Genre: Man from UNCLE - Mouth of Babes
Word Count: 1899
Prompt: Mouth of babes and The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
Dear jkkitty, thank you for a fun prompt and to sparky955, as always for her sharp eyes.
Peter ran as fast as his legs would take him. For the first time in his life, he didn’t care about food, about candy or even about his twin sister. All he wanted to do was to get as far away from the terrible creature that was following him. Its long green fingers made him shiver with fright and the very tight shoes made his feet hurt and Peter didn’t even want to think about a heart being too small to love and care.
He found a small crevice in the rock wall and pushed his way into it as far as he could.
“There you are!” A face loomed in front of him and when Peter saw who it was, he cried out. It grabbed him and shook him with those awful green fingers.
Gradually his sister’s voice filter through to him and he opened his eyes to see his sister leaning over his bed’s protective rail. “Scary?”
“Po Petey,” Inessa said sadly. “Wanna me in?”
“Uh huh.” He moved over and Inessa climbed in, snuggling close. She petted Peter’s hair and he sighed, comforted by her nearness. She offered him her stuffed toy and he clutched it close.
A minute later, the door opened and Daddy walked in. “Hey, Champ. You okay?”
“Petey gots a scary.”
“Aw, nothing to worry about, Peter.” Leon Solo reached down to hug his small son. “Your mommy and daddy won’t let anything happen to you.”
“And Gampy,” Inessa added. “And Poppy!”
“Not Poppy,” Peter whispered as he shrunk back into his pillows and shut his eyes against the image in his head. Leon frowned at that. Peter was definitely his maternal grandfather’s shadow.
“Do you want me to stay with you?”
“No, he gots me,” Inessa said and Peter cuddled down against her again.
Leon gave both children a kiss, checked on the other two older children and then padded his way back to bed, only stepping on one Lego piece and kicking three stuffed toys.
“Everything okay?” Lisle mumbled as Leon climbed wearily back into bed..
“Peter had a bad dream. Inessa gave him her stuffed dynamite, so that seemed to help.”
“I knew I shouldn’t have let them watch TV tonight. It was a cartoon, so I thought it was okay. I just needed to get some stuff done.”
“Hey, you don’t have to explain. I don’t know how you do what you do.” Leon pulled his wife close and kissed her temple. “You are a super goddess.”
“If I was a super goddess, there wouldn’t be seven more load of laundry to do.” She yawned. “”It just never seems to be done…”
Leon looked down at his already-sleeping wife. At least his Christmas shopping would be easy this year. He kissed her again and settled back down to join her in slumber.
Napoleon moved slightly and winced. His arm was totally numb. He only had to open his eyes to discover why. Illya was sleeping on it. He’d left Illya asleep on the couch.
Two days ago, Illya had caught the stomach flu that had been making the rounds. He isolated himself from the rest of the family and was sleeping on the couch as it was closer to the bathroom than his bedroom was. It wasn’t that anything was far from anything else in their small apartment, but Illya didn’t move very fast these days and it was just easier.
Napoleon gritted his teeth and pulled his arm out. Illya made a low rumble in his throat that sounded more like a growl than anything else.
“Just promise me that you have had your rabies shots if you bite me,” Napoleon said as he sat up. “Not that I mind, but why are you here?”
“My bed is full of toys and most of the kitchen’s utensils.” Illya stretched and reached down to massage his hip. “It was easier than hauling everything out.”
“Your color is better. How are you feeling?”
“It’s been over fourteen hours since I have vomited anything.”
Napoleon pressed his lips to Illya’s forehead. “You’re still warm.”
“Bet you say that to all the men you find in your bed.”
“No, just one.” Napoleon stood and reached for his robe and a doll fell out of his pocket. He sighed. One thing that could be said was that life with grandchildren was never boring. “Why don’t you rest and I’ll make you some scrambled eggs.”
“I need to get up and get dressed for work.”
“Nope, you are off today by executive order. You forget I can do that.” At Illya’s look, he continued. “This is giving Spence and Holcomb a chance to try out their wings without the danger of a real situation.”
“I need--” He started, pointing a finger at Napoleon.
Napoleon’s hand cover his. “To rest. Seriously, Illya, the last thing we need is for this flu to take over HQ.”
“You’ve already been exposed to it. You’re more of a danger than I am.”
“Which is why I’ve been working remote all week and limiting my own contact with the family.” He squeezed the hand gently. “Do this for me? Monday, I swear you will be back to the grind, overworked and underpaid.”
“Or playing nurse maid to you.”
Napoleon laughed. “I have just the outfit for you, too.”
Peter slowly walked past the door which led to his grandfathers’ apartment and his bottom lip trembled slightly. Then Irina came out of her room and waved.
“You can’t go up there.” Irene walked over to her brother and took his hand. “Mommy said that Poppy is green.”
“That’s what she said.”
“NO!” Peter yelled and ran away, sobbing.
“What on earth is going on out here?” Lisle stepped out the bathroom. “Don’t get out of that tub until you wash that face of yours.”
“Aw, Mom…” Alex protested. He hated baths.
“Just do it, Alex!” Lisle pushed her hair from her face. “What did you say to your brother to make him cry, Irena?”
“I don’t know, Mommy. Honest. I just told him he couldn’t go upstairs ‘cuz Poppy is sick.”
Leon came halfway upstairs, chewing on a piece of toast. “Why is Peter crying?”
“Poppy is sick,” Irena repeated. She was getting very tired of this now. “Is that ole Alex done yet? I need to brush my teeth. He said he needed his privacy and I don’t even know what that looks like.”
Leon handed Lisle the rest of his toast. “I’ll take it from here. You nurture, I’ll nature.”
“Thanks,” Lisle said and started downstairs. She found Peter in the living room crying. “Hey, my little man, what’s wrong?”
“Nofing.” He knuckled away his tears.
“Oh, I think something is wrong. Are you unhappy because your poppy is sick?”
Peter shook his head. All he could see in his mind were those long green fingers and the smile. He pushed back further into the sofa.
“Peter, sweetheart.” Lisle gathered him into her arms, kissing him. “You’ve shaking. What’s wrong?”
“Poppy’s the Grinch!” he blurted it out and then started sobbing again.
“What? What do you mean? Sweetheart, stop crying.” She held him close. His forehead was warm and she sighed inwardly. If he was sick, then so was his sister. “Calm down.” She led him to the downstairs bathroom, a closet size room with just a toilet and sink. She soaked a washcloth in cool water and wiped his face. All while she was doing this, she made soft calming noises. “Better?”
The little boy nodded. “Uh huh.”
“Now why do you think Poppy is the Grinch.” Honestly, she had no idea what a grinch was, but it was obvious Peter was terrified of him.
“He lives up on Mt. Crumpet and he’s mean. He steals things and he’s green!” Peter felt miserable. “He’s gots long scary fingers and he… he…..” Peter looked as his mother and she instantly knew. She had him over the toilet in the nick of time.
“Oh, not you, too.”
“Well, that makes us three for four,” Leon said as he exited Irena’s bedroom, carrying a pail. “The only one who hasn’t caught it is Inessa.” He held it out to his wife.
“Small favors,” Lisle murmured. She walked wearily to the bathroom to dump the pail and rinse it out. “At least it was in the pail and not all over her bed.” She flushed the toilet and sat on the edge of the tub. Suddenly her eyes grew wide and she lunged for the toilet.
“Oh, yay,” Leon said from the door. “I’ll call in.”
“No, I can…”
“No, you can’t. Get to bed!”
He was walking down the hall and paused, then knocked and tried the knob. The door to the third floor was open. He gave it a push and stuck his head in.
“Yes, son?” It gave Napoleon a secret thrill to be able to say and mean it.
“You might want to stay up there today. We have a houseful of sickies down here.”
“Everyone except for Inessa and me—“ He looked down as Inessa tugged his pant leg, then vomited on it. “Correct, me, is sick.”
“I’ll be right down to help.”
“Sorry, Dad. You’re too important to get sick.”
“I’m a Solo, I don’t get sick.”
“Famous last words,” Illya said as he wiped the sweat from Napoleon’s brow. “I told you to be careful.”
“Just shoot me now and be done with it.”
“Can’t, poosycat. I have plans for you later”
Illya carefully walked down the stairs and closed their door. He met Leon in the hall. The younger man had dark circles under his eyes.
“You look ready to drop.” Illya took the tray from him.
“Honestly, I’ve taken down THRUSH strongholds that were easier than this gig.”
“Where is this going?”
“Peter. He’s starting to feel better. How’s Dad doing?”
“He’ll be fine by tomorrow. Thankfully, this flu bug comes and goes pretty quickly.”
A bell rang and Leon looked in the sound’s direction with dismay. “I’ll take this to Peter. You go take care of your wife.”
Illya walked into the darkened bedroom. “Peter?”
“Who… who’s there?”
“NO!” Peter pulled the covers over his head.
“No?” Illya hit the light switch on with his elbow. “What do you mean, no? Now, sit up and behave.”
Peter peeked out and stared at his grandfather in amazement as if seeing him for the first time. “You’re not green.”
“You’re not the Grinch.”
“Not the last time I checked.” Illya watched the boy unbury himself from the covers and then set a tray down on his lap. “What’s a Grinch?”
“Poppy, everyone knows who the Grinch is.” Peter took a forkful of scrambled eggs and ate them. They were so good, he began shoveling the rest into his mouth.
“Slow down, Peter. No one is going to take it away.” Illya patted the boy’s head and went back into the hall. Leon was exiting from their bedroom. “How is she?”
“Much better. I think we might just survive this.”
“Good news.” Illya rubbed his neck and then looked at the younger man with a bit of confusion. “Leon, Peter said he thought I was the Grinch and I reassured him I wasn’t. What’s a Grinch?”