Sleepless Nights

Title: Sleepless Nights
Time Period: June 18, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Not the fun kind!

For a flatmate, Cas Blackburn takes up very little space in the flat itself. Not just in size, but in the amount of personal belongings he brought inside. Everything he owns seems to fit in a flat crate that slides under the bed and on a coat and hat rack that he came home with one night, claiming to have traded a fish and a handful of berries and other fruits for it.

But at some point during the night, the box got pulled out from under the bed, sliding against the floor. Not quite loud enough to wake her up, but something noticed in the dim light coming from the other room. He hasn't pushed it back under, yet.

Sitting in front of the teakettle, he holds up a folded piece of paper he seems to be trying to read, while he waits for the water to heat. The level of the fire doesn't look like it will bring the water to a full boil, just warm it, and a small packate similar to what Aislinn might hand a patient sits on the table nearby.

Cas is so busy with his attempt to read in the low light that he doesn't seem to hear anything else.

It's hard to say what causes Mariah to stir, but it's the lack of a warm body next to her that keeps her from rolling over and drifting off again. She props herself up a bit to blearily look around before it sinks in that he's in the other room.

Barely missing tripping over the box, she grabs a robe to slip on as she makes her way out. Fingers lazily knot the tie around her waist before they shift to push mussed hair out of her face. She's quiet enough even without Cas' distraction, but it's hard not to notice her when she comes up behind him to slide her arms around him.

"Can't sleep, love?" Sleepiness is her own cause of distraction, and once she's pressed a kiss to his cheek, her chin rests against his shoulder.

Bare shoulders, but she's used to him being shirtless in the evening. Cas did take a moment to put some loose trousers on, however, so he's not completely unclothed. A pair of, what he calls, his more broken in clothes. Meaning it's something he likely would not want to wear in public. Various tears in the seams and wear in many places, it even looks as if a mouse got a hold of it once or twice and chewed holes in the legs.

But they're comfortable, or so he claims.

The arm almost makes him jump, and a hint of tension can be felt in his shoulders. Could be from lack of sleep. Or surprise. "I— I didn't hear you get up— did I wake you?" he asks, with worry lacing his tones. And it seems he's occupying himself with folding up the piece of paper, with legible handwriting in what could be a poem. But he seems intent to put it away.

"Yeah, I couldn't sleep, but it's nothing, really."

"Sorry, didn't mean to surprise you," Mariah says with a little smile. The tension isn't enough to make her pull away, not with him, it seems, although her hold loosens some. "You didn't wake me," she says, which may or may not be her being nice, "Still getting used to sleeping when it's dark."

That much is true, though.

"If you're going to practice reading, you should put on more light," she adds. She didn't try to read his paper, nor does she stop him putting it away, but it seems she did notice.

The tension starts to fade, as Cas settles into the realization, though her not being used to sleeping at night seems to have made him smile, enough to make that dimple appear on his cheek. "This isn't bright enough?" he says, still smiling as he twists his head to return that kiss she'd given him. Light and gentle, but not without a lingeringness to it.

That piece of paper, though, is kept folded up in his hands, almost as if he's trying to protect it a little. It seems he still has some secrets.

"I shouldn't be too much longer, I— this is supposed to help, is all." While he does his best to clean up after himself when he does this nightly routine, she's likely noticed cups that shouldn't have been used sitting to dry in the morning, and the kettle as well.

Mariah meets him for that kiss, her hand reaching up to touch his cheek. When it ends her smile is a bit wider and she looks just a little more awake. "Well, it's plenty bright for some things," she says, her tone playful.

"Take your time, Cas. I wasn't trying to hurry you. Just noticed you missing, is all." And decided to remedy that, it would seem. "Does it? Help, I mean." Whatever she's noticed, she hasn't been pressing him about it. Not given the source of his trouble sleeping. "You know I don't mind reading to you…"

"I know you don't," Cas says quietly, reaching to set the piece of paper on top of the small package of herbal tea that he'd started to make. The kettle gets removed from the fire soon after, before it even starts boiling. It's warm enough, though.

"I mind, though— not the reading part. I like that, I— I just don't want to ask you to use your magic all the time, I guess," he trails off, as if unsure how to explain it. She may not have pushed on the questions, but he seems to know that she's noticed.

When he goes for the kettle, Mariah stops him so she can pour it herself. She hasn't used the tea much herself, but got plenty of practice making it for the girls in the Dovetail.

"Whatever you're comfortable with," she says as she picks up the package to add to the water. "But it isn't a hardship for me. And it might as well be useful. It's been neglected quite a lot, I'm afraid." She still hasn't managed to get proper furniture for this room, but she nods him toward the blanket that's become something of a fixture.

More than once, Cas opens his mouth as if to speak, while she prepares his tea for him, and while she talks about her gift, and how she doesn't mind using it. Even how it's been neglected. Each time he starts to get a sound out, he closes his mouth again, and watches her.

Only when he gets to his feet to settle back down onto the blanket, does he speak up fully, even if it's all wrapped up into one word, "Sorry." After a moment, he grimaces. "No, I— that isn't coming out right. It's not exactly that I'm not comfortable with it, I just don't want to… need it all the time…" he trails off. It doesn't seem he likes how he's saying that either.

"Why was it neglected for so long? I mean— mages seem somewhat common around here and…" That part comes out easier, at least until he trails off at the end.

Mariah looks over his way as he tries to figure out his wording, her smile understanding. If a bit amused. "It's alright. I see what you're saying. And that's okay, too." When she comes over, she settles onto the blanket, too, and passes him his cup.

"Around Dornie, yes. Although, there are still many who're… uncomfortable when they know they're around one, this town has a good number. I suppose, growing up traveling, always meeting strangers, you never know what you should say or shouldn't, as a child. I guess I picked up on saying nothing and then by the time we settled here, it was a habit." Still is, too. Even if talking about it has her looking down at her fingers as she laces them together and undoes them again, she still has a warm smile when she looks his way.

"I guess— You already had one thing working against you in the public's eyes, here, you didn't need another," Cas says quietly, as if he's not entirely sure he understands, but he's trying to. Or at least he's found a way to explain it to himself.

"I guess I can let you practice on me a little more often," he says, looking up at her in a way that almost seems shy. Of all the things to be shy about… After a second he seems to remember the tea, reaching out to take it, though he doesn't sip on it just yet.

"Very true. Admittedly, though, not telling people does sometimes work against me as well." Mariah looks away for a moment then, but it's just a moment before she turns back to him. "Can't please everyone, I suppose," she says, even managing a crooked smile.

But at the offer, she reaches over to put a hand on his leg. "I'm afraid I could only practice the fun parts on you," she says with a chuckle. "And you see, that's another thing about it. There just isn't a lot of cause to bring it out. Not often, at least." There have, of course, been those times when she would have been in a lot of trouble without it, but she's not mentioning those times just now.

"There's bad parts?" Cas asks, a hint of slyness to his voice, but at the same time equally curious as to how bad it could possibly get. "I'm fine with just the… talking or singing me to sleep parts myself. It actually does a better job than this, but— this works well enough, too."

Likely has some side effects, but what medicine doesn't in the end.

After he says that, he takes his first sip from the tea. And when he looks back at her, he asks, "So what did you mean there— about not telling people working against you?"

"Some of it's a bit rough. Not bad for me, but unpleasant for the other side of it." Mariah can't help her smile growing wider at his slyness. "Nothing cruel, though. Promise." She shifts to slide her arms around him again, leaning gently against him. Not that he'll be a good post after that tea, but she'll worry about that later. "I'm fine with it, too. In fact, I dare say I even like being able to help."

She looks up at the question, though, her smile turning toward the bittersweet. "Well. It's just the Beisdean found out, and not from me, and before he left— Well. I think he's decided we're not friends after all." She delivers it all mildly, as if relating a story that happened to someone else, but her head comes to rest on Cas' shoulder at the end, and she tucks into his neck.

It will take a few more sips, hopefully, before he starts to wilt. Cas closes his eyes and leans against her arms already, though, to feel them more than anything else. "Helping does feel nice— you already help me a lot— teaching me to read and everything. And here." A place he's said many times is the nicest place he's lived in since he left home—

Even unfurnished as it is.

After a few more sips, he leans his head against hers on his shoulder, eyes still closed. "Oh…" He hesitates for a long moment. "I'm sorry," he says, without a hint of potential jealousy or happiness that she's no longer friends with him. He never really seemed jealous of her and Beisdean's friendship, but he doesn't celebrate her loss, either. "Maybe he'll come back and you two can be friends again."

"Some of that's a bit selfish. I like having you here, for example," Mariah says, her arms tightening for just a moment in a gentle hug. "And it's terribly lonely with just one." While she doesn't admit it, being on her own tends to leave her… unsettled.

Her shake shakes at the condolences, trying to prove she doesn't need it, even if it all clearly upsets her. "Maybe," she says to his optimism, even if she doesn't quite share it, "If he comes back. I'm not used to people I like being out in the world with a bad opinion of me, so I suppose I'll have to try to patch up." Her smile returns there, tilted even if it is a bit half hearted.

"Can't do much about it now, though. Are you too far into that tea for a midnight snack?" A kiss presses to his cheek before she starts to stand. Apparently she's set on that snack.

"Selfish for both of us," Cas says with a grin, leaning against her a little before she starts to leave on him. It takes him a few moments to get to his feet, finishing off the cup of tea and setting it down next to the 'to wash' cups. He'll worry about that in the morning.

"No, I— think I should go lay down again, though," he says, sounding a little sheepish, as steps over to kiss her on the cheek in return. "I have a very good opinion of you, for the record." It's said with a smile, before he collects his packate and the piece of paper, and disappears back into the other room. To no doubt collapse on the bed and go unconscious. And forget to take his trousers back off.