Fandom: The Sentinel
Pairing: Jim/Blair (very preslash)
Summary: Together, new friends and going home.
Note: Part 9 in The Littlest Guide universe.
Beta: By my sister Anna. All remaining errors are mine. With apologies.
“Yes, Grandma?” Michael responded, walking into the living room.
Mattie, sixty years young, smiled affectionately at her beautiful, eighteen year old, muscle-bound grandson who was once again eating. Michael was forever eating. This time it was a HUGH sandwich.
“Would you take Jim and Blair into their room? They’ve fallen asleep on the floor again.”
Michael shook his curly head sadly as he looked over at the young Sentinel/Guide pair tightly wrapped together by the window. “He finished listening to the update from his brother?”
Mattie nodded. “Yes. Still no progress in finding Naomi.” She sighed sadly. “I wished they could find her, so Jim and Blair could go home. I’ll miss them to be sure, but it tears Jim apart every time he listened to Steven. He needs his family almost as much as he needs Blair.”
Michael reached down to gently pick up Jim, who moaned softly. Quieting at Michael’s gentle words of comfort. He carried the young Sentinel into the room underneath the staircase. They would have given them the bedroom at the top of the loft, but three year olds and staircases were not friends in the best of time. He came back a few moments later to pick up Blair with a gentleness that belied all the muscles and what he could do with them if he so chose.
“They really need to go home,” Michael said softly, sitting next to his beloved Grandma.
“I know. But the city has not been able to locate her since she met bail and disappeared. Everyone is out looking for her.”
“Do you think that Jim and Blair realize how much Cascade loves them?”
Mattie shrugged her shoulders. “At this point in time, I really think they don’t care,” She said softly, remembering back to when Malcolm had called her asking if she would be willing to look after Jim and Blair the world’s youngest Sentinel/Guide pairing.
Malcolm had told her that Steven-Jim’s younger brother had come to him at the barber shop asking for help in protecting his brothers from Naomi, Blair’s mother who was doing everything she could to separate them.
Together with many of Cascade more-than-willing citizens they had devised a plan to keep Jim and Blair safely away from Naomi and anyone else wanting to do harm to the vulnerable youngsters. At the moment outside the building on Prospect were undercover police watching the apartment complex. Nothing and no one came into the building without them knowing about it.
Doctors had come to look after Jim and Blair’s injuries. The young Sentinel’s stitches had been removed and Blair’s cast was scheduled to come out in another week.
People from every walk of life roamed the streets looking for Naomi and her followers as well as making sure the Sentinel/Guide pair stayed well, safe and above all together.
They’d even started delivering gifts to the pair. Anything from gifts of food, to every game imaginable, to colorful blankets. Everyone touched by the plight Blair and Jim faced and wanting to help in any way they could.
They knew that the pair could still choose to go to another city when they were old enough. It didn’t matter, they wanted to help. Nothing touched the heart of a city more than a child in need. Cascade was no different.
Mattie frowned remembering when Malcolm had brought Jim and Blair to her. Blair and Jim were two terrified children. Both pale and trembling violently from the ordeal they’d just under gone. Blair crying softly into Jim’s shoulder, holding onto his Sentinel tightly.
Jim had been in the same shape. Blue eyes haunted and red-rimmed, fine tremors coursing through his body as he held onto Blair just as tightly as his little Guide held onto him.
She’d taken one look at them and quickly gathered them to her. Her ample, bosom big enough to comfort two hurting children. It’d taken more than an hour to calm them. Blair had been the first, sensing that his Sentinel desperately needed him.
Blair had gathered Jim to him, wrapping those tiny arms around as much of his Sentinel as he could and began rocking him gently, humming a tune Mattie couldn’t place, but knew she’d heard it before.
The little Guide had done that every day they’d been in the apartment, three weeks now. Every afternoon, after Jim listened to Steven’s report.
It was the saddest thing she’d ever seen in her life. The youngsters standing by the window. Blair holding Jim’s hand as the Sentinel listened. Then Jim would fall to his knees, crying softly. Mattie thinking the burden held on such young shoulders was just to great. Blair would gather Jim to him, gently urging him onto a nest he’d made for them using many of the blankets they’d been given as gifts and he gently lured the hurting Sentinel to sleep.
Mattie wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand. If she ever came across Naomi she was going to give her a piece of her mind. Then she was going to kick her ass.
Jim was the first to wake. He moaned softly as Blair’s little arms automatically tightened around him.
“I…” Jim cleared his throat. “I’m fine. I just wished we could go home.”
Blair crawled on top of his Sentinel, straddling his chest. “Soon,” He replied, kissing Jim’s forehead gently.
Jim looked into Blair’s big beautiful blue eyes. “I hope so. Mattie and Michael are really nice. Especially Mattie. But I want to go home,” He said, reaching up a hand to caress Blair’s pale face.
His little Guide moved into the touch. “Mattie and Michael very nice.”
Jim smiled. Blair had been trying his darnest to stop talking baby talk-his words not Jim’s. He’d started a week after they’d run, sometimes though he still forgot.
“Yeah they are, but they’re not Dad and Steven.”
“I’m sorry,” Jim said, eyes filling with those darn tears again.
“Cause your Mom hates me so m…much,” Jim breath hitched.
Blair shook Jim slightly. “No cry. Mommy wrong. Jim is good. Here.” He touched Jim’s chest over his heart.
Jim sighed sadly. “She doesn’t think so. Otherwise she wouldn’t be trying to take you from me. I’m sorry I’m a Sentinel. If I wasn’t, this never would have happened. You’d be with her and she wouldn’t hate me so much.”
Jim looked up startled at the tone in his little Guide’s voice. “W…what?”
“No …don’t be sad. Being a Sentinel is good. Not bad.”
Jim sighed again. “I wonder sometimes, Baby.”
“Don’t wonder, Jimmy. Never doubt the gift the Goddess gave you. And it was being a Sentinel that brought you together.” Jim turned toward the door to find Mattie watching them, her blue-green eyes solemn.
If Jim had ever had a grandmotherly type in mind it was Mattie. Short, plump with grey hair in a bun on top of her head and she even loved to make cookies. Spending the afternoons baking cookies with Blair while Jim did his homework.
“But if I wasn’t a Sentinel, Blair would be with his Mom and I wouldn’t be away from my family.”
Mattie came into the room. They scooted over to make room for her on the bed. “Yes, there is that, but that’s temporary. You’ll be able to go home soon.”
“And Blair still won’t have his Mom. Mine died, but Blair’s is still alive.”
“That’s what bothers you the most, isn’t it?” Mattie asked softly.
“Yes. His Mom can still sing to him and hold him when he doesn’t feel good, but she can’t do that now because of me,” Jim said, wiping the tears away impatiently.
“Do you see it bothering Blair?”
“Blair’s three. He’s still a baby.” Suddenly his little Guide bit him hard on the shoulder. “Ow!”
“I tell you, I NOT baby.” Blair said, indignantly.
“Sorry, Blair. It’s just that you’re so little. How could you know what you want?”
Blair tilted his head to one side as he contemplated his Sentinel, frowning. “I know from very first,” He told him testily. “I CHOSE you.”
Jim thought about it for a moment. “That’s right you did.”
Blair rolled his eyes at him, the way Steven was always doing. “Yes, did.” He caught himself. “Yes, I did,” He corrected carefully.
“I’m a dork, aren’t I?” Jim asked sheepishly.
“Yes, dork,” Blair replied, kissing his Sentinel’s nose sloppily. “I chose over Mommy.” He patted his chest. “Me. I CHOSE Jim. No one else. Jim, MY Sentinel. MINE. To Love. To protect. Understand, now?”
“Yes, Blair,” Jim replied contritely. “I’m sorry.”
Mattie smiled. Blair could run rings around Jim, most of the time to the young Sentinel’s utter delight. She vowed to herself she’d talk to him tonight. See if they could straighten out a few things. Make the life of a very young Sentinel easier if she could.
“Dinners ready, lets eat.”
Mattie and Michael watched smiling as Blair carefully checked over Jim’s food as he did at every meal. Jim waiting patiently for his little Guide to finish so he could eat. Tonight was spaghetti with meatballs.
Jim giggled softly when Blair tried to spear a meatball and it went flying across the table, hitting Michael in the face, splattering spaghetti sauce all over him.
“This yours, Blair?” Michael asked, picking the meatball from his lap, where it’d landed. Cleaning his face with a napkin using his free hand.
“Mine,” Blair nodded. “Give it back.”
Michael shook his head. “Nope, mine-now.” He replied, popping it into his mouth.
Blair stared at him in outrage, before looking up at his Sentinel for help. Jim shrugged. “Sorry, Baby. I think you lost your meatball. Want one of mine?”
Blair looked at Jim’s plate. “Der only one left,” He said sadly, glaring at Michael. “and it yours.”
Jim smiled. “How about we share it?” The little Guide nodded, still glaring at Michael. “It’ll be okay. We still got cookies. You and Mattie made oatmeal this time didn’t you? And they smell good.”
Blair forgot he was mad at Michael for taking his meatball as he smiled over at Mattie happily. “Oatmeal. Making cookies fun.”
“Yeah it is. Pretty soon we’ll have you an expert at making cookies,” Mattie replied, handing the heaping plate of cookies to the youngsters. “Are you going to share with Michael?”
Blair looked over at Michael. “Michael steal meatball. But I be nice, I share cookies,” He replied.
“Thank you, most kind sir,” Michael said accepting the plate. “So Jim did you finish your homework?”
“Almost,” Jim replied, helping Blair with his glass of milk. “I just have to go over the chapter on the Civil War and I’m done.”
Mattie, a retired school teacher was making sure that Jim didn’t fall behind. The class assignments had been passed to her from Jim’s regular teachers. The young Sentinel would be done at the same time the rest of his class was. No summer school for Jim because of everything that was happening. Mattie would see to it.
Blair was still too young to be in school, but reading at a level that was amazing, truly amazing. Night after night they sat and watch in awe as the little Guide lay down on the couch with Jim and read to him from books most adults didn’t understand. Mattie and Michael weren’t quite sure what they got the biggest kick out of, if it was the fact that Blair was reading at the age of three. Or the fact that Jim was purring contently the whole time Blair read.
The young Sentinel/Guide pair had come to mean a lot to both Michael and Mattie. And it would be a sad day for them when they had to be parted from them. From the first day they’d met, to the first night when they’d all cuddled together on the bed at the top of the loft. Blair and Jim protectively sandwiched between them. Mattie and Michael each taking turns easing the nightmares the two children where experiencing.
Morning had found Blair wide awake, gently touching the ridges of Michael’s tight abdomen with a tiny hand.
“Hi, Sweetpea,” Michael had said, hoarsely.
Blair had smiled at him shyly. “Hi. Hurt?” he asked, touching the ridges.
“No. I did that on purpose.”
Blair tilted his curly head to the side. “Why?”
“I like the way it looks and feels.”
Michael smiled at the little Guide as tiny hands continued to explore the muscles of his abdomen.
“Do you like my muscles?”
Blair nodded. “Like.”
Michael tucked a stray lock of curly hair in back of Blair’s ear. “Do you think you’d want to get a six pack when you get older?”
Blair thought about it then shrugged his slight shoulders, making Michael smile. He looked over to find Jim wide awake and watching them with an unfathomable look in his blue eyes.
“Hi, Jim. How do you feel?”
“Are you hungry?”
Michael looked at Blair who was watching his Sentinel quietly. Almost as if he was checking him to make sure he really was alright. “And you, Sweetpea? You hungry.”
Blair hadn’t answered for a moment, blue eyes solemn as he regarded Jim. Finally apparently finding everything to his satisfaction turned to Michael. “I hungry? Jim hungry too. Tummy growling. Pancakes?” he asked hopefully.
“Want pancakes?” Michael had asked as he got up from the bed.
“You got it, Sweetpea? Wanna stir the batter?”
“Can I?” he asked looking at his Sentinel for approval.
Jim nodded, smiling. “Anything you want, Baby.”
“Jim say yes.”
Blair offered his arms to Michael, who swung him up. “Cool. Let’s get cracking, Sweetpea.”
Thus began their first day together. Two boys hiding from a vengeful mother willing to do anything to separate them and two stranger willing to do anything to make sure they stayed together.
After dinner and clean up, which they all helped with. Jim was finishing his homework at the kitchen table as Blair laid on his floor coloring with Michael. Mattie sat in her favorite chair crocheting, watching her newly acquired family happily.
Michael was her only grandson. She’d helped raise him when his mother had died suddenly when he was just a baby. She’d nurtured him and watched him grow into a fine man. But she regretted not having more grandchildren to spoil.
She looked over at Blair and Michael. The little Guide wasn’t mad at Michael any more, but then Blair never held a grudge. He just didn’t have it in him. She smiled as they passed colors back and forth between them quietly. Hard to believe a grown man of eighteen and some one as muscled as Michael would be on the floor coloring with a three year old.
But then Blair did help Michael with his exercises. Her grandson doing crunches with Blair on his legs or pushups with the little Guide on his back. Mattie wasn’t sure who was enjoying it more-Blair or Michael.
Blair was a loving little fellow. Always ready with a hug and a kiss. Especially with Jim. If there was any one that was truly loved it was Jim. Who soaked it up like a sponge.
Jim on the other hand was reserved with those he dealt with, blue eyes becoming cold and distant at times. Reserved with everyone but Blair. For his little Guide there was no reserve and nothing withheld. Jim adored Blair, the love shone out of his blue eyes every time he looked at his little Guide.
There were times that Mattie would catch Jim looking at her. He’d quickly look away when she noticed. Yet it wasn’t quick enough to hide the wistfulness in those startling blue eyes of his. Jim missed his mother, and he desperately needed a mother figure in his life.
Mattie had tried. Offering affection and cuddling to the young Sentinel in the same measure as she did to Blair. Jim would readily accept the affection, but he held himself back. Aloof at times.
She smiled up at him as he brought over his homework. “Done?”
“Good. Sit down, Jimmy. I want to have a talk with you.” He sat down next to her on the couch. Mattie pulling him against her side. He went readily enough, sighing contentedly. She gently caressed his hair. “We need to talk about some of the things that are bothering you. If you don’t, it’ll eat away at you until you don’t know which way is up.”
He looked up at her from where his head rested on her shoulder. “There’s nothing to talk about,” He said softly.
“Meet my eyes and tell me that.” Jim wasn’t able to just as she knew he wouldn’t. “Malcolm tells me you’re destined to be one of the best Sentinels the planet has ever known.”
“That’s a big responsibility for such young shoulders. Not to mention having to take care of a three year old.”
Jim sighed again when Mattie covered him with a colorful, crochet afghan, another gift from the fans of the young Sentinel/Guide pair, with her free hand. “I love taking care of Blair.”
“I know you do, but it hurts you that he’s away from his mother?”
“Yes. He’s still has his mother and they can’t be together because of me.”
“That’s not your fault. It’s hers. She could easily accept you and have Blair in her life. She’s chosen a different route because of stupidity or just plain craziness.”
Jim looked up, blue eyes shimmering with unshed tears. “She hates me and I don’t understand why. Is it because I’m a Sentinel?”
“The problem is not you, Honey. It’s her. I honestly think she doesn’t know why she’s doing it.”
“She’s his Mom. I don’t understand why she’s being the way she is.”
Mattie sighed. “I don’t understand either, Honey. That’s just one of those things that may never have an answer.”
“Maybe it’d be better if Blair broke the bond with me so he could be with his Mom,” Jim said with such sadness it broke Mattie’s heart. “I’m not worth his M…mom.” His voice catching at the end with a sob.
Blair heard his curly head popping up. “Jim?” he asked worriedly.
Jim gave him a watery smile. “Its okay, Baby. Go back to coloring. I’m fine.”
Blair did as his Sentinel asked, every now and then those big blue eyes looking over to make sure.
“Don’t ever say that, Jimmy. You’re worth a hundred of her. Blair chose you. Doesn’t that tell you something, Honey?” Mattie asked softly.
“Blair loves you.”
“I know,” Jim whispered. “But maybe he shouldn’t.”
“Oh, Honey, that’s not an option. From what I hear he went into the room at the
“Yes, he did,” Jim said, smiling as he remembered.
“He could have loved anyone on the planet, yet out of all those millions and millions of people and a hundred Sentinels he could have bonded. He chose you over all of them, even over his Mom.” Mattie kissed Jim’s forehead. “It makes you one in a million and one very lucky fella. Both of you are.”
Jim looked up at her hopefully. “You think so?”
“I know so. Blair is just as lucky as you are. You James Joseph Ellison are one fine catch. And if I were a lot younger and a Guide I would love to bond with you.” She smiled when Jim blushed a bright pink. “But I’m afraid that Blair would kick my butt.”
Jim looked over at his little Guide who was quietly watching them, no longer coloring. “You’re probably right.”
William walked into his boy’s bedroom to find Steven sitting on his bed. Blair’s wolf in his hands. “Are you alright, Son?”
Steven wiped at the tears coursing down his face. “Not really, Dad.”
“I know. I miss them too.”
Steven moved over to make room for his Dad. “When are they going to find Naomi so Jim and Blair can come home? I miss them a lot. I’ll be nicer to Jim about his anally retentive ways. I swear I will, just let them come home.”
William gathered Steven into his arms, rubbing his back soothingly. “I’m sure Jim will appreciate the gesture. But until Naomi’s found they’re better off where they’re at.”
“Why can’t they find her?” Steven asked in frustration. “It’s been weeks.”
“I don’t know, Son. Have you talked to Mr. Beans today?”
Steven had told his Dad what he’d done to keep his brothers safe the first chance he’d gotten. William would have liked to be informed ahead of time what the plans where, but at this point he wasn’t about to be petty about it. He just asked to be kept in the loop next time. A next time that hopefully never came.
“Yeah. They’re doing great according to Mr. Beans. Blair will be ready to have his cast removed next week. Jim’s taken his finals and he passed them all.”
William smiled. “That’s great. We’ll have to celebrate when they come home.”
“If you like and can get your brothers to agree. Perhaps we could go to the mountains for a few days. Get away from every thing for a while. Is Jim having any trouble with zones?”
“None at all. And Blair has been baking up a storm with Mr. Beans, Mom. According to Mr. Beans, Blair stirs a mean cookie dough.”
William chuckled. “I can imagine.”
Just then Sally came into the room. “Mr. Ellison, there’s a man to see you.”
“Okay, I’ll be right there. Maybe it’s the police with word on Naomi.” It wasn’t.
William recognized the green-eyed man waiting by the door as soon as he came down the stairs. “What do you want? Planning on scaring more children?”
The green-eyes man had the grace to look guilty. “I am sorry about that.”
“Your sorry’s doesn’t bring my sons home does it Mr.…?”
“Peterson. Daniel Peterson.”
“Mr. Peterson. What do you want? Doing more dirty work for Naomi?”
“Please can we have seat? I’d like to talk to you about your sons.”
William didn’t do what he sorely wanted to and throw Daniel Peterson out the door. Instead he motioned for him to sit. “Alright, but please say what you have to and leave.”
“Alright. I know where Naomi is.”
“And? Are you here to tell me so the police can get her and my sons can come home? Where they belong.”
William sighed heavily. “Then what are you saying Mr. Peterson? You are trying my patience.”
Daniel looked over at William. Noticing the circles under the blue eyes and how tired the elder Ellison looked. “You miss your sons, don’t you?”
“You state the obvious, Mr. Peterson. What the hell do you want?”
“I’ve come to help you.”
William gave him an incredulous look. “Oh, please. You were helping Naomi try to steal one of my sons and all of a sudden I’m suppose to believe you want to help me?”
“I know it’s hard to believe, but it’s true.”
Just then Simon walked into the living room. “What the hell are you doing here?”
“I’ve come to help.”
“The fuck you say,” Simon cussed softly.
Steven coming down the stairs gasped. “I am SO telling on you.”
Simon raised a finger at Steven. “You better not. If Blair gives me grief over the cussing I’m coming after you. I know where you live young man.”
Daniel watching the interaction quietly. “I’m sorry for all the grief Naomi and I as well as my followers caused you and your family. Naomi led us wrong. She told us Blair was in danger.”
William frowned. “Blair is in no danger.”
“I know that now. She lied to us about the broken arm and about a bruise Blair had on his face when he first joined your family. She had pictures. She led us to believe he was being mistreated. And that was why she wanted the bond broken. To free her son of the mistreatment.”
“It’s been three weeks Mr.…” Simon started
“Peterson. Daniel Peterson.”
“Mr. Peterson, why are you barely coming to us now?” Simon asked sitting next to William.
“After what I saw at the school things didn’t not seem right. It took that long to get the right information and to get Naomi to tell the truth.”
“Now you know it. What now?” William asked, frowning.
“Now we correct the mistakes made. Make apologies and hope they are accepted.” Daniel replied. “Plus I would like to make a most humble request.”
“The bond between Jim and Blair is unbreakable.”
“I told Naomi that,” Simon hissed.
“Yes. You did. But I think that you do not realize to what extent, exactly how special Blair really is.”
“What are you saying?” William asked.
“Blair can read auras as well as chakra points, can’t he?”
“We don’t know if he…” William started to answer when Steven broke in.
“Yes.” He’d been quietly listening as he sat on the arm of the couch next to his Dad.
Both William and Simon looked at Steven in surprise. “He can?” Simon asked.
“Yes. He can only see Jim’s though.”
Daniel smiled. “Because he only wants to read Jim’s. If he chose, he could read others as well.”
Steven nodded. “Yeah, that’s what we thought, too.”
“We are going to SO have word later, Steven,” Simon told him grimly.
Steven shrugged unrepentantly. “Hey, if they wanted you to know they would have told you.”
“Yes, I guess,” Simon conceded, reluctantly.
“I can help train Blair to use his gifts.” Daniel offered solemnly. “I did not realize how special this particular bonding pair was until I saw them with my own eyes.”
“Is that the price for telling us where Naomi is? If it is it sucks. And besides Blair can use his gifts on his own, he doesn’t need you,” Steven told Daniel, glaring daggers at him. “How do we know that-that’s not just a way for you to get into the house and get your grubby hands on Blair? On MY baby brother?”
Daniel sighed softly. “I know I’ve given you no reason to trust me. In this you can. On my honor as a Shaman. I will do no further harm to you, your brothers or your family.”
“And Naomi?” William asked, unsure what to believe at this point.
“Sits at the airport as do my followers. They will be taking her back to
Simon looked at him in suspicion. “How do we know you’re telling the truth?”
“On my word as a Shaman.”
“That doesn’t mean shit,” Simon replied. Turning to Steven. “Tell and you die, little boy.” Steven just grinned at him.
“I know you have no reason to trust me.”
William looked at him. “Do you blame us?”
“No. That is why Naomi waits at the airport. So you can have whoever you like go and check my information as well as see the plane depart.”
“Simon would you do the honors, please,” William asked the Doctor after a long moment.
The Doctor rose to his feet quickly. “My pleasure,” He replied, motioning for Daniel to precede him to the door. “I’ll call as soon as I see the plane take off.”
“Good. Mr. Peterson?” Daniel turned back toward William. “There will be conditions when and IF you will be allowed contact with my son.”
Daniel smiled. “I wouldn’t expect it any other way.”
Steven jumped up with a whoop of joy once the front door had close. “My brothers are coming home. Blair and Jim are coming home.” Suddenly Steven stopped jumping around the room. “Oh-oh.”
“What’s wrong, son?”
“I messed up the coding system Jim’s got going in our bedroom. He’s gonna kill me.”
Mattie hung up the phone. “Michael?”
Michael came into the living room carrying a plate of cookies. “Yes, Grandma?”
“That was your father. Blair and Jim can go home.”
Michael gave a huge smile. “That’s great.” Suddenly the smile vanished. “Oh,” he said very, very quietly.
“I’ll miss them too.” Mattie said softly in understanding.
“I promised to show Jim some exercises. Not weigh lifting ones ‘cause he’s to young.” He gave a tiny smile. “I think he wants to buff up for Blair. But some he can do right now. He said that he thinks Dr. Banks will let him join football this school year. He couldn’t cause last year he’d just gone online. Oh, Goddess, I’m rambling. Grandma I…”
“I understand, Michael really I do,” Mattie said, watching Michael paced anxiously back and forth in front of her.
“And then there’s Blair. He so little, so cute. With the biggest blue eyes I’ve ever see. And he so friendly. To friendly. It’ll get him in trouble one day, I just know it.”
Mattie smiled, shaking her head affectionately. “Are Jim and Blair still asleep?”
“Men make everything more difficult than it has to be. Go and pack your bag while I get Jim and Blair’s stuff together.”
Michael looked at her. “Grandma?”
“Go pack your bag. It’ll be alright.”
“William!” Blair shouted happily.
“Son!” William replied, reaching for his littlest boy. Laughing happily when Blair gave him the sloppiest kisses it’d ever been his pleasure to receive.
“I miss you.”
“I missed you too. Jim!” William gathered his eldest son to him with his free arm.
“Dad! We’re home. I can’t believe we’re finally home. Steven!”
“Hey there, big brother. I missed you,” Steven replied joyfully, blue eyes filling with tears.
“I missed you. I missed everyone,” Jim said looking around at his family and friends gathered to greet them. Even Rafe, he thought to himself, frowning slightly as Rafe gave his little Guide a welcome back hug. H and Carl close by smiling happily at Blair.
“Okay, everyone. Let’s go outside. We’ve got sandwiches and party food.” William told the happy group. That’s when he noticed the two people he remembered as Malcolm Beans, Mom and Son. “Welcome. Thank you very much for taking such good care of my sons,” He said softly, offering his hand.
Mattie took his hand in both of hers. “You’re very welcome. You have very special boys.”
William turned to see all three of his son’s happily talking and giggling. Blair giving Steven kiss after kiss and Steven returning them just as joyfully. “Yes, I do.” He looked at Malcolm’s son. “Thank you too, Michael. Thank-you for bring them back to us.”
“No problem. I really enjoyed looking after them, a lot,” Michael replied, looking at his grandmother when she gently nudged him encouragingly. “About that…”
“Yes?” William asked, eyeing the suddenly blushing Michael curiously.
“I was just wondering…?”
“I know it was just until they could come home and all, but could I stay and helplookafterthem, too?”
William met the blue-green puppy dog eyes Michael was giving him. He’d never in his life seen such a hopeful look, except from Blair. “I…I don’t know what to say.”
“Please? I’ve grown to love Jim and Blair a lot. I’ll help guard them with my life and I promise to help keep them out of trouble. And I don’t eat much.” Mattie snorted ungrandmotherly like. “Grandma, please, your ruining my chances of staying with Jim and Blair,” Michael hissed softly.
“And I come free of charge,” Michael added hopefully.
“Free of charge?”
“I’ll do it for free. I just want to stay with them and help any way I can.”
William shook his head. Damn. Jim and Blair’s father wasn’t going to let him stay with them. Michael felt his eyes fill with tears of loss. He was really going to miss Jim and Blair. No more coloring with Blair. No more Blair helping him with his exercises. No more teasing Jim, having Jim tease back. No more watching the way Jim and Blair were together. No more little brothers. No more. Michael wondered if he could use their bathroom so he could have some privacy to cry in a way that wasn’t very manly.
“No, Michael. If you’re going to help us protect my sons, it’ll be as a paying job. It wouldn’t be right otherwise,” William said, looking to where Jim stood watching them quietly. He smiled at his son, who returned it happily.
Michael let out a whoop so loud it echoed in William’s ears. He flinched slightly, but laughed softly when Michael ran over to where his sons waited. “I can stay. Your Dad said I could stay and help look after you.”
William turned toward Mattie. “Your Grandson moves fast for someone so BIG.”
Mattie watched Michael dance around with Blair in his arms, the little Guide giggled happily. “Yes, he does. He’ll take good care of them as if they were his own brothers. One thing though.”
William looked at her curiously. “What?”
“Michael comes with a built in Grandmotherly type. Who loves to spoil her grandchildren,” Mattie told him with a huge smile, walking toward where all the boys were happily talking amongst themselves.
At this rate he was going to need a new house soon. Real soon. William thought to himself, chuckling softly, as he closed the front door.