|The Meaning in the Gift
Author: Rochelle Templer PM
Sweets contemplates Christmas at two different times in his life. Spoilers for The Santa in the Slush.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Angst/Family - L. Sweets - Words: 2,420 - Reviews: 9 - Favs: 12 - Follows: 1 - Published: 06-18-10 - Status: Complete - id: 6063492
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: Yeah, I know that it's nowhere near the holiday season, but this idea just struck me, and I couldn't resist writing it. ;D
The first half of this borrows heavily from my story The Heart of the Family and could be considered a missing scene from Year One. All that needs to be said is that it takes place before the Sweets completed the adoption process for Lance, thus why his last name is Jensen at this point. Otherwise, knowledge of that fic is not essential. As mentioned, the second half takes place during The Santa in the Slush.
I do not own Bones or any of its characters. If only….;)
Thank you to everyone who reads/favorites/reviews this. It means a great deal to me. :D
The Meaning in the Gift
It was early Christmas morning, and the sun had begun to saturate the room with light. However, unlike most six-year-olds throughout the country, Lance Jensen was trying to remain as still and quiet as possible.
At that moment, he was lying in the middle of a soft queen-sized bed. On one side of him his mother, Carolyn Sweets lay asleep. On the other side, David Sweets was still dozing. Like so many other times in the past few months, Lance had begged his new parents to let him sleep in their room, so he could stave off the nightmares that regularly plagued his dreams. After a restful night that was pleasantly nightmare free, Lance found himself waking up before the Sweets.
Lance curled up onto his side and watched them sleep, clutching his teddy bear. They had spent a lot of time yesterday getting things ready for Christmas, and he figured that they might be tired, so he didn't want to wake them. Even though he hadn't asked to sleep in their room for two weeks, a personal best by this point, the Sweets did not seem the least bit exasperated that he had asked again. The fact that David and Carolyn never became impatient with his issues continued to amaze Lance.
He turned toward David while burrowing under the covers. It had only been about a month since Lance had started to call him "Dad", even though he had accepted the idea of David being his father a while before that. As he watched him sleep, Lance could not get over how the two people who called themselves his father could be so different.
His birth father, Andrew Jensen, was indifferent to Christmas and often left Lance with various babysitters during the holidays. If he was lucky to escape his rage. His first Christmas away from Andrew hadn't been that wonderful either. At the time, he was still living at the orphanage. His caseworker, Lauren MacArthur had given him a present, and the staff had thrown a small party for the children. Still, Lance could not see what was so great about Christmas.
However, like so many other things, Lance's time with the Sweets made him re-think the world.
David seemed to love Christmas and the holidays in general and was determined to show his son the joys of the season. When December came, he and Carolyn not only decorated the house, they took Lance to some stores so that he could pick out some new decorations for them to use. Then one afternoon, the three of them put up a tree and decorated it. When it was finished and David turned on the lights, Lance stared at it in awe. He had had so much fun decorating the tree, he had no idea that it could turn out to be so beautiful. Lance ended up sitting down on the floor and staring at it for a couple of hours after that.
Then the Sweets started to ask him what he wanted for presents. This was difficult at first for Lance because he was still adjusting to the idea of people wanting to do so many nice things for him. Eventually they were able to coax some ideas out of him and soon numerous brightly wrapped boxes began to slowly appear under the tree. Many had Lance's name on them.
Back in the present, Lance snuggled even closer to David. Even though he had been curious about what was in those packages, he also enjoyed these quiet mornings with his parents when he woke up before them. Lying here, nestled between the two of them, Lance felt secure and loved: feelings that he had not had for most of his life thus far.
Soon David began to stir and he opened his eyes. When he saw Lance, his green eyes lit up and he grinned.
"Merry Christmas Lance," he murmured. "Would you like to open your presents now?" Lance smiled back and nodded. As he sat up, he heard Carolyn yawn and turned to see her waking up. When she saw that her husband and child were already awake she sat up and embraced Lance.
"Merry Christmas, baby," she said, kissing his cheek. "Let's go see what you got for Christmas."
The three of them went down into the family room. There colored shadows danced along the wall from the sunlight bouncing off the ornaments hanging on the tree. Lance sat on the floor by the tree with David sitting beside him. Carolyn began to hand out presents, only stopping to watch Lance open his gifts and to open her own presents. David would occasionally take pictures of him opening his presents. Lance was a little embarrassed by this, but he didn't really mind. He knew that David loved to take pictures during special events that they spent together.
David and Carolyn grinned at each other as they watched Lance open his gifts. Seeing that look of joy and excitement on his face was a treasure to the Sweets. They knew that Lance hadn't had a real Christmas before this one, and they hoped that he would enjoy himself.
After much rustling and ripping of paper, Lance found himself surrounded by a menagerie of new toys and books. He then got up and hugged each of the Sweets.
"Thanks Mom…and Dad," he said as he embraced them. David grinned even more at that; he still got a thrill out of hearing Lance call him "Dad".
While Lance played with his new toys, David got a trash bag and picked up all the paper and discarded boxes, and Carolyn went to the kitchen to finish their Christmas brunch that she had started the night before. After a sumptuous feast, David and Carolyn spent some time reading Christmas tales to Lance while he sat between them on the couch. Later, the Sweets attended to the chores while leaving Lance to play some more in the family room.
After a while, David headed back to the family room as Carolyn finished up in the kitchen. When he walked into the room, he was greeted by a heartbreaking sight.
Sitting at the foot of the tree was Lance, who had his head in his hands. David could see that he was crying, and he immediately rushed over to sit beside him.
"Lance, what is it?" David asked. "Why are you crying?" Lance shook his head and continued to weep. David put his arm around him and Lance flinched slightly, but did not resist as his father pulled him close.
"Please sport," David said softly. "Tell me what's wrong." Lance sniffled and finally looked up at him, his eyes watery and his cheeks flushed.
"I'm sorry," he mumbled.
"Why are you sorry?" Lance sniffled again and a couple more tears fell.
"You and Mom said that you got me all these presents because you love me and want me to be happy," he said. "But…I didn't get you anything…I'm sorry."
David felt his heart ache at his Lance's words. For perhaps the umpteenth time, he wondered how Andrew and all those foster families could have missed his son's gentle heart.
"Lance, your mother and I enjoy giving you presents, but there is more to Christmas than that," David explained, brushing the tears off Lance's face. "There are also the feelings and experiences that come with the season when we share them with family and friends."
David moved Lance to sit in his lap and continued to hold him, relieved that he had stopped crying.
"Christmas is a time for us to remember the bonds we have with others and to celebrate them. We give gifts as a way to express our love and affection, but that's not the only way," he continued. "You can also express it in the things you do for others, how you treat them, and in the way you make them feel." David smiled at him and squeezed him closer.
"Maybe you weren't able to buy us a gift at the store, but you gave us something far more precious," he said. "For many years, your mother and I felt like we were missing something during the holiday season. But having you here gave us what we were looking for: the joy, the excitement, the sense of wonder that we had lost sight of. Most of all, you gave us love as our son. All of those things are gifts, and they mean everything to us."
Lance finally smiled again and embraced David. David felt his eyes grow a little moist from happiness.
"Thanks Dad…for everything." His father patted his back.
"You're welcome sport. And thank you…for reminding us what the holidays truly mean."
Many years later, Doctor Lance Sweets found himself sitting in the Royal Diner with an elf hat on his head, smiling at his two favorite patients. Brennan had called him about an hour ago to arrange this meeting saying that she was confused by how Booth was contradicting himself and by the holidays in general. Sweets decided on the hat to keep the conversation from becoming too clinical.
"I don't understand. Is there some sort of crisis?" he asked them. Although he was glad that they were eager to talk to him, he was disappointed that Booth made him take off the hat.
That disappointment quickly evaporated at the news that they had kissed.
"You kissed?" Sweets asked, surprise coloring his voice.
"Mistletoe," Booth said, hoping to halt the conversation there.
"That's not the crisis," Brennan protested. Sweets sighed inwardly; he had noticed that Brennan seemed oblivious to things that were significant to a relationship like the one she shared with Booth.
Like a kiss.
The psychologist decided to shake things up a bit.
"Was there tongue?" he asked, trying to sound as clinical as possible and failing miserably.
"All right, you know what, get your own sex life," Booth growled. Even as Brennan argued that kissing did not equate sex, Sweets knew that there would be no more real progress on that line of conversation, so he let Brennan steer the conversation toward what was really bothering her.
As it turned out, Brennan didn't seem to understand why adults would go out of their way to create an almost mythic atmosphere for children during the holidays. Even going so far as to lie to them. Booth argued that it was not truly lying and Sweets agreed.
"Yeah there is a fictional element to Christmas," Sweets said.
Predictably, Brennan began to focus on the religious aspects of the holidays, which clearly annoyed Booth.
"No no, Doctor Brennan…it's the feeling of Christmas," Sweets interrupted, hoping to prevent an argument. "What people call the Christmas spirit."
In that moment, Sweets couldn't help but think about his first Christmas with his parents and the talk he had with his father. Despite the pain the nostalgia brought, the psychologist pressed on.
"It's a kind of dream or hope we carry with us from childhood. But as adults…"
"Are you including yourself in that?" Booth smirked. Caught up in the grip of memories, Sweets decided to ignore the remark.
"As adults we're imbued by the pragmatic routines of life which makes it difficult for us to regard anything with child-like wonder," the psychologist continued. "But you know it's all right for us to try. We put on silly hats, drape trees with sparkly lights and wrap gifts in garish paper and that's good for us."
Sweets was happy to see Brennan listening intently to his words.
"It's not only all right to allow children the transient experience of innocence and joy, it's our responsibility," he concluded. To his surprise Brennan seemed to completely accept his theory. Normally that would have made his day, and he tried to focus on enjoying the rest of his time with them.
However, while walking home, Sweets could not stop the feelings that had started to overtake him in the diner. He kept re-living the happy memories of holidays past with his parents while all too aware that this would be his first Christmas that he would spend without them. Even though he knew that April planned to spend some time with him, Sweets could not stop the pangs of loneliness from filling his soul.
Sweets watched as families and couples walked along, enjoying the displays and decorations that local businesses had put up for the holidays. As he watched their faces, a thought occurred to him.
'Mom and Dad had given me more than toys on that first Christmas.'
Sweets now realized that his parents had given him the chance to enjoy the bonds of family and the joy of expressing love. Even though they were no longer physically with them, he knew that their love and bonds were still with him and he could celebrate that.
Plus, he had been given the chance just now to share those ideas with other people. People he was quickly growing fond of.
The psychologist quickened his pace, his heart a little lighter.
'Merry Christmas Mom and Dad,' he smiled to himself.
He then thanked them again for giving him a gift that would always have far more meaning than one that could be bought in a store.
If Doctor Lance Sweets had one wish for Christmas, it was to find another family to share that gift with, and he prayed that that was more than an errant wish.