Xander didn’t know when it started. One night, he’s sleeping alone, and the next, he’s cuddled up against a warm body that smelled of peanut butter and action figures. It wasn’t that bad, though, and having another body next to his was comforting. So when the first quavering apology was uttered, Xander waved it away. And made sure that he wasn’t alone the next night.
The others knew. They gave him long looks when they thought he couldn’t see—and hey, that could mean he’d turned his head right—and sometimes asked awkward, nervous questions. Or they’d yell and issue orders, decreeing that unless they were short of beds, everyone slept by themselves. Except Kennedy and Willow.
None of them ever yelled at Xander.
Xander did know when it changed. Soothing nightmares was comforting, so Xander never minded when whimpering woke him up. He gathered up an angular, trembling body, petting spiky hair until the dream stopped. Afterwards, if he was too wound up to sleep, Xander would tell stories in a voice he knew was huskier than it used to be. Too many tears tearing him.
The nightmares were always the same. If they’d varied, Xander probably wouldn’t have done it. Or maybe he would have. He wasn’t immune to the unconscious signals, after all. He definitely would’ve talked about it first, though.
But instead, when the next nightmare hit, and the same whimpering phrases were uttered, Xander rolled over used his lips to muffle them. Then his tongue.
That method worked for a week. But then there was one very long day, that left Xander exhausted emotionally and physically. He wouldn’t cuddle that night, just burrowed in his blankets and brooded on his life. What was in it. What wasn’t.
And when the nightmares started this time, Xander rolled over and fed Andrew something much larger than his tongue.