It was screaming again.

Scott waited for his grandmother to settle the baby- or, failing that, his father.

The wails continued.

Scott gritted his teeth.

What, it wasn't enough that his father was never around anymore, that Scott was basically taking care of his brothers while his grandmother tended to the baby? That he was fixing meals, bathing and dressing Gordon, making sure Virgil and John did their homework while trying to finish his own, and trying to help his grandmother and look after his father? It wasn't enough that Scott had borne the sidelong looks, the meaningless condolences, that he'd stayed his fist every time he'd wanted to smash it into someone's uselessly sympathetic expression because he didn't want their goddamned pity?!

If there was one thing Scott hated now, it was pity.

That, and babies who should never have been born, who kept him awake now out of sheer malice. There was no way anything less than evil incarnate could screech like that, could keep him up without rousing an adult (a real adult, not a kid who shouldn't have to deal with shit like this,) to shut it up.

But just because the baby's evil doesn't mean his grandmother is. What his grandmother is, is old and tired; and it's with a huff aimed at himself, adults, the world in general and the baby in particular that Scott throws back his covers and marches down to the nursery.

He flings open the door, though he's careful not to let it bang against the wall.

The baby stops, surveys the newcomer while taking a breath. Scott holds its gaze.

Unimpressed, it starts screaming again.

Scott softly closes the door, movements crisp and precise. He strides to the side of the crib, lets his hands curl over the railing, looks down at the thing that robbed him and his brothers of their mother.

There's a fat red face under fine blonde hair; he knows its eyes are blue, though he can't discern the color in the darkness. It's not as fat as his brothers were, but it's not skinny either.

It's not much, not much at all. There's no way this is worth what they'd sacrificed for it.

Scott tells it so.

The baby keeps wailing.

"You ruined everything." Scott tells it. "Dad didn't even want you, you know that? Dad wanted to get rid of you but Mom wouldn't let him, Mom was the only one who wanted you and you killed her. You killed her, she gave up her life so you could have one, and nobody wants you, nobody wanted you in the first place so why the hell are you here?!"

His voice has risen but he's not quite shouting; the baby's screams probably cover his words from the hall. It's a dull rush in the background now; Scott hears his words, his racing heartbeat and harsh breath, and he hates them all because it's everything stolen from his mother.

"Everything's different! Everyone's different! The kids at school look at us differently and nobody knows what to say or do, and Dad's never home and never eats and never sleeps! Grandma's tired all the time taking care of you," he spits the word out like a curse, "Virgil and John're all quiet and John keeps going off by himself and hiding, and Gordon gets into anything and everything when he's not screaming for Mom, and, and…"

His voice breaks. "And we had to bury her, we put her in the ground and she looked like Mom but she didn't. She's gone. She's gone, she's gone, she's gone, she's gone, she's gone…"

He slumps to the carpet, white knuckled hands gripping the bars of the crib, and Scott Tracy finally cries.

The baby cries with him.

There's no telling how long it goes on, but it's long enough that the baby finally exhausts itself screaming. Still crying, hiccupping slightly, Scott feels eyes on him and looks up.

The baby's staring.

"She's gone." he repeats dully. "She's gone, and you'll never know her. She was… she was a great mom. The best in the world," he says with utter conviction. "You know what she told me? She told me to take care of you. Everything that was going on, she wanted me to look after you."

The baby whimpers a little at his darkening tone.

Scott tilts his head slightly, takes a good look at it. "You look a little bit like John. 'cept he was rounder, and he smiled a lot. He looked like Mom, all blonde and sweet and happy. And he never screamed like you do."

The baby keeps its eyes trained on him. A little arm stretches, a little hand reaches out unsteadily.

Scott stares at the tiny hand.

He doesn't know why he extends his own finger, lets the five miniature ones curl around it.

The baby gurgles, and goes to sleep.

Scott sits there for time untold, staring at it, his mother's voice in his head.

Eventually the words make their way from his head to his heart.

"Alan Shepard Tracy." he whispers. Blood. Family.

Little brother.


I know Jeff in the last chapter and Scott in this one might come off as jerks, but remember, Lucy just died- wife to one and mother to the other. They're dealing with that and a brand new baby- a stressor in its own right- and Tracys don't do helplessness well at all, otherwise there'd be no IR in the first place. Strength isn't just bearing up under adversity- it takes a different kind to pick up the pieces after you've fallen.

It's angst, y'all. -evil cackle-