Title: A Special Gift

Author: ML

Email: msnsc21@yahoo.com

Feedback: always welcome

Distribution: Ephemeral, Gossamer, Enigmatic Dr., or if you've archived me before, yes; if you haven't, please just let me know and leave headers, email addy, etc. attached. Thanks!

Spoilers: Vague S9

Rating: PG

Classification: Vignette

Keywords: Kidfic, MSR

Summary: A little boy gets a special gift.

Disclaimer: These characters aren't mine. They mostly belong to the actors who portray them, but Chris Carter created them, and Ten Thirteen and FOX own the rights. I mean no infringement, and I'm not making any profit from them.

Author's notes at the end.

A Special Gift

by ML

When Bryan woke up in the morning, he already knew where they'd gone. He also knew he'd find Mrs. Crump from next door down in the kitchen, drinking coffee.

"Good morning, Sweetie," she said as he came slowly into the kitchen, blinking in the bright light. "Your Mommy and Daddy asked me to come over and stay with you for a while. They had to go pick up something."

He nodded and climbed into his booster seat. He really hated the high chair and had been really glad when Daddy had gotten the booster seat instead, even though Mommy wasn't sure it was a good idea.

"It'll be fine, S-Sweetheart," Daddy had said to Mommy. He hadn't been going to say Sweetheart, and Mommy knew it. She raised her eyebrow at him, but Daddy just smiled and went on. "Besides, we're gonna need the high chair for someone else pretty soon."

"Not right away, Joe," she said pointedly. Sometimes she said his name like she was really saying something else. She gave in, anyway. He wondered how Daddy did it. Mommy was nice to him and all, but she didn't let him get away with stuff like Daddy.

"Special treat this morning, Sweetie," Mrs. Crump said. She put a plate of French toast in front of him, cut into the fingers he liked, and a little bowl of warm syrup to dip them in. It was his favorite breakfast, and the messiest. That's why he didn't get it very often. Mommy said he seemed to get more syrup on him than in him, a trait he shared with Daddy.

He smiled at Mrs. Crump. He liked her, even without the French toast. She had a fun name, and one that was easy to rhyme. He liked rhymes. He didn't always use real words, or know what they meant, but he liked the way they sounded. Crump. Thump. Grump. Stump. He said them to himself, though. He'd already discovered that some people didn't like having their names rhymed, and he didn't want to upset Mrs. Crump.

Sometimes he seemed to upset her without meaning to but he was learning better how not to.

Mrs. Crump was nice. She never had any thoughts that scared or worried him. Hearing her thoughts was like being wrapped in a warm, fluffy towel. Sometimes her thoughts were sad but they were never mean. He knew she'd had a little boy once and remembering him made her sad. When he felt her remembering, he crawled into her lap, which sometimes made her cry but smile at the same time. He could tell he'd made her feel better.

He didn't listen to her all the time, of course. Before he learned to channel his hearing, everything had been a jumble. He couldn't even understand when someone was actually talking to him, except Mommy and Daddy. He'd always been able to "hear" them. Now he only listened if there was a reason to. He listened to strangers to figure them out, and he listened to those close to him to understand their feelings. It scared him at first, being able to hear people's thoughts. Now he hardly heard the words any more. He'd found that some people lied even to themselves, but they couldn't lie about their feelings. Reading emotions gave him a truer sense of a person.

He hadn't felt anything scary for a long time, not since they'd moved to this place. Once, when he was really little, he felt a bad man nearby. The bad man had tried to take him away from Mommy, but Mommy wouldn't let him. Then Daddy came and they went away from the bad place and the bad feelings. He still felt them faintly from time to time but somehow Daddy and Mommy always knew, too, and they'd leave again.

"You're awfully quiet this morning, Sweetie," Mrs. Crump said.

He smiled at her. Ker-ump. Plump. Harr-ump. "Where did Mommy and Daddy go?" he asked. He already knew but he also knew she expected him to ask, so he did. He'd discovered if you do what people expect, they don't worry about you. He didn't want Mrs. Crump to have to worry about him.

"They went to the hospital, Dear," Mrs. Crump said with a broad smile. "They're bringing home a baby sister for you."

"For me?" he said. From Daddy he knew what a special thing this was, to have a baby sister. He felt it from Daddy, though along with it came the same sadness he felt from Mrs. Crump sometimes.

Mrs. Crump nodded, her eyes shiny with tears. She was happy, but she was crying. He didn't get it. When he cried, it was because he was mad or sad. "Finish your breakfast, Sweetie. Your Daddy will be here soon to take you to see your Mommy and your baby sister."

He finished the last of the French toast and licked his fingers. He wondered why Mrs. Crump never called him by his name. He thought it might have something to do with the sad thoughts she had, but she never thought a name then. It was like it was too sad to even think it.

Bryan wasn't his real name, anyway. He knew his real name, his parents thought it all the time, sometimes as they spoke his given name. Sometimes he said his secret name to himself late at night: William. William. William. He never said it out loud, he knew it was supposed to be a secret.

His parents had secret names, too. Once in a while they almost said them out loud, but never around other people. But they thought them all the time.

He wondered if a lot of people had secret names. He wondered if they were meant to be kept for something special, like the special decorations that came out at Christmas time.

Mrs. Crump wiped his face and fingers and he let her, even though he was a big boy now. Then he went back upstairs to dress himself. He was proud that he could do this all by himself, even the buttons, though Mommy sometimes smiled and shook her head at his choices. She never made him change, though.

He felt Daddy's presence ever before the front door opened. He ran down the stairs to greet him.

"Hey, Buddy!" Daddy picked him up and swung him into the air. He looked tired, but really happy. He'd never seen his dad so happy. "Are you ready to go see Mommy and your baby sister?"

"Yeah!" he said. Daddy being this happy made him happy, too. This was like Christmas-happy. He laughed and jumped up and down in his father's arms.

Mrs. Crump came out of the kitchen. "How's everyone, Joe?" she asked.

"Everyone's fine, Mrs. Crump. Susan's good, the baby's good.

They'll probably come home tomorrow."

"That's good news," Mrs. Crump said.

"This guy give you any trouble?" Daddy said, giving his head a knuckle burn.

"No, he's always good for me. Do you want me to spend the night with him again?"

"I won't put you to the trouble. I'll come home and let Susan get her rest tonight." Daddy's real plan was to find a way for all of them to stay at the hospital that night, but of course he didn't say that out loud. He thanked Mrs. Crump and promised to call the minute they brought the baby home.

Daddy was quiet on the way to the hospital. He was still happy, but there was worry under it. Bryan reached over and put his hand on his dad's arm. Daddy turned and smiled. "It's okay, Buddy," he said softly.

Did Daddy have any idea of the way he could hear thoughts? Sometimes, like now, he thought so. He didn't think Daddy could hear his thoughts in return, but sometimes he acted like he could. He was pretty sure Mommy couldn't, either, but she had a knack for knowing what he was thinking, anyway.

When they got to the hospital he shut his eyes and concentrated on shutting out most of the noise. Really busy places made his head hurt sometimes if he wasn't careful.

"You okay, Buddy?" Daddy asked.

He nodded. "I'm okay." He took his dad's hand and they went into the hospital.

He could feel Mommy before they got to the room. She had the same happy feeling as Daddy, and the same worry underneath it. He opened his mind to see if he could sense any bad thoughts or bad people, but everything seemed fine. He ran to the door of the room and opened it.

Mommy smiled at him from the bed where she sat up, holding a bundle close. She smiled at him all the time, but he never felt her smiles they way he felt this one. It was even bigger than Daddy's happiness. It was like Christmas *and* birthday all at once. He felt the happiness fill him to overflowing, and spill over onto Daddy and Mommy and the little bundle in Mommy's arms. It was like every good feeling he'd ever felt, and more.

"Bryan, here's your baby sister," Mommy said. She looked even more tired than Daddy but her eyes were shiny like Mrs. Crump's and she was still happy. "Come say hi to Ruth. Ruth Ann, this is your big brother."

Bryan approached the bed carefully and peered at the bundle in his mother's arms. She was really little and kind of red. Her eyes were shut tight, and her hands were curled into fists. She made funny little snuffling noises. Like a pig, he thought, but he'd never say that. Not in front of Mommy, anyway. He reached out a finger and touched the back of her hand. He felt a little ripple of something in his mind. Was it her? Maybe she'd be able to hear thoughts, too.

She had a secret name, just like he did. Mommy said it to herself as she held Ruth Ann close. Her secret name was Margaret. He liked it. He couldn't think of a rhyme for it, but he could tell it was a special name.

He liked Ruth Ann, too. Ruth. Truth. That was a good rhyme. He was sure he'd come up with more, too.

The nurse poked her head in the door. "Oh, Mr. Balough, you're back. And you brought your little boy with you."

"It's pronounced `blow,' actually," Daddy said patiently. "The `a' is silent."

Mommy made a noise that sounded like a snort. Or maybe it was Ruth Ann.

The nurse smiled. "I just wanted to tell you, Doctor will be by this afternoon to see Mrs. Balough. She'll probably be able to go home tomorrow." She came a little closer to the bed. "What are you calling her?" she asked.

"Ruth Ann." Bryan piped up. "She's my little sister."

The nurse smiled again. She had a million things on her mind, but she was still nice. "Are you going to be a good big brother?"

Bryan nodded. "I'm going to be the best big brother," he said.

He felt his dad's hand on his shoulder. "I know you will, Son," he said quietly, and Mommy reached out and took Daddy's other hand.

"You do that," said the nurse, and she smiled her way out.

He looked up at his dad's face, and his eyes were shiny like Mommy's. They exchanged a look, but Bryan didn't try to hear them. He knew that there were some secrets he wasn't meant to know.

The most important thing he knew wasn't a secret: his Mommy and Daddy loved him and Ruth, and he loved them, too. They would always be together, and they would always take care of each other.


"A baby is God's opinion that the world should go on." Carl Sandburg

You can guess where this came from. I read about the new addition to the DD/TL family and got all sappy. Hope you liked it. Let me know: msnsc21@aol.com


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