weekend was going to be a wonderful mix of movie marathons, making out, facetimes to June, and overpriced french dairy and pastries for bruch. But they’re going to have none of that because Henry’s stupid brain can’t function.

He shrinks away in guilt. Trying to fold his lanky frame into the smallest possible surface area on the bed. Alex looks a little disappointed in the sudden shift away from him. He remedies it quickly with a neutrally practised understanding expression. It doesn’t work. Alex heart is very much on display like always, but at least one of their bloody emotions make sense. 

He used to bombard Henry with questions. Do you want to talk about it? How can I help? Did you know I can fly transatlantic right now and fight the queen? He also used bombard Henry with long winded speeches. I love you so much. You deserve the world. You are so wonderful. Do you want a list on why I love you, or a powerpoint, I can do both. 1.) your rounded vowel sounds 2.) your expanding color plate of ties 3.) your very wrong but passion opinions about the star wars. That was the abridged version obviously because your eyes look glazed over and that’s now mildly concerning me. 

It never went unappreciated, but he knows now that it’s not what Henry needs. Instead he drags him to the bathroom and forces him to finally take a piss. He lets Henry stay in bed and answer emails for him so he’s less stressed. He feeds David, makes tea with the perfect milk to sugar ratio, talks quietly about law school, orders take-out kabobs, and reminiscence on the time the ‘super six’ conduced their own janky bake-off, filmed on Nora’s iphone. 

He also doesn’t asks because he understands that Henry will tell him once he’s ready.

“I’m sorry we couldn’t go out for bruch.” 

He's vaguely unsure if Alex could even hear him. Between the fact that his face is smushed half-way into a pillow and convoluted path of his soundwaves would have to travel because he's encased in blankets from head to toe. Apparently he did, meaning his attention is snapped away from his laptop and his head pops around the precariously piled stack of law textbooks, poetry drafts, and paperwork for Pez’s foundations on the dining table.

“Don’t worry about it baby, I wasn’t sure if my arteries could handle the amount of butter I was planning on consuming today.”

Which startles a small laugh out of Henry, which in turn makes Alex positively beam and look semi-smug proud of his accomplishment. He walks over to the couch and retrieve Henry from his banket cocoon to wrap his arms around his shoulders and kisses the top of his head. Henry wonders if this is why southern hospitality is a dubbed phenomenon. 

Alex can’t fight his fights for him. That’s something Henry will have to do for himself. So when the dark waves pull him deaper into the sea, Henry has to be the one who swims. He has to be the one who chooses not to drown. To be brave. In spite of the frigid water and unyielding winds, he does just that. Maybe then, Alex can be the lighthouse on the horizon, a stubborn example of hope.