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Abah Revisted

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Mulder was cleared to go home after the latest hospital stay courtesy of Stanley Platt’s attempt on his life which brought closure to the Gallaudet Student murders case. Through the case it had come out that he had been attending sign language lessons along with their daughter, Sarah, to bring up his now chosen language of choice, ASL, up to speed for graduate courses at Gallaudet University so he could re-train as a school psychologist. Scully had also been sorting out joining ASL classes so we could follow the conversation when Fox and Sarah were at full speed with their hands flying.
There relationship had been strained, but finally Fox had worked out what he needed to do to move on in the world he now inhabited as a deaf man. His loss of hearing had grown since the initial meningitis with subsequent ear infections and incidents. Now he lived in a world without sound, he had stopped talking out loud on their return from New York, aware he could not hear his own voice and that even before the total loss of hearing he would drop word endings and become garbled and need others to translate when speaking. He had made the decision moving forward that his primary language would be ASL, living a world he now felt he belonged more in than the speaking world he had previously felt at home in. The support provided by his family, meant that Maggie and Walter, his Abah, would also be joining Dana in the ASL lessons.

He smiled as looked at Sarah in the car seat in the back then Dana before she drove them all home. He had made the right decision to walk away from the FBI, even being brought on as a consultant if it meant more time with his ‘girls’ and not put himself in hospital beds away from them. He settled down in the car seat, ever present cane resting on his leg and laid back for the rest of the journey home.

He'd managed to doze off on the way home but woke on the car coming to a stop. Sarah was animated on the backseat wanting to get out the car. She was signing to him as well as talking to Dana he could see. He got out the car and accompanied Sarah back into the house as Dana picked up his hospital bag and brought that in. They made their way to the dining table that sat in their kitchen and often formed the focus of their house. Fox sat down, still weaker from recent events but kept Sarah amused with some drawing and colouring in as Dana sorted out washing and the bag of prescriptions that Fox had returned with. They were signing where possible following the conversation in the hospital, even if some finger spelling had to come in for Dana to understand and lip reading for Fox. Sarah as ever these days spoke and signed together. Fox hugged her, she was his biggest fan and he was hers in reply. Dana was happy to see them hugging, knowing how much he loved Sarah and how much they looked out for each other, much as she and Fox had done first as partners, then as husband and wife.

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As the summer came to an end, Fox enrolled in his graduate course at Gallaudet to help reach his aim of using his psychology degree to help deaf kids at school, rather than his past of profiling criminals. He was eager to start his studies, Sarah was looking forward to daddy taking her to nursery every day and Dana was happy that maybe they would get a ‘normal’ family life.

He came back from the first day, like a small child. His eyes were so alive as he signed to Dana what he had done, his hands becoming more expressive and faster. She felt bad for telling him to slow down so she could follow his conversation. His health had been the best it had been for years, no hospital visits due to seizures since he was released from the Stanley Platt incident, he was doing daily exercise to help his mobility and flexibility. In Sarah he had a reason to keep as fit and healthy as possible to enjoy her growing up. Sam came over regularly to get auntie cuddles and help Fox share some of the things he wasn’t physically able to do with Sarah.

The term drew on and Fox was progressing well on his education course, the drive he had in the FBI for finding criminals or chasing an X File were now put into essays and work placements. He was pretty much top of the class and the school based on the Gallaudet campus had raised they might have a job going at the end of the year, which sparked his interest.

Sarah was growing up so fast, she loved her nursery on the campus and her both hearing and deaf friends there. She was bilingual in ASL & English so a great communicator with both parents. Dana was now able to follow most of their conversations, even learning some technical signs to help explain to Mulder what she had been doing at work. Dana was settled at Quantico undertaking autopsies and teaching trainees along the way.

As the year came to an end, the Mulder family were in a much better place than they had when Fox had come home from hospital nearly a year ago. He had managed to have no grand mal seizures in that period, only 1 significant petit mal when he had been tired and a bit ill then got stressed out with anxiety with a busy public event. They had missed these triggers combining after such a long period of good health for Fox. He was the best condition he’d been in years with time to prepare and cook proper meals along with making time for exercise he was walking better, although still needed his cane and had his swaying gait that Dana now looked on as part of what made Fox, Fox. Heck he had even mellowed enough to be used to people calling him Fox from the start. He no longer felt the odd one out at Gallaudet so his first name didn’t seem so odd. He and Dana with years as partners working together now used seamlessly to ensure he was kept in conversations when out and about and aware what people were asking him. He was still rather apprehensive when entering new situations where others weren’t aware he used ASL as his primary form of communication, but with Dana by his side she eased him in and becoming his own personal interpreter. Sarah continued to bloom and grow as their daughter, still giggling and smiling her way through life. She brought joy to all in her extended family and her daddy’s biggest cheerleader.

His studies were going well, his student life renewed and embraced if different from his Oxford days. He was excelling with the reports submitted, looking to get a distinction in his Masters course for the change in his career as a school psychologist within deaf schools. His placement with the Model secondary school for the Deaf on the university campus had gone really well and they had raised an opening for a job at the end of the school year. Fox Mulder was starting to feel that things were going well for him after so many years.
The day was drawing to a close, he smiled to himself as he finished off the notes from his last session at the school, the placement finished tomorrow and he enjoyed the progress he’d made with the students under his care on this placement. A waved hand entered his field of vision and told him to look up, it was his supervisor wanting to check in before he left to pick up Sarah.
“Good to see you smiling” signed his supervisor, “I take it the placement has gone well for you?”
“Yes, feeling I can make a difference for good with this. Feel I have got the hang of getting the kids to open up in the time we have in the sessions, nice to see some of the actions coming through as well”.
“Don’t forget about the job that is coming up at the school, I think you’d be in with a good chance given this placement. I’ll write up the report tomorrow and don’t forget we have the meeting at 2pm tomorrow for the review of your placement with the principal.”
“Won’t forget, I’ll be on my best behaviour with the principal!” replied Mulder.
“I’ll let you pack up and head off” finished his supervisor before leaving the room.

Fox packed up his backpack for the end of the day and headed off to the nursery for Sarah’s pick up. As ever they would spend the metro journey home with her telling him all about her day and who she had played with. Their hands flew as the conversation progressed. Fox loved this part of the day when it was all about being Sarah’s daddy and finding out what the world of a 4 year old was about. Before too long she would be entering school and Kindergarten and he would miss this time with her. Hopefully he would still get to do some pick ups and drop offs as the plan was for him to have part time hours for work to allow him to remain in good health and not over do things which often lead to his seizure condition rearing its head which did nobody any good. He’d even got partly used to the stares as they used the ASL for the conversation, they seemed to forget that he was probably able to lip read so could often tell what they were saying if he could see their mouths. He was pleased that most of the time it was positive and about the amazement of Sarah’s skills.

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Fox and Sarah walked down the road to their house hand in hand, swinging them as they walked. Sarah was singing to herself, Fox knew she often sang as she walked even if he couldn’t hear the tune she had told him the words knowing that daddy couldn’t hear her singing. He felt sad that he wouldn’t hear her sing but she took things in the matter of fact way of the Scully women by signing the words to him so he at least knew what she was singing. Mostly they were nursery rhymes with her loving the actions songs the most, he thought it was because she was so used to having her hands moving as she talked.

Fox let them both into the house, the lights turning on as he turned off the alarm courtesy of the Lone Gunmen. Dana wasn’t back from work yet. Sarah went off to her room to play, Fox went and checked the mail and started preparing dinner ready for Dana’s return. Fox Mulder these days did way more cooking than he ever thought possible. Dana was still a star in the kitchen, but Maggie had taught him some good basics that he could cope with as part of her maternal rehab over the years. He could handle a sharp knife but went for ‘rustic’ on the size of chopped veg with the poor motor skills in his hands courtesy of the brain injury, the sign language had helped with the flexibility but fine grip was still an issue. Everyone was fine with this as it was still a long way from where he had come, but he often left the veg cutting to Dana as she could manipulate the last bit of the vegetables much more easily than him. Tonight was an easy option, it was mac n cheese night. It was a winner with everyone as Fox used Maggie’s recipe.

Sarah ran between her bedroom and the kitchen a few times, her chosen method for getting Fox’s attention in these situations was to hug his leg. She’d done it since she was little and there would be a time when she would feel she was too old and grown up for that, but for now it was one of the little things he loved about the bond he and Sarah had. The last visit had come with paper and crayons from her room. She was going to settle down with some drawing on the kitchen table as daddy cooked and she waited for mummy to come home. Sarah straightened as she heard the key in the door and then the lights flashed. Sarah signed that Mummy was home, she always yelled Hello Sarah when she flashed the lights for Fox, he knew he could stay in the kitchen.
Dana dumped her work bags in the study and came and join him in the kitchen. Dinner was nearly ready, so she signed she would change out of her work clothes quickly. Dana’s signing was coming on, but she still needed to fingerspell some items, but they could have a decent conversation.

Dana came back into the kitchen and laid the table. Sarah shared her day with mummy as she went to and fro with the crockery and cutlery. Sarah also shared the picture she had drawn of her playing at nursery. Dinner was served and they all sat down to eat. Dana signed to Fox that this was an excellent batch, he was now making it as well her mom. Fox smiled, Dana loved it when he smiled; it didn’t come out very often but when it did his whole lit up, especially his lovely hazel eyes.

Home life was good, Fox’s Health was good, Dana was settled at work, Sarah loved nursery … it couldn’t last could it?

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The end of the academic year came, Fox had finished his masters at Gallaudet with the distinction he had worked hard towards. He had applied for the job at the Modern School on campus, the interview had gone well, it felt odd wearing his suit after so long away from it. The final sign of the freedom for the summer holidays was his Graduation.

He had come a long way from that initial meningitis diagnosis and initial hearing loss, some 7 years ago now. So he went to the Graduation Ceremony and wore his gown with pride along with the glowing pride of his family as Maggie and Walter were also joining them. Sarah of course was smiling with pride for her daddy. Dana smiled as she saw Fox chatting with others on his course as he picked up the gown. Their hands were flowing in conversation, the ballet of it made her think about how they used to verbally debate things in the basement office. That was the past; this was Fox’s life now, one of a silent ballet with his hands.

He came up to them now in his gown, Sarah smiled at her daddy with arms open wide for hug. He grabbed her up, and she signed to him that he was dressed up as a wizard. He laughed at her comment, which pleased her. When Fox laughed and smiled Dana’s eye always lit up, for she felt he was at his most beautiful with a smile on his face which glowed with happiness. He could no longer hear his laughter, and was often apprehensive in those situations as he didn’t know how he sounded to others. Dana had told him, he pretty much sounded the same as it was spontaneous but rarely was particularly loud.

The ceremony was about to start so they all took their seats ready to see Fox receive his certificate and cross the stage, at least with all the exercise over the last year he would have been fine with the short distance but given the anxiety of the show of the graduation, his trusty cane would be there with as always when out and about to help with his balance. They came to the Education Graduate degrees, so they saw Fox get up ready for his name to be called out.
“Fox Mulder” his name was announced and signed by the MC, and Fox climbed the few steps to the stage walked to the middle of the stage to shake the hand of the President. Back in the crowd his family group clapped in support, cheerleader Sarah jumping up and down in excitement. He then steadily made his way off the stage, relief for Fox that it had passed without incident. He retuned to his seat along with the rest of his class. The start of his new career was about to start…

The ceremony over, Fox re-joined Dana who gave her husband a huge hug, joined by Sarah once she realised daddy was back. They were going to head off for a meal together, but needed to make their way out of the venue for the graduation. A few of those from the signing course came up to him and Sarah to see how they both were, he saw a couple of them at the nursery drop off and pick ups. They signed to Sarah and she replied back, gleaming at talking with the grown ups she had learned with. Just as they were leaving Jim Corelle came over and said hi to them, they had stayed in contact after the classes and Gallaudet student murder case and become friends along with Kevin Henley.
“All graduated now I see” Signed and spoke Jim, seeing Fox was with his family.
“Yes, but not going far” signed Fox in reply
“More study?” Jim asked
“Not for the moment, just got a job at the Modern School on campus” Fox gleamed, the email had come through this morning.
“I look forward to seeing you around still then” Jim concluded seeing that Sarah was grabbing Fox’s leg to take him away to where they were due to head.
“Maybe we need to sort out a lunch once I’m in the job, got enjoy my summer of freedom first” he replied before following the rest of the family who had started to head toward the exit for the restaurant.

They headed toward one of the many restaurants located around the edge of the campus, many of them had staff that signed which made it a much nicer experience all round when Fox didn’t have to just point at a menu to make his choice known. They had decided on a Indian restaurant as they were happy with curry but didn’t cook it at home very often. They entered and taken to their booked table, which was a round table for 5 and pleased Fox as it was easier for him to follow conversations when he could easily see all the faces.

They made their selections for the meal, starting with poppadoms and the chutneys then a curry each with a selection of rice and naan bread. Sarah was the bottom end of the spice scale with a butter chicken up to Fox with a spicy curry that had plenty of chillies in. Dana looked over to Fox, she was pleased to see him smiling so much. She felt that today his choice to walk away fully from the FBI was showing that it was the best thing for him and that he was happier now he had accepted living in his world without sound.
The poppadoms came out and they all tucked in, Sarah amazed at the size of them. The adults all had their preferences on the chutneys and pickles, the onion salad being favoured by them all, Dana trying to nab as much of the mango chutney as she could, much to the scolding of her mother.

Next was the array of curries and accompanying dishes arrived. Dana sorted out Sarah’s Butter Chicken and plain rice, cutting the chicken into bite sizes pieces amongst the sauce. She had gone medium on the spice front with a Rogan Josh, choosing lamb for a change. Her mum had gone for a mixed biriyani having been undecided on what she actually wanted. Walter loved his Dhansk with its lentil based sauce. Fox had gone with one of the chef’s specials which even had vegetables amongst the chillies, he teased Dana with some of it … she dipped some naan bread in the sauce and that was plenty hot enough for her even without eating any of the chillies! As was the way when they tried out new foods, they all tried a bit of each others to see if they would be expanding their menu choices in the future. The meal was good, the conversation, both verbal and signed flowed as the food was consumed. Fox smiled once more looking around at the family that had supported him so much over the last 7 years. His Abah smiled back at him, Fox pondered on how much his Abah had changed in that time from his boss, to his father in law, to his supporter at work, to Sarah’s Sabah. He looked over to his daughter sat between his wife and Maggie, she was happily dunking some naan bread into her sauce and eating it complete with messy hands. He could watch her for hours given the chance, she was growing up so fast before too long she would be a school. This summer needs to be special for both of us he thought, a ‘Summer of Fun’ was what he wanted for the next few weeks before he started his new job with the return of school after Labor Day.
Dana’s hand on his thigh brought him back to the conversation. She signed to him “Are you OK?”
“Yes, just taking in this wonderful family”
“Good, was worried you were having an absence”
“No, All good on the health front today”
Fox was concerned that she always was so worried about how he was that she didn’t always look after herself as much as she should. He did really try to keep out of trouble, but other than the last year when things had been relatively quiet he did seem to attract people wanting to harm him. He really wished she could relax about his health, she had taken care of him far too much already for one lifetime.

The conversation continued around the table. Maggie still was amazed that Fox could eat so many chillies and still taste the curry. He pointed out that he got training as a student in Oxford so had a head start on them. The lager he drank with his curry then was no longer on the menu, alcohol and his health didn’t really mix these days. He tucked into the last bit of the keema naan, the lamb mince in the middle going really well with the last of the sauce of his curry. Stuffed with food, they paid the bill and headed off back home, knowing they would be having a get together at the Mulder house at the weekend along with Sam and Eric, who finally had time to catch up with them all after their honeymoon travels.

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The weekend had rolled around, starting with Dana arriving home from work after the latest autopsy. Feet aching from a week full of them she was happy to get home and collapse on the sofa, made even better when Fox came into the living room with a glass of wine for her, sat down and started to massage her tired body. Sarah was playing on the floor setting up a scene with various cuddly and plastic toys, Fox could see she was talking from her mouth moving but from this angle he couldn’t see her lips to read them.

He signed to Dana, hoping Sarah wouldn’t clock they were talking about her “What scene do we have with Sarah today?”
“She is setting up a work meeting between fluffy bunny and dino, they have to work out how kitty stole the money from slinky dog.”
“Following her parents there?” he replied
“Yep, lets hope she hasn’t picked up some the more gruesome parts”
“what like flukeman? Maybe that can be her next crochet toy” He teased back
“Mulder!” she said out loud in reaction … a little girl turned around to see mummy trying to throw a cushion at daddy for the teasing.
Fox replied by trying to tickle Dana, when she squirmed out he turned his attention to Sarah rippling his fingers to show he was turning into a tickle monster… she ran around the living room giggling as Fox tried to catch her. He had no chance as it was either slow and upright or faster and fall over… just stand still and pounce as she ran past him was usually the best option…. Two circuits and he caught her, picking her up in his arms and covering her with tickles to make her giggle. Sarah’s smile was beautiful to him, Dana had always said she found his smile one of the most beautiful things about him. He hoped what the love he felt about Sarah’s smile was the same that Dana found about his.
Dana, came back into the living room now in more casual clothes to find the tickle monster with his prey in his arms.
“I’ll save you Sarah” she called out making sure Fox could read her lips so knew she was about to lift their daughter out of his arms. He could only do this for a short period before his balance would start to wobble.

Hands now free, Fox signed to them that he would make a start on dinner. It was an easy Friday night dinner of pizza all round. He had even remembered to buy some salad to please Dana… didn’t mean he had to eat he silently chuckled to himself.

Sam and Eric were due over for dinner in about 10minutes so he wanted to sort out dinner so it could go straight in the oven once they arrived. Whilst Sam knew Dana was perfectly capable of making sure Fox stayed in good health she liked to see it for herself every so often. Sam and Dana’s relationship had been rocky at points but now they had settled to a good routine between them, they even worked together sometimes the nudge him to eat better when on his own and busy was an eternal theme. Sam knew that sometimes a little sister tease and nudge worked a treat when Fox was getting to the point where Dana felt she was nagging him … there had been a few sneaky texts between them over the years.

The doorbell and lights went… the guests had arrived. Sarah ran towards the door followed by Dana, she opened the door to them both. Armed with a bag that no doubt had the final wedding photos and a selection of the honeymoon photos to share over the evening. Eric picked up Sarah and hugged her, soon joined by Sam. Sarah loved hanging out with her Auntie Sam and Uncle Eric. They often were the people that had to be instructed by Fox on how to teach Sarah the important points of how to play basketball and baseball as anything that involved running meant Fox delegated the work. Maybe after dinner there would be a walk to the basketball court and playpark nearby … and a late night for a little girl.

Sam headed off to the kitchen to find her big brother and give him a hug. He was coming out into the hallway as she headed there. She waved a hello to him as she approached, which was replied back and then she got a huge bear hug from her big brother. He gave the best hugs, they came with so much feeling and love … only person who came close was Eric. She wiggled to get out to start the conversation with him.
“You Good?” she asked, knowing it had been a busy few days.
“Yes, Graduated now, got the job but first the summer holidays!” he replied beaming at the holidays comment.
“I take it you have lots of fun planned for you and Sarah, are the rest of allowed to join in?” she asked
“of course … but first pizza” he replied heading back to the kitchen.

Sam followed him as he put the pizzas in the oven to be cooked ready for dinner, they both knew that getting dinner out sooner rather than later made a starving child happy.
The kitchen table became busy as everyone joined them, laying up the table as the pizzas cooked. The Pizzas were shared between them along with the odd bit of salad entering plates. The conversation buzzed around the table a mixture of spoken and signed conversation. Sam and Eric weren’t bad but not to the level that Sarah and Dana now were at with their ASL.

As Fox had prepared the dinner the rest of them sorted out tidying the plates away, besides it was easier for them to do that part when he worried about dropping things, his balance seemed to be worse than if it was items that could bounce. Dana and Fox worked well as partners there still, often tasks were split to suit abilities without thinking, so Fox rarely felt he wasn’t pulling his weight around the house due to his disabilities. Sam had brought dessert, she knew she was onto a winner… Fox’s favourite, Strawberry Shortcake. The huge cake was demolished by the 5 of them as it was so good.

Dinner over and a nice summer’s evening they finished off the dinner conversation with a walk to the park for everyone to get some fresh air, the adults after a busy week and Sarah to loose some of her energy before bedtime. They had picked up an old basketball so that Fox could continue his masterclass, and maybe do some shooting practice as he had company. The park was only a few streets away so they quickly arrived. The ball court was empty much to Fox’s delight, with the help of Eric or Sam he might even get to play some ball with a few shots on the basket. His frustration on their lack of skill meant he had ended up taking the ball off them to try and show them ready to teach Sarah. The slight bouncing lift when shooting often made him loose his balance as he used both hands so had to lose the cane. So they had learnt to adapt by making sure when he shot that one of them was stood by him so either they could grab him or be the thing to get grabbed. It was also a good work out for them as generally they were the ones running after the ball as Fox without a cane wasn’t going anywhere fast.
“Dana, can I play ball?” signed Fox when he spotted the court with the same smile Sarah used when she wanted something.
“ OK then, we’ll head for the swings, join us when you are done” she replied.

Fox stood on the 3 point line and lined up the shot, Sam on wobble duty as Eric was under the basket ready to catch the ball. The usual bounce with the launch and into the basket it went. He might be disabled in many ways but could at least still shoot from the 3 point line these days. The wobble leaned him towards Sam, but she caught him with a hug. Sam then followed with her shooting practice, big brother watching on leaning on his cane as he watched her technique ready to add his coaching. He could still make a basketball player out of her yet.
He was so proud of his little sister and she of him. She may have been annoying when little, but decades of them being apart and his guilt associated by her disappearance meant that now they were back together they were really close. At her recent marriage to Eric, he had walked her down the aisle. Like she had pushed him to achieve his aim of walking in a straight line to marry Dana, she had applied the same coaching to allow him to walk her down the aisle without his cane, even if at few points he’d been leaning on her heavily as his balance wobbled despite the slow walking speed. Walter had been at the end of that long walk with his cane ready for him to step aside as he passed her on to the celebrant and Eric for the rest of the ceremony.

Ball practice done, they headed over to the play park area together, Sam linking her arms with Fox after giving him a side hug while asking “How are my basketball skills now coach?” to him. He smiled, and replied “not bad, but more coaching needed”.
They all met up at the swings, with a little girl asking mummy to push her higher. Uncle Eric took up pushing duties, much to Sarah’s pleasure. Dana joined Fox and Sam.
“Did you get to play little boy?” she signed with a wink in her eye.
“3 pointer this time. Master also teaching this pupil” he replied glancing to Sam as he replied.
“He won’t be happy until Sarah can score a 3 pointer too” Dana replied to Sam with a smirk. Fox might not be able to do everything he wanted to, but it didn’t stop him from being ambitious and wanting to help drive those in his care to be ambitious too.

Looking at her watch, Dana flagged that it was time a little girl was heading towards bedtime. Fox squirmed like a child for his child… but Dana was being the boss right now. Dana coaxed Sarah off the swing with bedtime stories from Auntie Sam and Uncle Eric which worked. They all started to walk home together, Sarah holding hands with Mummy and Eric as they swung here along the way. Meantime Fox and Sam walked behind, giving Sam a decent chance to catch up and check up on her Big Bro.

The conversation picked up that Sam was going for a promotion, to which Fox encouraged to ‘go get them’. She asked Fox what he was planning to do over the summer with his time off before getting back to work. Some trips out, lots of time with Sarah and trip out to California so Dana could catch up with her brother’s family. Sam saw from the body language, that seeing Bill wasn’t something Fox was looking forward to. Bill had felt that Dana had married below herself with Fox, despite everyone else just accepting Fox as he was. Mind you Bill hadn’t liked Fox even when he was a fully fit Special Agent with the FBI, let alone now he had disabilities.
“Don’t worry Bro, go show Bill how well you have been this last year. One day he might realise life takes many different routes and the odd wander is fine. Just remember that you are the most important thing in Dana and Sarah’s worlds. Sarah will be a mini Abah out there, you know that; after Walter she’s the next person who will keep you calm in these situations. Look after her and she’ll look after you, just ignore Bill.”
“When did you get so wise?” Fox responded, still in awe of what Sam had just said. She was right, Sarah and he would look out for each other, along with Dana. Why didn’t seem that easy to Fox?
“Had a good master” she winked in replied smiling at Fox.
“You know how to make me feel good”
“No, just proud of my Big Brother” Sam replied, with a proud smile.
“You sure you’re not after something?” He replied as they reached home, some distance behind the others due to their conversation needing to slow down the walking speed for signing. But Fox glowing from the reminder how proud and loved he was by his little sister. It still felt odd to think of him having a little sister still at times.