I Shall Always Be With You

-Sfortuna

-Hocus Pocus-

Thackery wasn't kidding when he told Dani he would always be with her. Emily didn't need him anymore now that they had all been freed from the Sanderson sisters. She missed him greatly, that much was true, but in the next life there was no need for such relationships as big brothers and parents. Dani still needed him. Even though Max had been reminded, however harshly, of his responsibility to her Thackery could tell that he would not be there as much as she needed him to be. He saw that Max and Allison were headed for a personal relationship that would mostly exclude the young girl. So he told Emily that there was still work for him to do.

"Thackery Binx, you are and always were the most wonderful brother."

He watched Dani wake every morning and get ready for school. He watched her struggle to fit into the new school and generally succeed. Then she would return home, do her school work, be with her family, and go back to bed. There were some variations on that theme of course, such as the weekends when she would watch Max spend most of his time with Allison, or wait for them to get home, or meet new acquaintances at the park. And he watched as Max slowly became more involved with Allison and less involved with Dani. His constant attention allowed him to be there the night that Dani finally gave into her emotions and cried for the loss of the best friend that her brother once had been.

Dani had stormed up the stairs after Max left to meet Allison at the movies to watch a movie that he had promised he would watch with her. But of course he wanted to go with Allison instead, or forgot, or hoped she had forgotten. She yelled at her parents to leave her alone and slammed the bedroom door behind her and leaped onto the bed. She buried her face in her pillow, trying not to cry over stupid Max and failing miserably. Thackery coalesced into a solid, if somewhat otherworldly, body and soundlessly approached her bed.

"I am still here for you Dani, though I doubt you would want to see a film with me. I've been told I am much too serious for stories."

When she heard his voice her body froze, in disbelief or shock not even she knew, and listened with bated breath to Thackery. When he finished she whirled around and stared at her dead friend who had once been her most beloved cat for a short period of time.

"Binx?" she whispered. Her eyes were already bloodshot and her face still somewhat wet from the tears.

"I said I would always be with you. I keep my promises." He sat on the bed and held open his arms. He remembered how Emily loved to be held and comforted after a bad day and he thought that surely Dani would not be so much different.

True enough, it took her barely a second to respond to that by flinging herself into his arms. She ended up in his lap with her face pressed to the skin of his neck and collarbone, bared by the wide vee of his loose shirt. If she had not been so upset, she might have been surprised at the warmth emanating from it due to his rather dead state, but it didn't matter to her. Dani felt his arms cradling her close and heard his whispered words of comfort. It was everything she wanted from Max, but he hardly ever gave her. And eventually he soothed her enough that her tears came to a halt and all that remained were her sniffles from her runny nose.

"I know it is hard. I am very sorry that Max is not the brother you truly want. Maybe he will realize what he is doing and change." Thackery ran one long-fingered hand over her riotously curly hair, smoothing some of the frizz. "Maybe he will not, and continue to be pig-headed. Either way, you shall always have me."

Dani sniffled and brushed at a few stray tears on her cheeks. Her other hand clutched at the thin linen shirt that Thackery had been wearing for over three hundred years, yet remained in pristine condition.

"I wish you were my brother." She whispered, feeling guilty for letting that thought slip out but at the same time lighter for having the secret out in the open.

"Oh, Dani." Her ex-cat held her tighter, closing his eyes against the phantom pain in his heart. "Do not say things like that. It can never be, and I do not wish you to hurt for the yearning of it." He pressed a kiss to the crown of her head. "I will do the best that I can, for as long as I can, but remember that Max is yours as I am not."

In a way, Dani knew what Thackery tried to tell her. Once upon a time, Max had been a very good brother; their parents used to tell stories about a young Max, excited to have a baby sister, that would help change her diaper and taught her how to ride a bike. But that didn't stop her from hurting, from the recent memories of Max's forgetfulness and slights. She tried to tuck herself even closer to the unnatural body that held her and rubbed her face against the ghostly warm skin of his chest.

"It will be all set right, you will see." Thackery whispered, holding tight as he eased them down onto the bed. "I will look after thee until Max pulls his head from his butt."

Dani giggled, laying down easily as Thackery arranged them more comfortably on the sheets. He pulled the comforter from under their bodies and tugged Dani's shoes off before covering them with the dark blue cotton material. She laid her head on the delicate strength of the ghost's bicep, one of her arms tucked between them to hold onto his shirt while the other lay on his side. His other arm rest on her waist, fingers still soothingly stroking her back as she sighed and relaxed fully into the warmth of bed and body.

"I love you Binx." She whispered, half-asleep already, emotionally exhausted.

"I love you too Dani." He replied, some of his dark strawberry blond hair falling into his eyes as he smiled down at her small body. He remembered holding Emily in just such a way, sometimes in front of the fire in the kitchen, sometimes in his bedroom as she shivered from bad dreams or the horrible words of others. He had missed this, the connection that could be felt between two people, the unconditional love.

The dead did not need love, but the living sure did. Maybe that was Thackery's problem; he was not quite dead yet.

-Hocus Pocus-

It's October, which means innumerable viewings of Hocus Pocus until your roomies yell at you in frustration. So, a simple little jaunt away from my WIP.