A/N: Something that popped into my head. RARELY will you get anything from me that's under 1,000 words! XD Enjoy!
Jolted awake, Cobb's whole body seized under the pressure of a hand on his blanketed shoulder. His blue eyes opened as his head popped up, his hand instinctively shooting under the pillow. He tried hard to focus on the hunched figure at the side of the bed. The house was quiet, but he could hear the creak of the wood beneath the figure's weight.
Cobb squinted when he blinked. "Phillipa. Wha…what's wrong, sweetie?" His voice shook.
The little girl's chin rested on the mattress. The side of her pale face was tinged green by the light from his digital clock. Her fingers gripped the edge of the bed where she squatted on her knees.
Softly, she said, "I had a nightmare, Dad."
Cobb let out a breath. "Oh." First stroking his forehead, nose, and chin while he collected his thoughts, he then rubbed his daughter's shoulder. He squeezed it gently. "Come," he told her, "there's plenty of room up here."
Brushing her nose with her palm, Phillipa stood and went to the end of the large bed to leap over and crawl to her mother's side.
Cobb tucked his little girl in, and once she was calm and settled, he lay on his side facing her, his hand cradling his rough-shaven jaw.
"Do you want to talk about it, sweetie?"
Staring up at the ceiling, Phillipa was quiet for a moment. She whispered, "It was about Mom."
Cobb felt a little pang in his gut. He could feel the muscles jumping in his jaw through his fingers.
"James and I were playing in the park. I was building a castle while he was burying his toys in the dirt—you know, on the playground by the jungle gyms. It was getting dark, so I got James to help me gather up the toys. Then I grabbed his hand and brought him to Mom. She was sitting on a bench, watching the other children play. We wanted to go home."
The little girl swallowed hard.
"We were gonna go, we were ready, she didn't have to ask us, but she just stared back at me like I was a stranger… like we were both strangers. Like she thought we were joking. Then I ask her what's the matter and I call her 'Mom,' but she says I'm not her daughter, and James wasn't her son. There's no way we could be her children… Mom… She loved us, didn't she?"
The abruptness of the question left Cobb speechless for several beats. He reached out his free hand to tilt her chin towards him. He cupped her cheek with his palm, stroking her cheekbone with his thumb. "Of course she did. Don't ever doubt that. What I wouldn't give for her to be with you right now."
In the faint light that filtered through the white blinds on the windows, he could tell her eyes were misting up.
"I miss her so much, Daddy. I don't wanna forget her."
His jaw tensed. Comfortingly, he stretched his arms and immediately she rolled into her father's embrace. He patted the back of her fair-haired head and rubbed circles between her shoulder blades.
"There, there, it's okay. Phillipa, I'm here. It was only a bad dream. They go away with time and they can't hurt you."
Tears rolled down her face onto his old T-shirt, dampening it. Her shaky breath felt warm on his chest.
"Can you tell me a story?" Her voice was muffled. "Please? About her?"
"Well," Cobb began, resting his chin on the top of her head. "When you were a baby, you liked to keep us up at night, because you could visit with us. We could sit in the chair with you for hours, and you'd just look up at us. You must've thought we were the most fascinating things in the world. You just couldn't bear to look away." Cobb sighed. "But the trick to make you sleep was to sing you lullabies. Lots of them. One night, I was trying to get you to sleep. I was rocking you and rocking you, but you were wide awake. I was so, so tired, and I was singing to you. Finally, I couldn't keep my eyes open. I just fell asleep. Right in the chair. When I woke up again, I could hear singing. French words. You liked your mother's singing much more than mine—she wasn't tone deaf like I am. I sat there for a while, eyes closed and just listening. When I opened my eyes, Mom was rocking you back and forth in her arms while she stood at the window. You were asleep. I remember how the moonlight softened your peaceful faces…"
"What was she singing?"
Cobb had to think for a moment. "She was singing Edith Piaf. When she sang Edith it was your kryptonite."
Softly, the little girl giggled and sniffed. "I love you, Daddy."
"Phillipa, I love you, too."
"Can I have another story?"
There were three more stories after that. Phillipa cried silently, and he waited patiently with her, for her breathing to calm and deepen. Soon his eyelids grew heavier, too. Once or twice she would shudder in her sleep as he held her tight until together they would be stirred by the sun as it peeled away the darkness of the night, the fear from the bad dream relieved.