It was another late night for Thomas Shelby. It seemed that’s how all of his nights went, spent in his office, cigarette between his lips with papers scattering his desk. It was the best way to keep the nightmares at bay since he no longer had Grace. Oh, how Thomas missed his wife. She had brought such clarity to his life and had brought such happiness. It was more so at night than any other time that these thoughts would cross Thomas’ mind and he tried his best to drown them out with the alcohol.
Tonight was one of those nights where Tommy was sitting behind his desk, drinking his Scotch and smoking, thinking about Grace. He was too lost in his thoughts to realize that anyone was at his door until the door was pushed open. Thomas moved like a flash of lightning, drawing his gun and standing, pointing the gun at the stranger who came into his office.
It was Charlie, his 3-year-old son.
When Charlie saw that his father was pointing a gun at him, he promptly burst into tears. Thomas let out a few choice curse words under his breath before quickly putting the gun to the side as well as his cigarette and glass. “Come here, bud.” Thomas murmured, moving past his desk and going to his son. “Daddy is sorry about that. I just got startled.” He whispered as he picked up the weeping toddler into his arms.
Thomas brought Charlie to the window of his office, leaning against the window as he held his son close. It took some gentle words and a bit of rocking before Charlie eventually calmed down. “Why are you awake?” Thomas asked softly then. He didn’t know what time it was but he knew it was way past the child’s bedtime.
“Nightmare.” Charlie whispered, rubbing his nose on his pajama sleeve.
“What about?” Thomas asked in a sympathetic tone. Charlie shook his head and buried his face into Thomas’ neck. It seemed the boy had no desire to talk about whatever had plagued his dreams. Thomas couldn’t blame him. After all, Thomas did not talk about his nightmares. Doing so only made them more real.
“Well, why don’t we get you back to bed, yeah?” Thomas suggested and Charlie furiously shook his head again.
“No, I stay with you.” He declared with such conviction and stubbornness that even Tommy couldn’t say no to him. Thomas pressed a soft kiss to Charlie’s soft hair before nodding.
“Alright then.” He murmured, thinking then. He was nowhere near enough to be tired so he would need to figure out some way to get his son tired. “Well, I’m rather tired anyways so why don’t we call it a night? Perhaps you can get some books and we can read in your bedroom.”
“No, your room.” Charlie said after a moment, having thought about his father’s words. Tommy didn’t have it in his heart to argue with the boy so he put out his cigarette, finished up his Scotch and took Charlie upstairs. They stopped off in Charlie’s room so the boy could grab his stuffed elephant (which Tommy had always thought was ridiculous but Grace had loved it) and some books. Once the toddler had everything he required, they went to Thomas’ room.
Indeed, Thomas did have a bigger bed than Charlie and Charlie was quick to settle into the blankets and curl up. Thomas watched his son with a faint smile before he turned on the bedside lamp. Tommy kicked off his shoes then and climbed beside the boy, letting Charlie nestle up to him. Oh, if only Grace could see him now.
Once he had gotten settled, Charlie shoved a book into Thomas’ face. Thomas frowned and looked down at Charlie with a small, disapproving look. “You don’t just shove things at people, Charlie.” He told the boy. “What do you say?”
“Please!” Charlie said quickly before giving Thomas a big, goofy grin. Tommy could see all his little teeth that the boy was so proud of. It was all he had been talking about for at least a month.
“Right, that’s better.” Tommy declared before looking at the book he had been handed. “The Story of Doctor Dolittle,” Tommy said, reading the title before he opened up the book and began to read to Charlie. They did not often get the chance to read like this simply due to the fact that Thomas was always running around. Even though Tommy found the whole storyline rather ridiculous (a man who learned how to talk to animals? Ridiculous) but Charlie seemed to love it.
Once they had finished that book, Charlie begged for another. Thomas gave in since it was rather hard to say no to that face. He would really need to work on saying no to Charlie since he didn’t need his child to grow up spoiled. They read two more books before Thomas declared it was time for bed and that Charlie needed to sleep. Charlie sat there silently for a few moments before he looked up at Thomas. “Daddy, can you sing? Like Mummy do.” Thomas doubted the boy remembered Grace singing to him since he was so young but Tommy had told him about it.
“I can’t sing, love.” Thomas protested.
“You can! You sing for the horseys.” Charlie protested. “And besides, it ain't hard! I can sing!” He opened his mouth to show Tommy but Tommy covered Charlie’s mouth. He had heard his son sing before and it was not a pleasant sound. Thomas would never tell his son this but his singing sounded like nails on a chalkboard.
“Fine,” Thomas grumbled and Charlie giggled as he snuggled close to Thomas, resting his head on his father’s chest. Thomas began to run his fingers through Charlie’s hair softly as he thought of a song to sing. Eventually one came to mind. One that Grace had sung to him when they first met.
“In a neat little town, they call Belfast, apprentice to trade I was bound. Many an hour’s sweet happiness, had I spent in that neat little town. A sad misfortune came over me which caused me to stray from the land. Far away from my friends and relations, betrayed by the black velvet band. Her eyes, they shone like diamonds, I thought her the queen of the land. And her hair, it hung over her shoulder, Tied up with a black velvet band.”
When Thomas had finished singing the song, his son was still awake but was at least starting to slowly look tired. Thomas gave a soft sigh before wracking his brain for another song. Most songs he knew were not ones for a little boy who wanted to go to sleep. If only Grace was here. She would be good at this.
A song suddenly came back to Tommy, flooding in from his memories. He had been a child, maybe about 10? He had been sick and Polly had nursed him through it all. She had sung a song about the mountains, one that Tommy remembered. Hopefully, he would remember the lyrics.
"Oh, the Spring it is a coming and the trees are softly blooming and the wild mountain thyme blooms along the purple heather. Will ye go, laddie, go? And we will all go together to pick wild mountain thyme all along the purple heather will ye go, laddie?"
By the time Tommy had finished the verses of the song, Charlie was sound asleep against him. Tommy presses a soft kiss to his son’s head before sliding out of bed carefully. Charlie didn’t stir, thankfully, so Tommy got undressed from the day and threw on an old pair of pajamas before he climbed back into bed with Charlie. He turned off the light and then laid there in silence, looking into the darkness.
Charlie’s warm body slowly began to help Thomas relax and he kept his son pressed close. It felt nice to have this. This peacefulness. Tommy knew he was nowhere close to being the father of the year, hell, he had pulled a gun on his child earlier. But still, Thomas Shelby tried. He tried in his own ways to be there for his son. Did Charlie know this? Tommy wasn’t sure. The boy admired his father greatly, even Tommy, who was often blind to human emotion felt towards him, knew this.
Tommy stayed awake for some time after, thinking about Charlie. Eventually, sleep came to Tommy and he had no nightmares. For once, Tommy got the rest he needed and deserved.