A/N: Okay, this is my longest chapter yet. It would have been the normal 3-4k words if I hadn't gone a bit overboard on Spencer's memory. Now it's nearly 8,5k. I hope you don't mind.
If Spencer sounds/looks like a crying wreck, please keep in mind that he is only seven years old and that he has been bullied for as long as he went to school. (Might post a few one-shots about that at a later time, but I'm not promising anything yet.)
The fleece blanket in this chapter is based on a real-life fleece blanket that is currently wrapped around my legs. I have his express permission to use him in this story with colour and size.
The staying over during lunch at an elementary school is common practice in Dutch schools. I hated it, so I used it in the story.
I hope you like it & Reviews are always welcome!
Spencer woke up early. Even for his doing, it was still very early in the morning. It was only a quarter past five, and Spencer was feeling awake already. He decided that it was best if he stayed in his bed for half an hour, and then go down for breakfast. He curled up again in the comfortably warm cocoon of fleece blankets and bedcovers.
Spencer always enjoyed the warmth and comfort that the fleece blankets would give him. He had gotten them a long time ago, for his birthday. He couldn't remember it himself, but his dad had told him so. This fleece blanket, the one he was sleeping in now, was his oldest and largest one. It was easily three times as tall as Spencer, and the little boy could stand straight up underneath it and still be covered whole.
Spencer loved the comforting feeling of safety the fleece blankets gave him. He had always snuggled away comfortably in a fleece blanket after the bullies had hurt him, when his dad wasn't at home to comfort him himself. For Spencer, a fleece blanket meant a safe haven of comfort and warmth, in which he could retreat if he felt scared, or sought comfort. But right now, he wasn't seeking comfort or feeling scared, he was seeking warmth.
Spencer had always gotten cold before anyone else. Even inside he would wear a thick sweater and jeans and still feel a little bit chilly. The only time Spencer didn't wear a sweater was in the high summer, when everything practically melted from the heat. He didn't know why he had always gotten cold before anyone else felt as much as a chill, but it had been that way for as long as he could remember.
He didn't know if he should like it or not. On the one hand, if he was cold he could wear the fleece blanket. That would make him feel safe and comfortable. But on the other hand, the bullies had often tortured him with it.
Spencer remembered one time, a pretty long time ago in his eyes, when the bullies had tortured him with his tendencies to feel cold.
It had been winter, and Spencer was in first grade. He was by far the smallest and shiest boy in the entire school, and he was picked on relentlessly by his classmates. It was a Friday near the beginning of the year, just a few weeks after the Christmas break. It was unusually cold for the time of the year, there was some snow on the ground but not really much because it hadn't snowed in a couple of days.
The bullying had started early that day. Spencer usually showed up a bit late at school, arriving only just before the bell to escape his bullies. But today he had arrived early.
"Hey Spencer." Josh said in his mocking voice. Josh was Spencer's main bully from first grade. He had moved in the end of the school year, ending his bullying streak on Spencer. Josh wasn't the tallest or heaviest boy in first grade, but he was the loudest and the most popular one. And he was very strong, at least in Spencer's eyes.
Spencer tried to shy away from Josh, knowing full well that the bullying was inevitable.
"Where are you going, Spencer?" Josh asked in his mocking voice again. Spencer knew that something was going to happen, something unpleasant, because Josh always used that voice if he was going to play a mean prank on Spencer.
Spencer had shied away even further at that question. He had lowered his head, turning his gaze towards the ground. His arms were clutched against his side in and subconscious, protective gesture. He tried to make himself look even smaller.
Failing to elicit a response from his target by words, Josh grabbed Spencer by his coat and pulled him over. That wasn't a very hard thing to do, given that the tiny boy only barely weighed a miserable nineteen pounds. Josh weighed at least triple that, and was a full foot taller than Spencer.
The tiny Spencer toppled over, failing to catch himself as he fell on the hard ground. Josh unceremoniously shoved a handful of snow into Spencer's coat, evoking heavy shivering from the tiny boy. It had taken him quite a while to scrape together the handful of cold, white snow since it hadn't snowed for a few days and most of the good stuff had already melted, but the look on Spencer's face was worth it.
Laughing loudly Josh watched the little boy squirm, trying to get rid of the cold snow that was trapped between him and his coat.
The bell had rung then, and immediately all the kids had rushed towards the door of the school for today's lessons. Spencer waited until Josh had walked away before he stood up, opened his coat and let the remaining snow fall out. A part of the snow had already melted, wetting the back of his sweater. The little boy grimaced at the cold feeling of the wet cloth, but there was nothing he could do to stop it right now. He shrugged, and walked towards the door of the school.
Inside the classroom, a large and colourful room full of artworks made by the students, Spencer made his way towards his usual seat. He had learned in the beginning of the year that the closer you sat to the teacher, the less likely it was that you were hit by objects from behind, called names or punched.
Spencer settled at his usual table, which was miles too large for him, but still one of the smallest tables in the entire school. He crawled away in the corner timidly, afraid to draw attention to himself.
Then Mrs Halda had entered. Mrs Halda was the first-grade teacher, a kind woman that loved each and every one of her students. The talking and playing in the class immediately died down, because all students liked Mrs Halda. She was always nice to you, if you listened.
The first part of the morning had gone as usual. Mrs Halda was going to explain a few things at the beginning, and the students were then going to make a few exercises. Spencer, sitting in the front row, carefully listened to her every word, memorizing and cataloguing the things she explained, even though he was already way beyond them. He ignored the cold feeling that his wet sweater gave him.
After Spencer had made all the exercises diligently and carefully, and after the rest of the students were finished too, it was time for the small break. The small break was half an hour of play time, starting at ten o'clock, where the children could shed all their excess energy on the playground in front of the school.
Spencer trailed behind the other kids reluctantly as everyone went outside. He never like the small break, the other students would always shut him out of everything. Outside, he made his way to the edge of the playground. He sat down with his back against the wall and curled up, trying to get warm. Within the minute he was lost in thoughts.
Spencer was too lost in his memories to hear Josh come near. Josh was carrying a few handfuls of snow, which he had found hidden near the other edge of the playground. He wanted to use them on the one on which they would have the most effect.
He pushed Spencer softly, but hard enough to make the small boy fall over. This startled the little boy, and he curled up out of a reflex. Josh saw his chance clean, with a gap between Spencer's neck and his too-large coat for the snow to go in. He quickly dumped the pile of snow into Spencer's coat for the second time that day.
The little boy wiggled and squirmed to get the coldness off his back, but to no effect. Josh saw that Spencer was going to take off his coat, which would free him from the snow, so he pushed the small boy over again. Every time the little boy stood up, Josh was there to make him fall. Time after time Spencer hurt himself by falling on the hard ground, desperately trying to make the cold snow disappear.
It wasn't until the bell rang that Josh let Spencer stand up. Without a word he went inside, and Spencer could finally open his coat.
A large amount of snow dropped out of his coat, but it was only a fraction of what it had been. The rest had molten, soaking the inside of the coat and the back of Spencer's sweater all the way through the two t-shirts he was wearing. Shivering from the cold, the little boy went inside.
In the classroom, Spencer was still shivering from the cold. He carefully made his way to his seat and curled up in it, trying to rid himself from the chilly feeling.
Spencer could feel Josh look at him in amusement as he failed to suppress the shivers. It had been half an hour since the end of the break, but he was still feeling very cold and he was constantly shivering.
Mrs Halda had noticed that Spencer was shivering constantly. He was the smallest and lightest boy in the first grade by far, and he was very intelligent and always worked very hard, so she had a bit of a soft spot for him. But she also knew that he easily was the shiest and most timid boy she had seen in all her years of teaching, so maybe he was just scared of something. She knew that the little boy was very easily frightened, after all. She shot him an encouraging smile before returning to grading the exercises.
When the morning's lessons were over, Spencer went to the second-grade classroom. He, together with a few other students from first to fourth grade, stayed at school for lunch. A teacher would pay attention to what the kids were doing during lunch, so that nothing dangerous happened. The children had to bring their own lunches and drinks.
Spencer made his way to the far corner of the classroom where he usually spent the hour-long break. He crawled into the corner there and curled up. He was still feeling cold from the snow that had been dumped in his coat at the small break, and was still trembling a bit. He quickly started on his lunch.
When he had finished his sandwich, Spencer started looking around. Most of the other kids were still eating, and Spencer was usually the first one to finish. He felt quite full after eating just one sandwich, and he knew that his appetite was very small in comparison to that of his peers. But then again, he himself was very small in comparison to his peers.
Spencer grabbed a book from the second-grade bookcase and returned to the corner again before starting to read. He could easily read all the books in the second-grade bookcase and he gladly did so during the many times he stayed there over lunch. No one noticed that the little boy was reading anyway, since he was so silent and was hidden in the corner.
After a while, when most of the other kids had finished their lunches, Spencer was too engrossed in his book to hear Josh coming.
Ice-cold water scalded Spencer's neck, back and shoulders as Josh poured a cup of it empty above him. Spencer squirmed at the cold feeling, eliciting a smile from Josh.
"You don't like the cold, do you?" Josh asked mockingly. He knew, of course, that Spencer absolutely couldn't stand the cold.
Spencer looked at the teacher that was supposed to supervise the children that stayed during lunch, but he was too busy grading exercises to pay any attention to what the children were doing.
"Don't even think of it." Josh said as he saw Spencer look at the teacher. "I'll break every bone in your body if you do that."
Spencer meekly complied as he inched even further into the far corner of the classroom, pressing the cold cloth of his sweater and t-shirts against his back. He was terribly afraid of the boy that was towering over him.
"You're so stupid." Josh laughed at the little boy before walking away carelessly, oblivious to what he had done to Spencer.
The tiny boy pressed himself into the corner as far as he could before he started crying as softly as possible. If someone overheard him crying, they would undoubtedly come for him and hurt him. The trembling and miserable little boy sat sniffing in the far corner of the classroom during the rest of the lunch break. He was afraid of Josh, afraid that he would get hurt if he told anyone and afraid for more pain that would come the rest of the day, no, the rest of the school year.
When the bell signalling the end of the break had gone, Spencer made his way to his classroom cautiously, deliberately trailing behind the other children to avoid being seen. He was searching for Josh, so he could keep away from him as far as possible. Josh, however, was making his way straight to Spencer. With a small movement he bumped himself against Spencer, making the small boy topple over.
"If Mrs Halda hears of what happened, I'll break every single bone in your body and then I'll skin you alive." Josh said threateningly to Spencer. "Understand that?"
Spencer nodded, completely terrified of the large boy that was towering over him.
Josh shot the miserable boy a harsh look before walking away.
The tiny boy stood up carefully after Josh had left and made his way to the classroom. There he moved cautiously to his lone spot in front of the teacher's desk, and curled up on his chair. He was trembling from the cold, completely wet on the backside and he was desperately trying to suppress the remaining sniffs, to avoid detection by Mrs Halda.
Spencer didn't know how he managed to avoid being noticed by Mrs Halda for the entire afternoon, but he somehow managed to do it. He had been shivering the entire time, because he was still cold. But now it was three o'clock, and he could go home. Home, warm, comfortable home. As soon as he got there he would take off his wet clothes and curl up in his fleece blankets for the warmth. The fleece blankets had comforted him over the past year when the Josh had bullied him. He longingly thought about the comforting warmth and the soft, soothing touch that the blankets would give him.
But as Spencer made his way to where he had hung his coat, he noticed that it was wet. Not just any wet, but completely dripping and soaked to it's very core. Someone, most likely Josh, had probably poured water over it. It would be useless to wear that outside for warmth, it would only make him colder.
He picked up his coat nonetheless, ignoring the cold feeling it gave him as it touched his side, and made his way outside. It was cold outside, and Spencer couldn't suppress a shiver at the chilly feeling. He was heading straight to the edge of the playground, hoping to disappear into the frenzy of parents picking up their children and make his way home, but halfway there he was bumped from the side. He fell over and looked straight at Josh, the larger boy holding a mean grin on his face.
Spencer tried to shy away as much as possible, but Josh grabbed his arm and dragged the small boy behind him towards the bushes on the edge of the playground.
Once they were out of sight, Josh punched Spencer hard, making the little boy fall over and grab his shoulder in pain. While Spencer was on the ground, clutching his shoulder, Josh had moved to a large heap of snow he had collected in the lunch break. He crouched down and pulled Spencer close by his sweater. He forced the neck of the sweater open and proceeded to pour handfuls of snow inside.
Spencer knew that Josh was stronger, faster and heavier than him so he didn't protest as handfuls of cold and wet snow were shovelled into his sweater. He knew that it would be useless to struggle, because he'd only lose and risk being hurt more than he now was.
Josh waited until the snow had had at least some time to melt and soak the little boy to the bone before leaving. A shivering, miserable and, above all, cold little boy stayed behind in the bushes.
Spencer waited until Josh had walked away before moving. It would be completely useless to pull off his sweater now, because it was completely soaked and the snow had travelled all the way into the inner t-shirt, directly onto Spencer's skin. The ice-cold water made his skin almost burn in pain when it combined forces with the cold outside-temperature.
The tiny boy was trembling violently when he reached home a few minutes later. The walk had taken longer than usual since he was dreadfully cold and was almost toppling over from the shivering. Spencer could barely feel his legs and toes anymore, seeing that the cold water had travelled down into his pants and shoes, and he could only barely feel his fingers.
He just managed to grab the spare key out of the hidden pocket in his coat, and forced it into the lock after a few tries. The lock was quite high above his head, but he could just reach it if he stood on his toes. He turned the key around and pulled the handle down, opening the door. He quickly rushed inside and pushed the door shut.
Spencer ran upstairs and swiftly as he dared or could and made his way to his bedroom. There he hastily pulled off his shoes, jeans, sweater and t-shirts before grabbing a towel and drying himself. He crawled into his bed, which was very high for him, and grabbed two fleece blankets.
Spencer formed a cocoon around himself with the warm fleece blankets. At least five layers of fleece, topped off with the thick bedcovers, covered the tiny boy. Locked in his safe haven, Spencer began to cry, letting out all the sadness, hurt and stress of the past day.
Spencer shook himself out of his reverie just before he would erupt into tears. He managed to suppress the sobs that were coming, and tried to calm himself. Thinking back to those times always brought him to the verge of crying.
When he had calmed himself sufficiently, he looked out from under the bedcovers. He saw that it was a quarter past six now, time for breakfast. His stomach hungrily agreed with him.
Spencer snuck down the stairs carefully, using his fleece blanket as a cloak to keep warm. Downstairs he made breakfast for himself before grabbing the newspaper and reading it.
"Good morning Spencer." Johnson said with a yawn as he watched the tiny boy sit on the kitchen counter, reading the newspaper. The newspaper was almost as big as Spencer himself, and it was still a bit strange seeing such a small boy reading the newspaper, even though he had seen Spencer do it more than once before.
"Morning." Spencer greeted back softly.
"Did you sleep well?"
"Okay." Johnson said. "Oh, Spencer, you need your sporting clothes with you for your last test today, all-right?"
"Okay." The little boy said.
Johnson started making his own breakfast, leaving the little boy alone with his newspaper.
When it was time for his last day of testing to begin, Spencer was walking alongside Johnson to the main building. He was carrying a small bag, in which his gymnastics clothes were. Spencer still tried to shy away behind Johnson for a bit, but it was now less than when he had first been here.
Monica led Spencer to the normal testing room after Johnson had dropped the little boy off at the main building. Andrew the robot was waiting there for Spencer.
"Hello Spencer." Andrew started. "Today's test is going to be a little different. I want you to wait, and be patient for now, all-right?"
"Okay." Spencer said softly.
Andrew left the room, leaving Spencer behind, alone.
Spencer sat on his chair for a while, waiting and thinking whether Andrew would come back or not. When he hadn't arrived after a few minutes, Spencer tried to relax back in the chair, which was way too large for him. He could lie flat in it and still have room to spare. He let his mind roam free.
After thirty minutes, which had passed by easily for Spencer, Andrew returned.
"You've passed the test. It was a test of your patience, to see if you were patient enough to sit still for a while. You can now return to Monica. You know the way, right?"
Spencer nodded shyly.
"Good. Bye!" Andrew said as the little Spencer walked out the door.
Almost a quarter of an hour later Spencer appeared in the main lobby. Monica was already waiting for him there.
"Hi, Spencer!" Monica said happily. "You have passed the second test of today. You have correctly found your way back from the testing room to the main lobby, so you must have a great sense of direction."
Spencer looked to the ground shyly. He wasn't really used to getting compliments from other people. He was seldom given compliments other than 'you're cute'.
"Come on. Time for your next few tests." Monica said as she led the little boy out of the main building.
"Where are we going?" Spencer asked softly.
"To the gym. That's where the last of the tests will be done."
"The gym?" Spencer asked softly, fear audible in his voice.
"Yup, the gym. Are you afraid of the gym?" Monica asked.
"Yes." Spencer said softly.
"Because the bullies hurt me."
"The bullies from my old school always hurt me in the gym." Spencer said.
"But the bullies from your old school aren't here, silly." Monica said happily.
"No." Spencer confessed shyly.
"So then what's the problem?"
Spencer didn't answer that question, he remained silent for the rest of the trip.
When they had arrived in the gym, Spencer tried to shy away a bit behind Monica. It was a normal Friday, and there were many kids that had gymnastics right now.
Monica led Spencer away from the halls were the kids were sporting to another hall, this one a bit secluded from the rest.
"This is the boy's locker room. You can change to your sporting clothes here. Mr Steel, the gym teacher, will wait for you in the gym hall on the other side of the locker room, okay?"
Spencer nodded in a sign that he had understood everything.
"Good. Good luck!" Monica wished Spencer before she left the small boy behind.
Spencer entered the locker room cautiously. There were two other boys inside, and he observed them quickly. The first one, the one who was sitting closest to Spencer, looked quite young. He looked like he was about five years old, and he was quite small. Not as small as Spencer, of course, but the boy was only half a foot taller. The little boy had short, blond hair with a curl on the end. He wore a small red t-shirt and was wrestling with his gym shoe.
The other boy was quite a bit taller, and he looked older. He looked about nine years old, and was at least two full feet taller than Spencer. He had dark hair, and he wore an equally dark shirt.
Spencer entered the locker room cautiously, trying not to be noticed.
"Hi! Who are you? Are you new here?" The little boy asked cheerfully as he saw Spencer enter.
"I'm Spencer." Spencer answered softly. "And I'm new."
"Cool. I'm Thomas, I'm new here too. Have you had your first week of tests already?"
"Cool. Did you like them? I didn't they were really boring and I don't like boring tests." Thomas chirped happily.
"I didn't really mind them." Spencer said softly.
"Cool. What do you think they are going to test us here for? I hope it's something where you can run because I'm really bored of just sitting and waiting and doing tests and stuff."
"Can you please shut up?" The other boy, the older one, suddenly asked loudly. "You're torturing my ears!"
"You're funny!" Thomas exclaimed with a smile on his face. "Don't mind him, he's grumpy. He has been grumpy since I came in here."
"And with a good reason!" The older boy said as he left the locker room.
"Boy, somebody is really grumpy. Maybe he didn't sleep well. Or maybe he didn't eat well. Or maybe he has to poop." Thomas said blushing before erupting in a fit of giggles. Spencer smiled too.
Spencer changed into his sporting gear quickly, listening to Thomas telling stories about everything. By the time Spencer had changed, Thomas had finally managed to pull on his first shoe. Spencer waited for Thomas to pull on his other shoe before they entered the gym hall together.
"Are you Spencer Trail and Thomas Coddington?" A man asked from a seat on the edge of the gym hall. He looked old, and he was quite large. He wore a red gym-suit that made him look scary.
"Yes." Both Thomas and Spencer said.
"Okay, then we can start." The man said. "Everybody come here!" He yelled to the other kids in the gym hall. Spencer could see the older boy, the 'grumpy' one from the locker room, and two girls. Both girls were taller than Spencer and Thomas, though not as tall as the grumpy boy. Spencer guessed them to be seven years old.
"Okay everyone, I'm Mr Steel and I'm the supervisor for this test. This will be your last test for this week. When it's over, you can go to the cottage with your foster parent, who will be here to pick you up, all-right?"
A chorus of uh-huhs sounded from the five kids.
"Okay. The test will consist of several small physical exercises, to see how you are faring. If anything hurts, please tell me immediately. The tests are small and simple, and they are specifically designed for kids with your intelligence, all-right?"
Another chorus of uh-huhs followed.
"Well then, let's begin."
The tasks were simple enough, just like Mr Steel said they were. They had to kick a few footballs, run a few laps around the gym, throw a few basketballs and dodgeballs. And they had to hit baseballs, hit a ball with a stick, juggle a few pieces of cloth, which was surprisingly easy. And they had to make somersaults and cartwheels, and if they dared they could make a salto. And they had to jump over a few things, climb a rope, swing on the rings and all other exercises you'd normally find in a gymnastics class.
Spencer wasn't the sportiest kid, and his physique didn't really help him excel in most sports either, but he tried as hard as he could to do everything. Thomas was clearly more used to playing around, and he obviously had more experience than Spencer in doing most of the sports. Thomas and Spencer stuck together for most of the test, Thomas chatting merrily to Spencer while Spencer listened interested.
The older boy, the grumpy one, did everything faster and better than Thomas and Spencer. He was bigger than both of them, as well as older and stronger. But Spencer and Thomas didn't really seem to mind him, where he seemed only to get annoyed by them. Thomas had tried to talk to him, but he had only found out that his name was Noah, and that he was very grumpy.
The two girls weren't really sporty, for as far as Spencer could tell, but they kept to themselves mostly, only occasionally letting out giggles of laughter.
When the test had ended, Thomas was still chatting happily to Spencer. The little boy seemed to possess and everlasting amount of energy and topics to talk about. They walked together to the locker rooms, the grumpy boy followed them on a distance.
When both boys had changed to their normal clothes, they left the locker rooms. Thomas quickly said goodbye to Spencer before running towards his foster parent, an elderly woman who smiled as the little boy ran towards her happily. Spencer made his way to Johnson, and together they left the gym.
"So how did the tests go?" Johnson asked.
"They were all-right." Spencer said softly.
"Who was your new friend?"
"Thomas. He's really nice, and talkative."
"Just as talkative as Sophie?"
"Yes, I think so."
"But he's nice?" Johnson asked.
"Good. Really good, Spencer. I'm proud of you for making a new friend so quick." Johnson said while giving the tiny boy a soft stroke over his head. Spencer moved a little bit closer to Major Johnson.
"When do we get the test results?" He asked softly.
"After dinner, I think."
"Are you nervous about them?" Johnson asked.
"You don't need to be nervous at all, Spencer. I'm one hundred percent certain that you'll get the results you wanted. And besides, the results don't really matter that much. They give you an idea of in which subjects you might excel, but if you don't like those subjects you're totally free to chose other ones."
"And you'll have all weekend to think about those results. Speaking of weekends, you can call your parents tomorrow or Sunday." Johnson said.
Spencer blushed. He had forgotten to call his parents all week long. They would certainly want to know everything from the genius school.
"Don't fuss over it, Spencer." Johnson said as he saw the little boy blush and lower his head in shame. "I think your parents would rather have you have a nice time and forget to call them than you have bad time and you call them every day. Don't you agree?"
"Okay. By the way, how did today's other tests go?" Johnson asked Spencer as they entered the cottage.
"They were okay, I guess. But they were different from the other tests."
"Ah. But everything went well?"
"Yes, I think so, but I'm not really sure."
"What makes you say that?" Johnson asked.
"We had to be patient in the first test, and I'm not sure that I was patient enough." Spencer said softly.
"Spencer, I think you're one of the most patient people I've ever met. If anyone can complete that test successfully, it's you."
"Okay." Spencer said softly.
"Don't worry, Spencer. You'll be fine, I promise." Johnson said as he stroked the tiny boy over his head.
Spencer looked at him with some doubt in his eyes, but Johnson ignored it. Spencer walked towards the couch, climbed up and grabbed a book. Johnson smiled as he saw the little boy lose himself in the book.
That evening, at dinner, Spencer was unusually silent. He was normally very silent, but now he didn't utter a single word. He constantly kept his gaze to his plate, and only very occasionally glanced up. Major Johnson let it pass, for now. He could understand that the boy was very nervous, he'd be nervous too in Spencer's situation.
As soon as dinner was over, a large envelope was pushed through the mailbox. Spencer cautiously moved to the door to grab it, and Major Johnson could see the little boy tremble from nervosity.
"Come, Spencer. We'll look at it together on the couch, all-right?" Johnson said.
The little boy walked over to the couch and climbed up. Johnson sat down next to him, and Spencer inched closer to Johnson for comfort. Johnson swung his arm around Spencer's tiny shoulders and opened the package.
Just as expected, a little red booklet fell out first. Johnson grabbed the other papers that were in the envelope and put them aside. They were not important right now. He opened the booklet, and Spencer looked at it frightened. Johnson handed the booklet to Spencer. He should read it first, because it was about him.
Spencer cautiously grabbed the booklet and started reading it. Johnson looked at Spencer carefully, to try and gauge his reactions. He noticed quickly that Spencer was a remarkably fast reader. His eyes literally flew over the paper, and he was turning the pages fast. Maybe he should try to get Spencer's reading speed tested. No, that would have to wait until later.
Spencer reached the pages in the booklet that were filled with graphs and diagrams of his test results. Johnson read and analyzed them quickly. He was used to reading those graphs where they were totally new to Spencer, so he could understand them a bit faster than the little boy
The results were almost as he had expected them to be, but not quite. There was not really one big peak in the results, there wasn't a subject in which Spencer would excel exceptionally much. The results were much closer together, with every subject scoring equally high. But what Major Johnson hadn't expected was the height of the scores.
Normally, when a student had scores that were spread out over all the subjects, he or she would score average on most subjects, or a bit above average. But Spencer fell in one of the highest percentages for every subject. He was exceptionally smart, even for the Genius-school.
Johnson could feel Spencer relax against his side as he analyzed the test scores. He could feel the nervosity disappear from the little boy's body.
"See? I told you that you were going to be fine." Johnson said.
"You were right, I suppose." Spencer said softly.
"What's wrong, Spencer?" Johnson asked as he heard a muffled sniff coming from the little boy.
"I worry too much." He said in between sniffs. "I should have trusted you, but I didn't."
"Shhh. It doesn't matter, Spencer." Johnson said softly to comfort the little boy.
Johnson pulled the little boy closer to hug him for comfort. The crying was most likely the stress of the past few days leaving. He was happy that Spencer had finally found it in himself to relax a bit more.
While Spencer was softly sobbing, Johnson grabbed the little booklet with one hand to read it. He wanted to see the exact scores, because he hadn't been able to see them when Spencer read the booklet. He had only seen the approximate scores then. Why did they have to print everything in such a small format here?
After he'd read and analyzed every part of the graphs and diagrams, Johnson turned to Spencer.
"You do know that you're one of the smartest kids in the entire Genius-programme, do you?" He said
Spencer, who had only just stopped sniffing, shook his head.
"Well, I almost certainly know that you're the smartest boy in your year, Spencer."
Spencer looked at Johnson with big, unbelieving eyes.
"And I certainly know that you're the most adorable one." Johnson added with a smile.
Spencer shot him a shy smile back, and Johnson stood up.
"Spencer, I need to take care of something, all-right?"
"Okay." Spencer returned softly.
Johnson left the living room. Before he walked into the kitchen he saw the little boy relaxing on the couch with a large book in his hands. Now he only had to read the letter addressed to him from the Genius-school. The psychological evaluation that was part of every test had been analyzed, and the results were in that letter. He carefully sliced it open and started reading it.
Dear foster parent,
This letter will include a sheet with the psychological evaluation of your foster child. You may tell him about the letter if you so wish, but be careful. The contents of the letter might not be spot-on accurate, but they will give a detailed description of what out psychologists think the personality of the student is.
Director of the Genius-school.
Johnson carefully grabbed the other sheet in that was in the envelope. He skimmed most of the text, because most of it was psychological gibberish that he didn't understand. He skipped to the part about the psychological 'problems' that Spencer had. The people here would always manage to find something wrong with a student, though they rarely really acted on it. It was more of a guideline to tell the parents how a student would react in certain situations.
Hmm. Anxiety symptoms. Yep, that was most likely correct. Spencer had cried a lot for a boy his age since he had been here, and Johnson had seen the boy frightened many more times than he'd have liked.
Extreme shyness. Yes, that was also true. Spencer was extremely shy around other people, though he seemed to be a little bit more at ease around people his size. That was most likely caused by the bullies, though. Only there weren't many people his size in the Genius-school. But Johnson could help him with his shyness, so that was not really a problem.
Perfectionist. Well, that sounded like Spencer too, but it wasn't really a problem, so Johnson moved on.
Minor case of Paranoia. That didn't sound like Spencer at all. Maybe it was because he was so shy and timid that he looked around a bit much at each and every new sound, but Johnson wouldn't guess Spencer to be paranoid. Most likely this was one of those 'not-entirely-spot-on-accurate' cases.
Low self esteem. That sounded more like Spencer. In the time he had been here, Johnson hadn't hear the boy make even the slightest hint that he had a lot of self confidence. But that could be easily remedied too.
That was the end of the list of 'problems' that the psychologists could come up with. Five was a reasonable number, most of the times they would manage to find around three or four. But with Spencer's history of being bullied counting for three of the four problems that sounded like they were reasonable enough to be true, Johnson was pretty satisfied.
He read the conclusion that was in the last paragraph of the text.
Spencer seems to have a timid personality, and is very shy. He does not talk much, and he does not move much either. He is cautious in his movement, unlike most boys of his age. He acts kind and caring to other people, but he does not form friendships easily with people his age. Instead, he seems to prefer friendships with younger children. Overall he seems quite withdrawn and anti-social, though he is not unfriendly in interaction.
Well, that pretty much summed Spencer up. Though the last mentioning of the anti-socialness was new to Johnson. Spencer did always answer questions when he was spoke to. But then again, the letter might not be one hundred percent accurate.
Johnson thought deeply about how to make Spencer more open. He'd mostly have to wait until Spencer would go to the lessons to try and help him make friends, but he could have a few talks with Spencer already to help make the boy a little less nervous.
While Johnson was figuring out how to draw Spencer out of his shell, the little boy was reading his book peacefully.
"Wow. You're a fast reader." A voice suddenly said from behind Spencer, startling the timid little boy.
Spencer turned around and saw that it was only Mark.
"I didn't know you could read so fast." He clarified after he saw Spencer look at him questioningly.
"I don't read so fast." Spencer said softly while lowering his gaze.
"Yes, you do. You read way faster than me, Spencer." Mark said as he sat on the couch next to the little boy. "Oh, by the way, do you have the test results back?"
"Yes." Spencer said softly.
"Cool. Can I see them?"
Mark quickly grabbed the small booklet that Spencer handed him. He skipped to the page of diagrams immediately.
"Wow. You must really be a genius. These are one of the highest scores I've ever seen."
"I think there are a lot smarter kids than me." Spencer said softly.
"Well, I highly doubt that there's anyone with scores much higher than yours, Spencer. You've almost reached the top of every category for your age."
"Really?" Spencer asked shyly.
"Yes. I'm sure of it."
Spencer looked at Mark with a hint of doubt and uncertainty in his eyes.
"Aww, come here." Mark said while pulling Spencer close to him. He couldn't resist the scared puppy-look in Spencer's eyes.
Spencer slowly relaxed against Mark's side. The older boy carefully put his arm around Spencer's tiny shoulder and softly stroked him.
"Wanna watch Tv?" Mark asked.
"Okay." Spencer said softly.
Spencer crawled closer to Mark as the older boy put on a children's show.
Sophie joined the two boys on the couch a few minutes later. She sat on the other side of Spencer, carefully sandwiching the boy in between them so that he was warm and comfortable.
"Sophie, Spencer, it's time for bed I think." Johnson said at nine pm, after he had seen Sophie let out a few large yawns.
"Okay." Sophie said, not in the mood for protesting this time. She lazily stood up and walked to the stairs.
"You too, Spencer." Johnson said.
"I don't think Spencer could wait to go to bed." Mark said softly with a small smile.
Johnson stood up and walked to the couch where the children were sitting. He had to physically walk around Mark to see Spencer.
The tiny boy was curled up cosily on the couch. He laid with his back against Mark's leg for the warmth, and he was peacefully asleep. He looked like a perfect little angel that way, so cute and innocent. He was utterly adorable.
Johnson picked the lightweight little boy up easily, and carried him upstairs. He wasn't complaining about having to carry the boy upstairs quite often. No, far from it. He could carry Spencer very easy, and the little boy never made a fuss over having to go to bed. He'd far rather carry him upstairs than fight him every day about going to bed.
When Johnson had reached the boy's bedroom, he put Spencer down carefully. The lack of a warm body next to him woke the little boy up and he sleepily opened his eyes.
"Wanna go to bed?" Johnson asked.
Spencer nodded. He cautiously stood up and undressed himself. Johnson looked at the little boy's exposed chest and was relieved to see that there were no bruises left. The last time he had seen it there had been a lot of bruises covering the little boy, signs of his abuse at the hands of the bullies, but no there were none left. Johnson was glad that the physical signs of the bullying weren't noticeable any more. Now only the psychological scars were left.
Johnson turned around and left the room when he saw that Spencer was awake enough to manage.
Only a minute after Johnson had left the boy's bedroom and went downstairs, Spencer went to brush his teeth. As usual, Sophie stopped moving as soon as she saw him. And as usual, she lifted him up carefully to the counter.
As soon as Spencer had brushed his teeth and washed his hands, Sophie lifted the tiny boy from the counter. She hugged the little boy close and pressed a soft kiss to his cheek. Spencer carefully returned the hug. Sophie put the little boy down on the ground after a few seconds.
"Good night, Spencer." She said.
"Good night." He said softly before turning around and walking to his bedroom carefully.
Sophie had to fight the urge to run after the little boy and hug him to smithereens. She ran towards her own bedroom, giggling loudly.
Spencer heard Sophie run by his bedroom before he climbed into his own bed. He curled up in the fleece blanket before snuggling under the thick bedcovers. He fell asleep easily.
A/N: Review please?