Title: Pail of Water
Summary: Jack and Jill went up a hill to fetch a pail of water...and never lived to see tomorrow. Pre-Little Red's Fairy Tales. Character Death.
I Love You
"Red, we won't be gone long. So, come on. Let go of mommy..."
"Come on, Red. It's only for a little while. We'll be just up the hill getting some water."
Jack and Jill looked at one another. Jill sighed, while dearest Jack just smiled and shrugged at his wife who pinched the bridge of her nose and started counting to ten. The redhead loved her son very much, but she wasn't a very patient person, not even with those she called dear. It was just the way she was. Her dark-haired husband, of course, was much more laidback than she and for that she was eternally grateful, because she didn't think she'd be able to raise a child otherwise without Jack to help keep her cool.
Red's large brown eyes were beginning to well up with tears as he stared up at his parents, hands fisted at his sides as he firmly stood his ground for a five year old soon to be going on six. His mother had told him once that big boys don't cry (and, later on, his father ended up confusing him by saying that real big boys cried all they want), so he tried to keep them in. He was a big boy now and he was going to have his say! And his say was that he didn't want his parents to go anywhere! And not without him!
Jill, unfazed by her son's willfulness, methodically—but gently—pried the little boy's delicate fingers off of her apron.
"Honestly, Red. Your papa and I aren't leaving you forever," the woman said, matter-of-factly. The boy looked at her doubtfully, the tears threatening to spill out in a temper tantrum that could put Jill Muffet's own to shame (and her wrath was near legendary status). "And it's not as if you haven't been home alone before."
"But...but...mama!" Red had a nightmare the other night. A real bad one that didn't allow the little boy to sleep a wink and left him cranky that morning all through breakfast. But being cranky and sleep deprived wasn't the point. The point was that he had a bad dream and in that dream he saw huge, scary spiders attacking his family and he didn't want to be left alone or have his parents leave his side. He felt like something bad was going to happen and even told his parents this when he saw a spider earlier and had broken down in tears and spilled the reason why he could sleep the other night.
But they were still going to go nonetheless.
"It's just a pail of water, Red-me-lad. It's not as if your mama and I are going to go gallavanting over the countryside slaying monsters and fighting evil overlords--"
"Although, I would feel better if Wolfgang would just drop--"
"--so you can rest assured, me bonny son, that we will be back, after a fashion," Jack finished quickly, covering his wife's mouth with his hand (which Jill tried to bite unsuccessfully in indignance) before she could finish her muttering. The incredulous gaze was transfered from mother to father and the man vaguely wondered where he had learned such a stare from. Certainly not from him; possibly from his mother, if he thought about it, since she wore that look often enough around the house. Still, poor Red still felt put out and that made Jack feel a little bad, himself, especially since he was sort of lying to his son about the pail of water. Thing was, he and Jill had barely had any time to themselves, what with their marriage, the bakery, Jill's chores and their son—well, one could guess that a man could only take so much. They weren't going to run out on Red—Ironic Overpower forbid. But they were going to have one romantic afternoon together, even if it killed him.
Famous last words.
"But why is it going to take all day?" Red demanded, rubbing his eyes with the back of his hand. Jill sighed and crouched in front of him, making him take his hand away so she could wipe his tears away properly. She shushed him softly and brought the edge of her clean apron up and gently dabbed at his eyes.
"Because the well here is dried up, so we'll have to go a bit further. It's only until the plumbing is fixed—or installed for that matter." Jill threw an irritated glance at her pirate husband who just whistled innocently as he took in the tiling of the kitchen floor, which seemed to have consumed his interest. Jill heaved a sigh. Moron.
Red missed the exchange though and just nodded sullenly.
Jill persed her lips and tucked a lock of Red's dark hair ("Just like your father's," she mumbled to herself) behind an ear with all the tenderness a mother could muster. She didn't want to leave Red—not even a little while. She was protective of her boy and it had taken a lot of convincing on Jack's part to even think about going off for a day with her husband on some romantic venture.
"Tell you what, Red," Jack said, plucking something off of the kitchen counter. It was Jill's basket and the woman stood up immediately, snatching it from him quickly.
"And what, pray tell, are you doing with my basket, Jack Inlaw?" Jill hissed.
"Making our son feel secure," Jack replied nonchalantly, taking hold of the handle. Jill did not let go.
"And how do you plan on accomplishing that?" he asked in a dangerously sweet tone.
"Just wait and see," he told her pleasantly. And he took (more like pried) the basket from her hands. The ex-pirate handed it over to the tiny boy in front of them who held the gift dumbly, not sure what he should do with it and how it was supposed to put him at ease. "This is your mother's most prized possession—her basket. You know that, right Red?" The boy nodded. "Right then. So you know how important it is to her, right?"
Red nodded again. He was no dummy! He knew what important meant! It meant that someone really, really, really, really liked something and wouldn't lose it for the world. His small hands clutched the basket handle, waiting with bated breath to hear what else his father had to say.
"I'll give you two chores to do," Jack Inlaw began, sounding very important (and he was to Red as he was his one and only Papa), "the first is that you go on out and pick some gooseberries and I promise you that your mama and I will be back to bake you a nice gooseberry pie. And secondly...you hold onto that basket with everything you've got, do you understand me Red Reaper?"
Red Reaper. Red's papa only used that name when he was being 'serious', as mama says sometimes. His full name was Califred Inlaw-Muffet, named after his papa's papa (Cal the Careless, a pirate who was about as blood thirsty as a starved vampire—and nowhere near as bumbling as his son), but had been shortened to simply Red and he had gotten so used to being called by that name that it became his permanent name (it stayed Califred in his birth certificate, however). Reaper came from his godmother, Death, although it was rarely used in any introductions. But once someone put Red and Reaper together, that sort of just stuck as well. But Red knew it was quite a dire situation indeed if his carefree father was using the name people only used when there was 'serious business' afoot.
Jack simply beamed at his boy and gave him an affectionate pat on his head. "There's a brave lad. Now...be sure to be done before we get home, alright?"
Red nodded. "Yes, papa."
"And no talking to strangers when you're out," Jill added. "Especially wolves."
The boy thought it an odd request, but nodded in agreement nonetheless. "I promise."
"I love you."
Jack and Jill went up a hill
To fetch a pail of water
Jack fell down and bumped his crown
And Jill came tumbling after