Part VII: Sleepless Night
That night, I went to bed at eight, sleeping around four hours until my alarm woke me up a few minutes before midnight. Síthmaith had told me that the dreams usually came during the witching hours. I’d stay awake through it and go back to sleep in a few hours.
I took my laptop and quietly left the room, my roommate still peacefully sleeping. I went upstairs where there was a small lounge. I found the regular couches, as opposed to the living room’s big modular couch, to be more comfortable and set up there. As my computer booted up, I went downstairs and got some snacks and a whole liter bottle of pineapple juice.
There wasn’t a whole lot I could do at this hour; everyone I knew was fast asleep and it wasn’t like I could do anything superhero or magic related by just googling it. So I booted up Heroes of the Metropolis, running a few teams with the other night owls.
Somewhere around one, I heard a loud thud coming from one of the room. A second later, Ahti ran out of their room in a panic.
“Ahti are you okay?”
“She threw something at me…” They said. “I’m scared…”
It took me a moment to remember who Ahti’s roommate was; Jaime the asocial telekinetic.
“I’m sure she didn’t mean it.” I said.
“Well, she seemed to be sleeping.” Ahti said.
“See? I think she just did it unconsciously, it happens sometimes with humans, we do things in our sleep.”
“Really?” Ahti looked at me like they were trying to see if I was making stuff up.
“Yeah, my sister Emma’s a sleepwalker pretty often. One time I woke up in the middle of the night with her throwing a whole pile of spare blankets on me. In her dream she thought I was cold. She just went back to sleep afterward. ITharii don’t do that?”
“No, that’s just weird.”
“Oh yeah, I can attest that sleeping Emma says and does weird stuff. One time she was panicking because she couldn’t find her ‘pocket hippo’ even though it doesn’t exist. She went back to sleep once I told her it was at the grooming salon overnight.”
Ahti laughed. “Humans are silly.”
“Yes we are.”
Ahti just stood there for a moment, unsure of what to do, they were still obviously on alert. “So, do you want to lie down here? I’ll look out for any danger for you until I go to bed.”
“But what after you’re gone?”
“I guess you could sleep with me. But you know the pants rule.”
Ahti looked around the lounge and nodded, going back inside and coming out with pants on while holding their blanket and pillow along with their plush; Mr. Hopper. They dropped their stuff beside me and lied down. I couldn’t resist but tucking them in.
“Sleep well little guy.”
“Little one.” Ahti said, already half asleep.
“It’s little one, not little guy.” They mumbled.
I had no idea what Ahti was talking about but I let it go. Beside, they didn’t have the consciousness to really answer me anymore. I sat back down on another couch and started playing again. I had about another two hours before I’d be clear to go to sleep without eldritch dreams invading my mind.
Sometimes around two in the morning, the door to room six opened and Amber flew past me and went downstairs in a hurry, her night shirt hung to her body with sweat. It was a chilly evening so I knew that it wasn’t just temperature… Although I couldn’t see it from where I was, I could hear the sound of the shower opening up.
A few minutes later, She came back up, dressed in a fresh PJ bottom and shirt, both of which were black, for some reason she seemed to wear nothing but black and dark grays.
“Can’t sleep either?” Amber she said.
“Yeah, I get nightmares these days.”
“Guess I’m not the only one…” She said, a mix of nostalgia and sadness on her face. “Ahti doesn’t seem to share our problem.” She nodded to them, who was sleeping like a brick, giving a whistling-like snore.
“Oh yeah, Ahti can fall asleep in seconds, lucky them.”
“So, what are you doing?” She then said, livelier.
“Just working on some stuff.”
“Ah, stuff, that’s always fun.”
I couldn’t help but chuckle.
“Oh it’s just gaming stuff; Tyler’s showed me a new build I’d never thought about in HotM. Basically it’s a dual blade and force field tank that relies on deflection; basically forcing every mob to gang up on me sending damage back to the enemies. While it’s not quite main tank good, it takes care of trash mobs really easy, which really helps against the ‘Organization’ which is a minion heavy enemy group and–”
I looked at Amber and she was just staring.
“You have no clue what I’m talking about, do you?”
“Not a clue in the world. But you seemed so passionate about it that I just had to listen.” She said with a grin.
“As you can see, I’m a colossal nerd.”
“And that’s supposed to be a bad thing?” She said teasingly.
I shrugged. “My family thinks I need to get interested in more important stuff.”
“That’s a shame, I guess they can’t see you passion.”
“So, what’s this HotM game about?” She asked, sitting beside me on the couch.
“Oh. It’s a superhero role playing game. Basically you create your hero or villain, pick your powers, weapons and etc and then go through the storyline. Since it’s an MMO, there’s a whole lot of player and a lot of the content is meant to be played with a group.”
“Want to roll a character?”
She hesitated. “Sure, why not?” She then said.
I logged out and slid my laptop closer to her on the coffee table, directing her to the character creator. I guided her through the character creation; choosing her base powers and character mechanic.
In the end, she settled for a blade and superspeed villain character she named ‘Stabby McStab’
“Sounds like such a nice guy. I mean, I can just imagine him talking about how it’s ‘knife to see you’ to people.”
“Okay, that was bad and you should be ashamed.” She said with a chuckle.
“Pff never. And if Ahti was awake they’d wake the whole house laughing at how funny I am.”
“In your dream, even Ahti wouldn’t fall for such a terrible pun.”
I fainted a pout. “Oh, the loading’s over.” I then said, nodding at the computer.
Her attention turned back to the laptop and she started going through the tutorial zone; stabbing a whole lot of enemy heroes and villains in her way.”
“Seems pretty fun. Although, maybe it’s just hat I’m not an expert but this is the most convoluted controls I’ve ever seen…” I’d forgotten that my custom key-binding wasn’t exactly newbie friendly.
“Oh right, we should probably change the controls to a simpler scheme.”
“How do I do that?”
“I’ll show you.”
I put my hand on hers, helping guide the mouse. I could feel the roughness in her hand, the calluses around her hands, a sign she fought or trained a lot. I opened the options and changed the key binding to the default set for her character.
“We’re all set.”
That’s when I noticed that she was looking at me. We were so close and I couldn’t help but feel the moment between us. My face immediately caught fire and turned redder than a tomato.
She gave me a smile and I turned away.
There was no way this was happening; I had to be experiencing delusions. There was no way she was interested in me… I mean how could she be? How likely was it that she was gay?
She was probably just being a pal… That’s what I told myself, I was reading too much into this.
I thought about bringing my magical sight to see if she had a bond toward me but threw that idea away. It was an invasion of privacy.
“I better go back to sleep if I want to be able to follow classes tomorrow.” I said. “You can keep playing if you want.”
“Nah, I’ll continue another time.” She said, sounding a bit disappointed. “It’s not as fun without you helping me. Beside, I’ve gotta get in one that napping too.”
“Alright… Goodnight Amber.”
“Goodnight Annabelle.” She said, with a wave and a smile. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
I woke up Ahti and together we went downstairs to my room. Amber didn’t ask any question as to why I was bringing them with me though.