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She Needs Me

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The street was dark that night, the dim light posts the only thing illuminating the shadows around him.

Hal was tired. It was perhaps 3 in the morning as he trekked home, the bundle held protectively against his chest. A soft whine and a bit of squirming made him slow his pace. He looked down, eyes soft behind his glasses. “Shh, shh, it’s alright. Everything’s alright, now. I have you... I have you, Daddy has you...”

It didn’t feel right. Dave had rescued the baby and just... Left her behind. Dropped her into foster care. She was so young... Too young, practically a newborn, too young to be lost in a system like that, to grow up through it. It ate at him. The more Hal thought about it, the more he wanted to save her. More and more and more until tonight. It all came to a head tonight, when he’d gotten up. It was barely past midnight when he’d crept out of the house, haphazardly dressed and in still in a sleepy haze. He knew exactly where Dave had left her, he’d passed it maybe a dozen times in the few months they‘d been here. The time flew by him as he moved. It certainly didn’t feel like three hours. Or maybe it did and he just couldn’t remember, he was so tired. The entire time all he could think of was her. The baby. The little girl swaddled in the sun-patterned blanket.

He was more than certain he’d probably broken many laws in the process of getting her into his arms, but that hardly mattered, that was practically part of his job at this point. He and Dave would be gone by the time anyone started a search, if there even was one. She probably didn’t even have any paperwork yet. She hadn’t been there for very long.

She was whining again, and Hal continued walking, lifting her to press a kiss to her forehead, “We’re almost there. Almost home...”

It was a dump of a place, a tiny motel room, but it would be alright for one night. There were so many things Hal needed to buy, running through a mental checklist in his mind as he finally reached the door. The lock rattled as he fiddled with his keys one handed, eventually managing to push the door open with a soft creak. Every thought was wiped from his find when he found the lights were already on, and Dave sitting on the couch, staring at him.

“You’re out late.”

Hal averted his gaze, stepping inside and nudging the door shut behind him with his foot. “I thought I’d be back before you woke up.”

Dave raised an eyebrow, “You’re smarter than that, Hal. You must’ve known I’d be awake as soon as you walked out of the room.” Dave paused, finally drawing his gaze from Hal’s face, to the sun-patterned blanket in his arms. “...What’s that?”

“I-...” but Hal didn’t need to speak. She was squirming again, a soft gurgling noise coming from her.

Dave said nothing, expression unreadable as he got up, approaching Hal and the bundle in question. He peered over his protective arm, a weak last-ditch attempt to keep her from sight, eyes falling on the baby. He looked at her for a moment, then back up at Hal. “...Hal-“

“I couldn’t just abandon her, David!” Hal begged, mind already working in overdrive on reasoning and pleas. “She has no parents, no siblings, no family at all! I practically grew up without my parents half the time, I-I couldn’t just let her go the same way.”

Dave was looking at him, regarding him silently with sorrow in his eyes, “Hal... There are hundreds of kids without parents. Thousands, maybe. You can’t save them all and you know it.”

“I know... But this one. Just this one, maybe I can. Maybe I can give her the life she deserved. Her mother would have wanted her to be with a family, not just another face among a crowd of thousands, hoping maybe to find a home,” Hal looked away from Dave, down to her again. He brushed the light hair away from her forehead gently.

A dejected sigh came from Dave, though Hal didn’t look up, “You know we can’t do this, Hal. A baby? In our lives? We can barely handle ourselves as it is and you want to bring a child into it? We never stay anywhere for more than a month, we don’t have any supplies... We can’t do this.”

Hal looked back at Dave, frustrated and hurt. He didn’t understand. He didn’t have the connection, but if he just- Hal raised his eyebrows. An idea. He knew what he had to do. He approached Dave, as though in a trance, pressing the baby forward into his arms.

Dave raised his eyebrows, startled and unnerved as the girl was suddenly resting against his forearms. He looked to Hal, pleading silently for him to take her back, but he stepped backward once, shaking his head. “Just... Look at her, Dave. The way I was. You’ll feel it. You’ll feel it and then you’ll understand why I couldn’t just leave her there...”

Dave didn’t have any idea what he was talking about, but he looked down anyway. He saw her, the soft greyish hair and eyes that were slowly coming open. Big blue eyes were suddenly staring up at him, and he blinked. Dave wasn’t certain what to make of this, the feeling in his chest. One of her arms had managed to work itself free of the swaddle, reaching up toward Dave’s face. He shifted her carefully into one arm, raising his opposite hand to hers. She took hold of one of his fingers, making a soft cooing sound as she pulled it down toward her chest, holding it close. and Dave looked back up at Hal when he spoke again. “Now try and tell me that we have to give her up.”

Dave looked at Hal, and then back down to the baby, who was falling back asleep clutching his finger. He was silent for a long time. He took a step back, sitting back down on the couch, “...What did you want to call her?”

Hal smiled, sitting down next to Dave and leaning in, kissing him gently on the cheek. He curled both arms around his shoulders, looking down at the gently slumbering infant in his arms. “I thought we could call her Sunny... What do you think?”

Dave laughed a little, “Sunny... I like that.” He turned his head toward Hal, “...Do you really think we’re ready for this?”

Hal shook his head, “I can’t say I know. I don’t think anyone’s ever ready for something like this. But we’ll learn. We’ll love her. And we’ll give her the best life we can.”

Dave smiled gently, “Alright. I trust you.”

“Good. Come on. I think it’s about time we got back to bed.”