Another new fandom for me, different genre than usual, but I fell hardcore in love with this series when they aired the first season on Netflix. The basic premise is that Bay and Daphne were switched at birth and raised by each other's parents. They find this out roughly 16 years later and end up meeting. Massive amounts of drama and shenanigans ensue and I love every minute of its dysfunctionality. ^_^
Originally written for Cala for Yuletide 2011.
December 24, 2011: After resisting the Yuletide challenge for years out of fear of its size and prestige, I finally caved in this year. I was expecting that I would get my one fanfic done and not have time to even contemplate writing a treat... but this prompt got me all kinds of excited and I couldn't resist. I'm not sure the result is precisely what was looked for, but hopefully it will be received in the spirit in which it is offered. Happy Yuletide! ^_^
Title: Flash Those Baby Blues
Fandom: Switched At Birth
Word Count: 2,950
Disclaimer: Switched At Birth does not belong to me. It was created by Lizzy Weiss. I just like playing in her sandbox.
Summary: "She was the sister of my soul, if not my body, and I still loved her, still wanted to keep her safe and happy... still wanted to help her shine."
Flash Those Baby Blues
No one asks me how I feel. They expect me to fall in line, to sit back and let others take center stage for now. I'm used to it, honestly - I'm a big brother. It's practically my job to sit in the background and let my little sister shine. It's easy, too, when you have one like mine. I don't even begrudge her the right. She deserves to shine, to be adored. She's talented, audacious and striking in ways I will never be... and I adore her with every breath in my body, worship her in my own small ways. Of course, I never told her that. That's part of a big brother's job, as well.
I was there when she was born, waiting outside the delivery room, sitting in my grandmother's lap and clutching tight to her hand because I didn't understand. How could I? I was barely two. But I remember the moment I met her, my gorgeous little sister, the moment those bright blue eyes bore into mine like they had me taken apart and figured out even then. I loved those eyes. They were different from our parents'... they were just like mine. And in that moment of connection, I knew I was no longer alone. I loved those eyes...
...and now I hate them. How could I have known then that all babies are born with blue eyes? How could I have known that they would change color? Shift to brown or green or gold or grey? I hate the fact that her eyes were blue... because now I don't know which little sister it was who locked eyes on me and saw me, who looked at me across my mother's breast and, in that instant of connection, knew me, knew all of me... all that I was, all that I would become. Those eyes saw so much and sometimes I think I'd give anything to know who's they were.
The truly horrible thing, though, is that I never used to doubt. My baby sister... my Bay... she looks at me that way sometimes, still - like she sees right through me, knows all my worst secrets and all my best dreams. She has a way of cutting through people, of slicing them open with her eyes and her words and getting straight to their hearts. She always has. She's braver than I am, stronger, too, and there are times - rare times - when I feel like I don't know her half so well as she knows me... like I don't know her at all.
But, I was there when she came home from the hospital, so tiny, so helpless. I was there when she learned to crawl, when she learned to walk... to run. I was there for her first scraped knee, her first lost tooth, her first broken heart. I was there the first time she picked up a paintbrush and I was the one who found the cans of spray paint hidden in the back of her closet before she moved them out to the garage. I've loved her through all of it. How could I not? She's my baby sister and I'm her big brother. It's my job - and my privilege - to have been the first boy in her life, to be the one who will stay by her side no matter how many others come and go... and to hunt down the ones who hurt her when they go and do something about it.
Bay and I understand each other in a way that only two kids who grew up in the same house, raised by the same parents, can. We know each other's routines and habits down to the second's timing. We share a thousand inside jokes and private looks that even our parents aren't privy to. But the one joke, the one look, that haunts me the most is still that first one. That one when blue eyes locked on mine and knew me for her big brother long before she'd ever learned the words. Because those eyes, that first look... might not have been Bay's.
They might have been Daphne's.
When my parents brought Bay home from that genetic center in Kansas City at the start of this whole mess, it was like that first day home from the hospital all over again... but worse. The atmosphere in the house was tense, brittle, like our family might break apart at any moment. Bay was quiet at first, spent a lot of time hiding in her room, in her garage. Then she was angry and started lashing out at everyone she loved - trying to push us away. I saw through it, of course. I know her almost as well as she does me. I'm her big brother.
...only I'm not.
That first night they were back, I walked past her room and heard tiny muffled sobs coming from within. It wasn't the first time I'd heard her trying to hide her tears at night, but it was the first time I remember wanting to cry with her. She was my Bay... mine. She was my baby sister, mine to love, mine to protect. It didn't matter if she'd somehow been born to different parents. She was the sister of my soul, if not my body, and I still loved her, still wanted to keep her safe and happy... still wanted to help her shine.
I'd quietly pushed open the door to her room, ready to quickly shut it again if she ordered me away, but she didn't. She never did. She would often take from me what she wouldn't take from our parents, whether it was a scolding or a moment's comfort and tonight was no exception. She was curled up on her side in the bed, a blanket wrapped around her head and shoulders nearly hiding her from view as she cried into her pillow. I sat down on the edge of the bed, then laid down behind her and pulled her back against my chest, rested my cheek against the top of her head, and began to sing her a lullaby. It was corny, I knew, but it was another one of those inside things that was ours alone - that on some level, she'd always be my "Bay-Bay" and could count on me for a lullaby whenever she couldn't sleep, whenever her heart was sore. The sobs intensified for a while, then slowly started to calm as I rocked her against me and sang. Most of her childhood troubles were appeased after a single song, most of her adolescent ones after two or three... the first broken heart took four. This turned out to be a seven-song problem and my heart ached for her. After the seventh song, Bay had taken a great shuddering breath, elbowed me in the stomach and sat up.
Wincing, I'd rubbed at my solar plexus and sat up behind her, "Jesus, Bay, what the hell was that for?"
She'd hunched in on herself and responded, "You don't have to do things like this anymore. You're not my brother, Toby. I'm not your sister, remember?"
I can't even explain how deeply those words cut me. Not her brother? Not my sister? No. I couldn't accept that then, I can't accept it now. Just because we aren't siblings by blood doesn't make me less her brother, doesn't make her less my sister. I'd grabbed her shoulders, spun her towards me and pulled her tight against my chest and whispered my next words as fiercely into her ear as I could, "That. Is. Bullshit." She jerked against me, tried to pull away, but I wasn't letting her go - not until she understood. I continued, "You are the most infuriating, the most obnoxious, the most insufferable, the... the... the brattiest little sister on the planet. But you are still my 'Bay-Bay'... and I am not giving you up. We've been through too much together. You want to divorce mom and dad, that's fine. Get rid of our grandparents? I don't care. But you are not getting rid of me that easily, do you hear me, Bay? You are not. You are stuck with me, little sister. Get used to it."
She'd started crying again, then, and it took another seven songs to calm her back down. I understood, though. I still wanted to cry right along with her. I stayed with her that night, camped out in a chair in her room. That was maybe a little corny, too, but the fact that she didn't object convinced me that it was the right thing to do, anyway. Of course, she was extra surly the next morning to make up for it, but hey... she's my little sister. It's her job to be a brat.
That was weeks ago, though. That was before we met... them. The meeting was as awkward, as uncomfortable, as you could possibly imagine, and dear G-d, could our mother have stuck her foot any further down her throat? Bay kept tossing me these looks, like she was trying to remind me of our conversation that night, trying to remind me that I'd already "picked" her. And I had. I stood by it. But there was just one thing... for a moment, that first moment looking into Daphne's eyes, I couldn't help but feel a connection with her, too. It wasn't as strong as the one I shared with Bay, but it was there. And as I looked into those green eyes under that fall of strawberry colored hair, for the first time it truly dawned on me that those blue eyes I remembered could have belonged to Bay... but they could have belonged to Daphne, too. Those eyes that had me split apart and put back together within that very first second of contact... I had no idea whose they'd been. And in that moment, all of my older brother instincts reared to the foreground and collided. Protect Bay... Protect Daphne... it was the first time it really hit me - that I now had two little sisters, they were at war... and I might end up having to truly pick sides. I couldn't process, so I tried to flee.
My mother wasn't having it. My mother. Daphne's mother. Bay's... mother? She forced me into playing tour guide, forced me to choose Daphne over Bay in that moment, at least superficially. And to my horror... I enjoyed myself. I love Bay. I do. I adore her. She is a royal pain in my ass, but she's still my- The thing about Bay, though, is that I don't always understand her. I understood her passion for her art - it was kin to my passion for my music, after all - but I didn't understand her art. I didn't understand her belligerence, her absolute refusal to ever go with the flow, her constant need to battle with our parents over the littlest things. I'd always thought that that was a brother/sister thing, though. I couldn't ever understand her completely because she was my sister... because she was a girl, right? But there was something about Daphne, about the twinkle in her eye, her humor, her easy-going nature... her ridiculous skill at the hoop, for G-d's sake! I couldn't deny there was a kinship there. There was something in me that understood something in Daphne, that recognized something in her that it didn't in Bay. And in that moment, I felt like I'd betrayed them both.
The following months haven't been easy. Bay and Daphne battle each other like they really are sisters and they push and pull at me like they're in some eternal tug of war over me. The way my mother and Regina fight is no help at all and my father... who knows what the hell he thinks he's accomplishing with this law suit he's wrapped up in? All I know is that I'm stuck in the middle of this and no matter which way I turn, I'm going to hurt someone I love. And I've already hurt too many of the people I care about. I feel like I'm drowning in this thing and no one hears me screaming for help... just like before.
I throw my guitar down on the ground with a discordant twang and drop my head into my hands. I wish someone would just tell me what to do. I wish someone would comfort me for a change. I think I've proved that I am absolutely no good at making the big decisions. I screw them up every, single time.
I'm so busy pushing the heels of my hands into my eyes and trying to convince myself that crying over this would make me look like a real sissy - as well as being really stupid and no help at all, anyway - that I don't notice my bedroom doorknob turning until someone's already slipped inside.
A quiet voice says, "I was walking by and I heard you playing... Toby, what's wrong?"
I drop my arms into my lap and when I look up my eyes catch on those deep brown ones across the room. Deep brown eyes under a fall of curly, dark hair... and suddenly it doesn't matter if those are the same eyes I remember from that first day in the hospital, because right now they're giving me the same look. She has me torn apart and catalogued in that first second and I know that for the first time in weeks - in months - she's seeing me, again.
Bay drops down onto the bed next to me and drops her head to rest on my shoulder, both of her arms wrapped loosely around my right. I let my head droop sideways to rest against her hair and let out a deep breath, "It's nothing, Bay. I'm fine."
She snorts inelegantly and moves one hand to twine her fingers with mine, "Bullshit. You don't play like that unless you're upset. Is it about a girl?"
I can't help but laugh at that. At least she knows me well enough not to ask if I've taken to gambling again so soon. Even I'm not that big an ass, "I guess you could say it is."
Bay picks her head up, then, looks me square in the eyes and I just know that she's hearing the things I don't want to admit out loud. All of them. Like she always does. She shakes her head and leans forward to rest her forehead against mine, "I'm sorry."
I swallow hard and pull away, stand up from the bed to go retrieve my guitar from where I've thrown it, fiddle with the tuning knobs to cover up my discomfort. This isn't how this is supposed to work. It isn't...
Bay's pulling my guitar out of my hands and dropping it on the bed before I can think to protest its treatment, then she's back in front of me and wrapping her arms around me, face buried against my chest as she repeats, "I'm sorry. I'm sorry I started this whole mess. I'm sorry you're stuck in the middle of it. I'm sorry I've been such a bitch to you. I... I'm sorry I wasn't there when you needed me. Toby, you've done so much for me and I just keep taking more. I'm sorry."
My response is instinctive and immediate as I wrap my arms around her and pull her closer, rocking her a little against my chest, "No. Bay, no. You were exactly where you should have been all along. You're the one who's been trying to help me... and you're the only one who ever got through to me, besides. And... my problems aren't your fault, Bay. They have nothing to do with you. I got myself in that mess all on my own."
Bay pulls back just enough to look up at me and shakes her head, "Toby... we've all been so wrapped up in this situation with me and Daphne... it's not fair to you. We're not the only ones in this family, and we keep forgetting that."
I smile, chuck a finger under her chin, then smile wider at her indignant squawk, "I know, Bay. But I'm your big brother. It's my job to look out for you, not the other way around."
Bay smiles then, as brilliant a smile as I've ever seen and reaches up a hand to smack me in the back of the head. As I'm wincing and rubbing at the sore spot, she just smirks and says, "Dufus. Don't you know that it's a little sister's job to look out for her big brother, too? And if I'm not getting rid of you that easily, then you're sure as Hell not getting rid of me that easily." She leans in then and kisses me lightly on the cheek before leaning back again, "I love you, Toby. Even when you're an insensitive jerk."
I grab her again and hug her tightly to me, "I love you, too, Bay, even when you're a whiny, little brat."
When Bay pulls away this time I let her go. She's right. We may not be siblings by blood, but we're still brother and sister and I still love her, still worship her a little for things like what she did today and for the bigger things like when she got Regina to intervene in my gambling problems. But things don't change. I'm still never going to tell her that... my little sister has a big enough ego as it is.
I just wanted to take this moment to thank Cala for requesting this fandom. I discovered this show a few months back and fell just as in love with it as she did. And I agree with everything you requested in your optional details, too. ^_^ Emmett is amazing - I just didn't think I could write him well enough to do him justice, so I stuck with Toby. His head was a bit easier to get into. ^_~ And thanks to you, I was reminded that the winter season starts up soon - YAY! - aaaaaand that I never did get around to writing that Toby/Wilke story (or the Toby/Emmett story, for that matter) I had on the mental back-burner. I'll have to get around to that eventually. ^_^ Anyway, thanks so much for giving me an excuse to play in this particular sandbox. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it!
A Grateful Yuletide Author