Even before the mayhem began, Liam seldom found much sleep. For most people, a good night's sleep was a matter of putting their head on a pillow and closing their eyes. For Liam, that simply was not the case. Too often would he lie on the bed for hours, his mind drifting through a void. Liam hated it, but never complained about it. He was used to his curse and lived with it. Sadly, there was no true remedy. He supposed that if he could get them, he could take medication for his insomnia, but medication was both scarce and expensive. The only people making pharmaceuticals in this world focused on making more essential medical supplies such as saline, morphine, antiseptics, or even basic acetaminophen. Even those were expensive and not particularly easy to come by. Dr. Lorentz kept the infirmary well-stocked, but sadly had nothing for sleep. The good doctor might have found something for Liam had he actually been told of Liam's condition. Nevertheless, he kept mum on the issue. He had zero interest in dealing with Dr. Lorentz.
When Liam knew sleep would deny him, he chose to forgo retiring for the night and decided instead to take a walk. He did this often, even before the mayhem. When he left his chambers, those words stuck to him: before the mayhem. He tried not to dwell on them or what they really meant, but still they rang: before the mayhem. He wanted nothing more than to go back to the better days, than to live in life where things were still simple and free from evil mercenary corporations and spy bullshit. Most of all, he wanted his father back in command. He had been in charge for only three days and it felt like a mounting a beast he could not see. In his hands were the reigns, but he was uncertain as to which direction it even faced. When the crew asked him what to do, Liam put on a hard face and pretended to know what he was doing. To his knowledge, they believed him. While Liam thought on that, he wondered how much his father did that. Dad was certainly imperfect, so it was entirely logical he went through the same pains of confusion. Then again, he had a quarter-century of experience behind him. Liam had three days.
He gently pushed open the door leading outside to the deck and stepped into the cool, salty-aired night. The sound of battering waves and the feel of crisp sea wind soothed him immediately. The sea was something Liam could always count on and being reminded of it gave him a kind of solace nothing else could. He took a long, deep breath and then began his walk. He decided to go counter-clockwise towards the aft of the Holdsworth, but this was less a conscious decision and more of simply doing what felt right. In times likes these, Liam preferred letting his personal auto-pilot take over.
It did not take over for long.
Leaning against the after railing of the ship he saw a figure. Against the pitch night he could not tell who it was, but as he came closer, he could see that it was a dark haired woman dressed in dark clothing. The sound of ocean clamoring against the hull disguised Liam's steps as he came ever closer, still wondering who this mysterious person was. It hit him all at once who it was. The answer was so overwhelmingly obvious that he could no longer fathom not knowing. It was Isadora. What could she doing at at two in the morning?
Liam leaned against the rail beside her and said, “Nice night, isn't it?”
Remarkably, she was not startled, nor did she act as such. Instead, Isadora took Liam's sudden appearance in stride and made her own remark, “I'd appreciate just a touch more moonlight, but it is a fine evening.”
“Could always be better, right?”
“It could always be worse.”
“Well, it's like dad used to say, 'only way to change it is to do somethin' about it. Ain't sense in cryin' over what you ain't doing anything about.'”
She looked at him and said, “You are remarkably like your father, Liam. And that's a very high compliment and I do mean it. You've got his fire, but not his brunt.” She stared back at the black ocean before them. “You have a certain delicacy to you that your father never had; something I'd say your mother gave you.”
“I wish I was more like my dad though. I can't help but always wonder what he would do and there's too many times where I just don't know.”
“Don't wonder what your father would have done. Trust your own instincts, Liam. This is your ship now, so do it your way. Don't do anything that would disappoint your father, but I know him, and he wouldn't you having to live under his shoulder like that. He knew you have a good head and that's why you are where you are.”
Liam thought it over. He could find no reason why she would be wrong. But it was just hard to accept. He could not force himself to believe anything. Liam resigned himself to just hear her words and know them. Maybe belief would come later. But then a new line of questions entered his mind. He asked, “Hey, Isadora, may I ask you something?”
“If I'm getting too personal or whatever, just let me know, okay?”
“Just ask, Liam.”
“How do you do it?”
“I mean, how are you keeping it together? You've lost more than we have, but it seems like nothing's happened with you.”
Isadora closed her eyes and took a deep breath, “Liam, I don't want you to think of me as some kind of emotionless monster. I'm not. Liam, I just fell from the highest place left in the world. Before I met up with your parents in Boston, I saw two friends, one of whom turned out to be my own personal Brutus, get murdered before my eyes. I was there when your father-” she stopped. Her voice quivered, but only slightly.
“Liam, I- I'm going to confess something to you. And this is odd because- Liam, for a moment I considered jumping over this railing.”
He shifted his stance to one more ready in case she would do it again.
“You needn't worry, I only gave it a passing thought. But, Liam, a passing thought such as that is a terrible thing for one like me. I was trained for years on how to keep my emotions in check. When I worked for the British government, they had had me go in for regular psychiatric visits. I learned control, but that doesn't mean I don't feel anything, it just means that I know how to control them. The fact that I considered jumping tells me that I'm losing control. That terrifies me.”
Liam calmed himself, “Well, hey, I'm pretty terrified too.”
“I know,” Isadora sighed. “I think we all are. But listen, it won't control you. You won't let it.”
“How do you know?”
“Because that is how you beat it. You have to know you're better than your emotions. You can't let that beast within you get any foothold at all.”
“I think I understand.”
“Good,” Isadora sighed. “You'll be alright, Liam. I know it's hard.”
“Yeah,” Liam turned around and leaned against the railing with his back. “So, what are you doing out this late?”
“I haven't had much luck getting to sleep. What about yourself?”
“I don't sleep much, so I usually come out and take a walk.”
“Does it help?”
“Yeah, it does, actually.”
“I used to take a stiff drink and that would help, but I haven't found anything strong enough here.”
“We've got a brewery-”
“That makes beer, Liam. I'm talking about whiskey or brandy or, hell, even vodka!”
“How much do you usually drink?”
“Just a glass at night.” She turned around with him. “Honestly, I really don't drink all that much.”
“All that talk about control and now you think I'm some kind of drunk!”
“Maybe just a little.”
“Bother,” she sighed again. “I'm going back down to bed, Liam. I- it was good talking to you, Liam. It really was.” Isadora started on her way.
“You too,” Liam said honestly. Then he remembered, “Oh, hey, remind me some other time,but dad kept a private stash of his favorite drinks. Mom never drank at all, so she wouldn't mind if I gave them to you.”
“I'll take a look, but if I remember right your father was into bourbon. Nasty drink.”
Liam laughed, “Goodnight, Isadora.”
“Goodnight, Liam.” She closed the steel door behind her.
Liam turned back around and stared again at the moonlit ocean before him. It was nice having but himself and the world, but he would not mind sharing it with his friends. His father did not speak of Isadora too often, but when he did, he spoke highly of her. Liam saw why.
He sighed and remembered his walk. Suddenly, it just didn't matter anymore. He yawned and realized that the night had done its job anyway. Without a second thought, he followed Isadora into the bridge and off to the next day....