A figure stood hovering over him in the night. Cloaked in mystery, its face obscured by the dark that surrounded it, it simply stood still and stared. Or at least, that's what Cason assumed it was doing, since he could not see its eyes. The darkness surrounded it in smooth layers, like deep folds in a dark, silky sheet covering every inch of a bed. What was it doing here? Did it want something from him? Did he know this figure? Of course he did.
From behind him, a light began waxing, filling up the dead night just like a rising sun, only sharper and brighter. From the shadows, the cloaked form stepped into the light. The dazzlingly bright white stream of energy revealed smoky green eyes and slightly tousled light brown hair with dirty blonde highlights. A familiar smirk was flashed in his direction. Bloody hell, it's me. I'm the cloaked figure.
He wasn't afraid, just surprised as he watched, himself, standing there, smirking, light illuminating his face. The light grew brighter and brighter until it cast out all of the darkness, forming a halo of energy that was almost painful to look at. Still, Cason tried to watch as this version of himself transformed right in front of his eyes. When he couldn't see past the blinding visage anymore, he closed his eyes tightly, feeling them press together hard as he tried to make sense of all of this. A warmth enveloped his body as cozy arms slinked around him, slowly squeezing him into a hug. He felt the taste of lips on his lips, sweet like summer rain; powerful like winter rapids.
"It's okay, you can open your eyes." He heard a voice, smooth and sultry like silk against his skin, tingling his ears and surging his body with glorious heat. He could feel the light still beaming against the other side of his eye lids, then, slowly and purposefully, Cason opened his eyes and smiled.
It was morning and it was his birthday. The familiar shape of the love of his life lay next to him in the bed, and Cason nestled closely to her neck, breathing in her warmth and smell as he did almost every morning they spent together. Was this still part of the dream. No, this was real life, even if he could swear that he could see a delicate glowing light emanating from her form.
He spent the evening surrounded by friends, family, and loved ones, with not a care in the world. Not once did his smile fade into a frown. Not once did he stare down into the bottom of his cocktail glass with a twisted and mangled sense of regret laced with guilt and self loathing. Cason didn't even realize that he could have this kind of relationship with alcohol. He sipped the cocktail and glanced down, staring inside the round crystal for the familiar reflection of hurt that had stared back up at him so many times before in the past. The ice cubes were a deep hue, taking on the colors of the spirits in the drink. It was dark, like the cloaked figure; like the night that engulfed him in his dream.
He looked up and across the room. She was smiling, which made him smile, too. Her hair fell in glowing strands around her shoulders and neck. He could make out the complexity in her eyes even from his position on the other side of their little section of restaurant. It didn't take long for his eyes to find her admist their crowd. All he had to do was follow the light.
A friend made a joke and Cason easily cracked a laugh as he sipped his drink. Then he wrapped his arms around his friend's shoulders and tugged him close as he shared in the merriment of the evening. His sister bounded up to him with a casually mischevious look on her face.
"Cason, can I tell you something? I'd like to get rather sentimental with you."
"Of course, Alice, you can tell me anything." He stepped aside from his friend for a moment to give an alluding sense of privacy to their conversation.
"You're my favorite brother." She held back a giggle. Cason rolled his eyes.
"Your only brother." He quipped, sipping again.
"Right. My only brother." His sister repeated the words, but she added a somber tone to them. Her eyes deepened as she gave him a knowing look. "I can't begin to express how thankful I am that you are back into my life. For awhile there, I thought I was going to lose you for good."
Cason cocked his head to the side as he listened to her carefully. He wanted to say something, but she took lead of the conversation and continued with her flurry of words, like a nervous child.
"There was so much darkness in your life for quite some time. I'm glad you have finally accepted light into your life. Because you deserve it. Happy birthday to the only brother of mine. Here's to many more." Clink. Her glass met his, before he could even move into action. Stunned silent for a moment, Cason took a deep breath. Then he steadied himself and smiled, knowing that her words couldn't have been more true. Clink. Once more.
"Thank you, only sister of mine."
His eyes scanned the room almost frantically, but he quickly found her again. He could feel her prescence warming his face, like rays of sunshine escaping a cloud. His eyes met hers, and he kept them open as he smiled into the light.