Monsters in the Night
by Kayryn

Rated: PG, for vague references to Rusty's past.
Summary: Nightmares are frequent visitors. Sharon/Rusty mother!ship.
Disclaimer: TNT's & James Duff's. Not mine. Never was, never will be. If it was, a certain blonde DDA would be featured in plenty more episodes.
A/N: Takes place in the same fic universe as "A Year in Life" and "Mothers and Sons", and this will follow them, but you don't have to read them to understand this one. As always, a huge thanks to my beta reader, lysachan. I would never dare post any of my stories without you going through them first.

Sharon woke up abruptly from a rather pleasant dream she'd been having. Momentarily disoriented as to what had woken her up, she glanced at the alarm clock by the bed. It read 2.17am. She frowned, not pleased at having her sleep interrupted; those tempting lips she'd dreamed about had been so close. She'd caught herself daydreaming about those lips before, and, lately, they'd started to appear in her dreams as well. It was like she couldn't escape the woman any longer.

Suddenly, a wordless cry rang across the condo, causing Sharon to bolt out of bed. Recognizing the voice as Rusty's, she immediately reached for her gun and rushed out of her bedroom, not even bothering with her robe.

As soon as Jackson had left, Sharon had talked with Rusty about locking the door of his room. While it was a good protective measure against any possible intruders, it also kept Sharon from entering the room, should there ever be need for it for some reason. Rusty had been, at first, doubtful there could ever be such a situation, as he was quite capable of taking care of himself, but Sharon had insisted. She'd promised she would respect his privacy and then said the magic words, "it would make me feel better", and Rusty had been left defenseless. The new arrangement, as it now turned out, was a good thing.

Sharon opened the door to the boy's room and saw him trashing around in his bed, obviously having a nightmare. He was asking for someone to stop, telling them that he was hurting. Sharon, who still hadn't fully entered the room, leaned against the doorframe and winced at the implication, her heart hurting for him. She wanted nothing more than for him to never have to suffer again. She knew wishing wouldn't make it so, but her maternal instincts were in high gear. She had felt very protective of Rusty, right from the start; it was why she took him in in the first place.

But now, there were the threatening letters that she was worried about, along with a certain, incredibly obstinate, young DDA Sharon was sure she would, one day, accidentally shoot in the middle of the Murder Room.

Sharon pushed herself away from the door frame, and, after placing her weapon on a nearby dresser, slowly approached the bed, still trying to figure out a best way to dispel the nightmare. Should she wake him up, or try to calm him down by other means? Sometimes, a hand on his back, or his shoulder, did the trick, and it was something Sharon usually resorted to, because the few times she'd woken him up, Rusty had been embarrassed that Sharon had seen him so vulnerable.

"No, don't hurt her. I'll do anything you want, just don't hurt her," Rusty begged in his sleep.

Sharon wondered who it was that Rusty was trying to protect, finally deciding that if it was about his old memories, it was probably his mother. The boy still had a hard time with the woman abandoning him, and he still loved and missed her, even if he never talked about it.

Rusty cried out then, sobbing, and Sharon hesitated no longer; she decided to wake him up. Tenderly, she placed a hand on his shoulder and gently rubbed it while she whispered his name, making sure her voice was as soft and non-threatening as possible. Despite this, Rusty bolted up, instantly awake, and gasped for breath. He had tears running down his cheeks, a wild look in his eyes.

"Rusty, it's all right. It was just a nightmare," Sharon soothed him. "You're safe, you're alright, honey."

Sharon didn't use endearments often when talking to Rusty, but this was one of those rare occasions when she thought she could get away with it.

Rusty finally met Sharon's eyes; it was clear that he had a hard time shaking the dream, and she wondered what could've been so bad. After taking him in a year ago, Rusty had had several nightmares, though, they had slowly become fewer and farther in between. But never had she heard him be so scared, or seen him take such a long time to recover from a dream.

"You're safe, Rusty," Sharon repeated.

Rusty kept staring at her; he still hadn't said anything since his abrupt awakening. When Sharon was finally about to ask him, well, anything, to stir him from his daze, he seemed to regain his senses.

"You're okay," Rusty stated, relieved and almost surprised. Before Sharon could fully figure out what it was that he was actually saying, he launched himself at her, nearly crushing her with the strength of his embrace. "I thought you… I mean he… You're okay."

Sharon was startled; he'd never initiated such contact before, and she swallowed down the emotions caused by this. If Rusty witnessed her crying, he'd feel uncomfortable, and that would only make him retreat again. Sharon still didn't know exactly what he'd dreamed about, but what he'd said was enough for her to draw her own conclusions. She hugged him fiercely with one hand and ran another through his hair.

"Yes, I'm okay, Rusty. We're both okay, we're both safe."

By some miracle, Sharon managed to keep her voice steady, and for this, she mentally congratulated herself.

For several minutes, the two sat on Rusty's bed; at first Sharon was sure Rusty would draw away and be embarrassed at his show of emotion, but that didn't happen. Finally, Rusty somewhat relaxed his hold. He still hugged her, his head now resting on her shoulder, and Sharon finally felt like her lungs could expand fully again.

"Rusty, do you want to-,"

"No," he interrupted her, almost panicking again. "I don't want to think about it anymore. It was only a dream, and I just want to forget it."

Sharon nodded, knowing Rusty could feel it, even curled up next to her. She wished she could persuade him into telling her what exactly he'd dreamed about; convince him that, perhaps, it would help him to talk about it. She wished she could tell him that, just because it was a dream, it didn't mean that the fears which had triggered it would disappear. She wished she could convince him that he didn't have to be so tough all the time. But Sharon told him none of this, because she knew it would only make him withdraw once more. So, she kept silent, holding him, and gently rocking him as if he was a child several years younger than his actual age. She hoped that her silence would work as it had before; that once he felt comfortable enough, he would trust her enough to let her in a little more.

Gradually, Rusty's breathing deepened, and he leaned against her more; he was falling back to sleep.

Sharon smiled faintly; it was the first time he'd done that. Even when he'd caught the flu a few months back, he'd never acted like this, seeking comfort from her. It made her wish, irrationally, that he'd be just a little boy she could hold in her arms, and that she could tell him everything would be all right, and that monsters didn't exists. She wished she could believe that as well.

But she'd promised to never lie to him.

The end