steady brook

Sleepless

The Davenport homestead is anything but quiet in the middle of the night. Creatures of the dark wake to carry on their activities with noises to match. 

Crickets and frogs chirp and croak their songs; bushes and leaves shift in steady breezes; and the brook close to the manor babbles quietly away. It’s here that you find yourself able to think — able to breath unrestrained and clear your head. And so you sit atop the bridge overlooking the water, legs overhanging between rungs of the side rails.

With all the hubbub and bustle during the day, it’s… nice to have some peace. Some solitude.

“You should not be out on your own at night.”

Peace flees and embarrassment intrudes when you try to hide your surprised flinch. Maybe if it were another person, they wouldn’t have noticed in the cover of darkness with gentle moonlight beaming overhead.

But this is Connor. His senses are honed and little escapes his notice — even if he is polite enough to not mention it. You turn, seeing him standing at the start of the bridge.

“Connor,” you breathe his name and he shifts his shoulders.

It’s late. Very late. He shouldn’t be out or even awake at this hour. Granted, neither should you, but he’s come out to find you, no lantern in hand, with only the moonlight guiding him.

“I did not mean to intrude,” he starts. “I only saw you were not in the house and grew concerned.”

Had he been able to track you down in the damned dark? That’s impressive, frighteningly so, but you have your reasons for leaving.

The manor grows busier and louder with people by the day as the homestead’s familial ties strengthen. Connor’s kindness toward others, especially after Achilles’ passing, hasn’t dissipated in the least. Which is good… mostly. 

It’s good that he’s still himself and does not let his sadness and regret swallow him. But at the same time, the constant company and noise becomes a tiresome sensory overload.

Out here, you’re not quite alone with nature surrounding, but for the most part it’s just you and your thoughts to mingle for as long as you like.

“I just— I was just, uh, enjoying the night is all, Connor. Nothing to worry over. Really, I’m fine.” 

From here, you can just barely make out the lower half of his face with that hood pulled up. His mouth is pressed into a firm and unconvinced line. Definitely not buying it. You could make an ass of yourself and insist for him to leave, but this is Connor.

He’s a bit calmer, a bit more reserved than the others. If anyone is going to provide wordless company, it’s him. And if it will ease his friendly concern…

You wrap your hand around a wooden rail and wave him over with the other. “You can come sit with me if you like, Connor. It’s a nice night.”

His lip line softens and he takes a step onto the wooden bridge, hesitates, and takes another. “The night is enjoyable, but it also holds many dangers. It is good to take care.”

Those footsteps come closer and the mountain of a man sits an arm’s length away from you. He even copies how you sit and drapes his legs over the edge, pulling his hood off his head and breathing in deep. The water that passes below is shallow, but it’s fresh and smells clean. Homesteaders and travelers are always commenting on how much they love the water here on this prime piece of land. And you, too, have come to enjoy it for reasons of your own.

Not to pan for minerals or to fish, but to simply enjoy the company of water that softly babbles away. It’s a sweet sound, a one-sided conversation, that plays on endlessly. During sleepless nights, like this one, the sound is usually enough to relax your body for another attempt at sleeping. Although, on more than one occasion you’ve found yourself nodding off while seated at the water’s edge.

Doesn’t look like that will happen tonight.

“Dangerous, you say?” He nods to your question so you’ll ask another. “Should I be cautious of prowling wolves and bears? Or maybe the damned mosquitoes?”

This time he shakes his head, smiling softly. “There is little that can abate mosquitoes, and while larger creatures like those are not likely to wander this close to the property, there is still danger from travelers passing through who may see an opportunity to overtake a person alone in the dark.”

It’s your turn to smile. “That’s a dastardly thing for someone to do, but — for now, at least — I’m not alone in the dark, hmm?”

He smiles a warm and comfortable smile, even in the chill of the night. Little by little, that warmth reaches you, too, until you smile. “No, you are not.”

No further words need to be spoken as silence is all the two of you can add to the symphony of the night. It plays on, lulling you both into sleepy calm with tender moonlight above and still waters below. Eventually, the melody of sleep grows too much to bear and you depart together for home and for bed.