When the chocolates were finished, a reluctant Alice had to return to her homework. She holed up in Niles' study with her history book and a take-home quiz about the 1968 election. Since it was a middle-school history class, the reading wasn't complex. Just boring, Alice avowed. This was proven when she finished the assignment and promptly fell asleep at her uncle's desk.
The sound of David crying loudly startled Alice awake. She blinked blearily at the desk clock; it was seven o'clock, almost time for dinner. Normally, David was sound asleep now. His anxious crying troubled his cousin and she hurried out of the room.
In the living room, Daphne was worriedly rocking and singing to the child, but she was having very little success. Alice heard Niles talking in the next room; from the conversation, she surmised that Niles had called Roz, seeking advice on what to do for David.
A moment later, he bustled out of the room.
"Okay. I talked to Roz and she said if David isn't hungry and doesn't seem to be hurting or sick, he might have had a nightmare."
"Oh, Davy, is that true?" Daphne crooned softly. "You don't need to be afraid. Mommy and Daddy are here, and your Cousin Alice."
"We won't let anything happen to you," Alice said in a sing-song voice.
Their attempts to soothe the baby didn't work. Daphne looked worriedly at Niles, and he nodded slightly as if he read her mind.
"I guess our only choice is to let him 'cry it out'," Niles said, guilt in every syllable.
Daphne was almost in tears. David hadn't been like this since he was a very young baby.
David's wails could be heard all over the vast apartment and every minute that passed seemed to take a toll on Niles and Daphne's confidence. Alice looked at them searchingly for a few moments before deciding to take matters into her own hands. She slipped away unnoticed, and moments later she was creeping up the stairs.
Just minutes later, the baby's cries began to get quieter and less frequent.
"I'll go tuck him in bed," Niles said to his relieved wife.
When he entered the nursery, he was surprised to see Alice there, sitting by the crib, in the light of David's football-shaped nightlight (a gift from Martin). David was only whimpering softly now, and even that was growing less frequent. Niles paused in the doorway for a moment, watching—and listening to—his niece. She was reading in a droning voice from some book.
"Richard Nixon won the 1968 election, although it was a very close call…"
Niles smiled at Alice's unconventional way of calming his son. He slipped away, knowing that David was in good hands.
A few moments later Alice glanced back and saw that her baby cousin was sound asleep. Smiling, she whispered a goodnight and quietly left the room.
Niles and Daphne were waiting for her downstairs after a whispered conversation—how was it that a nine-year-old girl with no siblings knew how to calm David when his parents' attempts failed?
"David's asleep," Alice said quietly.
"What did you do to make him go to sleep?" Daphne asked. She knew the answer, but didn't want Alice to think Niles had been 'spying' on her.
"I read my history book to him and pretended to be my history teacher, Mrs. Stokes. She makes students fall asleep in class because of the way she talks. Al—another boy in class says she just hates elementary school and wants to work at a high school."
"Clever girl," Daphne said. "Now come to dinner. I've made black pudding."
Off of Alice's horrified look, she laughed good-naturedly.
"Kidding. We're having your Grandpa Martin's Frito Pie."
Laughing, Alice joined her aunt and uncle in the living room.
David was quiet through the rest of the night while his parents and his cousin played games and watched a movie. Daphne even let Alice stay up past her bedtime.
"It's our little secret," she told her niece slyly.
Alice hoped that her parents would go out of town again soon.
A/N: I have all the maternal instincts of a rock so I don't know if this story is believable in terms of baby behavior. It was fun to branch out a little and write a David story, though.
p.s. 'Black pudding' is a blood sausage. Yes, you heard that right.
Frito pie is Fritos topped with chili and cheese. Very tasty.