Sibling Rivalry

By Lyn

Email: Lyn

Thanks to Annie for her stellar beta and for giving me my little bolt-hole to escape RL.

Jim thinks he's pretty good at sneaking up on people after all that time in Covert Ops. I don't have the heart to tell him that after living with him for three years, and sleeping with him for six months, I've almost developed sentinel senses of my own when it comes to my partner. I act as though I'm unaware of his approach anyway, to stroke his ego a little, and jump when he wraps his arms around me from behind and nuzzles my neck. The squirm I give when his lips touch that very sensitive spot just behind my ear is genuine enough though. I stop typing and reach up and back, contorting myself a little to embrace him. "Hey, didn't expect you for a few more hours yet."

Jim presses a final kiss to my neck and straightens, heading into the kitchen for what is probably a much-needed beer. He looks exhausted, then again, he's looked that way for a week and I suspect I appear no better. "We got a break on the case. Simon gave me the rest of the night off, and tomorrow."

My interest piques at that, and at the smile on his face. We've both been way too busy lately to do any more than fall into bed at night, when, that is, we've managed to be going to bed at the same time. Too often, we've been like ships that pass in the night, muttering a subdued good morning and giving a quick peck on the lips as one or the other of us leaves for the day.

Jim's relaxed mood is a welcome relief from the tension that's pervaded the loft this past week or so. I'm not saying it's been only Jim. I haven't exactly been sweetness and light myself. With the end of the semester looming, and pressure from my advisor to get a move on with my dissertation, I feel stretched way too thin. There have been more than a couple of students who have experienced the rarely used sharp edge of my tongue lately. Interrupting the finally flowing words of my dissertation to bemoan the state of their grades and bitch about the fact that their way too small allowance is going to get cut off if I can't extend some generosity their way and fudge results does not sit well with me anytime, and especially not now.

We've spoken far too little this past week, Jim and I. Haven't made love, except for that one quickie in the shower on Tuesday, which doesn't really count, because I don't think either of us was awake enough to enjoy it. The specter of an entire night and day alone with Jim is enough to make me close down the laptop and decide I can do some fudging of my own where Professor Harris is concerned. "So, you want me to cook us something, or we could order in?"

Jim shakes his head and takes a long swallow of his beer. He wipes the foam off his upper lip with the back of his hand. "Go get dressed. We're going out for dinner with Steven."

"Steven. As in your brother, Steven?"

"Yeah." Jim smiles again and a genuine fondness shows on his face. "He called today. Neither of us has been very good about staying in touch since we met up again. My fault as much as his." He shrugs and finishes his beer in one gulp. "Go get ready. We're meeting him at the club at 7.30."

"The club." I know I sound like a slow-witted child but I don't have a fondness for 'the club.' I've only been there once before and even now, the memory of that evening leaves a sour taste in my mouth. We'd had dinner with Jim's dad a week after we caught Aaron Foster. William had wanted to thank Jim for finding Bud's killer and Jim had assumed that, as his partner, the invitation extended to me.

It should have been a good night, a celebration of father and son finally reuniting after years apart - and in a way it was. I guess Jim was too caught up in having his father back in his life to pick up on the pretty much open hostility William Ellison showed me. I'd never been able to figure out exactly what it was the senior Ellison so disliked about me. Whether it was the fact that I just didn't look like the sort of person to be his son's partner and back up, charged with the responsibility of helping Jim keep his senses online and working to his advantage. Perhaps it was his discomfort with me knowing some of the skeletons that had lurked in the Ellison's closet for way too long. Hell, maybe it was just me. Happens all the time, right? I mean, my ego's not so big that I think I'm God's gift to the world.

Still, I didn't say anything to Jim, not wanting to upset things and certainly not wanting Jim to think he had to choose between us. I just made sure that any time an invitation was extended from William Ellison, I was too busy with other things. If Jim suspected there was a problem, he didn't say anything.

Steven had seemed a nice enough guy when I'd met him at the Cop of the Year presentation, so I resolved to give him the benefit of the doubt, and seeing the pleased anticipation in Jim's eyes, knew I was doing the right thing. "Do I have time for a shower?" I ask him.

He winks at me and the grin on his face turns positively lewd. "It'll be quicker if we shower together," he says, tossing the beer bottle in the trash and moving toward me, already stripping off his shirt.

All the blood in my body heads south to my dick at the sight. "Or not."

~o0o~

"Dad thought we should all get together for Thanksgiving at his house," Jim says as we walk from the car to the club.

"Gee, I don't know, man. I've got a lot on, you know that. What with the diss and teaching…" I tell him hurriedly. "I'll have to get back to you on it." I don't voice the thought that I doubt the invitation includes me.

He gives me a querying look. "You haven't been to my dad's socially with me before now. I'd really like you to meet Sally, see where I grew up." He gives me a small body nudge. "Might give you some information for your diss."

"Yeah, well, things are pretty busy right now. Besides, Thanksgiving's for family."

"You gonna spend it with Naomi? I'm sure Dad wouldn't mind if we invited her too."

Ah, no, not a good idea. I can just see my mother stalking through William Ellison's mansion, giving a lecture on the state of the world caused by the greed of the wealthy few. So not a good idea. "Naomi's not big on celebrations, at least not establishment ones."

"Oh, okay."

I breathe a sigh of relief when Jim drops the subject and spots his brother across the room, heading toward him with big strides that make it impossible for me to keep up. I follow in his wake, feeling somewhat like a lost puppy, desperate for attention.

"Steven!" Jim wraps his younger brother in a bear hug and practically lifts him off his feet.

"Jim! How you doing, bro?" Steven slaps Jim on the back enthusiastically and when Jim finally lets go, grins at him, his blue eyes twinkling. "God, it's good to see you."

"You, too." Jim drags me forward by an arm. "You remember Blair?"

And there it is again. The Ellison-almost-not quite-glare, a carbon copy of his father's. "Oh, right, Blair." Steven holds out his hand and we shake.

"Steven, hi. It's good to see you again."

"You, too," Steven replies but his attention is already back on Jim. "I, uh, didn't realize you were bringing a guest. I only reserved a table for two."

"It's fine," I interject, and it really is. This time should be for Jim and his brother, to reminisce and hopefully heal some of the wounds that have festered for far too long. It's not something that should be done in the presence of a stranger. "I really do have a lot of work to catch up." I look pleadingly at Jim, telegraphing my thoughts to him. This is your time. Yours and Steven's.

"No problem." Jim grins at me and grabs a chair from the adjoining table, placing it on one side, then gathers up cutlery and sets me a place. "See? Fixed." He sits, motioning us both to join him. After a moment of uncomfortable silence, both Steven and I waiting for the other to obey Jim's command first, we sit. Jim waves over the waiter. "Let's order drinks."

~o0o~

The meal couldn't be faulted, and I have to admit I was immersed in Jim and Steven's conversation. Their memories tumbled out. Childhood jealousies and insecurities, Steven's fear of the dark - curling up in Jim's bed, where Jim would read Steven a comforting bedtime story without the benefit of light. "I really thought it was magic, Jim," Steven enthuses. They spoke of Jim's prowess on the football field, of their deep and abiding love for Sally, their housekeeper, the glue that held the broken family together… Finally, they broached the chasm that had widened between them, caused by a father who pitted brother against brother in an unending struggle for his approval, and a mother who had deserted them in their vulnerable years and left both feeling responsible for her absence.

At the same time, I felt more and more like an interloper, an eavesdropper, listening in on an intimate meeting that I should not be privy to, and that feeling was only amplified by Steven's furtive glances toward me. Jim tried several times to draw me into the conversation, exhorting me to tell Steven about my less than conventional upbringing and slipping in a few anecdotes about Naomi, that normally I would have found hilarious, but instead, had me cringing in embarrassment. I smiled until my cheeks ached, drank far too much expensive wine and wished I could be anywhere but where I was.

"I spoke to Carolyn the other day," Steven says suddenly.

Okay, that gets my attention. I dart a quick sideways glance at Jim but he's still smiling, chewing on a breadstick. He takes a sip of his water. "Oh, yeah? How is she?"

"You don't know?" Steven shakes his head. "Jim, she's your wife -"

"Ex-wife," Jim intercepts smoothly. He seems calm enough but I can see that tiny little nerve jumping in his cheek, his jaw tensing. He tosses the breadstick onto his plate and I have this sudden, crazy urge to jump up and wave my arms about, yelling, "Danger, Will Robinson, danger!" He shrugs. "After she moved to San Francisco, we drifted apart. We talk… now and then."

Steven gives me another glare, for what I don't know unless I did actually get up and do an impression of the robot from Lost In Space. "She said she thinks she made a mistake leaving Cascade, that maybe she should have tried harder to make the marriage work."

"Look, Steven," Jim begins, "that part of my life is over. I have nothing against Caro. I guess, in some ways, I still love her, always will." He darts a quick, almost apologetic look my way and I swallow the lump in my throat and give him a small smile back, reassured that it's me he's with now, knowing that won't change. "I'm with someone else now and that's all there is to it."

Steven smiles. "So, who is she? Why isn't she here?" He blushes a little at that and turns to me. "Sorry, Blair. I just thought Jim might have brought his lady friend to meet me, that's all."

"It's not a girlfriend, Steven," Jim says.

Oh God. All the air in the room suddenly seems to disappear. I reach out a hand under the table and grip Jim's leg, squeezing hard. For so many reasons, we decided to keep our relationship a secret from all but our most trusted friends. Steven is family though. Does that mean he counts? I have the awful certainty that this is not the time or place to break this news and I'm absolutely certain that Steven won't take it well. Jim's hand grips mine under the table. He turns and looks at me. "I'm not going to hide this forever, Chief."

I struggle to stand but Jim's hand holds me captive. "Jim, I don't think - I don't want -" I can't find the words and I just shake my head.

I can see the resolve firming on Jim's face as he turns back to Steven. "Blair's my lover, my partner. We've been together for six months."

I feel the blood draining from my face and Steven isn't faring any better. His face has gone ghost-white. His mouth opens and closes a few times before he finally croaks, "You're gay?" Before Jim can respond, he's shaking his head and holding up his hands as though he can ward off the awful truth. "No! No way. You don't go marry someone and then just decide you like guys, Jim. It doesn't work like that."

Jim stands and I have no choice but to rise with him, my hand still trapped within his. "Don't tell me how it works, Steven! You have no right to tell me how to live my life. Christ, the last time I saw you, you weren't exactly Snow White!"

Steven is standing as well now, his hands held out in supplication and his eyes dart nervously toward the other diners, most of whom have forgotten their dinners in preference to eavesdropping on the argument. "Keep your voice down, for God's sake," he pleads quietly. "Do you know what this will do to Dad?"

"Upset his upper class values, no doubt," Jim replies, his voice icy-cold. "Neither of you cared about my well-being before now. When I told Dad I could hear things, see things I shouldn't be able to, he told me to shut up in case his precious son was called a freak. Why should I care now what he thinks of me?" He reaches a hand into his pocket and pulls out some bills, dropping them onto the table. "Thanks for dinner. Come on, Chief, let's go home."

~o0o~

We're in the truck, heading for home before I can get my wits about me to speak. "I can't believe you did that, man," I say finally.

"Did what?" Jim keeps his eyes on the road but I don't miss the little twitch of muscle in his cheek again. "Argue with my brother?" He shrugs. "That's what brothers do."

I sigh in exasperation. "Telling Steven about us. I thought we agreed we'd discuss it first before taking anyone into our confidence. With your job and my teaching…" I finally hit the sore spot that really bothers me about this. "My ride-along status."

Jim holds up a hand to halt my words and, after a quick glance in the rear vision mirror, pulls over to the side of the road. He turns to me, his eyes flashing. "Confidence? Is that what you call it?"

My temper flares to match his own. "What else would you call it, man? It's not like you can come out at the station and let everyone know you're sleeping with your partner!"

"What's that got to do with my family?" he asks. "We told your mother. She didn't seem bothered by it."

I scrub a hand over my face. "Naomi's different, Jim. She's always known I was bi."

"So has my father," Jim replies. "He might not have liked it, might have wanted to change it. In the end, he just lumped it together with the rest of the 'freak' shit and turned his back on me."

"And then you saw each other again, started re-building your relationship," I say, a lump in my throat making my words tight and breathless. "Now, you have Steven back as well. I can't let you lose that, Jim."

Jim reaches out and cups my cheek and I flinch back, wishing he hadn't, because I know his touch is the one thing that will bring me undone. "I won't choose, Blair. I won't be forced into making a choice between them and you."

"Then maybe I'll have to," I say softly.

Jim shakes his head, a soft, sad smile touching his lips. He reaches in and kisses me gently, just a brief touch of his mouth on mine. "I won't let you." He straightens and places his hands on the steering wheel. "It's late. We'll talk about it tomorrow."

I open my mouth to argue, knowing we won't. That once again it'll get pushed under the carpet, to sit simmering until it explodes in my face. I slump back against the seat and stare out at the darkness, having already made my decision.

~o0o~

I knock tentatively at the apartment door, and almost simultaneously, my nervousness ambushes me and I turn to leave. Before I can slink back to the elevator, the door opens behind me.

"Yes?" asks a child's voice.

I turn back and look down into pretty blue eyes. The girl is about eight years old. Her long blonde hair swings in two braids that hang to her waist. I'd forgotten Steven has a daughter. "Umm, hi. My name's Blair Sandburg. Is your dad at home?"

She nods solemnly and looks quickly over her shoulder. "He's in the shower. I'm not supposed to let strangers in."

"That's okay," I rush to assure her. "I'm a friend of your Uncle Jim's. I'll wait here in the hallway -"

"Hannah! How many times have I told you not to answer the door when I'm not here."

Hannah rolls her eyes at me. "You are here, Daddy. In the bathroom."

"You know what I mean." Steven walks toward us, dressed in a blue bathrobe, vigorously toweling his hair. He stops a few steps away. "Mr. Sandburg. This is a surprise." He frowns, his eyes clouding with worry. "Is Jim okay?"

No, I want to tell him. He's being torn apart. Instead, I nod. "Jim's fine. I wondered if I could talk to you for a minute."

He hesitates a moment, ushers me into the apartment, then turns to Hannah. "Go finish your homework, sweetie."

She pouts. "You said you'd help me."

"I will. Just let me get dressed and talk to Mr. Sandburg and we'll get that math done in no time."

"You said we could have apple pie for dessert."

"After your homework's finished, remember?"

She looks at me. "Would you like some? Sally made it. We have ice cream too."

"I hate to say no to apple pie and ice cream but I can't stay… thank you anyway."

She nods at that and wanders slowly out of the room. Steven turns to me. "Give me a minute to throw some clothes on."

"No problem." While I wait, the anthropologist in me can't help wandering, studying the small cluster of family photos on the top of the bookcase. I recognize Jim immediately in one. He must have been about Hannah's age, standing gathered in a family embrace, but even there I can see the sadness in his eyes, the now familiar 'not quite there' look on his face. Zoning? On what, I wonder. The camera flash, maybe.

"That's my daddy and Uncle Jim and Grandpa and Grandma," Hannah says from behind me.

I carefully put the photo down and turn to face her. "I thought it might be."

"Grandma went away before I was born."

"I'm sorry."

She nods solemnly. "Me, too. Are you Uncle Jim's boyfriend?"

To say I'm floored would be putting it way too mildly. "I… umm… I'm your Uncle Jim's friend," I finally say lamely.

"Daddy and Grandpa were arguing about Uncle Jim last night," Hannah says sotto voce. "Grandpa was angry and Daddy got sad."

"I'm sorry," I say again.

"I wasn't listening on purpose." Her forehead furrows. "There's a special name for that."

"Eavesdropping."

She nods solemnly. "Right. I wasn't eavesdropping. I was in the kitchen with Sally, making the pie. I just heard."

My heart does a sudden slow roll. "Does that happen a lot?" I ask, my voice barely a whisper. "Hearing things from a long way away?"

She drops her head to her chest and sighs. "Daddy says I shouldn't tell anyone, that they'll say there's something wrong with me." She looks up at me then, her eyes wide. "You won't tell anyone, will you?"

"No," I promise. "Do you see things sometimes from far away?" I smile, trying to inject some humor, though my heart's trying to beat its way out of my chest. "Smell what Sally's cooking for dinner before you even get in the front door of Grandpa's house?"

"Sometimes." She gives me a delighted smile. "I knew last week she was cooking pot roast, even though Daddy said Sally was going to cook roast chicken."

"Were you right?"

"Yep," she acknowledges happily, then the smile drops from her face. "Daddy said I was showing off. He told me to stop."

I reach out and take her hand, squeezing it gently. "It's a lot for your dad to take in, that's all. Kind of like magic."

She studies me a moment then nods. "It is magic. Do you want to see my fish? I have one aquarium here and one at my other house. Mommy and daddy got a divorce."

"I'm sorry about that, but sure, I'd like to see your fish."

"Hannah, homework, young lady," Steven orders sternly as he enters the living room. He gives her a gentle swat on the rear as she skips past. He waits a beat then walks over to the drinks cabinet. "Can I get you something?" he asks, pouring two fingers of scotch into a glass.

I wave away the offer, only wanting now to get what I want to say off my chest and get out. "No, thank you."

He turns to face me, swirling the amber liquid in the tumbler. "So, why are you here?"

"I wanted to explain…" I take a breath and try again. "I wanted to talk to you about Jim… and me."

Steven shrugs. "Nothing to explain. My brother's gay. Could have knocked me over with a feather."

"Bi, actually. Look, I'm not here to 'explain' why Jim and I are together. We are. End of story. I just hoped I could get you to give him a chance to be the brother he once was. He misses you."

"I've missed him. I'm just not sure I can handle this. His heightened senses were enough of a trial for all of us -"

"You think he wanted that?" I interject, my blood beginning a slow boil. "When I met Jim, he wanted nothing more than to find a way to turn them off. It took me months to make him realize that he had a gift, not a burden. So does Hannah."

His eyes narrow at the mention of his daughter's name. "Don't bring her into this. It's just childish imagination -"

I'm already shaking my head before he can finish the sentence. "I know it's not, and so do you." I sit down on the couch and rest my hands on my knees. "I know it scares you after what Jim went through but I can help her."

He bristles immediately. "We don't need your help!"

I hold my hands up in a gesture of surrender, wanting to get to the crux of the matter. Maybe later… "Look, Jim's been through a lot. He's already lost too much. Being stranded in Peru, losing his men…" I shake my head, unsure of how to explain what I really want to say. "He's… he's been damaged enough. He was so happy to have you and his dad back in his life. He missed you but he needs to know you're okay with the choices he's made."

"With you, you mean," Steven adds.

"With me, sure," I agree, "but also with the way his life is now. Accepting his abilities, letting him be the son and brother he wants to be."

Steven carries his drink to the coffee table and sets it down then sits in the armchair facing me. He leans forward, mirroring my position. "Jim was my hero when we were growing up. After our mom left, I was pretty freaked out but Jim always took care of me. Dad had this way of pitting us against each other for his affection." He shrugs. "I don't know. Maybe it was a way to make me measure up in his eyes, to compensate for Jim's hypersenses. All I know is, it just made us hate each other. Every day was a competition. By the time Jim left to join the forces, I have to admit I was glad to see him go." He smiles sadly. "That definitely bit me on the ass when we heard he was MIA."

"The thing is, you have him back now," I say, "don't lose him again."

Steven takes a sip of his drink, and before he speaks, I know what he's going to say. "If I was to ask you to leave Jim, to let us have him back in our lives, what would you say?"

"No," I reply immediately, my voice and conviction firm. "Jim's lost enough already. His family, his friends, his… self-confidence. His ability to see himself as a great cop even if he didn't have heightened senses." My chest tightens, thinking about how Jim tracked me down in Lash's lair, how he talked me down from the police car when I was strung out on Golden and suddenly, I'm missing him so much, all I want to do is finish this dead-end conversation and go home to the man I love. I stand, brushing my sweaty palms against my jeans. "I'm sorry. Like I said, Jim's lost enough. I won't let him lose me too."

Steven stares at me for a long moment then nods. "Then I think you've said everything you came here to say."

"I guess I have." My heart feels like it's dropped to my boots. I turn and head toward the door then stop and turn back. "I meant what I said about Hannah. I can help her. Don't let her become another Jim."

He doesn't answer me, just takes another sip of his drink, and disheartened, I let myself out.

~o0o~

I creep into bed and Jim immediately turns and takes me into his arms. Just the comfort I need right now.

"Where you been?" he whispers in my ear.

"Sorry. Got caught up at school."

"You promised to call if you were going to be late."

"Battery was dead and then I just got caught up." I press a kiss to his temple then turn in his arms so we're spooned together, taking comfort in his caress down my back. It should be enough to send me spinning toward sleep but endless thoughts about my meeting with Steven and Hannah keep ambushing my slumber and by the time the alarm goes off, I'm still wide awake.

~o0o~

"A cooked breakfast on a working day?" Jim sounds surprised but his eyes are already hungrily eyeing the feast of eggs, bacon and toast.

"We'll make time," I assure him. Having no sleep at all the night before, I've been up since dawn, roaming around the apartment, trying to corral my restless thoughts before deciding that I needed to take my mind off the whole sorry mess.

We're just sitting down to the feast I doubt I can eat when there's a knock at the door. I wave Jim back to his seat when he goes to stand and head over to open it myself. "Steven! Is everything okay?" My heart jumps into my throat. I really don't need this right now. I had hoped Jim never needed to find out about my visit the night before.

"I know it's early," Steven says, "but I was on my way to take Hannah to school. We just wanted to stop by and say hello."

"Steven?" Jim is striding toward the door, a tentative smile on his face. "Hannah! Hi there! I haven't seen you since you were a baby."

Hannah blushes a little at that and allows Jim to give her a hug. "I'm almost eleven. You missed a few birthdays."

I try to hide a grin at that when I see Jim redden a little.

"I know," Jim says, his voice a little hoarse. "I think I have a few to catch up." He shakes Steven's hand and ushers them in to the apartment. "Blair's cooked eggs and bacon for breakfast."

"We already ate," Steven says.

"Stopped at Wonderburger for breakfast," Hannah adds, "but I can't tell my mom."

"Ahh, my favorite restaurant," Jim says, giving me a smirk. "So, Steven, is everything all right?"

"Everything's fine." Steven shoots a quick glance at me before he continues. "I just wanted to stop by and say I was sorry about the other night. I acted like an ass. I did some thinking last night after Blair came to see me."

Jim gives me a startled look. Shit! Busted! I shrug nonchalantly. "Sorry, guess I forgot to tell you. It was late when I got home and I -"

Jim cuts off my rush of words with a wave of his hand. "Guess you did." He gives me a warm smile. "It's okay, Chief." He turns back to Steven. "Sorry. You were saying…?"

"I wanted to tell you that I'm glad you're happy, Jim. You both deserve that." Steven's gaze includes me, then his cheeks pink up and he looks at his shoes. "I'm just glad to have you back in my life." He looks up at Jim then, absently stroking Hannah's hair. "I'll talk to Dad. I can't promise anything but…"

"As long as I have you and Hannah in my life, that's enough for me," Jim says. "Dad built the walls between us when we were growing up. I'm just glad we've broken them them down… with Blair's help." He draws me close to his side and I go willingly.

"Do you have fish or something?" Hannah asks, breaking the solemn moment.

"I'm afraid not," I say. I hunch down in front of her and whisper in her ear, knowing Jim will hear every word. "Think you could talk to your Uncle Jim and convince him we need a puppy?"

Hannah scrunches up her nose. "I'm not sure about a puppy in an apartment but I'll work on an aquarium for you."

"Deal." I shake her hand.

"We have to go," Steven says, pulling Hannah back to his side. "I'll call you, Jim. Maybe organize dinner with you and Blair." Hannah gives him a small shove. "When I have Hannah, of course."

Jim grins and tousles Hannah's hair. "We'd like that. No fair sneaking aquariums in, okay?"

Hannah's eyes twinkle. "You're not supposed to listen in, Uncle Jim, it's not manners."

"We need to talk about Hannah," Steven says, "with you and Blair." He glances at his watch. "Just not right now. Emma will kill me if she's late for school." He steers his daughter toward the door, waiting good-naturedly when she turns back and gives Jim and me a hug.

"Think positive," she whispers in my ear. "Go buy the aquarium."

"I'll do that."

When the door closes, I wait for the explosion. Instead, Jim wraps me in his arms and kisses me deeply. "You're a piece of work, you know that, Sandburg?"

I snuggle closer. "I am? What makes you say that?"

Jim kisses me again, long and slow. He pulls back and tweaks a lock of my hair. "I can't believe the lengths you'd go to have a pet."

"Ha-ha. You're a funny man, Jim," I say, snuggling in against his chest, knowing we don't have time for this but taking advantage anyway. I turn my gaze up, locking my eyes on his, going for the maximum 'puppy-dog' look. "So, we going to look for an aquarium on the weekend?"

Jim hugs me so tight, I think he might break a rib. "I'll buy you an ocean, Chief." He pulls back then, his face serious and worried. "About Hannah? Is she…?

"I don't know for sure. But if Steven's willing, I'll run some tests. If she is a sentinel, we can hone her gifts before they become a problem for her."

Jim wraps his arms around me, hugging me, pressing a kiss to my cheek. "I love you so much."

No time like the present. I open my mouth, ready to tell him about this cute little puppy called Curtis I saw at the pet store. Okay, I named him Curtis, but it suited him better than Maltese Schitzu cross.

"No."

Ah, well, it was worth a try.

End

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