Inspired by an idea from AnIslandCalledCalifornia from this post on tumblr. We both used this as a prompt for our fics - thus the similarities between our stories. Her's can be found here - go read it!
“But daddy why can’t I stay with Matty? Or with Uncle Frederick?”
Will was sitting in the front seat of Hannibal’s Bentley. They had just arrived at Jack’s house and Will was refusing to get out of the car. He sat, pouting, arms folded across his chest.
Hannibal sighed and crouched down beside Will at the open door.
“Darling, I told you. Matty and Uncle Frederick have gone away for the weekend.”
“But…but what about Mommy Bedelia? Or…or….or maybe I could come with you? Why can’t I come with you?”
A few tears leaked out of Will’s eyes as he jutted his lower lip out further.
“Will. Daddy needs to go to give a talk at a conference. It wouldn’t be fair to bring you along; you won’t have fun. You’ll be bored. It will be much more fun for you to be here.”
“But daddy, Alana is mean to me all the time. I don’t want to play with her.”
“I’ve spoken to your Uncle Jack about Alana, and I’ve been assured she will be on her best behaviour. And you have your backpack with your colouring book and your trains.”
Hannibal stood up and held his hand out to Will.
“Come on Will. If you’re a good boy, I’ll make your favourite dish for dinner.”
“You will? Mac and cheese? From scratch?”
“Yes darling. And I’ll make dessert too.”
Will wiped his eyes and placed his hand in Hannibal’s.
Hannibal laughed and ran his hand through Will’s curls.
“Chocolate mousse, yes.”
Will heaved a sigh and climbed out of the car, carrying his backpack and a small lunch box. They climbed the front stairs and Will rang the doorbell.
Jack answered the door.
“Ah Hannibal. Good morning. Hey Will, how are you champ?”
Will remained silent, chewing on his thumb and half hiding behind his daddy. Hannibal gently pushed Will forward.
“Will, Uncle Jack asked you a question.”
“Hi Uncle Jack. I’m fine thanks how’re you?”
“I’m great thanks Will. I’m glad you’ve come over today. And Alana is too. Actually, we have another friend over today, a young girl by the name of Margot. Don’t worry Hannibal, they’ll play nice. Do you want to come in for a cup of coffee?”
Hannibal looked at his watch.
“I’m afraid I cannot Jack. I must be on my way.”
Hannibal turned to Will and placed his hands on his shoulders.
“Be a good boy for Uncle Jack and play nice with Alana and Margot.”
Will rushed forward and hugged Hannibal, murmuring into his chest.
“Don’t go daddy. Don’t leave me here.”
“Darling, I’ll be back before you know it. And sounds like you have a new friend to play with. Doesn’t that sound nice?”
Will shrugged. Jack moved forward and put his arm around Will’s shoulders, gently prying him away from Hannibal.
“Goodbye Will. I’ll be back this afternoon. Thank you Jack, call me if you need anything.”
Jack squeezed Will’s shoulder and waved as Hannibal walked down the stairs and towards his car.
“We’ll be fine Hannibal. We’ll be fine.”
Will waved sadly as Hannibal drove off, then Jack steered him inside.
“You’re going to have a fun play date today Will. Alana and Margot are looking forward to seeing you.”
Will was nervous as Jack walked him down the hall. He wanted desperately to be with his daddy, perhaps doing some painting or playing in his cubby house.
When they got to the living room, Alana was sitting on the couch, brushing a doll’s hair. The little girl that was Margot was sitting opposite, reading a book.
“Alana, Margot. Look who’s here.”
Alana rolled her eyes and went back to her doll. Margot closed her book and walked over to Will.
“Alana come over and say hello to Will please.”
She sighed dramatically and put her doll down, pushing herself off the couch with what seemed like a gargantuan effort.
The two girls stood in front of Will. He shrunk back, but Jack put a reassuring arm around him.
“Will, you know Alana. But this is Margot, a friend of ours.”
“Um…Hi Alana. Hi Margot. I’m Will.”
Alana rolled her eyes again.
“We know who you are, dummy.”
Jack’s eyes narrowed.
“Alana. That’s one. You only get three. Better behaviour please.”
Alana sighed and went back to her doll.
Margot moved forward, smiling.
“Hi Will. I’m Margot.”
She had curly hair, not as dark as Alana’s, but not as light as Mommy Bedelia’s, tied in two pigtails. She was wearing a pinafore dress with a blouse underneath, knee socks and Mary Jane shoes.
Margot held out her hand. Will gave a small smile and shook her hand like he had seen grownups do before.
“Hi. Hi Margot.”
“There you go. Now, Alana and Margot, I’m going to go and make your snack. Will, your dad told me he had packed a snack for you?”
Will nodded and held up his Blues Clues lunchbox.
“Great. Well you kids play nice. I’ll be in the kitchen.”
Margot went back to the couch and her book. Will went and sat next to her, placing his backpack and lunch box on the floor.
“What’re you reading Margot?”
“It’s a book called The Secret Garden.”
“Ooh. I like gardens. We have a nice garden at my daddy’s place. I have a cubby house there.”
Alana narrowed her eyes at Will and interrupted them.
“Margot, come over here. Let’s play hairdressers. I wanna do your hair.”
Margot left the couch and her book and went to sit on the floor in front of Alana, who began to brush and style her hair.
Will moved to the floor and took his colouring book out of his bag with a new packet of crayons. He half coloured one picture before he got bored. He crawled over to the girls on his hands and knees, sitting in front of Margot. She smiled at him and then grimaced as Alana yanked on her hair.
“What do you want, Will? Quit bugging us.”
“Can…can I play too?”
“You want to play hairdressers? You’re not allowed. Boys aren’t allowed to be hairdressers.”
Will frowned. He had seen boy hairdressers on television, so he knew that wasn’t true.
“Yes they are.”
“Yeah, only weird funny boys.”
“C’mon Alana. Let him play if he wants.”
Alana threw the hairbrush towards him and moved off the couch.
“Fine. I’m gunna go potty.”
Will moved and sat behind Margot. He didn’t know what to do.
“Um…how would you like your hair styled, Miss Margot?”
The girl giggled.
“I dunno. Any way you want, Mr Will.”
Will smiled and picked up the brush, running it through her hair. It was soft and smelled like strawberries. He just kept brushing it until Alana returned and marched over, snatching the brush out of Will’s hands.
“That’s enough Will. We’ve finished playing hairdressers anyway.”
Will frowned but before he could say anything, Jack returned with a tray of morning snacks.
“Alright, have you guys been playing nice?”
“Yes Uncle Jack.”
“Good. Now Alana and Margot there’s some chocolate cake and fruit. And some milk. Will, do you need a plate or some cutlery for your snack?”
Will shook his head and grabbed his lunch box, sitting with it on his lap on the couch. Jack handed a plate to Margot and Alana and then left.
The cake smelled delicious and Will was slightly jealous of what they were eating. He opened his lunch box and got out his snack of apple slices, a box of raisins and a small container of homemade pudding with his Winnie the Pooh spoon. He also had a tippy cup of milk with a plastic lid over the mouthpiece. He left that in his bag, because the girls had regular plastic tumblers of milk and he didn’t want to draw any more attention to his snack.
As Alana tucked into her cake, Margot peered at Will’s lunchbox curiously.
“How come you’re eating different food Will?”
Before he could answer, Alana interjected, her mouth full of food.
“Because his daddy is weird and makes him eat all this weird food.”
“He is not weird! It isn’t weird food!”
“Haha. Yes it is. Shame you can’t have any of our delicious cake.”
Alana bit off a particularly large piece, murmuring in delight and rubbing her tummy.
Margot took a smaller bite of cake, chewing it thoughtfully.
“Would you like to swap some of your snack Will? Say…I’ll trade you a slice of apple and a spoonful of that pudding, for a half of my piece of cake?”
“You’re not allowed to do that Margot! Will’s not allowed.”
Margot ignored her and stood up, taking her plate and sitting next to Will. She broke off a piece of cake, as agreed, and put it in Will’s lunch box, then helped herself to an apple slice and some pudding.
“If his daddy finds out you did that Margot, he’s gunna be so angry.”
Margot shrugged and winked at Will.
“It’ll be our little secret. Right Will?”
The boy blushed and ducked his head, eating his snack. Alana rolled her eyes.
“That is such a dumb lunchbox Will. Who even liked Blues Clues anymore?”
Will shrugged and swung his legs on the couch a little.
“I do. I like Blue ‘cause he’s a puppy and he helps solve things. And I like Steve and Joe.”
“Blues Clues is for babies. But that’s okay, because Will is a little baby anyways.”
“I am not.”
“You are too. You are such a baby, I hear my daddy and your daddy talking about you all the time and what a precious baby you are.”
Will pouted and crossed his arms over his chest. Alana laughed.
“See? Just like a baby.”
She moved off the couch and put her plate and cup back on her tray. Margot did the same but remained quiet. Will finished off his snack and closed his lunchbox, placing it on the floor next to his backpack.
“Prove you’re not a baby Will.”
“What…what do you mean?”
“Show us what’s in your backpack? I bet it’s full of all kindsa baby things.”
“It is not!”
“Wanna bet? I’ll bet you your Blues Clues lunchbox that there is some dumb baby things in your bag.”
Will pouted. He knew what was in the bag.
“There’s nothing in there Alana.”
“Go on. Prove it.”
Will shook his head. Alana smiled nastily.
“Fine. Margot? You do it.”
Will looked towards Margot, a look of fear on his face. He almost imperceptibly shook his head. Margot gave a small, sad smile.
“No Alana. I don’t think we should.”
Alana’s face went red. She was angry.
“You’ll do as I say Margot. This is my house. We’re playing my game now.”
“But this isn’t a game, Alana.”
“I don’t care! Do it or I’ll scream and tell my daddy you hit me and he’ll call your Uncle Cordell to come get you and he’ll know you’ve been naughty.”
For the first time, Margot was frightened. Her Uncle Cordell was a cruel, cruel man. He would punish her for sure if he thought she had misbehaved. Margot sighed and slid off the couch, picking up Will’s backpack.
“Go on. Show us what’s in the baby’s backpack.”
A tear slipped down Will’s cheek. Margot felt terrible. She swallowed and looked sadly towards Will. He sniffled and chewed on his thumbnail. Alana stood in front of them, hands on her hips, smirking nastily.
Margot peered into the backpack. She pulled out the first item and placed it on the coffee table. It was Mr Bear.
“A-ha! That’s a baby’s bear.”
Margot shook her head.
“Not definitely Alana. I mean…you have toys and dolls. That doesn’t mean you’re a baby.”
Margot pulled the next thing out. It was a soft fleecy baby blanket. She laid it on the table.
“A baby blanket? Geez Will. That’s a new one. Right. Next!”
Margot looked into the bag then at Will. He was crying quietly now, desperately looking at the bear and the blanket.
“Alana, I don’t wanna play this anymore.”
Alana stalked over to Margot and stood face to face.
“Alls I have to say is one word, Margot. Then I will tell on you. And your Uncle Cordell, and maybe your brother Mason, will come get you. Now. Do it.”
A small voice came from the couch, thick with tears.
“It’s…it’s okay, Margot. Do as she says.”
“Listen to the baby. Now, Margot. NEXT.”
Margot sighed. She brought out the tippy cup of milk. Alana snatched it off her and looked at it quizzically.
“What even is this? I haven’t seen a cup this babyish since…well, I guess since we were at Uncle Hannibal’s that last time. What else Margot?”
Margot’s hand closed over something soft and plasticky. She knew what it was but didn’t want to pull it out. She looked towards Will.
“I said what else, Margot.”
Margot pulled out a Pull-Up, with a Sponge Bob pattern on it. Alana burst into fits of giggles.
“Hah! I knew it. A diaper for the diaper baby.”
Will stood up, defiant.
“It’s not a diaper!”
“Whatever Will. I’ve only ever seen babies wear them. Is that it Margot?”
Margot felt around the bottom of the bag. There was one more thing and her hand closed over it.
“Well? Hurry up Margot.”
She pulled out a pacifier with a plastic cover on it. With that, Will burst into tears and covered his face with his hands. Margot felt terrible and dropped the backpack, walking over to Will and sitting next to him.
Alana followed and stood in front of the two of them.
“Just like I thought. A cry-baby. Go on Margot, give him his binky. It’ll shut him up.”
Margot handed it to Will, but before he could take it, Alana interrupted.
“No. Give it to him Margot. Put it in his mouth.”
Will might have put up a fight ordinarily. But he was too tired and too emotional to bother. So he sighed and sadly opened his mouth slightly. Margot took the plastic cover off and placed the nipple in Will’s mouth, giving him a sad smile when he sucked on it rhythmically.
“What a dumb, stupid baby. A dumb stupid dumb baby!”
Alana danced around the room, shouting the words over and over again. She snatched up Will’s lunchbox, crowing about how she had a new lunchbox.
“Dumb stupid baby Will! Dumb stupid baby Will! Dumb stupid ba-“
“What is going on here?!”
Alana stopped in her tracks as her daddy’s voice boomed from the doorway. Margot slipped her hand into Will’s as he sucked on the pacifier, his face wet with tears.
“Alana, did I just hear you call Will a ‘dumb stupid baby’?”
“Uh. No, well, what we were doing was, we were-“
Jack looked at Will who was sitting on the couch, crying. He was sucking on his pacifier. What looked like the contents of his backpack were on the coffee table.
“No fibbing, Alana. We talked about that. Now. I will give you once chance. Tell me what happened.”
“Well…you see daddy…we were….we were just playing a game, weren’t we Will?!”
Will sniffled. His chin trembled and he shifted closer towards Margot who put her arm around him. Jack walked up to Alana, towering over her.
“That’s two Alana. I will give you one more chance. What. Happened.”
With that, she lost her temper and stamped her foot on the floor.
“FINE! Will was being a dumb stupid baby as usual, and I didn’t even want him to come over here and ruin my play-time with Margot. I hate him!”
Jack grabbed Alana’s upper arm and spanked her once on the backside.
“Alana! That is horribly rude. Why would you say that?”
“Because it’s true!”
“Right. Well I think someone needs to think about what they have done and said. I’m very disappointed in you Alana.”
She stuck her tongue out at her daddy and he closed his eyes momentarily, summoning more patience. He held firm to Alana’s arm and looked over at Margot and Will.
“Margot, would you mind looking after Will for a moment while I take Alana upstairs for a time out?”
“Sure Uncle Jack.”
“Good girl. You okay Will?”
The boy nodded sadly, relieved that Alana was going elsewhere for the next little while.
“Good boy. I’ll be back soon.”
Alana tried to get out of her daddy’s grasp but he was too strong.
“Argh. Let go of me daddy. Urgh. Don’t let those two babies play without me.”
Her voice faded away as Jack took her upstairs. Margot looked at Will.
“Are you really okay Will?”
He nodded slowly and then his face crumpled in sadness as he threw his arms around Margot.
“Oh! Oh no Will, don’t cry! Don’t let mean Alana make you sad!”
Will cried and cried as Margot held him, rubbing his back.
“Don’t cry, little Will. I don’t think you’re a dumb baby. I don’t think you’re a baby at all.”
Will sniffled and pulled back.
The pacifier was still in his mouth and Margot smiled at him.
“No. You just, well…you just like what you like, right?”
Will nodded and gave a small smile. Margot’s eyes landed on the coffee table and the items she had unpacked from Will’s bag. She left the couch and began carefully putting the stuff back in the bag as Will watched.
She picked up the tippy cup.
“Do you want your milk Will?”
“Can I feed it to you?”
Will sucked on the pacifier. He thought about it, then slowly nodded. Margot smiled at him and took his hand, leading him over to the big armchair by the window. She grabbed her book with one hand and sat it on the arm of the chair.
She sat on the chair and patted the top of her thigh, indicating for Will to sit on her lap. He toed his shoes off and curled up on her lap, his back resting against the arm.
Margot put one arm around his back and he nuzzled into the space between her armpit. She smiled down at him and gently removed the pacifier from his mouth. She replaced it with the teat of the cup and Will began to nurse.
She smiled down at him so kindly.
“Good boy. You’re a good boy Will.”
Will smiled as he continued to drink and nuzzled into her further. He reached his free hand up and tentatively took one of Margot’s curls in between his fingers. He twirled it around and stroked it as he drank the milk. Margot smiled.
“That’s okay Will. You can play with my hair. It’s nicer than when Alana does it.”
Will’s eyes began to droop as he finished off the milk. Margot pulled the empty cup away and picked up her book.
“D’you want me to read to you for a bit?”
Will nodded and reached for his pacifier. Margot giggled and put the nipple back in Will’s mouth where he sucked happily, his free hand resumed in twirling the curls of Margot’s pigtail around his fingers.
“ ‘As she came closer to him she noticed that there was a clean fresh scent of heather and grass and leaves about him, almost as if he were made of them. She liked it very much and when she looked into his funny face with the red cheeks and round blue eyes she forgot that she had felt shy.’”
Margot continued to read and Will listened contentedly, unaware that Jack was watching from the doorway, smiling at the sweet scene before him.
Hannibal rang the doorbell at Jack’s place. He was eager to see Will and see how he had done, playing with a new friend.
The door soon opened and Jack stood there, wearing an apron that looked like it was covered in chocolate.
“Hey Hannibal. Come in!”
“Hello Jack. You’ve been cooking?”
Jack laughed, heading back towards the kitchen with Hannibal.
“Just helping the kids make some waffles.”
Hannibal stood in the doorway, watching Will and Margot at the kitchen bench. They were both also wearing aprons; Will was mixing waffle batter in a bowl and Margot was cutting the tops off some strawberries with a plastic knife and arranging them on a platter.
When Will looked up, his face broke into a massive smile.
He ran over and hugged his daddy, forgetting that he had chocolate batter all over his apron. As he pulled away, he saw the smears of brown on his daddy’s clothes.
“Oh! Oh I’m sorry daddy!”
Hannibal laughed and ran a hand through Will’s hair, kissing his forehead.
“No matter darling, these were headed for the wash anyway. You have been busy my dear boy?”
Will took his daddy’s hand a pulled him back to the bench. Margot glanced up at Hannibal shyly.
“Uh-huh! We have been. Daddy this is my new friend Margot. Margot, this is my daddy. His name is daddy.”
Hannibal laughed and held his hand out to Margot, who wiped her hand on her apron before shaking it.
“Hello young lady. You may call me Uncle Hannibal.”
“Hello Uncle Hannibal.”
Jack peered over Will’s shoulder and helped him beat the last of the waffle batter before taking it over to the Hello Kitty shaped waffle press. Will washed his hands at the sink.
“Daddy, can Margot come over and play one day?”
“Of course she can, if her daddy says that’s okay.”
“Oh she doesn’t have a daddy. She has an Uncle Cordell.”
“Ah. Well if her Uncle Cordell says it’s okay.”
“But I’m wondering, Jack, where is little Alana?”
Jack poured the batter into the press, closing the top so the waffles could cook.
“She’s in her room. Alana was very poorly behaved, Hannibal. I don’t know what I’m going to do with her, her behaviour has gotten so bad lately.”
“Perhaps she is just vying for your attention Jack?”
Margot and Will continued to cut up strawberries as Jack pulled the first cooked waffle out and put it on a plate.
“Maybe. Anyway. She was a little mean to Will this afternoon. So she’s spending the rest of the afternoon in her room.”
Hannibal turned to Will who was watching as Margot sliced into the strawberries and fanned them out on a plate.
“Was she mean to you Will?”
“A little. But daddy, Margot was so nice to me. She’s my new friend.”
Hannibal smiled and kissed the top of Will’s head again.
“I’m glad Will. And thank you Margot. Thank you for looking out for my boy.”
Hannibal thought perhaps he saw a flash of mischief in her eyes, not unlike that which belonged to her brother. But she smiled sweetly and put her arm around Will.
“You’re welcome, Uncle Hannibal.”