You know what's hard? Trying to talk sense to a brickwall. Over the past few days I'd been trying to tell Connor he was out of his mind. After all, people just don't randomly fall in love within a few days. It just doesn't happen. It doesn't... does it?

I sighed. "Connor... you don't love me." I flipped through channels on the tv. "You like me, you just think it's love."

Next to me, the man in question just snorted as if I'd said something hilarious and grabbed at the remote.

"Hey! I'm watching tv here!"

"Well I fer one would like to watch the same channel for more than a minute at a time!" He leaned over but I held it out of his reach.

"Nuh uh, it's my turn for the tv. You guys had it all last night watching that UFC match. I want to watch Friends." I stuck my tongue out at him.

"Well ye aren't bein' responsible with the remote. Therefore I get it." He grinned and launched himself over onto me. I squealed and tucked the remote in under my chin as I curled up into a ball. I could feel his surprise as he realized it was going to be alot harder than he'd thought to get the remote back. I felt him lean back off a bit and I dared a peek up at his face. He stared down at me, cocking his head to the side as if considering something. Then his face broke out in a huge grin. I tucked my head back in and curled even tighter.

The tickling sensation caught me off guard and I exploded from my tightly curled ball like a clown shot out of a cannon. I collapsed, giggling helplessly before I realized the remote was being slowly wrestled from my hand.

"Hey! I don't think so buddy!" I tried pushing away the hand that was tickling my side and simultaneously trying to pull my left hand in closer to my chest. I could feel the fingers on my left hand start to give way and Connor sensed it as well. He stopped his efforts on my side and dove with both hands on the remote. As I felt it slip out of my grip, I fell forward onto the floor as Connor shot up, holding the remote triumphantly in his upraised fist.

I shot a glare at him as he began yelling and cheering for himself, like he'd just single-handedly won a football game by himself. As I was hauling myself back up on the couch, Murphy darted into the room. Glancing around trying to figure out what had gone on, his gaze locked on Connor, who was now doing a fist-pumping dance in front of the tv, remote still clutched in his hand. Understanding came over his features as he turned to me, still grumbling and hugging my side that had lost me the remote.

"Lost the remote, eh? Well it won't be the first time. Connor likes to get 'is way alot. Lemme guess, ye wouldn't pick a channel he liked?" He said, sitting down next to me and throwing a companionable arm around my shoulders. "No... he said I flipped channels too much." I sulked into the curve of Murph's shoulder, silently getting a sliver of smug satisfaction as Connor turned to look at us and his grin drooped just a bit. "I just don't like commercials, that's all."

"I don't like commercial's either but ye were flipping the thing every five seconds! How can ye even tell what's on when ye go that fast!?" Connor looked at Murph and raised an eyebrow, presumably at his arm around me but, being irritated at him, I wasn't about to make Murph move. I grinned quickly. "Just because your eyesight's fading doesn't mean the rest of us have to suffer."

Murphy started to laugh as Connor's mouth just fell open and he put a hand over his heart as if wounded. "Me? Old!? I'm devastated ye think so!" He fell to his knees in a mocking stance. I rolled my eyes. 'So much for a great comeback.'

"Oh come on Connor get up. Ye know ye're not the oldest. I am- I'm the oldest and wisest." Murphy just grinned and nodded at his brother. Connor got off the floor and moved to sit on my other side. If it was a bit closer than I would've liked, I didn't say anything, just moved a bit closer into the curve of Murph's arm. Flinging an arm across the back of the couch, Connor changed the channel to a newscast.

'Still no leads in the Pinsciotti murder investigation. Again, if you have anything that you think might help, just call the number at the bottom of the screen.'

I scowled at the tv. Courtesy of my little excursion a few days before, Da had called Smecker and gotten security alarms and cameras installed on all possible entrances and exits. I'd tried to leave yesterday but right as I turned the doorknob an ear-splitting high pitched wail emitted from what seemed to be all around the house. The boys had come running but Da, seeing it was only me on the monitors he kept in his room, had stayed back. I had been told in no uncertain terms that I would not be leaving unless accompanied by one or both of the brothers. Their logic was that I couldn't possibly know every single hitman or mobster by sight and so until the news coverage subsided I needed a bodyguard. It made me seethe on the inside. I'd been taking care of myself just fine before they came along. I could continue to do so. But apparently I was the only one who thought so.

"Aw, buck up, it'll all fade away soon." Murph tweaked my cheek. I made a face and ducked out from under his arm.

"Stop reminding me about it and don't do that cheek thing again." I rubbed the back of my hand across the offended body part. "It makes me feel like I'm four or something."

"Well the way ye were actin' a few minutes ago, it's hard to tell." Connor shot me a sidelong grin, quickly smothered as I pummeled my fist into his upper arm.

"You were the one who wouldn't leave me alone. You were the one who had to start playing dirty. You were the one who couldn't just let me watch my Friends."

"Friends, eh? No wonder Connor didn't let ye have the remote." Murph began to grin from ear to ear. "Ye see, Connor here likes real soap operas, not the ones with depth."

Connor's look of outraged betrayl had my mouth dropping as I whipped around to look at Murphy. "Are you serious?!" The thought of Connor, one of the Saints, as a soap opera fan, almost sent me into convulsions of laughter right there. But I forced myself to hold it in and turn around to ask the question that had to be asked.

" you really watch soap operas?"

He had a scowl on his face as he said rather grudgingly, "Yes..."

I tried, I really did. But I couldn't help myself. The laughter just bubbled up out of the middle of me and I had to hold onto my middle or risk falling off the couch. Connor, looking very irritated, just turned his attention back to the television. "I'll wait until you're done."

Murph was chuckling at my reaction but he smiled good-naturedly at his brother. "Oh come on. Don't be sore. Ye know she woulda found out sooner or later."

The glance Connor shot at his brother would've felled a tree with one blow. "I would've preferred later. Aren't you done yet??"

At that, I glanced up and saw an image in my head of him sitting in front of the tv, wondering anxiously if Jeff would come out of the coma, and I was back to laughing hysterically again.

He glowered. "So much for keeping up my manly image. Thanks Murph."

My laughter was starting to dwindle and I leaned back onto the couch to try to catch my breath, a stray laugh escaping every now and then.

"No problem. It wasn't much of an image anyway. Any girl can see I'm the better twin." He hooked his hands behind his head and leaned back, all cock and arrogance.

Like lightening, Connor's arm flashed over and poked a spot on Murphy's ribcage that sent his brother into a twitching, writhing fit. "HEY HEY HEY!! That spot's off limits!! No fair!!"

"Oh yes it is. Ye spilled about my soaps, I'm spillin' about yer one weakness." He leaned in conspiratorialy towards me. "Murph's right ticklish on 'is ribs. Especially right THERE!" He reached over and poked the spot again. Murph wiggled a bit more, trying to stay away from those fingers.

I just shook my head and tried to stand up, only to find two hands grasping the back of my pants and hauling me back down again.

"Excuse me! Let go!" I fought down a spasm of panic I tried wriggling out of the ironclad grips that both brothers had around my shoulders and waist. I turned to glare at Murphy whose arm was around my shoulder and closest to biting distance. He grinned at me until he saw my lunge towards his arm. Letting go reflexively, he jumped back and I whirled on Connor.

"Let go," I said through gritted teeth. The panic was still there, hovering right behind my taut control. I just looked at the floor. He gave a small chuckle as if I'd said something mildly funny. My pulse was jumping into my throat.

"Connor..." I could feel my airways getting tighter and my chest began to heave with the effort to stay calm. "Yes?"

My vision was starting to blur and I tried one last time. "Please... let me go..." I looked up at him and saw his amusement quickly fade to concern as he looked at my face. "Avi? Avi? Are ye alright?" His grip immediately loosened on my waist but it was too late, the darkness was claiming me. My eyes fluttered closed and he grasped my arms quickly as if to prevent my falling. The last thing I remember was his hand, caressing my face and then... nothing.

I came to sometime later in my bedroom. I looked to my right and saw Connor sitting next to my bed in one of the kitchen chairs, asleep. I glanced around and realized I'd been out for the better part of 3 hours and it was dark out. I leaned over and lightly touched his hand. He instantly jerked awake, hand going to the empty holster under his shoulder. Realizing that it was only me and that the holster was empty, he slowly relaxed.

Rubbing a hand over his eyes he asked, "Ye all right? Ye gave us quite a scare downstairs."

Leaning back in the pillows, I sighed. "I'm fine. I'm sorry I scared you guys."

"What happened? What made ye faint like like that?" He came and sat next to me on the bed.

Having him so close made me nervous and I looked down at my hands, which were twisting the light blanket into knots. "Do you remember what I told you about the night I lost my baby?"

He took one of my hands in his. "Aviana." The other hand tilted my face up to his.

My eyes were filled with unshed tears. "I'm sorry. I just... I can't be held like that anymore. After they... after what they did to me... I just... I can't." I broke down crying and I felt his arms wrap around my body cautiously.

"Ye've been alright before when we've touched you. When I've held you." The confusion in his voice gave me the little shove I needed to try and gather myself. I took a deep breath.

"I was in control. I had control over myself. When... when you boyos grabbed me like that and I realized I couldn't move, I panicked. I can't, I can't be as helpless as I was that night so long ago. I promised myself I'd never let myself be helpless again." I wiped most of the tears away and sniffled, looking up at him. "I'm sorry I scared you. I didn't mean to."

"So this, me huggin' ye is alright?" Connor looked so hesitant and unsure I couldn't help but smile.

"Yes, you silly boy, this is alright." I leaned into his shoulder and wrapped my arms around him in turn. "I like having you hold me this way."

I sighed in contentment and closed my eyes. I heard him snort and felt his smile as he bent and kissed my head.

"Ye do love me, ye're just too stubborn to see it yet." I pretended I didn't hear him mutter under his breath.

A knock rapped my door and Murph stepped into the room.

"How's the patient? All better I take it by the looks of it." He grinned knowingly and shoved his hands in his jeans pockets.

A grin was hovering around my mouth as I tried to narrow my eyes in irritation. "Don't you go gettin' any ideas boyo." I threw a pillow at him.

He ducked easily and just grinned again. "I'll leave you two to get better alone."

As he shut the door, I leaned my head on Connor's shoulder. "You really should learn to lock that door when we're alone."

I felt his body tense slightly as the various meanings of what I said sunk in. "...Aye... guess I'll just have to work on it."

I grinned. "So... now that we're alone... do you wanna join me?" I pulled away and shoved the covers back so he could crawl in.

The look on his face was one of hope and disbelief. He looked like I was trying to trick him. "Are ye serious? Ye've got ta be serious, Avi." He gave me a look that promised so much and would've had my knees giving out if I hadn't been laying down. I swallowed hard and shook my head to clear it.

Then I grinned. "Of course! I love having a boy to cuddle with when I sleep."

"Oh." He looked so deflated I almost relented but I was so tired that I wouldn't be up for anything even if the door were locked.

"Get on in, and save those thoughts for tomorrow. I might find a use for them then." I held open the covers as he quickly took his belt and shoes off and slipped in beside me.

I settled myself on his chest and his arm fell into place on my side, as if it had been made for just that. I let out another sigh.

"Good night Connor."

"Good night my love."


"I know I know... okay. Good night Avi."

"Much better."