I woke up in my own house, in my own room, on my own bed. Everything was quiet. The sky was dark and I realized that I’d been asleep at least until night fall. I sat up and rubbed my eyes. I really didn’t know what was going on. Last thing I remembered was fighting back a bunch of demons.
I looked at the other side of the bed, still perfectly made, Nox’s pillow was perfectly position against the head board. I rolled over and reached under his pillow and pulled out the notebook. It wasn’t so much as private and I’d rifled through it before. I did it on nights he spent with Dev. They didn’t happen often, but they did. Or when he was gone before I woke – that happened way more often than before.
After Morpheus was dead Nox started a new note book. this one wasn’t littered with dark figures. It wasn’t even his dreams anymore. Well maybe they were, but he was drawing other things. The first page used to be the last page. It was the dream he dreamt about. The three eyes still creeped me out but at least here they didn’t follow you around. But you knew what they represented if you knew Nox. Each the color of our eyes. His fate, his loves. The three people he loved and were part of him.
There was a stone dragon curled up at the base of the tree. In the distances you saw a wolf howling at the moon. Around the tree was a cooper circle, it encompassed everything. It was a representation of Matt – he was a ground, a null, he protected us from magic Nox didn’t quite understand. Nox said it was new, that in older drawings it hadn’t been there. But it was now.
I didn’t understand the drawing. There were images Nox didn’t even knew what meant. His life written on paper. But he didn’t believe in fate or destiny. He said the images changed over the years. They weren’t always the same thing, only the tree. Even the eyes changed over time as his life evolved into what it is now.
It was scary thinking Nox saw the future, even in glimpses he didn’t know about. What else had he seen that he doesn’t talk about.
Flipping to the pages, there were images of all of us. Sketches of our faces, of our eyes, our hands. He was drawing us. His family. There were drawings of me and Dev curled up together playing video games. Of Dee baking in his kitchen. Drake playing with his cars. There was Matt playing basketball at the park and Fae with Dev playing the guitar. There was pictures of Jace and Mia with Naya.
Sometimes there were scary things in there. Nightmares he’d had. But his dream journal was becoming a sketch book.
A throat cleared behind me and I rolled to my side to see who was there. I saw a blue eyed boy staring back at me with a tray of food. “I was hoping you were awake.” He set the tray on the end of the bed and smiled shyly. He nodded towards the notebook, “What’s that?”
“Nox’s sketch book.” I said as I closed it and shoved it back under his pillow.
“He keeps it under his pillow?”
I laughed. “It’s a dream journal. But he sketches out the images he sees. But I think he’s just drawing in it to draw. There aren’t any dates anymore but he still does it every morning.”
“Why?” Alec asked as he grabbed a cup of coffee off the tray.
I shrugged. “I dunno. Probably habit. He doesn’t like change.”
It sounded exactly like the conversation we’d had earlier. “Nox was diagnosed with OPCD when he was younger. Still has it now. He obsesses over order and structure and deviations from his normal cause massive panic attacks if he’s not prepared for the change. Some things like not having chicken salad for lunch on Thursday he can let slide. But if you disrupt all of Thursday lets say because you wanted to surprise him and take him on a day drip without giving him any notice because it’s a surprise makes his crash worse. He’ll go along. He’ll handle it well until it’s too much and then he curls up into himself and he’s nothing. He won’t talk, won’t eat, won’t sleep, just sits wherever he is and tries to capture himself again.”
“I take it, it has happened.”
I nodded. “Dee was surprising us all. Wanted to take us all out to the Hamptons for a day at the beach. Dee doesn’t know all of Nox’s hang ups so the fact it was at the beach was hang up number one. It was a surprise. Dee didn’t make any preparations for the boys and Nox had a panic attack even before we left. He calmed down, said he was okay. I knew better. Dev did too. But Nox is stubborn so we went. We made it through lunch and then Dee wanted to go out into the sand. Nox refused. Dee didn’t take no for an answer and well when push comes to shove Dee won and Nox was a mess from then on out. He followed every instruction without protest.”
“She broke him?”
“No.” I said sadly, “He submitted to her, gave her what she wanted. But he wasn’t there. Problem is with Nox, he puts on a fake smile and he acts happy. Dee refused to see it. Said he was fine and he agreed when she asked. She could have felt him, known what was wrong, but she doesn’t like being an empath so her shields were so tight. They always are Dev says.”
“I don’t know how you do it.”
“It’s a challenge. And we make mistakes like everyone else. But one thing about Nox that works in all of our favor is his insensate need to talk about everything.”
“You mean to for every decision?” Alec asked.
I shook my head. “No. Like you would in therapy. There is a problem and he won’t ask you what is wrong, he’ll just start talking to you about the problem as he sees it. His issues. His problems. And that usually prompts us to respond about our side of things. I don’t know if Dev tells him what we are thinking but Nox always seems to know when one of us needs to talk about something. Even if it’s work related.”
“Sounds good to have around.”
“You like talking about your feelings?”
Alec shook his head. “Well no.”
“Nox does. He’s been in therapy so long it just kinda falls out if you ask. If you don’t he’ll happily just zone out and think his problems through himself. But if you ask, be prepared to listen. I’ve fucked up a few times zoning out while he’s talking. And he’ll say something and I’ll just nod and he’ll call me on it. It’s embarrassing and he gets pissy and won’t talk for days.” I added, “Which you’d think was a good thing, but it’s not. Nox not talking is like Nox having a panic attack. Not good.”
I looked down at the food on my plate and realized it was all gone. I hadn’t even noticed I was eating.
Alec was chuckling at me. “And you say Nox likes to talk.”