Title:  A Time for Healing

Author:  Angelee

Pairings: Jim/Blair, Steven/Michael, Rafe/Lee (preslash) William/Daniel (slash)

Rating: Adult

Summary:  The healing process begins 

Beta:  By my sister Anna, all remaining errors are mine-with apologies


A Time for Healing


“Do you need help, Blair?”


Blair looked up at him, big, blue eyes shining in the bright sunlight.  “No, Daddy, I is good.” 


He was carrying a plate of cookies and a glass of milk heading toward what William was guessing-Steven.  Who lay resting on his tummy on a lounger, under one of the huge trees that lined the cabin.  The cabin he’d bought so many months ago.  Now their temporary haven.


Where William had taken his family to heal and recuperate from the earthquake.  Waiting only long enough for Simon to say Steven was stable enough to be moved. William smiled as he watched his youngest make his way determinedly toward Steven.  Followed closely by their pets with ulterior motives all their own.       


“He sure is cute.”


William turned toward Colin Stevens, the architect he’d hired to rebuild their home.  “Yes, and one of the many joys of my live.”  The smile vanished.  “And one of the reasons our new home has to been done right.  I don’t want them to ever have to go through what they did in our old home, ever again.  Damn house almost killed them.”


Stevens nodded.  “I understand.  We’ll build them a home you’ll be proud of and safe for your family.”  He replied, pointing to the layout of their new house. 


“Thank you,” William replied, looking out over the yard.  His family was scattered all over it. Enjoying the sunshine and each other. Having the time and peace to heal all their wounds.  Those that were visible and those that weren’t.


Sally with Mattie was setting up a table with a huge amount of food.  While Simon talking to Malcolm Bean, grilling hamburgers and hotdogs.  With Daryl sitting next to him his foot resting comfortably on a pillow topped box.  Rafe and Lee were sleeping. Wrapped around each other under one of the trees near the lake.  Daniel was inside the house looking over the ancient tomes on Sentinels and Guides.  The tomes to delicate to be subjected to sunlight.  Jim sat next to Steven, crutches laying on the ground next to them.  Broken leg also resting on a pillow topped box. By the look on his eldest son’s face they were arguing. 


Jim’s pale face had darkened to a color William had never seen before.   Even from where William sat next to the architect he could see Jim’s blue eyes throwing off icy sparks.


Steven was hissing at him in a tone that even though William couldn’t hear the words, he knew it wasn’t a pleasant conversation.  William could take a wild guess that they were arguing about the whole Sentinel/ Protector thing. 


It had been the first time that Steven had been able to hold a conversation beyond the ‘feed me’, and ‘help me get up, I gotta go to the bathroom’.  The rest of the time Steven had slept.  With his family keeping careful watch over him, especially Jim.  Who had not left his side since the earthquake and the aftershock that had done the most damage.


William had seen the look on Jim’s face during the times Steven slept, with Blair’s help- free of pain.  The young Sentinel was still blaming himself for his brother getting hurt.  It had broken William’s heart seeing the lost and vulnerable look on Jim’s face.  The blue eyes filled with tears. 


Jim would wipe them away when he thought no one was looking.  William saw, knowing instinctively that this was something he could do nothing about.  No matter how much his heart ached to do so.  There was only one person who could get rid of that look. 


No words William could offer would ever ease the fear and guilt that now haunted Jim.  It would take Steven to do that.  In a fashion befitting his middle son.  Heavy handed, bullying, yet so full of a love, no one could or would be able to ever deny it.  Not even Jim. 






“Shut the fuck up.”




“No, you listen to me and you listen good.  I did what I was meant to do.  What I was born to do.  Do you hear me?”




“Do you hear me?”


Jim gave a rueful smile.  “I think they can hear you all the way back to Cascade.”


“I don’t give a fuck about Cascade.  I want to know if ‘you’ heard me?”


Jim sighed unhappily.  “Yes, Steven, I heard you.”


“Do you understand what I’m telling you?  Being as you’re a Sentinel and you’re all a bit dense.  No, let me change that, you’re really dense, stupid and dim-witted.”


“Well gosh, why don’t you tell me what you really think?”


Steven raised his head as far up as he could.  “What-want me to add a couple of cuss words for extra effect?”


“I don’t want you getting hurt.  Not even again.”


“Getting hurt is the name of the game for what I am.  For what Michael is.”


Jim looked around the yard, watching some ducks swimming in the pond.  Losing himself in the water beading off one of the duck’s feathers.


“Snap out of it, asshole.  I’m not yelling for Blair because you zoned on a fucking duck. I want the cookies he’s bringing.”


Jim brought himself out of it with a shake of his head.  “I’m not zoning.  And how did you know it was a duck I was lookin’ at?


Steven tilted his head slightly as he contemplated his brother.  “I have my ways.  And another thing, you fucking well better start eating and sleeping or I will so kick your ass.”


“I’m eating and sleeping.”


“No you’re not.  You haven’t eaten the way you’re suppose to since the earthquake.  You’ve lost weight and you better gain it back by the time I get these stupid casts off or your ass is grass.  And the bags under those icy blue eyes of yours are so over packed they’re ready to take off for vacation.  Overprotective, overbearing, obnoxious, asshole.”


Jim smiled at him.  “Why the hell doesn’t Blair hit you when you cuss?  You’ve got some dirty mouth on you.”


“Blair loves me.”


“Well, Blair loves me, too.  But he doesn’t let me get away with cussing.”


“Blair loves me better than you.  Huh, Blair?”  Steven asked, watching the little Guide bounce up to them.


“Yups,” Blair replied, giving his Sentinel a brilliant, teasing smile.


“Hey,” Jim protested, returning the smile


Blair placed the plate of cookies within easy reach of Steven.  Looking at the glass of milk with a puzzled look on his face.  “Huh?”


“What?”  Steven asked, reaching for a cookie.


“I have full glass of milk in kitchen.  Sally ‘elp.   Now, most milk gone.”  Blair hands went up, spilling the rest of it onto the grass.  “No-no where rest went.”


Steven looked down at their pets, happily helping themselves to the milk.  “I gotta a pretty good clue.”  He smiled Blair.  “Were you bouncing all the way over here?”


Blair nodded, his curls flying into his face.  “Yups, I bounce everywhere.  I happy sorta fella.  Everyone says so.”


Steven chuckled.  “That’s true, you are.  But I think when you bounced over here you spilled the milk.”


Blair looked down, giggling when he saw their pets.  “Dey like milk.”


“Yup, they sure do.  Especially the cats.”


Blair looked at the empty glass.  “I get more.  Be back.”


“Okay.  Baby brother?”


Blair turned back a questioning look in his blue eyes.  “Yups?”


“Get Michael to help you.  All he’s doing is eating chips.  Tell him to quit being selfish and bring the bag over here.  We might want chips too.”


“Gotcha,” Blair replied, bouncing over toward Michael.  “Mikey, Stevie say ‘elp me wiff milk  and quit eatin’ all da chips.”


Steven turned toward Jim who was watching his little Guide with the goofiest smile on his face.  “He’s got to be the cutest kid on the planet.”


“Yeah,” Jim replied, affectionately.


“Okay, quit making goo-goo eyes at your Guide and listen to me.”


Jim turned back toward Steven.  “What?”


“I want you to quit worrying about me.  I’ve got my job and you’ve got yours.” Jim suddenly got the biggest smile on his face.  “What?”  Steven asked suspiciously.


“Daniel says that he thought my power could overrule yours.  If I don’t want you to do something it’s not going to happen.”


Steven’s eyes hardened as he looked at his brother.  “You actually think you can stop me?”


Jim’s smile vanished.  “Yes?”  he asked, no longer sure.


“You’re delusional if you actually think you can stop me from doing my job.”


“I will stop you, if I think you’re going to get hurt.”


“Ha, bloody, ha.”


“I can.  I will,” Jim vowed softly.  “Don’t fuckin’ push me on this.”


“I will fuckin’ push you to the ground, stomp you to a bloody pulp, if I want.  No one stops me from doing my job.  Not even you.”


“No, Steven.”


“Oh yes, Jim.”  Steven met his brother’s eyes. Allowing him to see the truth of his words clearly.  There was no way Jim would be able to stop him if Steven didn’t want to be stopped.


“No, Stevie,” Jim pleaded, softly.


Steven rolled his eyes.  “Don’t go all mushy on me.  I will do whatever it takes to protect you, Blair, Rafe and Lee.  For that matter everyone I love.  But my Sentinels and Guides come first.  It’s getting really annoying having to keep telling you this.”




“Don’t Stevie me.  I’m fuckin’ well not buying it.”


Jim closed his eyes trying desperately to fight off the tears he hadn’t been able to control   since the earthquake.  “I knew you were hurt,” his voice hitched.  “H…How bad you were hurt.  I…I c…could feel the blood dripping down your back.”


“Look at me,” Steven demanded.  “Look at me, damn it.  Don’t you dare go there, you hear.  Don’t you dare.”


Jim looked, unable to fight off the images he’d been seeing day and night since the earthquake.  “I could feel the breaks in your ribs as if they were mine, Stevie.”  He wiped at the tears impatiently.  “I could feel them shift every time you m…moved.”

“Snap out of it,” Steven hissed at him.  “That’s over and done with.  Don’t do this.  Don’t.”


Jim shook his head.  “You could have died,” he said, his eyes taking on a truly haunted look. His face pale and drawn.  


“But I didn’t,” Steven told him softly, not liking that look at all.  Not one little bit.


“You went to a place where there was no pain.”


“I got temporarily lost.” Jim gave him a disbelieving look.  Steven sighed as he looked up at his brother. “You are one stubborn asshole.”


Jim smiled at him ruefully.  “And name calling makes it so much better.”


“This martyr complex you’re got going here, has got to stop.”




“Did you cause the earthquake?”


“Well, no.”


“Did you cause the aftershock that brought the house down?”


“N…no.”  Jim frowned at him.  “Where are you going with this?”


“I’m trying to show you that the world doesn’t revolve around you, no matter what your Sentinel arrogance tells you.”


“You got hurt protecting what is mine.”


“And mine.”


Jim looked down at him startled.  “What?”


“Blair is as much mine as he is yours.  As much as you are mine. As much as I am yours.  As much as Rafe, Lee and Michael are yours, they are mine.  To love and protect.  And even to kick their butts when they need it.”




“You can’t split yourself into pieces trying to protect everyone all at once.  It’s just not possible.”


“I can try.”


Steven shook his head.  “No, Jimmy-you can’t.”


Jim felt his eyes fill with tears again.  “I can,” he insisted.


“No, you can’t.  You’ll make yourself crazy doing that.”


“Then what am I suppose to do?”  Jim asked helplessly.


“For a start gimme your hand.”  It went willingly into Steven’s.  “You need to quit thinking you’re Superman,” Steven told him, gently rubbing Jim’s palm.  “You are going to be the best Sentinel the world has ever known, but Superman you ain’t.”


Jim watched as well as felt his brother’s soothing touch on his skin.  Easing some of the pain he’d been feeling since the earthquake.  “I know that.”


“Do you, do you really?”


Jim shook his head reluctantly.  “No. What good is being the best Sentinel the world has ever known if I can’t protect the people I love from getting hurt?”


Steven sighed heavily.  “Oh, Jimmy.  You were chosen to be a Sentinel for a reason.  Stop fighting it.”


“I’m not fighting it.”


“You are.  Tell me why.”


Jim shook his head vehemently.  “No, I’m not.”


“You are.  Tell.  Me.  Why.”


“Because if I wasn’t what I was, the people I love most in the world wouldn’t keep getting hurt.”  He looked up at Steven’s bark of laughter.  “What?”


“You’re one arrogant ass.  What did I tell you before?”


“You said a lot of things before.”


“Don’t be stupid, you know what I’m asking you.  What did I tell you?”


“The world doesn’t revolve around me.”


Steven nodded.  “Yeah.   And besides that you would never have met Blair.  And that would be a big minus.”


“Yeah, that’s true.”


“Our family was chosen to be different, Jimmy.  I don’t think that’s such a bad thing.  If we were normal do you think we would have survived the earthquake or the aftershocks?”


Jim shook his head.  “No.”


“I like being a Protector.”


“You got hurt.  You’re laying on your stomach because you got two hundred stitches all over your back, butt and legs.  You’ve got two broken arms.”


Steven frowned at him.  “I know what I’ve got.  And you know something?”




“I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  Known why?”




“Because it kept Blair and Lee alive that’s why.”


“But you got hurt doing it.”  Jim met his brother’s eyes, his own full of anguish and grief.  “I would have given anything to not have that happen.”


Steven tangled his fingers with Jim’s.  “I know you would.   You’re a good brother.”


“I am?”


“Yeah, you are.  I wouldn’t trade you for any other brother in the whole world.”


Jim gave him a shy smile.  “Really?”


“Yeah, just don’t let it go to your head.”


“How could I? You’re always insulting me.”


Steven returned the smile.  “That’s true.  Tell you what-I’ll make you a deal.”


Jim looked at his brother, interest sparkling in his blue eyes.  “What?”


“We’ll both protect those we love.  Well, along with muscle-head over there plowing his way through the food without thinking that maybe we might be hungry, too.  We’ll do it together. No more single-handed stuff ever again.  I’ll let you know what I’m doing and you let me know what you’re doing and I’ll let Lee do his thing so I don’t get hurt.  We’ll always know what the other is doing.  How does that sound?”


“And how are we going to do that?”


“Close your eyes.”




Steven sighed.  “Suspicious ass.  Just do what I’m telling you.”




“Now, don’t freak.”


Jim startled when he felt Steven slide gently into his mind.   Offering him comfort, love and hope.  Offering a warmth he’d never felt before.  “Stevie.”


“Shh, feel.”


Jim had never in his life felt anything like it.  Steven was in his head allowing him to feel the deep love he felt for him.  Letting him know that Steven would move heaven and earth for him, for all those he loved.  Warming the cold place in his heart, healing the hurt, easing the pain he’d been feeling since the earthquake. 


*Feel me?*


*Yes.  How is this possible?*


*It was given to us because if you were worried out of your mind you wouldn’t be able to do your job.*


*And Michael?*


*I’m here.*




*I here.*










They all felt Steven snort.  *Always have to be different don’t you, Rafe?*


*Yup,* came the smug reply.


Jim took an unsteady breath.  *Daniel?  Can Daniel join us?*


*I’m here.*


*What about Dad, Sally, Simon and Daryl?*


Jim felt Steven shake his head.  *This is all that’s going to be allowed us.*




*Shh, don’t question it to much, Big brother.  We’ll do everything in our power to protect them.*


*But Steven, Dad should be here too.  He deserves to be here, too,* Jim insisted.  *I want Dad here, too.*


*Jimmy…* Steven started, interrupted by a startled voice.


*What the hell?*


*Dad.* Jim said happily.  *They let you in.*


*What?  Where are we?*


*We’re in our happy place.  Created to make sure Jim would be able to do his job.  If he was worried he wouldn’t be able to concentrate.  Maybe it should be called Jim’s happy place.*




*Cool, huh?*


*Well, I suppose if everything wasn’t so dark.* Suddenly a bright light flared throwing them all into a brightness.  William looked around at his family in astonishment.  “Did I do that?*


Steven walked toward him.  William took him into his arms, pulling him close.  It was the first time he’d seen his son whole and unhurt in weeks.


*Hmm, yeah-I think you did,* Steven replied, burying his face against his father’s chest.


Blair looked around the bright space.  *I like.  Need chairs and table.  And food for Michael and Stevie so they no get hungry, but it nice place.* As if by magic everything Blair asked for appeared.  *Oh, berry nice.  Can I have coloring books and crayons, too?* The requested items appears.  Blair smiled at up at his Sentinel.  *I like dis place.*


Jim reached down to pick up his little Guide.  *Me, too.  But how long can we stay here?* he asked, Daniel.


*As long as you need.  Time on the outside is going at normal speed.  No one will know we’re not really there.  They might think we’re a little distracted, but that’s about it,* Daniel replied, making himself comfortable in one of the chairs Blair had created.


Steven smiled at Rafe.  *Hey, they wouldn’t know the difference with you, huh-Rafe?*


“Why’s that?* Rafe asked, reaching for a grape from the platter of fruit.


*Cause you’re always distracted.  Some would say downright flighty.*


Rafe made a face at him.  *Yeah, yeah.  If Blair wasn’t over there listening.  I’d tell you what to do with your flighty.*


Steven chuckled from the comfort of his Dad’s arms.  *Tell me.  Blair won’t hurt you.*


Rafe looked at Blair, who was listening very closely.  His little brows drawing together as he waited for what Rafe would say next.  The young Sentinel could practically hear the intimidating little growls coming out of that tiny chest.


*Yes he will.  I think I’ll wait.* he replied hastily.




Rafe smiled.  *Oh-yeah.  He might be really little, but he has a might big bite.*


Steven looked over at his baby brother.  *Yeah, but he’s the cutest little thing in the whole world,” he said, affectionately.


*That he is,* Rafe readily agreed.  *So what are we doing here again?*


*The powers that be, decided to give this to Jim.  They have big plans for him and he won’t be able to do them if he’s worried about us.  Weren’t you listening at all?*


*Of course I was.*


Steven rolled his eyes.  *Right.  Quit making goo-goo eyes at Lee and pay attention.*


William rubbed his hand up and down Steven’s back.  *It’s good to see you up and walking around, son.*


Steven smiled up at him.  *Yeah, huh. It’s nice, almost normal-like.*


Jim snorted.  *There is no normal for you.*


*I’m as normal as the rest of you clowns.*


Rafe chuckled.  *He got you there, Jim.  So how long are we going to be in here?*


*You can leave anytime you want.* Daniel replied, going to stand by William and Steven.  *Just think yourself out.*


Rafe looked at him in confusion.  *Think yourself out?*


*Rafe, you have got to be the dumbest Sentinel even,* Steven told him in exasperation.


*Am not.*


*Are too.*


*I hate you.*


*I hate you more, numbnuts.*


Rafe glare at him.  *Am not. And I hate you the mostest. *


*Are too.  And mostest isn’t even a word.  And you’re a dork, too.*


Jim with Blair still in his arms was now next to their Dad and Steven.  “This is a happy place?* he asked with a bemused look on his face, watching Steven and Rafe bicker back and forth.


William smiled.  *Yes.  We best be getting back, the hamburgers should just about be ready.*


At the mention of food Steven stopped picking on Rafe.  *Food?*


William nodded.  *Yes.  Hamburgers, hotdogs, your most favorite food in the world-nachos with extra jalapenos.  Sally made cookies and more cookies and then even more cookies. And that’s not all the food I saw.  There’s cakes, pies and ice cream.  All kinds of goodies.*


*Okay, lets go back before Daryl eats it all,* Steven said hurriedly, stopping as he suddenly realized something.  *Dang.*


William looked down at his son.  *What is it, Steven?*


“I’m still hurt in the real world.*


“Yes,* Daniel responded.  “But you can come here, to Jim’s happy place when it get to be to much for you.*


*I can?*


*Yes, we’ll join you if you like.  And it won’t be much longer before you‘re back to normal.*


*I know it’s just that…*


*What?* William asked his son, softly.


“I’d like to be able to move around without those stupid casts always getting in the way.  I’d really like to be able to have a shower without help and ‘especially’ without anyone having to feed me like I’m a baby because the casts won’t let me bend my arms.*


*It’s getting better.  Simon says another four weeks.* William smiled at the heavy put upon sigh Steven gave.  *And we’re there to help.*


*I know, but I want to do things for myself.  And I still have to beat up Jim for having a big mouth.*


Jim startled.  *What.*


*Your big mouth is getting you beat up as soon as I can move around.  What you thought I forgot?*


Jim gave William a rueful smile.  *Do you think we could talk Simon into leaving the cast on for a couple of years?*


Steven looked over at Michael.  *You sure have been quiet, muscle-head.  Everything okay in testosterone city?*


Michael smiled.  *Everything is fine.  I’m enjoying seeing you in your element, that’s all.*


*That’s cool, I guess.  Lee, you okay, Squirt?  You’ve been real quiet, too.*


Lee blushed at the nickname, he still had a tendency to do that.  *I’m fine.  I like seeing you walking around too.* His blue eyes filled with tears.  *I missed that.  And I like it that you’re not in pain.*


*I’m not out there either.  Blair sees to that.*


*Yeah, but still your eyes are all sad and seeing that kinda hurts.*


Steven blinked at that, not really sure how to respond.  *Oh.*


*We all wish you hadn’t gotten hurt, Steven,* Rafe told him, softly.  *We’d do anything for it not to have happened.*


*Hmm, I don’t know what to tell you guys.  I was doing my job.  And as long as there’s breath in these lungs I’ll keep doing it.  By now you all should have realized that.*


*We do,* Michael replied.  “*I would do the same.  But we don’t have to like the fact that one of us is going to get hurt doing it.  More like you getting hurt.  Without you…* he couldn’t finish.


Steven frowned.  *I want you all to listen to me.  I’m only one person.  If something worse were to happen to me you will go on.  Do what you were meant to do.*


*Not without you,* Jim told him with conviction.


*Jim, why are you so dense?”


*What is that suppose to mean?*


Steven pulled free of his Dad’s arms, going to stand in front of Jim and Blair.  *You, Blair, Rafe and Lee are what’s important.  My Sentinels and my Guides.  You are what will protect this planet when the time comes.*


Jim frowned at him.  *You are important too.  You-Steven.  Don’t you ever say different.*


Steven smiled at him *Thank you, Jimmy.  I do appreciate that.*


*You’ll take better care of yourself from now on?*


*Yeah, Watchman.  I will.  How could I not?  You’ll all know what I’ll doing almost before I do it.*


Jim gave him a brilliant smile.  “Yeah, huh?*


Steven rolled his eyes.  “Oh, brother.  You’re such a sissy.*


Jim’s smile turned affectionate.  *Yup.  A sissy who feels a lot better about everything.  Thank you, Stevie.*


Steven looked down at his feet before looking up to met his brother’s shimmering blue eyes.  *I love you, Watchman.  You are my ‘brother’.* There was a wealth of meaning behind that one word, not lost to the young Sentinel. *There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you.*


Jim reached out a free hand and gently cupped the side of Steven’s face.  *I know.  I love you, too.  And there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you, too.  If Blair is my heart and soul, you are my light.  With you at my side there will never be darkness.*


Steven blinked the tears that suddenly flooded his eyes.  He raised his own hand to rest it against the one on his cheek.  *Y…you’re so mushy.*


*Yeah.  Should we go back and get something to eat?*


*That’s a good idea.  Let’s go.*


*Hey, how’d you say we’re suppose to get back?* Rafe asked, voice holding an edge of panic.  “Hey, don’t go.  Tell me again how to get back.  Guys? Hey, guys.”




Steven came back to himself to find Jim looking at him with wonder. 




“Thank you, Stevie.”


“I didn’t do that much.”


Jim smiled at him.  “You did plenty.  You made it so I wouldn’t have to worry about you so much.”


“Yeah, well-I didn’t want you to get ulcers by the time you turned sixteen.”


“Someday you’ll tell me how you know all this stuff, right?”


“Yeah, someday.  For now I want you to go over to the picnic table and get something to eat.  Then you’re going to come back here and lay down next to me to sleep.”


“With you?”  Jim’s voice held a note of surprise.


“Yeah, with me.  I want to make sure you’re sleeping and not faking it.”


“I wouldn’t.”


Steven rolled his eyes.  “Like you haven’t every time Dad, Simon or Daniel walked into the room to check on us?”


“That was different.”


“How’s that?”


“I was watching over my brother.  Who got hurt protecting my heart and soul.”


Steven chuckled.  “You should have been a poet.  Go get something to eat.” Jim nodded reaching for his crutches. “Hey?”


Jim turned to look at Steven.  “What?”


“I’ll be watching, so eat plenty or I’ll kick your ass.”


Jim gave him a small smile.  “Heh-right.  You can’t even get up from the chair you’re in without help.”


“I won’t be like this forever.  And I can get Michael to do it for me until I’m up an around.”


Jim’s blue eyes widened in horror.  “You wouldn’t dare.”


“Hell, yeah-I would.  Wanna test it?”


“You’re a first class jerk, you know that?”


Steven nodded.  “Yup, I know.  Bring me a plate of nachos and a Coke when you come back, please.  And ask Michael where the hell my glass of milk is?  Cookie’s without milk just ain’t as good.”


Jim met Steven’s blue eyes.  Lee had been right, they had been really sad.  Not so much now.  “Okay,” he told him softly.  “Thank you, Stevie,” he said again.


Steven smiled at him.  “No, problem, Watchman.  No problem at all.  Go get something to eat.”


Jim nodded.  “Okay, I’ll be right back.”


“I’ll be right here waiting.”


“I’ll hurry.”


“Don’t hurry to much its not like I’m going anywhere.  At least not very fast.”


Jim chuckled.  “I love you, Stevie.”


“I love you, too, Watchman.  Go on.  Send Michael over.  We’re having words about his selfishness with that bag of chips and my missing glass of milk.”  Jim seemed almost reluctant to go.  “Go on.  I’m not going anywhere.”


“You’ll be right here?”


Steven rolled his eyes.  “Dense Sentinel.  Didn’t I just say that?  If I was going to go anywhere I’d need help getting up.  Right?”


Jim nodded sheepishly. “Yup.”


“Go then.  Geez.”


“Okay.” Jim turned toward the food-laden picnic table with a finally look at his brother.


William on the other side of the yard watched and smiled.  All wasn’t perfect with his family, but it was better.  Much, much better.