Our morning dragged on with much more sex than usual, and we found ourselves not quite alone when the night came. Hunter was having a tough go of the whole; there might be an astral walker or something in our home. His dreams worsened the past few nights. “You know that’s because of you, right?” Alex said as we all settled down in bed. Hunter laying curled up in front of me. Alex curled around me at my back, his arm draped over me and Hunter together, pulling us both as close as possible.
“How so?” I asked.
“You haven’t exactly had peaceful dreams yourself.”
“What?” I turned my head to look over my shoulder at my love. “What are you hiding from me?”
Alex shook his head, “Nothing, but you don’t need to wake up to the remnants of your nightmares. I’m making sure you sleep through them all, so you don’t wake up afraid. I can only manipulate you to a small degree.”
I sighed. “You don’t need to do that. I’m a big boy.”
Alex laughed and bit my ear lobe. “I know that, pretty boy. But you don’t need it, and I’m here to keep you safe. Both of you.” Alex patted Hunter’s tummy and tickled him making our son squirm in front of us.
We all did our nightly thing. Hunter rubbed circles around my arm to comfort himself. He focused his thoughts as he slowed his breathing. A technique he was using thanks to Margo. She was doing wonders with him. I was so grateful he was sleeping better most nights.
Alex was already gone, his slow rhythmic breath behind me, lulling me into my own slumber. I wish I could put myself to sleep like Alex, but he wasn’t asleep. His mind was wide awake as he walked Erebus.
It took me a lot longer than either of them to drift off to sleep. My own body keeping me awake. The anxiety from the morning still making me tense despite the relaxing I’d done for the past few days. It was almost torturous. As my dream started, Alex pulled me into the dream plane. He was waiting, “Hey, pretty boy.”
“Hey.” I gave him a shy smile. I seemed more coy than usual, and I wasn’t sure why. There was nothing to hide from Alex, or that Alex didn’t know. But that shy streak persisted, and he smirked at me and my blush.
“You need to behave,” Alex said. “We have work to do.”
“I’m not doing anything,” I said.
Alex nodded to me, and I looked down to see myself in nothing. “That’s all you,” I said.
Alex shook his head. “Nope. Pretty boy, I can’t make you do anything here. I can only change things around here. Long gone are the days that I could manipulate your person. And even then, it was tough. You were always so difficult.”
I stuck my tongue out at him as my classic wardrobe appeared. Alex frowned, “Of all the things in the fucking world, you wear that tattered gray hoodie.”
I frowned, “Sorry.”
Alex sighed, “No, I’m sorry. I know it’s comforting.”
“It’s armor. I may not need it to hide the scars, but…”
Alex wrapped his arms around me in the blink of an eye. “I know, baby.” He kissed me soft and slow, and I moaned into his mouth. But Alex pulled away, “Let’s go watch the show.”
The next moment we found ourselves in our dreamland apartment. T gray scruffy cat skirted from one place to another with the elf on his back. “Fucking Eddie,” Alex shouted.
With the shout, there was a sudden collapse of the world. Eddie the cat, Alex, and myself stood in the emptiness of Erebus. Eddie looked at us confused. “Why am I here? I have work to do.” Eddie Murphy’s voice came out of the mouth of the cat that had been my pet for the past five years.
“Why are you trashing the house?” Alex asked the fury in his voice was plain.
“Trashing? No, I’m giving the elf magic.”
“You are trashing the house.” Alex pushed forward again.
Eddie looked at me, “Is this why you become frazzled?” The cat’s head tilted to the side in confusion.
I nodded. “You know I don’t like things out of place, and I don’t like glitter.”
Eddie looked at me, lost. “I did not understand this.” He shook his head, “Flesh bodies are so strange. Why does it bother you?”
I sighed. “It’s not something I can explain to you. Stop making a mess.”
“But the children love it so.” Eddie said, “They squeal with delight, but then you make them clean it up.”
“Because it sets him off into a spiral, he has a hard time recovering from. They know it.” Alex growled. “Stop it now, or you’ll be finding yourself locked here every night.”
“You can’t!” Eddie challenged.
Alex glared. “Watch me.” He took my hand, and we shifted into our dream bedroom, and he looked at me again like he wanted to devour me. Which I would let him do.
In the morning, Rider and Laker had the little mess cleaned up, and Eddie was pouting on the couch. He ignored everyone. But that night, Alex went to check on him, and he’d started again. Us mere mortals confused the cat. How did you explain boundaries to a creature that had none?
The solution to our problem came from an unexpected source – my three-year-old son, Drake. Though to qualify him as a ‘three-year-old’ was to downplay how smart the boy was. Drake was half-dragon, and thus he had the intelligence of a dragon, and the growth rate of one as well. He was smarter than the twins, and he was surpassing even Quinn’s classes. Dragon’s were well known for their wisdom and intelligence.
It was funny watching Drake sitting with the cat curled up in his lap. Eddie was trying to escape, scratching and squirming in the little nether-dragon’s grip. But Drake was stronger than he looked. “Eddie.” He said in his toddler’s voice. “You can’t keep making a mess. Daddy can’t function.” He looked over his shoulder at me. “You are making chaos. I thought you were an agent of Order?”
The simple question surprised me. Eddie had claimed to be that in the dream I’d met him in. And the cat’s howl echoed in everyone’s head, I’m not chaos.
Drake giggled. “Of course not, but you are making a choice. It’s making chaos in our house. Don’t you love us? We love you.”
Eddie looked over at me. His ears flattened to his head, and Drake let him go. The cat crawled over to me, asking for forgiveness. “I love you. But please no more messes, okay?”
The cat pushed his body against my legs. I picked him up, gave him a quick hug, and scratched behind the ears and sat down with the youngest of my kids, and smiled. “You are so wise.” Drake looked up at me with his beautiful orange eyes beaming with pride. “Thank you, Drake.” I scratched behind Eddie’s ears, “And thank you, Eddie, for trying to help.” The cat meowed his pleasure, and we had no more messes. The little elf on the shelf continued to move around the apartment. He without any adult supervision – real magic – moved by the Umbra itself.