by cimorene

pat goes to a lot of trouble to look at ease, leaning back against the headrest, covering his eyes with sunglasses. he looks more easy at it then picard, but still not quite natural. the too-yellow glare of the sun isn't natural on pat's face. pat's a very polo-neck kind of guy, an armchair guy, a climate-controlled guy, an expensive shoes-wearing-guy.

'last night the moon came and--lit on the edge of my dresser,' says pat, not looking at brent, though there's no one else around, as a quick, furtive glance shows. a graceful gesture illustrates the word 'lit'; brent finds himself staring at patrick's wrist, the rope of tendon bending backwards over bone, the sprinkle of fine curly hair.

the moon?

patrick shifts in the chair, pushing his shoulders back, elongating his neck. the skin under his chin isn't baggy or paunchy as brent knows his has become. 'i was mostly asleep, of course, and i didn't really know whether to look at it, or whether i was dreaming--my eyes had just happened to open.' he sounds almost apologetic.

brent makes some kind of noise which pat must take as encouragement. it probably isn't--it's a strangled noise in his throat, a cough, a laugh, a horribly stifled and uncomfortable noise.

'i opened them again, and closed them--you know how it is. and when i finally looked at it it had turned into a little lamp that i have, that i've had for years. you've seen it--it's the shell of an anemone, all pink and gold, on a little plexiglass base, bren. the lightbulb is inside it.'

brent probably has seen it, though he doesn't remember it.

'so i closed my eyes again. and when i opened them again, it turned into a hand. but it was your hand.'

pat's still not looking at him. brent's breath has gotten caught in his throat. he tries to clear it, and fails. 'i,' he says, without breathing, he supposes.

'it was open--not data's hand, your hand. like...' he pauses, considering, tilts his head to examine his own hand and slowly turns it, palm-out, the fingers slightly spread but still curled. the gesture is somehow imploring. he's still not looked at brent.

brent still can't breathe.

'and i was afraid, which seemed very natural at the time. i closed my eyes again, and shivered a few times,' here he laughs nervously, 'and went to sleep.'

brent watches patrick's hand slowly relaxing from its tense parody of his own back to the armrest. patrick's head is tilted down, examining his own hand, and, anyway, the sun has retreated behind a cloud. the sunglasses are completely unnecessary, besides out of place.

brent reaches out, as languidly casual as ever, pinches the nose-piece between thumb and forefinger, and takes the glasses away. pat looks up under raised eyebrows to meet his eyes; breath returns to his lungs in a rush.

'i don't think you need these,' he says.

patrick's hand has closed over his; his eyebrows are still raised, but his mouth is slowly firming as his fingers clench around brent's hand like it's a lemon he will wring all the juice from. 'no,' he says, but he's not letting go. something, an earpiece, is digging painfully into the fleshy base of brent's thumb.

brent flexes his trapped fingers, which just makes it hurt a bit worse, but doesn't say anything except 'i've had nightmares about you for years' and then later, a second or thirty seconds, he's not sure, 'it's all right.'

the glasses fall and clatter on the cement.