A/n: You wouldn't believe how many reviews I got thinking the last chapter was the end. You really think I'd end it with such an open question. There's so much to be resolved! And the baby isn't here yet!!! Tut, you evil people. Must love me though.
The more I read this chapter the more I hate it but it has to be done. sighs
Chapter 6: The Gifted.
Three months. What is three months? 12 weeks? 36 maths lessons? Or a trimester? Josie spoke on the phone every night with Corrine. Lucas had spoken to her once or twice but he seemed cold and distant. She knew she was to blame but she wasn't about to tell him she wanted him as godfather over the phone! On the 15th of November two days before her due date Josie was sat penning a letter to her mother.
Corrine says you rang the school asking after me. I thought you'd turned your back for good. I'm due any day now. A baby girl according to the doctors, but they also said I was a baby boy so… we'll just have to wait and see. I suppose you're wondering where I'm staying. Don't worry, I've been staying with David Randall, he's really cool about the whole issue….'
Josie didn't know what to write next. She sighed. She had to go to school next week regardless of whether the baby was here or not. She didn't want to whinge. She wished her mother had been supportive of the whole situation though. She couldn't write what she needed to say in a letter. She screwed it up into a ball and threw it at the wastepaper basket. It circled the rim twice before giving up and landing on the floor. Josie ignored it. She picked up the phone and dialled her home number. Surely her mother shouldn't be in bed yet? Josie listened to the ringing for nearly a minute before hanging up. It was 11pm. She was exhausted.
"Go on, bed for you two." Melissa said ushering Josie upstairs.
"You're curfew was nine, what're you still doing up?" Josie said pointedly as they crept past Nathan's room
"Don't turn this around to be about me young lady." She scolded.
"I'm older than you!" Josie protested quietly. Melissa laughed and crawled into her own bed.
"Night Josie." She whispered.
"Night Melissa." Josie said turning out the light.
"Night baby." Melissa added. Josie smiled and rolled over.
Corrine sat bolt upright. The four had been sharing a room as it was Friday night. They had been watching a film in Marshall's room.
"Oh my…" She looked at her watch. It was two in the morning no longer Friday night but Saturday morning. Somehow she knew what was wrong. She stood up and went to the door.
"Corrine?" Murmered a sleepy voice. Marshall was sat up in his bed.
"Go back to bed." She whispered desperate not to disturb the others. He rubbed his eyes to check he wasn't dreaming. Then he quickly stood up and crossed to her.
"Where are you going it's… two am! For Pete's sake… go back to sleep come on." He took her arm and tried to lead her back to the pile of blankets that was her makeshift bed.
"Marshall!" Corrine said yanking her hand back. "I will be back as soon as possible. Right now I'm needed."
"Where're you going?" He asked in puzzlement. He couldn't understand girls. Most of the time they insisted they had to get to bed early… and Corrine was wanting to go wandering at two in the morning.
"Marshall if you stop me going now I'll NEVER forgive you." She hissed. Marshall looked very hurt he sighed.
"Be back soon yeah." She nodded and made her way towards the door. She paused and nipped back. She kissed him on the cheek.
"Thank you." She whispered.
"Come on Josie pick up." Corrine demanded into the receiver. It was dark and her voice echoed around the deserted corridor.
"Josie…!" She said in alarm at hearing Josie's distressed voice.
"Thank god Corrine nobody's awake. I managed to knock the receiver off the phone but couldn't dial and…" She jabbered.
"Right I'll call an ambulance. What's your address?" Corrine said frantically tearing a piece of paper off the school dance poster. No sooner had Josie uttered the final syllable of her address did her world go black. Corrine on the other end of the phone panicked.
"Josie? Oh…" She hung up quickly.
Josie looked around. She was in a large room. Two women were sat at a table.
"Got any threes?" Asked the eldest appearing to be in her early forties.
"Get lost." The younger one countered. She was in her late teens…probably around Josie's age. "I mean…go fish." She added noticing her partners odd look. It wasn't her she was curious about though. She was looking over her shoulder.
"Josie!" Said the eldest with a smile. She checked her watch.
"Bang on the clock." Said the youngest with a cheeky grin turning around.
"Where am I…what're you two doing here…I'm supposed to be in labour at the hospital." Josie said. She didn't have time for Pinky and Peppy right now.
"You are, sweetheart." Said the eldest still smiling. She led Josie to the table.
"Why am I here?" Josie asked.
"We're here to…prepare you." Said a very amused young lady. She sat down beside Josie and put her arm around her.
"Prepare me… oh no. I've gone through too much to die now." Josie snapped. The elder woman the one Josie had rescued from Pearadyne laughed.
"Heavens no, sweetheart."
"Can you stop calling me that?" The women ignored her.
"Your child is…different." One said tentatively.
"You can say that again." Giggled the younger one packing away the cards.
"Different? You mean like disabled? Special needs? Dyslexic?" Josie queried almost hopefully.
"No… not different in a bad way. Good way. She's going to have a gift Josie." Said the younger one.
"A gift?" She said sceptically.
"From birth she's going to be able to speak fluent English." The eldest one said.
"Woah… won't that look a little…weird?" Josie asked. "I mean a fifteen year old with a talking baby…"
"Aha, here's where the ingenious part comes into it sweetheart." The eldest one tapped her nose beneath her glasses.
"Gran, would you stop doing that it's creepy." The younger one said Josie and Gran ignored her.
"Only family members will be able to hear her speaking, it'll just be nonsense gurgling to anyone else."
"Just thought you oughta know." The younger one said checking her own watch nervously.
"We'd best send you back now." The eldest said stroking Josie's hair behind her ear like a mother would a daughter.
"If you're her grandmother, you look WAY younger than you actually are." Josie said as she felt herself slowly drift back into consciousness.
Josie opened her eyes. Corrine sighed in relief.
"Hey." She said exhaustedly.
"Huh…" Josie looked around in puzzlement. "Where'd that come from?" She asked sleepily, noticing Corrine was holding a small bundle of pink.
"Honestly Mummy you should know!" The bundle spoke. Josie's eyes widened. Corrine smiled.
"She's gorgeous." Josie forced herself to sit up despite feeling entirely numb.
"Of course I am!" Josie giggled.
"That's the gas and air talking." Corrine stated logically. "You wanna hold her?" Josie nodded mutely. She gasped as Corrine handed her the smallest person Josie had ever seen.
"Give me a break! I'm probably not going to grow much bigger considering your height or lack thereof."
"Smart Alec." Josie whispered.
"8lbs 5oz that's not tiny. She's healthy." Corrine cooed over the baby.
"Mummy, she tickles." The baby writhed. Josie couldn't describe the feelings right now. Absolute euphoria. Nothing else in the world mattered right now.
"It's four am." Corrine told her.
"Jesus! Get back to school. Get back to bed. What're you doing here anyway?" Hadn't she rang her? She'd not sent a psychic message. Had the woman visited her?
"I…Don't know. I woke up knew something was wrong and…"
"Rang an ambulance?" Josie looked pleased, amused and tired.
"Mummy?" The baby asked quietly as she yawned. "I'm tired…" Josie smiled at her daughter then stood up and crossed to the cot. Within moments the infant was in deep sleep. Corrine hadn't heard her speak at all.
"Proud mother eh?"
"Too right. Listen… They'll only keep me in here a day." Josie said. "And I'm going straight back to school. So can we not tell the guys?"
"Sure but… how am I going to explain to Marshall where I was?" Corrine asked. Josie shrugged.
"You're smart you'll think of something. Now go on get lost." Josie laughed clambering back into the hospital bed. "You're not going to be back before sunrise at this rate." Corrine nodded. As she stood up Josie noticed all she'd done was throw a coat over her Pj's.
"You were in a rush." She laughed sleepily.
"The paramedics…nearly had to break down the door to get to you. Luckily Melissa heard them."
"Melissa! Oh god where are they?" Josie said suddenly. The drugs were wearing off and she soon began to feel a sense of panic aswell as logic.
"At home, he couldn't find a baby sitter sorry."
"I don't mind." Josie said looking relieved. She yawned.
"You end your rest I'll see you the day after tomorrow?"
"Right…bye. Corrine?" Corrine looked back.
"Thanks." Josie whispered closing her eyes.
Corrine got in at six. Marshall was already up and waiting anxiously in the common room.
"Where were you?" He demanded.
"In bed…" She said. "my own bed." She added.
"Liar." He said. He saw right through her.
"Ok…" Corrine smiled wickedly and sat down next to him. She lay her head gently on his shoulder. "I was off with a senior guy, joy-riding in a stolen car and then we stopped and made out for a while. I would've been back sooner but we had to stop to buy cigarettes and alcohol."
"Ha ha." He said sarcastically. But it worked, Corrine didn't need an excuse anymore. She was exhausted.
She yawned and although Marshall was tired, being up just as long as she had, he let her sleep.
Josie balanced the Moses basket in one hand and wrestled the pram up Blake Holsey's steps. She was met by Principal Durst.
"Goodness." She said. Josie smiled and showed the baby off to Durst. "Does she have a name?"
"Not yet." Josie said folding the pram up and putting it in the Janitor's office. He wouldn't mind.
"She'll be in the care of a crèche during your lessons. You have Monday and Tuesday off."
"Thanks." Josie said gratefully. It felt good to be back. She walked into the common room. She'd arranged it with Corrine that everyone is watching a film in the downstairs common room when she arrived. She took a deep breath as she surveyed the back of her friends' heads.
"Knock knock." Baby said. By pure chance (?) Lucas looked round.
"Josie!" Marshall and Vaughn snapped round too. Madison who was sat across the room looked up curiously.
"What took you you're a half hour late!" She exclaimed.
"Traffic sucks." Josie said taking her seat.
"Hold up, you knew she was coming?" Marshall asked. Corrine smiled sheepishly.
"I was there when she was born. Josie wasn't even conscious." Vaughn took a deep breath then stood up and walked out. Josie frowned.
"Can I hold her?" Marshall asked curiously. Josie smiled and passed her over.
No sooner had the baby settled than Corrine took her off of him.
"I don't like this game." Said the baby grumpily. Lucas beside her suddenly froze. Josie ignored him. The baby suddenly began to howl. Corrine panicked and held her out to her mother. She wasn't good with screaming babies.
"Woah…she's hungry is all." Josie said as the baby protested loudly that she was 'freakin starving.'
"How'd you know?" Marshall asked.
"Mother's intuition?" Josie suggested with a lie. "I left her bottles in her change bag. Can you take her a minute Marshall?" She pleaded.
"She's crying…" He protested.
"Yes genius." Josie sighed and walked out. Lucas followed her. Leaving Corrine and Marshall holding the baby.
"Plan on having any of your own?" Marshall asked Corrine.
"When I'm a lot older. I want to get my career up and running first." Corrine said.
"Yeah… same here. I want to at least have one album done before I have kids." He rocked the baby gently. She stopped crying and dulled it to a whimper.
"She's cute though." Corrine said earnestly. Marshall nodded.
"But when we have kids we'll be ready." He said.
"When we have kids?" She asked a trace of hope and confusion in her voice.
"With other people!" He said hastily. They both blushed. Fortunately nobody heard the youngest person in the room say
"Josie?" Asked Lucas nervously.
"yeah, here hold this?" She shoved the change bag into his arms.
"How come your daughter can talk?" He asked abruptly. Josie paled.
"What did you say?" She prayed she'd misheard him.
"I know it may seem unbelievable but I heard it, she spoke." Josie shook her head.
"NO!" She cried angrily. She took the bottle and stormed off. She snatched the baby from Marshall and Corrine who were a funny shade of red and went up to her room.
"It's not possible. Only family can hear you." She whispered. Her daughter didn't answer her too busy with her bottle.
"It's just… okay me and Lucas never… but me and Vaughn never… oh I'm so messed up." Josie said. It just wasn't even in the realm of possible that Lucas had… no.
"Josie?" Asked a timid voice from the doorway.
"What do you want?"
"Are you mad at me?" Vaughn asked.
"No." Josie answered finally. She wasn't mad at him… it was hardly his fault. He took this as a green light and walked up to her.
"Hello… and who would you be?" He asked tickling the baby's chin.
"She doesn't have a name. Feel free to suggest." She said exasperatedly.
"Isn't that the mother's job?" He asked curiously.
"You know mummy… he has a point." Vaughn raised his eyebrows and looked at the little girl. For a moment Josie hoped he'd heard her, but he continued on as though he hadn't.
"I mean… You're the closest thing she has to a proper family." Josie nodded and bit her lip. She wanted to scream. Had Vaughn been right all along? It looked that way.
"Only because my daddy and my Gran don't want me." The baby said pushing her bottle away with flailing hands.
"Wrong." Josie said firmly. She then realised it must look pretty odd if Vaughn really couldn't hear her. "You're supposed to say 'please mummy no more bottle'" She teased in baby talk. Vaughn wasn't buying it.
"Yes young lady remember your etiquette." He scolded playfully. Josie handed him the baby manipulating his arms to support her head.
"Who're you to give me lessons in manners!" She said pointedly as her mum moved his arms.
"I'm Vaughn." He said. Josie looked curious. Vaughn realised he must look stupid. "I'm mummy's friend."
"Ex boyfriend?" Suggested baby. He cocked his eyebrow - cheeky.
"You feeling okay?" Vaughn asked Josie.
"A little tired but…okay. It's so strange being back here." She admitted laying back on her bed. One thing to prove she hadn't been here in a while. The floor was clearly visible.
"I'm surprised you came back."
"I've got too much past here to leave." Josie said firmly. "I can't turn my back on everything."
"I'm glad you didn't turn your back on everything, you know." Vaughn said earnestly.
"Thanks but Vaughn… You and me we can't…we weren't…" Josie sighed. "Forget it. I'm too confused to have this conversation right now."
"Confused, about what?"
"Nothing it's not important." Josie said. She yawned. "I have to go talk to Lucas… will you be okay with her for a bit?"
"Uh… yeah." He said uncertainly. She smiled at him.
"Thank you so much."
Lucas was sat on the stairs. Josie sat beside him.
"I don't understand… you heard her talk right?" Lucas asked.
"Yeah. She can talk." Josie said awkwardly.
"How come Corrine and Marshall can't hear her then?" Lucas asked. Josie sighed.
"Only family members can hear her."
"But I'm not…" Josie choked back tears.
"Vaughn couldn't hear her." Lucas paused. He wrapped his arms around her. "I was so sure."
"It's okay. Nobody thinks any the worse of you."
"I do!" She said. "I thought he was lying. I thought he was trying to hurt me and he wasn't. I feel…"
"But why can I hear her?" He cut her off.
"You… I don't know. Did we…" She started.
"I don't remember… unless…" He started.
"Oh no, no unless!" Josie said angrily cutting him off.
"Did you have a little too much to drink at Marshall's party?" He asked.
"I woke up crashed out on my bed." She shrugged.
"Me too. My bed I mean."
"We… no… I mean…" Josie shook her head trying to get her head around this. "This is not fair."
"Nobody said life was fair Josie." Lucas said. The two tried to fill in the blanks but their minds drew white papers. The term I'm looking for is: The computer's on but there's no ink in the printer.
"You know kiddo… You're pretty smart for a new-born." Vaughn said turning on Josie's CD player.
"You're telling me, I should be on 'Prodigy'" She said giggling. He smiled at her.
"Does your mum know?" He asked as track one began playing.
"Of course…" The baby said in Josie's famous 'No-Duh' kind of voice.
"Why didn't she tell us?" He asked sounding hurt. Josie had never properly lied to him before. Perhaps she'd lied to save herself a few times but… well a few months ago not included.
"I don't think she likes me very much." The baby said flailing her arms. She couldn't sit up or anything yet and she was thoroughly bored of lying down.
"Oh don't say that." Vaughn said picking her up and bobbing her on his knee. "Josie loves you a lot… She's just getting used to being a mum." He reasoned for her.
"She looks at me… she looks at me funny. As though I'm a painful memory." Vaughn shook his head.
"Nuh uh…you're too young to reject your mum. You can reject her when you're a teenager." He told her. She sighed.
"Night dad." She whispered and fell asleep in his arms. Vaughn looked slightly alarmed.
"Did she just call me…"
"Listen until I'm certain who's who in her life… I… I want you to be godfather." Josie said looking away from him. Now that there was a good possibility he was a dad it seemed less of a thrill.
"This doesn't change us." She said firmly. Lucas's mind was reeling.
"I… Who told you?"
"Sar… I mean. Oh just somebody. It's not important." She'd nearly let slip something that was merely opinion and not fact, she had no proof. Lucas looked confused. He leaned over and took Josie completely by surprise. He kissed her gently. He was surprised when she kissed back.
Vaughn opened the door. He was starting to wonder about Josie. She'd been gone a little too long. He saw a sight he'd hoped never to see. He sighed. It was well and truly over. He closed the door a little too hard. It woke up the baby.
"Dad!" She screeched at him.
"Don't call me that, sweetie." He pleaded. She yawned.
"Well, don't call me sweetie." She countered.
Josie pulled back now completely confused. She allowed a tear to fall but flicked it away hastily.
"Did you… feel anything?" He asked her nervously. She shrugged. She was unsure. In a way it felt good to be cared for. It felt good to have a guy willing to stick by her side. On the other hand… She felt she felt pity for him, that it was a guilt kiss. Lucas turned to stare down the stairs.
"Don't do that again." She said firmly.
"Okay. Warning taken. Once is enough." He joked. She smiled and stood up. She was a very good actress.
"Bye." She went inside. She slammed the door and sat on her bed. Vaughn was in the bathroom cleaning milk off of his shirt and washing his face.
"You know something?" He heard Josie say to the once again sleeping baby. "I hate you." It was vicious. Vaughn looked up. He hoped it was post natal depression. Or was the baby miles ahead on the knowledge front?