Blinking blearily into the darkness the seven-year-old turned over on his bed—Mom had put his favorite sheets onto it, the one with the dinosaurs, and he’d happily bounced into bed earlier that night—and he saw that the little glow in the dark clock from Disneyland said that it was 2:00am. But who spoke?
"Blaine…?" the little voice came again, hesitantly and nearer this time.
"Shaney…?" Blaine blinked against, rubbing the sleep from his eyes when he heard his little brother, only in the first grade, speak.
There was a flash of light and Blaine caught the glow of the big red flashlight that he and his brother always used when they made forts in their room and went “camping” under the sheets and blankets. He saw Shane, who had crawled out of his bed across the room and to him, cheeks streaked with tears.
"What’s wrong?" Blaine asked, sitting up, rubbing his eyes.
"I ha…I had a bad dream…" Shane hiccuped quietly, rubbing his eyes hard to wipe the tears away. "Can I stay in your bed…?"
"Want me to get mom?" Blaine asked, reaching for the cup of water that always stood at his bedside ever since Shane started waking up and doing this. He always told his mom that he got thirsty at night. But Shane was the only one who ever drank it.
Shane just hiccuped, shaking his head. “No.”
Blaine pulled up the blankets and Shane quickly climbed into them. He was still sobbing and sweaty and Blaine hoped that Shane didn’t wet the bed tonight because Dad was getting upset, saying that Shane was getting too big to still be doing that.
Shane’s feet were cold. Blaine made a face as his little brother stuck his feet onto his warm ones, but he just handed him the cup of water. “What was it this time?”
"I was running again…" Shane hiccuped but kept a careful hold of the cup while keeping the flashlight on the crook of his arm. He always tried really hard not to mess up Blaine’s bed, but that usually didn’t work. "I don’t remember. I was just running. I was really scared."
"S’just a dream…" Blaine mumbled sleepily. "Go to sleep."
Shane nodded, still looking sad, holding the cup in both hands, flashlight pointing a beam up to the ceiling where they stuck glow-in-the-dark solar system stickers. After a moment of silence broken only by Shane’s abating sobs, Blaine sat up and opened the drawer by his bed. Shane watched as Blaine pulled out a little plastic bag with a big chocolate chip cookie in it.
"Here…" Blaine said, giving it to him. "Maybe you’ll feel better?"
Shane stared at the cookie, nodded, and took it. He broke it in two, and Blaine took the smaller piece. With only the flashlight, the two brothers ate the cookie, dropped crumbs and talked in whispers. After consuming the cookie, Shane got sleepy.
Blaine pulled the covers up over their heads, and let Shane keep the flashlight on under there. For a while, he couldn’t sleep with the light on, but Shane tired himself out with his crying and dropped off soon enough.
Then Blaine turned off the flashlight, and went to sleep, resolving to put the light back at Shane’s bedside in the morning as he always did, in case Shane would need it again.