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A Different Light

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Clark rang the doorbell at the Newtons' house at one o'clock sharp. He was happy and excited, because he was going to babysit for a couple of great kids. Mrs. Newton soon answered the door, and her four year old son Jamie was on her heels. “Hi hi!” Jamie greeted cheerfully.

“Hi, Jamie!” Clark replied. He smiled at Mrs. Newton politely as he made his way inside the house and set his backpack down.

“Thanks for coming to watch them,” Mrs. Newton said, stacking some papers and then sticking them in a folder. “Sorry I called sort of last minute… this meeting came up rather unexpectedly.”

Clark shrugged easily and flashed a smile. “It's no trouble. I was free, and happy to come and see these two.” In addition to Jamie, Clark would be watching the Newtons' six month old baby girl, Lucy.

Mrs. Newton shuffled towards the door, grabbing her purse and a jacket from the closet, and turned back to face Clark. “They've both had lunch. Jamie gets his snack around three o'clock and should go down for a nap around four. Lucy is sleeping right now and should rest for another twenty minutes or so. You know where the emergency numbers and things like that are. I should only be gone until around five or five thirty, at the latest. They should both be no trouble.”

Clark smiled again. He liked babysitting. He liked kids, and he liked the Newtons. And he could always use a little extra money… since he turned sixteen, he had been taking as many sitting jobs as he could get because he was saving up for college, and, with any luck, for a car.

“Sure thing, Mrs. Newton,” Clark replied.

“Bye, Jamie,” Mrs. Newton began. “You and Lucy be good for Clark!”

Jamie nodded. “We will, Mommy.”

Mrs. Newton left, and Jamie smiled up at Clark. Jamie liked babysitters, and he was braver than some kids Clark sat for… he didn't usually cry when his parents left him because babysitters were like new friends to play with! That's exciting for a four year old.

“What do you wanna do, Jamie?” Clark asked. “We could read a story or maybe build a castle with blocks….”

Jamie hopped up and down a second. “Clark, I wanna go to the park! Like last time, remember?”

Clark scooped Jamie up and tickled his side a little bit. “Well, Lucy Goosey is asleep right now… we have to wait until she wakes up to go out, okay?”

Jamie giggled at being tickled. “Okay. Till then can we color pictures?”

“Sure,” Clark replied. “Come on, let's go up to your room and get the crayons and stuff. Let's be quiet and not wake your sister, okay?”

Jamie nodded and squirmed to be let down. When Clark set him down on the ground, Jamie took his hand and pulled him over to the stairs. They went up to Jamie's room, and Jamie pointed out the box of coloring books, construction paper, crayons, and colored pencils. Clark got the art supplies out and they sat down at Jamie's tiny activity table, and Jamie hummed as he began to draw a green and purple blob he said was a dinosaur. Clark, meanwhile, took the yellow and brown colored pencils and began to draw some sunflowers.

His phone soon vibrated in his pocket, and when he checked it he saw it was a text message from his boyfriend, Bruce. He smiled at the words, which were kind and thoughtful.

“You don't have to reply right now if you're busy, but good luck at the sitting job, baby… love you <3”

Jamie saw Clark looking at his phone and asked, “Who you talking to?”

“You remember Bruce?” Clark asked.

Jamie nodded and grinned. “He's the nice guy who met us at the park last time!”

“Yep!” Clark replied. “It was a message from him.”

Jamie nodded and then colored quietly for another few moments. Finally, he asked, “Can he come play with us again? He's nice… I like him.”

Clark thought for a moment. He knew he shouldn't be seeing his boyfriend while he was babysitting… that wasn't what he was being paid for. But the Newtons knew Bruce, and liked him. Last time when Bruce had come over, Clark had told Mrs. Newton about it afterward, because he didn't want to be sneaky. He had been sneaky about it before… one time when babysitting sort of late at night for Jenny Prezzioso, Bruce had come over when little Jenny was sleeping and they had made out on the Prezzioso's couch. But he didn't feel so guilty about that…. Jenny was only easy to deal with when she was asleep, Mr. Prezzioso didn't even know his name (called him Mark), and Mrs. Prezzioso always turned her nose up at Clark's jeans and sneakers. But the Newtons were good people, and Jamie and Lucy were pretty much his favorite kids to babysit. He wanted them to trust him.

But he would like to see Bruce… and so would Jamie.

He texted him back then. “Thanks babe… Jamie says hi by the way, and he wants to see you. Can you come over maybe?”

Bruce replied quickly. “Sure! I'm always up for seeing one of the most handsome guys I know… and I guess I'd like to see you too ;)”

Clark shook his head at Bruce's joke but was happy he was coming over. Bruce texted back that he would be over in about twenty minutes. They continued coloring for a few more minutes, and soon Lucy woke up from her nap and began to cry. Clark told Jamie to wait there in his room, and he went into the room next door to get Lucy.

“Hi, Lucy Goosey,” he said gently. She continued to cry for a minute, probably at the surprise of seeing a different face than her parents come to get her, but as she did know and like Clark, she quieted down after he held and comforted her for a minute. Clark changed her diaper and carried her back into Jamie's room, where he put her in her Hugaboo baby seat on the floor and gave her a rattle. He sat down again as she played happily.

Soon the doorbell rang, and Jamie sprung up and ran out of the room, calling, “I'll get it!”

Clark grabbed Lucy from her Hugaboo and ran after him. “Jamie, wait!”

Clark's legs were much longer, so he easily caught up with Jamie. He and the two kids ran to the door and let Bruce in.

“Hi hi, Bruce!” Jamie said cheerfully.

Bruce smiled. “Hey guys!” He kissed Clark on his cheek briefly and Jamie giggled.

Jamie took Bruce's hand and said, “We were coloring before, and I made a dinosaur! Clark made some flowers… you should draw something too!”

“Wow, buddy!” Bruce exclaimed. “That's pretty cool! I heard that you wanted to go to the park though. You think if we both team up we can convince Clark to take us?” He cast a playful glance at his boyfriend and then got on his knees and clasped his hands as if he was begging. “Pleeeeeeease, Clark! Pretty please!”

Jamie's eyes lit up and he got down on his knees too, and looked up at Clark. “Yeah, please! Can we go?”

Clark had to laugh. “Okay you guys. We can go. Jamie, you gotta get a jacket and put your shoes on. B, can you help him with that while I get Lucy ready?”

“Of course,” Bruce replied quickly.

They all headed upstairs, and Clark pulled a pair of jeans on over Lucy's onesie and then put a little sweater and shoes on her. He put a hat on her head too, since her hair was pretty thin. Luckily, she was pretty good about allowing him to dress her. He got the stroller and lugged it down the stairs under one arm while he held Lucy in the other. Bruce and Jamie were waiting at the bottom of the stairs, and Jamie had on his shoes and jacket and was holding a soft, blue basketball sized bouncy ball under his arm.

Clark got Lucy into the stroller, went and grabbed the diaper bag and tossed some extra wipes, a couple of juice boxes, and a bag of apple slices and carrot sticks into it. He went back to the others and pushed the stroller out the door as Bruce held Jamie's hand. The park was close by, so it was a brief, but enjoyable, walk. The weather was a bit chilly, but nice… and Jamie pointed out the cats and dogs he saw, which were both of interest to Clark as well, and Lucy giggled and clapped happily at the birds that flew overhead.

They arrived at the park soon. Clark sat Lucy down on her little blanket and sat with her, and Bruce sat beside him. Jamie started kicking his ball around.

“Thanks for coming over today,” Clark said.

Bruce smiled. “I'm having fun. I love these two… and you… and I wasn't doing anything else.”

“Do you want me to give you half of my pay?” Clark offered. “I really feel like I should...”

Bruce kissed his cheek. “I don't want or need the money. You've done most of the work… I've just kept Jamie occupied for a few minutes.”

“it was more than that,” Clark insisted. “You know, you're good with kids… you're gonna be a great dad some day.”

Bruce looked at him with such an affectionate expression on his face, with such pure love in his eyes, that Clark couldn't help blushing and feeling his pulse begin to race. He was looking back at Bruce, probably just as intensely, when he heard Jamie's footsteps getting a little too far off. He looked up and saw him headed toward the swings.

“Hey, where ya going?” Clark asked.

Jamie turned back to face them and grinned. “To swing!”

Clark nodded and said, “Okay, but Lucy and I will come over there too.” He didn't like letting the kids he sat for get too far away from him. He preferred to always err on the side of caution… it just made him feel better. Plus the park had a couple of baby swings… Lucy could have fun too.

“Okay!” Jamie called out happily. As soon as Clark was standing up, Jamie ran ahead to the swing set and took the swing on the far end. He had said in the past that he felt it swung the highest. Clark placed Lucy in a nearby baby swing and gently began to push her.

“Watch this,” Jamie said as he tried to pump his little legs and swing higher. But his legs were only capable of so much, so Bruce came up behind him and began to push. Soon both kids were swinging and laughing happily.

Clark smiled as he watched Bruce play with Jamie. He couldn't help but fantasize about the two of them having a family like this some day… but that was so far in the future, and who knew what the coming years would bring? But he hoped it would bring something like that.

They'd have stayed at the park longer than they did, but it was the time of year where the weather changed abruptly… and it began to sprinkle. Jamie protested leaving the park, but Clark and Bruce were able to get the kids home before the rain really began to fall heavily.

Back at the house, Clark put on a movie (Disney's Robin Hood) and got out the wooden blocks. Jamie helped Lucy build a tower with them, and Lucy enjoyed knocking it down and laughing with delight. Clark and Bruce sat on the couch and watched the kids play. When Jamie seemed to grow bored of that, Clark gave him his snack (the carrots, apples, and juice box he had taken to the park) and he put some juice in Lucy's sippy cup for her.

Jamie started to yawn almost as soon as he finished eating his snack, and Clark thought maybe story time would help him drift to sleep… but also keep him awake long enough for his food to digest a little.

“Hey, you want me to read you one of your books?” Clark asked, and Jamie nodded in response. Clark put Lucy in her play pen, where she had some stacking toys and a small activity table, and as he took Jamie's hand, he asked Bruce, “will you be okay with her for a bit? I can take her with me if not.”

“Of course,” Bruce replied. “You guys go ahead… if I need help, I'll come get you.”

Clark smiled gratefully and took Jamie back upstairs to his room. Jamie sat in his bed, and Clark quickly scanned the bookshelf for something good. Since Jamie was going through a dinosaur phase, Clark picked a book called How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight? and went and sat on the edge of Jamie's bed.

“I like this book,” Jamie said softly.

Clark smiled. “It looks pretty good!” He began to read the book, and Jamie stayed seated upright and seemed very interested in seeing the pictures. He laughed at all the funny parts, and he watched Clark closely. He slowly began to relax though, and was soon laying down on his bed. His eyes seemed to be growing heavy, but he didn't seem to want to sleep.

“Clark?” Jamie began quietly.

Clark looked at him. “Hm?”

“I like Bruce,” Jamie said with a yawn. “You should bring him back next time to you come over.”

Clark smiled fondly. “I like him too. And I hope he will come back.”

Soon Jamie was fast asleep. Clark watched him for a moment before heading back downstairs, leaving the bedroom door cracked open behind him. Bruce was still sitting on the couch, quietly flipping through one of Mrs. Newton's magazines, and Lucy was still playing by herself with her toys in the playpen.

Clark sat down right beside Bruce and rested his head on Bruce's shoulder.

“You need a nap too?” Bruce asked.

Clark looked up at him, a little smile on his face. “Nope. Just needed to be close to you.”

Bruce placed a soft kiss on his temple. “I'm glad I came over here.”

“So am I,” Clark replied.

Lucy continued to play quietly for some time… right up until she started crying because she needed a diaper change. Clark carried her back upstairs and changed her pretty quickly, but by the time he was finished, Jamie began to stir.

Jamie wandered into Lucy's room, yawning and rubbing his eyes. “Why's she crying?” he asked sleepily.

“She needed a diaper change,” Clark replied. “I'm sure she's sorry she woke you.”

Jamie nodded and took Clark's hand. “Can you read me another story?”

Clark smiled. “Sure, buddy. Let me take your sister downstairs and you can pick the book and bring it down. Sound good?” He liked to sound like he was giving the kids options while really he was leading them in the direction he needed them to go. With Jamie, that typically worked pretty well.

Jamie nodded at Clark's suggestion and went back to his room. Clark grabbed the Hugaboo and started down the stairs, and in a moment Jamie followed them, carrying his copy of The Cat in the Hat.

Clark sat on he floor with the kids, Lucy in her Hugaboo on one side, and Jamie on the other, practically climbing into his lap. Bruce watched from the couch as Clark read them the story, and they were all seated just like that when Mrs. Newton came home.

“Mommy!” Jamie called, springing up and running to meet her.

“A-goo!” Lucy burbled in agreement.

Mrs. Newton hugged Jamie and then scooped Lucy into her arms. “Did they behave for you?”

Clark smiled. “They were as great as usual, no problems at all.”

Mrs. Newton kissed Lucy's chubby cheek and smiled. “I'm glad to hear it.”

“I'm sorry I didn't ask if Bruce could come over,” Clark rushed to add. “I know I should have cleared it with you, but Jamie likes him so much...”

Mrs. Newton smiled and raised a hand to hush him. “I never mind Bruce being here. Jamie raves about both of you.”

Bruce blushed. “He's a great kid.”

Mrs. Newton got the kids situated again, and then handed Clark a few bills. She thanked him again for watching Jamie and Lucy and said she might be calling him about coming over the same time next week.

Clark grabbed his backpack, and after he and Bruce told the kids goodbye, they headed for the door. Bruce took his hand and they began to wander in the direction of Clark's house.

“You know, some babysitters bring toys and games and things like that when they go on jobs,” Clark began. “But I have something better. You.”

Bruce laughed softly and kissed his cheek. “Hey, you know how you offered to give me some of your money you earned?”

Clark nodded. “The offer is still on the table. I feel bad about you helping so much and not getting anything for it.”

“Well, I still don't want the money,” Bruce began. Then with a mischievous grin, he added, “But… you can take me to get a milkshake, your treat... for once.”

Clark gasped. “You make me sound like a gold digger or something!”

Bruce gave him a little kiss. “I'm kidding. I never mind paying for stuff… least I can do. But I do want you to buy me a milkshake.”

“You can have a milkshake and whatever else you want,” Clark replied. “Both because you earned it and because you're cute.”

Bruce blushed and said, “Shut up. You're cute.” Clark grinned and kissed him again, and Bruce said no more as he gave Clark's hand a tiny squeeze and pulled him in the direction of the soda shop.