I tried to contain my anxiety around the nightmares and focus on understanding everything else that had been going on.
“So what changed tonight that I caught you out?” He seemed to allow some tension to ease in him, hearing this question.
“I was just climbing onto the bed when you stirred. No time to jump off again.”
“You’d had time to take away my gun.”
“I’m guessing it was the slight noise I made setting it on the dresser that woke you.”
“Why’d you take it from me?”
“I wasn’t sure how you’d reacted to my text.”
“I was…forgive me John, but I couldn’t be sure of your state of mind. Whether hearing from me had unhinged you or not. I had no gauge for how quickly you might resort to violence. I couldn’t risk it.”
I sat up sharply. “Sherlock, you had NO. RIGHT.” I stopped until my voice wouldn’t shake. He propped himself on his elbow and looked at me with an intentionally blank face. It was infuriating. “Taking my gun. Or scaring the piss out of me. or texting me back, or sleeping in my bed, or breaking into the flat, or hiding from me this whole time, I—”
“My bed, actually. And my flat as well.”
“Shut. UP!!” His eyes grew wide at the anger in my voice. I stood up, outraged at his apparent nonchalance. “You are not God, Sherlock! You are not allowed to go about treating the world like you made it and the rest of us just live in it. Do you have any idea how all this feels to me right now??” I was quivering. Not just my hand, my whole body.
His eyes narrowed and I knew what was coming. “More than an ‘idea’. I know that you are quite shaken by the surprise of me showing up, that was clear from your face going white earlier and the stress lines remaining around your eyes. I know you are angry with me for deceiving you, my nose and your trembling are evidence of that. I know you are hurt because I stayed away when you were clearly not well, your tone of voice and how it catches in your throat makes that one abundantly clear. And you are embarrassed by my frequent presence in the flat and this bed. The first one makes you feel stupid, the second makes you feel…uncomfortable. Possibly because of your latent homophobia (it’s all right, everyone internalizes some of it), more likely, the state of your nights.”
“All right, stop. That’s enough.” I turned from him, still shaking, but keeping my voice level.
“No, I don’t think it is.” He sat up and leaned forward. His voice dropped pitch and slowed slightly. “You’re afraid I’ll think less of you because you are plagued by nightmares. Nothing could be further from the truth. The thing I disapprove of is this: your fear that they will take hold of you is unfounded, yet you continue to conflate reality and dreaming which is not helping your state of mind. Nor is the fact that you clearly prefer the latter. It’s making things much worse than you’ll admit. Couple that with your drinking and your gun fixation and this whole situation is verging on very Not Good, John.”
I balled my shaking fists up but kept them at my sides and said levelly, “Fuck you, Sherlock. You are not my therapist.” I turned back in time to see all sternness wiped from his face, leaving something that looked like wistfulness.
“No. I’m not. I’m your friend.” His voice caught on the last word as he reached out and grabbed hold of my wrist. The contact shocked me and I jerked, but he didn’t let go. He pulled me back till I was bumping up against the edge of the bed and still he didn’t let go. I gave in and sat down, my hand resting on the bed beside me. He held on, tracing his thumb slowly in a circle round my wrist bone (the protruding pisiform bone) as my body calmed itself to stillness. My heart, however, sped up slightly.