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Nightcap

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A ruffled mind makes a restless pillow. ~Charlotte Brontë

***

It happened again. I woke from sleep (while I am often plagued by nightmares, tonight’s sleep was uneasy due to a chill in the air and inadequate heat) and stumbled into the sitting room, thinking numbly to warm myself with some tea or something stronger.

I saw my colleague and roommate-in-arms sitting silent by the window. I hesitated, unsure if, like last night, I should retire unseen to my room. Or if I should simply creep to the sideboard for my drink and return to hope for sleep, like the time before that.

I must have spent too long hovering in doubt because James made a sound that was the shortened huff of a laugh and said, “sit down if you wish to. You won’t be a bother to me.”

Uncertainly, I sat in a nearby armchair. I had once thought that these nighttime meetings would be infrequent. But truly it was a unique week where I did not find my companion a silent witness to the night.

I was never sure what kept him from his sleep. Was he filled with doubts about what we do? Seeing the images of the dead whose names and details fill the files that Lestrade sends, the stories that the papers write of mysterious disappearances, tragic accidents. I wondered what Rache and his friend would think of those accidents. Whose blood would spill from the doctor’s knives.

Was he plotting? Planning? Organizing methods to bring Rache, that Restorationist hunting dog, to heel? I frequently fear that this need to win will consume him along with his prey. He has spoken of the fact that it seems fated that we work together, than I am here. I do not know what future will occur should his fate and mine unravel from each other. I do not want to know, though sometimes I dream of it and the terror wakes me more harshly than any memory of a case.

I wondered, but I had learned long ago never to voice that kind of thinking. Even the thoughts themselves filled me with a chill, makes my healing shoulder (now more pink than white, and the thought fills me with something that I have to call happiness, anything else is too dangerous) ache briefly.

It is only a short time before I rise, even colder than before, and seek my bed. I am sure the pattern will repeat again soon, the only unknown being whether it is chance that pulls me from sleep or my own dread dreams.