"When I sleep, I remember. I can't drink enough to stop remembering."
"So you don't sleep."
"Yeah." He wrapped his arms around her. "So I don't sleep."
"You can sleep tonight, Tony love," she assured him softly. "I won't leave, I promise."
"You love me, right, Birdie?"
"You know I do."
"I mean, you love me for me. Despite me being me."
Laughing, she held him close. "You just realizing that?"
"I've always known, but maybe I didn't really always believe it." He sounded so very tired. Once again, Charlotte was struck by his fragility. He'd spent three months in hell, and he looked it. More than that, he radiated it. "They think I'm crazy, the board, the world. I'm not, Birdie, you know I'm not."
"I know, Tony."
Slumping against her, he whispered, "I should be dead, just like Yinsen, just like Jimmy. How come I'm alive and they aren't?"
How many times had she asked herself a similar question? Why did she get to live forever when those she loved grew old and died in what seemed like an eye blink? "I don't have any answers for you, Tony love. How I wish I did."
"They need to be avenged," he muttered.
Charlotte froze at those last words. From anyone else, she'd write it off as the booze talking, but this wasn't 'anyone'. Those words from Tony Stark she took deadly seriously. But that was a conversation for daylight, not for the still hours of the predawn.
"Come on, Tony, time to sleep now." She scooched him over onto the bed with her, pulling the throw over him. He settled half against her and she wrapped her arms around his chest. "I won't go anywhere, trust me."
He sighed. "You're always so good at this."
"The tea and comfort thing."
"I've had practice."
"Mm-hmm. When I was much younger, there was someone I loved very much. He used to have nightmares and he'd drink too much trying to keep them at bay. I'd hold him just like this, and he'd sleep a peaceful sleep."
"What happened to him?" he asked.
"He died." Her voice caught just a little.
"I'm sorry, Birdie—"
"Shhhh – it's okay. It's okay."
"We'll talk in the morning," he told her.
"We will," she promised.
He was quiet for a bit, then said, "You won't tell anyone about this, right?"
"You know; you, me, in your bed…," he trailed off meaningfully.
"Ah! You mean you and me in bed and no sex." She giggled. "Have no fear, your man-whore reputation is safe in my hands."
"Knew I could count on you, Birdie," he said, amusement tingeing his voice.
"No one would believe it anyway," she pointed out.
"True." He sounded very smug.
"Go to sleep, Tony," she ordered softly. Then to Jarvis she said, "Turn off the lights please, Jarvis."
"Yes, madam." It was once again dark in the room and Tony's breathing took on a more measured pace.
Charlotte shifted to a more comfortable position against the pillows, her mind drifting in the dark quiet, reminded sharply of Chris and holding him just like this on so many nights. And then, as she so often did when the night seemed at its darkest, she wondered if she'd ever see Methos again, or if he were even still alive. It had been so very long and sometimes she doubted that they would ever find each other again in so wide a world. But her pensive thoughts were interrupted.
"Birdie?" he murmured.
"Don't I get a lullaby?"
She choked on laughter. He really was a brat. "Sure. How about a rendition of 'Turn On Your Heart Light'?"
He laughed sleepily. "I'm going to get you for that in the morning."
"Go to sleep, Tony," she whispered once more.
"Mmm, yeah, that sounds good...," his voice drifted away, and this time, he seemed to finally fall under the spell of sleep. Soon, she felt the steady rise and fall of his chest under her hand.
"Sweet dreams, Tony love." The sound of the ocean below and the soft sound of his breathing intertwined, pulling her into down into dreamless sleep where there was no memory and no grief, only peace.