A Helping Hand


Jan 6, 2003
Chapter 2
Once inside the bathroom, Michael intended on putting Grace up on the counter so he would have better access to clean her scrapes. Looking around the small space, though, he found no such thing. Apparently, bathrooms of the fancy variety had free standing sinks with no counter space. Instead of having drawers beneath the nonexistent counter, a narrow chest presumably held towels, toilet paper and other such items off to the left of the sink. This item, however, was far from stable enough to support Grace’s weight, so Michael instructed his daughter to sit on the toilet (seat down).

Upon opening up the top drawer of the narrow chest, he found the first aid kit Sydney had directed him to. He washed out Grace’s cuts before applying some antiseptic to them; he did not even wish to comprehend what vile germs lived on the sidewalks of New York, where she had unfortunately received her scrapes. “That pinches Daddy,” Grace whined.

“Sorry honey; it’ll feel better in a minute,” he told her. Then, after placing a Band-Aid on each injured area, he cleaned up the bathroom quickly, returning it to the pristine state it had been in when they entered it. Once this was done, he picked up his bag and Grace’s backpack and led the way out of the bathroom to the hall, where Sydney was pacing around her foyer. She stopped when she saw them though, and gave them both a curious look.

“Thank you very much Miss Bristow,” Michael said politely, taking Grace’s hand in his. “We’ll be going now.”

“Oh no wait!” she said as she practically lunged in front of their walking path. Michael looked slightly taken aback and he snaked a protecting arm around his daughter. “No, no I mean I feel so bad still for scaring you half to death….please, please stay for dinner it’s the least I can do!”

“What are ya having?!” Grace asked, sounding rather interested.

“Grace!” Michael said warningly. Then he looked up to Sydney who was smiling softly as his little girl. “That won’t be necessary at all, Miss Bristow.”

“Please, I insist. I mean, if you need to get home to your wife I understand, but-”

“We don’t have anybody to go home to!” Grace cut her off. Then, she looked up at her father and tugged on his hand. “Please Daddy?! Come on I don’t wanna eat soup again!”

Slightly embarrassed, Michael knelt down on the floor beside his daughter as a pink color filled his cheeks. “Grace, we don’t need to intrude on this nice lady’s dinner. Come on let’s go.”

“But she invited us!” Grace exclaimed. “Please Daddy!” Michael gave her a stern look, but she merely protruded her bottom lip and made a pouting face at him, one she knew he could hardly resist. Grumbling inwardly, Michael glanced up to Sydney and saw that she was wearing a similar pleading expression. Realizing he was fighting a losing battle, he very begrudgingly agreed to stay.

“Wonderful! I’ll go make sure there are three settings at the table,” Sydney beamed as she quickly walked back through her house. Grace was just about to scamper after her but Michael caught her by her arms and held her firmly so he could convey his warning.

“Grace I want you to be on your absolute best behavior, alright? Elbows off the table, say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and don’t ask any rude questions,” he listed his daughters most common offenses. “And when we leave we’ll be having a discussion about the polite ways to turn down someone’s invitation.”

“Why would you do that?!” she asked in confusion. Michael shook his head and told her they would talk about it later before walking back through Sydney’s very elegant home.

“This is like a museum!” Grace said in a hushed voice as she examined all the fancy vases used for decoration and paintings adorning the walls. Michael nodded in agreement; it was the most decadent home he had been in. Then again, he had not been in many dwellings that were even half as fancy as Sydney’s.

Michael and Grace found Sydney in the kitchen along with a Hispanic woman wearing a grey maid’s outfit. The fact that Sydney employed help did not surprise Michael in the least since the car that nearly hit them was obviously part of a private limousine service. Standing there in her kitchen with granite floors and countertops, he wondered what profession allowed her to live so well. Surely it was not any job he had access to.

“Please sit,” Sydney said, gesturing towards the table. Grace rushed over, shed her backpack and plopped herself down in one of the high back wooden chairs sitting around the large oval table. Michael took a slightly more demure approach, walking very casually and sitting down carefully, pulling his napkin into his lap as he did so.

“So, Grace, what grade are you in?” Sydney smiled at the little girl who was examining all the sparkling silverware surrounding the china plate in front of her.

“First,” Grace said happily. “My teacher’s name is Ms. Henry, but I don’t like her.”

“Why not?” Sydney asked with a slight laugh.

Grace scrunched up her nose. “’cause she’s old and she smells like old people.”

“Grace!” Michael said sharply.

“Well she does,” Grace said with a shrug as Sydney stifled a laugh.

Their conversation was briefly interrupted by the woman working in Sydney’s house, who she identified as Consuela, began carrying heaping bowls filled with mashed potatoes, chicken and carrots over to the table. Grace was practically salivating as her father gave her spoonfuls of each of the food items. She dug in immediately, proclaiming how wonderful everything was.

“Slow down,” Michael cautioned her quietly.

Upon hearing Michael speak, Sydney glanced over to see Grace shoveling food in her mouth as though she had never eaten before. This concerned her slightly, but she could not stay anything about it considering she had just met the couple beside her in a most unfortunate way. “So Grace, do you like first grade better than kindergarten so far?” she asked, deciding on a lighter form of conversation

“I guess so,” Grace said after swallowing a mouthful of mashed potatoes. “It’s harder…but okay I guess.”

“Good,” Sydney smiled softly at her. Then, she turned to Michael, “so what is it that you do?”

“Oh nothing,” Michael said quickly. “I mean, I have a job, I’ve had a few different jobs, but nothing important and probably not as interesting as what you do,” he said, purposely changing the subject away from himself.

“You mean running my father’s empire? Not summuch,” Sydney laughed softly.

“Empire?” Grace repeated. “Is he a king?”

Sydney smiled at her. “No, I meant that figuratively. He just owns a lot of the buildings downtown.”

Michael smiled inwardly, realizing the exact reason for her wealthy status. Once he saw that Grace was mostly finished with her meal, he encouraged their great escape from Sydney’s home. He had hardly touched the minimal amount of food on his plate mostly due to the fact that he was too preoccupied with making sure that Grace did not make Sydney regret her very generous invitation into her home. “C’mon Grace,” Michael said subtly, “We need to get going.”

“Do we hafta?” Grace pouted.

“Yes we hafta,” he said, mocking her tone. Then he turned to Sydney and thanked her once more. “This really was too much, but thank you anyway.”

“Oh, no, please it was the least I can do,” she said, waving her hand casually. Then, she walked the two of them to the door to say goodbye once more. She wanted to do more for them instead of sending them back out into the dark, but she sensed Michael’s extreme hesitation regarding anything she did or offered them. Keeping this in mind, all she offered them as they left was a smile.

“Thanks!” Grace called back to her as she descended the front stairs of Sydney’s house. Sydney smiled and waved back to her. Instead of going inside, she hovered in the doorway, watching them until they disappeared. As she was waiting there, she heard Grace ask, “Where are we sleeping tonight Daddy?”

“I don’t know yet honey,” Michael responded. Finding this a very peculiar statement, Sydney’s brow wrinkled as she shut the door slowly. Standing there in her foyer, she could not help but wonder the real truth behind the man and girl she had just shared her dinner with. The sad part was, she would probably never find out.


Mar 23, 2004
Okay, I revise my previous post. Michael isn't living from paycheck to paycheck, he's subsistance living. Most likily living in shelters and spending what money he earns on his daughter's behalf.



Apr 27, 2004
i havent been around lately but things dont change that much.. Your fics are still terrific!! i cant wait to read more !!


Jan 6, 2003
Chapter 3
Becoming homeless was never something Michael Vaughn thought would happen to him. Then again, who includes living out on the cold, dangerous streets as part of their life plan? Losing his apartment was just something else in a long line of unfortunate circumstances that had befallen him and his daughter over the previous year.

As a young man, Michael would always look upon the homeless with distain. They were lazy drunks and (or) drug addicts in his view. They either did not want jobs or could not hold them down due to aforementioned addictions. They were filthy and unkempt and worthless to society. He felt this way up until he became one of them, of course, when he found himself standing outside his apartment, daughter in arms, staring at an eviction notice. It was then he realized that a person could be homeless and still have a job. True, this was not common, for a portion of the homeless were as Michael stereotyped them to be, but it was possible.

Michael, like many of the other street-dwellers, had no family to lean on. All of Grace’s grandparents were gone and he had no siblings. While he had many friends and coworkers from prior jobs who cared a great deal about him and wished they could help, their own less than perfect circumstances prevented them from doing so. They had small apartments with hardly enough room for their own families and no money to spare with every penny being pinched to its fullest extent. Michael and Grace were able to store some of their belongings (spare and unseasonable clothes as well as some mementoes) at various friends’ apartments, but they were still stuck sleeping in church shelters, showering at the YMCA, and using the bathroom at the public library.

Michael hated the situation they were in; he loathed himself for not being able to provide proper accommodations for his little girl to live in. Unfortunately, with a fixed and only adequate income, and fixed expenses, it was virtually impossible to get ahead. Amazingly, though, Grace did not seem to mind all that much.

Grace saw their homelessness as an adventure; each night a new place to eat, sleep and dream. She let her imagination run wild, turning a dismal shelter basement into a dozen room mansion with crisp white walls and a lush carpet to lay on. She never seemed particularly down about anything, for which Michael was very grateful. Still, he needed to provide for her and knew that someday he would no matter how much he had to work himself to the bone to get it - he would.

“That lady was really nice,” Grace said as she and her father were settling into the Holy Methodist Church shelter that evening after leaving Sydney’s.

“Yes she was,” Michael smiled at her before crouching down to remove her shoes and socks. “She was very generous too. How are your cuts, hmm?”

“Okay,” Grace said with a casual shrug. Michael nodded, and turned to her other shoe to untie it. Usually after the initial shock of being injured wore off, Grace was a trooper. After all, this was far from the first time she had been injured in her short seven year life and, comparatively, a few scrapes and a cut were very minimal injuries.

“C’mon sweetie,” Michael encouraged his daughter to get up when he saw the single bathroom in the church basement was free. Luckily, that particular bathroom was equipped with a shower, though it was very small. In their time without a home, Michael and Grace had perfected the art of ‘showering’ without the shower. All they needed was a sink, a towel, and soap (the latter two Michael carried around at all times in the backpack he had) and Grace never had to go to school without bathing at least adequately. The rare occasions that they actually had a real shower, though, were very welcome.

After showering quickly and efficiently, Grace stood at the sink and brushed her teeth while her father combed out her hair. Then, she had to wait in the bathroom while he showered, which usually took only a few minutes. Michael refused to let Grace out of his sight ever when they were spending the night in shelters. The risk was just too high when they were surrounded by strange people he did not know. If anything happened to Grace…well, Michael was sure he would not survive, especially if he could have prevented it.

Once they exited the bathroom, Grace and Michael were met by grumbles and rants from the people waiting for their turn, complaining about how much time they spent in the one and only facility there. Really, they had only spent the appropriate amount of time, but since there was two of them and they took their times back to back it seemed longer. Both Michael and Grace ignored the sneers coming their way though; they were used to them.

Father and daughter made their way to their cot at the edge of the room. Grace crawled in first and tucked her body up against the wall before her father slid in beside her so that he was between her and the outside of the room. He slept in this position so that he could keep Grace safe from anyone with ill intentions.

When they were first forced to sleep in shelters, Michael would force himself to stay up half the night, making sure Grace could sleep soundly and that no one would kidnap her. Of course, this left him utterly exhausted and practically unable to work, which in their already dire situation was near fatal. He soon had to give in and let sleep win, but only did so knowing he was a very light sleeper and, with his arms around his little girl, no one would touch her without causing him to wake.

Once Grace was settled, Michael placed a kiss on the back of her still wet head and they said their quiet goodnights. Then, they fell quickly in to dreamland, for, when morning came, they needed to wake early so they would have enough time to get up, dressed, and then get Grace to school on time while Michael went to work. The same routine every day; they did what they needed to do to survive.


Mar 23, 2004
Unfortunately, Michael lives in NYC where rents are skyhigh. Since he can't get a higher paying job on his own, I hope Sydney comes to the rescue soon. Michael and Grace deserve a better life.

Oct 30, 2004
:LOL: cookie ur so funny
:LOL: Don't forget that I'm cute too :rolleyes: tsk!

they did what they needed to do to survive.
:blink: This is so sad... but what a brilliant idea I had to make Janet write this! And you did an awesomely (yes it does exist) AMAZING job :shamefullyembarrased:

*hug* your crazy cookums :rolleyes:

ChrisM wrote:
I hope Sydney comes to the rescue soon
Hmmm... I can tell you that she will, but since everybody knows that anyway, I'm not giving anything away *whistle*
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