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Bright Skies

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Later, Wes wouldn't be able to say for sure what part of the whole incident shocked him the most.

He was watching the kids playing on the lawn on his day off, enjoying the chance to relax while they entertained each other. The sprinklers had just come on in the middle of their Frisbee game, and Sky had swiftly moved to the driveway to remain dry. The other three were happily darting in and out of the spray of water, giggling hysterically and calling for Sky to join them.

Elizabeth had apparently gotten fed up with Sky's refusal to get wet. Faster than Wes could call out to stop her, a second copy of the little girl had appeared behind Sky, gleefully shoving him forward onto the wet grass. "Got you!" both girls cheered in unison.

Sky moved in a way that had to be instinctive, flinging up his right arm. Blue light flared around the boy's hand, flaring to make a circle in front of him. The spray of water splashed harmlessly against it, and Sky remained dry.

It was followed by a look of horror and fear at his father.

****

There were so many questions Wes wanted to ask as he drove Sky and the other kids back to S.P.D., so many things he wanted to say. But trio in the back seat were strangely silent, and Sky had refused to look him in the eye after that first glance. It was ... painful, actually.

Dana looked only marginally surprised to see them when they arrived, giving her niece a cursory glance before turning to Wes. "Which one?" she asked without preamble.

"Me," Sky spoke up, looking up at her solemnly.

While Wes regarded his son in surprise, Dana barely blinked. "What happened?" she demanded, already pulling the pen from over her ear.

Sky took a deep breath, seeming to steel himself. "I used my lights," he told her. "I didn't want to get wet, so I did it." His chin started to lower, but he seemed to catch himself, looking back up at her again.

Dana's eyes narrowed slightly. "You've done this before." It wasn't a question.

"It was my fault," Elizabeth said suddenly, looking guilty. "I'm the one who pushed him. I just wanted him to play with us." She looked at Sky with tear-bright eyes, swallowing hard. "I'm sorry, Sky."

Sky stared at her for a long moment. "It's okay, Bethie," he murmured finally, giving her a hug. "M'not mad at you."

She sniffled, and Bridge abruptly burst into tears. Sydney blinked, wide-eyed, at the three older kids, then started to cry as well.

Dana shot Wes a look, but he was still staring at Sky.

Why didn't you talk to me, Sky? he wondered, feeling his heart clench.

****

"So," Wes said quietly, moving to sit beside his son.

"So," Sky echoed, staring at the floor as he kicked his feet back and forth. He didn't move from his perch on the patient bed, and he didn't look up.

Wes sighed. "How long have you known about this, Sky?"

Sky shrugged a shoulder. "I dunno," he muttered.

"Awhile?" Wes persisted.

Sky just nodded.

"More than a year?"

Another nod.

They sat in silence for several minutes. "Why?" Wes asked finally.

Sky started to shrug again, then hesitated. "I ... "

Wes waited, watching him with what he hoped was a sincere, non-judgmental expression.

"You don't ... like it," the boy said finally, frowning at the opposite wall. "When Bethie does stuff, or when Bridge acts up."

Wes felt his chest being squeezed, and it was suddenly hard to breathe. Sky had noticed. Sky had *noticed*. His own son was afraid to talk to him because he was prejudiced.

Slowly, he forced himself to take a deep breath and *look* at Sky.

Sky was holding his chin stubbornly firm - something he'd gotten from Vanessa. His eyes had not strayed from the opposite wall, but his fingers clenched around the edge of the bed. He sat perfectly still, except for the slight tremble to his lip and small shuddering in his shoulders.

Distantly, Wes wondered where Sky had gotten the habit of trying to be unaffected.

He pulled his son into his arms and held him tight against his chest. He squeezed tightly, kissing the top of Sky's head and just holding him in place for a moment. Then he took that moment to remember what it was like to hold his son - the only one he had left - and shut out everything else.

Sky shuddered again, then buried his face against his father's shoulder. There was a soft sob, and he snuggled closer.

"I love you, Sky," Wes told him softly. "And no matter what happens, that will *never* change. And I'm sorry I ever made you think it would."

"I love you too, Daddy," Sky sniffled from somewhere under his chin.

Wes closed his eyes and continued to hold him, thankful that Sky was alive, healthy, and in a place where he could watch over him. He vowed never to forget that again. He refused to lose this child, too.