Daniel, Jasper and Me.
Part 2 of Dancing in the Rain.
By Amberfly

Drink clutched far too tightly in my hand, I'd watched, mesmerized, as the fire slowly burned down to ashes. Through the silence of the night I heard a small cry, and wincing, I am ashamed to admit I slammed my glass down. Turning my head toward the sound, I thought about ignoring it but at ten o'clock at night, it was no time for small boys to be awake. I held my breath waiting for another, and the new pup stirred in his basket, whimpering in his sleep. He missed his mom, Daniel missed his life, and I missed my friend. No-one felt any peace in my house that night. 

There were no more cries in the night, so I'd turned the game up a notch, and forced myself to watch. I was well aware that if I heard another cry, I'd need to make a decision, and like a coward, I'd hadn't wanted to. I'd wanted only to finish my bourbon while pretending the shittiest day we'd endured since the accident never happened. 

We'd all had a rough day. The puppy, Daniel and me. Jasper had his shots and was out of sorts. Daniel's had been miserable, not knowing what to do with himself, and I'd felt exhausted to my bones. To be honest, I wanted an out. I wanted someone, anyone, to come and relieve me, share the burden for awhile, but Daniel wasn't up to that yet. So, we needed to try and make the best of it all. The puppy, Daniel and me. 

Its not that I don't get it, because I do. Intellectually I understand exactly why Daniel acts like he does, but emotionally, I am drowning. I don't know what else I can do for him. Whatever I say is wrong, whatever I do is wrong, whatever I try is wrong. I'm not Daniel's parent, so I can't play that `do as I say', card, tempted as I am, so I have to use reason. That reasoning is damn hard work, and he runs rings around me. Always did 

I'd re-filled my glass, but another cry disturbed my peace, and I knew I'd run out of time. I lost the drink, scooped up the yawning pup, and climbed the stairs to see Daniel. With every step I'd rehearsed in my mind what I needed to say, to do, but I kinda figured I'd end up chasing more damn windmills. Things were so different now, but I knew Daniel needed me. Deep down this man-child needed me. Pushing open his bedroom door to let that sliver of light through, Jas squirmed and licked at my face, and I thought at least someone loves me.   

I held Jasper close to my chest because I needed to check if were welcome. Naturally, the puppy barked, and before I could stop him, he'd wriggled free, and bounded across the room. The little fart jumped onto Daniel's bed, and slobbering all over him, shook any remnants of sleep away. Letting Jas loose was probably a Freudian slip on my part. I suppose. 

Daniel stirred, and siting up, knuckled his eyes while pushing the dog away. He then looked directly into my face.  

I smiled at him, but he sighed, tiny shoulders heaving with his distress. My heart sunk, I figured I'd intruded once more. Those windmills won once again. 

I am the first to admit that my decision making, concerning Daniel, hasn't always been the best. Despite all that had happened to him, Daniel was still fundamentally himself, just smaller, and I struggled with what role I was supposed to play. Given that it was ten o'clock at night, I figured it was time I found out. Tap dancing in the rain can be over rated, and we were all tired. Daniel, Jasper and I.  

Scooping cross child, squirming puppy and a lumpy pillow into my arms, I walked into my room and dumped them all onto my bed. Throwing back the blankets, I told Daniel to snuggle in and think very carefully. I wanted to shower, clean the booze from my teeth, use the can, and he had fifteen minutes to make up his mind. I knew it was late and he was tired, but I needed to know. If he couldn't live with me, if it freaked him out that much, then we needed to find an alternative. No more dancing in the rain for us. 

I came back, sat on the side of the bed, and looked directly into Daniel's solemn little face. I asked him what he wanted.   

He looked back at me, that quiet intelligence burning in those blue eyes, and he shrugged. 

"I don't know, Jack."  

"Try harder, buddy." 

I'd sat half on, half off on the side of the bed, and when Jas threw himself at me, wagging his tail, I looked up, and was stunned by the expression on Daniel's face. His head crooked to the side, he stared at me like a little bird, and edged slowly towards us. I sat very still, unsure of what he wanted. 

"How do you do that?"  He asked, while patting Jas.  

"Do what?" I'd never felt more confused. I wondered what the hell I had done wrong this time, and waited for a caustic comment. It's not that Daniel is a brat, far from it; he's just a lost soul. He doesn't know what to say and I never know what to answer. But, I asked anyway. "What do I do?"  

"Make everything seem okay." 

I smiled. It was my turn to shrug, and when Daniel crawled onto my lap and rested his head against my chest, I knew it would be okay. Not brilliant, but I knew we'd be okay. 

Daniel, the pup and me.

The End

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