Spoilers: "A Merry Little Christmas"
Disclaimer: I own none of these characters. They belong to DPB, CBS, Paramount, et al.
Author's Notes: This fic is in response to this week's (12/14/03) challenge on 15minuteficlets. It's set in the same universe as "Golden Days".
"Harm!" Mattie exclaimed as he snuck a spoonful of cookie dough. "You know you can get salmonella poisoning from that, don't you?"
Harm wrinkled his nose. "Aren't I supposed to be the one saying that?"
"Yeah, I would think so," Mattie replied.
Harm grinned. "Hey, life's too short to worry about salmonella. Besides, raw chocolate chip cookie dough is one of the best foods in the world."
"I'd have to agree there," Mattie said. "I remember when my mom and I used to make cookies..." She trailed off, staring at the counter.
"Mattie?" Harm said gently. She looked up and tried to smile.
"Better get these in the oven," she said brightly.
"Mattie." Harm stopped her with a hand on her arm. "You don't have to be ashamed to talk about your mother. It's only natural."
"I know," she said, popping the baking sheet into the oven.
Harm looked at her for a few moments. Tactfully changing the subject, he said, "That reminds me--I should probably call my mom. She and Frank should be awake by now." He picked up the phone. "She's going to love you. She always wanted a daughter. I suppose a granddaughter will be even better--she'll spoil you rotten, kiddo."
Mattie grinned. "Hey, works for me!" Harm laughed and shook his head as the phone began to ring.
"Merry Christmas!" a voice answered on the other end of the line.
"Hey, Frank. Merry Christmas."
"Harm!" his stepfather exclaimed. "Trish, honey, it's Harm!"
"Merry Christmas, darling!" Harm's mother greeted him.
"Hey, Mom. How's everything out there in sunny California?" Harm asked.
"Wonderful, of course. It's not exactly a white Christmas, but we can't complain. How are you doing, sweetheart?"
"I'm fine, Mom. In fact, I'm doing better than I have in a while."
"That's fantastic, Harm! So who's the lucky lady, and when do I get to meet her?"
Harm laughed. "No, Mom, it's not like that. You're right in assuming it's a lady--but it's a young lady. Her name is Matilda Grace, and I'm now her guardian."
"You're what?" Trish asked in shock.
"I've already heard the lecture, Mom; please, don't start," Harm said wearily.
"I'm not objecting, dear; it's just so sudden." Harm wasn't about to tell his mother that he had been considering it for months. "Well, may I speak with this Matilda or are you just going to ring up an astronomical long-distance bill?"
Harm handed the phone to Mattie. "She wants to talk to you."
Mattie took it with trepidation. "Hello?"
The challenge word was "cookie".