Ack, college coursework...no fun...
Well, at least I'm back to writing on my own again, instead of looking for stuff I wrote way back in August - ugh, really sorry about the time it's taking to update anything, I'll really try and get to that, honest!Anyway, like everything else, this still takes place in my series set up by my first story "More Than My Friend" where Frankie adopts Mac, Wilt becomes Frankie's adopted imaginary friend...a little set-up I made which I know is totally going to get screwed over by that special coming up on Thanksgiving.
I'm both looking forward to it yet severely dreading it at the same time.
Anyway, please read and review! All feedback is appreciated!
…Ha! Out like a light bulb…"
Frances "Frankie" Foster chuckled softly to herself as she peeked through the half-opened door. Without further ado she instinctively entered unannounced, violet nightgown rustling about her as the girl made a direct beeline for the bedroom's sole slumbering occupant. Unsuccessfully stifling a grin, she moved about with silent ease, gently removing the half-opened book from the dozing eight-year-old's limp grasp with one hand and expertly drawing up the sheets with the other. As soon as the novel had been neatly deposited on the nightstand and the little boy was securely tucked in, Frankie promptly leaned over to plant a quick kiss on his forehead.
"G'night, Mac." The girl softly whispered as she turned off the nearby lamp, shrouding the room in darkness. With her bedtime duties successfully completed, the caretaker affectionately tousled Mac's chestnut-brown hair once more, elicited a light sigh of serenity-
"Aw, now aren't you two just adorable?"
Instantaneously her gentle sigh transformed into a harsh annoyed grunt as the surprise comment efficiently shattered the silent bliss of the picturesque moment. Wearing an ugly scowl, Frankie craned her neck to glare daggers at the comically tall and lanky silhouette standing in the doorway.
"What do you want?" She instinctively countered with a sour grumble as she trotted out into the hallway, taking care to shut the door behind her as soon as she had made her exit. Wilt only laughed softly and flashed his trademark toothy smile at the clearly irked young woman.
"Oh, nothing, really." He teased unmercifully, reaching out with a winding arm to ruffle her flaming-scarlet hair. "Just checking up to make sure all resident mommies get to bed soon before they get cranky."
Frankie promptly batted the jovial imaginary friend's hand away, glaring grumpily at her annoyingly upbeat companion.
"Wilt, quit it!" she snapped. "You know I hate it when you call me-"
"Oh, sorry! What would you prefer instead? Mother? Mama? Mummy-Dearest?" Wilt only playfully continued with his favorite joke, not even caring for the fact that Frankie had actually begun to growl like a redheaded rottweiler.
"Big sister." She snarled in correction as her cheeks began to glow so brightly and with such a vibrant shade of ruby-red they practically matched her hair. "I'm only gonna say it one more time, I don't like it when you-"
"Awwww." Wilt only cooed, enjoying the gentle kidding for all it was worth. "But I can't help it, my dear sweet little Frankie, all grown up and on her own! Where on earth has the time gone? Why, it feels like it was only yesterday that I was reading you bedtime stories, singing lullabies, and tucking you in at-"
The lanky creature suddenly couldn't restrain himself any longer, and without further ado he promptly broke out into a fierce bout of laughter, shaking uncontrollably from eyestalks to toe in his mirth.
"Hahaha! I-I'm sorry, I'm s-s-sorry, I just couldn't h-help…heeheeheehee! Just jokin', I'm jokin', honest!" he trilled, giving her a reassuring pat on the back. "C'mon Frankie, you know I was only…I…I was only….uh…"
Wilt's merriment abruptly petered off the moment he sensed that something had gone horribly amiss. Much to his complete surprise, Frankie neither continued to glare spitefully in her perturbation, nor did she crack so much as a weak smile and join in on the moment, which seemed to be the only other feasible option she had. Instead, the young woman seemed to actually be expressing absolutely no emotion whatsoever, staring blankly into his eyes with a vacant gaze one wouldn't be able to find upon a corpse.
That is, until the ends of her lips began to curl into an unmistakable grin, followed by a clear and distinct mischievous sparkle shining brightly in her jade pupils.
"...Now who said your lil' Frankie actually grew up?" she suddenly snickered fiendishly. As she began to slowly inch her way towards him, smiling deviously all the while, Wilt took a nervous gulp as he instinctively back off a little every time she attempted to close the gap between them.
"Um…Frankie? What're you talki-OOF!"
Moving like lightning, the young woman promptly hurled herself against the atrociously startled imaginary friend. Barely having so much as a split second to think, Wilt had no choice but to follow his instincts and clumsily catch Frankie lest she tumbled to the floor in a heap. While both struggling to consolidate his hold upon her and try and gather together what remained of his obliterated composure, the twenty-two-year-old only squealed with laughter as she threw her arms around his neck and snuggled up close, beaming like a nitwit all the while.
"Frankie! What are you-" the stunned Wilt tried to inquire, though not before she simply smiled from ear to ear and blurted out happily,
"Carry you?" the imaginary friend repeated dumbly. "Wait, you mean carry you to be-"
"Carry me, carry me, carry me!" Frankie only repeated it in a ridiculous singsong fashion.
Still struggling to get a firm hold upon the squirmy young woman, Wilt elicited a loud groan, making absolutely no secret of his severe exasperation.
"Frankie, your room is right across the hallway, please don't tell me that I'm actually supposed to-"
"But you just hafta, silly!" she giggled, wiping at her eyes. "It's waaaay my bedtime, and I'm just sooooo very sleepy!"
As she rubbed her eyes and threw in a few hefty fake yawns for theatrical effect, her imaginary friend shook his head sadly in complete disbelief as he desperately tried to comprehend the situation at hand.
"Aw, what's wrong?" she gushed in a nauseatingly cutesy fashion, flashing a mockingly innocent smile. "It's just me, your dear, dear sweet little Frankie! Doesn't that just make you so gosh-darn happy?"
"Frankie, please, will you get dow-" Wilt tried to reply with a stern glare in a feeble attempt to reprimand her, to absolutely no avail.
"Awwww, but Willlllllt!" she just crooned, folding her arms with a comically fake pout. "But you were so saaaad when you said that I was alllll grown up and such a big girl. Aren't you glad that absolutely nothing's changed? I may be a bit bigger, but I'm still your sweet adorable little-"
"Okay, okay, I get it! I get it!" The imaginary friend lamented miserably, clearly at wits end as he finally understood the gag. "I get your stupid joke! Look, I'm sorry about earlier, I was only kidding, honest! You can stop it with the-"
"Carry me to bed? Tuck me in, like you used to?" she laughed.
"No! You're not a little kid anymore, you're more than capable of-"
"Carry me to bed, Wilt? Pweeeeeeease?" she implored sweetly, batting her eyelashes.
Wilt heaved a painful sigh and let his head sag heavily in defeat – there was absolutely no point in arguing, the girl knew all too well from the start that it simply wasn't in his ultra-compassionate nature to refuse anyone, period. Even worse, now she was adding insult to injury by tugging at his heartstrings like an expert, aptly consolidating her victory. Muttering sourly under his breath, he pivoted about and reluctantly made the ludicrously short journey into her bedroom.
"I can't believe I'm doing this…" he murmured incredulously to himself.
"It's only 'cuz you wuv me!" Frankie just cooed sweetly at a comically high pitch, snuggling contently into the crook of his neck. "You just wuv your kid so vewy, vewy much! Does the imaginawy fwend wuv his kid? Yes he does! Yes he does! Oooh, yes he does!"
"You're not twenty-two," Wilt rambled with a dirty scowl. "You're a six-foot-tall three-year-old."
"And I just wuv you tooooo!" The caretaker gleefully carried on with her disgustingly sappy performance, coddling up close. "Oh I just wuv my imaginawy fwend, he's so big an' soft 'an' cuddly an' cute an' snuggly wuggly an' he's so-"
"Okay, okay, knock it off." He mumbled wearily as he plodded over to her bedside. "Look, we're here, okay? Now let's just…mmph, c'mon, just…argh, why won't…Frankie, this is when you begin to let go-"
Much to his utter dismay, all he felt was the young woman reconsolidating her tenacious hold upon him into an even tighter vice-grip as she flashed a frighteningly devious smile.
"Nuh-uh-uh!" she only tittered in joyous refusal, her scarlet ponytail whipping about as she shook her read resolutely.
"What, what now?" Wilt couldn't help but snap, clearly unwilling to have her ridiculous joke go on for so much as a second longer. "I carried you to your bed, now what do you want me to-"
"C'mon, Wilt!" Frankie giggled, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "This wasn't how we did bedtime, remember? You know, when we-"
"Oh no!" the poor creature promptly wailed in refusal the second comprehension struck him a sledgehammer to the face. Immediately Frankie tossed back her head and squealed with raucous laughter.
"Oh, yes! See? See? You remember! You gotta-"
"Frankie, I'm not going to rock you to sleep!" he denied her flatly. "I'm sorry, but this is just not okay anymore! You hear me? I will not-"
"That's what you think!" she countered merrily, smirking like an idiot. "Better start cradling, 'cuz I'm in need of a good night's rest!"
"Frankie, let go!" Wilt ordered crossly. "This wasn't funny when you started, and now it's just-"
"But Willlllt!" she only whined, playing the sympathy card yet again. "You just gotta! How else am I gonna sleep tonight? You know that I never had nightmares when you rocked me to-"
"That was only until you were four! News flash, Frankie, that was eighteen years ago!"
"Pwease Wilt, pwease!" she whimpered pitifully, pretending to be badly frightened as she glanced about wildly and threw in a few fakes shivers for effect. "But you just gotta! What if I have a…a…a bad dream tonight?"
"So?" Wilt grumbled sourly. The redhead couldn't help but break character and crack a smile.
"Dontcha remember? You know the drill…then I'm gonna wake up all fwightened and awone, and how else am I gonna bet back to sleep unless my soft an' snuggly imaginary friend lets me-"
"If you even think I'm gonna let you spend the night with me under the bunk bed-" he tried to weakly threaten her, but once again, Frankie's smile never wavered for an instant as she calmly witnessed his furious outburst.
"Well we won't have to, y'know." She declared confidently, "If only you would just stick with routine and-"
"Frankie…please …" he just moaned wearily, unable to withstand the sheer madness any longer. "You're not a baby anymore...
"Oh yeah? You've never said no to me yet, ya big red marshmallow." She teased, reaching up to pinch one of his cheeks impudently. "You're just too -EEEK!"
Before she could continue any further with the playful torment, the imaginary friend's naturally immense patience finally reached breaking point. Wordlessly, Wilt abruptly tightened his hold upon her and yanked the startled girl clean off, plopping her atop her bed with careless ease.
Free from his ultra-annoying burden, the lanky creature looked as if he was about to bid one hasty good-night and make a hasty exit. However, he barely got one step towards the hallway before he paused, contemplated for a few moments…..and then plastered an unusually devious grin upon his face, much to the stunned caretaker's confusion.
"Wilt?" she asked gently, swiftly putting a stop to her teasing as she strove to get her scattered thoughts in order, unable to comprehend the fact that he had just successfully recognized his golden opportunity for some badly-needed revenge.
"Oh yeah? Oh yeah?" Wilt suddenly snickered, slowly advancing upon the bemused girl.
"What? Wilt, what're you-"
"Is that what you're gonna do? Hmm? Spend the rest of the night with me? Huh? Well fine then, go right on ahead! Drop by whenever those nasty nightmares get to you, it's perfectly okay. Trust me, I know the one way to cheer you back up, remember? It never failed either on us yet, if you'll let me-"
"Ackpth!" Frankie sputtered in blind terror as she realized far too late her mortal danger. "Wait, don't tell me you're gonna-"
"Not tell...remind you." He only jested, swooping down upon the horrified girl.
"Wait, wait! Hold on, hold on! Wait, wait, no, no, no, no, no-YEEK! Heeheeheeheeheeheehee! Quit it! Quit it! W-Wilt knock it off! Hahahahahahahahaha!"
Writhing about helplessly, the girl nearly shrieked with laughter as the imaginary friend clambered up onto the bed and began to tickle her mercilessly, swiftly turning the tables against her.
"Ha, you remember? Remember now?" he cried triumphantly, going for her ribs.
"Eek! Heeheeheehee! Yes, y-yes! Hahaha, p-please-"
"What's that? You're still having trouble? Still scared of the monster in your closet? The ghost hiding under your bed?" he only laughed mischievously, happily ignoring her yelped pleas. "Oh well, looks like my little girl needs some more cheering up! C'mere!"
"No! N-no! Hahahaha!" she squealed in despair, thrashing about like a fish out of water as he showed no mercy. "P-please, Wilt! I-"
"Ooooh, still can't remember? Well that's okay, because we can just-"
"Wait, wait! Heeheehee! Don't-"
"Ha, well how else are you going to remember if we-"
Although the sudden inquiry had been uttered in nothing less than a barely audible whisper, nevertheless the duo's roughhousing cam to an abrupt dead halt the instant they simultaneously recognized the all-too-familiar voice.
Both of them going as deathly frozen as statues in mid-tickle, the two stared blankly at one another as together they quickly realized with horror just how completely unintentionally "compromising" their position on the bed looked to any outsider, to say the very least. Slowly, they craned their necks in almost perfect unison towards the open doorway, locking their gazes upon the sorely confused little eight-year-old and thus confirming their worst fears.
"F-Frankie?" the severely dozy Mac muttered again, unsuccessfully stifling a heavy yawn and looking thoroughly perplexed beyond belief by the tangled muddle of caretaker and imaginary friend before him.
For a few excruciatingly awkward moments, the entire room as cloaked in a dead silence as the trio stared each other down. As the semiconscious Mac gawked blankly while struggling to keep his baggy eyelids from drooping shut, both the opposing caretaker's and imaginary friend's faces burned bright scarlet like a set of industrial furnaces in their blatant embarrassment.
Fortunately, Wilt's natural crimson tone provided an excellent camouflage for his humiliation – Frankie possessed no such luxury as blatantly proven by the manner in which it was currently impossible to distinguish between where her glowing red skin ended and where her fiery ruby hair began. Unfortunately, guessing by the pitifully dumbstruck expression plastered upon her slack-jawed imaginary friend, the God-awful burden of explaining their behavior feel entirely upon her shoulders.
"H-hi, pal…" she managed to greet with a woefully weak forced smile. "What're you doing up?"
"I had to go to the bathroom, but I…I heard….a-and then you guys…" the boy just muttered groggily before trailing off. For a few more agonizingly drawn-out moments, the child just gazed blankly upon the pair, furiously struggling with his temporarily limited mental capacity to try and figure out what ludicrous spectacle he had just witnessed.
"F-Frankie?" he asked again.
"…What were you doing?" he finally inquired about the inevitable, sending the poor girl's mind scurrying for an answer.
"Um…I….uh…I…we were…see, Wilt and I were just…um…" she began to stammer uncontrollably, searching desperately for a reply that would save at least a shred of dignity. "See, Mac, we were…I-I-I was just…."
"….You were just…" Mac murmured, gazing at her a bit warily through blurry eyeballs. The girl just stared back vacantly and emitted a low whimper.
"Okaaaay…this is…weird…" she whined.
"Yup." Wilt muttered softly.
"Yeah…yeah, kinda is…." The little boy chimed in before another horrifically awkward silence settled upon them.
"…Would you believe me if I told you it was all because I had a nightmare?"
"…Is he okay?" the lanky creature whispered to the young woman as she plodded out of the child's bedroom. Grinning weakly, Frankie held up a finger to her lips and motioned for silence until she had safely shut the door behind her.
"Don't worry about it, everything's fine." She chuckled softly in reassurance. Wilt however wasn't quite so easily convinced, judging by the manner in which he still shuffled about guiltily and chewed relentlessly upon his lower lip.
"Yeah but Mac-"
"-Has seen much weirder than a tickle-fight." The girl laughed as she easily finished his sentence. "And speaking as someone who's been right at his side when he saw most of that bizarre junk, I think he's not gonna have any problem."
"You sure?" he nervously inquired yet again. "Honest, Frankie, I'm sorry, I never meant him to-"
"Lighten up, will you?" She giggled, his ability to try and designate himself as a scapegoat at every possible opportunity never ceasing to amuse her. "Trust me, I talked to him, and literally the little guy was out like, five seconds later. It's okay, he knows it was just a little tickle-fight."
Upon hearing the good news, the lanky creature's stance immediately became much more relaxed as he broke out into his trademark smile.
"Whew! That's good to hear." He gasped in relief. "For a moment there I was actually worried that-HEY! Hey, what're you –WHOA! Whoa, whoa, whoa, Frankie, what are you…oh no, for the love of…"
Without a single word of warning, the redhead suddenly latched onto his legs and expertly shimmied up his lanky frame like a squirrel scurrying up a tree trunk. As she tossed her arms around his neck, Frankie only beamed merrily as she gave him a quick pat on the head, to which he only grumbled bitterly as he nevertheless wrapped a winding arm about her frame and began to cradle her reluctantly.
"Now then," She began, mimicking a gaping yawn. "Seeing that we took care of all that …how about we start up again from the top?"
"Why?" Wilt implored miserably. Ignoring his woeful frown, Frankie only snorted with laughter as she flashed a mischievous wink.
"It's only 'cuz you wuv your kid too much." she giggled. "Now why don't we-"
"Oh, no way." He snarled, his mood rapidly souring. "I'm sorry, but I've put up with enough tonight as it is! You are going to bed now, and if you don't-"
"...Rock-a-bye baby on the tree top…when the wind blows, the cradle will rock…"
After pacing about the room for the umpteenth time, the lanky imaginary friend paused his gentle tune to examine the still young woman in his arm. Much to his relief, she didn't move a muscle, excluding the gentle rise and fall of her chest, and her eyelids lay tightly shut.
Smiling weakly, Wilt slowly began to ease his way towards the bed nearby-
"...And what do you think you're doing?" Frankie murmured groggily, cracking open a bleary eyeball and instantaneously obliterating his hopes. Groaning loudly in exasperation, Wilt tried to shoot her a stern glare.
"You know, I could just put you down right now, and-"
"You could…..but are you?" she inquired with a drowsy smile, catching him off guard.
"Well, yeah, I don't…hey, hey!" he hissed as he noticed the broad smirk sneak its way across her features. "Don't give me that look, I just might...stop smiling like that, I'm serious! I could-"
"Could what? It's not exactly like I'm stoppin' you here."
"Plus…I never did ask you to throw in the lullaby." Frankie thoughtfully pointed out with a devious giggle.
"…Huh?" The poor lanky creature muttered confusedly in hoarse squeak. "But-"
"Hey, I didn't say stop." the girl laughed, her fat grin never wavering for a moment as she patted his cheek affectionately. "Nice touch...kinda like old times, huh?"
"But…But…" Wilt stammered atrociously, desperately searching for a way to combat her undeniable observations.
"Yes…you were saying?" she asked with a smug grin. After staring blankly at her for a few moments, he just signed heavily and began to pace about the room once more, softly crooning,
"…When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall…"
Like I said, this is based off my ongoing series where Wilt helped raise Frankie since she was three...read "More Than My Friend" if you haven't yet and thus have no idea what the characters were talking about.
All feedback appreciated! Will try and update "Wishing Only Wounds the Heart" soon!