AN: I know I said I was working on the next chapter of Best Served Cold, and I promise I am, but I want it to actually be good, and if I try to just "push through" the writer's block I have with it, then it's gonna suck, and y'all deserve better than that. So, until inspiration strikes again for that fic, there will be one shots. And I promise I won't ever stop working on it :) anyways, this idea hit me the other day, so obviously I had to write it. I hope you enjoy, and please leave a review!
Malcolm's nightmares had been getting worse. It didn't take a detective to notice the bags under his eyes and the disoriented look he always had due to the lack of sleep, which the kid valiantly tried to cover up with a truly impressive amount of coffee. Gil just couldn't imagine that this could possibly be the solution to the insomnia and night terrors.
The kid was home for the summer, his years at boarding school now complete. He would start at Harvard in the fall, and Gil couldn't have been more proud of him. Malcolm had grown into a strong, capable young man, the top of his class, highly intelligent and perceptive, and a silver medal axe thrower to top it all off. From the outside, as long as you didn't know about his serial killer father, one would think he had an almost perfect life. Obscenely wealthy, a soon to be Ivy-leaguer, a beautiful mother and sister, a stellar academic record, and very attractive. Most of that went away if you knew about Dr. Whitly and the horrors he had committed. The obscene wealth became The Surgeon's get-out-of-jail-free card - because a psychiatric institution wasn't where that monster belonged and everyone knew it. His good grades and soon to be Ivy league status became things that were handed to him because of his family's wealth, not something that he worked very hard for, aided by his natural aptitude for academics. His beautiful mother and sister became just other members of "that terrible family", and his slender build and good looks no longer mattered because he was too short.
All of this changed for almost everyone Malcolm had ever met in his life, sometimes the moment they heard his last name and put two and two together. A few people had needed the relation spelled out for them a little more. Those times were the worst. Malcolm would think he finally had a friend, then they would find out who his father was, and drop the kid like a hot coal. It wasn't fair. Malcolm was always guilty by association.
Those people never learned who Malcolm really was. They never stayed in his life long enough to know him, and they were the worse for it. Gil knew that anyone who stuck by the kid never regretted it - not that he had many people to pick as examples, but still, Gil just knew. At the very least, he was one of the lucky ones blessed to have the kid in his life, especially to have him, truly, as the son he and Jackie weren't able to have on their own.
It was because of their close relationship that Gil came to be standing in Malcolm's home, his jaw nearly on the floor because of the kid's request.
Malcolm had asked Gil to come over, and even over the phone, Gil could tell that something was wrong. He didn't press, because the kid was already asking him over, so he would find out in due time. Gil had never imagined that the reason there was a hint of fear in his kid's voice was because he was scared to ask Gil for help. Gil had also never imagined that Malcolm would be asking him to help install restraints onto his bed.
"No, absolutely not," Gil said when he finally regained the ability to speak, vehemently shaking his head.
"See, I knew you'd react like this, I never should've asked, I should've just figured it out-"
"No, kid, you can always ask me for help, you know that," he quickly interrupted. Gil never wanted Malcolm to think that he couldn't ask for help, no matter the subject matter. Gil had been the one to give the kid The Talk for crying out loud, nothing between them needed to be off limits.
"And that's why I thought you'd help me," Malcolm said, running his fingers through his hair in frustration. "Gabrielle said this might be necessary one day, and Mother now agrees, and if this is what it takes, then so be it. I'm okay with this. Why can't you be?" Malcolm looked up at him with those big blue puppy dog eyes, and for the first time, that strengthen Gil's resolve rather than weakening it. This kid deserved so much better than what he got. Gil couldn't do this. He couldn't let the kid tie himself down in bed. He just couldn't.
"You know I would do anything to help you," Gil said. "But this? You want me to help chain you down like some sort of animal?" He regretted his word choice the moment he saw Malcolm wince, dropping his head. Gil ducked his own head to try to catch his kid's gaze again. "No, that's not what I mean-"
"It doesn't matter what you meant," Malcolm muttered with a shrug. "All that matters is that I can't hurt people in my sleep. That I can't hurt myself. I am actually thinking about myself too, for once," he said, a sardonic grin on his face, but it quickly fell. "Not all of those bruises I got at school were because of the other kids. Sometimes they were because I would get so worked up in my sleep that would do it to myself. With the restraints, that won't happen anymore." He quickly leaned down to where he'd set them on the floor and picked one up. "And see? It has really nice padding, so they won't bruise my wrists either. They'll keep me safe, I promise."
Gil sighed. Maybe the kid had a point, but that didn't make this any easier. It still sucked, and Gil hated that he had to do this, hated it more than anything.
"And your mother agrees with this?" he asked in confirmation. Jessica had never seemed all that concerned about her son's wellbeing to him, but he was a bit biased against her.
"Yes, she's the one who had these delivered," Malcolm assured him. "Though I don't want to know how she knew where to find them," he added, blushing. Gil nearly choked on his own breath. Yeah, that was not a situation he wanted to think about, for either Jessica or Malcolm.
"Okay, I'll help you, but I still don't like this idea," he said.
Malcolm visibly relaxed. "Thank you," the teen said, a real smile finally on his face.
Half an hour later, the restraints were installed and it was time for Malcolm to learn how to get them on and off by himself. For Gil, this was the worst part, having to physically chain his own kid down. Gil found himself struggling against the sudden lump in his throat. This wasn't fair, Malcolm shouldn't have to do this. Gil took a deep breath and refocused himself. If this really would help the kid, then it was worth it.
Malcolm's brows were furrowed as he tried to fasten the second restraint with only one hand.
"Do you want some help?" Gil asked, impressed with himself for keeping his voice steady.
"I need to be able to do this myself though, right? I really don't wanna have to have someone help me with this every night," he replied. "I'd really like as few people as possible to know about this." After watching the kid try and fail to fasten the other restraint with only one hand for another minute, Gil stepped in.
"Maybe the leather just needs to break down a bit more so it can stay in a more pliable position for you," Gil said, twisting the leather to position that Malcolm needed it to be in in order to fasten it. It worked, but for just a moment, Gil's heart stopped. His kid was flat on his back, his arms out to the sides, being held down, and now that it was done, Malcolm looked a little scared. That little look was a knife through Gil's heart. All Gil could see was the men and women that he'd seen in roughly the same position throughout his career as a cop. Except he could only see them with Malcolm's face. Instead of a woman he'd rescued from an abuser, it was Malcolm. Instead of a businessman who'd been kidnapped, it was Malcolm. Instead of a criminal that he'd cuffed to a pipe himself, it was Malcolm.
Gil quickly shook his head to clear the images away. That wasn't going to happen. That was never going to be Malcolm. Gil was never going to see Malcolm in such danger, restrained by someone who meant him harm, so there was no reason to even think about it.
"You good, kid?" he asked instead of thinking about those things that would never happen.
"Yeah, yeah, I'm- I'm fine," Malcolm quickly replied, much too quickly for it to be the truth. "It's just, uhhh. This kinda sucks," he said with a nervous smile. The kid took a deep breath, then turned his head to look at one of the restraints. He focused on it, and was clearly forcing himself to relax. His hand stopped shaking, and he carefully contorted his hand to reach the release. Gil couldn't help but grin at Malcolm's wide smile at his quick success. The restraints were easy to undo alone, but not so easy that he was going to undo them in his sleep. "Yeah, I think this is gonna work. I mean, it won't be fun, but I'll get used to it. It'll be fine," he said, sitting up and looking up at Gil.
"Are you even gonna be able to sleep in those?" Gil asked in a last ditch effort to get Malcolm to change his mind - an impossible task, really.
"It's not as if I really sleep anyway, so what's the difference?" Malcolm retorted with much more apathy towards his insomnia that Gil would've liked. Gil gave a light scoff and shook his head, but Malcolm spoke again before he could reply. "Seriously though, thank you," he said. "I couldn't have done this myself, and I really didn't want to ask Mother or Ainsley, so, thank you." Malcolm looked up at him with a sad smile, his hair falling over his face.
Gil went down onto one knee, putting himself on a more equal plane with the kid. "Like I said, I would do anything, and I mean anything, to help you. You know that," he said, resting his hand on the kid's knee. He and Malcolm were looking more or less straight at each other, as opposed to Malcolm looking up at him due to their six inch height difference. The look of complete trust in Malcolm's eyes looked the same, no matter the angle. "I hate the idea of you having to do..." he trailed off, looking for the right words. "Well, this, in order to keep yourself safe, but if this is what works, then that's okay. And because I know you're thinkin' it, no, I don't think any different of you because of this." Malcolm let out a nervous chuckle and looked away, shaking his head. "It's true," Gil continued with a real smile. "I will never think of you any differently then exactly what you are to me."
Slowly, Malcolm made eye contact again, and asked in a quiet voice, "And what I am I to you?" The puppy dog look was back, and not for the first time, Gil wondered what the kid had been like before his father had been revealed as a monster. More specifically, Gil wondered if Malcolm's sense of self worth had always been this atrociously low, or if that had developed after Dr. Whitly's arrest. The kid was never secure in his position in the lives of others, always thinking that they were going to toss him away the moment he became inconvenient or they found out who he really was - and to Malcolm, he was first and foremost the son of a serial killer.
And it was because Malcolm was so wrong about his worth that Gil was able to answer, in complete confidence, "Everything." Malcolm tilted his head ever so slightly. "Kid, you are, absolutely, everything, to me," he continued, emphasizing his words as much as he could. "You're everything," he repeated one more time, this time in a whisper. Gil could feel his own eyes becoming moist as he saw the kid's eyes fill with tears. Before either one of them could let them fall, Gil leaned forward, and the kid immediately fell into his arms, his head tucked into the crook between Gil's neck and shoulder. Gil brought one strong arm around the kid's back, and brought the opposite hand up and into Malcolm's hair, running his fingers through it in the way that he had always done. Malcolm gripped the back of Gil's shirt like a lifeline, so hard that if it were any other situation, Gil would've been afraid it would rip. But with Malcolm, he didn't care. The teenager could rip all of Gil's shirts and he wouldn't care. If it helped the kid, then so be it. That was all that mattered. "I've got you," Gil whispered. "I've always got you."