Characters: Mother, Jess Latener, Dee, OC.
Setting: Before the manga, and the start of Vol. 6, Act 18.
Summary: A baby boy is found abandoned and taken to Mother Lane’s Orphanage.
Word Count: 980
Written For: My own prompt ‘FAKE, Mother Maria Lane, Taking in an abandoned baby,’ at fic_promptly.
Disclaimer: I don’t own FAKE, or the characters. They belong to the wonderful Sanami Matoh.
Officer Latener was a familiar figure in the area where Mother Maria Lane’s orphanage was located. He was one of the beat cops who policed the nearby streets, and more than once he’d dragged one of Mother’s children back to her to face the music after catching them shoplifting, or causing mischief of some other kind.
But that wasn’t why he was here this time. He stood on her doorstep looking troubled and distressed, a small baby, wrapped in an old sheet, cradled gently in his arms.
“I didn’t know what else to do, Mother,” he admitted. “I suppose I probably should’ve taken the poor kid straight to the precinct, or even the hospital, but I think he’s hungry, and even bundled up like this, he feels cold. You were only a few blocks away, so…” He trailed off, holding out the baby, and Maria didn’t hesitate, accepting him into her arms.
“Come on in, Jess, I’ll get this little one dressed and fed, then you can drive me with him to the precinct and make a report.”
“For what? Caring for children is the reason I’m here.”
Mother led the way to the kitchen where she put a bottle of formula on to warm. This wasn’t the first time she’d cared for an infant, although they never stayed for more than two or three weeks because babies were easier to find homes for than older children. Still, it meant she always had the necessary equipment on hand. Jess trailed behind her as she took the baby into another room, where she had a changing table and diapers, and watched as she made short work of cleaning the boy up and getting him into some warm clothes.
“How old do you think he is?”
“Not very old, a few days at the most, I’d say. Poor little mite. He looks reasonably healthy though, all things considered. Tell me what happened.”
“I was just coming to the end of my shift, so I left the car and was walking that maze of alleys behind the old factory when I heard something. I thought it was a kitten, but when I went to check I found this little one, just lying there wrapped in that sheet, all alone, dumped on an old packing crate like so much garbage. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t even look for who might have left him, just picked him up and brought him straight here.”
“You did the right thing, Jess. Now, why don’t we get him fed and then go and fill out that report?”
“Right you are, Mother.”
Jess soon found himself holding the baby as he sucked greedily at his bottle while mother packed a baby bag and told her helpers to take care of the other children while she was gone. Taking the baby from Jess, she burped him expertly, then telling the young patrolman to bring her bag, and the sheet the boy had been wrapped in, she marched out the door to his car and waited for him to unlock it so she could get in.
It took hours to get everything squared away, but Maria Lane knew what needed doing. She cared for the baby while Officer Latener made his report and logged the soiled sheet in as evidence, went with the boy to the hospital where she never let him out of her sight while he was examined by doctors and pronounced healthy, if a bit small and in need of feeding up.
“He can’t be more than a couple of days old, if that,” the doctor said. “We can keep him here for a few days while the police carry out their investigation, but we’ll need to find a foster family willing to take him in as soon as possible.”
“No you won’t,” Mother objected. “He’ll be staying with me.”
“With all due respect, ma’am…”
“Mother,” Maria corrected him. “Mother Maria Lane, I run the Blessed Hope Orphanage and I’m more than capable of caring for this little one.” She scooped the baby up from the examination table he’d been laying on. “He was brought to me, and that makes him my responsibility. If he’s well enough to leave, I’ll be taking him home now. What he needs is a settled environment, not to be passed from pillar to post.” Despite her diminutive size, Maria had always been a force to be reckoned with, and she knew her own mind. No one was going to talk her out of doing what was right. This baby boy needed her.
The Doctor obviously realised he was no match for a mother’s instincts. “Right, you’ll just need to sign a few forms, and bring him in for check-ups.”
“I can do that,” Maria agreed. “Where do I sign?”
Social Services would no doubt get involved at some point, but Mother’s orphanage was fully licensed, and she didn’t think she’d have any trouble keeping the boy. He was hers now; that was all that mattered.
In the police car on the way back to the orphanage, she held her baby close, rocking him as he slept. “I think I’ll name him Dee,” she decided. “Dee Laytner, in honour of the man who found him,” she added, looking at Jess. “But I’ll spell it differently so that nobody gets the wrong idea.”
“Sounds good,” Jess replied with a smile.
In her arms, the baby stirred, opening deep green eyes. “Hello there, Dee,” Maria cooed. “You’re safe now and everything will be alright. I’m your Mother, and I’ll always be here for you. That’s a promise.”
She knew it wouldn’t be easy, raising this little one while caring for all her other children, but she knew that with God’s help, she could do it. While other babies came and went, she had a feeling that this one was going to stay.