Justin glared at the glowing green numbers on his clock that proclaimed that it was well into the next day. It was three in the morning, and Justin was this close to just giving up on sleeping and trying to power through the day. With a sigh, he wrapped his arms around his pillow and squeezed his eyes shut.
But then there was a light. And it wasn’t the moon, because he’d seen that out the other window. No, this light was almost like a flashlight. But who could be snooping around so late? Maybe it was his father, patrolling the perimeter? Justin knew that his father had been extra cautious ever since his time at Dark Core. Maybe he could help him, after all, sleeping at this point was hopeless.
So Justin got out of bed, pulled a coat on, and walked downstairs where he put his sneakers on. Then, he stepped outside into the dark and began to look around. Nothing in the courtyard seemed amiss, so Justin headed into the main stableyard. It was raining, so he really should have grabbed an umbrella, but at least the coat was at least somewhat waterproof.
And then, he saw it. Just outside the stable gates, there was a Dark Rider, holding a lantern on horseback. Justin screamed, immediately turning to run. The gates were open, but they’d been closed before, hadn’t they?
“Justin?” a girl’s voice called. It was familiar, but then, so were the voices of all of the Dark Riders after he’d spent so long there. Maybe someone had come back to get him, or to finish the job that had been thwarted, or…
“Stay away from me, you demon!” Justin yelled, grabbing the shovel that Maya usually held and running at the Dark Rider. He may not have magic, but he could improvise.
“Justin, no, wait, it’s me!” the girl cried, and pulled her hood back. Justin stopped in shock. Zelda? But she wasn’t a Dark Rider. He dropped the shovel, hearing it clatter to the cobblestones, and Zelda dismounted. Now that Justin’s panicking mind had screeched to a halt, he could see that it was Phantom there with her, not a Dark Horse.
“Z?” said Justin, his voice sounding weak. “What are you doing up so late?”
“Jack wasn’t answering his phone,” said Zelda. “But it’s okay, I’ll just give Ydris a call.”
“You can go to him if you want, I’m fine, I jus-“
“Sh,” said Zelda, holding a finger up while she waited for Ydris to pick up. “Jack? Oh thank god, I thought you’d… you know. But you went to your boyfriend. That’s a relief. I’ll see you in the morning. No, you go to sleep. Fine. I’ll sleep soon too. Night, dad.”
“So everything’s good?” asked Justin when Zelda ended the call and put her phone back in her pocket.
“Yeah, all’s well with him,” said Zelda. “Now, about you, my boy.”
“I’m fine,” said Justin, giving her a smile that he knew she’d see through.
“Why are you up at three in the morning?” asked Zelda.
“I couldn’t sleep,” said Justin. “And then I saw some light out my window, and then I saw you, and then…”
“Oh no,” said Zelda. “I’m so sorry, Justin, I didn’t mean to scare you.”
“No, it’s fine,” said Justin. “I’m the only paranoid idiot around here.”
“Hey, you’re not an idiot,” said Zelda, stepping closer to him and putting her hands on his shoulders. The rain had already soaked her hair and was dripping down beneath her coat, but she tried not to shiver. It got easier to keep warm when Justin wrapped his arms around her.
“I’m so glad it was just you,” said Justin, holding her tightly. “Look at me, jumping at cloaked riders and dark horses.”
“You have every right to be scared of that, Justin,” said Zelda. “But come on, let’s get out of the rain.”
“Okay,” said Justin, stepping away from her. “Phew, I think that fright might’ve actually helped me sleep.”
“Good,” said Zelda. “That was my plan all along.” She giggled, and Justin smiled at her.
Now that the adrenaline rush had worn off, Justin couldn’t stop shaking, so he just sat on the couch with a blanket wrapped around him while Zelda built a fire for them in the living room’s fireplace. Once it was lit, Justin sat in front of it with her, the heat from the fire drying them both. Their wet coats hung on the coatrack, but their clothes and hair were both still soaking wet. They moved to the couch when they were warm and dry enough, Justin wrapping Zelda in the blanket.
“What was the light?” asked Justin after a while of lying there quietly. Zelda looked up at him.
“Hm?” she hummed sleepily. “Oh yeah, that. It was the Light of Aideen fragment thingy.”
“You use that as a flashlight?” asked Justin, laughter in his voice.
“Yeah, why not?” said Zelda. “I have it so I may as well use it.”
“Good point,” said Justin, stroking her hair. He kissed her forehead and snuggled her a little closer.
“Love you,” Zelda cooed, kissing his nose. Justin smiled and kissed her lips this time.