Disclaimer: These characters belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al. No copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Note: This story belongs in my Anagnorisis universe. I suggest reading that first, though it's not absolutely necessary.
This is thy hour O Soul, thy free flight into the wordless,
Away from books, away from art, the day erased, the lesson done,
Thee fully forth emerging, silent, gazing, pondering the themes thou lovest best,
Night, sleep, death and the stars.
--"A Clear Midnight," Walt Whitman
He couldn't sleep.
This wasn't a rare occurrence--it happened fairly regularly. It didn't bother him much anymore.
He rolled off the couch and stood. He stretched, easing the kinks from his back. He padded on soundless feet to the hall closet and pulled down an old, worn quilt.
After checking in on his guest (sleeping or trying to?), he reversed direction, heading for the back door. Easing the sliding glass door open, he stepped out into the spring night.
The grass was cool and wet beneath his feet; the air warm and lilac-perfumed. He spread the green comforter on the grass and eased himself down onto it.
His hands linked behind his head, and he stared up at the brilliant night sky. The stars twinkled down at him silently. The bright band of the Milky Way arched across the blue-black blanket of the night, unimpeded by the moon.
The crickets were loud, and his thoughts drifting. That was the excuse he gave himself for not noticing the quiet footsteps approaching him.
A soft woof caught his hearing, and he tore his eyes from the sparkling sky. He caught her dark, fathomless gaze and rose to his feet, firmly ignoring the dizziness that swept over him.
She gave him a small, rueful smile and brushed a lock of hair from her cheek. He returned the smile, taking her elbow and helping her recline on the quilt. He joined her, close enough to know she was there, but not close enough to touch accidentally. The dog settled at their feet, guarding against unknown intruders.
By this time, he knew her sleeplessness almost as well as his own. Granted, it was for different reasons, but they had talked long into the night about topics relevant and irrelevant; they were bound to touch on the reason she was there sometime.
His heart ached as he glanced at the wounded woman beside him. Her eyes searched the sky for... something. Something she needed. He had the feeling she wouldn't find it there.
He knew she was hurting. He could only imagine the pain she was going through. And though he couldn't take her burden from her completely, he could shoulder some of that load. Help her to heal, in time.
His gaze swept her face, memorizing every sweep of lash and curve of cheek. The ache in his heart grew, and he forced it back. This time was for her--she needed to feel safe. His feelings were not important.
Her face turned toward his, and her lips quirked upward. She reached for his hand, and he gave it willingly. Her attention turned once more to the stars, and he forced himself to do the same.
Even as his mind drifted with the spring breeze, he was fully aware of the small hand cradled trustingly in his own.