In the darkness, the monsters crowd his mind until he feels they are suffocating him.
He whispers stories into the soft skin of her stomach (it holds the demons at bay, at least for the moment) and she pretends to sleep (even though they both know it's a ruse) while he weaves tales of fire eaters and lion tamers.
'I was scared of the elephants, always of the elephants, just so... big', he admits softly, then grins, 'And then I taught them to pick pockets...'
The words stop, his fingertips dance over her ribs, remembering acrobatics from long ago.
She smiles (knows he can sense it even if he can't see it) and forgoes the pretense of sleep to reach for him, traces the outline of his face, imagines a boy with golden curls and a circus family and a notable lack of nightmares.
He leans into her touch, rests his chin on her belly and closes his eyes with a deep sigh of relief.
For now at least, the devils will sleep.
And so will he.
She is strong enough to protect him tonight.
(And, cloaked safely in the dark, he will let her.)