AN: Okay not a fan of the last Path to...How about this?
"Not adopting a kid, not fostering a kid, not doing anything that involves me getting another kid," Brenda announced walking into the living room with Charlie and Alvin on her heels.
"But it wouldn't be a baby."
"Why are we even having this conversation? What do you and Jason talk about?" Brenda asked with the disdain clear on her face.
"Sanjay from my class got a new sister, but she isn't a baby."
"Good for him," she nodded.
"Little brother again?" Monica nodded sympathetically.
Luke smashed his foot into his wife's toes.
"Why not our house is huge? Me and Alice could do everything." The little boy refused to let the subject go.
"Okay this," Brenda nodded, "is not our house, this is Monica's house and did you even ask Alice before you offered her up to raise a child?"
"She wants a baby or a little girl, but-"
"I actually wouldn't mind another little boy," Alice shrugged.
"What's going on in here?" Edward walked in frowning.
"Mom won't get me a little brother."
Edward's eyes lit up, "Brenda, I can't believe you'd deny the boy the joy of having a sibling. A new baby-"
"NOT a baby!" Charlie's eyes were wide. Why could people not understand he didn't want a baby brother, he wanted a little brother.
"Oh," Edward's face fell, "Brenda, you need to have a talk with him about the life cycle."
Charlie sighed loudly, "I know where babies come from. I want one that already had a mom and needs a new one, like Alvin."
"I don't know why you'd want a-"
"Edward!" Brenda silenced him, "Again Charlie the point is. I'm not having any more children any way."
"But the house is so big; there are all of these bedrooms-" Charlie's eyes were wide as he continued to make his point.
He stopped and pondered that for a moment as he stared at Monica, "Your house is really big."
"And I'm really old," she smiled trying to put him off.
Monica tried to contain her smile, "Charlie that is a very nice offer, but-"
"Didn't you ever see Annie?"
"Why is the boy watching Annie?" Luke questioned.
"Because I'm not enforcing gender stereotypes on my child."
"Because YOU always wanted to be raised by Daddy Warbucks," her son countered easily recalling what his mother had told him.
Brenda looked away, "Oh come on, I went to boarding school," she defended herself to the room, "I was miserable."
"Annie had to scrub floors, she shared her room with-"
"I got it Charlie," Monica raised her hand.
"So why can't you adopt? Trista, Sarah and Noah are always just hanging out in the kitchen."
"I told you they did nothing," Edward pointed his finger at Monica, regarding the help that never seemed to be around.
"One kid!" Charlie tried to get his point back on track.
"Okay sweetie, you've made your point and when you get older you can adopt a whole group of kids, but for now you need to go to bed." Her son was currently manic on chocolate chips. She was going to kill Jason.
"It really wouldn't be that much work!" Charlie called out as his mother hustled him out of the room. "He'd go to school with me, I'd share my clothes and my toys; he can even share my room."
"Okay you're seriously never eating sugar again," Brenda lifted him up in her arms.
"I'd be awesome!"
The room was silent for a few moments as they listened to Charlie throw a temper tantrum as Brenda carried him up the stairs.
"Anyone else relieved to know there really is some Brenda in him? That kid was too damn perfect."
"Oh hush Luke," Tracey swatted at her husband.
"Brenda should have another child. I don't know what nonsense that boy was talking about-"
Monica smiled softly, "You don't remember AJ and Jason when they were small?"
"Always underfoot, getting into some trouble?"
Monica smiled, "Exactly. When they were small they were best friends."
"The boy has plenty of friends, he needs a brother."
Luke clenched his wife's hand, she jabbed her heel into his foot as payback.
"He had a point; the house is wasteful, even with Charlie and Brenda-"
"Monica do not use that cursed word downsize," Luke leapt to his feet.
"The energy bills, if I would at least close off-"
"Shhh!" Luke's eyes were wide and he silenced her with a finger.
"I think Charlie has the right idea, we should work on Brenda," Edward reflected.
Monica sighed, "I have a headache, Alice could you-"
"Chamomile tea? I'll bring it upstairs."
"Thank you," Monica smiled wearily trying not to think of her lost daughters, both adopted.
The next afternoon:
Jason rushed off the elevator not sure what was wrong since Charlie had hung up on him after telling him he was on the 6th floor of GH and Jason needed to "Come now!" before hanging up. Brenda's phone had gone straight to voicemail by the time he had already turned the car in that direction.
"Jason!" Charlie rushed at him.
Jason easily caught him up in his arms, "What happened? Where's your mother?"
Charlie sighed loudly.
"Ms. Barrett is with-"
Charlie cut off Epiphany, "HE slipped before we got TO the ice!"
"Her date and his sons," she finished.
"You couldn't stay with her?"
Charlie gave him a look.
"Did she say how long she was going to be?" Jason asked Epiphany.
"He needs a CAT scan and stitches."
"He FELL on his skates!"
Jason did his best to keep a straight face.
"Marcus threw up when he saw the blood."
"Losers," the argument Charlie had made yesterday for that was now completely validated in his mind.
Jason sighed, a sound he normally only made with Charlie's mother.
"I suggest you keep this boy occupied before he tries to scrub in on a surgery."
Jason looked down at the same time Charlie looked up at him.
"That'd be cool," his blue eyes were wide.
"Let's go find something to do," Jason's own eyes widened not looking forward to trying to keep the young boy entertained in the sterile hospital.
"He has a bag with him," Epiphany chided the boy with a look.
Charlie frowned, but went to go retrieve it.
Liz was distracted by Jason Morgan reading to Charlie Barrett in French. French of all things. He was reading "The Little Prince," in its original language and had apparently been reading it long enough to Charlie that he was inserting the English word after the French ones he didn't expect the boy to know. He read slowly and with the book low enough that Charlie could look at the text Jason read.
"Je ne le savais pas. J'étais alors très occupé à essayer de dévisser, unscrew, un boulon, bolt, trop serré de mon moteur, engine."
A patient's husband was talking to her as they stood close enough to Jason to hear the melodic words and his ease with the young boy. "Yes that's right once," she nodded. His spanglish nowhere near as melodic as Jason's mix of French and English.
Suddenly Charlie was nearing falling over the back of the chair as he shot around to look at her, "He said ON-CE."
"What?" Liz hit a completely new level of discombobulation, worried that Jason would realized she had accidently been spying on him and the boy who was not their son.
"Eleven, not UNO."
"What?" Liz's eyes went wide and her hair bounced as she turned her attention back to the patient's husband. "No, ONE," she raised a finger.
"Actually it would be una pastilla al dia," Epiphany said walking over to them. "Nurse Webber, why don't you go take a coffee break and Mr. Rodriguez, why don't you come with me, ven comigo."
"I just, you know I don't understand her," Matt said walking with his brother.
"Things were going great. Then she wants to stay and she breaks it off. Then we're fine again and suddenly she's giving me another talk about how we're in different places and now she's in the hospital with some loser and I mean did you see his kids, Charlie is way cooler than his kids that's just not fair to Charlie."
"That's what I said!" Charlie said as they crossed paths.
Jason sighed again.
"My mom's crazy!" Charlie added.
"Your mom is also right behind you."
All four males froze.
"Thank you for watching him Jason," Brenda barely looked at her ex keeping her gaze fixed on Charlie, "car now," she ordered.
"You believe me now, don't you?" Charlie asked his mother once they were finally alone. Monica had invited Victor and his sons to spend the night since he wasn't in any condition to look after himself, let alone his sons.
"Charlie," Brenda sighed, glad she had vetoed Monica's suggestion of putting the boys in the room with Charlie. He was suddenly entirely too much her son.
She noted it sounded like he was mocking her, she willed herself to be an adult. "He's gone, he's done, so just drop it."
"I was right."
"Lay down," she ordered.
"Think Lucky, Cam and Jake could come over to play tomorrow? Maybe Spencer?"
"I'll call and ask."
Brenda was about to sigh and then realized Charlie's Saturday had sucked nearly as much as hers had, "Yea why not." Smirking as she realized Charlie had included Lucky.
After a quick exchange of pleasantries Brenda cut straight to the point, "Charlie would like a playdate with you, Cameron and Jake."
"Me?" Lucky smiled.
"Yea he actually said can Lucky, Cam and Jake come play tomorrow," Brenda chuckled.
"Man, I wish I wasn't actually a grown up. I have to go into the station tomorrow."
"Haha sucks to be you."
"Ugh tell me about it," Lucky said still smiling.
"What about the boys?"
"Let me go find Liz and see if she has anything planned. Can I call you back?"
Mike tried not to stare at the grandson he never had. It wasn't as if he didn't love his boys with everything he had, it was just…It was just Sonny didn't get to have her. Controlled chaos surrounded them, Brenda, Robin, Nikolas, two boys and one little girl.
It was supposed to be like this. Charlie and Spencer with their heads together and talking animatedly. They were supposed to be cousins and that was supposed to be Sonny in Nikolas' seat, making a show of giving up trying to say anything as the girls couldn't stop talking.
He watched her with Spencer; it was unintentional as he was thinking what a good aunt she would have made, since the nanny for once wasn't attached to Spencer's side because she had been given the day off by Brenda. She was listening to him, as the chaos swirled around them; she was focused on him and only him. Spencer was alit with excitement over whatever he was telling her and she reflected it back.
Courtney would have been like that. Courtney would have listened to every mundane and trivial detail of her son's life as if it was the best thing in the world.
He noticed her as he was pouring a cup of coffee for another patron. She was squatting between Nikolas and Spencer as the boys were telling her something. Nikolas and Brenda were both laughing.
They were beautiful together.
The dark cloud that seemed to hang around his grandson's father momentarily lifted.
He could almost feel Courtney smiling down on them.
Nikolas laughed, "I'm not going to let you get on the launch carrying him."
"Obviously not aware of my super human mommy strength," Brenda smiled as Nikolas picked up the boy that fell asleep on the sofa while they were talking. They had left Robin after lunch and gone over to the island because there was no way she could refuse her son's excitement over the boat after the day they had prior. A full afternoon of playing and then they had stayed for dinner.
"Okay She-Ra," Nikolas nodded, "prove your super powers later, I have manners."
"She-Ra?" They may have not spent much time together before, but from Robin and Emily, she knew Nikolas had missed most American pop culture growing up.
"Em made me watch a few too many episodes."
Brenda gave him a bittersweet smile.
"Rumor has it, one day it will stop hurting."
Nikolas gave a wry smile.
"A blanket for the young sir," Alfred greeted them by the door with a smile.
"Thank you," Brenda said as he wrapped it around her son who already had his coat wrapped around him.
"Thank you for coming out to visit us, I hope we see you again very soon, the house-"
"Okay Alfred that's enough."
Brenda chuckled, "It was lovely seeing you again Alfred."
Nikolas was laughing to himself moments later as they finally exited the door and started down the path.
"He means well, like Edward," Brenda smiled.
"Would you like to go out to dinner?" Nikolas asked impetuously, "Not a date, but 2 adults-"
"Having dinner without their kids or any expectations?"
"And it would shut everyone up," Nikolas smiled.
"That is also a lie."
"That is true," he smiled and nodded, "we've known each other since I was 16? 17? And I don't think I actually know anything about you that I haven't learned from other people."
"It is a non-date," she nodded.
"Try not to fall madly in love with me," Nikolas teased.
"You're fine, Spencer and Alfred…" Brenda shrugged.
Nikolas laughed yet again; then Brenda joined in. Charlie awoke slightly and smiled.
Thanks for reading and reviewing.