Young Liam Lunettes is prone to occasional bouts of insomnia. As an adult, this will manifest in a tendency to work long into the night, but just now he has little to do but quietly wander the halls of the Rainsworth mansion. No one knows this about him — not because he's ashamed or embarrassed, but because it's honestly never occurred to him that something could be done about it, and he never bothers anyone when he's out and about in the dark. It's yet another way he goes unnoticed.
Besides, he likes the quiet stillness of the night, when all the people who usually make him crazy are asleep.
One night he rounds a corner and Xerxes Break is there in the hallway, lurking in the moonlight like some sort of red-eyed ghost. He scares Liam half to death, and the spinning mind that refuses to let the boy sleep quickly catalogs a variety of escape routes; this man and his incredible anger are not at all his idea of suitable night-time company. But upon closer inspection, Liam realizes that the lone red eye, though open, is blank, and he's not walking so much as drifting, slowly. Xerxes Break seems to be sleepwalking.
Which makes him even more dangerous, really, but it also makes him dangerous to himself — he's already displayed a tendency to do things like wander into the snow in only a thin shirt and spend hours sitting in the same window. Liam waffles for a moment before letting out a frustrated huff and starting towards the man, deliberately shuffling his feet, trying to wake Xerxes Break from as much of a distance as possible without waking anybody else.
It doesn't work. Liam winces as he starts to get close, calling quietly, "Mister Break? Um…Mister Xerxes?" When there is still no response, he braces himself and reaches out to tug on Break's sleeve. He whips his hand back when the arm tenses and raises, but no blow follows; awareness suddenly snaps into the red eye, and it takes Break only a second to realize he's not in his bed. Another second and he registers the boy in front of him, standing with his hands up between them as if he's expecting a blow. A third and he turns his head to see what's outside of the nearby window. Liam holds his breath, practically seeing the gears in the man's head turn, and at last the eye slides back to Liam. The arm lowers.
"Noisy," Break says, a questioning sort of acknowledgment in his soft voice.
Liam feels his eye twitch; the way he says it, Break has apparently decided that is his name. But at least he recognizes him on some level. He forces his own hands down, slowly, and stutters, "Um. You were — you were sleepwalking, Mister Break."
"Ah," the other man replies apathetically. He regards Liam with the same interest he might have had for a moth on his ceiling, only worth watching because it had wandered into his vision on its own. After a long moment of awkward silence, the boy clears his throat.
"Do you need help getting back to your room?" Liam asks.
"I…" The eye narrows, going a little vague again. "I don't…want to go back to my room."
"…Where do you want to go?"
Break ponders this for a moment. "Out. For some air."
Liam isn't about to take this man around the grounds in the middle of the night and his mind flails a little bit before he takes stock of where exactly they are. "Miss Sharon's playroom is nearby," he says momentarily. "It has a balcony."
Break's head tilts just enough that Liam notices it and takes it for acceptance. He shuffles a bit before starting off towards the playroom, turning back frequently to make sure Break is still there. The man seems to be following his movement, not him, not actually looking at him as they go. Quite frankly, he looks like a lunatic. Someone has given him a set of purple — purple — pajamas, and his hair is out of its typical ponytail, mussed and tangled. He probably hasn't brushed it since he fell out of the gate two or three weeks ago. Without both eyes, he's stopped caring about how much of that hair is in his face so long as he can see at all, and in the dark it's difficult to tell the difference between the hair and the bandages wrapped around his face. Even worse, Liam realizes as they trail through the tidy playroom and out onto the balcony, the man is barefoot, and it's cold outside. Before he can protest, Break has slid past him into the chill, sinking into one of the balcony's chairs and curling his knees up to his chest with a sigh.
Liam stands close to the door, unsure whether his company is still welcome. Xerxes Break could want only a short breather or Xerxes Break could intend to spend the rest of the night planted on that balcony, though Liam doubts he knows for sure himself. The dry air makes him cough a little and Break turns as if to look at him, but his attention is caught by the other chair across the balcony, and he makes a darkly confused face at it. It's the most human expression Liam has seen on him yet, and he peers around the chair and discovers a doll that the servants have missed putting away; Sharon has wrapped bandages around its left eye.
"Ah," Liam says, clearing his throat. "Miss Sharon is…rather fascinated with you." Break stares at the doll a moment longer before settling back in his own chair, looking mildly annoyed, like some irritant he really should have expected has just presented itself for the thousandth time. Liam knows this look because he often wears it himself.
"Do you dislike children?" he asks.
Break thinks about it, then says, "Dislike is not the right word." He doesn't offer any further information, and Liam doesn't try to get any.
The fresh air does seem to be steadying him, though. The vagueness in his face starts to fade a little, and once or twice he looks at Liam as though he might actually be considering the boy's existence. Eventually Liam offers to guide the man back to his own bedroom, and he follows in a docile manner, fiddling with the ends of his hair. He recognizes his own hallway when they reach it, and locates his door without help. Liam gives him an awkward goodnight, but Break stares at him thoughtfully, so he waits to see if Break will say anything.
He does. "Thank you, Noisy."
Liam feels his eye twitch again. "You're welcome," he says, and Xerxes Break disappears into his room.
The next time Liam sees him the poor man has fallen victim to little Miss Sharon, who attacks with a hairbrush and a variety of ribbons. Later the girl asks him to help her find more purple ribbons, as purple is Xerxes Break's favorite color. Liam wonders how she managed to get this information out of him, and whether Xerxes Break will ever decide to learn his name.