For Caim, thunderstorms aren't just part of the weather. But when he's sure he's going to have another sleepless, anxiety-ridden night, someone unexpected comes to his aid. < soft family fluff / NO SHIP / something akin to hurt/comfort because. yeah >
Caim had never liked thunderstorms.
Even back when he was a child, he always hated them. The fear was not overwhelming, nor did it stop him from doing his work, but during moments like this - where he had no task to carry out, no orders to be fulfilled - it was maddening.
Step after hurried step. He would probably wear a hole in the carpet at this rate, pacing back and forth as he was. His hands folded neatly behind his back, the general kept up his anxious stride as he wracked his mind, trying to come up with a worthy distraction.
Just as he believed to be onto something, the thunder outside cracked. Light illuminated his house and glared at him from the windows, and by the time it had settled, Caim was left once again with an empty mind and a racing heart.
“By the Gods and all that is holy,” Caim muttered under his breath, “I humbly request you take away this damn storm already.” A pause. “...Please.”
Another crash of thunder. It made his skin crawl, with how close it felt; looming over his house like a starved beast stalking its helpless prey. Caim ran an agitated hand through his hair, his pace not slowing down in the slightest.
It was then that he sensed the presence of another in the room. He put a stop to his movement for a moment to turn towards the entryway to his study, where a girl stood, eyeing him with eyes so familiar in their distance.
“Bryn. Did the storm wake you?”
The girl was Bryn Ardgall, his younger sister. She was currently off duty as well, much to Caim’s relief; although they spent much of their childhood apart, he found pleasure in her company and comfort in knowing that she was safe from harm. Not that she needed him to look after her, of course - she was far more than capable of holding her own out in the world, perhaps more so than he, if he were being entirely truthful. Not that he would ever admit that.
Bryn’s expression didn’t change as she stepped further into the room. “No, Brother. You did. The storm is fine.”
Her tone wasn’t accusatory, at least. She was just stating a fact. Even so, Caim let out a deep sigh, pressing the gloved fingers of one hand to his forehead in a show of exasperation. Not directed towards her, but towards himself. “My apologies, Bryn.”
His younger sister didn’t say anything more to that. Instead, she walked deeper into his study and sat on a nearby sofa, pressing her knees up against her chest. After she was settled, she turned her emerald-green eyes back onto Caim expectantly, waiting for something. Every nerve in Caim’s body was itching to return to his aggressive pacing, but he swallowed those instincts down and took a seat beside her, folding his hands in his lap so that she hopefully wouldn’t see them tremble.
Bryn nodded in approval, then turned her eyes back towards the glass window, watching the rain outside pour down. Caim kept his head down, trying not to pay attention as the thunder growled outside. Finally, after a few minutes of contemplative silence, Bryn spoke again.
“It hasn’t gotten better.”
Her choice of words was careful in their inquisition - she was good like that. Kind enough to not twist his arm, to allow him to answer however he saw fit. He knew she could be more pressuring if she wanted to - it was part of her job, after all - but perhaps that only made him more appreciative of her efforts now.
Bryn nodded again, simply to express that she had heard him. Her eyes never left the window, not once.
Another loud crack, like a harsh scream right next to his ear. Caim’s body stiffened sharply, and when it relaxed after the next few seconds, it descended into small trembling. He clasped his hands tighter together in his lap, begging for himself to calm down. It was shameful and aggravating, how he reacted like this nearly every time it stormed. There were times where he was okay, of course - if he was busy, or during the day when he could still see the light outside, or even if he was tired enough to ignore it - but once it hit nightfall, everything became much more difficult to control.
‘I shouldn’t be like this,’ he found himself thinking. ‘I am a general for the Holy Knights of Gaelen, and Her Eminent’s right hand. To behave in such a manner is disgraceful at best. Mother was right. I’m a disgrace. I need to-’
Just then, Bryn’s head was on his shoulder. Caim blinked, torn from his thoughts, and looked down at her in mute surprise. Her bangs were hiding her eyes from him, and her body language revealed little. She just lay against his side, almost like a tipped-over plant.
“You used to do this to me all the time. Remember?”
Caim furrowed his brow at the thought, but the memories didn’t take long to come back to him. “Ah...Yes, I remember now. Whenever I was frightened, I would sneak into your room.” He hesitated, embarrassment flooding his cheeks a soft pink. “I would wake you up if it was dark. You were always so frustrated with me, but you would keep me company nevertheless.”
Bryn hummed quietly in agreement. She was certainly aware of her brother’s self-consciousness, but she didn’t show it. “It was the only way to get you to go away,” she added, although there was no bite to her tone.
The general chuckled bemusedly, leaning his head back against the sofa. “What a big brother I am, huh? I’m always making you take care of me.”
“Mm,” was Bryn’s only response. The storm seemed to have quieted down a bit by now, although the rain kept hammering away on the roof without any signs of stopping. Caim was a bit ashamed to admit it, but having Bryn close like this again - like when they were children - was more soothing than anything he had managed to come up with so far.
“...I’ll repay you someday,” he murmured. He wrapped an arm lazily around her shoulder and led his gaze to the ceiling, tracing invisible patterns with his eyes in the paint above.
Bryn nestled closer, yawning a little, although she tried to hide it. “Uh-huh.”
Caim smiled bitterly to himself, but didn’t say anything more.
An hour soon passed. In that time, Bryn had fallen asleep still on his shoulder, her body rising and falling with each breath she took. Caim didn’t ever drift off, himself, but instead was able to zone out and forget the storm for a time. He pulled out his phone - careful not to wake his sister - and after checking the time, gently pushed himself up to a standing position.
With surprising gentleness, Caim lifted Bryn into his arms, her feet dangling limply as she rose into the air. He found himself amused as ever that she was such a heavy sleeper, considering her line of work, but he supposed he didn’t mind it for times like this.
The thunder had seemingly passed, and the raindrops on the roof had slowed to a calm pattern of taps now. Quiet footsteps were the loudest sound as Caim walked up the stairs, carrying Bryn to her room. He approached the side of her bed, pushing back the covers as best he could and lowering her into it. She shifted a bit, once, before settling back down, unbothered. Caim smiled gently as he tucked her in, and as he was about to leave the room, he whispered, “Thank you for everything...Goodnight, Brynnster.”
The door shut with a gentle click, and Caim returned to his own room shortly after. With only the soft pitter-patter of rain audible now, the brother was finally able to fall into a deep, peaceful sleep.
Everything would always be better in the morning.