Title: The Box

Author: S J Smith

Rating: K+

Disclaimer: USA, FUSE, Flying Glass of Milk Productions and a lot more other people own this series, not me.

Summary: Nate picks up the Christmas box from Miami.

Note: Written for the LJ community, Fandom_Stocking. Post episode "Brotherly Love."


According to the notifications in the mailbox, the package had arrived a couple of days after Christmas. Nate and Ruth had taken that time for a little vacation to So-Cal, since Nate was pretty sure mixing Ruth and his family would've resulted in World War III. Ruth's mood swings were wild enough without adding in whatever was going on in Miami and Nate was pretty sure he could do without those kinds of fireworks. He'd managed to call the family, getting Mom, who said Michael was off with some sort of business and it was obvious that his 'business' didn't let him take even Christmas off. Mike's phone went straight to message and Nate didn't have the numbers for either Fiona or Sam.

…maybe that wasn't a bad thing.

He got to UPS the next day, showing his ticket claim for the package. Mike still wasn't answering his phone. Ruth had taken to eating sweet pickles and bologna sandwiches on spongy bread. Nate wasn't arguing with her, even if he wished she'd go back to spaghetti in marinara sauce. At least he could hide a few vegetables in that. As fast as Ruth was going through the bologna, Nate hoped there were a couple of sandwiches in the package.

The box was pretty hefty, making Nate worry that Mom suddenly decided to bake fruitcakes. He wasn't sure if he should even open the box back home. Knowing Mom, she might have stuck a cucumber in the package – no, even she wasn't that mean. Still, better to defuse a bomb than let it go off.

Setting it on the hood of his car, Nate cut the tape and popped open the box. Styrofoam peanuts greeted him, along with a note card with his address on it. He dug through the packing to find packages, neatly wrapped. Taking one with his name on it out, Nate shook it hesitantly.

It didn't rattle. Or tick. Or do anything it might do if it was going to explode, as far as Nate knew. He slipped his finger behind the tape and ripped the package open. And smiled at the photograph, of Ruth and him, in Miami, in Mom's sunroom.

There was a note, too; in Mike's slanted handwriting. Thought you might like proof we do think about you guys.

As if Mike had to say that.