Characters: Barbara/Damian Kowalski and Fraser/RayK. Past Stella/RayK
Word length: 1,293
Summary: Barbara had always wanted lots of children.
An: A missing scene set during Heat Wave.
An2: For Vickitub who wanted more of Barbara with Benton.
Eight year old Barbara was playing with her dolls, she had dezons of them. Some had fine dresses and china faces, while others were made of rags and button eyes. She laid them all down and they went to sleep like good children. Maybe it was because she was an only child, but Barbara Kowalski (formally Barbara Smith) always wanted a big family.
She walked into the living room and picked up one of her father's work boots. The brown leather was scuffed. She took the boot into her room and sat it down and pretended it was her house. She wanted to be the old women who lived in a shoe, but she thought a booth was better because it was bigger.
Fifteen year old Barbara Smith shut her front door and grinned to herself. She had just came home from a date with Damian Kowalski. She knew he was the one, her gut told her so. She pictured his spiky blond hair and black leather jacket and grinned. Even years later that hair and jacket still made her grin.
They were married when she was eighteen. She wore a white dress and Damian wore a gray suit. She didn't know it but she was already a month along with Stanley.
As soon as they found out she was pregnant they painted a room in their small apartment and set up a white crib. She would sit it an old, battered rocking chair they found in a thrift shop and dream about her baby. She hoped it would be the first of many.
The pregnancy was difficult and dangerous and their made the decision not to have any more children. That night as she laid in bed she patted her stomach and promised the baby that she would love it with everything she had.
They considered adopting, but it cost too much.
Stanley was born early. He might have been small, but all the nurses said he had strong lungs. As Barbara looked at him she thought he must be a fighter, he was her son after all.
When they finally brought Stanley home he fell asleep in the car, but awoke and started crying as soon as the car stopped. Barbara spent many night driving around with a sleeping Stanley in the back.
As Stanley grew he proved time and time again that he was a fighter. At least once a month she was called to his school because he got into a fight. When he was nine she took him to a local gym and taught him to box. Men gathered around to laugh at the little lady in boxing gloves, the laughter stopped when they saw her right hook. After that Stanley didn't get into any more fights.
When Stanley was twelve he brought home a friend named Stella. She was a little girl with long, straight blond hair. Barbara got to know her as Stella sat at Barbara's kitchen and ate gooey chocolate chip cookies. Stella had lost her mother and Barbara couldn't help but take her under her wing.
She took her shopping and they spent countless hours buying clothes and laughing. Barbara even became the den mother of Stella's Girl Scout troop.
Barbara couldn't pinpoint when it happened, but Stella became the daughter of her heart.
Years later, when Stanley married Stella, Barbara dabbed her eyes and grinned. She wasn't gaining a daughter, Stella already was her daughter.
Several years, when a Stella called to say that her and Stanley were getting divorced Barbara wished she could be there to comfort both Stella and Stanley. That night, she put away a scrap book she had bought for when Stanley and Stella had their first child. She knew their marriage was over because Stella was nothing if not determined when she wanted to do something.
Now, Barbara was walking out of Stanley's apartment with Benton. She had been surprised when she arrived at Stanley's apartment to find Benton there, but her surprise gave way to something else she couldn't name. Her gut told her they were more than partners.
The more she thought about it the more she thought that was goodness. From what she knew of Benton he was a good man and that was all she ever wanted for Stanley. She wasn't even bothered by the fact that Benton was a man, love was love after all.
Barbara walked to her car and got in. Benton got in the passenger seat. It was an old, bright red VW bug named Cherry that had black seats. Damian and Stanley might have their GTO, but she was a bug fan.
As she pulled out of her parking space she looked over at Benton. He look nervous.
'Are you okay, Dear?' Barbara asked as she watched the road.
'Oh, yes. I was just surprised when you offered to take me shopping. It is very kind.'
'Don't mention it. I thought I should get to know Stanley's partner.'
She thought about calling Benton Stanley's boyfriend, but she thought better of it. From everything she knew partner seemed to be what the kids were using these days.
'So, how long have you had feelings for Stanley.'
'A long time. Ray is a good partner and a good man.'
'Yes he is.'
Barbara turned on the radio, she always thought better with music and she had a lot to think about. Even though Benton hadn't used the word love, she could hear it in his voice.
When they arrived at the clothing store she stepped out of her car and they walked together into the store. As she opened the door she was hit by cool air. Several people were milling around the small store and country music played on speakers set into the ceiling.
They made their way to the men's section. Benton seemed to gravitate to the flannel and jeans and Barbara filed that away.
She picked out blue flannel shirts and gave them to Benton to try on. He went into the dressing room and when he came out she gave the thumbs up sign. It seemed no matter what he put on it fit, although his jeans seemed too tight, but he preferred those. After Benton had picked out several shirts and jeans they walked to the front of the store to pay.
They stood in the check-out line she saw Benton eyeing a back leather necklace that was on a cardboard display rack.
Without a word Barbara pulled it off its hook and put it with the clothes. Benton grinned.
That afternoon, they went to one of Barbara's favorite restaurant for lunch. They sat at an outdoor table and waited for their food. The air was hot and sticky, but Barbara enjoyed scent of the flowering bush next to their table, it's blooms were colorful.
'Are you enjoying yourself?' Barbara asked.
'Oh, yes. Thank you for the wonderful experience. I very much enjoyed it.'
'You're very welcome. Does your mother take you shopping?'
'No. My mother is deceased.'
'Oh, my. I'm very sorry,' Barbara said and meant it. No one should lose their mother.
'It's all right. She died when I was child.'
Benton didn't sound sad, but Barbara was sad enough for the both of them. No one should lose their mother, especially a child. She could just picture a young Benton with big, sad eyes.
That night when she came home she couldn't stop grinning. Benton was indeed good and good for Stanley.
She opened up a drawer in her kitchen and pulled out a scrap book for her first grandchild. She changed it to a Benton scrapbook. She couldn't wait to fill it with pictures.
Benton was the son of her heart.