For the third time in less than a week Donald was wrenched out of a dream, waking up in a cold sweat with his body tense and shaking. The little bits and pieces his mind had held onto didn't do much to help sort out what sort of hellish landscape his subconscious had created for him this time. Not that he really wanted to know anyway. He rolled over instinctively reaching for Timmy only to have his hand land on a cold empty pillow instead of a warm face. For a moment Donald froze, letting the night terrors overwhelm him before he remembered that Timmy was safe, just out of town on a business trip for Senator Platt.
Throwing back the blankets with a sigh of resignation Donald sat up and swung his feet over the side of the bed. There was no way that he would be to get back to sleep at this point, not without Timmy to curl up next to and tell him that everything was okay. Donald grabbed his robe from where it hung on the back of the bathroom door and put it on more from force of habit than any real need for modesty. It was just him and Watson and Donald in his boxers was something the dog saw on daily basis.
In the kitchen he put an extra scoop of coffee into the coffeemaker, added water, and turned it on. The pungent smell of freshly roasted beans filled the room and Donald felt himself relax a little bit. There was nothing like the anticipation of the first cup of the day to make the world seem better. Mug in hand and a renewed sense of love for his fellow man he wandered into the living room and plopped down on the couch. Taking a sip, he patted the cushion next to him and Watson obliged by jumping up, tail wagging at being allowed on the furniture. He curled up, head resting on Donald's leg, eyes slipping close as he leaned into the fingers scratching him absently behind the ears.
Reveling in the first bloom of caffeine in his system, Donald debated getting dressed and going to the office to get some work done, but ultimately put the idea aside. Kenny had all the paperwork in order and none of his current cases were of the type that a spontaneous late night stakeout would help resolve. If they had been he wouldn't have even bothered to come home. He and Timmy had a standing arrangement with the neighbors to feed and walk Watson on the nights when both of them were too tied up with work to do it in a timely manner. All it would have taken was one phone to set things up.
At mental and emotional loose ends Donald flipped on the TV and turned to one of the channels that often ran old movies late at night. The Maltese Falcon was just starting so he set the remote to one side, slouching down in the cushions to watch as Bogart once again solved the mystery and sent the girl to jail. It was one of his all time favorite movies and though he would never admit it, one of the reasons he decided to become a private investigator. Of course back then all you had to do was hang out your shingle. The licensing process was something that would come later. Or so he thought. He made a mental to have Kenny do a google search in the morning and find out. Booting up the computer to check himself seemed like too much effort now that he had finally gotten comfortable.
The weak early morning rays of sun were just starting to work their way through the curtains when Donald woke with a start. His mouth tasted like sour coffee and at some point in the night he shifted into a position that your average contortionist would have been proud of. With a whimper that spoke of too much abuse to his body Donald carefully unfolded himself and stretched, trying to work the worst of the kinks out of his neck and back. The movie channel was now showing an infomercial for bikini wax causing Donald to pat himself and the couch down in a desperate search for the remote control. He found it on the floor half under the sofa and gratefully switched the channel to the early news broadcast.
Finding himself in the kitchen again Donald emptied the carafe from the coffeemaker and set another pot to brew. This time limiting it to two cups instead of the usual four. In the background the reporter finished up his stint on the state of world politics and segued into local news, starting with a human interest story on the effort to provide library books to the poorer schools in the state. That struck a vague memory and Donald turned just in time to catch a clip of Timmy speaking about the importance of quality education for all people.
It wasn't much, a mere soundbite that was less than thirty seconds, but it was enough for a sense of well being to wrap itself around Donald driving the loneliness away. The smile that lit up his face was honest and held no hint of the lack of sleep gnawing away at his bones. The reporter went on to say that Senator Platt was currently on a speaking tour of the state, but would be returning to Albany to attend a fund raising party late that evening. The last statement brightened Donald's smile to toothpaste commercial level.
A hot shower coupled with the drastic improvement in his mood helped to relax the tightness in his shoulders and back added to a solid breakfast of oatmeal and peanut butter, eaten on toast instead of straight from the jar, did even more. Whistling as he got dressed, Donald paused in the middle of tying his tie to chant in a sing song voice to Watson that daddy was coming home today. Watson, never one to be critical of Donald's singing, jumped up and down, whining in excitement. His enthusiasm earned him an ear ruffling and later, when Donald was finishing up the last of the coffee, a couple of dog treats.
It was barely seven when Donald locked the door to the house and briefcase in hand headed down the walk to the garage. As he slid into the driver's seat of the car his phone chirped and he pulled it from his pocket. One new message from Timmy flashed on the screen and Donald eagerly pressed the button to read it. 'I'll be home around midnight with take out. Have martinis ready and be naked'. Donald grinned and snapped off a reply that read simply 'Yes!' Phone back in his pocket he closed the car door and started it up; pleased when it took only a single turn of the key. The day might have started off badly, but it promised to end on a very good note.