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Galileo Gray

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Posts : 250
Join date : 2016-11-21

PostSubject: Rules   Sun Aug 20, 2017 2:58 am

It was an unspoken rule in the Kidd pack, in standing ever since Nikita's first year home.  Any child living as part of the pack could seek refuge in Eustass's bed after a nightmare, pride and anxieties be damned.  
Across the years, it happened with varying levels of regularity, all depending upon recent events, age, and the child's stress . It happened even after arguments, no matter what they were about.  Eustass's door is always open.
And they all had nightmares.  It's just the kind of family they are, whatever that says about them.  
By the time Evan walks into his life, finally starts sleeping in his rightful place down the hall, Eustass can tell while half asleep and before opening his eyes which of the kids had climbed in at some point during the night or wee hours of the morning.
Because he knows their heartbeats, even on the edge of consciousness.  He knows who is  coming before they ever peek their heads into his room.  And he can always tell if they want him to sit up and talk, or if they'd rather slip silently into his bed and simply have him hold them.  Usually there was no wanting  to talk, and as part of the unspoken rule Eustass doesn't ask.  There are two qualifying amendments: Any kid seeking refuge was not expected to talk about the details of their nightmare unless they wished it, and in the morning the incident was never addressed except at the will of the child.
They did not talk about nightmares.
And he was never quite sure how the unspoken rule was passed from child to child.  He no longer lived with Nikita by the time the twins arrived and were old enough to make their way into his room alone. Eventually Jett is brought home, Evan finds his way back.  They both learn about the tradition, without Eustass ever mentioning it.
Eustass always sleeps on his back, and the positions the kids picked around him were like a map of their personalities.
The first time Nikita crept into his room, wide-eyed and terrified, Eustass had sat up in the dark and flicked a table side  lamp on.  Nikita hadn't hesitated, but had launched himself into the tall bed without asking and curled himself into a tight knot of limbs at the alpha's shoulder.
Eustass had lain awake all night in the lamplight, just as wide-eyed and terrified as Nikita had been, watching the boy while he slept snuggled against a warm side.  He didn't move, not until Vitally appeared in his doorway the next morning.  The Russian had smiled and thrown the curtains open, brushed a gentle hand through Nikita hair and sat next to them on the bed.
"He has been having nightmares, I think."  It's all Vitaly said, and they had never spoken about it again.  
After that, he would occasionally wake up in the morning and be aware of Nikita by his shoulder, always curled up, his head just on the edge of Eustass's arm.  Over the years, his size changed but his form and location did not.  Sometimes there would be a gap of weeks, even months, and then a particularly difficult day would  find him waking in the morning to Nikita curled at his side, be it because Bellamy hadn't made it home for some reason or he and Oleander were on the fence about something.  In the days following Ollie's getting with Carter, Eustass had woken one miserable morning and for a few brief seconds thought he was ten years younger with the Russian sleeping at his side.  They never spoke of it(rules) and Eustass's heart rallied a little bit within his chest every single time.  They didn't need to speak to share nightmares or grief, and they didn't need to speak to find tiny moments of small comfort with each other.
Malakai and Oleander are twins, but they were in no way identical.
Ollie, all motion and body during the day, was the reason he woke up in a cold sweat for the first time in years. Eustass was always aware of an intruder on his property.  They never had a chance to make it near his home. So when he wakes in the dead of night with the conviction that someone else is in his room and he can't see them, his heart had skipped a beat.
It had taken a few seconds of frozen, heart-racing alarm before Eustass was able to determine that it was Ollie laying on the floor beside his bed.  He was on Thatcher's side, had even stolen one of the mans pillows, but he hadn't tried getting on the bed.
And Eustass-
Well, Eustass wasn't sure what to do.  The boy had never sought him out before, especially not in the dead of night.  But he supposed he knew why Ollie had shown up tonight of all nights.  Tomorrow would be his and Malakai's fifth birthday, and Thatcher had called earlier to let him know he wouldn't make it home in time, maybe not for another week or so.
Eustass had told the kids for him, not wanting Thatcher to feel any worse than he already did.  Tears had immediately gathered in Malakai's eyes, but Eustass was able to scoop him up and  hold him before any could brim and trail over the boys tiny cheeks.  And Oleander-
Well, Ollie hadn't cried.  He had looked at Eustass blankly, almost like he'd been expecting this would happen.
Like he was scared it would happen, and now he was dealing with it, trying to keep his little shoulders from shaking.  He'd gone to his room.  Eustass had tried to get him to come down for supper, resulted to offering chips, ice cream, anything he thought the boy might eat, but there was nothing.  Oleander wouldn't acknowledge him.
And now the boy is here, in his room.
"Oleander?"  He had said into the darkness.
"Shhhh.  I don't wanna talk."  The boy's voice wobbled pathetically.  Eustass could hear him hiccuping, knew with certainty he'd been crying.
It was past twelve.  It was officially their birthday.
"Will you get on the bed?"  His voice was soft, coaxing, afraid to scare the boy off.  Ollie didn't run, but he wouldn't climb onto the bed, either.
"No."  
Eustass sighs, waits.  It's against the rules to ask questions, luckily this time he didn't have to.  
"Mommy will be home soon.  I don't wanna take his spot."  The boy leans against the bedframe, looks up at Eustass with a sad quiver  to his lips
"Oh.  Okay..."  So the alpha let it go, gathered up his comforter from the bed and joined Oleander on the floor.  Nearly an hour later Malakai would wander in, teary eyed and sniffling to join them in the bundle of blankets near the bed.
Over time Ollie's visits were infrequent but varied in location--a chair, inside the closet after he'd shoved a pile of sweaters onto the floor, in a heap that somehow counted as a fort under the coffee table. Rarely, very rarely Eustass is able to coax him into the bed under the guise that he's keeping it warm for Thatcher.  Mostly though Ollie resists.  Eustass is beginning to think it makes things harder, sleeping in their bed.  The boy worries that Thatcher might never come back to it.
Eventually Eustass buys a new couch and puts it at the foot of the bed, and after he'd know Ollie was there when he woke up to an outstretched hand clutching the ends of his blankets down by the footboard, and the arm thrown over the back of his couch.
After Gally came into the picture, it happened more often.  Once Ollie came twice in one week, because Thatcher and Gally were downstairs talking.  Eustass had lain awake listening to the muted sounds of electro pop music leaking from his headphones.  The second time, after an hour he'd actually climbed onto the bed and stretched out on his stomach, just stared at Eustass until the alpha put a hand on the boys head.
Softly, his voice quivering just as it had the first time Ollie found his way into the room, the boy said, "I really miss mom."
Eustass had only sighed, stroked the boys hair.  "Me, too."  And Ollie had turned the music back up and fallen asleep.  He was gone before Thatcher came to bed, telling Eustass about how they should all be better to Gally.
And then Malakai.  He and Ollie showed up together some nights.  And some times it was one or the other.
Malakai isn't like Oleander.   He sneaks into Eustass's room and runs ahead, crawls onto the mattress beside his father like he knows its his right to be there. He is sweet, and thoughtful and he sleeps like a rock.  
He is Eustass's little daddy's boy, and he isn't shy about it.
The first time he had come into the room in the middle of the night alone, he'd swung the door right open and walked straight in, climbed onto the bed himself and fallen asleep sprawled over Eustass's feet.
For a while Eustass thought he was possibly sleep-walking, but he'd had to rule that out when Mal had walked in once when the alpha was still up and watching television, had sat on the bed and started talking about his favorite cartoons.  Eustass had flipped to the boys show, and while Mal watched the flashing animations, his father marveled at how precious his was,  how aware.
Malakai was always aware.
Except when he slept, always on the move and restlessly finding what Eustass thought had to be the most uncomfortable spot:  His back across Eustass's knee, his neck at a ninety-degree angle with the back of his head propped against Eustass's side, leaning against the headboard with his feet tucked under Eustass's arm.
Once, Eustass had woken suddenly thinking he was being smothered, but it had only been Mal's stomach on his face.  Malakai had muttered in his sleep with Eustass moved him, and then had flopped over and dropped both legs across Eustass's chest, his head tipped backward over the edge of the bed.
Sometime in the weeks when Malakai was trying to choose between the two men he loved, there was a stretch of days where Eustass had cricks in his neck or aches in his shoulder from Mal's sleeping gymnastics.  He almost asked the boy how he was really doing, but, rules.
Then Jett had come along.
Oh, Jett.
None of them could have prepared him for Jett.
Jett is such a mix of brashness and cautious reserve that Eustass is not completely certain, but he is fairly certain that the first time Jett had crept into the large room was because Oleander cracked the door open and gently shoved him in.  
His face had been tear-streaked, visible even in the moonlight from the open window,  Eustass had feigned his own sleepiness when he'd patted one side of the bed and he'd eventually fallen asleep with Jett stretched out next to him. He didn't ask questions, but Jett told him that he'd ended things with Boyd. Eustass held the beta tighter after that, tucked Jett safely against his chest until the sun was rising across the sky.
He'd woken later that morning with the boy cuddling him all along his left side, snoring gently with his face smashed under Eustass's arm.
It was always that way after.  Jett would slink in like a little thief in the night, fall asleep a full foot away on top of the covers, and sometime in the night he'd close the gap.
Once Eustass had tried to stay awake to track the exact moment of transition but it had been a long night and when he'd finally drifted off around five in the morning, Jett was still twelve inches away. In the forty five minutes he was asleep before he had to get up and send the kids to school, Jett sensed his unconsciousness and he woke with a head pressed up against his ribs.
Sometimes Eustass wonders if the boy can sense when he himself is having a bad night, struggling with vivid nightmares that features Jett bleeding out all alone in an alleyway, twists reality and leaves Eustass to watch as the bite rejects and instead of saving Jett, Eustass is the one who kills him.
They are like another gaping wound across already gaping wounds. He is mercifully startled awake by a body pressed along his left arm and the smell of his favorite beta filling the room.
Eustass holds himself absolutely still for at least an hour, just listening to the rise and fall of the chest of a boy who should not breathe.  And he was barely a boy:  the slight form that had only been eighteen when Eustass found him had grown.  He is taller now, and stronger  if the last punch Eustas witnessed Jett throwing at Gally was any indication.  But still just a boy somehow, slumbering on his arm that would tingle with pins and needles when the blood returned to it later.
Eventually, he had gotten up and gone to brush his teeth and when he had come back, Jett was gone.  
It happened every so often.
It killed him that whatever drove Jett there in the night was bad enough to warrant the trip.
And then Evan.
Gone, aborted, adopted, returned from the dead- Evan
Sweet, wounded, abandoned- Evan.
If he was perfectly honest, Eustass had thought for a long time that the tradition wouldn't carry over to his oldest.  The boy had another father.  Had grown in another home.  Eustass doesn't expect to ever replace any of that.
Then one morning he'd blinked himself awake and had turned his head and there was Evan, next to him, asleep on his back in the exact same way Eustass slept.  He hadn't even noticed the boy come in.
It was a rare occurrence but the details never changed.  He wouldn't notice the boys entrance and Evan would not ever touch him or move in his sleep.
There was a long stretch of mornings where, in his sleep addled state, he'd look over when he woke just hoping and every time, it was a reminder of why he didn't often bother with hope.
And then suddenly, things were different.  He guessed that the nightmares had changed some in context, because Evan was entirely altered at night.
Evan clings to him now.  Eustass woke once at four in the morning because his t-shirt neckline was biting into his skin and found Evan shivering against him with fistfuls of Eustass's shirt in his hands, completely asleep.  
Eustass had turned and wrapped his arms around his oldest son and held him.  And then he did the same thing the next time, and the time after that, always pretending to sleep until Evan himself awoke and silently  left the room.
He knows that Evan will never love him like he loved his adoptive father.  He knows he will always be a replacement.  It's unbearable. and Eustass never stops suffering because of it.  These moments, when the boy creeps into his bed after a nightmare are selfishly the nights he is most consoled, being able to just hold the boy.
And now, with Evan home, Jett in his life, and all his children living with or near him, he sometimes secretly thinks the best part of his entire life is when two or three of them find their way into the room at the same time, when he can see that the unspoken rule extends across the bonds forged of brotherhood and that daytime squabbles or injuries are set aside.
He even occasionally wonders if its always nightmares anymore, or if they've begun using it as a way to resolve things they cannot or will not talk about.
It is certainly not an everyday occurrence, not even a weekly or monthly one, but sometimes he will wake in his bedroom that is his alone and Malakai will be across his feet and Oleander's hand is on his hair.  Or he will be sandwiched between Nikita and Evan, Jett laying across his chest, black hair tickling his nose.
And then one time, one time he strongly suspects was orchestrated by either Jett or Malakai and for all his intelligence and instinct he cannot figure out how they did it without violating the unspoken rule by mouth or writing, he was at the tail end of a nasty flu and fighting the remnants of fever dreams, and he woke to find all five of them in the California king sized bed, muted electropop mingling with four different snoring styles.
That morning, he woke hungry for the first time in four days and found Nikita blinking sleepily at him,  Ollie hanging over the Russians shoulder.
"Hey, good morning."  Eustass had said, turning his back on years of wordlessly allowing them to slip out without talking.  "Lets go find some breakfast."
"Mm. Okay."  Nikky had said, jostling Oleander.  "Sounds good.  It's comfy here though, give me a minute."  
Eustass nodded and let himself drift halfway back to sleep.  He decided to not even try sneaking out, but to wait and just get up when the rest of them did, and allow himself to enjoy this rare moment of unbridled joy with all of his children.
Because what use were rules unless, once in awhile, you broke them?
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