author: alianora (aliaspiral)
Summery: But when they were little, when they still shared the same room, she had nightmares of things with teeth, snarling and snapping at her, and of drowning and not being able to breathe. And she would crawl into bed with him and whisper, "Tell me a story, Boone."
"Tell me a story." Her voice was little more than a whisper, but Boone turned his head to search out her face in the gloom.
He slid a little closer to where she huddled against the wall and reached out for her hand. She did not pull away or snap at him as she had just a few hours before.
Her hand was cold, so he tightened his fingers around hers, and tried not to think of how long they had been here.
"What kind of story?" He traced her lifeline with one finger.
Her hand twitched under his.
"A fairy tale." Cold fingers intertwined with his. "One of the ones you used to tell, when I couldn't sleep."
"Snow White and Cinderella?" He almost smiled.
"No." Her denial was harsh. "Tell me one of the others. Tell me how we are going to get out of here."
The desperation in her voice was painful to hear. Shannon was the strong one. The one who always had something to say and a sneer on her face. He was supposed to be the weak one. The one who told her not to talk to strangers, who frowned at her partying, and could barely talk to someone he found attractive.
But when they were little, when they still shared the same room, she had nightmares of things with teeth, snarling and snapping at her, and of drowning and not being able to breathe. And she would crawl into bed with him and whisper, "Tell me a story, Boone."
She usually liked the princess stories the best.
But sometimes, she would ask for the others.
The darker ones.
The ones where it didn’t always end happily ever after.
The ones that sent goose bumps crawling up his spine, and would leave him shivering and awake, while she slept beside him with an odd smile on her face.
One of the ones he did not like to tell was Hansel and Gretel.
He had always hated it when the librarian would read them fairy tales, because she would always read that one.
The other kids liked it, giggling over a house made of gingerbread and telling how they would eat their way out of it.
But Boone could only think of his sister, terrified and holding his hand as they crept through the woods, waiting to be eaten by her nightmare monsters. And he wasn’t strong enough to protect her from the witch.
And now, here they were, trapped in a steel gingerbread house, leaving nothing behind them but a trail of breadcrumbs.
Shannon was shaking a little beside him.
He pulled her to him, trying to cover as much of her bare skin as possible.
“Tell me a story?” Her breath was warm against his ear, sending shivers up his spine.
He ran one hand through her hair as he thought.
“Once upon a time,” he started, “there was a brother and a sister who loved each other very much.”
“Were they very happy?”
“They were. She was very beautiful, and he lived to protect her.”
She tightened her cold fingers in his collar. “Was he very brave?”
“He tried to be. But one day, he wasn’t paying attention and she followed the big bad wolf into the woods.”
“Why was she with the wolf?”
“The wolf lied to her, said her brother didn’t love her as much as he claimed to. Her brother had been selfish lately, and had not been spending as much time with his sister as he should. She was lonely.”
“Maybe she wanted to make her brother jealous?” She pulled herself closer, tucking her head down to his chest. “Maybe she knew her brother didn’t trust the wolf, and wanted to make sure he would follow her to save her.”
The two were huddled together as much as possible. Shannon had not been wearing much when she wandered off the trail, and Boone had not stopped to grab a jacket.
Her voice startled him, as he almost thought she was falling asleep. “What happened next? Did she leave him a trail for him to follow?”
“He could smell her perfume, and he could hear her frightened voice. But he forgot to leave a trail of pebbles for someone else to follow, and the breadcrumbs got all eaten up by the birds.”
“Did the wolf take them?” She sounded very young, and very scared.
“I don’t know.”
“I think it was a witch.” She stirred against his shoulder. “A witch who wants to eat them up, because they were bad.”
He frowned in concern. “What did they do that was bad?”
“They were running away from home.”
“No,” he soothed. “They hadn’t run away. They weren’t welcome in their home, anymore, remember?”
“They ran away,” she insisted. “Their mother had found them doing things she didn’t like, and so they left, because they didn’t want to stop.”
“So the witch took them?”
She shivered underneath his arms, and he tightened his grip, trying to keep her warm.
“How long will the witch keep them in a cage before she eats them?”
The distinctive sound of a door opening left them frozen for a moment.
Shannon shuddered in fear, her heart hammering against his shoulder. “Will they get away from the witch?”
Measured steps descended the stairs, and Shannon gasped and clutched at his shirt.
Boone swallowed. “They will.”
The doorknob began to turn.
Boone pressed a kiss tenderly to his sister’s forehead.
As the door opened, Boone thought he smelled gingerbread.
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