|The Weight of the World
Author: Prairie24 PM
A short post-ep piece for Protective Custody.Rated: Fiction K - English - Angst - Words: 629 - Published: 05-11-10 - Status: Complete - id: 5963173
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: Rin Tin Tin K-9 Cop doesn't belong to me, although I wouldn't mind owning Rinty. I do, however, own a lab and a boxer. :O)
Author's Note: Spoilers for Protective Custody.
The Weight of the World
Hank Katts stood in the door of his nephew's bedroom, watching the eleven-year-old sleep. Stevie was curled in a tight ball under the comforter he and his mother Maggie had picked out together when they moved in with Hank less than a year ago. The child had lost both his mother and father within the past two years, his father killed in the line of duty as a police officer and his mother just last week in a plane crash. Alice, Maggie's mother, was staying with them for now, but Hank knew that she would need to return home soon. It would just be Hank and Stevie left to fend for themselves. Hank was young to be a father to a near-teenager; he was only twenty six. His brother Fred, Stevie's father, had been five years older than him and the more responsible of the brothers.
The weight of responsibility for Stevie settled on Hank's shoulders and exhaustion tugged at his soul. When he lost his brother, he had thought Fred's death was going to kill him. Then Maggie had moved into his house with Stevie and things had improved; he had found a reason for living again. Just when things had seemed right with the world, Maggie died in a plane crash and things had spiraled out of control for the little family. Hank felt empty inside; he was losing his family one-by-one and it terrified him. He quickly shoved that thought to the back of his mind; if he considered it too long he thought he might go crazy.
Rubbing a hand over his tired eyes, Hank leaned against the doorframe as worries about the years ahead assailed him. Stevie would have school projects and tests to study for; there would be girlfriends and breakups, graduation and then college, which Hank had no idea how he would ever pay for. What if his nephew got sick? What if he asked questions that he didn't know how to answer? What if he became angry because he had lost his parents?
Stevie stirred and tugged the covers more tightly around him, moaning in his sleep. His uncle watched, concerned until he settled. The boy had been having more than his fair share of nightmares lately, most of them involving his mom scared to death as her plane plummeted toward the ground. Hank had spent many an hour sitting up in the kitchen with the terrified boy and then reading from a novel in the chair next to Stevie's bed until he was able to go back to sleep. It was Hank that Stevie wanted after a nightmare, not Alice.
A cold nose pressed into Hank's hand and he looked down into warm brown eyes. He knelt beside his partner and beloved friend. "Rinty, you're gonna have to help me with Stevie, Partner. I'm in over my head."
Rinty touched Hank's cheek with a cold nose before licking his cheek. Hank chuckled softly. "Thanks, Pal." He ruffled the dog's fur before standing up and looking toward Stevie again.
Rinty crossed the room to lay down protectively next to Stevie's bed. He looked back at Hank as if to say, "Everything is going to be just fine."
Squaring his shoulders, Hank sucked in a deep breath and went to take a shower. He had Rinty's help and Alice's. He and Stevie were going to be just fine; he knew it.