Chapter 4

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Chapter 4

Ruby and Trav stopped in again later that week and it served to recharge Matthias' internal battery. He also managed to acquire a few more pieces of furniture – whatever he could carry or fit on the bus.

Tonight Matthias dragged his weary bones up the stairs toting only two bags of groceries. He fumbled with his keys as he climbed and nearly dropped them back down the stairs before coming to an abrupt halt three steps from the landing. "Trav?"

Travis stood on the landing facing his door. He was completely still, he didn't even seem to be blinking. His lonesome crutch was nowhere in sight and he didn't seem to notice the weight he was putting on his bad leg. He stared at his door, mouth slightly open, expression empty, even in profile.

"Trav?" Matthias tried again, moving up one step. An involuntary shudder zinged down his spine, but he ignored it. He set down the groceries and tentatively reached for Trav's arm.

As soon as Matthias' cautious fingers touched Trav's bicep Trav seemed to snap free of whatever invisible force held him. "Shit!" He yelped and his leg went out from under him.

"Shit!" Matthias echoed as he darted up the last two steps, his fear instinct obliterated. He dropped to a knee beside Travis. "What happened? Are you okay, man? It's fucking late what are you doing-?" Matthias grasped Trav's arm and glanced around, not sure what he was expecting to see. Nothing seemed out of place.

Travis was shaking and Matthias wasn't certain if it was cold, or pain, or something else. The blond boy cupped his face in his hands and sat for a moment with Matthias crouched awkwardly over him. He took several lengthy breaths and slowly raised his head. "What... what the hell happened?" He asked in a voice that was miles away from his usual vibrant tone.

"I don't know. I just found you standing here staring at your door like... I don't know." Matthias found himself rubbing Trav's back in a big brother impulse that was difficult to fight. He scanned the landing again, seeking some invisible enemy. All he spotted were his fallen groceries, his carton of milk balanced precariously on a step. He didn't move to rescue it.

"I don't know what happened." Trav said, scrubbing his face with his palms before raking his fingers through his hair. "I don't know why I'm out here, but my leg hurts like hell. Maybe sleep walking? Was I asleep?"

"You didn't look it, but I've heard some people sleep walk with their eyes open," Matthias admitted. He'd done a bit of research on this for a short story he had ended up abandoning half way through.

Trav stopped trembling and seemed to have settled for blandly confused. Entirely recovered from whatever had come over him moment before.

"Your leg probably hurts because you were walking on it," Matthias pointed out. "Where's you're crutch?"

"I-I don't know. Inside I guess."

"Okay." Matthias chewed his cheek psyching himself up to make decisions, as Trav did not seem likely to be much help in his current, slightly dopey state. "Right. Let's uhm... let's get you back inside and find your crutch huh?"

"Right." Trav shook his head, shaggy hair flopping over his eyes.

Matthias let Trav put his arm over his shoulder and then they worked together to lever him upright. Trav was heavier than Matthias anticipated, but the leaner man had muscle born of farm work and found it hadn't been entirely obliterated by nights behind a security desk.

Trav gritted his teeth and growled in pain as Matthias propped him up, but did his best to cooperate.

They shouldered into Trav's apartment as one. Matthias staggered for a step under Trav's arm as a wall of cold struck him. "Jesus, dude, it's frigid in here."

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