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X Universe - Book 3

I Promise Forever - Chapter 7

Nothingness. The calm, peaceful, comfort of it wrapped about me like well worn clothes. It would have been so easy to stay there, in the nothing, and become part of it. So very easy. The feeling in my heart held me at the edge, not letting me drop beyond. It was like a small, but unbreakable thread and where it was fastened I felt alive. That feeling of life grew, spreading into a warmth from my chest, out my arms and down the front of my legs. A strip of warmth spread across my back and I sensed a slow rhythm to the feeling. Blinking my eyes open, I looked at shadowed boxes, partially unpacked suitcases, and newly delivered dressers. My warm, softly breathing, beautiful pillow shifted a bit and moaned before returning to blissful slumber. I smiled, kissing Jeff's chest briefly before sliding out of his hold.

Six in the morning, I thought as I pulled my robe from the foot of the bed, wrapped it about me, and stepped silently into the hall. I could sense Jack downstairs. I made my way to the kitchen while I yawned the last of sleep from me. Six hours was all the sleep I seemed to be able to get, unless I was totally exhausted. My body and mind just didn't seem to need it as much as before I'd died. "Morning," I chirped as Jack rummaged through the boxes and the open cupboards.

"Good morning, son," Jack replied while he obsessed with finding something.

Son. Smiling, I came up and hugged him. I squeezed him and rested my chin on his shoulder. "I'm still getting used to that," I mumbled, trying not to get teary eyed.

He chuckled. "I'm glad you're no longer distancing yourself the way you used to." He patted my arm, letting me hold on for a little bit before he shifted to look in another spot. "We're a pretty touchy-feely family."

I laughed, letting go and wiped the tears that refused to obey my desire to look strong and independent. "The hugging is easy. The realizing I have parents is hard."

Jack smiled at me, shooting me a sideways glance before checking the lower cupboards. "You've been part of this family since Jeff brought you home and told us he loved you. It'd have been sooner if you weren't such a stubborn, independent, ill-tempered, Irish witch." I'd have flinched, but he said it all with a grin. That grin faltered as he stood up. "Damn it. Where is the coffee?"

"Addict," I laughed at him as I moved to the fridge, opened the freezer and pulled out the bag of beans. "After the fifteen minute lecture I got on the importance of fresh ground and the storing of beans there is no way I am going to let you or Jeff leave the coffee on the counter."

Jack laughed. "Glad to know you listen to something I say."

My smile wavered. "I listen to most of what you say, Dad." I emphasized the name, trying to make it sound real. "Some things you just have to learn on your own, even if every generation before you walked the same path. We can't learn by proxy," I grinned, "no matter what telepaths may think."

Shaking his head, Jack picked up the bag of beans and looked around again. "Sometimes you sound like an old man, Dan. Not often, but often enough to keep me guessing." He set the bag down and began to rummage again.

"What now," I asked as he began opening cupboards.


I sighed. "I knew we forgot something." Shaking my head I picked up the bag. "I'm just not a shopper. I wish they had a universal kitchen tool so we wouldn't have to have a dozen widgets and gadgets."

"Come up with the ultimate kitchen appliance and you'd make millions," Dad laughed as he stood up. "Kitchen Aid and Cuisinart are as close to universal as they come." We had both, of course, since neither gadget did exactly what the other did.

"I'll tell Tyler to get to work on the Ultimate Kitchen Appliance the next time I talk to him." Actually, that wasn't a bad idea. The kid already had a dozen patents. I ripped open the bag and pulled out a measuring cup.

"I really need to talk to that boy. With his ideas and my experience, we could break into all new fields." Uh oh, Jack was going into his mad-scientist, entrepreneur mode.

"I think there are youth labor laws that would prevent that, Dad." Scooping out the right amount of beans for his coffee, I focused on the little black beasts. Since the battle in France I'd been able to feel the molecular bonds of matter without having to think about it. I tried to remember the feel of the right size grounds and willed the beans apart. The cup shuddered, and I watched the beans fracture and settle into a brown-black cup of grounds. The aroma of the freshly crushed beans and exposed oils hit my senses. I loved the smell of good coffee, but it never tasted like it smelled. Jack and Jeff could have their coffee. I'd stick with tea. "Here you go. The french press is beside the sink."

Jack took the cup and touched the grounds with his fingers, sniffed them, and finally tasted them like they were a new and marvelous substance. "That's just amazing."

I grinned. "Want me to heat your water while I'm here?"

Jack's eyes flickered with excitement that should have been reserved for ten-year-old boys on Christmas morning. He'd seen me change the energy states of water for over a year and it was still a total fascination for him. He looked briefly at the quick-kettle that we'd gotten. The British had the best water heating devices. With 220 watt power and a love of tea, it was just natural. "You don't have to."

I laughed, pulling out a larger measuring cup and filling it with water. "Like I'd deprive you of your favorite show." I loved the fact that he found my powers fascinating. Nothing scared Jack, especially not me. I was just his kid, and his kid had a few extra talents he could be proud of. I heated the water to boiling in moments and poured it over the grounds before clamping down the lid of the press. "Ok, you're on your own for timing it."

Jack laughed. "Where are you going?"

I smiled, feeling silly, proud, daunted, and a half dozen other emotions. Most of all, I felt loved. "Out back to smell the morning air," to own back yard, with a couple trees, a small herb garden, and a hammock. I pulled Jack into another hug. "Thanks, Dad."

Jack kissed my temple before letting me go. "My kids are investments in the future, Dan. You and Jeff have such a bright future ahead of you. I just want to make sure you get there with a solid foundation under your feet."

I had to retreat to the back yard before I started bawling. I stood out there, in the morning dew, and just let my senses expand. I had to get used to the feel of the place. Not just the feel of the house, but the feel of the neighborhood. I'd lived the past two years in a sanctuary. Xavier's was so much more than just a school. I hadn't thought about how it functioned as a world away from the world until Jeff and I had returned to reality. I suppose I had been "away from the world" since Grams took me in and raised me. Seven years of life away from "the norm." It was going to take a while for my senses to adjust.

After about fifteen minutes, Jack came out back with his coffee and set down a mug of tea for me on the garden wall. It had cream and honey and was exactly the way I liked it. I floated the mug to my hand without opening my eyes. The hedges around the back yard towered over nine feet in height. Unless our neighbors were in an upper window looking down, they couldn't see anything in our yard. None were. Wide area senses were confusing at times, but they were also cool as hell.

"Thought you might like your tea out here." He looked about absently as he sipped his coffee.

"Thanks." I took a sip and opened my eyes. "I can't believe you bought this place. It's more than we needed."

Jack shrugged. "Not really. Sure, it's more than the average person has, especially here in England, but it isn't more than you need." I was about to object, but he held up his hand. "Dan, what you can get by with and what you need isn't the same thing. You'd have survived in a one room flat, but your needs wouldn't have been met."

I sighed. "This place is almost as big as Gram's house."

Jack nodded. "You and Jeff have needs that other people don't, Dan. You have to accept that." He smiled. "Jeff won't get any benefit working out at the university gym, and neither of you can practice using your powers in public. That was why we picked a place with a full basement."

I nodded. I'd only considered that Jeff and I had lived in a dorm room with a shared bath for two years. I hadn't thought about all the support facilities that we'd depended upon. "Yeah, I hadn't thought of that."

He sipped his coffee and smiled. "I talked with your teachers over the summer. They pointed out that you'd need a space in which to do magic and ritual without being disturbed. I don't understand the whole magic thing, but I respect that you need the space. I just think of it as a laboratory or workshop."

I nodded again, sipping my tea. We hadn't really discussed the reasons for this particular house. After my tantrum last Monday, I'd been uncomfortable bringing anything up. "I suppose your consultants explained that an older place was better than new construction and recommended a few homes in your search?"

Jack grinned. "You would have thought I was trying to locate the perfect spot for an observatory. Having a child with magickal needs was a lot more challenging than I'd bargained for. Mutant powers I understand. Numerological requirements, lay lines, magic friendly materials, spiritual history, all that stuff had me ready to pull my hair out."

I laughed. "Sorry." How many Catholic parents would be willing to give their Wiccan son a place suited to practicing magick? Not many, that's for sure.

Jack cupped the back of my neck, letting his fingers play in the hair at the base of my skull, and smiled. "Don't be. I just gave your teachers my requirements and after a few weeks they sent me back a list of several places in the area that would work."

I still couldn't believe he went to all that trouble. I leaned my head over to rest it against his. "I love you guys. You know that, right?"

"We know it, but it's still nice to hear." We stood there, looking at nothing in particular, as the morning brightened. The area was new to me, and I hadn't wanted the house, but wherever my family was, I was home.

"Be sure to call and tell us about your first day of classes." Mom kissed Jeff on the cheek and blinked away a few tears. "If you need anything." She pulled me down and kissed my cheek too. "Or if you have any problems."

Jack laughed. "They're grown men, Norma. They know how to use a phone."

Mom frowned at him. "They are two of the most stubborn, hard headed boys on the planet. It isn't an issue of knowing. It's an issue of doing."

"Yes, we'll call," Jeff and I promised in unison.

Jack smiled. "You know where your appointment is?"

I nodded. "We printed out the directions to the attorney's office. I'll be there an hour early."

Norma started ticking off items on her fingers. "If your check books don't arrive by Friday, call the bank. The rest of the furniture should arrive Wednesday. Dan, you have to meet with your academic counselor on Thursday."

"We know." Jeff and I looked at each other and laughed.

"Okay," Norma pouted. Her lip quivered a little. "My boys are all grown up."

We hugged her again. I think we all were crying. As we pulled back from the hug, Jeff laced his fingers in mine. "We'll be fine, Mom. We'll call you and let you know when we plan to fly back over. You guys can come up from Miami."

Norma bit her lower lip. "Are you sure you'll be safe doing that? We can afford the flights."

I laughed. "We can fly faster than the Concord, Mom. Why waste half a day flying when we can get there in under a couple hours?"

Jack put his hand on Norma's arm. "We need to head to the gates."


Jeff and I stood there as they got in line for the security check. It sucked that we couldn't go to the gates. Once there were out of sight, Jeff looked at his watch. "Four hours before your appointment with the attorney. What do you want to do?"

I shrugged. "Let's go to a nice place to have some tea and a late breakfast. Just not Starbucks, okay?"

Jeff laughed. "They're everywhere."

"You're telling me," I grumbled as we made our way back to the rail station. "London is worse than New York. Why is it that every three blocks there's a Starbucks, KFC, Burger King or Pizza Hut?"

"Yeah," Jeff laughed, "and I thought I'd be jonesing for junk food."

I shot him an evil glare as we got onto the train and found seats. "You never eat junk food!"

"I know," he grinned, trying to look virtuous. "If none was available I'd go nuts for it. Since it is in ample supply, I won't be driven to find it."

"Freak." I rolled my eyes and looked out the window.

"And I was looking forward to British Cuisine," he chided, knowing full well what my response would be.

"That's an oxymoron, and you know it. Other than a few things like fish and chips, shepherd's pie, tea, cucumber sandwiches and scones with clotted cream there is no British Quisine. Have you ever heard of a British Cooking School? Hell, they fry bread for breakfast." I cringed.

"The Indian and Thai food is incredible," Jeff retorted.

I laughed. "True, and the pastries are great."

"We won't starve."

I smiled at Jeff. I was just happy to be with him. No, we definitely wouldn't starve. "Love you," I whispered.

He reached across, pulled me to his lips and kissed me. I melted. The kiss got a few looks from the other passengers. One woman told her child not to stare at "those people." I tried not to feel self-conscious, but I did. Jeff ignored them and held my hand for the entire ride into London. I supposed we would never really fit in. All we had were each other and I held on for dear life.

"I have what?" My mind was reeling from what Mr. Pearlman had explained. Talk about a bomb.

"With your long term investments, and the savings account your grandmother left you, you have something in excess of eight hundred and twenty thousand pounds. That doesn't include your scholarship fund, which is bound to your tuition until you are twenty-five. You have twelve thousand, five hundred and thirty-seven pounds in savings that you have complete access to. In American dollars, the total is roughly one and a half million dollars." He slid the printout of my account balances across the desk to me.

"I had no idea," I mumbled as I picked up the page.

Mr. Pearlman frowned. "I am disturbed that your guardian did not make you aware of your assets."

I shrugged. "He told me that Grams had provided for me and I didn't have to worry." I hadn't really asked Xavier for the details. I didn't want an inheritance. I wanted my Grandmother. Besides, I knew I had a sizable sphere of pure gold sitting in the vault back at school.

Mr. Pearlman nodded. "No harm done I suppose. He didn't have control of the estate so I doubt there was any questionable intent."

I blinked. "No, Professor Xavier would have told me if I'd asked."

He nodded again and then lifted a pen. "You still need to sign, Mr. Watkins. I can have the signature card to the bank this afternoon. You will have full access to your savings account as soon as the name changes and signatures are recorded; Wednesday at the latest." I took the pen, signed, and handed it back. Mr. Pearlman took the paperwork, put it into his folder, and folded his hands over it. "Do you have any other questions?"

I looked at the copy of the account balances I'd set down to do the signatures. "Can I take that with me?"

"Certainly, I can always print out another." He stood, as did I, and we shook hands. "If you have any questions later, please do not hesitate to call."

"Thank you." I escaped the office of legal language and financial shocks and found Jeff waiting for me in the reception area.

Jeff got up as I came over. "Everything okay?"

"Yeah," I exhaled. "Let's get out of here."

Jeff looked at me, perplexed, as we rode down the elevator and made it to the street. "What's up with you?"

Stopping, I took a deep breath, leaned against the retaining wall along the sidewalk, and handed him the balance sheet. "I was missing a few details on my status in life."

Jeff skimmed over the page and began to grin. "I guess I married you for more than your looks."

"Don't even go there."

I glared at him, and he laughed. "Yes sir, Mr. Watkins, sir."


His smile was so wide I thought his jaw would crack. "Come on, Dan. You've got to admit that this is ironic as hell."

Snatching the page back, I folded it up and stuffed it in my jeans pocket. "Not funny." I started back toward the underground station.

"Is so," he chuckled, falling into step beside me.

I fumed for a couple blocks before I finally slowed down. I wasn't mad, not really. I was embarrassed. After the horrible things I'd said to him a week ago I felt like a fool. Jeff was still smiling at me when I finally looked at him. "It still isn't funny."

"Okay, but I still say it's ironic."

I sighed, nodded, and walked at a more reasonable pace to the entrance to the underground. "I'll give you that."

Jeff caught me about the waist and pulled me to him, bringing our lips close but not kissing me. "You can give me something else when we get home," he breathed, brushing his lips against mine briefly before letting me go and stepping down into the station.

I was hard as a rock the entire trip home. It was an hour and a half of torture. Once we were behind closed doors, I gave him everything I had for the rest of the night.

"There he is," I said, tapping Jeff's arm to get his attention. His gaze followed mine as I looked back at the small cluster of women chatting away and laughing with the dark haired, handsome man walking into the main terminal area. Bryan seemed to be paying attention only to the women who cloistered about, infatuated with him, but I could see him take frequent, momentary glances about. His eyes met mine and he rolled them briefly to emphasize a small shake of his head. I looked at Jeff and grinned. "Hasn't even been on stage yet and he's got groupies."

Jeff laughed, eyed the group, and an evil smile crept over his lips. He leaned in close to me as he spoke. "Play along with this."

I raised an eyebrow and nodded before Jeff detached himself from me and cut through the sea of people to meet up with Bryan. I followed at a discrete distance, wondering what mischief he had in mind. One of the women looked away from Bryan as Jeff approached and started counting her lucky stars; two hot, handsome young men in one place. Her stars fell like a meteor shower as Jeff stepped in, slid his arm around Bryan's waist and began nuzzling his neck. "Hey, Babe. Welcome back."

Bryan slid into the role without a moment's pause. His amused smile did nothing to break the illusion as he wrapped his arms about Jeff's neck. "Excuse me, ladies, but I haven't seen this man in weeks." I don't think Jeff was ready for the lip lock Bryan gave him. The women's eyes weren't the only ones that went wide. Mine were the size of saucers. That kiss was hot as hell.

Jeff pulled back, taking a breath, and laughed. "That was one hell of a hello, Bryan."

The women excused themselves and scattered into the crowd like rats fleeing a sinking ship. There were more than a couple broken hearts. I got to the guys as they let go, laughing like loons. "I'll say that was one hell of a hello," I pouted. "What about me?"

Bryan slipped his arm around my waist and dipped me before I realized what was going on. He just held me there while I stared, wide eyed, as his lips came a hair's distance from my own. After a moment, he grinned. "Hello."

I smacked his arm, laughing as he let me up. "Bastard."

He smiled, grabbing his cart. "Made you nervous, huh?"

"No," I lied. My heart was still beating just a little faster than I liked. So was Jeff's. "Is that how you greet all your friends?"

Bryan wiggled his eyebrows. "Only the one's I've seen naked on the beach."

"Asshole," Jeff muttered, blushing as he turned his attention to the cart of luggage. "This everything?"


"How's Justin," I asked as we made our way to the rail ticket booths.

Bryan sighed. "I think he's been missing me since before we left Greece."

"The guy loves you. What did you expect?"

"I know." Bryan shrugged. "He could have asked me not to take the internship."

Jeff and I looked at each other for a moment, then Jeff laughed. "Yeah, right. Like I could have asked Dan not to take his scholarship to Oxford."

Bryan frowned. "Well, you had the option of coming along."

Jeff smiled. "Yeah, but I didn't know if I could get in. When we found out last year that Dan had a full scholarship here, I applied."

"Well, once you have your rail pass and we get everything onto the train," I consoled Bryan as he pulled out his passport and got in line, "you can give Justin a call and let him know you arrived safely."

"Yeah, I'll just have to find a phone that takes the calling card we bought."

I held up my phone. "Nah, we have international minutes out our asses."

"You two are too much," he laughed as he stepped up to the head of the line.

Jeff slipped his arm about my waist and smiled. "No, we're just right. Justin is too much."

Bryan moaned. "Don't tease me. This is going to be a lonely four months 'til Christmas."

"Ok, just buy your pass and let's get out of here," I said, "You can bemoan the absence of your man once we're home."

Bryan got his pass and walked beside me as Jeff took up pushing the cart. "Thanks for putting me up, guys. I promise I'll find a place as soon as I can."

Jeff and I grinned at each other. "No rush, Bryan. We've got plenty of space," Jeff teased. We'd already decided that Bryan could have the guest room. If he insisted on paying rent, we'd figure something out. I think we'd have gone stir crazy in a month without someone else in the house. Two years rooming together in a dorm made having all that space without other people feel weird.

We slowed as the blur of blue below us changed to a blur of greens, browns, and a myriad of other colors. The last thing New England needed was a super sonic duo blowing out the windows from the Massachusetts coast to upstate New York. We had left England just before dawn, and we'd beat the sun to the USA by nearly four hours. At least no one would see us as we shot at a more reasonable, sub-sonic speed, over their homes.

Jeff sighed, squeezing me for a moment as we arched over the New England countryside.. "I'm glad Tyler sent us the schematic for the best aerodynamic shape for my aura. Even with the help, an hour and a half of constant resistance is exhausting."

I smiled. "Like with everything else, repeated practice will make it easier." I squeezed his bicep. "Think of this as endurance training for your mutant-muscles."

Jeff rubbed himself against my ass while chewing on my ear. "I can think of other forms of endurance training I'd rather be doing."

Okay, he had a point, but we were training in that area daily, usually morning and night. Yay for the honeymoon period. I was sure that later, once our lives became filled with school and special projects and broader social commitments, we wouldn't have the time or inclination to practice as much. Damn, it was going to suck getting old. "Keep it in your pants, fly boy. We're here to visit friends, not scare the youngsters." I eyed the GPS unit and turned us in a more southerly direction. "About fifteen minutes at this rate."

"It'll be nice to be home," Jeff mumbled into my hair.

I sighed. Three weeks since we'd arrived in England, two weeks in the house, and I had to admit that there was something calming about coming back to the school. I'd resented being sent to Xavier's. I had been so determined not to like it and not to make friends or become dependent upon anyone; so much for Irish stubbornness. I'd liked it, I'd made friends and I depended on more people now than I had ever imagined. I let the memories carry me quickly through the remaining flight and I focused on the mansion as we slowed over the grounds. Gods, it felt great to be home.

We had barely touched down in the front circle when the doors opened and Tyler came bounding down the stairs. Gods he was a sight for sore eyes. I caught him up and hug as he got to us. "I can't believe you got here so fast!"

Jeff laughed. "Dan thought that going the speed of the concord was being lazy." I let go of Tyler and he was immediately caught up in a hug from my gropey husband. "How you doing, Ty?"

His smile wavered for a moment, but he put it back in place fairly quickly. "As good as can be expected, I guess. Ben and Brandon had an episode a couple weeks back, but we survived it." Then his grin went to full power. "I've got my own personal trainer." Flexing like some gym-head imitation, he dropped into a fake Arnold accent. "I'm going to be buff."

I cracked up. "Oh Gods, the Ty-minator."

He stuck out his tongue at me before turning and heading back for the doors. "Sure, you'll be regretting that remark when I'm all built up and more muscled than Jeff."

I looked at Jeff, then at Ty, and back as we followed. "Hate to burst your bubble, Ty, but you don't have the frame for that much muscle."

Ty grinned and shrugged as we got inside. "I don't want to look like a blonde-ape anyway."

"Hey," Jeff exclaimed before yanking Ty off the floor with his aura, getting him in a headlock and nuggying him something awful. "Who's an ape, shrimp?"

Tyler laughed, protested and giggled as they wrestled. "You are, you Hispanic gorilla."

I laughed as their rough housing made it to the floor. Jeff was stronger, but the wiry-little-fuck was faster and slippery as an eel. Jeff ended up on his back, laughing too hard to maintain his part of the struggle, with Ty straddling his waist triumphantly. "Okay, Ty. You win."

Ty grinned, and then had a thought. I could tell it caught him out of left field because he paused and pondered for a good three seconds. "Can we have a danger room session before you guys fly back? I never got to do any team stuff with you guys."

I raised my eyebrows at Jeff and he shrugged. "Sure, why not?"

Ty climbed off Jeff and let the gorilla up. "Cool. Kate hasn't been in the danger room since graduation."

I smiled. "Still looking out for us, huh?"

Ty grinned. "Have nothing better to do. Nothing fills time like trying to keep up with my friends."

I laughed. "Talking about keeping up, how's Paulo?"

"He's adjusting." Taylor smiled. "I think I managed to keep your coming a secret. I bet he'll bust a gut when he sees you."

I couldn't help smiling. It was stupid. We'd only been with Paulo for a little over a day. I was anxious to see how he was and catch up. I caught Ty looking at me, his head tilted to the side, and I blushed. "You're still my little-bro, Ty."

He grinned. "I know, but you stopped thinking of me as a 'kid' after France."

I laughed, reaching out to muss his hair. It was getting longer. "Yeah, but you're still my bro... kid or not."

"I'll take care of little-bro 2, Dan. I promise."

What about Ty was just so huggable? I had my arms around him and just laughed as I kissed his head. "I know, Ty."

He didn't even try to get out of the hug. He just leaned in and let me hold him for a few moments. "It'll be a few hours before anyone else is up. What do you guys want to do?"

Jeff laughed. "A few hours to burn through and an empty danger room?" I nodded as Jeff mussed Ty's hair. "Let us get changed into our uniforms, and we'll show you what us old guys can do."

Ty grinned evilly at Jeff as we walked to the elevators. "I'm going to kick your ass."

I eyed him. "You're in Logan's training aren't you?"

Ty nodded. "Yep. You guys learned all the teamwork from Cyclops, but Wolverine is just an all around better combatant."

This was going to be an interesting reunion.

Jeff was shaking his head as we wandered up from the danger room to head for the cafeteria. "I can't believe that little-shit took me down."

I laughed. "He said he was going to kick your ass. It's your fault you didn't take him seriously."

Jeff frowned. "How the hell was I supposed to know he had rapid fire energy blasters and could move like that?"

Ty caught up with us before we got to the doors. He'd had to put away his gear but told us to go up without him. "Never underestimate a foe," he chastised, far too pleased with himself.

"Yeah, yeah. What are you, a tactical genius?" Jeff wasn't bitter, but his ego was definitely bruised.

"Actually..." Ty left the rest unsaid.

I laughed again as I waved the doors open. Jeff wasn't the only one able to move objects without touching them. "If you're so smart, Mr. Genius, why haven't you come up with something that could make life easier for everyone? Like the ultimate kitchen utensil? I never knew there were so many 'necessary' things to fill up counter space."

Ty pondered my words while we arrived at the food. Jeff and I had our plates loaded and were ready to head for a table before I realized he'd stopped getting his food and was just eyeing the kitchen. I wandered back over and bumped his arm. "Hey, space cadet, it was a joke." Nodding absently, Ty got his food but was still in his own world as we sat down at the table.

Jeff frowned. "What's up with him?"

I shrugged. "I think he's trying to solve the mystery of the universe: why is it we can't have one kitchen utensil that does everything?"

Rolling his eyes, Jeff spooned in some Wheaties. "Can't be done."

That seemed to snap Ty back to reality. "Improbable, but not impossible. I'll think about it for a while and see what I can come up with."

"If you manage to figure it out, Ty, call Dad," I laughed. "He said he wanted to go into business with you if you had any more bright ideas."

"Okay," Ty chirped agreeably, and began eating his oatmeal. I supposed the topic was closed.

We had just finished our collective efforts at stuffing our faces when Kate came in. She had on her dance tights and looked ready for one of our classes.

"Hey," I called out, causing her to look up from her thoughts, "you're not allowed to dance with anyone but me, bitch!"

"Dan," she squealed and practically danced over a couple tables to get to us. "You secretive, married gay boy. What are you doing here?"

I caught her up in a hug as Jeff laughed. "He was tired of my stepping on his toes, so we had to come back."

I stuck out my tongue at my not-so-funny husband. "Actually, my husband is a neglectful dick who thinks romance happens in the bedroom. He hasn't offered to take me to a club once since we got to England."

Kate looked mortified. "What? Four weeks and no dancing?"

Putting on my best worn, downtrodden spouse face, I slumped my shoulders. "I should have married you when you asked me Kate. It's been horrible."

A scrunched up napkin bounced off my head as Jeff shot me an evil look. "Don't even go there. Like we've had the time!"

Kate laughed, looking at my combat suit. "Well, if you aren't too worn out from your early morning rumble in the danger room, you can help me with my eight am beginning dance class. Help me prove that you don't have to be black, or a girl, in order to move with beauty and grace."

I looked at Jeff and he smiled. "Go ahead. I'll get a shower and catch up with a few people while you're showing up all the kids."

"I'd better get a quick shower and change."

Kate nodded and waved me away as she went for her breakfast. "Please do, you smell like over-sexed gay man." She ignored my glare as she wove her way around the tables. "Studio B, don't be late."

Gods, she was going to be worse than JPB.

Dance class was more than fun, it was a renewal. I hadn't realized how much I'd missed dancing. We were still dancing, down the hall and the stairs, when I felt the approach of a short, rapidly running boy. I managed to let go of Kate's hand and get braced when a dark haired blur slammed into my legs. "Ooomph!" I hefted up the huggie little demon and spun him around. "How are you doing?"

I couldn't keep up with all the images that came to me as Paulo tried to catch me up with everything that had happenned over the last few weeks. "Woah," I called out, sitting down on the stairs to keep from falling over, "slow down."

He looked at me sheepishly, and I lifted his chin with my fingers. "It's good to see you, Paulo."

Hugging me again, all I could feel from him was a thankful happiness that just melted my heart. Storm had been right; the little guy was definitely going to want to see us with some sort of regularity. We were definitely going to make the flight over a monthly thing.