Disclaimer: I don't own anyone.

This was the first Christmas Joey had without his father. Saying anything was, of course, impossible. As his mother was in the kitchen and his brother in the other room, Joey picked up the telephone.

With Uncle Wintergreen's help, Joey had figured out his dad's new telephone number. Perhaps Wintergreen thought that it wouldn't do any harm, since Joey couldn't speak now anyway. He placed the phone against his ear and punched in the numbers, glancing over at the kitchen to make sure his mom wouldn't walk in.

After a few rings Slade answered.


Joey's hand tightened. He swallowed, conscious of how tight the scar tissue felt. There were so many things he wanted to talk about. Even when he and Grant were allowed to see Slade, Joey still struggled with signing. How could he possibly express himself with no words?

"Who is this?" Slade asked.

After a few moments Slade hung up. Joey still held the phone to his ear, fat tears falling down his cheeks. He wanted to say that he was glad his dad saved him from Jackal. Mom blamed Dad for putting Joey in danger for the "sake of his professional reputation," whatever that meant. Yeah, Joey lost his voice, but he was alive. Why couldn't Mom just accept that?

"Joey?" Grant peered around the doorway. "What are you doing?"

Grant easily forgot that his little brother couldn't talk anymore. It was hard to play now, hard to make himself understood. Though Grant was young, he immediately knew what Joey had tried to do.

"I'll ask Mom for you," Grant said, "it's not Christmas unless Dad's here.

The Jackal incident had sobered Grant. While still reckless and occasionally insolent, he was the one who had vehemently opposed the divorce. He had screamed loud enough to wake the whole neighborhood. And looking at his little brother on the hospital bed... with his throat slashed open... and hearing his mother sob openly for the first time in his life...

Grant swallowed, trying not to think about what it would have been like. It was Christmas, anyway. They should be happy, but they weren't. He glanced at his brother again and wondered how he could persuade everyone to get along again.

A/N: I don't know why I make myself so sad. :(

Anyway, for some reason I want to tell everyone in the UK to go watch the new Great Expectations. I watched it as part of my research, and while I have issues with it as a Dickensian scholar it's still a great movie. *end rant*