|archerken (archerken) wrote in dalton_rpg,|
@ 2012-06-29 13:29:00
|Entry tags:||! thread, @ character: addison parker, @ character: archer kennedy, @ character: npc, status: complete|
In which Addison has a nightmare and Archie becomes an Uncle
Who: Addison, Archie, and Jack Simpson
What: A phone call one afternoon leads to some questions, a nightmare, and a breakthrough by the bathtub.
Where: Chopp 101, Archie's apartment
When: Wednesday, June 27, afternoon/night
Rating: S-OSFW? Sort-of safe for work? It's safe, but there are a couple triggery things.
Jack Simpson was bored, and when he got bored, he had a new favorite pastime. He picked up a phone and dialed an American phone number, one he’d gotten from an anonymous tip at the orphanage he worked at from someone who had implied he was a child molester. That had been a scene and a half to sort out. There was only one person Jack knew, though, who could have, who would have made such a call.
Who would have thought his baby brother Archie had wound up in America?
Addison had grown suspicious of the calls that would come in a couple times a week, the calls Mr. K would rush to answer and hang up on abruptly. When the phone rang one afternoon while Mr. K was at work, Addison answered. “Whatever you're trying to sell, obviously we don't want it. Stop calling already!"
Oh? A new voice? Jack tried to wheedle a conversation out of this boy who had picked up Archie’s phone. “I don’t know what you’re talking about… I’m Archie’s brother, Jack? We’ve been out of touch for a while, but I thought I’d give him a call…”
Addison was be super skeptical. "Mr. K never mentioned a brother." And he answered the phone, cuz he's annoyed with all the calls, considering Archie seems to act slightly different every time he answers one of them. It weirded Addi out.
"I can't say I blame him. We sorta lost touch... I wasn't very sympathetic when his fiance died... sorta a mess myself. But I'm trying to mend broken fences and all that. I'd really like to get to know him more, and apparently his... son?"
Addison didn't buy into the sob story, but he faltered slightly at Jack calling him Archie's son. "I... not quite." Addison had a biological father, and even though Archie was his guardian right now, it was weird to call him 'Dad' when his own dad was alive and well.
"Adopted then? I figured as much," Jack said sagely. "You sound too old to be his son, to be honest, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear my baby Archie's gone the adoption route. He never got adopted himself, you know. Neither of us did."
Addison started to feel uncomfortable about all the knowledge he was learning from a complete stranger. How could he even be sure it was true? "Yeah, let's go with that," he muttered, not wanting to explain the situation.
“No shame in it, kiddo," Jack said, and he was even trying to sound a bit like Archie, like the mop-headed boy he remembered who could smile at anything. "I'm sure Archie's being a good dad. Best one you could ask for, probably, unless he's too light with the discipline. Always had a soft heart, that one..."
"Don't call me kiddo," Addi rolled his eyes. He hated names that made him sound like a five year old. "And uh, he's just fine, a soft heart is a good thing," he added, a little weirded out by the way Jack talked about Archie and discipline. What did it matter to him?
"Oh, aye, I don't disagree, but sometimes Archie can take things a bit too far. He had this pet frog he tried to baby until the girls found out about it... Anyway, you tell Archie that Jack called, and could he give me a call back when he finds some time? Please?"
Addi's guard came back up again. "If he wants to talk to you, he will call. I'm not going to be your little messenger boy," he said in a bit of a hostile voice.
"You answered his phone!" Jack said with a bit of a surprised laugh. "Isn't that the traditional response? No, so-and-so can't come to the phone right now, may I take a message? Just let him know I called and would like to talk to him, would you?"
"Nope, not in this household. He will call you if he decides he wants to. Until then, stop calling. It's annoying." And with that, he hung up the phone.
Archie came home right on time. He didn't like leaving Addison home alone with Jack calling the way he had. It had been a few days since Jack's last call, though, and maybe, just maybe, that had been the last...
Addison put down the phone, frowning when he saw Archie. "Could you please tell your brother to stop calling here? He's weird."
Archie froze for a moment when Addison mentioned his brother. He had a handful, but he immediately knew which one Addison would have heard from. "You spoke with Jack?"
"Yeah, I think that was his name," Addison nodded. "He thinks I'm your son or something. He thinks you adopted me. He wanted me to tell you to call him, but I told him that I wasn't his messenger."
"Ah, well, I hope you weren't rude," Archie said, trying to process everything. "What exactly did you and Jack talk about?"
"Well," Addison started with a slight frown. "We didn't really talk about anything...well, except for you." Pause. "He called me 'kiddo'. I hate when adults call me stuff like that. It's annoying."
"I'm sorry he annoyed you," Archie said, though he was obviously not concerned with that part. "What about me did you two talk about?"
"Uhm, that you and your brother weren't adopted or something...and how you two lost contact after your fiancé died...and how you have a soft heart," Addison ticked everything off. "I didn't ask about anything though. I didn't wanna be nosy and he gave me the creeps..."
"Technically entirely true," Archie said, relieved that that was all Jack mentioned (though upset that Jack talked to Addison at all). "If he calls again, just tell him I can't talk right now and will call him back as soon as I can, then hang up. Don't engage him in conversation."
"Alright," Addison nodded, offering the man a small smile. Though it was definitely more fun to just hang up on him."
"Thank you, Addison," Archie said, giving Addison a distracted smile in return. "If you'll excuse me... why don't you get something picked out for dinner? I'll join you in a few minutes."
Addison noticed the distraction in Archie's smile, but he didn't comment on it. "Okay," he said with a grin. "Finally, we are going to have something that doesn't involve chicken," Addison laughed as he hopped up and wandered into the kitchen.
"You may have to cook that yourself then..." Archie left Addison to go into his bedroom and shut the door. He made quick work of changing from his work attire into jeans and a t-shirt, then took some time to just sit on his bed, holding his head in his hands. Damn it, Jack...
When he emerged from his room ten minutes later, he was his usual smiling self, coming up behind Addison to see what the boy had chosen.
In the kitchen, Addison hummed a little tune as he worked on creating dinner. It definitely wasn't anything fancy; just some wraps stuffed with whatever he could find in the fridge. But it was the thought and the fact that he made it by himself and by hand that counted.
Archie did smile genuinely when he saw that Addison had already made most of dinner, and he squeezed the boy's shoulders as he looked over his fluffy hair at Addison's selections. "It looks delicious, Addi, thank you. No chicken?"
The second Addison felt a pair of hands on his shoulders, he tensed and spun around to see that it was just Archie. "Geez, you scared me...and no, no chicken. I made sure of that," he said with a soft laugh.
"Sorry," Archie said, immediately lifting his hands when he felt Addison tense, holding them up so the other boy could see them. "Wasn't thinking. I don't know why you don't like chicken, though!"
"It's okay," Addison assured, taking deep breath to collect himself and remember that he was in a safe place. "I like it, I just don't like it every day," he insisted.
"But it's so versatile," Archie argued, getting out glasses for them. Addison always got milk with dinner. Always. If he finished his milk, Archie let him have something else, but he needed at least a glass of milk a day ("your bones are still growing. No arguments allowed.")
Addison watched as Archie got out two glasses and the jug of milk. "You're such a dad," he said playfully, rolling his eyes as he picked up the two food-filled plates and put them on the table.
"And you're such a son," Archie answered, pouring Addison some milk and getting some ginger ale for himself. "We make a good pair."
"I’m good at being a son, huh?" Addison smiled. He almost felt bad, considering he already had a father at home. A father that wasn't abusive or neglectful, just...distant. Archie was so hands-on as a guardian, it was strange for him.
"You are," Archie said with a grin at Addison. "Speaking of which, you should probably give your father a call this weekend. I'm sure he'd love to hear from you."
"Probably," Addison agreed with a nod. "I just hope it's not as awkward as it was last month," he sighed. "I wish he would just treat me normally again."
"Just keep up the contact," Archie advised. "Right now, it's different and neither of you really know what to do or expect, so it's awkward for both of you. Give it time to become normal, and he will treat you normally again."
"I hope so," Addison said, taking a bite of the wrap on his plate. "So, uhm...I noticed earlier that you were kind of distracted and tense when I was talking about your brother. Is everything okay?" He couldn't help but ask.
Archie couldn't help but tense again when Addison turned the conversation back to Jack, but he managed to keep his voice calm. "My brother and I don't really get along," he informed Addison. "As he said, we fell out of contact many years ago, and I prefer to keep it that way."
Addison winced when Archie tensed on once more. "Sorry," he muttered in apology. "If I had known, I wouldn't have talked to him...why does he keep calling? Doesn't he know you don't want to talk to him?"
"I pissed him off lately. He's just trying to get revenge," Archie said, delicately taking a bite of his wrap. "This is delicious, Addi, thank you."
"But if you haven't had contact with him in years, how could you have pissed him off? Or is he mad because you haven't been in contact with him?" Addison inquired. He smiled at the compliment, a warmth swelling in his chest. "You're welcome."
"I called his boss to let him know something Jack has done in the past," Archie said. "Apparently, he found out I was the one who tipped them off."
Addison furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. "But...why would you do that? What did he do that was so bad that you had to tell his boss?" Then, something clicked. The way Archie tensed at the mention reminded Addison of someone. It reminded him of himself. His eyes widened slightly, not even wanting to say what he figured out.
"He works with children now," Archie said, taking a sip of his ginger ale. "When he was younger, he would hurt children. I had been... ignoring what I remembered of him, but something one of the Dalton boys told me actually made me realize that I needed to stand up for them, on the off chance he was doing it again."
"Oh..." Addison looked down at his food, his appetite suddenly lost. "I'm not hungry anymore, can I just go to bed now?" he asked in a soft voice, not quite meeting Archie's eyes.
"He's in England, Addison," Archie said quietly. "He won't come here." He gave a little nod to Addison's request, though.
He wasn't too worried about Jack coming here. It was just that he reminded him of Andrew, and all the wounds that were healing from the trial, felt like they were being ripped open again. He got up silently and went into his room, closing the door. He took off all of his make-up (figuring he wasn't going to go back outside his room) and got into his pajamas, which consisted of a band t-shirt and sweat pants. Addison picked up one of the kittens, Harry, and plopped her on the bed, laying down next to her. Burying his face into her soft fur, he managed to drift off in a fitful sleep.
Archie cleaned up dinner, not really having much of an appetite himself. He tried to stay up a little longer but rather quickly gave up and retired to bed himself, just lying on his side and staring out his bedroom window.
An hour or so later, Addison began to groan in his sleep, tossing and turning. Harry had since hopped off the bed and curled up in a pile of laundry on the floor. Addi managed to kick the blanket off of him, and his hands clutched the pillows like he was drowning and they were floatation devices. His dream, or nightmare rather, was so vivid, it was like his brother was in the room, terrorizing him all over again.
Archie was still awake, still staring out the window, his eyes half-closed.
Addison whimpered, the nightmare not wanting to relinquish him from its cruel grasp. His brother was walking towards him slowly, slowly, slowly...and the second Andrew's hands reached out to touch him, he let out a scream.
Archie jerked up when Addison screamed, taking just a moment to place it before he had left his room, bursting into Addison's. He relaxed minutely when he saw Addi wasn't in any genuine danger, carefully but quickly making his way to Addison's bedside to try to wake him from the nightmare. "Addi, Addi, wake up, it's just a dream..."
"No, no, don't hurt me," Addison begged, still under the spell of sleep. "Stop, Andrew, that hurts, stop it...."
"Addison!" Archie didn't want to touch the boy when he was clearly having that kind of nightmare. To touch him now could be asking for a fist in the face. "Addison, wake up! Addison!" He just pitched his voice louder, trying to break into Addison's dream.
Addison's entire body tensed when Archie shouted his name. Addison, Addison, wake up, Addison...his dream took the words and twisted, putting them in his brother's mouth. "Addison, Addison, wake up, Addison," his brother crooned as he started to pull down his pants. "NO!" Addison shouted, jolting himself out of his slumber. He looked around, his eyes large and filled with fear.
"Addi, shh, it's okay," Archie crooned the boy's name, moving closer now that he was awake but not making a move to touch him just yet. "It was just a nightmare, Addison. You're safe here. You're safe."
He heard his name somewhere in the darkness and he could practically feel his skin crawl. "Andrew?" he called out in a meek, scared voice.
"Mr. K," Archie corrected, fumbling over toward Addison's bedside table to find his lamp. "You're safe, Addi. Cover your eyes, I'm going to turn on the light."
Addison's heart continued to race, but he calmed down once he knew that the person who was in his room would do him no harm. He grabbed his blanket and curled up under it, covering his eyes and face with it. He didn't want Archie to see him in such a state, without his make-up to cover up.
Archie flipped on the light, waiting a minute before reaching out and very lightly resting his hand on Addi's shoulder beneath the blanket. "Addi? You okay?"
Addison flinched and recoiled under the blanket at the soft, usually comforting touch. "I thought he was here. He was hurting me again."
"It was a dream, Addison," Archie said, keeping his voice soft and soothing. "Just a dream. Andrew isn't here, and he can't come here."
His fingers curled around the soft material of the blanket as he slowly came out from under it. He looked up at Archie, tears in his eyes. "I know. I'm sorry I woke you up..."
"It's okay," Archie murmured, moving slowly as he reached out to stroke his thumb over Addison's cheek. "I wasn't asleep."
Addison's cheek twitched and he instantly tensed again. "Don't touch me," he whispered, looking down into his lap.
"It's okay," Archie repeated. He rose from his crouch to sit on the edge of Addison's bed, his hands folded in his lap. "Did you want to talk about it?" he asked, fully expecting the answer to be no.
"I don't know if there is much to talk about," Addison said quietly. He moved a hand to his other arm so he could start pinching at his wrist; a sign that he was feeling the urge to cut.
"Hey," Archie said, watching Addison pinch his wrist. "Talk to me about something anyway. How are you feeling right now? What's going through your head?" He didn't make a move to touch Addison again, but he made sure from his posture and the position of his arms that Addison was welcomed to move closer if he needed to.
Addison was never too great at describing his feelings in great detail, so he would usually just use single words to sum up his feelings. "Scared. Unsafe. Anxious. Tired. Tense. Upset. Angry."
"What are you scared about right now?" Archie asked, picking the first word and trying to expand on it a little.
"My brother," Addison said, biting back a scared whimper. "My brother coming back and hurting me again. I know he's in jail, I just have a feeling he will get out anyways. He still wants to hurt me. Badly."
"There are precautions you can take," Archie said, "things you can do to lessen your chances of being hurt by him again. There are things you can do to stay away from him too. And as long as you're here at Dalton, you are safe."
"I'm also scared for you," Addison continued. It was almost like he didn't even hear Archie's advice. "Because your brother is like my brother, and I don't want him to come back and hurt you either." he paused, pinching at his skin again. "Why do people do that to people they're supposed to love?"
"Because they're hurt or damaged themselves," Archie said with a sigh. "Addi, Jack won't come here to hurt me. He can't hurt me, not anymore. He can annoy me, frustrate me, maybe even upset me, but he can't hurt me. And all those other things, I can move past. You don't need to be scared on my behalf. I'm going to be okay."
"Do you think my brother was hurt too?" It was common for victims of abuse to become abusers themselves, but Addison could never even dream of hurting someone else. Not like that. "But I don't want you getting hurt! You're the nicest person ever, and you take care of me even though you don't have to, even when there are much more needy kids out there..."
"I think he definitely was," Archie said. "Probably not the same way he's been hurting you, but something hurt him. Similarly to how you lash out at yourself when you're hurt, he too lashed out. Instead of hurting himself, though, he hurt you. Jack is the same way. He tries to hurt others because he can't hurt himself." He smiled a little at Addison's words about him. "Part of my niceness, Addi, is because I've been hurt. I know what it's like, and I want to do what I can to ease some of that hurt for others. I wouldn't be nearly so nice if I'd never been hurt."
"I know it's selfish, but I wish he hurt himself instead of hurting me," Addison muttered, the force in which he was pinching himself getting stronger. "I would pick being not nice before getting hurt any day...wh-what if I turn out like him? I would rather kill myself than hurt someone else like that, but what if it happens anyways?"
"Some people don't have the mental fortitude needed to be able to self-inflict pain and injury," Archie said. "It's not selfish to wish he did, though." As long as Addi stayed with pinching, it was okay. Pinching wouldn't accidentally kill him. "Addison, you won't turn out to be like him. Just the fact that you are aware what he did was wrong and you would sooner die than do it to someone else means that you won't turn out like him. I can promise you that."
"But what if you turned out like your brother?" It was a horrible thing to say, but Archie did tell him to talk about what was bothering him. He didn't want to go through any more abuse, and he had to be suspicious, even of someone as amazing and wonderful to him as Archie.
"I won't for the same reason you won't," Archie said. "The thought of ever even remotely considering doing what Jack did fills me with such disgust and horror that I too would sooner die than allow it. I was very fortunate, Addi. Like you, I was able to escape to an environment away from Jack. I made friends and built a support system that did not involve him, and I was able to grow up in a world where his actions would never be acceptable. Those morals are what are ingrained in my conscience, not Jack's."
"I’m sorry I said anything about it, I know you'll never be like him," Addison quickly apologized, letting go of his arm. "Can I just have a razor back? Just this once? Please?" Of course, Archie would never give him his razors back, nor would he provide him with anything sharp. It was a question he knew the answer to, but he asked nonetheless.
"It's a valid concern, Addison," Archie said. "I'm actually glad you asked, and I hope you can believe my answer. But I can't give you a blade. I'm sorry. Why do you need to cut right now?"
"Because I need to!" Addison raised his voice, then instantly looked ashamed. "I didn't mean to yell at you, I just...I don't know why I want to cut right now. I just do...maybe all the nightmares will go away I'd I cut myself. I'm punishing myself for letting myself be hurt like that. I don't know…"
"Has that ever worked before?" Archie asked, paying no mind to Addison's raised voice. "Do the nightmares stop if you cut?"
Addison shook his head. "No, it hasn't...but maybe this time, it will."
"That's not how logic works, Addi," Archie said, shaking his head back (though he knew appealing to logic right now wouldn't work with Addison). "Maybe we need to try to find a better way to fight the nightmares. How about something sweet? A mug of cocoa?"
"I know, it doesn't make sense and I sound really stupid." Addison sighed softly. "When I want to cut, all logic I had goes out the window just like that." He snapped his fingers during 'that'. "And no thank you, I feel like my insides are all mushed up right now. I don't think hot chocolate will help this time...."
"What we need to do is substitute a different ritual in for the cutting," Archie said. "Something that won't be harmful. Have you tried drawing on yourself?"
Addi shook his head. "No, I haven't....but that does sound kind of fun," he admitted.
"I think I have some markers somewhere," Archie said, smiling a little at Addison's interest. "Let's try using those instead of blades."
"It's worth a shot," Addison nodded. What else did he have to lose?
Archie got to his feet and indicated that Addison should follow him. A quick search through some drawers did indeed turn up a handful of markers. Archie made a note to buy a new pack next time he was at the store. "What color would you like?"
Addison studied the colors before making a decision. "Red. Blue too....for anger and sadness," he explained.
Archie passed over red and blue, choosing black and purple for himself.
Addison watched Archie with interest before opening the red marker and pressing the tip of it to his wrist. He drew jagged-looking lines on the already scar-marred skin.
Archie took the caps off his markers and began to draw on his arms as well, long curving waves of black reaching up to his inner elbow. "What are you thinking of?" he asked Addison as they drew together.
"Hurting myself," Addison murmured before taking the red marker and drawing up his legs. He drew curvy, thick lines, like blood dripping. "And how my brother hurt me."
"How do you feel when you look at those marks?" Archie asked, switching to the purple now.
"Angry....helpless," Addison said, looking down at the red ink. "Dirty, like I could've done something to stop it from happening, but I didn't..."
Archie drew little purple people in the black waves on his arm, occasionally glancing over at Addison. "Can you think of anything that will allow you to wash those marks away?"
"Well..." Addison thought about it. "I want to move on. I want to get past the pain and be truly happy. I want to have a relationship where I'm not terrified of sex."
"Let's make a plan," Archie said, capping his markers. "Come into the bathroom with me." He picked up the bottle of dish soap and headed toward the bathtub.
Addison watched Archie curiously and followed him into the bathroom, the markers still in his hands. "Are we gonna wash it off? I think I'm a little too old for a bath, Mr. K," he said teasingly.
"We are," Archie said. "But I figured the tub would be easier to do it in." He sat down on the edge and gestured for Addi's hand. "Hold out your hand. Now, let's think metaphorically for a few minutes. These marks you drew? They're your anger, your helplessness, your feeling of being dirty or weak. They're marks that Andrew has left on you, left on your life, on your soul. But they can wash off. We can wash them off. With this." He held up the soap, then squeezed a thin line down Addison's pinky finger.
"This is how you cope. That used to be your cutting, leaving permanent marks, marks that can't be washed off. We're working on changing that, and if these markers work, if you can draw your pain in a soluble way, we'll get you the best marker set we can find. You'll be able to express what you need without letting him put another wound on your body."
Archie squeezed a stripe down Addison's ring finger. "This is how you defend. You're scared of that happening again, and that's a perfectly logical fear. While you're safe at Dalton, you won't always be at Dalton. We'll look into finding you a self-defense teacher, someone who can show you some basic moves to help you get out of a situation where someone wants to hurt you, then drill you in them so they become engrained, second nature. You'll never be defenseless if you know some basic hand-to-hand protection."
A third stripe went down Addison's middle finger. "This is how you heal. Between our weekly talks, your sense of safety here, the love you're receiving from Casey, you'll find ways to work through your issues, to accept what happened to you and to also accept it's not going to happen again. We'll help you put your past to rest, quiet the nightmares, soothe the pain."
Addison's pointer finger received the final stripe. "This is how you grow. As you cope, defend, heal, you'll recover. The marks he left will fade. His grip will weaken. And someday, you'll be able to burst free. You'll be able to live your life without looking over your shoulder, find love and happiness, settle down, maybe adopt some kids. You'll get a house big enough for all your cats, and a bathroom overflowing with your products, and you'll be happy, Addison. You really will."
Archie sat back a little, squeezing the soap onto his fingers as well. "When this comes together, Addison, when you have a plan, when you have hope, you get something very powerful." He began rubbing his soap covered fingers over the marks on his arm, smearing black and purple ink together, washing it off. "You get something that can erase the scars you're carrying on your heart, something that can heal them, something that can free you. You just need to give it a chance to work."
Addison watched Archie, practically mesmerized by the man's words and actions. By the time his last finger was covered in soap, Addison felt like he was floating on air. He slowly began to wash his hands and wrists, watching as the red ink colored the water. It was like all his fear, all his anger, all of his sadness, it was being washed away. "I think," Addison said, looking down at his now clean arms. "We should replace the bad marks with good marks."
"I think that's a very good idea," Archie said, washing off his own arms and giving a rueful little smile. "I also think we should stay away from this unwashable black!"
Addison smiled back and took Archie's arm into his hand, grabbing a pink marker from the pile. He drew a little heart on the inside of Archie's arm. "Having your heart on your sleeve isn't always a bad thing," he said softly, dropping the pink marker and picking up the green. Addison grabbed the other arm and drew a kitty face on it. "That's so you remember me," he informed. "Remember that you are a really awesome person who takes care of people who need it. Even though I don't deserve such a great counselor like you, I...I would like to call you something other than Mr. K. Something more fatherly?" he suggested with a slight blush.
Archie's smile was very warm as he studied the new drawings on his arms. "I won't wash these off tonight," he told Addison, grabbing for the pink marker himself and Addison's wrist. Soon he had a lopsided cupcake drawn on the boy's damp skin. "This is for sweetness, both your taste in food and your disposition..." He trailed off as Addison requested another name for him and gave the boy another fond smile. "You can call me anything you'd like, Addi, though I'd prefer not Archer."
"Well, I don't think it'd be right if I called you Dad," Addison confessed, smiling at the cupcake drawing on his wrist. "But I don't know what else I could call you."
"You can call me Archie, if you'd like," Archie said, capping the markers and reaching for a towel to clean up their mess. "Or an uncle, if you want a familial title."
"Uncle Archie," Addison tested out the name and title and laughed. "Okay, that just sounds weird." He stuck out a hand to stop Archie from taking the markers away. "One more!" he exclaimed, taking the red marker and drawing a nice, big heart on the bottom of his foot. "For Casey," he explained.
Archie couldn't help but grin at the name and title. He never thought he'd ever hear anyone call him "uncle." "Why on the bottom of your foot?" he asked, watching Addison draw.
"Because Casey likes feet," Addison explained in a matter of fact tone, pressing the cap over the marker and setting it down. "Remember?"
"I do remember that," Archie said. "Any particular reason why the bottom of your foot?"
Addison shrugged and shook his head. "Nope, but I bet Casey likes the bottom of peoples' feet " he said, smiling.
Archie smiled at Addison's logic, leaning over to snag a tissue from the box on the back of the toilet tank and catching Addi's ankle gently in one hand. He blotted at the heart to get any excess ink off, so Addison wouldn't be leaving heart-prints wherever he walked. "Feeling better?"
Addison laughed and jerked his foot ticklishly. "Uh huh," he said, nodding slightly. "You're really good at making me feel better."
"What are..." Archie paused to smile again. "What are uncles for? Come on. Let's get a warm drink and head back to bed, all right?"
Addison was hesitant to go back to bed. He didn't want the nightmares to start plaguing him again. "What if I have another nightmare?"
"Then I'll wake you again," Archie assured Addison, holding out his hand to the boy. "Or, if you wake yourself, you can look at the cupcake on your wrist, maybe the heart on your foot, and remember what is real and what is just a dream."
Archie's soothing words comforted him. He took his hand and lifted himself off the floor. "Sounds good...Uhm, this is the longest I've been without make-up oh in front of someone who isn't biological family."
Archie had noticed the lack of makeup, but he hadn't wanted to draw any attention to it. "Oh?" He took a moment now, though, to look at Addison's unadorned face. As he suspected, there was nothing horrific about the boy. "I don't see anything you need to hide, if it matters."
Nothing he needed to hide? He sure didn't believe Archie, but he didn't say anything about it. "If you say so," he said, yawning.
"Come to bed, sleepyhead," Archie said, leading Addison out of the bathroom. "Want me to sit with you for a bit?"
"Uhm..." Addison was briefly reminded about how his father would always stay with him in his room whenever he had a bad dream to make sure he fell asleep. "Okay," he nodded, walking back to his room and hopping on the bed. He cuddled up into the blankets, sighing at the warmth.
Archie followed Addi into the bedroom, sitting on the edge of his bed. "Need a lullaby?" he asked.
Addison looked up at him with a curious expression. "You know how to sing?" He couldn't remember the last time someone sang him a lullaby, but it was before his mom died.
"Well, not well," Archie clarified. "And I really only know one lullaby. Horace would sing it to me when I had nightmares."
"Can I hear it then?" he requested, laying his head down on his pillow and trying to get comfortable again.
"Sure," Archie said, shifting closer to Addi's head and making himself comfortable against the headboard. Now, how did that song go again? If he closed his eyes, he could still hear Horace singing to him, stroking his hair after a particularly bad dream.
"Goodnight, my angel, time to close your eyes. And save these questions for another day. I think I know what you've been asking me. I think you know what I've been trying to say. I promised I would never leave you. And you should always know. Wherever you may go, no matter where you are, I never will be far away..."
Archie was right. He couldn't particularly well, but at that moment, his voice was the most comforting thing Addison had ever heard. In a matter of minutes, his eyes were threatening to close, and his body was completely relaxed.
Archie continued to sing as Addi drifted asleep.
"Goodnight, my angel, now it's time to sleep. And still so many things I want to say. Remember all the songs you sang for me. When we went sailing on an emerald bay."
He had forgotten this verse. Ever since the accident, Archie had tried to avoid boats and sailing as much as he reasonably could. He couldn't stop mid-lullaby, though, so he continued to sing, the emotion heavy in his voice.
"And like a boat out on the ocean, I'm rocking you to sleep. The water's dark and deep. Inside this ancient heart, you'll always be a part of me..."
Of course, Addison had no idea about the significance behind the song. He just let Archie's voice soothe him until his eyes were too heavy to keep open. After a few minutes, Addison was passed out on the bed, breathing slowly and softly.
Archie finished the song and sat beside Addison a little while longer, watching the boy sleep. "Thank you, Addi," he murmured. "For making me feel better." He stood up carefully, orienting himself toward the door, and turned off Addison's light before blindly making his way out of the room. After a quick cleanup of the markers and towels, Archie retired to his own bed. This time, when he closed his eyes, it was Horace's voice, not Jack's, that resonated in his mind, and he too was able to drift asleep.