One-shot, romance, piece of fluff.

Enjoy!

A MILLION THINGS

"Hey Jude. Three things about me that you think are beautiful. And, go."

"Uh…" In the silence that follows, I can hear the incessant click of the turn signal and Abby's giggles from the backseat of his minivan. Bugs Bunny munches on a carrot in the background, reciting his iconic line, "Ehhh, what's up, Doc?" and sending the little girl into another fit of laughter.

After more silence on his end, I begin to get a little huffy. "Gee, thanks, pal. I feel loads better about myself."

"Come on. Don't be like that, Leigh. I'm just—what, exactly, is this for?"

"Some silly therapy exercise. And he's waiting, so can you just pick something—anything—before he releases the hounds?"

He heaves a heavy sigh. "You honestly don't have a single thing that you like about yourself?"

"Duh. Therapy, remember?"

"Right. Okay." Another brief pause, and then: "Your face lights up whenever you laugh. It glows sometimes. Even though you're pretty good at hiding what you feel, the color of your eyes always gives away what you're thinking. And…" A car horn blares in background, and he pulls the phone away to shout an apology out the window.

"And?" I draw his attention back to the phone.

"You're just going to have to think of that last one on your own." Another car horn rings out in the background. "Yeah, I know it's green! Later, Leigh." He hangs up despite my protests.

I lean forward and press my burning forehead to the cool bathroom stall door. How can I possibly think of a third aspect about myself that would ring as true as Jude's? His sound too good to be true and I can't think of anything that would be as convincing. With a heavy tread, I make my way slowly back to Dr. Borne's office, all the while wracking my brain. When I finally arrive at his door, he gestures me in and to the seat in front of his desk.

"Do you have an answer for me? Remember, I just want you to be as honest as you can. We can take a big step forward today."

I take a deep breath and then try to mimic Jude's exact words. "My face lights up when I laugh, almost like it glows. Even though I'm pretty good at hiding what I feel, my eyes—I mean, the color of my eyes always gives me away." I stare down at my clasped hands. "And the third thing is probably, uh, my hands, I guess? They look sort of graceful in certain lights. Less knobbly and…" I stop when I meet Dr. Borne's gaze—his eyes are narrowed behind his glasses and his thick, wiry eyebrows are furrowed in a deep frown.

"Has someone been feeding you your lines?"

For a moment, I consider lying, but he's so good at sniffing out a fib—and ten minutes is a suspiciously lengthy bathroom break, after all. "Oh, alright. I called Jude and he told me the first two. The last one was all me."

"Ah." His eyebrows are now arched above his spectacles with astonishment. "Jude. I see."

I shrink down slightly in the leather chair. I don't like the way those two rosy spots on his cheeks are spreading, nor the way his thin little lips are now twisting into an obnoxious, knowing smile.

He chuckles very softly, and without me having to ask, he begins to explain his rather odd behavior. "It's nothing, my dear. You will just have to figure this one out on your own. That's all for today."

I stand and move wordlessly through the front office and the revolving glass door into the sunshine. I plant myself on the yellow curb beside the fire hydrant, burying my face in my hands while my thoughts swim with images of Dr. Borne's ruddy, unreadable face. It was after I mentioned Jude that he turned all queer. Then it's something about Jude that I have to figure out on my own? Jude—the only one capable of seeing goodness in anyone. He sees it in me, and sometimes I begin to believe him. If I begin to trust the goodness, then can I possibly believe anything he said about beauty? I press my hands against my cheeks, hating the way my face grows pink when I laugh and how my eyes can never settle on one color—blue, gray, green. I also hate the way he always, always knows what I'm really thinking.

The crunch of gravel signals the arrival of his minivan. "Hop in, Spaz." He stares down at me through his open window, and I stand a little shakily to climb into the passenger seat.

I glance at the empty car seat in the back. "Where's Abby?"

"Ballet practice today."

"Did she like the tutu?"

"She adored it. You're probably among her top five favorite people now, if you aren't there already." He grins, putting the car in gear and taking us away from my least favorite place in the world.

I study his profile, wondering why I never noticed how he always seems to be smiling. And before I've thought it through, the question pops out of my mouth. "Did you mean all of those things you said earlier?"

"What things?" He shoots me a glance from the corner of his eye.

"You know. The things about me that you find beautiful."

"Sure, I meant it—"

"You can't turn there. That's a one-way street."

"Right, sorry." He cuts back into traffic without checking the rearview mirror.

"I mean, you weren't just saying it because I asked you to? Red light. Red light!"

"Sorry." He presses the brakes in record speed and turns to fix me with a puzzled expression. "Would I lie to you?"

"Well, no. It's just…" I watch his cheeks and ears growing a shade redder. I would stop, but I can't seem to. Whatever I'm doing is somehow affecting his impeccable driving abilities. "Green light."

"Sorry." He's an even deeper shade of pink now,

"It's just that you had trouble thinking of only two."

Suddenly, he swerves the car into a Walgreen's parking lot, bringing it to an abrupt halt rather crookedly across two spaces. He keeps his hands glued to the steering wheel and his eyes forward while he speaks. "Leigh, I didn't have trouble thinking of only two." He breathes deeply before turning to me and continuing in a more relaxed tone, the color in his face fading slightly. "I thought of a million things. The only trouble was coming up with which ones I liked best."

"Oh." I blink, dumbfounded, as the tears begin to roll down my cheeks. A million things…

"And what drives me absolutely crazy is that you can't even see these things about yourself."

I nod very slowly, feeling brave enough to reach over and take his hand. "I'm trying. It helps having—knowing someone like you."

"Good." He tries to smile as if he's known this all along, but I can tell he's relieved. "'Cause I plan on sticking around for a while. If that's okay."

END

Just something sweet and encouraging to brighten your day. Hope it brought a smile to your face!