Together Forever by KarieAuthoress

Together Forever - KarieAuthoress

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This story is the last in the series and is a sequel to The Invitation and Home for the Holidays.

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The Nanny

The tromping up the stairs was Johanna Bereveld’s only notice that her upstairs neighbors were home. She casually walked out of her small kitchenette and opened the door to watch one man and two bedraggled little boys slowly trudge their way up the stairs. “Evening Dr. Sandburg,” she called. The man looked up and smiled briefly, wisps of curly hair coming loose from the braid that he habitually wore during his time at work.

“Ms. Bereveld, evening. I’ll tell Jim that the elevator is out again. Maybe we need a regular guy to come in and clean it out, like the big high rises do.” Professor Blair Sandburg sighed as he reached out and snagged the shoulders of the two boys, Colin and Liam Blair, his sons. Johanna rolled her eyes.

“Whatever you deem best, Dr. Sandburg,” she replied, knowing that now Captain Ellison would spend more on the building than he already had and not raising the rent one bit to offset it. She shifted her focus to the boys, one curly haired like his father, the other obviously taking more after his mother with straight hair. Their eyes were a matching blue that was at once startling and amusing at the same time. “Would you boys like a cookie?”

Her offer was immediately accepted and two cookies were slipped off the plate. Matching Thank yous were extended from the boys without even a nudge from the Professor. Polite yet reserved they were, having only arrived in America two months prior. In that two months they had spent Christmas and New Years with their Father and Uncle, and recently Dr. Sandburg was working on getting their citizenship papers sorted out. Now all the i’s were dotted and the t’s crossed. Johanna shook herself out of her thoughts and offered the plate of cookies to the Professor, who looked as if he were about to refuse but quickly changed his mind and took a cookie, munching his way toward his hand after a brief and embarrassed thank you.

After he finished his snack and had discretely wiped his hand on the back of his jeans, he smiled at Johanna and gestured for the boys to head up the last flight of stairs to their apartment. Watching the trio of young men, Johanna thought not for the first time that what was needed for that little family was a woman, not a mother, but someone the boys could go to apart from the two fathers. No matter what Jim said, he was just as much a dad to those two boys as Blair was. She grinned secretly as a plan formed in her mind. She closed the door behind her as she turned back to the kitchen to finish cooking her offering to her Guardians above.

o-O-o

Jim trudged wearily up the stairs, his hand barely holding the railing and his long overcoat slung over his free arm. As he reached the second floor he was startled when the door to 207, Ms. Johanna Bereveld, opened and the woman carefully left her apartment, shutting the door gently behind her. She clutched her keys in one hand, her arms full with a crock-pot of what Jim could smell was homemade beef stew.

“Ms. Bereveld! Good evening. I’m sorry about the elevator, I’ll have it looked at as soon as possible.” Jim moved to steady her when she turned to him and returned her bright smile with one that even he could feel was tired yet sincere.

“Captain Ellison. Don’t worry about that old thing; I’m pretty spry in my old age, so stairs don’t scare me in the least. Here, you can help me by carrying this pot; I’ll take your keys and your coat in return. Off we go now,” she was still moving, exchanging the items with Jim and leading the way up to his penthouse apartment without so much as breathing hard. Jim gaped at her even as he followed her up.

Johanna Bereveld reminded Jim of Naomi, bubbling energy boiling over and covering the world in brightness. And she always seemed to have this uncanny ability to steamroll over anyone’s protests. So, of course she had a pot of stew for her neighbors upstairs. And of course she would expect Jim to quietly follow her up to his home, where she swept in and took over.

First she pointed to the counter and Jim dutifully set the pot up, plugging it in and taking the lid off carefully to stir the contents. Blair came out of the twin’s bathroom with his sleeves pushed up to his elbows and his eyes boggled at the way Johanna appeared to take over their home. Pulling down bowls and pulling out spoons, she dragged out the fresh multi-grain bread that Blair always bought from the bakery downstairs. In no time at all she had five bowls of stew on the table along with a basket of bread.

“Come, eat, then bed for the boys, I think.”

Jim glanced at Blair, who shrugged his shoulders and set the boys up to eat. It was only after the bowls were empty (and was it ever good!) and the leftovers had been packed away for the next day’s lunches that Jim took a step back to see what was really going on. Blair sidled over to Jim's side and sub-vocalized so low that even Jim had to strain a bit to hear him, "Man, that is scary."

Jim jerked his head in a nod while watching Johanna lead the boys to their beds upstairs, turning out the lights except for the nightlights and coming back to wipe the counter. She glanced at them with a sunny smile and jerked a thumb over her shoulder, “You might want to head up there and say goodnight. I suspect that it won’t be long before they are out to the world.”

Blair hurried up to kiss his sons goodnight with Jim barely a step behind. When they came back down, Johanna had the kettle in hand and three cups out with Blair’s special blend of de-stressing tea waiting. Blair was the first to react but only got as far as, “Ms. Bereveld—“ before he was interrupted.

“Johanna, please. Or you can go with what my friends usually call me, Yanna.” She poured the water, steeped the tea and generally played Suzie homemaker for a bit before settling with Jim and Blair in the living area of their home. Sipping her cup of tea, she seemed to feel right at home there and Jim couldn’t help but grin at Blair, meeting a matching sheepish grin in return.

After an undetermined amount of time, Yanna gazed seriously at Blair and chided him softly, “You are working yourself too hard when there is no need.”

Jim blinked, had he missed something? He had no chance to question Blair before he too was called onto the carpet by Yanna’s sharp, “And don’t think you can take on any more responsibility than you already have, Captain.” This last was said with such heavy emphasis on his title that he felt the need to duck.

“Yanna,” Blair began again, trying to take back the conversation. “Jim and I have been busy, yes, but now that the paperwork is in order I plan to put the boys in school. And Jim has been busy with the New Years Fiscal adjustments at work, but I’m going to help him with all that and then he will be fine, too.”

Jim knew this wasn’t working, this calm explanation of their life and the so called plans for fixing things. He was right when Yanna raised her left hand. Blair trailed off as she sighed. “You need someone to watch the boys so you can work. You need someone who has nothing to do but to keep up with them. And it has to be soon, neither of you can keep up this pace for long.”

She stood then and went back to the kitchen to rinse out her cup. Blair stood, as much to put his own cup away as to renew his argument, but again she gave him no chance to do so. “I assume you have a school picked out for them? Yes? Good. And I assume that all the paperwork is complete, you have them riding public transportation, or is there a car to take them to and from school?”

Blair blinked, “Um, yeah. I mean it’s a private school, being paid for by the boy’s inheritance from their mothers. They have a van that will pick them up at 7:30am and drop them off at 3:30pm every weekday.”

“Good,” Yanna grinned as she headed for the door. “Then I will expect the boys Monday morning at 7am. And they will come to my apartment after school, and you will not worry about them. Is that understood?”

Blair had no chance to reply as the woman swept out of the apartment, casting a quick grin at Jim before the door shut behind her. Jim watched Blair, who turned to gape at him in complete surprise. He chuckled as he stood and wrapped his lover in a hug. “Guess we have a Nanny for the boys, Babe.”

Blair leaned back and fixed Jim with a disbelieving grin. “I feel sorry for the boys. Do you think they can keep up with her?”

Jim chuckled, “Only time will tell, Chief.”

o-O-o

The Bully

She hung up the phone and turned smartly in her chair. Standing before the inner door, Rhonda reflected briefly on how some things may change in time, but some things still remained the same where CPD was concerned. Without waiting, she opened the door to find her boss, Simon Banks, sitting across the desk from James Ellison. She didn’t stop even at the glare from the black man, but began straight way over to Jim, ignoring all the other men in the room.

“Captain Ellison, you had an urgent call from your nephews’ school, they need you down there now.” Jim was out of his seat in an instant, Simon standing with him and making shooing motions.

“Go, Jim. I can handle this, go see to the boys.” Simon’s face was calm and earnest. Rhonda looked worried as Jim grabbed his long coat and headed out the door with her. The other men, Captains of every department, said nothing in protest. Ellison was damn good at his job, but there was one thing in this world more important than his job. And that was two little boys in a private school three miles away.

o-O-o

Jim drove swiftly yet carefully in the midday traffic. His cell phone sat in its hands free charger and he snapped out orders as he went. “Janice, send Rafe to the University to find out where Sandburg is. And what exactly did Tupelo say?”

”She said that there had been an incident at school and that she needed you to come and collect the boys. Captain, I asked her why she didn’t call Dr. Sandburg, but she told me that she had tried. Someone at the U rebuffed her, told her that the Doctor was in an important meeting and could not be disturbed, and then hung up before any other explanations could be made.” Janice was a damn good secretary, she would have already sent out a person to check on Blair, and she wouldn’t have let something like this slide unless there was no other direction to take. Jim felt lucky to have her on staff.

Turning the last corner into the school parking lot, Jim signed off quickly and searched out a close space. Whatever had happened to his boys, he was going to get to the bottom of it immediately. This wasn’t the first time that something had happened to them in this school, and Jim had had just about enough. Blair was paying more than enough money for his sons to be taught in a safe school.

Striding into the main hall of the school, Jim cast his sense of hearing until it latched onto two familiar heartbeats. He used them as a guide to lead him through the maze of halls. As he walked, his hearing picked up raised voices. One of the dear heartbeats was faster than normal, nearly out of control; the other was calm, rock steady. Jim came up with the logical conclusion that Liam was in distress and Colin was attempting to protect his slightly younger brother for whatever reason. The voices could now be well heard by the Sentinel and served only to anger him more.

”That boy is a menace! He attacked my son, nearly broke his nose! I demand that he be reprimanded immediately!”

”Mr. Richards, if you will just sit down for a moment, I’m sure we can work this all out.”

”Timothy twisted his bad arm! You better hope that it ain’t broke again or my Da’ll sue!”

”Colin, please... it hurts.”

That was the last he heard with his sensitivity turned up because he was finally at the door to the Principal’s office and was barging in none too politely. The secretary waiting at the desk on the other side of the door screeched when the door was flung open, then she proceeded to squawk as he marched through to the next door, opening it as his hand touched the knob. He ignored her and continued on, his eyes taking on the scene before him, visually scanning each of the occupants and gauging their threat level. His eyes fell on Colin, who was quietly leaning over Liam, curly head and straight head so close together as to almost be one. Colin’s hands were drifting lightly over Liam’s left arm, the grimace on his face telling Jim that his nephew didn’t like what he felt.

One of the teachers was trying to get Colin to move away so that she could see to Liam herself. Colin continued growling at the woman, warning her off with a glare that she was determined to ignore. Liam whimpered at a particularly sensitive touch and Colin froze, obviously attempting to sense deeper. The father of the other boy was still ranting and raving at Mrs. Tupelo, the school Principal. The other boy, Timothy, glared over at Colin with murder in his eyes and a bloody nose. Jim took a deep breath.

“What the hell is going on here?”

Liam and Colin ignored the bellow, but the rest of the room dropped immediately into silence. Tupelo snapped her attention to Jim, followed by the teacher who had been attempting to separate the brothers. Mr. Richards snapped his eyes to Jim and puffed himself out as something important as he turned to face the Captain. “And just who the hell are you?” he asked.

Tupelo attempted to override him, “Captain, good of you to come. There has been quite the incident.”

“I see,” Jim said, glaring at the teacher who finally caught a clue and left the brothers alone. Mr. Richards would, of course, not be ignored and repeated his earlier question, this time with more authority in his voice.

“I want to know who you are, barging in here like that?”

Jim decided to deal with Richards first, “Captain James Ellison, Major Crimes, Cascade P.D. These boys are my nephews. Now just who the hell are you?”

Richards wilted just a bit and Tupelo saw her opening as she answered for him, “This is Mr. Charles Richards of Richards’ Industries. This is his son, Timothy.” She waited a beat before proceeding. “Timothy has accused Colin of attacking him without provocation and attempting to break his nose.”

Jim held up a hand and turned to the brothers sitting on the leather loveseat in the corner of the room. “Right. Give me a report, Scout.”

Colin glanced up, confusion flitting across his face. He dropped his gaze a moment only to bring it back up sharply when Liam pinched him. Jim fought the grin that threatened to expose itself at the twins’ antics. He patted Colin on the shoulder, “Did you hit him, Col?”

Colin reluctantly released his brother, turned and stood straight in front of Jim, his face revealing his calm exterior, which was a match for the interior. It told Jim that, whatever happened, Colin felt his actions justified. “Sorry PaPa, I did hit him. But he hurt Li first.”

Jim squinted through a narrowed gaze, glaring over his shoulder at the youth in question before turning back to Colin with a ‘carry on’ motion. Colin nodded once and continued, “Liam and me was having lunch outside. I went to throw some stuff in the garbage and Liam sat on the bench, so I heard clear as day when Timmy showed up and started to call Liam a whole bunch of nasty names. And he was saying other mean stuff too!"

“According to Liam’s written account, the words in question were ‘Faggot’, ‘Bastard’, and ‘Jew lover’.” Tupelo interrupted, clearly just as upset by the series of events as Jim was. Jim growled low in his throat, only calming down when he felt a soft hand brush his own. Liam was awkwardly attempting to soothe him with his right hand, his left clutched protectively against his chest. Colin took over again.

“Yeah, so Liam tries to get up to walk away, right? Only Timmy grabs his arm and twists... and that’s when I grabbed his shoulder, turned him around, and punched him!” Colin was finally showing his anger by this time and Liam’s hand traveled from Jim back to his brother. “I’d do it again, too, if he laid a hand on my brother.”

Jim turned and knelt down next to Liam, one hand on his shoulder. “Hurts, son?”

“Uh huh.” Liam replied quietly. Colin stood next to him, hand hovering over his free shoulder, trembling as if he didn’t know what to do and it hurt him. Jim nudged Colin lightly.

“What did you find, Sport?” Jim asked the younger sentinel, his voice barely a whisper. Blair was forever encouraging the younger boy to test and practice his skills and Jim agreed it was the best way to learn and teach. Colin sighed as he pointed to a spot on Liam’s left arm, the one that was broken last year.

“I felt a crack on the bone there, PaPa.” Colin explained in the same sort of whisper, keeping the other occupants of the room out of their business. Jim nodded silently. With a sigh he stood, his eyes sweeping over Richards without a second thought. He turned to Tupelo.

“I want the boys’ records immediately. I’ll be taking them out of this school. This is the third such incident in the last two months,” Jim ordered without much inflection in his voice. Tupelo blinked.

“Captain Ellison surely we can come to some sort of agreement here?” She backpedaled as fast as she could, but Jim’s mind was made up. He was tired of dealing with this school and their incompetence. And he was quite certain that Blair would approve of the actions he was taking now.

“I want the files, now. Colin, get your things and Liam’s things from your cubbies.” Colin nodded and left quickly. The teacher looked sadly down at Liam and sighed as she headed back to the class as well. The secretary looked to Tupelo, who nodded once with reluctance on her face, and the woman left only to return a few minutes later with two pitifully thin files which she handed over to Jim.

With files under one arm and the other draped over Liam’s shoulder, Jim walked his injured nephew out of the office and down the hall. He was met by Colin a few steps away and they all three marched out together, one strong family against the rest of the world. Exiting the school into the bright sunshine, they were not surprised, and quite pleased, to be met by Rafe’s unmarked sedan. Blair tumbled out of the passenger side and raced up the steps to take his little boy into his arms, becoming wary with Jim’s murmured warning and turned away to climb back in the car. Jim took Colin with him and followed the sedan to Cascade General.

o-O-o

Yanna turned off the burner under the soup she had been stirring when she heard the elevator ding. Wiping her hands on a towel, she rushed over to open her door and see that the elevator was still going, so she raced up the stairs to the apartment above, knocking firmly. Jim opened the door and let her in silently. “What happened?”

Jim sighed, “Another boy at school twisted Liam’s arm, causing it to crack. It was his left arm, his weak one.”

Yanna glared back at him, “Where was Colin?”

Jim shrugged, “Busting one across the boy’s nose.”

Yanna nodded once, “Good.” She turned back to the stairs and trotted down to her apartment, only to return via the elevator a few minutes later. Jim helped her move the pot of soup she had been working on to one of the burners on the stove before leaving to find Colin.

Blair came striding out of the boy’s room coming down the stairs at a fast clip still fuming. “I still can’t figure out what that brat at the front desk was doing, shucking the message off as unimportant. Eli practically tore him a new one and if he’s ever lucky to get a reprieve in the future, he better pray to the gods that he doesn’t screw up as much as he did this time.”

Jim paid him no mind as he stepped out on to the balcony with Colin. Yanna stirred the soup as Blair fetched a beer out of the fridge. She glanced over her shoulder to ask, “So how did they get to you?”

“They didn’t. Rafe came and got me, the school had called Jim out of a meeting with the Chief.” Blair took a strong pull from his beer, leaning against the counter and sighed in frustration. “Now I have to find a better school, Jim was right that the boys can’t stay there anymore.”

Yanna nodded in understanding. “You know, my Lani works at a school a few blocks further out than Parkview. I’m sure it has room for two more. Perhaps I should ask her to bring some information by.”

Blair looked at her, totally surprised. “Yanna, you don’t have to do that. And look at this, soup? When did you have time? We only knew about this ourselves about an hour ago!”

Yanna shrugged as she began to dish up soup in several deep bowls. “Call it a hunch,” she said on a whim. “Just know that, if you need me, I’m always there.”

Blair shook his head again, glancing around the room and catching sight of his wolf spirit. Standing next to it was a deer.... a Doe to be exact. And then Blair knew.

With a smile he went out to help his lover calm down the next generation. Colin was still having trouble with the fact that he had hit another boy in defense of his brother, and the other boy had practically gotten away with it. It was going to be a tough lesson to learn that there are better ways than lashing out to subdue an opponent.

But, it was worth it.

o-O-o

The Lovers

"Aunt Yanna, Colin and I need a little help." Liam Blair-Sandburg sat at the kitchen island in Johanna's little apartment and ate a chocolate chip cookie that she had given him, dipping it delicately in his glass of milk before putting it in his mouth. Johanna waited for him to finish chewing and to swallow before he continued. "We want to give Da and Papa some time alone this weekend."

Johanna thought about this for a moment before answering, "Perhaps you and Colin would like to sleep-over this weekend? Go to the movies with Aunt Yanna, maybe get some ice cream?"

Liam grinned with his milk mustache and a mouth full of warm, soft cookie. Johanna handed him a napkin and laughed at his antics. Yes it was beyond time for the boy's parents to spend quality time together, alone.

o-O-o

Blair was the first to arrive home, exiting the elevator into their private hallway and shucking off his coat. Ahead of him on the bar he noticed a slip of paper that, when he read it, explained that Yanna was taking the boys for the weekend and not to argue with her because she was not answering the phone or door unless it was an emergency.

Blinking slowly in comprehension, Blair laid the note down and looked around the empty loft. Well empty only in the fact that no one else was home at the moment. But what he actually saw was his home. Home with Liam, Colin and Jim. A home that Jim had made just for the four of them. In the hopes that one day he and Jim could become lovers.

And Blair wanted that. He had loved Jim forever it seems and the last six months had been both torture and fear. But it had been six months since the two women who had given him his sons had been taken from the three of them. But they had Jim and Jim was being very patient with him. So maybe tonight was a good night to finally take that next step. He certainly couldn't think of a better time.

o-O-o

It was the first thing Jim noticed as he rode the elevator up to his home. One lone heartbeat and the smell of eggs, bacon and toast. As he stepped out of the elevator, he was greeted to the sight of his favorite love cooking breakfast at 6 in the evening. At first he wasn't sure what to say, but then Blair looked up and smiled.

"Hey, come and get it. Eggs are almost done, scrambled firm just the way you like." Blair's hair was down and Jim could tell that the curls were freshly washed. He wore his bright blue button up shirt, untucked, and a pair of his softest jeans. Jim grinned as he hung up his coat and walked up to the bar.

"So what's all this? Where are the boys?"

Blair grinned as he dished up the eggs and buttered toast. "Yanna 'kidnapped' them for the weekend. So I decided that a little courtship ritual was long overdue. Don't you?"

Jim felt his face heat up and his mouth spread out in a grin. "Well, as courtship rituals go, I think this one is aces."

Blair came around the island and stood in front of Jim where he was seated on one of the tall stools. Looping his arms around Jim's neck, Blair nuzzled softly at his cheek and whispered in his ear, "Are you really hungry right now?"

Jim pulled back to look Blair in the eyes before answering, "Not really."

Blair stared back. "Yeah, neither am I."

o-O-o

Sunday morning, Naomi Sandburg rode the elevator to the third floor of her son's building, only to have it stop on the second floor and her two grandsons grab her by the hands and drag her out into the hallway. "Boys, what's wrong?"

"Nothing Bubbe, but Da and Papa are spending time together," Liam explained as Colin took her small bag and carried it into Johanna's apartment where Johanna was making pancakes for breakfast. Johanna looked up from her griddle and waved for Naomi to make herself at home.

"Finally?" Naomi chuckled as she took off her wide brimmed hat and settled onto a high chair. Johanna laughed lightly as she set a cup of coffee before her.

"Yes isn't it grand. Those boys needed to finally have a night together." She flipped another pancake on her stack and shut off the griddle. "Now they can finally get on with life."

Naomi nodded as she stirred sugar into her coffee and watched her grandchildren scarf down food. Life could now finally go on.

o-O-o

Blair rolled over and pushed himself up on his hands to stare down at his lover. It had been a lovely night full of passion and love. Jim had played Blair's every nerve ending until he wanted to scream, and then Blair had returned the favor. Last night was more than good.

Now, looking back at the object of his sated feelings, he grinned. Life was finally working out for them and they could let go enough to do this. Be lovers as well as friends and partners. They had the boys, a Sentinel and Guide for the future of Cascade, and they had each other. And there was nothing in this world that could hurt them now.

Life was grand.

~end~

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