Hey everyone...remember me? I used to write fanfiction for this fandom years ago...

Ah heck, even if you DON'T, it's all good: I'm just excited (and admittedly a little nervous) to be back into it! I've always loved this show, and upon deciding to watch it again, thought it'd be fun to take a crack at fanfiction once more, since it's been so long.

I know I probably should have finished up my other MitM multi-chapter fic but I lost half of chapter seven so until/if I find it, it's still on hiatus...thus, I present you with the piece you're about to read. I'm a little nervous, as I said, about writing MitM fanfiction again...but with any luck, I've still got whatever it is I had back in the day.

This is rated "T" for now; rating may change depending on what follows in chapters to come.

This is set in season 5, since that and season 4 have always been my favorite seasons.

2 AM was not an ideal time to be awake. Between the hustling haste of feeding three boys and rushing them to school every morning, and the droning hours put into night shifts at the Lucky Aid, sleep was the only saving grace in Lois Wilkerson's life. Exhausted and stressed with the knowledge of repetition the following morning, fifty percent of her day was spent longing for the comfort of her bed; her old faithful, always there to ease her cramped muscles and coax her mind into silence for a comforting seven hours. Eight, should she succeed in talking Hal out of having sex…which usually only worked when the both of them were too damn tired to move, much less engage in intimacy. And of course, if Jamie decided not to spontaneously awaken during the night, though there was no way to rely on that as a definite.

Sighing softly, Lois rolled over onto her back, dark eyes staring up at an even darker ceiling, a flickering, almost bitter smile tugging at her lips. Her boys had never been the reliable type. To even use one of their names with that word was so close to an oxymoron it really wasn't funny. Yes, Jamie was an infant and she took that into account, but they never grew out of it. Dewey, Malcolm, Reese; there was no telling what kind of mayhem she'd be greeted with when they woke up tomorrow. Every day was a new adventure with them. A frustrating, grinding adventure that wore at her patience like freshly-cut sandpaper. Even wishing they'd learn by now did no good because Wilkerson boys never met the bar when it came to meeting expectations: she had nineteen years of proof to back that up.

And far more sleepless nights than I need, she added internally, exhaling again and turning back inwards to cuddle against her sleeping husband. A mother's work may never be done, but the night was growing old and she still had yet to fall asleep. Work started at nine, and it took at least a half hour in this state to rear her maternal instincts back enough to allow sleep to come so by the time fatigue did take over...

"2:30" Lois whispered, closing her eyes, despite her still-buzzing irritation"Tomorrow's going to be just peachy."

No sooner had her eyelids shut, a frantic banging against the front door peeled them back open. For a moment, fear seized her heart; visions of robbers holding her family hostage as they pillaged her belongings flooding her mind before reality kicked them back out. If someone was going to rob her home, knocking on the door would be a last desperate plan, not first course of action.

"Then who-?" She asked herself, rolling back over to face her own bedroom door. Beside her, Hal groaned, but otherwise remained silent; playing solid sleeper as he usually did late night annoyances sprung up. Not that she really minded – with the thought of break-ins reduced the cause of disturbance was either a neighbor (if anyone outside her boys had the nerve to come knocking at this hour), Craig (who, while slowly weaning off his need for Wilkerson-affection, still came calling at the least opportune times), or, (though it was highly unlikely, as she'd made sure they were in bed) her boys.

Pulling herself up into a sitting position, Lois grunted, legs twinging a little as she dropped them over the side of the bed. Whomever is out there is getting one hell of an earful, she thought begrudgingly, going for her robe by the closet, I don't care who they are; this is insane. Wrapping the rose-colored garment around herself, the chocolate-haired woman shuffled into the hall, moving quickly but quietly; the last thing she needed was for her sons to add to this already perfect night.

"Alright, you." She growled, unlocking the door with a sharp click and yanking the knob, "let's see who you—"

Her words died in her throat; eyes met with unexpected familiarity as they locked with those of her eldest child.

"Francis?" She mustered, finding her voice after staring at the young man for a few seconds. "What are you doing here, it's 2 AM!"

Lois considered herself a patient woman—really, she did—but her son's silence following her question unnerved her slightly. Whenever he'd shown up in the past, Francis had done nothing to withhold his opinions from her; if he wasn't trying to prove a point he was jumping on the defense, as though she were the accusatory enemy and he the wronged innocent. And while she wasn't angry or anything like that presently, it was just… unsettling. Her sons didn't know the meaning of the word "quiet," Francis least of all. And yet here he was now, silent and…shaking…with a wavering gaze, chewing on his lip and looking a little worse for wear.

Actually…a lot worse for wear, Lois realized, maternal instincts starting to gnaw at her the longer she studied her son. He looked as though he hadn't slept in days, and the patchy stubble lining his cheekbones suggested he hadn't shaved either. Blond hair was matted in places and even his clothes seemed deflated and worn. His shirt and jeans were wrinkled, jacket unzipped and half-falling off him. It was all…shocking to say the least, to see the normally well-kept man in such a state…but she wouldn't have given it as much thought had she not seen what lay behind his eyes. That fighting spirit usually burning behind those baby blues had faded away; masked by a thick sheath of…something resembling fear. An emotion she thought Francis would rather die than reveal to "the source of all his problems," as he'd so courteously called her once. But here he was, trembling like a frightened animal in the doorway, uncaring or unaware he was even doing so.

That concern growing in the back of her head shifted to the front, substituting her shock with the rarely seen concern—alarming times called for alarming tactics.

Stepping to the side to allow entry, Lois guard softened her tone. "Would you…do you want to come inside?" She asked the blond, hoping to provoke a verbal response if only to end this worrying silence. Again, Francis said nothing; only nodded and slowly, cautiously, entered her home. His home, though he certainly didn't act that way. That wandering gaze still wandered; back and forth between the living room and the hallway leading to the bedrooms, almost expecting someone else to join them in the foyer.

"Everyone's asleep." Lois said finally, moving carefully behind him to close the door. The moment she'd done so, he flinched sharply and spun back several steps, a strangled noise sputtering from his throat. Immediately, she straightened and held up her hands, a warning bell going off inside her head. "It's okay…" she whispered gently, as though speaking to a child and not this young man of twenty years. "It's okay, Francis, it's okay."

"N-no…" He croaked, so soft she'd almost missed the word. If he hadn't sounded so…broken…she would have been relieved; silence didn't suit her son, it never had. But hearing the pain in his voice…it only fueled her mental alarms. "No…" Francis continued unsteadily, drawing Lois out of her thoughts. "…i-it's not…okay…m-mom…" He inhaled suddenly sharply, wrapping his arms around himself as a pitiful means of self-comfort.

She couldn't watch this anymore; something had traumatized her eldest child and as his mother, she needed to know what it was. Cautiously, Lois took a step towards him, keeping her arms at her sides and her eyes on the crumbling man. "Francis." She stated, calm but firm. "I need you to tell me what happened to you. Do you understand? I can't help you if I don't know what's going on."

"I…I-I know…" another wobbly breath, hands curling into the fabric of his sleeves "b-but—"

"Francis, please." She cut in, allowing some of the desperation she felt to show through. "No one is going to hurt you here but you have got to talk to me or there's nothing I can do." In another place and time, Lois would rather have stormed off in silence then admit those words aloud. Strength through second-guessing had always been her motto; what her boys didn't know always kept them on their toes.

This was different. She wasn't trying to whittle information or punish him for something she suspected he'd done wrong. All she wanted to ease his nerves and learn what in hell could have broken him so badly that even his tongue—his strongest asset—did no more than sputter disjointed replies.

"Please." She tried again, when it became clear Francis wasn't going to answer. "Let me help you."

Perhaps it was the way her own voice quivered, or the fear gradually creeping into her brown eyes. Perhaps he'd just had enough, but suddenly Francis' face crumpled and he started to cry, hanging his head and shivering violently.

If Lois' heart wasn't already breaking, it certainly was now; Francis wasn't normally a crier, and the few times he had, it had been his own fault. But this….this was real. Even with the dark still shielding the situation from her Lois knew something really horrible had happened to her son. Her mouth opened, aiming to utter some kind of verbal comfort, but nothing came to mind that she hadn't already said, and that had done nothing but push the boy to tears. So instead, the older woman cautiously padded forward, stopping only when his head rose again, hearing her move. I'm not going to hurt you, she said silently and somehow he must have retrieved the message for despite that damaged expression he held still as Lois wrapped first one arm, then the other around him in a tight hug. Had things been different, the unfamiliarity of this would have caused both to pull away after only a few seconds; the Wilkersons did not usually hug unless bound together by that rare moment of family pride. And maybe she would have let go, if he hadn't surprised her again by releasing his own arms from that self-embrace and clinging to her hard, sobbing into her shoulder.

Several minutes passed before Lois decided to try this one last time. "I know I can't make you talk to me…I know that." she began. "But this is only going to get worse if you don't let someone in…I'll go get your father if you don't want to—"

"N-no!" Francis choked, immediately tensing. "Dad – dad – you can't tell dad you can't you – can't - !"

"Okay…okay," she soothed, shushing him gently "there's no need to freak out, I won't tell your father." That…THAT was really concerning, even more so than the clinging, crying mess in her arms. To withhold something from Hal but not her? The "reason no one in this family has any confidence?" When did she start becoming the go-to…the willingly go-to parent?

What could have—



"Francis…" Lois started once more, keeping her tone low, quiet. "…did someone…hurt you?"

He flinched, sucking in a breath. A 'yes' if she ever heard one.

"Were…." She stopped, steadying herself. The next question…wasn't an easy one and if her growing suspicions were correct, his reaction might be messy. "…were you raped?"

She couldn't see his face, but the horrible scraping sound that left his throat served as her answer.

Oh Francis…she thought, a bubble of remorse rising in her chest. She held her tongue, however, and another silence fell between them. One would think after the chaos her family stirred up – immediate and extended—she'd have something in her memory to aid this situation.

She didn't.

These were new, unexplored grounds; a tricky trail of ticking time bombs waiting to explode should she make a wrong move.

"Okay…" She finally spoke, gently letting her son go to again meet his eyes. "Okay. Here's what I'm going to do. I want you to go into the bathroom and clean yourself up, understand?"

Francis sniffed, but nodded.

"You're going to wait for me there until I come get you. I'll go wake your dad and tell him to move into the boys' room—I won't tell him anything, I swear." Lois added hastily, in case she set the blond off again. Indeed, his face paled and his teeth returned to his bottom lip and while it wasn't the healthiest reaction, he hadn't pulled away. For now, that would have to do.

"Tonight, you'll stay with me in the master bedroom, and tomorrow we'll tackle this thing together." She continued, authority returning with every word, though still keeping a non-opposing front. "Is that okay?"

"Y-yeah…" A beat. "M-mom…?"

"Yes?" Lois answered, surprised but the tiniest bit glad he was engaged enough to ask questions.

"My – brothers…you won't—?"

"No, no, of course not. They won't know a thing." Granted, that means we will have to fudge what Francis is doing here, she concluded internally; there was no need to stress him any further right now.

Unaware of this internal monologue, Francis sniffed again, wiping his eyes on the back of his palm. "Th-thanks, mom."

Lois didn't answer right away. Instead, she offered her son a rare sympathetic smile. "You're going to be alright, Francis." She said, turning back towards the hallway. "Everything is going to be alright."

It was only after she'd made it past the kitchen that the smile dropped from her face. Will it all be alright? She wondered, quietly opening the door to her bedroom. Uncertainty churned in her stomach as she heard her son, even from here, attempt to calm himself down. It took years for the man to see the error of his own stupidity…even now – before this, that is – he'd occasionally fall back on old habits. But…he'd never gotten into this kind of trouble and as Lois closed the door behind her, she began to worry the eldest Wilkerson boy might not be able to handle it.

If he couldn't…then they'd have a real problem on their hands.

*Trying. Not. To Cringe.* I like parts of this...and parts I don't like. I don't know. Like I said, it's been a while. And I'm still deciding on what's going to unfold as the story goes, which is part of the uncertainty. However, I figure I'd at least write down the scene I DID have in my head...hope you guys got some enjoyment out of it.

And hope you're engaged enough to follow me along on this ride.