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Cricket Song

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You’re woken up with the odd sense that something is missing.

Sitting up, you examine your surroundings blearily. The RV looks untouched, though you can’t make out much in the dark. You feel around on your bed for your phone, using it as a flashlight to check your bed. Everything was still in order, still in the place you left it, if not a little messier from your movements in the night.

Your next thought is to check on G. You wait for a moment, listening for his breathing. (G doesn’t quite snore-he just makes this weird whistle-hum noise that’s almost a snore. You teased him relentlessly about it.) Unsurprisingly, you don’t hear it. Looks like it’s one of those nights.

As quietly as possible, you twist around to scavenge up some more appropriate clothes. It’s not exactly cold out, being the middle of summer, but it’s certainly not warm out in the forest at night either. A light sweater and some loose pants should do just fine. Once you’re properly dressed, you swing your legs over the edge of your bed and slip off carefully, using the lip of G’s bed as a bridge between you and the ground.

Both brothers had a tendency to have nightmares. Bad ones, if the way they thrashed or cried out was any indication, though they never told you. Aster was a little more talkative about them, sometimes giving you bits or vague details, but for the most part after a nightmare he just wanted to bundle up on the couch and read and drink tea. G, on the other hand, never let anything slip, and while some nights he would simply play it off, there were other nights-like this one-where he’d simply clam up and slip out and not speak for a few hours.

You do what you can for the brothers in those moments. You'll make hot tea and curl up on the couch next to Aster and talk about his book, and sometimes he'll even read to you. You'll play along with G’s jokes, or you'll pull a blanket around your shoulders and join him wherever he's escaped to, sitting beside him silently until he wants to head back in. It's not much, but it's all you can do, and it seems to help them, so you'll take it.

It's pretty easy to find G tonight. He's sitting right outside the RV, guitar propped up in his lap and a cigarette between his teeth. He doesn't smoke a whole lot-Aster despises the habit-but he'll sneak one when he's stressed or out on the streets. He's idly strumming the guitar, stare distant.

You approach as quietly as you can, not wanting to disturb him, and slowly- so he can ward you off if he wants. He doesn't say anything, just keeps playing, so you sit next to him, tucking the blanket around yourself more comfortably. The air is filled with the distant sounds of owls hooting, the faint rustle of a breeze, and the soothing sounds of cricket chirps. They’re loud tonight, though not loud enough to drown out the aimless twang of a sad guitar.

The two of you sit like that for a long while, and you take the time to study him. There’s familiar lines under his sockets, bags tinted a faint yellow instead of the bruising purple a human might have. He looks centuries old, with a stare that stretches on lifetimes longer than your own.

It’s times like these when you wish you could see what he sees. It’s times like these where you wish they would tell you more about themselves, tell you what it is they see in their dreams and in their thousand-yard stares. But there are some things that you haven’t told them either, nightmares of your own that you hope they never have to deal with; so you let them have their secrets and you keep yours, and maybe someday none of you will have to bear these secrets all alone. Maybe someday there won’t be anymore secrets between the three of you.

G starts singing, bringing you out of your revelry. He’s pulled the cigarette from his mouth, carefully putting it out. It breathes its dying wisps of sweet smoke as he sings, strumming out a familiar, upbeat tune. It’s a silly little song, but you’ve come to love it after all the times it’s played. You debate joining him, having learned the words by heart, but your choice is made for you when G gives you an expectant look.

You grin a little as you sing with him, sometimes together and sometimes alternating parts. He looks better when he’s singing with you, a little more lively and a little less haunted and pained. He really gets into it, swaying a little in place beside you and expressions animated. In no time at all, you find yourself laughing along with him as the song finishes.

You’re just about to tease him a little when another noise catches your attention. You put a hand over G’s mouth when he tries to ask you what’s the matter, gesturing for him to listen. It takes a moment for it to start again, but then you hear it: cricket chirping.

To the tune of the song you just sang.

Wide-eyed, you exchange a glance with G, who looks just as mystified. The two of you sit quietly as the crickets echo you, some of them even hitting the higher or lower notes. “Magic crickets?” you whisper finally, confused.

G shrugs, but he’s grinning again. He closes his sockets and leans back on his hands, listening. You give your own shrug and decide to join him, closing your eyes and leaning on his shoulder. He tilts his head against yours, and you throw the blanket clumsily over his shoulder, scooting into his side. He chuckles faintly, gently murmuring the last chorus in time with the crickets to you.

You’re not sure how long you both sit out there after that, just curled up under the blanket and listening to crickets. You dimly remember starting to fall asleep, and that G had chuckled and picked you up and carried you back in. You think you hear him talk with Aster, but at that point things get fuzzy and muffled, and you fall asleep on his shoulder.

When you wake up the next morning, you’re tucked back into bed with the blanket wrapped around you like a cocoon. You yawn and stretch, wriggling your way out of your confinements. There’s a heavenly smell filling the RV, and when you peer down the hall you can see Aster in the kitchen, making something warm. Faintly, you can hear the shower running, and you figure that’s where G must be ( why do skeletons need to shower, even? ). You smile a little when you recall the previous night.

Clambering out of bed is much easier when it’s light out, so you have relatively less trouble getting down. You pull the door closed so you can change in privacy, and when you go to open it again, you find G on the other side, hand raised to knock. He grins affectionately when he sees you, using the hand to rest on your head instead. “Morning, Cricket. You sleep well?”

Blushing slightly at the nickname, you smile back up at him. “Definitely.” You don’t ask him if he slept well, because if you know G, you know he probably didn’t go back to sleep. “How are you feeling?” you ask instead.

“Much better, thanks to you,” he replies earnestly, lightly petting your head. He steps forward for a quick hug, mumbling, “Thanks for last night, Cricket, I needed it.”

You return his hug, smiling into his shoulder. “Anytime, G.”