Author's Warning: Like everything else, this takes place in my series, set up by the events in my first story "More Than My Friend" where the big event is that Frankie adopts Mac. If you haven't read that story yet, I strongly suggest you do so now, or else you might get terribly confused.
"…No, don't go in there!"
"But she's gonna-"
"But the vampire is-"
Having shushed their companion for what felt like the fiftieth time since the movie began, the pajama-clad pair of nine-year-olds focused their attention back upon their cheesy horror movie, tensely sitting on the edge of the sofa and watching intently until-
"Don't go in there! He's right behind that door –OOF!" the azure blob sitting between the two yelped as Goo finally lost her patience, and without a single word of warning soundly socked him with a couch cushion.
"What was that for?" Bloo snapped indignantly.
"I dunno, maybe it's got somethin' to do with how you won't shut your big fat stupid pie hole while we're tryin' to watch the movie!" the little girl jabbered crossly.
"Hey, c'mon!" the little creature protested. "I can't help it, I-"
"Yes you can, it's called 'clamping up while everyone else just wants to see what happens in the movie!' Ever tried that before, Mister Smartypants?" she hissed.
"Look, I'm gonna-"
"Shhhhhhhhhhh!" Mac hushed, motioning frantically for the squabbling pair to be quiet. "Will you knock it off?"
Still shooting each other dirty looks, the two nevertheless did as told and fixed their gazes back upon the dull glow of the TV screen. Sitting in a complete dead silence, the little ones quietly watched the film's heroine climb the creaky stairs, plod warily over to the door at the top floor, slowly reach for the knob, and-
None of the three saw the nightgown-attired redhead saunter into the room, nor even notice her presence whatsoever until she had picked up the remote and turned off the TV with a deft press of a button.
"Hey!" Bloo yelped. "What the-"
"C'mon Frankie, we were watching that!" Mac erupted into protest.
"No fair! No fair!" Goo wailed. "Whatcha think you're doin' anyway, waltzin' in here and-"
Unmoved by the chorus of outraged cries, Frances "Frankie" Foster casually placed herself in front of the TV, crossed her arms and gazed calmly at the annoyed trio.
"So sorry for the disturbance, Miss Goo," the -year-old teased in mock-apology, "But in case Tweedledee and Tweedledum forgot to inform you, we have a little something here at Foster's I like to call ten o'clock Saturday bedtime."
"Aw…." The little girl pouted. "But-"
"Nuh-uh-uh." Frankie trilled in refusal with a wag of her finger. "I specifically promised your mom that I'd have you in bed by a reasonable hour while she and your dad were gone for the weekend. So as long as you're staying overnight here, you follow the rules just like these two jokers here. Now c'mon, let's go, let's go, you know the drill, up and- HEY!"
Moving like lightning, Mac suddenly lunged off the couch in a desperate attempt to nab the remote control where Frankie had just set it down upon the coffee table. Unfortunately, all his speed and agility wasn't nearly enough to outdo the caretaker, who plucked him clean out of mid-air with careless ease. In just a split second, victory was hers, and after enveloping him in a tight hold, Frankie tapped her bare foot upon the floor and glowered sternly.
"You of all people should know better, mister." She scolded, causing him to cower a little under her harsh gaze.
C'mon, Frankie…" Mac whimpered as he gazed pleadingly into her eyes. "Can't we just stay up and watch the end of the mov-"
"No." she replied flatly. "You know the rules, pal, bedtime at-"
"How about ten more minutes then?" Goo began to plead, clambering to her feet and bouncing up on the sofa with her eyes sparkling brightly with hope. "Please? Maybe if we just see a little more, we'll be able to figure out how it ends, and-"
"No." Frankie refused bluntly. "Sorry, but a promise is a promise, and I told your mom that I'd make sure-"
"Five then! How about five?" the little girl begged shamelessly. "Five more minutes, puh-leeze, that's all we ask! Please? Pretty please? Pretty please with sprinkles and gummi bears and chocolate chips and butterscotch with a big cherry on top?"
"Nuh-uh, you heard me." the redhead steadfastly refused. "Don't act like I can't see the bags under your eyes, you've all stayed up late enough. I want you three upstairs and in bed in the next-"
"We're not going until we see the end of the movie!" Bloo suddenly cried defiantly, clambering upright upon the couch and shaking a blobbish stub angrily at the caretaker. "You hear us? You're not making anyone move one inch until we find out what happens!"
Hardly fazed, Frankie just chuckled amusedly at the comical spectacle the rebellious little imaginary friend cut.
"Oh, really?" she laughed, not intimidated one smidgen by the defiant display.
"Yes, really!" Bloo yelled boldly with a ferocious glower. "It's not fair! Who are you to say when it is or when it's not time for us to go to sleep?"
"Yeah!" Goo chimed in excitedly, bouncing up and down upon the sofa cushions. "Yeah, yeah, you tell her! You tell her that she can't tell us what to do! Nuh-uh! No way! Not in a million, billion, trillion-"
"Goo, sit down." Frankie ordered gently.
"Okay." The child replied meekly and instinctively plopped herself into a clumsy sitting position.
"Goo, no!" Bloo snapped. "See, that's what I'm talking about! Frankie just orders us around all day, telling us what or what we can't do, going on and on about the stupid house rules-"
Frankie laughed. "Okay, now you're just starting to confuse me with the rabbit."
"You enforce his rules, like you're any better!" Bloo snarled. "You may be able to tell me why I can't ride the lawnmower indoors or what I can't shove in the blender, but if you think you can tell us when we can or can't sleep, then you're got another thing coming!"
"No I don't." the young woman countered coolly with a smirk.
"Stop that!" the upstart imaginary friend growled. "There's absolutely no way you can tell us when we need to go to bed-"
"Yes there is." Frankie replied, still grinning.
"No!" Bloo almost howled. "Who are you to play God like this? There's no way you can make us go to sleep now! You hear me? No way!"
Despite his fervent objections, the redhead only stifled a chuckle and flashed a crafty wink. "Yes, I can."
"Huh?" Bloo grunted dumbly, puzzled by her confusingly unyielding confidence. "No, you-"
"Just you watch, bucko." Without further ado, the young woman promptly went to work. While rocking back and forth on her heels, she shut her eyes and started crooning softly to Mac, who was still trapped in her arms. "Rock-a-bye, and goodnight…go to sleep little baby…" she suddenly began to sing softly, much to their befuddlement.
"Uh….Frankie?' Mac whimpered in confusion. "What are you doing? I'm not a baby, I'm…I'm a…"
The child however didn't get a single word further before a heavy yawn suddenly cut him off in mid-sentence. Immediately, exhaustion seemed to surge through every ounce of his body, despite his best efforts to fight it.
"H-hey…" he whined drowsily. "Frankie, what're you…quit it, i-if you think I'm gonna……g-gonna…"
Frankie only grinned from ear to ear as she continued with her lullaby and rapidly soothed the boy into a gentle slumber. "Lullaby, and goodnight…"
As Mac's eyelids began to sag heavily, Bloo could only look on in horror as his friend was ruthlessly cut down by the young woman's singing.
"Hey! Hey, stop that! Stoppit!" he yelped frantically as his blobby appendages. "Hey, c'mon, no fair! You can't do that! No fair! No fair! Mac, fight it! Fight it, Mac! It's a trick! C'mon, buddy! You want to see the end of the movie, right? Right?"
Unfortunately, Mac didn't hear a single word of his imaginary friend's desperate pleas. Within a few minutes he was vanquished, and now slumbered deeply in the arms of the victorious redhead.
"Works every time." She laughed, planting a quick kiss on his forehead as she turned her gaze to her azure mischief-maker.
"Now then…" she giggled fiendishly. "Are you still ready to get your little mutiny started, or do you not have enough back-up anymore?"
Shocked by how swiftly she had totally subdued his creator, the dumbfounded little imaginary friend began to feel beads of sweat trickle down his gelatinous head as he wracked his brain for a defiant comeback.
"H-how…how'd you do that?" he finally couldn't help but croak hoarsely. "He was wide awake a minute ago, he-"
"You have two choices: either walk yourself upstairs to bed and keep your dignity, or I get to carry you like a widdle baby, just like what I'll do with the other two." Frankie offered with a smirk. "Your move, Blooregard."
"Other two? In case you've forgotten, Mac's probably the only one who dozes off as soon as you start off with all that mushy singsong garbage because you're his guardian-" Bloo tried to argue before she interrupted.
"Oh really? Well that's not what she thinks." The caretaker laughed, nodding to the little creature's left.
"What're you talking about – oh no!" Bloo wailed in horror as soon as he spotted Goo lying facedown upon the sofa in a messy sprawl, snoring so loudly she sounded like a miniature foghorn.
"AUGH!" the blob yelped in terrified disbelief, gazing back and forth between the redhead and the slumbering little girl until his head became a blur. "How...h-how are you DOING that?"
"Aw," Frankie simply cooed sweetly as she plodded over. "She looks like a little angel, doesn't she?"
"YOU STAY AWAY!" Bloo squealed in unspeakable fright and frantically bolted off the couch. "You and your crazy evil witchcraft singing! Stay away! Stay away!"
"What's wrong?" Frankie asked mock sympathetically as she delicately deposited the sleeping little boy next to his companion. "Someone's still not feelin' a little sleepy? Hmmm? Sand-Man forget to stop by?"
The nearly hysterical little imaginary friend only screeched as he hastily scaled a massive grandfather clock set against the wall in a desperate attempt to escape the redhead's eerily effective singing skills.
"No! No!" he cried, trembling in soaring terror. "What're you, some kind of witch? YEEEK! Go away! You...you demon! You're a demon! You crazy witch demon! Stay away!"
"Whoo-whoo!" The twenty-three-year-old pretended to blow a horn as she thoroughly enjoyed the little creature's panic for all it was worth. "The slumber-train's about to take off! Next stop, Dream-Land, population you!"
Cackling wickedly, Frankie skipped over as Bloo cowered miserably atop his perch and whined piteously. "No! No! No! No! No! No! No! Get away! Get away! Get away! Curse you, maternal redheaded demon! Curse you!"
"Now then," she only chortled warmly as she gazed up at him. "What shall I sing for you?"
"Please no!" Bloo begged, cautiously peering down at her. "It's weird! It's freaky! Too freaky! You take your freakishly freaky freak singing and get out of here, freaky demon freak!"
"Hmmm…" she mused thoughtfully, resting her chin in her hand as he continued to hurl curses. "Let's see, I don't think I can use the same one as before…no one really likes a good tune like that to get overused, it'd be quite a shame…"
"You'll never defeat me like you did the others!" Bloo roared heroically. "You hear me? I'll stay up hear and I'll stay wide-awake all night! You can't stroll in here, deciding who sleeps and who doesn't! It's…it's unconstitutional, I tell you! An imaginary friend should have the freedom to decide whenever he wants to, you lullaby-singing commie! If you-"
"I got it!" Frankie suddenly laughed. "Of course, how could I forget?"
"…Forget what?" Bloo scowled fiercely as she flashed him a toothy grin.
"Just a nice little tune that helped a certain little imaginary friend get to sleep when he had that nasty fever a few months ago, if memory serves me right." She chuckled. "You remember, don't you?"
The blob narrowed his eyes and hissed warningly. "Don't you dare…"
"Here we go, okay?" she just trilled as she promptly ignored his threat.
"Never!" Bloo bellowed in open defiance. "You can't do this! You can take everything I have, but you may NEVER take my freedom to sleep when I-"
"Hush little baby, don't say a word…" Frankie began to croon in sickening sweet and sugary tone. "Momma's gonna buy you a mockingbird…and if that mockingbird don't-"
Like a bird that had been shot out of the sky, Bloo suddenly keeled over and plummeted off the grandfather clock like a stone. Timing her positioning perfectly, Frankie calmly allowed her deeply slumbering prey to fall safely into her outstretched arms.
"Fastest lullaby in the county." The redhead cracked as she cradled the dozing blob delicately.
"Doesn't surprise me at all, dearie." Someone suddenly laughed softly from the doorway. "After all, it does run in the family."
Immediately recognizing the voice, Frankie just scoffed loudly, not even bothering to pass a glance to the petite old woman hobbling in from the threshold, where just had wordlessly witnessed a great deal of the peculiar spectacle.
"No way!" the young woman boasted. "That skill back there was all me."
"Eh? What's that?" Madame Foster asked, cocking an ear in her grandchild's direction. "I'm sorry dear, but I seem to have trouble hearing you over your ego."
"Huh? Grandma, what are you even talking about?" Frankie demanded confusedly as she set Bloo down with the other two so she could face her grandmother unimpeded.
"All I'm saying is I haven't seen a sight like this since you were the little ones' age." Madame Foster explained with a proud smile before observing Frankie's handiwork with an approving nod. "Ha! Looks like you take after your ol' grandma more than you think. This takes me back exactly when I used to-"
"Excuse me? Oh, no way you're taking credit for this." The twenty-two-year-old protested as she pointed at the slumbering trio. "Don't come in here, see what I've done and try and take credit by spouting how it's from your side of the family. Hey, I don't exactly remember ever seeing you taking out three at a time with-"
"That's because I never had three little ones to deal with at once." Madame Foster chuckled knowingly. "That's not to say you didn't keep me on my toes most of the time. Heavens only knows what I'd do if I didn't have Wilt to keep on eye out on you. Of course, you never got so out of control at bedtime it was nothing a little lullaby couldn't handle."
Frankie rolled her eyes. "Grandma, of course that would get me to sleep, I was only a little kid-"
"Not just 'get you to sleep', dear." The old woman cackled. "I'd always have you out like a light before I could finish one verse."
"Like I'm really gonna remember that pretty well." Her granddaughter replied sarcastically as her cheeks went flush with ire. "C'mon, now you're just exaggerating, like you always do-"
"Oh really?" the old woman laughed before teasing gently, "By the sound of it, looks like someone's getting a tad cranky. Come to think of it, I don't know why I ever stopped singing you to sleep; chance are you'd be out in a minute if I tried it right now."
"Pfft! Grandma, knock it off!" Frankie grumbled. "I'm not a baby. I'm not even a kid anymore! I'm a-"
"Rock a bye baby, on the tree top…." Madame Foster only grinned from ear to ear as she began singing in a soft whisper, while Frankie only rolled her eyes.
"Oh yeah, because you were so good at it when I was four, you're still gonna have me sleeping like a baby when you do it now." She grumbled. ", just cut it out! I'm getting kinda annoyed here, honest! This is…th-this is...hey…what the…."
Suddenly, it felt like someone had clamped invisible weights to her eyelids as some unseen force seemed to be forcing them to droop heavily. As the startled girl's mind began to reel with confusion, her grandmother only continued crooning happily. "…When the wind blows, the cradle will rock…"
"What the…" the lanky redhead muttered in drowsy panic as she could feel her energy rapidly drain from every ounce of her as she grew dozier by the instant. "Grandma, what are you…hey..s-stop it…"
As the young woman let loose with a gaping yawn, the lullaby continued unabated."…When the bough breaks, the cradle will fall…"
"Grandma, this…this is so...so...weird…" Frankie whimpered, legitimately frightened with how fast she was fading, with eyes threatening to crash shut and entire body swaying about drunkenly as she struggled to hold on to her last remaining shred of strength. "S-stoppit…what is this, some kind of trick? What's going on…how the heck are you….s-stoppit…I'm not a little kid anymore…I-I-'m…"
"…And down will come baby, cradle and all-AUGH!"
Lo and behold, the old woman had spoken the truth. She had barely finished the last note when her granddaughter came crashing down, after being successfully lulled into a dead sleep. It was too bad Frankie didn't stay awake long enough to keep herself from collapsing right atop her grandparent. It wasn't until after the nasty crash was the poor creature able to comprehend the magnitude of her absurd predicament.
"…Frankie?" Madame Foster whimpered hoarsely as she lay firmly pinned beneath her granddaughter. "Frankie? Frankie, dear? Sweetie, you awake? Frankie?"
Squirm about, prod, and coax as she might, she was unable to get any response from the nearly comatose redhead, unless one counted the fact that Frankie had begun to snore extremely loudly. Realizing that she wasn't going anywhere soon, Madame Foster elicited a heavy sigh as she struggled to make herself a little more comfortable.
"I think I finally remember why I stopped singing to you…"