Hot Chocolate at Two
It was late, very late, but Alex needed hot chocolate. That dream had come again, the one where Mum was lying dead at his feet and no matter how many times Alex read the incantation from the Book of Amun-Ra, she stayed dead. Alex hated that dream. It had been two years since that horrible trip to Ahm Shere. Shouldn’t he be over it by now?
Ordinarily when Alex had nightmares, he went and got into bed with his parents. But Rick and Evie were up in Scotland for the next week, attending a conference in Edinburgh, leaving Alex in London with his Uncle Jon. It was nice to be bachelors together, but sometimes, like right now, he really missed his parents.
Alex padded out of the guestroom and down the corridor to the kitchen at the back of the flat. He was surprised to see that the light was on, but only a little. Uncle Jon sometimes didn’t sleep at night, either. Mum said it was because of the Great War, but Alex suspected that some of it was because of much more recent misadventures. He pushed the kitchen door open and went inside.
Sure enough, Jonathan was standing over a pan on the stove, stirring something inside. He looked round as Alex came in.
“You awake, partner?”
“Yeah.” Alex leaned against the worktop. “What’re you doing?”
“Making cocoa,” Jonathan said, and grinned when Alex looked astonished. “You had bad dreams, too, I take it?”
Alex nodded. “Dad usually makes me cocoa if it was really bad. I thought I’d try to do it myself.”
“He learned that from me, I’ll have you know.” Jonathan shook a pot of cinnamon over the concoction in the pan. “Hot milk, heaping spoonfuls of chocolate, cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg. What did you dream, then?”
Alex swallowed. “Anck-su-namun killing Mum.”
“Ah.” Jonathan nodded. “What happens?”
“Mum is dead, and Dad is making that horrible noise like he can’t breathe, and I read from the Book of Amun-Ra, and nothing happens. Mum just...stays dead. And I know she’s alive and just fine!” he added. “But I always dream it that way.”
Jonathan reached to put his arm around Alex. “I’m sorry, partner. That’s wretched.”
Alex wrapped his arms around his uncle. “Do you think I need to man up?”
“Man up? Why on earth would I think that?”
Alex shrugged. “Dad doesn’t have bad dreams.”
“Oh, yes, he does,” Jonathan replied. “He just doesn’t talk about them with you.”
“Oh. Why not?”
“It wouldn’t be fair to you, that’s why not.” Jonathan pulled two mugs down from the cupboard. “Your dad has seen some things that have upset him very badly. You said yourself that you dream about how upset he was by what happened to your mum.”
Alex nodded. He didn’t think he would ever forget the thin despairing sound Dad had made when Mum died. He hadn’t known that anyone could make a noise like that.
“Uncle Jon? Why do we dream of awful things when they didn’t really happen?”
Jonathan lifted the pan and poured hot chocolate into the mugs. “I have found that it doesn’t much matter what we know when we’re dreaming. Our dreams take our fears and show us that, instead. It happens to everybody and there’s no shame in being upset by it.”
“Do you think Mum has bad dreams?”
Jonathan scoffed. “Of course she does! Ask her about her recurring nightmare of being chased through the halls by angry ragdolls. She’s had that dream since she was a little kid.”
Alex giggled. Jonathan smiled and handed him a mug of hot cocoa and steered him back to bed. He wasn’t as upset now, the memory of the dream fading against the reality of a loving uncle and a hot drink. He settled in against the pillows and wrapped his hands around his mug as Jonathan pulled up a chair and settled down beside the bed.
“Uncle Jon? What are your bad dreams about?”
“Oh, they’re wretched.” Jonathan put his feet up on the bed. “I’m always at some fancy club or other and everyone thinks I’m a waiter. And they won’t listen when I say I’m really not.”
He leaned forward and clinked glasses with Alex, and stayed sitting quietly beside the bed until the cocoa was drunk and Alex was beginning to drift off. Jonathan tucked his nephew up then, and gave him a kiss on the forehead, and Alex knew that whatever bad dreams may come, he would always be safe.
Author's Note: this was written to answer a prompt over on my Tumblr. If you'd like to request a story, please pop over and do! I hope you like this one. Please let me know what you think in the comments and, as always, thanks for reading!