"Dementors?" Shaun repeated, careful to keep all traces of doubt off of his face and out of his voice. No one responded worse to being babied than a (practically grown) six year old. "In Los Angeles?"
"Shaun," Cody whined, rubbing his eyes sleepily from the doorway, "They were right outside my window."
"Okay," Shaun said, nodding like that made any kind of sense at five in the morning. He flipped back the covers of his bed and patted the space next to him in invitation. "Better not go back there till daylight then."
Cody hurried across the room and hopped into the bed with a speed that belied the half-lidded sleepiness in his face. Shaun wrapped his arms around the little boy and pulled him against his chest, leaning back against a pile of pillows that still smelled faintly of Zach.
Shaun pressed his face into the top of Cody's head. "Are you sure they were Dementors?" he asked.
Cody nodded. "Yeah. Gave me bad dreams - bad memories - like the book said."
Shaun closed his eyes and thought mildly unpleasant things in Zach's direction. Shaun knew it was a bad idea to read Prison of Azkaban before bed. "Yeah, buddy? What kind of bad dreams?"
Cody shrugged. "Memories," he repeated, "like Jackson making fun of me, and Isaac tripping down the stairs, and..." Cody turned to bury his face against Shaun's chest so that his next words were almost unrecognizably muffled "…and my mom leaving me behind."
Shaun squeezed Cody a little tighter and held back a sigh, not sure exactly where he wanted to start with that one. "You know you're the most important person in the whole world to Uncle Zach right?" Shaun asked finally, "And to me?"
Cody nodded without hesitation. "Yeah," he agreed quietly. "But not to Jeanne," he said, so quietly that Shaun knew he wasn't supposed to have heard.
Shaun wanted to load Cody up in the car and take him up to Oregon and browbeat Jeanne into being a decent mother. At the very least he wanted to promise Cody that they could call Jeanne in the morning, but even if they could get a hold of her (if her number hadn't changed, if her phone hadn't been turned off, if she decided that she felt like talking to her son) there was no guarantee that she'd say the right thing. In fact, there was a high likelihood that she'd say something unintentionally (Zach told him it was unintentionally: Zach needed to believe it was unintentionally) cruel.
"Her loss," Shaun insisted. Then, because Zach would want him to, he quickly added, "And not true. She loves you very much, but she's gotta work."
"Like Uncle Zach?" Cody asked, a little bitterly.
Shaun instinctively wanted to defend Zach. Zach was working one week of overnight inventory shifts for the overtime. That was a hell of a lot different than leaving Cody behind and moving out of state. But he and Zach had agreed not to speak badly about Jeanne in front of Cody, and Zach's absence might explain the sudden return of Cody's nightmares. Damn Jeanne and Alan and the abandonment issues they were trying their damnedest to give his little boy.
Shaun forced a smile although Cody couldn't see it and said, "Kinda, but tonight's our last Zach-less night. What do you say we catch a few more hours of sleep and then we'll go surprise Uncle Zach by picking him up from work and kidnapping him for a little breakfast and maybe hit the waves for a few hours?"
Zach wouldn't mind. He always tried, mostly successfully, to make time for Cody and for Shaun.
Cody nodded against his chest and Shaun let him go so they could both slide down till they were horizontal.
"Shaun," Cody whispered.
"Yeah, Buddy?" Shaun whispered back.
"You know what really helps against Dementor attacks?"
Shaun grinned because he knew where this is going, but he pretended to think about it. "A Patronus?"
"No," Cody said, "I mean, yes. But after they come the best thing to help is a big block of chocolate."
"Is it?" Shaun asked thoughtfully. "I don't think we have a big block of chocolate."
"But we could get one while we're out?" Cody suggested, lifting himself up on skinny elbows to peer hopefully at Shaun's face.
Shaun laughed. "Compromise?" he offered. "Chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast."
Cody considered that solemnly. "And a chocolate milkshake with lunch?"
"And you eat all of your vegetables at dinner," Shaun said with a nod.
Cody made a face but nodded before laying back down. "Love you, Uncle Shaun," he muttered, rolling over until his face was tucked between Shaun's arm and the mattress.
"Love you too kiddo," Shaun answered. He knew a whole block of chocolate wouldn't help what was really wrong with Cody. For tonight though, he hoped his presence might be enough to keep the Dementors away. Tomorrow he and Zach needed to have a talk about no more overtime for awhile and maybe developing a Patronus or two to chase away the dark for good.