Note: This scene takes place somewhere around the period soon after Phoenix's final trial. Please read and review!


Joy floods my empty, aching chest as I scoop up my new daughter and hold her tight. She yelps delightfully, hugging my neck and resting her little head against my cheek. Her soft locks of auburn hair feather across my nose, and I smile not because it tickles, but because it brings back fond, distant memories. As I murmur soothing words of affection into her ear, I can feel her heart gently pulsing against my own. It's calming, somehow. I feel like a parent in the hospital holding his newborn baby for the first time. I see nothing else around me, I hear nothing else, feel nothing else, think of nothing else other than the warm bouncing bundle of pink in my arms. I never want this feeling to go away.

Still cradling her, I carefully walk to the office window. Water droplets make tiny pat pat noises as they rain upon the glass. The sky hovers in gray contrast to our bright merriment. I tease the clouds' attempt at dampening our spirits. But then she stops giggling for an instant and looks outside curiously. I smile at her wide-eyed gaze, then notice that she is looking toward the sidewalk below. I idly tip my own head down, wondering what has caught my little girl's attention.

There is a boy standing on the sidewalk. Despite the rain, he is not holding an umbrella, nor is he sporting any water-resistant attire. A simple red t-shirt is drenched across his shoulders and back.

And then I realize he is staring right at us.

His eyes are deep and sad. I can tell, somehow, that he has lost something important. How long ago he has lost this important item, or person, I have no idea. Yet I can detect a faint glint of hope behind his expression. Or perhaps, longing. His spiked hair mimics his downcast appearance; two long locks droop over his face. He looks like a lost puppy. I have no idea what he is doing out in the rain like that. Doesn't he have someplace to go home to? Does he even have a family? He is a complete stranger, and yet I want him to come in and join us.

Come in and join our family…

Without a word, I turn away from the window, race out of my office and head toward the stairs, still clutching her. Something in my head is telling me that I need to get outside. Fast. She grips my neck more tightly as I whiz down the steps, taking three or four at a time. A minute later, I arrive at the bottom floor, panting. Then I run to the front door and burst outside. Icy rain showers on me as I step out from under the awning. I glance around frantically.

But the boy has disappeared.