windsnocturne: (Clay/Apollo)
[personal profile] windsnocturne
Title: Within Dark Corners
Fandom: Ace Attorney
Prompt: Wildcard (PTSD)
Rating: PG-13
Characters/Pairings: Apollo/Clay
Warnings: Spoilers for Dual Destinies, PTSD symptoms, near-death experiences, mild medical stuff, violence

Summary: Clay Terran is not fine, and Apollo hates that he can't make everything fine.

The first month after Clay gets out of the hospital is hell for them both. Apollo can't stop thinking about just how close he was to losing the person he loves, can't shake the image of Clay in that hospital bed, bloody bandages on his chest, worrying something might happen to take Clay away from him after all.

And Clay? He's tormented by the memories of that day-that moment he was cornered, the shine of those sunglasses, the pain, the darkness, the weight. I thought I'd died, when I opened my eyes I was so sure the hospital room was heaven until I saw your face, heard your voice, he'd said his first night home.

Clay's physical recovery is just fine. He follows the doctor's orders, taking his medicine and staying in bed and letting Apollo clean and dress the wound every few hours. Apollo takes care of the housework as best he can, lets Trucy help him with the cooking so they don't have to rely on takeout until Clay's up to cooking again.

But emotionally and mentally, Clay is a mess. He hides it well during the day, when he uses the time to catch up on his reading and talk to anyone who drops by to visit. But Apollo can tell he's just doing it to keep himself distracted, he can sense the fear and the depression in Clay's smiles and the way he moves.

It's at night when things get really bad. The incident has left Clay with a paralyzing fear of dark places and narrow hallways, or people approaching him without ample warning. One night, Apollo finds him halfway towards the kitchen, flattened against the wall, frozen in place and barely able to breathe. His eyes are wide open, wild with fear, pupils narrowed like a cat's.


"Stay back!" Clay holds up his hands, as if trying to shield himself from someone or something. Apollo very carefully puts his hands on his shoulders, rubs them slowly, lets Clay get his bearings. When he's calm, he lets Apollo embrace him, sagging against his shoulder.

"Sorry," he murmurs. "I wanted a glass of water...I didn't want to bother you while you were sleeping." He sighs. "I thought maybe this time-"

"This has happened before?" Apollo frowns. Clay pulls away, looking guilty.

"Just a few times," he says quietly. "Like the other night when I wanted to make sure the toaster was off. I took about five steps before I freaked out."

"You should have told me." Apollo hugs him closer. "I would have gone with you."

"I'm sorry."

"Don't apologize." He kisses Clay softly. "Come on, I'm thirsty too, let's go together." Clay gives him the barest hint of a smile as they head for the kitchen. After that, Apollo always makes sure the hall light is turned on before they go to bed.

One night, Apollo comes home from working late on a case to find Clay in the brightly-lit living room, Mikeko curled up at his feet. This isn't the first time one's waited up for the other, but this time Clay's hugging his knees, checking his watch, his eyes staring straight ahead at the door. The bracelet doesn't even need to react for Apollo to realize it might be a good idea to let Athena and Mr. Wright take all the overtime for a while.

But worst of all are the nightmares, because there's nothing Apollo can do to stop them. Worse, they don't even come every night; sometimes Clay sleeps perfectly well, but on the nights Apollo wakes up to his thrashing and gasps of fear he feels helpless.

Part of Clay's recovery includes weekly therapy sessions, but while Dr. McCoy is highly skilled and understanding the sessions are only half an hour and there's only so much one person can do. Logically, Apollo understands this, but seeing Clay so afraid and vulnerable tears at him and he wishes there were a way to just fix this.

It's a bad one tonight. Clay always tries his damndest not to cry after he wakes up from a nightmare, but this time there's no holding back the tears when he's able to pull himself out of it. He reaches for Apollo, and Apollo holds him as tightly as he can.

"It's okay," Apollo whispers, "it's all right, Clay, he's gone now, you're here, safe with me." He guides Clay's head to his chest, strokes his hair, keeps whispering comforting words to him until he begins to calm down.

"I'm sorry," Clay murmurs, hiccuping. "I hate feeling like this, I hate being so weak, like such an overgrown-"

"Don't even finish that sentence," Apollo scolds gently. "You were attacked, someone almost took your life, you have every right to be a mess right now." He kisses Clay's forehead. "But you're going to be fine, Clay, I promise." Clay burrows further into the embrace and Apollo rubs his back, feeling his breathing slowly return to normal.

"Come on," he says after a long silence. "Let's get you into a nice, warm bath. It's time to change the bandages anyway."

"All right." Clay slowly pulls out of the embrace and stands, leaning against Apollo not for the physical assistance but for the security as they head to the bathroom. He peels off his sweaty pajamas while Apollo fills the tub with warm water and some bath salts Juniper gave them. They're supposed to be good for aches and pains, and emotionally relaxing. Clay takes off the bandages carefully; by this point they no longer stain with blood and are mostly there to protect the wound from germs or further damage.

The mark stares at Apollo from Clay's bare chest, and he breathes deeply to keep from getting upset himself. This is about Clay. He needs me. He kneels beside the tub as Clay sinks into the water, Apollo carefully running a soapy washcloth along his chest. They don't talk for some time, Clay taking comfort in his touch and Apollo making sure to wash away all traces of soap when he's finished.

"Thanks," Clay sighs. He looks more relaxed, even with the dried tear tracks on his cheeks and the circles under his eyes. Apollo strokes his bare shoulder, reaches for his hand.

"You really don't need to keep thanking me. Or apologizing."

"It's a reflex, I guess. I haven't been this frail since I was a kid, and even then it was just catching colds all the time." Clay smiles weakly. "Remember when we both caught that bad flu, and I kept whining about how I was gonna die? I wish I could go back in time and smack thirteen-year-old me for being so dramatic." Apollo rolls his eyes, smiling.

"Come on, Clay, it's not like you could predict what would happen ten years later."

"Yeah, I know..." He sighs, squeezing Apollo's hand, wet fingers interlocking with dry ones. Apollo feels water drip onto his pajama sleeve, but doesn't care.

"You'll be fine," he says, his free hand smoothing Clay's hair a little. "Just remember, no matter how bad things seem, you're Clay Terran and you'll be fine." Clay smiles again.

"Just like when we were kids." He shook his head. "I was crying back then, too."

"Hey, you had a good reason then and you've got one now."

"It hurt." Clay closes his eyes. "I felt the knife go in, I tried to fight him off but the space suit was so heavy and I couldn't breathe and when I tried to..." He swallows, fighting back more tears. "Everything hurt. They say Ms. Blackquill found me just as I passed out...that if she hadn't gotten there when she did..."

"I know." Apollo strokes his cheek, squeezing Clay's hand to reassure them both. They sit in silence again, until both of them start to get tired. Apollo helps Clay out of the bath and lets him dry off before he gets the cream and fresh bandages. Once Clay's fixed up, Apollo brings him a fresh pair of pajamas.

"I think tomorrow I'll talk to Athena," Clay says. Apollo nods.

"Good." Athena isn't a licensed therapist and she can't fix Clay any more than Apollo can, but she can help him identify and work through his feelings. Like taking vitamins on top of seeing a doctor every year for a checkup.

Mikeko's waiting for them when they come out of the bathroom, and Clay kneels down to give her a few pets before she follows them to their room. For once, she actually waits for them to get into bed before she plops down at the foot and spreads out like a furry foot-warmer.

"Think you can sleep now?" Apollo asks, pulling him close again. Clay nods against his chest, sighing quietly.

"As long as you're here."

"I always will be." Apollo kisses the top of his head. "I love you."

"I love you, too." Clay curls closer to him and is soon fast asleep. Apollo sighs, exhausted but still taking a few moments to watch over Clay while he sleeps.

He's still got such a long road ahead of him, and some nights will be as bad as this, maybe worse. And all Apollo can do is be there for him, but he's beginning to realize that's enough and it always has been.

(no subject)

Date: 2017-08-28 07:49 pm (UTC)
From: [personal profile] sorakh28

(no subject)

Date: 2017-08-28 08:22 pm (UTC)
sarajayechan: &hearts; <lj user="livebites"> (Apollo)
From: [personal profile] sarajayechan


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