It was about four in the morning when the knocking started. Dean sat up slowly, blinking a little bit, running through the possibilities in his head. Did he miss a night shift? Surely they would have called rather than this constant soft knocking. Not frantic enough to be an emergency, but constant enough that he knew it was there, that he knew it wasn’t just a trick of the mind or the pipes settling.
He didn’t bother to put on a shirt, just stumbled towards the door in his gym shorts, scratching idly at the side of his neck, running through a list of names that could be coming to his house in the middle of the night. He unlocked to door, but left the chain on, opening it just a crack.
“Bess.” He peaked out the crack. That name was not the list. “Hold on, let me get the chain.” Dean shut the door again and took a deep breath. Whatever drove Bess to come see him at four in the morning was likely not something good.
He let one more slow breath out through his mouth, and then he pulled the door open again. “Come in.” Bess didn’t look good, per se. Her eyes were red like she’d been crying. Under her eyes were dark like she hadn’t been sleeping well. But she seemed rather put together, not like a woman who walked to his apartment at four in the morning and knocked on his door for ten minutes straight. “Can I get you something? A drink?”
“No.” She crossed past him and sat down on the couch. He sat next to her gently, still not sure what the appropriate response should be, but now very aware of the fact that he was naked from the waist up. “I mean. No thank you. I’m okay.” She gave a little laugh, and shook her head, “Well, no I’m not okay, but I don’t need a drink.” Bess covered her face with both of her hands.
Dean put a gentle hand on her shoulder. “How about you just tell me what you came here for?”
Bess waited three seconds before lowering her hands back to her lap. “I’m sorry to be here like this, I woke you—“
Dean gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze and she stopped talking. After another second, he repeated “How about you just tell me what you came here for?”
“I need you to tell me to get help.”
His hand fell away from her shoulder. “What?”
This time, when the words came pouring out of her, he didn’t stop her, he just let her go on. “I need help. I’ve needed help for a long time now, but I couldn’t admit it to myself and then I sure as hell couldn’t admit it to someone else and I’ve been thinking about it and it occurred to me that I’ll never help me for me, I’ll always convince myself that other people have bigger issues than I do and I’ll never do anything about it, but if someone told me, and maybe that’s part of my issues, but if me getting help was for someone else then I could do it, but then I realized that there are a lot of people who could tell me to get help but I don’t know if I would believe them but I believe you want me to healthy and I’d believe that you’d be concerned for me. I’d considered waiting until morning at a decent hour but the longer I thought about asking you the more I started to talk myself out of it, and I need to come down here and ask you now before I lost my nerve and I’ve said so much now and you’re looking at me like I’ve grown and extra head so I’m just going to curl up and die now.” She let her head fall forward and covered her face with her hands again.
It took Dean a second to realize that his mouth was open, and that he was staring. Slowly he began to piece together the things that Bess had said. He shut his mouth and turned in his seat so that he was no longer looking directly at her when he asked, “Is this about Tay?”
Bess made a soft strangled noise, and rubbed her heel along the scar on her left shin as if scratching at a wound that had longed healed. “No. I mean, that didn’t help. That was a lot of unwanted attention and guilt over his death, so it probably didn’t help, but no. Something’s been off in my head longer than that.”
Dean nodded slowly. “I’m going to get you some blankets. You’re camping out on the couch tonight. In the morning we’ll discuss the best ways to go about getting your head screwed on right, okay?” Bess nodded, and Dean leaned in to give her a hug. As he held her, he realized she was shaking. “Bess, I need you to get better, yeah? I’m not okay when you’re not okay.” Just because it was what she wanted to hear doesn’t mean it wasn’t true.
“Okay,” Her voice was soft, and she sounded exhausted. “I think I’d like to get some sleep now.”
“All right. Let me get those blankets.”