A/N: Dang it ya'll I wanted to get this chapter out directly on Father's Day lol but was like a minute or so late by the time it uploaded so sorry about that! Special thanks goes to my writing partner in this, Karvesprincess, who did a spectacular job! It was an honor and pleasure to write with her and hopefully, we'll get to collab more in the future! Okay. So, did you guys figure out what the monster was yet? Let me know in the comments for now is the time where the showdown goes down…Yeah idk. Okay enjoy.

I can't believe it…

Mommy says I'M THE ONE who's going to get the monster…

But I don't want to! It's scary and wants to eat me!

But Mommy says she won't let it…

I know I should be brave…I'm a big boy after all, with a stairs mommy who's a secret ninja…

but I still feel scared anyways…

I tried to tell her that…I tried to tell her that I didn't know how to have cowage I think it's called…

But Mommy just smiled and said that I would be fine and-and then she said that I could do it and that I did have cowage and that I could be strong if I just believe that I could do it…

She even said that it's okay to be scared…

She said that having cowage doesn't mean never being scared…She says that I can still feel scared but still be brave too and that the monster will only go away if I face it.

And you know what? After I thought about it really hard…She's right.

Cause if I wanna someday be the coolest and bravest and bestest, fastest race car driver policeman ninja who is also a fire fighter too, then I have to be brave enough to fight a monster!

And Mommy's with me. She says that she's gonna help protect me and make it go away!

So now, guess what?

It's time for us to get the monster! I still feel scared, but I got to make it go away no matter what! I can't let it eat me, or mommy, or daddy, or our doggy, or eat the cookies Mommy's going to make for me tomorrow for snack time!

I'm gonna make it go away once and for all!

Amanda tried to maintain a neutral expression and not crack a smile at the adorable sight of her race car pajama cladded five-year-old stepson tip-toeing down the hallway with absolute caution, a serious yet determined frown on his face as he tried to keep his lip from quivering in fear as he drew closer to the source of the loud, roaring noise. She dutifully followed behind him as she watched him clutch his large pillow even tighter in his hands-armed and dangerous-ready for battle.

After explaining the concept of courage to Carl, despite his frightful state, he seemed to have a better understanding as he was more so willing to attempt a confrontation with his fears. And the fact that she promised to be with him all the way seemed to strengthen his confidence.

Good, they were making progress after all.

Once they reached the end of the hallway, the noise now sounding at full volume yet still slightly muffled to a point, Carl turned to look at his stepmother with an alarmed expression. "The monster's getting louder Mommy! It must be close by!"

Amanda nodded as she feigned a thoughtful expression. "Hm, looks like you're right Carl. The noise seems to be coming from behind this door."

"But this is yours and Daddy's room! THE MONSTER IS INSIDE OF THERE?! OH NO! IT'S IN THERE WITH DADDY! WE CAN'T LET IT EAT HIM!" Carl exclaimed, immediately opening the door. The dimly lit hallway helped to shed a minimum amount of light inside the darkened room.

But as Carl's eyes suddenly widened as big as saucers, he knew then at that moment that he found the source of his fears…

There in his daddy's and mommy's king sized bed was a dark, gigantic, moving lump bundled under heavy blankets where the vicious noise was louder than it's ever been.



Rushing upon the bed and jumping on top of the giant sized lump, Carl fearlessly swung his pillow left and right with a good amount of force, making each blow count as he shouted, "TAKE THAT YOU VICIOUS MONSTER! AND THAT! I WON'T LET YOU EAT ME OR MY DADDY OR MY MOMMY OR-OR MY DOGGY-OR MY COOKIES! TAKE SOME OF THIS! AND THAT!"

One he felt the "monster" wiggle and thrash around, he paused, fearful of what was to become of his fate, until he saw what emerged from the covers…

Needless to say, Jack awoke from deep sleep with a start, met with the sensation of what felt like a pillow continually hitting his face. When he opened his eyes, he was surprised to find that he was still swathed in darkness due to the blankets that had been pulled over his face. "What the…?" He mumbled drowsily. When he pulled the covers off himself he found his son staring at him, looking surprised. Next to Carl, his wife was smiling and biting her lip, clearly holding back a laugh. "What are you two doing? It's the middle of the night."

"Daddy?! But I thought…wait a minute..." Not answering Jack's question, Carl looked to Amanda, eyes wide with wonder and realization. "Daddy's the monster?!"

Amanda nodded in confirmation, a look of amusement clear across her face. "Mmhm. The vicious, scary monster noise was coming from him all along. Do you remember what the loud noise Daddy makes is called whenever he gets really tired?"

Carl blinked as he remembered and started to giggle in realization, understanding everything completely as it all became clear to him what the actual noise really was all that time.

Jack however, was not amused, but instead, was thoroughly confused by that point. "Okay," He said, moving into a sitting position. "You two want to tell me what's going on?"

Carl giggled. "You were snoring Daddy, and it sounded really, really scary! I thought you were a monster!"

Jack looked at Amanda, who appeared very pleased with herself as he then protested, "I don't snore!"

His wife just shook her head. "When you've been working on that boat all day, yes you do. So much to the point where it echoed through the vents into Carl's room and gave him quite a fright. And he's right, it is loud."

Her husband resisted the urge to roll his eyes and she offered up a kiss on the cheek as an apology. "You see buddy," She said, turning to Carl now. "Sometimes, our minds can play tricks on us. It can take perfectly normal things – like Daddy's snoring – and makes us think they're scary. But there's nothing to be afraid of. But I'm proud of you. Because you learned to have courage even though you were scared and faced your fear, only to find out that there wasn't anything to be scared of after all. Besides, no matter what happens, Daddy and I are always going to be here to protect you, okay?"

The little boy nodded and then looked to Jack, smiling gleefully yet sheepishly. "Sorry I hit you with a pillow Daddy."

Jack chuckled. "It's okay, buddy. Now I can do this –" Before Carl could move Jack picked him up and began to tickle his sides, causing the child to burst out laughing again. Amanda couldn't help but laugh too at the adorable sight of her two favorite boys.

"No Daddy, that tickles!" Carl managed between giggles. "Mommy, help!" With a smile on her face Amanda helped free her stepson from his father's grip, all three of them laughing by this point as they collapsed down onto the bed.

"See buddy? I'll always be there to save you – even if it's just from Daddy." She smirked, ruffling her stepson's hair.

Carl gave her a bright smile I return and nodded. "Thanks Mommy! And you know what, I'm going to do it too!"

Amanda smiled, but raised an eyebrow in confusion. "Do what Buddy?"

"Protect and save you from your monsters! Now that I'm brave and not scared anymore, I can help make your monsters go away too! Remember? You told me that you were scared of a monster that wanted to get you too?" Carl explained.

Amanda almost froze, hesitating as flashbacks of her traumatizing dreams hit her once more. Her husband saw her uncomfortable yet absorbed expression and was ready to change the subject before she just quietly nodded at her stepson, trying not to let her painful yet wistful countenance show, but found herself being sincere and honest with the child anyways.

Carl just shrugged innocently. "Well, now you don't have to be scared anymore! The monster can't get you if you believe you're strong and brave enough to face it! Like you told me! And guess what? You're not alone. Daddy and I are going to make sure that no monster gets you or eats you ever. We'll protect you! Right Daddy?" Carl innocently looked up to his father for confirmation.

Jack smiled and nodded firmly. "That's right Buddy. We'll always be here to protect Mommy and each other. No matter how scary any monster seems…or what happens. That's what we're here for." He turned his eyes towards his wife, letting the love and affirmation reflect and reach her through his gaze. "That's what this family is all about."

Amanda's eyes then softened, the fear and numbness disappearing as she smiled and nodded back, taking their words to heart. "You're both right." She grasped both her stepson's and husband's hand in both of hers, looking upon both of them with love and appreciation in her eyes. "Thank you…" She whispered sincerely.

Later, after things settled down and Carl was tucked in his bed once more, Amanda let her thoughtful gaze stare into the darkness of her and Jack's room, trying to embrace the comfort of her husband's arm around her, but knowing that once she did and would drift off into dreamland, that she would be waiting for her…That her past, her mistakes, her actions, her losses, would all be there to remind her-raring to tear her apart…to eat her alive like a vicious, man eating monster…

She nearly jumped up then, slowly maneuvering away from Jack's grasp-ready to forsake the idea of sleep and go back into the living room, as she has done many times recently as a means to avoid and escape-prolonging the process until sleep would eventually claim her anyways. But then, she suddenly paused as she closed her eyes, reflecting upon the earlier statements that her son and husband made…

"Well, now you don't have to be scared anymore! The monster can't get you if you believe you're strong and brave enough to face it! Like you told me! And guess what? You're not alone. Daddy and I are going to make sure that no monster gets you or eats you ever."

"We'll always be here to protect Mommy and each other. No matter how scary any monster seems…or what happens. That's what we're here for…That's what this family is all about."

Taking comfort in those words, Amanda steeled herself with a determined expression and sunk back into the bed-into her husband's protective yet warm embrace and closed her eyes, giving into the exhaustion as she eventually drifted off to sleep.

Being called a "scaredy cat" is one of the nicknames you never want to be called…

It's mean and can make you really sad…

It's not fair too. Because everyone gets scared sometimes…

Not only little kids like me…but adults too like my Mommy…

But how do you become brave?

How do you make the monsters go away?

You just gotta believe you can do it…

It's okay to still be scared…

But sometimes…facing the monster anyways is what you gotta do to make it go away so that it doesn't eat you alive…

And guess what? Maybe if you're really lucky, you'll find out that there isn't anything be scared of after all!

And of course, having a cool Daddy, a vicious puppy and dinosaur, and a super-secret ninja stairs mommy helps too…

Throughout the night, unbeknownst to Carl, a smile spread across his face as he slept peacefully. Unbeknownst to him, on the other end of the hallway, his slumbering step mommy had the same matching smile.

The end.