Still Small Voice Part 3
They were out. Finally after three grueling hours, they were out.
Roger Bracings was the first one on the scene, looking for his granddaughter.
She saw him, and rushed to him, he picked her up and swung her around three times, planting many kisses on her cheeks and head.
Putting her down, he frowned. Her skirt was wet.
Sweetheart you ok? He signed
Papa scare me… she answered her eyes welled with tears.
Roger patted her cheek. Now OK+… you safe
He looked around for Dr. Hopper, who was in a discussion with Regina. Roger smirked.
Archie watched Ruby walk away from Billy and wondered where the little girl was. He felt he owed her an apology.
Speaking of apologies, Archie watched as Regina walked up to him, arm around her stomach.
“Thank you…Dr. Hopper…” Archie interrupted her speech.
“I have something to say” he said.
Being the gentleman as he always was, Archie motioned her over to a spot where no one could immediately hear them.
“I’m going to continue to treat Henry… and I’m going to do it, my own way” he said, praying for courage and the tenseness he felt to disappear.
“My relief at his safety doesn’t change a thing, Dr. Hopper… you will do as I say, or…”
Archie had dealt with Regina a few times in the past, but ever since he talked with Henry and Juniper, he felt he was seeing Regina in a new light.
She had always been a bossy pain, but this was ridiculous!
“Or what?′ he challenged, feeling a sudden bravery that he, Archibald Jiminy Hopper had never felt before.
“You’ll ruin my life? You’ll do your worst?” he shook his head.
These words felt familiar somehow, as if he’d said them to someone else…
“Because I always do my best” he vowed.
There! he felt free! The promise he had made to himself also sounded familiar…
As if he had said it to someone else…
Someone more… intimate…
“Really, and why’s that?” Regina asked, wondering just how to get under the therapist’s skin.
“Because someday, Madam Mayor, you will find yourself in a custody battle. And do you know how the determines who is a fit parent?”
Regina shook her head.
“They consult an expert. Particularly one who has treated the child.”
It felt good to stand on his own two feet for once.
To his credit, Regina’s face drained of color.
Witch he thought.
“So I suggest you think about that… and let me do my work”
Privately Archie vowed to never treat Henry with sarcasm again.
And perhaps, he hoped with a pang, there was credence in what Juniper said too.
At least he hoped so…
“And let me do it the way my conscience tells me to”
With a nod, he walked away, toward the very little girl he owed his life and an abundant apology to.
As he approached Juniper and her guardian, Mr. Bracings, he noticed the frown that creased the older man’s mouth. He stood in front of her, as if to guard her from Archie.
“Hello, Mr. Bracings” Archie smiled, reaching out his hand.
The man blinked.
Juniper took his hand, and he looked at her.
He say Hello she signed
Oh-I-see he responded.
Turning back to Archie, Roger… smiled. That smile let to a grin so impish, so mischievous, that Archie felt a little nervous.
Eyebrows raised, Roger signed again.
You have someone look-for, you
“Don’t you have someone to find?” Juniper stared at her grandfather, trying not to grin.
“U-um… not exactly… I came to apologize”
Roger looked at Juniper who shook her head and signed.
N-no (neg.) exact. Me come say sorry Juniper interpreted.
Roger glared at Archie.
Sorry (neg.) accept
“Apology not accepted” Juniper said, heart twisting in pain at the look in her stepfather’s eyes.
Despite the pain he was feeling, Archie nodded. He nodded at Juniper.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
Despite her grandfather’s continued withering glare at the Psychologist, Juniper smiled.
“Yes, thank you”
Archie nodded and patted the girl’s shoulder on his way to find Ruby.
Juniper turned back to her grandfather.
You do that why? “Why did you do that?” She was perturbed
Me do that why? Him idiot “Rhetorical question: I did that because he’s an idiot” he grinned.
He (neg.) idiot! Him my father! “He’s not an idiot! He’s my father!” She was mad now. How dare he say something like that!
No sweetheart your father dead “No, sweetheart, your father is dead”
Me (neg) talk about P-e-t-e-r! “I’m not talking about Peter!”
Still angry, the girl continued.
If Idiot G-a-s-t-o-n insult Grandma B-e-l-l-e you like? “Would you like it if that idiot Gaston insulted Grandma Belle?”
At the mention of the pair in the same sentence, Roger’s eyes darkened.
His name you never say again! “Don’t you ever say his name again!”
Juniper glared at him, then raised her eyebrows.
Condition thumb “On one condition”
Roger looked at her. What? he signed, lowering his eyebrows.
You apologize to Papa, “You apologize to Papa”
Juniper grinned as her grandfather frowned.
Exch. Gaston me promise never mention again “and in exchange I promise never to mention Gaston again”
Roger let out a noise that sounded like a growl.
“Fine” he hissed.
Juniper skipped away to find her parents. On her search, she ran smack dab into Ruby.
“Oh!” they hugged tightly.
“Are you ok?” Ruby asked, tears clouding her vision. If something had happened to this little girl…
“I’m fine Mama” Juniper blurted.
Then blushed. Big mistake.
Ruby, slightly taken aback, stood up and took the girl into her arms. Juniper’s head came up to about her waist.
“It’s ok, sweetie. Don’t worry, I’m not mad. Just surprised.”
“And listen, I want to apologize for earlier. I never should have yelled at you, and I’m sorry. I’ve broken dozens of plates, and we can always get more… so don’t worry, ok?”
Juniper nodded, breathing a sigh of relief.
“Um… where’s…?” she was going to ask, where’s Papa, but she bit her tongue. She had to keep them safe. The bad lady would come back if she said anything.
Ruby turned at Juniper’s whimper. “Hey, what’s wrong, honey?”
“It-it’s my brother” she answered, not sure how much to reveal.
“What about him?”
And suddenly, before she could finish her sentence, Archie came over, casting a kind glance at Ruby, which Ruby returned.
“Archie… good to see you. How do you feel?”
Archie smiled. “Better, now that we’re out. I came to check on Miss Juniper to see how she was feeling.”
Juniper, shyly twisted back and forth, as Archie sat on his haunches before her.
“Hello, Juniper. I’m Archie”
“Hello, A-Archie” she smiled, blushing.
“How are you feeling?” he asked.
“Much better, thank you” she answered. Archie raised an eyebrow. So polite!
You didn’t meet very many children with manners nowadays.
“Hmm” he smiled. “It’s a pleasure finally making your acquaintance, your parents taught you well”
Indeed, you did… being a conscience she thought.
“Thank you. If I find them I will be sure to pass on the sentiment.”
Archie’s brow furrowed. The girl didn’t know where her family was?
Reading his thoughts, Juniper tried not to cry. Yes I do! she wanted to shout, but she couldn't put her parents in any more danger!
Archie patted the girl's shoulder and went to find Marco.
Later that evening, Archie felt a newfound freedom he hadn’t felt in a very long time.
Thanks to Henry, he was able to stand up to the boy’s mother and gain a confidence that he had never had before.
Now if he could be that confident around a particular young lady, who had caught his eye some time ago...