guppy_sandhu: (Gil 8-15m)
While it's not quite time for them to go on holiday yet, Holby does at least boast its own beach, and so Guppy and the family head down there one weekend when it's warm enough in the sea to be bearable*.

"What did you bring us here for?" Fry complains as they get out the car. "I hate sand."

"Yes, but your sisters don't." Fran says. "You can keep your shoes on if you want."

Guppy, sensing that Fry is thinking about kicking off, tucks his secret weapon - a book to identify sea shells - into his back pocket. It's not ideal, but sometimes they have to take a chance to make sure the other kids don't miss out.

"Nobody in the sea without a grown-up!" he calls after the rapidly disappearing girls. "Stay where I can see you!"

He carries Gil while Fran talks Fry down into a calm state as they go to find their spot. They pick an area between stones and sand, near a concrete slope used to wheel boats down to the sea. Fry sits on the concrete, safe from sand, and starts playing with a slinky Fran has just given him, letting it wiggle down the slope.

Gil isn't quite walking yet, but he's just about got the hang of crawling, and seems delighted to be in the sand without having to wear most of his clothes. He still has his toenails painted in pretty colours from his visit to Life Support the other day, and under Guppy's watchful eye he explores the various sea shells on the beach.

Guppy smiles slightly as Fran goes off to paddle in the sea with the girls. Crowd control of all four at once is always a bit of a worry, but two at a time seems just about manageable.

"You all right there Fry?" he calls up the concrete slope as Fry runs back up with his slinky.

"No. Half of me is left." Fry says, letting the slinky go again and making some excited noises, flapping his hands and bouncing up and down.

Guppy turns back to Gil, who is holding a shell and babbling, "Itty itty!". The next second he hears a thump and a shriek, and he looks around to see Fry has fallen off the slope. Or has he fallen? There's a big leather football bouncing away from him, and another boy about Fry's age running after it.

He scoops up Gil and goes to Fry's rescue; having landed in the sand, he's not hurt but is shrieking loudly. Guppy puts Gil down.

"Come on Fry, nothing broken." he says. "Let's get you up."

He waits for his cue to be allowed to pick him up, then sits Fry on the edge of the concrete and starts to dust him off.

The boy with the football comes back and stares guiltily at Fry.

"Sorry, did it hurt?" he asks.

"There's too much sand!" Fry wails. "It's everywhere."

The other boy blinks at him, and then starts laughing.

"Niall!" an enormous man strides over after the boy with the football. "I told you not to come over to them."

"He's crying because he doesn't like sand." Niall laughs.

Niall's father's eyes fall on Gil's painted toenails. He pulls a disgusted face.

"Come on Niall, you don't want to hang around with poofters."

"Excuse me." Guppy turns to the man. "Why don't you mind your own business? My boys were playing perfectly happily over here."

"Yeah, well we were all fed up of that noise your big lad was making." Niall's dad says. "If he doesn't like sand, why don't you all piss off back where you came from? And cover up your baby's horrible scar and ponsey toenails while you're at it?"

Before Guppy can come up with a good reply, Niall's father retrieves his son and moves their whole party to the other end of the beach. Fran comes back up with the girls.

"Was he bothering you?" She asks, looking on the warpath.

Guppy relates the tale, minus some of the words, out of fear that she will take it upon herself to march half way across the beach and set them straight. She still looks pretty cross. Fry, recovered from having had to touch sand, goes back to playing with his slinky, safe in the knowledge that Niall and his father's horrible football is well out of range.

"I think Gil's toenails look beautiful." Coral says. "And it's not his fault he's got a scar, it made his heart better."

"We'll show them." Fran says. "Can you take the others to the Seashell Sushi Café and I'll be back in about forty minutes with Gil?"

There are excited cheers at the thought of going to the Seashell Sushi Café, which is a favourite haunt of all three of the older children; Fry because he likes to watch the plates go round, Coral because she can name all the sushi, and Brooke because she gets to press the button that makes seagull noises and calls the waiter.

Fran catches them up a little while later, with a cute photograph of Gil, scar and painted toenails and all, in a frame. Guppy smiles at his son, and the photo, and feels that yes, it does show those meanies at the beach.

"I've entered him into Holby Baby of the Year." Fran says. "They said he has character. If we win, we get a £500 shopping voucher. And they said he should do modelling."

"I'm pretty sure they say that to all the babies." Guppy says gently. "But it's a cute picture."



[*In the UK this typically happens about twice a year]
guppy_sandhu: (blue)
It hasn't been easy working next to Holby Gold, the private wing that occupies the ward Guppy formally worked on.

For one thing, it means St James' hospital has thirty fewer beds for NHS patients than it used to. For the other, it means that Dr Bell, the other consultant on Guppy's ward, is constantly disappearing over to the private unit, of which she is manager, frequently abandoning her juniors in the middle of ward rounds.

It hasn't gone unnoticed among her patients either. Or, given the fact it is a dementia ward, their relatives.

"Where is Dr Bell?" One man demands, for the third time that week. "I want to speak to her about my mother."

The junior doctor squirms slightly, and offers an apology, saying they will ask Dr Bell if she can make an appointment. Guppy watches with sympathy - he's been there - but what can he do? He has twice as many patients to care for as Dr Bell.

The next day, unable to ignore the issue any more, he ventures into Holby Gold in search of his errant colleague. Dr Bell is having a long chat with an elderly woman in a hotel room.

"Got a moment?" he asks Dr Bell when she finally emerges.

"If you walk with me." she replies, heading towards the nursing station. A bored-looking nurse is writing down orders for three course dinners.

"I'm a little worried about your team." Guppy says. "They're getting a lot of pressure from relatives who want to speak to you in person."

"I'm sure it's nothing they can't handle." Dr Bell says smoothly.

"Well, some of these relatives are getting very heated." Guppy says.

He follows her out of the unit, and comes face to face with the relative from yesterday.

"So this is where you hide is it?" the relative snaps, angrily, at her. "Holby Gold Private Unit? Our mother's care not important enough to you, is it?"

"Mr Blake, how about you talk about this with Dr Bell calmly in private." Guppy says, as Dr Bell shrinks back, alarmed. He wonders whether she even knows which patient's relative this is.

"How about we make sure everyone knows what she's like?" Mr Blake shouts. "Let's see what's behind the golden doors."

He barges past Guppy and Dr Bell, marches into the ward, and throws open the nearest door. Dr Bell's elderly lady jumps, nearly falling over her zimmer frame.

"What's so special about you then?" he asks the elderly lady. "Why do you get consultant care and our mother doesn't, just because you're rich?"

"I... I was in pain, I needed a new hip, I couldn't wait any longer." the old lady says. "I'm sorry about your mother, but it's my right. We used our holiday money..."

"And she doesn't have to justify herself to you." Guppy says, catching up with Mr Blake. "You need to come with us, please."

Dr Bell, furious, takes it upon herself to grab Mr Blake by the arm and try to escort him off the ward herself. Guppy checks the old lady is okay, then follows them, his eyes wandering slightly further towards the door back to the corridor.

Our mother

"Camilla, let him go." he says, but it comes out quieter than he wanted, and Dr Bell can't hear him over her own angry tirade. He glances round to see if the nurse is near enough to signal to get Security, but she's gone off... he turns back, Mr Blake's other family members have seen him being grabbed through the door and there's now three other big blokes heading straight for Dr Bell. And suddenly there's a lot of shouting and scrapping and shoving.

"HEY!" he finds his voice, and runs towards them. "GET OFF HER!"

Hoping nobody has a weapon, he tries to extricate his colleague from the mob, though ends up drawing most of the scuffle onto himself, perhaps being a more socially acceptable target than a small woman in high heels. Once extricated, Dr Bell stands and screeches at them all rather than getting help; much to his annoyance, because while none of the four men appear to be even remotely combat trained, he's definitely going to feel some of these blows later.

"For the love of sanity, get Security!" he wheezes at her, before turning back to the four men pummelling him. Right. He's had a decade of self defence training, he's not going to lose teeth to these amateurs.

As each man comes forward, he grabs their right arm and squeezes the pressure point. There is a succession of ows, then suddenly the four are clutching their arms and not feeling quite so much like punching him.

"Right. Stop." Guppy pants, getting his breath back. "This isn't going to help."

He straightens up, just in time to get decked left-handed.

***

"I'm sorry." Dr Bell says, unusually meekly, offering him a gauze pad for his bleeding eyebrow. "I've never known relatives get so... aggressive."

"You can't have worked in Holby very long then." Guppy says.

"You were right, it's difficult to run the private wing and my part of the ward." Dr Bell adds. "I know you don't approve of the private wing, it's no secret, but that's the way the world is going." she pauses and adds. "I'm going to suggest perhaps you could be in charge of the entire dementia ward, if I can rely on your support."

Guppy pauses to let this proposal sink in. It's not a promotion. Effectively, it adds an extra third to his workload, and means that there'd be nobody easily about to cross-cover his department if he's away.

Years ago, he'd have caved. He'd have worried what people would think, how they would perceive him, whether they'd think he was weak or not up to the job. But that was before he had four small people waiting for him to get home at night.

He smiles slightly.

"No, Camilla, sorry." he looks up. "If you want to get out of that part of your contract you can negotiate with the head of department."

"I see." Dr Bell looks disappointed. "Well... thanks for the rescue, anyway."

"Yes, well think yourself lucky." Guppy says. "If your old lady with the zimmer frame hadn't come out and threatened to snitch on those thugs to their mother, we'd have got our teeth kicked in."
guppy_sandhu: (gil newborn hat)
It was a relief, to Guppy, when Brooke was able to start at the same school as Coral and Fry, even if the circumstances were that she had been asked to leave her nursery for misbehaviour.

Brooke, at two and a half, and potty trained, was fully eligible for Cherry Tree Primary in theory - the only problem was that she was born in November, so technically shouldn't have started until the following September. But Mrs Patel, the headmistress, had sympathy for the various struggles of the Sandhu family, and reassured them that a few extra months in Nursery 1 would be something Brooke wouldn't even realise.

"Of course if she's racing ahead like Fry was, we can look at that later." she had added. "But I gather Brooke is something of a live wire so she'd probably be happier having longer in a play environment."

So far, after two weeks, the arrangement seems to be working. Miss Hewitt has found that Brooke's general behaviour is fine, so long as she is kept occupied. Each time Guppy picks her up, she seems to be surrounded by new friends, which makes him smile.

The next day, he realises his attention had been focused in the wrong direction.




"Dr Sandhu? How has he been feeding?"

Guppy is staring at the scales, as his youngest son sits contently in them, without his nappy on, sucking his fingers.

He looks at the graph. Even Fry with his chick could tell him that you don't cross two centiles downwards without getting worried.

"Dr Sandhu?"

"He's been feeding well." Guppy says, his throat tight. "He... he's had bronchiolitis a few weeks ago, he didn't have to be admitted overnight but... he'd been feeding better and... I-I didn't realise he wasn't gaining weight, he was already so small and..."

He feels wretched. How could he not have noticed?

The neonatologist carefully lifts Gil out of the scales and puts him down on the examination table.

"Does he go blue when he feeds?"

"No." Guppy says. "Not that I've ever seen. And I'm sure Fran would have noticed if he had."

"Does he get out of breath?"

"He doesn't really do much." Guppy says. "I mean corrected his age is only about four months, so I wasn't expecting much... our older three are all developmentally advanced so I just thought he was, well, normal for his corrected age." He takes a slow breath. "I've missed something, haven't I?"

"This isn't your fault." the neonatologist says, gently but firmly. "You aren't specialised in neonates, and we always knew he was likely to need further surgery with his heart condition."

Guppy can feel his own heart pounding as the neonatologist performs the echo scan. Even he can get some idea that it doesn't look right. It feels like an hour has passed before the verdict is announced.

"The shunt that we inserted in your son's first operation is not working as well as we'd like. We will need to do the second part of his operation sooner rather than later."

"When?" Guppy asks.

"I'm going to speak to theatre, try and get him scheduled for tomorrow. We need to admit him tonight for bloods and..."

He doesn't really hear the rest of the consultation. Certainly when he relates it to Fran over the phone later, he can barely recall what the consultant said.

"Guppy, slow down, I'm on my way." she says. "I'm just phoning Dad and Maggie so they can pick up the others, and then I'll be right with you."
guppy_sandhu: (Default)
Parents' evening brings its usual feeling of nervousness, but Guppy and Fran are relieved that at least, on this occasion, they will be able to tackle both Coral and Fry's teachers on the same night.

Miss Hebblethwaite appears happy with Coral, which is a good start.

"Her reading is much better." she says. "We tested her for dyslexia, as you know, and the results suggested that she does have it."

"I'm not surprised." Fran says. "I'm pretty sure I'm dyslexic and it runs in families, doesn't it?"

"It can." Miss Hebblethwaite nods. "Mr Irons, our new special needs teacher, has been using a tinted overlay with her, and that has worked very well. In any case she has caught up with the other children, so I'm not worried."

"And her confidence?" Guppy asks, since this had come up at a previous parents' evening.

"I don't think she lacks confidence, I think she's just naturally quiet, but when she does speak her ideas are fully formed." Miss Hebblethwaite says. "She listens and observes. She tends to hang out with the same couple of children by choice, but she gets on well with more or less all her class. And of course she sang that solo in the Nativity, she has a lovely sweet voice."

With that having gone well, Guppy and Fran head in search of Mrs Pink to discuss Fry. Teddy's mums are coming out of the queue, with a certain amount of smirking between them, which doesn't bode terribly well.

"Fry is just adorable." Mrs Pink says, beaming at them. "And ever so clever. He's finishing the fourth maths book, and at break he's started reading Goodnight Mr Tom."

Fran stares at her in alarm.

"You've given a six-year-old with emotional developmental delay, difficulty distinguishing fact and fiction, and a reading age of twelve a book about child abuse and bombs?"

Mrs Pink's face falls. Fran continues.

"By all means encourage him to read, but that book is much, much too scary for Fry."

"I'm so sorry, I didn't think of it that way..." Mrs Pink says. "He's only just started it so maybe I can get it off him."

Guppy and Fran exchange a look. Getting anything off Fry when he's in the middle is difficult. Even if he starts to dislike it his instinct is to finish what he started.

"Tell him you think he'll find it too scary." Guppy suggests. "It's best to be honest with him. How is his behaviour in class?"

"Oh, fine." Mrs Pink says.

A pause. Then Guppy pipes up.

"Are you sure? Because you can tell us, we're here to help you work through Fry's behavioural problems."

"Well it's better than it was." Mrs Pink admits. "He can be a little cheeky, and he has clashed with other children a bit. But nothing we can't handle."


"Hopeless." Fran mutters, as they get away from Mrs Pink's table. "Bet he's picking up bad habits. At least we know Mrs Patel keeps an eye on him."

"Excuse me?" a gentleman with a deep voice, a little bow tie and very square glasses appears alongside them. "Dr and Mrs Sandhu?"

"Yes, that's right." Guppy says. The man thrusts out a hand to shake, which Guppy accepts.

"I'm Mr Irons, the new Special Educational Needs Co-Ordinator. Can we have a quick chat?"

"Of course." Guppy follows him to his table with Fran. "About Coral?"

"Coral is doing well." Mr Irons says. "I think she would benefit from tinted lenses to help with her reading, next time she sees the optician. Other than that she's doing very well, she's a bright child who compensates well for her dyslexia. I can see you two do a lot of reading with her at home. But I also wanted to speak to you about Alexander. I don't know whether you were aware, but I will be Alexander's class teacher next academic year, as well as being the new SENCO, so I've taken the time to familiarise myself with the developmental guides supplied by his psychologist, and his past teachers Miss Hebblethwaite and Mr Walker."

Guppy blinks. Six months in advance is a record of efficiency for Fry-handling preparation. Mr Irons continues.

"Moving into the juniors can be a difficult transition for special needs children, because there's a little more group work. We're a small school and everyone knows Alexander of course, but also the little... quirks and behaviours you see with autism are more noticeable as he gets older."

"You mean the type of total meltdown that occurred the other day when his homework only took forty minutes rather than an hour?" Guppy asks, with a wry smile.

Mr Irons chuckles. "Indeed. There are various resources we can use, such as 'social stories' to help talk Fry through various scenarios. I'm trying to secure us a teaching assistant, but I'm tempted to get Fry in once a week one-to-one, if you'd be keen. It would mean rearranging his schedule, but I could fit him in Monday lunchtime if he can bear to give up half an hour of library duty, or Friday if he'll move his music lesson."

"We'd really like that." Fran says. "We'll talk to him about changing his schedule nearer the time."

"Oh he can start with me this year if he wants." Mr Irons says. "Just let me know."
guppy_sandhu: (Default)
"You can't have it both ways." Guppy says firmly to Fry, as he pats Gil's back gently post-feed. "It's Halloween party at Beavers tonight. You can either go in a costume, or you can go in your Beavers uniform, or you can not go, but all the other Beavers will be going in costume."

"Why do they have to wear costume?" Fry complains.

"Because it's their party." Guppy says, patiently.

He watches his young son make a rather agonised decision. Fry is old enough now to understand that a person in a costume is still the same person, and not be as freaked out about it, though he still likes to know who is who under the mask. Finished with feeding Gil, he gently clips the small person back into the sling on his front, which is still the place he prefers to be.

"I will wear a costume." Fry decides.

"Great. But Mum's not got time to make one, so we'll have to go to the supermarket." Guppy says.

"Do I get a costume too please?" Coral asks, tugging his trousers.

"Yes you can have one too."

"Me! ME!" Brooke yells. "I want one!"

"Please. All right!" Guppy holds up his hands. "We'll all go while Mum is at the hairdressers."

How hard can it be? Guppy reckons he's going to have to get the hang of having all four kids at once in public at some point.

Gil begins to grizzle when he gets put in the car seat, so he gets Coral sat next to him next so that she can sing 'Twinkle twinkle little star' at him, then loads up Brooke. Fry, who can get into his own seat, gets in the front.

"Daddy, when will I be big enough to go in the front?" Coral asks, as Guppy slides into his own seat.

"When you're tall enough to have a booster seat without a back." Guppy replies. "Then you and Fry will take in turns."

It feels like a military operation to get to the supermarket. But the new seating arrangement has its benefits - Fry is no longer next to his siblings, which means the end of in-car fights between him and Brooke. And at the other end, Fry and Coral manage to wait patiently for the younger two to get unstrapped again.

"No!" Brooke protests, when Guppy gets out the pushchair. "Me big!"

Guppy considers for a moment, then caves in, and straps the grizzly baby back into his favourite sling so he can hold Brooke and Coral's hands. Sorted.

"What's this one?" Fry asks, pointing at the costume.

"A vampire." Guppy says.
"Are they dead?"
"Yes."
"What's that one?"
"A zombie."
"Are they dead?"
"Yes. Are you going to reject all the costumes that are of something dead?"
"Yes." Fry says, seriously.

"Okay." Guppy looks around at the other costumes, and picks one up. "Look, a super hero."

"It's red." Fry shakes his head. "I don't wear red. Can I go as a policeman?"

"You could if your costume at home still fitted." Guppy says. "I don't see any police costumes here."

"I could be a detective and wear a shirt and a tie." Fry says.

"Okay." Guppy smiles. "If you can wear a tie for Halloween you can start wearing your school tie." he adds, since Fry has previously flatly refused to put on his school tie, and it's probably time to try again.

"Daddy." Coral tugs his belt again. "What are the girl costumes meant to be?"

"Er..." Guppy peers at them, picking them off the shelf. "We have witch and... 'spooky girl'."

"What's that one?"

"That's Princess Jasmine, I think it's in the wrong area." Guppy says. "But you can have that one if you want. Or one of the ones in the 'boys' costume area."

Coral hesitates. Princess Jasmine is tempting, and there's a sad lack of pink dinosaur costumes which is what she had been hoping for, so she goes for 'spooky girl'. Maybe Mummy can make her a pink dinosaur costume when she has more time.

"Dad." Fry points. "Brooklyn's in that box."

"What box?" Guppy spins around, suddenly realising he let go of Brooke when he picked up the costumes. He spots her just as she climbs into a big crate of pumpkins, and dashes over to stop her as she pushes her feet against the side she climbed in on.

The thick cardboard starts to tear...

As the pile of pumpkins starts to shift under the toddler, they seem to gather momentum, and Guppy manages to grab her just as the pumpkins begin to escape from the box, rolling all over the floor.

Fry, fretting that they're going to get in trouble, starts flapping his hands and whimpering. Guppy, hearing the noise over his attempt to stop the pumpkins, looks over to make sure he's not about to kick off. A woman near him stares at him flapping, then grabs both her children by the hands and hurries them away, which for the time being is probably easier than them being next to him.

"We're going to get arrested!" Fry wails.

"No we won't, it's okay." Coral says, going back to him, picking up a sparkly ghost from the shelves. "Can you tell me how many sparkles there are on this?"

Guppy feels a wave of relief at this cunning intervention on Coral's part, and turns his attention back to Brooke.

"Brooklyn." he says sternly. "That was very naughty. You know you are not allowed to climb in the shop. It's very dangerous."

"Fry did it!" Brooke points.

"Fry did not do it, I just saw you." Guppy says, even more sternly. "Now go and stand with your brother and sister and do not move until I have picked these up, or there will be no Halloween costume for you."

***

"Did you get on all right with all four on your own?" Fran asks, plaiting the blue and green streaks into her newly trimmed hair.

"Fine. Few teething problems." Guppy says, casually, chopping up one of the pumpkins. "No actual injuries. Had to buy a few extra pumpkins."

Fran snorts, and starts heating up Gil's feed.

"We'll get the hang of it, you know." she says. "It's just a case of getting back into equilibrium."

"I feel like I need retraining for Brooke." Guppy comments, putting the pieces of pumpkin into the oven to bake. "Coral was a star today."

"Yeah, I'm glad the Beavers let her join in the party." Fran says. "Our older two are growing fast, huh?"

They consider this for a moment.

"Wonder what it'll be like when they're all teenagers." Fran ponders.

"Chaos."

"More than now?"

"Almost certainly. Wouldn't have it any other way."
guppy_sandhu: (gil neonate)
"This is my fault, isn't it?" Fran says quietly, as they sit outside the cardiologist's office. "I didn't know I was pregnant so I could have drunk alcohol or all sorts of stuff I shouldn't have."

"You hardly ever drink alcohol." Guppy points out, squeezing her hand. "You're even more of a lightweight than me. We've been through this, you didn't know, it's just one of those things..."

The consultant calls them through, and they sit in the office. There are pictures of smiling children on the wall. Guppy wonders whether they're success stories.

"So, Gilbert would be thirty four weeks now, if he was still in utero." the consultant says, pulling up some three dimensional pictures of Gil's heart. "Now I know we were hoping to get him up to five pounds, but we are concerned about his difficulties maintaining his oxygen levels, particularly now he's starting to suckle. He's currently a little over four pounds and his weight is starting to tail off. I think we need to plan surgery sooner rather than later."

Guppy nods. This wasn't at least unexpected.

"Did I cause this?" Fran blurts out.

"No, your son has a defect known as tetralogy of fallot." the consultant says. "There are some known genetic causes and we assume some environmental ones, but it often occurs in children who otherwise turn out to be entirely normal. You couldn't have prevented this even if you had known you were pregnant."

Guppy gives Fran a squeeze, feeling her breathe a little.

"The operation... what are his chances?" he asks.

"Nineteen out of twenty children survive the operation." the consultant says. "Untreated, more than half of the children won't live until the age of ten. Treated successfully, life expectancy is normal, though there is a high chance he'll need further surgery in his late teens or early adulthood for his valves."


***

Fran carries Gil into the operating theatre preparation room, while Guppy holds onto the oxygen tank. They lie him in the middle of the trolley, and kiss him on the head. He stares up at them, as the anaesthetist gives him his anaesthetic, and then as he closes his eyes Fran bursts into tears.

Guppy holds her close as they go to sit in the relatives room. It's unnerving, usually it's her holding him together. This time, he just sits here and trembles, and tries not to hyperventilate.

It feels like days.

And then finally the cardiologist comes in, and Guppy feels his heart start to race again...

"The operation is finished." the consultant smiles. "He's done very well, and his oxygen levels are good. He's gone back to neonatal intensive care."

They follow the nurse back to the NICU unit. Gil is still wearing his array of tubes, he's back on the ventilator, but he looks just that little bit more pink.
guppy_sandhu: (cmere)
They call it kangaroo care.

Guppy is familiar with this principle from when Fry and Coral were in the special care baby unit - premmies are small, get cold easily, and miss a lot of skin to skin contact through spending months in an incubator.

Today, Gil has graduated from CPAP - an oxygen therapy requiring a pressured mask - to nasal oxygen, which is much easier to manoeuvre. Guppy gets a proper look at his little face for the first time without a huge tube, as the neonatal nurse carefully tucks Gil inside his shirt, against his bare skin.

"Hey little guy." he gently strokes Gil's head.

"I think he's going to have your hair." Fran says, sitting down next to him.

"He can look however he likes, I'm just glad he's getting bigger so he can have his operation." Guppy says, smiling slightly. "And he'll be able to feed soon... ow!"

He looks down.

"Help, Fran, he's grabbed my chest hair.."

Fry looks over and giggles.

"What do I do?" Guppy asks, trying to detach his little fingers.

"You think that's bad, you want to try breast feeding Brooke for twelve months." Fran comments, getting her camera out.
guppy_sandhu: (gil neonate)
When Guppy wakes on the third day, it still feels like a bizarre dream. But when he looks over, and sees Fran staring awake at the ceiling, he's back in reality again.

"You okay?" he asks her gently. "How's your tummy?"

"It's okay." she looks over at him. "I was just thinking. The kids took it better than we did, didn't they?"

"Heh, yeah." Guppy smiles slightly. All those hours he'd spent preparing Fry for the birth of Coral, the charts, the books, the explanations. And then the same drill for both the kids when Brooklyn came along. And in the end, he took the birth of the new baby with less fuss than the news that they had run out of cornflakes on Monday morning.

"I thought you said we weren't having any more babies." he had commented.

"Well we didn't think we were." Guppy says. "But Mummy didn't feel any different this time, and she already had a bit of a bigger tummy since having Brooke, so we didn't know."

That had apparently been a good enough explanation for the older two children.

Guppy had a feeling it was going to be a lot harder to explain the baby to everyone else. He'd already had Fran's mother on the phone wailing that they had 'clearly kept it from her'. His own mother had been equally uncomplimentary about the fact that they had had a third premature infant, quick to blame Fran's ability to bear children. After telling those who needed to know, Guppy stopped answering the phone unless he recognised the caller ID as someone helpful.

Mrs Beauchamp next door, who had stepped in to emergency babysit, proved to be a lifeline, and immediately offered to have the three kids over for dinner a couple of nights a week until the baby comes out of hospital.

***

"I think I'm going to change our answerphone message." Fran says, when they go to visit the baby that afternoon. "If anyone else asks how I didn't know I was pregnant, I'm telling them I thought he was wind."

Guppy snorts, perhaps slightly more than he might normally, simply out of relief that Fran has regained her sense of humour. Then a little more soberly, he reaches out to the little boy in the incubator and tickles his tiny feet.

"He needs a name." he says. "And I think we're going to lose our naming theme, because there's no way we're calling him 'Lake' or 'Storm'. Do you think he'll mind?"

"Nah. Now I don't go by 'Frogspawn' I daresay our theme is a lot more subtle than it was before anyway." Fran says. "You got any in mind?"

"I kind of like Dhian." Guppy says.

Fran considers. "I... I like the sound of that, actually."

They watch the baby for a moment. The tubes are even more bunched in his hat today, making the little flaps stick out even more.

"I'm sorry, he totally looks like he has horns in that hat." Guppy says after a moment. "He looks like a fawn."

"Idiot." Fran giggles.

"No really, I've met two." Guppy says, checking that the nursing staff aren't listening. "Gil and Tumnus. Gil was a good friend."

Fran giggles slightly, then tilts her head slightly, looking at the infant.

"I don't think he looks that much like a fawn. But I could see him as a Gil. He's got that sort of wrinkly, old man look."

"I think he's going to grow out of that."
guppy_sandhu: (Default)
They didn't wake the kids. Mrs Beauchamp next door proved to be a lifesaver, popping over to babysit while Guppy took Fran to the hospital.

"It's coming in waves, must be a kidney stone or something." Fran gasps.

"It's okay, we'll get you sorted." Guppy parks the car in the first available spot and helps her into the emergency department.

The triage nurse takes one look at her and gets her taken through to Resus.

"Honey are you pregnant?" she asks, helping Fran onto the bed.

"No, I had Brooklyn nearly two years ago, I got... stretched." Fran grimaces. "My last period was two weeks ago, and he's had a vasectomy."

Guppy holds her hand, feeling her frustration at being asked this question yet again. A consultant he doesn't recognise bustles in, followed by a junior doctor, and asks Fran some hurried questions.

"Fast scanner, please." she says briskly, to the nurse. The nurse brings over the scanner while the junior doctor starts putting needles in Fran's arms.

The consultant puts the scanner onto Fran's abdomen, and rolls it across, looking for blood. She stops, and moves it downwards.




Guppy stares. Fran gives a shocked gasp, and then bursts into tears.

"This can't be possible!" she sobs. "I was sick as a dog with the first three, I've had nothing, I've had periods, I've not felt any movements... I've done all the wrong things, ridden rollercoasters, drunk wine sometimes..."

"Fran, it's okay, it happens." Guppy holds her tight. "It must have happened around the time of the operation... how many weeks do you think she is?"

"Well I'm not an obstetrician - can we get one down here please?" The consultant says, not quite wanting to meet their eye.

Judging by the speed in which the obstetrician appears, Guppy suddenly realises where this is going. After a quick examination, the obstetrician confirms it.

"You're fully dilated. This baby is coming now."

"How many weeks?" Fran asks.

"If baby's growing to dates, around twenty four." the obstetrician says.

They've been through this drill before, but it doesn't get any easier. All too soon there is the buzz of people, the rush of activity... Guppy gets only a glimpse of the baby when it comes, because the team scoops it up and takes it straight into an incubator, with a breathing tube.

"Are they alive?" Fran asks, through her tears.

"He's fighting." one of the nurses comes back over to Fran and holds her other hand. "He tried to breathe on his own but he needs a little help right now, so we've put in a breathing tube. We're going to get him stable and take him to neonatal intensive care, and then you can see him, okay?"

Guppy wraps his arms around Fran and holds her close.



It seems like forever when they get the chance to go into NICU to see their new son. Fran looks pale, but has somewhat regained her composure.

They approach the incubator. It's hard to see the little boy among all the tubes. There's even tubes coming out the top of the little hat they have dressed him in, the hat having little flaps on it to accommodate them.

They recognise the doctor looking after him, a calm lady who helped look after both Fry and Coral when they were in intensive care. She gives them some time with him, before approaching.

"I hear it's been quite a night for both of you." she says softly. "Even if we've been here before, it must be a great shock."

"I just feel so stupid." Fran says. "How could I not know? Even if I was having periods and stuff..."

"It happens." the doctor says. "You've had two premature babies in the past, the chance of a third was very high."

"And his chances of survival?" Guppy asks.

"Well, Baby Sandhu was moving and attempting to breathe when he was born. Difficult to say his exact gestation but looking at him I think he's more likely around the twenty five week mark than twenty four. We've done an ultrasound scan on his brain and there's no signs of bleeding, and he's moved all four of his limbs, so there's no signs of cerebral palsy. Those are all good things.

"However, early scans have also shown a hole in his heart, which puts him at a little more risk. He may need surgery when he's stronger... you need to prepare yourselves that he may not pull through, but there is still hope."

Guppy doesn't hear anything else. Fran gently puts her little finger through the hole in the incubator, and a tiny hand clutches it.
guppy_sandhu: (Default)
It was a bit of a shock learning that Fry had been going all the way out to the chapel in Milliways on his own. Even if, technically, he had been obedient by playing only where he could see the bar buildings.

"Is it just me or is it getting harder to keep him occupied during the summer?" Guppy asks Fran one evening, when they've got him upstairs preparing for bed. "Apart from that week we got him learning to ski, he's definitely been more hyperactive."

Learn to Ski in a Week had been a godsend, which had come about when Coral's twin friends simultaneously contracted chickenpox and needed to sell off some non-refundable tickets in a hurry. Guppy had half expected it to be a disaster, but he came back at the end of the day to find both Fry and Coral zooming down the fake snow in delight. Coral's tiny stature had been, for once, greatly to her advantage.

"Definitely." Fran agrees, sighing. "But he's going to summer school next week, I'm sure they'll tire him out better. And that way we won't have my mother coming around asking why she hasn't been asked to do childcare."

Guppy winces. "How did that go?"

"Horribly. When I told her that now she's not with Dad I can't let her be around the kids because she's so unkind to Fry, she kind of exploded. And then I kind of exploded. And then she shouted at me that I couldn't talk about her marriage when I had 'let my figure go' so much since having Brooke. In front of the kids!"

Guppy pulls her close. "That was mean. I love you whatever size you are, and it's not like you got all that much bigger."

"Oh don't worry, I know you don't." Fran says, sighing and giving him a squeeze. "I'm not ashamed of having a body that changed shape because I had three kids. I just don't like her making comments like that in front of the kids, especially with Coral starting to feel self conscious about being tiny... anyway, before I could kick her out, Fry told her that he 'likes New Grandma better'. Which was really hard not to back up at the time..."

There is a crash from upstairs. Guppy gives his wife a squeeze and a kiss on the cheek, then goes up to investigate.

"Fry, you're supposed to be getting ready for bed..." he says, as he climbs up the stairs to the loft room. "You'll wake Coral, what are you doing?"

When he gets up there, Fry is picking up all his pencils off the floor, having knocked over his pencil pot. Guppy approaches the book on the table with a sudden feeling of dread.

"This is a year six maths revision book, where did you get this?"

"Ethan lent it me." Fry says.

"Fry, if you do all this now, maths at school is going to be really boring." Guppy says, grimacing. "Do you understand it?"

"Some, it explains it." Fry says. "Why can't I do it?"

"You can, just..." Guppy hesitates then crouches next to him. "Fry, you understand we can't skip you ahead any more years at school, right? You have to do all your subjects, not just maths. And you have to learn stuff about making friends and stuff and..." your psychologist is going to grimace when he finds out you got hold of this.

Fry watches him, then looks at his book.

"Can I do the book and not skip ahead?"

Guppy watches him for a moment, then sighs.

"Let me talk to Max about how to approach this, okay? At the moment it's bedtime, so no more maths tonight."

Settling Fry in for the night, and removing the book to avoid temptation, Guppy heads back downstairs.

"We must be the only family in the world that has to stop their kid doing maths..." he stops and looks at Fran, who is bent double on the sofa, her face screwed up with pain.

"Fran?"
guppy_sandhu: (infirmary)
Clinical leads:

Dr Simon Tam [personal profile] simon_doctor - general medicine/emergency
Dr Guppy Sandhu [personal profile] guppy_sandhu - general medicine/emergency


Medical Doctors/doctors in related fields:

Dr Hank McCoy - [personal profile] no_more_hiding - biochemistry masters, first aid, pending medical degree after canon.
Dr Kim Ford - [personal profile] bannion_sight - primary care
Dr Bruce Banner - [personal profile] spit_it_out - biochemistry, molecular biology, in training for practical medical
Dr Remy Hadley - [personal profile] numbered_doctor - general med


Healers:

Elrond Perdhil [personal profile] starrydome - elvish healing, battlefield healing, maternity
Nynaeve [personal profile] not_only_wisdom - magical healer NOT ON IC LIST
Moraine [profile] blue_ajar - similar to Nynaeve
Gavroche [personal profile] street_sparrow - first aid/healer
Lucas [personal profile] pullsneedles - NOT ON IC LIST
Zhaan [personal profile] azure_mercy - sells herbal remedies


Psych team:

Prof Charles Xavier [personal profile] balancingminds - psychic, can do some healing, psych training
Dr Malcolm Crowe [personal profile] spooky_shrink
Sam Wilson [personal profile] notapilot
Dr Alana Bloom [personal profile] patterns_bloom

Nursing staff:

Rory Pond [personal profile] rorypond


Helpers/first aid:

Enzo Matrix [personal profile] a1enzo - human first aid, sprite first aid, immune to human illness
Oliver de Bretagne [personal profile] equal_of_any_man - helper
Joly [personal profile] merryeccentricities
Cadfael [personal profile] a_rare_benedictine - herbology/counselling
Combeferre [personal profile] wings_of_a_swan
guppy_sandhu: (Default)
"A what?!" Fran asks, incredulously.

"A cannibal." Guppy says, rather sheepishly. He can't lie to her on something so big, and he can see how shocked she is. "I'm so sorry, I shouldn't have let Fry go anywhere near him, it's my fault for having the Bar in our lives..."

"You can stop that one right there." Fran says, firmly. "I know as well as you do that the Bar picks you up whether you like it or not, and the same with Fry, and neither of us would be here without it." Though he can see she's shaken, she takes a deep breath. "So what are we going to do?"

"I've told Mike, Simon and Teja." Guppy says. "I need to question Fry. Tactfully. And not just about physical harm. It sounds like Dr Lecter has been psychologically hurting people in Milliways."

"No shit, it certainly explains that business with Javert." Fran's eyes harden. "We'd better get Fry in."

She goes to the door and opens it, to discover that Fry is standing with his ear to it, as is Coral. Brooke, who hadn't really understood what the older two were doing, topples in.

"Did I give you permission to eavesdrop?" Fran asks, folding her arms.

"No." Fry says, with a rather guilty expression.

"Fry, come inside. Coral and Brooke, go and play with Grandpa." Fran says, steering the two girls away from the door. "And if I catch any of you eavesdropping again, there will be trouble."

"What's going on?" Fry asks. Guppy feels rather reassured by this; if he was listening in, he hasn't understood it.

"Fry... I need to ask you some questions." Guppy squats to his level. "Has Dr Lecter ever hurt you?"

"No." Fry says, at once.

"Has he ever scared or threatened you?"

"No."

"Has he ever said anything mean, anything that made you feel bad?"

"No." Fry says. "What's going on?"

"We think Dr Lecter may be a bad man, in his world." Fran says, squatting on Fry's other side. "Daddy has told Mikey and Teja, and Security will investigate and find out. For now, you mustn't talk to Dr Lecter on your own. If he approaches you, you have to find Dad or a safe person - Teja or Enzo or Gene would do. Dr Lecter is not a safe person now."

"Dr Lecter is my friend." Fry says. "He gave me a book."

"If he's innocent, you can go back to seeing him." Fran says. "If he's a bad man, then you can't trust him."

"You told me there isn't such thing as a bad man." Fry says, looking back at Guppy. "Only a man or lady who does good and bad things."

Guppy blinks at him. Of course, Fry has a point, but...

"Well you're right, Fry." Fran says. "But you must promise that until this is sorted out, you stay away from him. Promise?"

"I promise." Fry says, after a moment.

"And you're not to tell anyone that Dr Lecter may be a bad man either." Guppy says. "In case it's not true. That would be spreading a lie." And could make you a target.

"If they ask me I won't say." Fry says, nodding.

"Good boy. Now Daddy and I need to have a chat about grown up stuff, so go back into the living room please and don't let me catch you eavesdropping again."

Fry goes back into the living room.

"See?" Fran says. "He's not hurt you, and he's not hurt Fry. Bring him down."

Guppy hugs her. She's more trembly than she looks.

"Are you okay?" he asks gently, stroking her hair.

"A little bit terrified." she whispers.



In the living room, Fry flops down on the sofa. Grandpa is busy watching the football. Coral and Brooke are playing with wooden bricks - Coral stacking them into little houses for a wooden dog, and Brooke building them up to knock down.

"Grandpa?" Fry asks. "What's a cannanball?"

"A cannonball?" Grandpa looks over at him. "It's one of them little black things you shoot out a cannon."

"I don't think it can be that, he's a man." Fry says.

"Oh, well you can have a human cannonball." Grandpa says. "In the circus, like."

"Why don't his legs fall off?" Fry asks.

"I reckon it's a special cannon." Grandpa says.

"Oh." Fry says. "Are circus people bad?"

"Well, some of them are." Grandpa says, considering. "But I expect a lot of them aren't." he adds, fairly.

Then he springs up in excitement, as Holby United score a goal, and Fry leads his thoughts elsewhere.
guppy_sandhu: (asskicking)
"How dare he?" Fran stops wiping the dish and looks at Guppy. "What business is it of Hannibal's to start comparing his patients to Fry?"

"Well I suppose Javert did know of Fry's diagnosis beforehand, so it isn't technically a breach of confidentiality." Guppy says.

"Yes, but you don't feel comfortable about it either, I can tell." Fran says. "From what you've told me, Javert is about as similar to Fry as two people in a wheelchair are similar because they can't walk. And even if they were similar it's absolutely inappropriate. I mean they're hardly going to be able to provide each other with moral support."

"I just don't know how to approach this." Guppy admits.

"Well let's start off with the simple stuff." Fran says. "Do you think Javert has Aspergers?"

"Not really." Guppy admits. "More likely he might be an ass. He seems entirely conscious of the effect he has on people, he just doesn't care."

"Well in that case, let everyone else deal with Javert." Fran says. "You need to tackle Hannibal about Fry."

"I really think he went about this the wrong way." Guppy says. "But, he seems to genuinely care for Fry."

"Dad?"

Guppy jumps and looks around, with a feeling of guilt, wondering how much Fry hurt.

"Yes Fry?"

"Please can I have a box? Me and Archie want to make a worm farm."

"Oh, sure." Guppy digs out a tuppaware and hands it over. "Remember they need to get enough water and be able to breathe."

"Thanks." Fry takes the box and goes back outside.

"Do you think he heard that?" Guppy asks Fran.

"I don't know." Fran bites her lip slightly. "He didn't ask any questions... where are he and Archie getting worms from?"

They go outside and peer over the gap in the fence that Fry uses to go and play with the boy next door.

"... Mrs Beauchamp's prize lawn..."
guppy_sandhu: (Default)
Guppy pauses as he stands outside the ward. His ward, in fact, along with Dr Bell, the other consultant. In tiny letters above it reads the words 'Florey Ward', in grey text on white.

As he enters the ward an elderly man comes to the door, in his pyjamas and slippers.

"I'm going home." the man says, looking wistfully at Guppy.

"Are you?" Guppy asks. "You'd be cold in those pyjamas."

He looks at the wristband. "Come on Fred, let's go and find a nurse."

As he leads the man gently back up the ward, a young and frazzled-looking student nurse darts around the corner. His name badge reads 'Tom Button'.

"Oh Fred, come on mate, let's get you a cup of tea." the young nurse says. "Thanks." he adds to Guppy.

"I want to go home." Fred says.

"We'll get you out of here when we can." the nurse says kindly. "But we can't today, it wouldn't be safe. Let's get you some tea."

Guppy nods in approval. Later, he would find out that Fred had burned his house down.

When he reaches the nursing station, everyone looks hassled. Another patient keeps trying to wander into the sluice room, nobody is able to answer the phone, and there's a scramble for computer space. He scans the crowd to look for the F1, the most junior doctor, and generally the one that organised the list.

As he approaches, the crowd suddenly appear to realise that the new boss is in the building, and eyes turn towards him. The F1 jumps out of his chair, and stands at attention next to the printer, willing the list to move faster.

"Dr Sandhu?" the nurse in charge leaps up to shake his hand. "I'm Martin, we spoke on the phone."

Guppy shakes the hand firmly. The fact that everyone else is nervous makes him feel marginally better.

"Nice to meet you all. Let's crack on with the board round, and I'll try and learn names as we go?"

"Board round... oh, of course, let me gather the physios." Martin says. "That's Shaun, your F1, there's an SHO and a reg to come."

Guppy can tell the board round isn't normally done. For one thing, they have to move furniture. But it's good to get everyone together at the start of the day.

"You have the eighteen patients in blue, and Dr Bell has the ten in red." Martin explains.

"What's this S magnet next to the names?" Guppy asks.

"Social." Martin says.

Guppy stares at the board. So twelve of his eighteen patients are social - essentially, medically fit with nowhere to go.

"We'd better get cracking then." he says.

There's a lot of work to do.
guppy_sandhu: (blue)
The locum consultant post he's been doing is about to run out. And with two failed interviews under his belt, Guppy has been feeling somewhat nervous about it. Another locum post is still an option, but he wants to get things sorted sooner rather than later.

His third interview takes him back to St James' Hospital, where he worked under Dr Wood for a number of years. It's the same department, so he is rather hoping that it may be the retirement of his former boss that has led to the position being open.

He pops up to his old ward to say hello to everyone, and is startled to find that the door to Crombie-Fitzgerald ward now has a new swipe lock on it, which his pass won't let him enter. In fact, the sign to the ward has changed entirely, and the artwork that Fran and one of the nurses did has been painted over. The sign above the door is in golden letters.

'Holby Gold'

There isn't time to process this before the interview. Guppy makes his way over to the offices, and waits outside. There's another candidate waiting, and Guppy gives him a nod. He knows the other man - they were in the same year when he was a junior, and he knows the other man is well known for being lazy and cutting corners. The interview is looking more promising if he's the competition.

As he steps into the room, he spots Dr Wood is on the panel. His former boss gives him a reassuring smile. The other two on the panel introduce themselves - one is a senior manager, the other introduces herself as Dr Bell.

He feels he answers the questions rather well, though Dr Wood doesn't ask or comment on any. He suspects that his former boss has declared a conflict of interest, and that it's nothing personal, but to avoid showing bias.

He leaves the interview feeling positive. A couple of minutes later, as he's going towards the canteen, Dr Wood comes out into the corridor and beckons him over.

"I'm sorry I couldn't talk to you back there." he says. "It was good to see you applied, I hoped you would. But of course as you saved my life, I'm not allowed to influence the panel too much."

"It's good to see you too." Guppy says, giving him a handshake which turns into a manhug.

"Listen - I'm pretty sure you're going to get the job, but I wanted to know if you were aware of how the department has changed in the last year, so you know whether you want to accept." Dr Wood continues.

"I was a bit surprised when I came in - what's happened?" Guppy asks, as they head down the corridor.

"Crombie-Fitzgerald ward is gone." Dr Wood says. "You know that they were merging it before, and that we had to cut jobs, well in the end the local authority decided the whole thing should be centralised. All the stroke rehab is now at Queen's, and the people we used to work with have scattered. They want someone to take over Florey ward."

"Florey Ward... that's general elderly?" Guppy asks.

"Partially, but they specialise in dementia and cognitive impairment." Dr Wood says. "Should be quite up your street, actually. You'll have to make cutbacks though, and that might mean jobs, so I just want to make sure you're aware of that."

Guppy nods. Budgets and bureaucracy come with the higher levels of the job. He won't be cutting people out if he can help it, though. He remembers how upset Fran was when it happened to her.

"What's Holby Gold?" he asks, remembering suddenly.

"That's the new Private Wing." Dr Wood says, sighing slightly. "We've lost rather a lot of beds - but it's generating income for the hospital, which we badly need. Dr Sharpe was working on the financial deal before he got arrested for fraud."

Guppy grimaces. It was exactly the sort of thing Dr Sharpe would be involved with. Dr Wood continues quickly.

"Anyway, if Dr Sharpe had stayed away from fraud, he'd now be raking it in. Dr Bell is now in charge of Holby Gold, though she works on the NHS side as well. She's financially minded, but she's a good doctor, so try to keep her on side as best you can."

Guppy nods. "I wish you were staying." he admits. "You'll keep in touch, right? Whether or not I get the job."

"Course I will!" Dr Wood smiles. "You'll be fine, and you can always call if you need advice."

Later that afternoon, Guppy gets the call. He has his first permanent consultant post, and he's got a lot of work to do.
guppy_sandhu: (Default)
Coral's parents' evening is just before the music festival. Her teacher, Mrs Nail, is one that they haven't been to parents' evening with before, since her class is the one that Fry had skipped to put him with children a few months older.

Mrs Nail looks rather stern for a nursery teacher, giving Guppy and Fran the feeling that they're slightly in trouble before they even sit at the desk. Fran shoots Guppy a glance that nearly makes him giggle - she always is a terrible influence at these events.

"Coral is a very sweet child." Mrs Nail says. "But she's rather quiet in class. I think she could do with more confidence."

"Oh." Guppy says, frowning slightly. "Well she's always not said very much - but when she does talk, she's always seemed confident in what she says. To us."

"Oh yes, she's got a good vocabulary, and her sentences are... more correct than most three-year-olds, it's just getting her to open up." Mrs Nail says. "And she wouldn't join chess club, even after we encouraged her when she won a prize at the tournament."

Fran grimaces this time. Guppy knows she's thinking the same as he is - did Coral lose confidence in chess because Fry told her she only won by chance? They'd told him off for that, because even if there weren't many other kids in her group, she'd done well to play the game at all.

"Her reading has improved a great deal though." Mrs Nail continues. "I was just starting to get concerned, since she's so bright I was expecting her to progress more quickly, but we've been using a template to stop her skipping lines and she's doing a lot better. She should be all right to go into the next class at the end of the year."


"That was torturous." Fran says, afterwards. "Although I'm relieved about her reading. Do you think Coral's got no confidence?"

"I think she's wrong." Guppy says, firmly. "Coral speaks her mind, but maybe that's just at home? If it is Fry that undermines her confidence, we need to get to the bottom of it fast."

They closely observe their oldest two as they prepare for the music festival the next night. Coral doesn't seem especially nervous, indeed she seems excited about performing with her class in front of all the parents.

"We're doing Happy and you Know it." she announces for the fifth time that evening. "With all the actions."

"You're going to be great!" Guppy says, encouragingly. "I heard you practicing and you have a very nice singing voice."

He earwigs when he goes into the next room, listening to check that Fry doesn't say anything off-putting. But it seems Fry is busy practicing his own piece over and over, and barely acknowledges his sisters existing. When Brooke toddles over to hassle Fry on the piano, Coral automatically takes her the other side of the room.

"Me do-it!" Brooke protests, pointing at the piano.

"I'm going to sing. You do the claps." Coral tells her, starting to sing her song again. And although Brooke doesn't join in the singing, she does oblige with the actions.


At the school, the festival is soon in swing. Coral's class is first to perform, before they start the individual rounds. She sings the loudest, and does all the actions with enthusiasm.

"You were the best." Fry says, spontaneously, when she gets back to her seat.

"Really?" Coral beams.

"It's true." Fry says. "The others were terrible. Especially Carol."

Carol, who is sitting in front, turns around and glares at Fry and Coral. The look is entirely lost on him, and of no interest to Coral, who has daily arguments with the girl for picking up stuff with the wrong name on.

"Fry, Carol can hear you." Fran whispers.

Group one is up next. Rather than just by classes, the groups have been done on ability. Despite only playing for five months, Fry has been practicing like anything, and has earned himself a place in group two. Yuki, who was in his class before he skipped a year, has managed it too. The rest of the group is made of kids from his current class, and one from Infants 3 who started a little later.

"Okay Fry, you're up in a few minutes." Guppy warns him, when the last player from group one has finished.

"Go Fry!" Coral says.

"Go go!" Brooke babbles, sucking her fingers as Fran bounces her on her knee.

Fry disappears back stage, and when called to his turn, goes out and plays his piece note perfect, but lacking perhaps some of the emotion that might be expected of 'Somewhere over the Rainbow'. He appears satisfied with his suitable applause at the end.

A few more rounds follow, as the more advanced children play. As the children start to get fidgety, the festival comes to an end, and it's time to distribute the prizes. Guppy watches Fry's expression as he comes fifth in his group - impressive since that puts him in the top half, but clearly the little boy doesn't want to take this lying down.

"And the most improved player trophy goes to Alexander Sandhu." the judge says. "Who has only been playing for five months, and according to his teacher, practices a whole hour every night!"

He goes forward to present the little trophy to Fry, who appears slightly mollified.

"Why didn't I win my group?" Fry asks. "Tommy beat me and he only uses the cornet to play fart noises mostly."

There is a flurry of giggles from the audience. The judge looks slightly taken aback at the question. Guppy tries to mime to Fry to be quiet and accept his trophy, but to no avail.

"Well, it was very close." he says diplomatically. "Try again next year."

Coral and her class get certificates for participating, and as Guppy watches her, he can't quite believe what her teacher said about confidence.

"Look!" Coral says, bringing her certificate back to him. "He said I sang lovely."

"You did!" Guppy says. Then, bringing the problem to a head, he asks: "Coral, why didn't you want to join the chess club? Did you feel worried about it?"

Coral shakes her head.

"At play time I play with my friends." she says. "I can play chess at home with Fry."

Guppy feels a wave of relief. As he watches his middle daughter run off to give goodbye cuddles to her classmates, he feels some reassurance once again that as parents, they're muddling along all right.
guppy_sandhu: (Default)
It's a big night for Fry when Guppy comes to collect Gene from the bar.

"And if you need a smoke, you'll have to do it before we go in." Guppy is telling Gene as they come out into his living room. "Fran's just picking up her sister to babysit, she'll be back in a minute."

Fry's dressed in a new police costume, as he's now too big for his old one, which Coral is currently sporting.

"Babysitter?" she wails. "I want to see!"

"You saw him in the play this afternoon." Guppy says firmly. "We're going to be out past your bedtime, Brooke's too. Auntie Tanya and Megan will come to play instead."

Coral has now spotted Gene, and runs up to glomp his legs. Fry just glances at him and smiles, contented that he came.
guppy_sandhu: (unbreakmyheart)
There was an... evening of fun, requiring the use of the box of foil squares, before Guppy went for his procedure.

It went better than he imagined. He and Fran had talked long and hard about getting a vasectomy, and decided in the end it was for the best.

"We have three wonderful children." Fran had said. "And we've been lucky."

Guppy had agreed. The odds of having another premmie, or another autistic kid like Fry, or both at once, were high. And much as they love Fry, one set of special needs is more manageable than two.

He is about to go into work after, and opens his phone to check his messages. He doesn't recognise the number initially, but there's five missed calls. He logs into his answerphone.

"Hi Guppy, this is Max, something's come up on the school visit to observe Fry, and... if you're coming to pick him up later we should have a chat."

That doesn't sound good. Max is Fry's psychologist, and five missed calls means something big is cracking off.

***

"Is Patrick in big trouble because of me?" Fry asks, later that evening, as they sort the washing out into colours and lights.

"No Fry, you were right to tell Max that he was calling you racist names." Guppy says. "You should have told me or Mum so we could have dealt with it sooner. And Patrick's in big trouble because racism is strictly not allowed at school. And because he called the headmistress the same word."

"And this is my country and I'm not a benefit thief?" Fry asks, cautiously.

"Of course this is your country." Guppy says. "And... don't even worry about that other one, Patrick's mum probably reads the Holby Mail. Look, the thing is, Patrick's mum had a big argument with Mrs Patel so I don't think Patrick will be at school tomorrow."

"He has to come tomorrow." Fry says. "We have chess club. I play chess with Patrick on Tuesdays."

Guppy puts the laundry in the washer, then crouches down to his son.

"Fry, you don't have to hang around with people who call you names and tease you. You understand that, right? You deserve to be treated nicely, same as everyone else."

"I play chess with Patrick on Tuesdays." Fry repeats, putting the last sock in then wandering off.
guppy_sandhu: (cmere)
"...so if you could maybe aim for a Christmas present a bit less expensive than a giraffe, and a bit more exciting than a pack of cheese slices..." Guppy says, while Coral sits industriously writing her letter to Father Christmas.

"How much can it cost?" Coral asks, chewing her crayon.

"Thirty pounds. In fact, you can choose something from Father Christmas's Magic Book." Guppy says, sliding it over.

"That's the Argex Catalogue." Fry says.

"Yes, and it will make things nice and easy for Father Christmas to find." Guppy says.

He goes into the living room, where Fran is playing with Brooke. He sits down next to them.

"What do you want for Christmas, Brookie?" he asks, ruffling her hair.

"Dada!" Brooke says.

"Aw, well you can have me every day." Guppy says, scooping her up for a cuddle. "We'll get you something nice."

"Daddy?" Coral comes through. "Where's the girls dinosaurs?"

Guppy gets up and looks back at the catalogue. Sure enough, every dinosaur in there has a boy playing with it in the picture.

"These dinosaurs are for boys and girls, so don't worry." he says. "What about that bucket of dinosaurs? They're all accurate."
guppy_sandhu: (brooke 6m aint seen nothin)
"Happy Birthday dear Brooklyn,
Happy Birthday to you!"


It's a party fit for a one year old, and Brooke appears to be enjoying herself. At present, she's toddling between toys, removing them from Micah and Jessica, the two non-Milliways babies present, as soon as they get too interested.

Guppy is keeping an eye on all the small people. Fran is operating the music and taking charge of the refreshments.

Coral is bouncing around to the music.

Fry is standing in a corner, counting the dots on the wallpaper and trying to ignore all the babies.
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