Kim stood silently in the back doorway watching the hunched silhouette of her former brother-in-law.
"Pictures really do last longer," Steve said softly.
"Guess I'm caught. I just never pegged you for a stargazer, Steve Johnson."
"Well, I am a man of mystery. Are the kiddies asleep?"
"Like little angels. As a matter of fact, Mr. Mysterious, I happen to know that as much as you're pretending to be out of your element, those children can't get enough of you."
"Is that right?"
"Oh, yeah. Not that I'm surprised."
"No?"
"Not a bit. I saw you with Max when he was growing up. When I was working with him on his speech, you were one subject, probably the one subject he wasn't shy about. "
"Here we go with the speech."
Kim started, taken aback by his sudden change of tone. "What speech, Steve?"
"The whole 'Steve is great with kids, as long as he gets to be the cool uncle, but when it comes to dealing with his own kid…no, that's too much responsibility for the dude to handle and he runs away.'"
"That wasn't what I was going to say at all. Actually, I understand you more than you think I do."
"And now you're going to explain me to me. Are these billable hours?"
"I'd forgotten what a kick you get out of being frustrating! Now, since you're the one who brought it up, do you want to hear what I have to say or not?"
Steve beckoned impatiently.
"It's instinct to want to protect you children, any parent would want that, and for an agent, a lot of times, that means keeping your distance. Adventure's not the only drug in the ISA, there's distance, detachment, numbness. That pragmatic lack of emotion, it's appealing to some people, but it's going to be different this time. There's a good chance this mission will put you in Kayla's orbit again, and Steve, this time, you won't be able to run."
Sami turned down the volume on the car radio. "Even with the time change, we missed visiting hours at the hospital."
"I know the waiting is hard, but none of them—Caroline, Eve, Eric, Paige—none of them are going anywhere."
"You never finished telling me about Paige, is she my cousin?"
"No, Frankie's not her father, though he would have been a better choice for them both."