Duncan woke up with a soft groan. He opened his eyes and smiled at Tessa still asleep in his arms. He reached to ruffle Richie's hair and found the bed between them empty. Smiling, he got out of bed and went to wait outside the bathroom to once again praise the boy for going to the bathroom on his own. After a couple minutes of waiting, he opened the door a crack and then all the way. Richie was nowhere to be found.

"Tessa!"

"What?" she jerked awake.

"Where's Richie?"

Tessa sighed and lay back down. "Probably in his room asleep."

"But he slept with us last night," Duncan protested. "Remember? The tooth fairy, he got all excited and decided he wanted to sleep in here?"

Tessa smiled and sat up again. "Are you feeling alright? First Richie gets amnesia and now this? I don't know how much more I can handle."

"Amnesia?" Duncan repeated. "He fell behind the couch and knocked out a couple teeth he didn't. he's eighteen," he realized as reality set in.

"Nearly nineteen," she added. "Are you okay?"

"Yeah, I just had a strange dream last night."

"And in this dream Richie slept with us?"

Duncan shook his head. "He was four," he explained. "I'm going to go check on him." Duncan didn't knock, just slowly opened the boy's door. Richie was wide awake and going through a pile of ticket stubs he had found. "Hey, tough guy. Couldn't sleep?"

Richie looked up. "Um. not really. Did you go to any of these?" he asked holding up the tickets.

Duncan walked over to the bed and looked at the concert ticket stubs. "No. You went with your friends."

"Dang, I was hoping you could tell me about them."

"I bet you have a lot of questions."

"Yeah," Richie admitted scooting away when Duncan sat on the edge of the bed.

"Why don't you ask some of them," Duncan suggested. "You never know what will help."

Richie thought for a minute. "How would you describe me?" he asked. "Honestly."

"Honestly?" Duncan repeated. Leave it to Richie to come up with the most awkward question to answer. "I think you're too impulsive for your own good. You let your emotions cloud your logic and you do the first thing that comes to mind," Duncan started. Richie looked down. "But what first comes to mind is almost always in someone else's best interest. You always want to help," he added noticing that his first statement came off as harsh. "You have a very big heart, you're very caring, you're always willing to lend a hand, you're invaluable. and the only thing you do more than talk is eat."

Richie smirked and chuckled lightly. "I did notice that I tend to be hungry a lot. How did we meet? I know you're not my dad, and you didn't know him. Am I adopted?"

"No."

"Then what am I doing here?"

Duncan took a deep breath. "You broke into our store. You saw something that night."

"So I'm here so you can keep me quiet?"

"No, I didn't file any charges against you, in exchange for you not saying anything. You moved in later because I found you."

"You found me?"

Duncan took another deep breath and put his hand on Richie's shoulder. "I think that's something you should remember on your own. You don't like to talk about it."

"Did my parents kick me out?" Richie asked softly. "Did I do something wrong?"

"No, Richie you didn't do anything wrong. Richie, you're an orphan," Duncan explained. "You ran away from a foster home when I found you. That's all."

"I thought so," Richie mumbled.

"Really?"

"I just had a feeling, that's all."

"Do have any more feelings?"

Slowly Richie shook his head. "No. well I feel."

"What?" Duncan asked excitedly.

"Hungry," Richie answered with a smile. "When's breakfast?"

. . . . . .

Duncan looked across the table at Richie who was happily eating every pancake Tessa put in front of him. He couldn't shake the image of the smaller version of Richie that he had dreamed sat in that chair.

"What?" Richie asked looking up from his plate and meeting his gaze.

"Sorry," Duncan apologized. "I just had a weird dream last night."

Richie grinned. "Join the club."

"What did you dream about?" Tessa asked.

"It was really weird. Probably some movie I saw and don't remember."

"You never know it might be something real," Duncan prompted.

"Nah, it was way out there. We're talking sci-fi channel material here."

"Okay, but you never know," Tessa told him. "Are you still hungry? I can make some more if you like."

"No, I'm good for now. Thanks though."

They all pitched in to clean up the kitchen. Richie easily put all the dishes away without asking where they went. When asked how he knew, he just shrugged and said he just did.

After cleaning up Duncan decided to entice Richie with the one thing he wasn't allowed to touch but couldn't keep his hands off. He got his katana out of his room and went into Tessa's workshop to sharpen the blade and clean it. Richie was so busy wondering around the apartment, Tessa had to come up with a stupid question for him to go ask Duncan.

"Hey, Duncan?" Richie asked eying the sword and keeping his distance.

"Yeah, Rich?"

"Tessa wants to know if Mr. Paterson delivered her order yet."

"Nope."

"Oh, alright then," Tessa said from the doorway. She had gotten Richie out to Duncan, now it was up to Duncan to try out his idea. Richie turned to follow her back into the apartment but Duncan stopped him.

"You want to help?" he offered.

Richie turned back around and looked at the sword. "I don't. I don't think I'm supposed to touch that," he said awkwardly.

Duncan smiled. "You do anyway," he told him. "And as long as I'm here, I don't see the harm in it. Go ahead, take it," he urged, handing the sword hilt first to Richie.

Richie looked at him in slight awe as he took the weapon. "Wow, this thing is cool."

"It's a katana."

"Sounds Chinese," Richie told him stepping back so he could hold the sword out at full length in front of him.

"Japanese," Duncan corrected. "I got it a very long time ago from a friend."

"Do you know how to use it?"

Duncan smiled. "Yes. a little."

"If I'm not supposed to touch this, how come I do anyway?" Richie asked stepping back further and swinging the blade through the air.

"Careful, that's a live blade," Duncan warned. "Because that's the way you are. If you want to do something you do it. Nobody can stop you."

"Sounds like I get in trouble a lot."

"More than most," he agreed. "But you behave when it comes to the important stuff."

"Like fancy parties and junk?"

"Fancy parties?" Duncan repeated.

"I saw the suit and tux in my closet," Richie explained.

"Well, you tend to behave at those, but I was talking about important things. One of your friends got mixed up with drugs once and you lectured her better than I ever would. You go to parties and don't drink, despite what your friends say. You've kept yourself relatively clean compared to most people in your position."

"In my position? What's that supposed to mean?" Richie stopped playing with the sword and looked at Duncan.

"You had a bit of a rough start, that's all. But you're a clean kid now."

"Rough start? Duncan, just tell me. What happed to me?"

"Richie, I don't know. You know how I said you don't like to talk about how you came to stay with us? You don't talk about it at all. I barely know anything about you. You let us know what you want us to know and other than that, you're a mystery. If I had more to tell you, I would. But as this stands, we're on the same page. You know everything we know."

"Great! Just great!" Richie exploded suddenly. "So this is as far as I can get? Just random impulses telling me where stuff goes and vague feelings about myself. This is perfect!"

"Richie, would you stop swinging my sword around, you're going to hurt somebody," Duncan told him reaching to take the weapon.

"Maybe I can hit myself upside the head again and remember everything!" Richie continued fuming even as he handed over the katana. "This is hopeless!"

"It's not hopeless; we just haven't found anything to spark your memory with yet."

"That's why you gave me the sword," Richie realized. "That's supposed to mean something to me, isn't it?"

"I was hoping it would make you remember something that happened. Richie, I think your dream was more than just a dream. I think it was a memory."

"Memory? I told you it was totally strange. It had to have been a movie I watched or something."

"Or not. Did it involve swords?" Duncan asked holding up the katana.

"Yeah." Richie answered slowly.

"And then I gave you mine to play with and that didn't spark anything?"

"No. God, I'm such an idiot!" Richie slammed his fist on the work bench. "There it all is staring me in the face and I can't put anything together!"

"You will, Rich. Just take your time."

"I don't want to take my time," Richie told him. "I don't like this, Duncan. If I could remember, I'd be positive I've never been so scared before. Not even when. when."

"When what?"

"I don't know!"

"You will. Sometimes dreams tell us more than we're willing to hear. You just have to listen." Duncan trailed off. "Rich, why don't you go talk to Tessa. See if she has anything to tell you about. I think I have an idea."

. . . . . .

"You don't like cameras," Tessa told Richie as they flipped through a photo album. "But I manage to get you into a shot every now and then."

"Whoa, is that me in Paris?" Richie asked suddenly.

"Yes. We went there last summer."

"Do I speak French?"

"Yes."

"Say something." Richie told her. Tessa rattled off a few simple sentences. "I understood that!" he announced. "Where else have I been?"

"Amsterdam, Niagara Falls, and California."

"Wish I could remember them. Sounds like I've had some decent vacations."

"I think I know how to make you remember," Duncan announced from the doorway of the apartment.

"Duncan, where did you go?" Tessa asked.

"The orphanage," he explained holding up a video tape.

"Looks like you went to Blockbuster," Richie told him.

"I've been thinking. Telling you about what just happened isn't helping at all. Maybe hearing about when you were young would help."

"But you said you don't know anything about me before I moved in with you guys," Richie frowned.

"That's where the orphanage comes in. Remember I told you dreams can tell us things if we're willing to listen?"

"Yeah, that was like a couple hours ago, of course I remember that."

"And I said I had a weird dream last night."

"Yes," Tessa agreed. "You were talking about Richie."

"When he was four," Duncan added. "At the orphanage."

"You had a dream about me? Creepy."

"Richie, the point is my dream told me something. I remembered a detail and played a hunch. That's how I got this." He held the tape up again.

"I don't get it," Richie said.

"At the orphanage you went to, they made tapes of all the kids so prospective parents could look through them."

"And you got a hold of Richie's?" Tessa asked.

"It took some doing, but yes." Duncan put the tape in. "Keep your fingers crossed." He hit play.

There were a few seconds of static and then a seemingly new born appeared on the screen.

"That's me?" Richie asked.

"You're adorable," Tessa breathed.

There was a short commentary. "New born boy, un-named. Quiet by nature and has a good temperament. Bright and enthusiastic. Available for foster care."

The screen went back to static.

"That was helpful," Richie grumbled.

"There should be more, just hang on," Duncan told him.

A few seconds later there was a four year old boy with curly hair and big blue eyes lying in a crib holding onto a stuffed Winnie the Pooh. The commentary started again. "Richie Ryan, age four. Playful and fun loving." The screen flashed to Richie sitting in a cafeteria with a hot dog in front of him and his bear in his lap. "Healthy appetite and not a picky eater." Richie in the play room dancing with some other kids to a tape of children's songs. "Energetic and sociable."

"It sounds like they're trying to get people to adopt a puppy," eighteen- year-old Richie complained.

The screen changed to Richie sitting in the lap of a social worker in front of the camera.

"How old are you, Richie?" the worker asked. Richie proudly held up four fingers to the camera. "Do you like to play?" Richie grinned widely and nodded. "Are you ready to go to school?" Richie nodded again. The camera zoomed in on Richie who had switched his attention to his bear as the social worker continued to talk. "Richie Ryan is a special needs child. He is mute and has a difficult time understanding some things that are said to him. Despite this, he efficiently communicates with others. He is also being taught sign language. A home where he would be the only child is ideal because he requires more attention than most children."

Tessa looked at Richie who was staring blankly at the television screen. "Are you okay? Do you want to turn it off?" Richie shook his head.

Static then, "Richie Ryan, age seven. A playful and percousious young boy with a love for adventure. Richie is in first grade and makes good grades. He doesn't like to socialize outside of school and prefers to spend his time drawing and playing board games." It switched to the interview. Richie was sitting at a small table coloring and the social worker was seated across from him.

"How old are you, Richie?"

"Seban."

"What grade are you in?"

"Forst."

"What do you like to do?"

"Colar."

"Who do you like to play with?"

"Pooba."

"Who's that?" In response Richie held up the bear that had been sitting out of view. "What about your friends? Do you like to play with Bryan and Jacob?" Richie shook his head. "Why not?" the social worker asked signaling for the video to be cut off.

"Tha'r mean," was heard just before the video stopped.

"Richie, are you okay?" Tessa asked going to the teen's side. His face was pale and his breathing was shallow.

"Richie Ryan, age twelve."

"Duncan, stop the video," Tessa ordered. "Richie, are you feeling okay?" she asked stroking his cheek.

"Just give me a minute," Richie mumbled getting up and retreating into his room.

"Do you think it worked?" she asked staring at the closed door.

"I think so," Duncan said, staring as well.

. . . . . .

Two hours later Duncan and Tessa were making another one of Richie's favorites for dinner when the teen entered the kitchen.

"Are you okay, Rich?" Duncan asked.

"I'm fine, Mac. I have good news and bad news."

"What's the matter?" Tessa asked dropping the potato masher in the potatoes.

"The good news is I remember everything."

"The bad news?" Duncan asked.

"I remember everything."

"So the video did it?" Tessa asked putting her arm around his shoulders and stroking his cheek.

"Actually it was something on the video," Richie admitted with a blush.

"What was it?"

Richie blushed harder. "Promise not to laugh?"

"At what?"

Slowly Richie brought his hand out from behind his back with a beat up, dirty and faded Winnie the Pooh clutched tightly in his fist.

"Oh!" Tessa covered her mouth with one hand to hide her smile.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," Richie grumbled. "Yuck it up. Richie Ryan still has his teddy bear."

"But it's because of Pooba you remember," Duncan told him as if talking to a three year old.

"Okay, fine, see if I ever tell you people anything again." Richie turned on his heel.

"Rich, I'm sorry," Duncan apologized grabbing his arm. "Tell us what happened."

"I saw him on the screen and I knew I had seen him before. The more I thought about it I realized that I had seen it the night before when I was looking through my room."

"I can't believe you still have it," Tessa giggled taking the bear from him. "You don't seem the type."

"It was the only thing I could keep," Richie shrugged. "Emily gave it to me first thing when Mark took me to her house."

"Who's Mark?" Tessa asked.

"He was my social worker for a long time. He's a teacher now at a school for deaf kids. He's the one who told me Emily gave me the bear; obviously I was too young to remember."

"Speaking of deaf." Tessa started. "What's this about you being mute? The Richie Ryan I know doesn't ever shut up."

"I don't really know," Richie admitted sitting at the table. "Something about. my ears were blocked somehow so I didn't hear right. I didn't start talking until I was almost five and even then it was jibber jabber. One of my foster dads was an ear nose and throat doctor and he figured it out. So I had some minor surgery and that fixed everything."

"Oh, so then you were good as new?"

"Not really, I still had to learn how to talk. The kids made fun of me all the time for it. That's why I didn't like to play with Bryan and Jacob. I talked like a little kid; they thought it was hilarious. 'Baby Richie' that was me."

"And the teachers at the orphanage let them call you that?" Duncan asked sitting as well.

"Oh, they didn't say it in front of the teachers," Richie told him. "And if they were ever overheard they just said they were joking."

"Why didn't you tell on them?" Tessa asked.

Richie snorted. "That would'a helped. Then I would have been 'Baby Richie, the Tattle-Tail'. It's no big deal, I got them back."

"I'm afraid to ask," Tessa smiled.

"I'm not; what did you do?" Duncan asked.

"Kicked their butts in high school, stole their lunch money without them noticing, took their homework out of their lockers. the usual stuff," he smiled.

"You're horrible!" Duncan laughed.

"They deserved it for making my elementary school and junior high years hell. I spent as much time in lockers as I did in class!" Richie defended.

"You got shoved into lockers?" Tessa didn't believe it.

"Yeah, pathetic, I know. But the foster dad I was with my eighth grade year taught me to fight. Everything was different after that. I became the shover, not the shovie."

"You were bullied so you became the bullie," Duncan said.

"Basically," Richie shrugged. "It was the only way to keep them from picking on me. First day of high school, I got them all put in their places before the first bell rang."

"Richie!" Tessa scolded.

"Hey, they tortured me for something I had no control over for ten years! I got them back for four. I still don't think we're even but I let it go."

"True. And if you start it up again, you have to answer to me," Duncan reminded him. "What all did they do to you?"

Richie shrugged. "Just made fun of me in elementary school. You know they had little chants and songs that they taught everyone and they would follow me around on the playground singing them. That type of thing. I hated it. Once I made the mistake of crying. they never let me forget that one."

"Cry Baby Richie?" Duncan guessed.

"Cryin' Ryan," Richie corrected with a hint of bitterness. "That one followed me around for awhile."

"You were always in the same schools with these boys?" Tessa asked.

"Yup. Because we all went to the same orphanage, we all were given to foster parents in the same area and ended up at the same schools . When they went back to the orphanage I thought I had it made 'cause if you lived there, you went to school there. but by then everyone knew the songs and didn't need them to lead 'em."

"And in junior high?" Duncan asked.

"They would gang up on me. Steal my lunch money, throw my books in the mud, shove me in lockers. I still know how to pick the locks of those things from the inside. and of course they would tell everyone what a baby I was and how I cried every night and slept with a nightlight and a teddy bear."

"Did you?"

"I slept without a night light before they did just to prove I was bigger than them. And I stopped sleeping with Pooba when I was eight and just kept him under my bed in a shoe box. Not that the truth mattered to them. By then the whole school thought I was the biggest looser on the face of the planet. What's for dinner?" he asked suddenly.

"Steak and potatoes," Tessa told him.

"How long?"

"Fifteen minutes. Maybe faster if you tell us some stories," she hinted.

Richie sighed and leaned back in his chair. "Do you want stories of when they tortured me or when I tortured them?"

"Both," she decided.

"I want to know the songs they made up about you," Duncan told him.

"They weren't that great. Stuff like: 'Richie Ryan's a baby, he's cries just like a lady, waaa, waaa, he's such a dork'." He sang to the tune of 'Ring around the Rosie'.

"That's horrible!" Tessa said as she went back to mashing potatoes.

"That was one of their less creative ones."

"What else did they say about you?"

"I honestly don't remember. It took me a long time to push them out of my mind and I'd like to keep them there."

All throughout dinner Richie told stories of hiding in the library at recess and eating lunch alone in the bathroom to avoid any torture. Tessa pitied him openly even though he assured her he was way over it. To change her mind he told stories of buying nothing but desserts at lunch in high school and eating them in front of the boys he had taken the money from, writing fake secret admirer notes and dropping clues as to who was writing them and getting the freshman boys to think that a senior girl liked them. He even got Jacob to ask out the football captain's girlfriend. After cleaning up the dinner dishes, Richie announced he was going to bed and would see them in the morning.

"Hey, Rich?" Duncan asked softly opening the boy's door ten minutes after he went to bed.

"Hmmm?" Richie asked not sitting up.

"How come you told us so much tonight?"

Richie rolled over to face him. "Because now I know what it's like to not know. I figured I should let you in on some stuff."

"Oh. Good night, Rich."

"Night, Mac." Richie rolled back onto his stomach and waited for sleep to come. Slowly his eyes closed and two fingers came to rest against his lips. Richie fell into a deep sleep for the entire night, his butt waggling slightly the entire time.

AN: That's it you guys! Hope you liked it. Please review. And let me know if you liked baby Richie. maybe all this wasn't a dream.