Rated: NC-17




I posted pics for the characters of Big Dog, Hector and Javier on my Live Journal entry for this chapter if you'd like a visual for them.

She sat in the kitchen with Big Dog, Hector and Javier feeling as safe as anyone could ever hope to feel.

Of her family these were the three largest and most protective of her and for some reason…some totally troublesome reason…she wasn't feeling as strong as she normally did.

Damn him.

She knew better, should have never let that blue eyed fox into her heart, and yet there he was, moving right in like he owned the place…the bugger had even drafted a legally binding lease agreement naming him as the sole resident.

She picked at her food and sighed…

Great, now there would be feelings involved…she cringed inwardly at the idea. He'd work his way right in there and she'd be forced to open up to him.

But she didn't want to open up.

There were things better left bricked up tightly and repressed forever and ever and always, no sessions with a shrink to talk about her emotions, no man asking her if she was 'alright' and expecting her to want to talk it out.

"Loca? What's wrong, Joven?" Big Dog asked and smiled as she jumped a little at the sound of his voice, she'd been so lost in thought that hearing him had snapped her back from it.

"Hmm?" She asked as she looked up at him.

"Ju got something on jur mind – we can talk about it." He tried with a smile, but he already knew her rule about opening up and nodded when she rolled her eyes…if she wanted to talk she would…if not she would just do what she did best, wall it up inside.

"Ju catchin feelings, babygirl." Hector said as he popped a plantaino in his mouth and she glared over at him. He shook his head and threw his hands up in the air. "What? How come dat's a bad thing? Aye dios mio, girl – ju allowed to catch feelings for the gringo. He a funny cat, good guy far as I can see…and hey - if he does you dirty ju know I kick him in da troat for ju." He said sincerely before taking another bite.

BadGirl laughed and nodded, knowing the truth to that statement.

Javier sucked his teeth in frustration and smacked the back of Hector's head. "She no want to catch feelings, vato, ain't you been payin attention?"

Hector turned and pointed at him in warning, "Ju touch me again like dat I'ma bust you upside jur head till you get some sense. And yeah I been payin attention, but dayum, babygirl need to settle down some time. Look at dis neighborhood. Dis a good place for a little snow-bunny to live a life witout drive-bys…witout gang shit and brawlin. He good for her." Hector nodded to himself that these were all valid points. "Yeah – I got my vote on da Abogado. And babygirl, ju too smart for what ju doin wit jur life anyway…ju better than…"

Her eyebrow arched and Big Dog cleared his throat, telling Hector not to start that up again. She didn't want to talk about it. Bottom line.

Hector rolled his eyes and went back to his second dinner of the evening, grumbling under his breath that no one ever listened to the handsome one.

BadGirl laughed and stood to scrape the remaining uneaten food from her plate, only to have Hector snatch it and slide it onto his own. She smiled, leaned down and kissed his forehead. "I know you're looking out for me, Hector…but this is how it is and how it's gotta be." He scowled up at her and she laughed. "Te amo, hermano." She said in a little voice, hugging him from behind as he sat at the table and barely having to bend to do so.

Hector struggled to maintain his scowl for a few seconds before finally giving in and grinning. "I love ju, too, little sis." He said and closed his eyes as he held her hand on his shoulder, reaching up with his other hand and tussling her hair. "Even doe ju about as stubborn as a damn mule."

She cracked up and wriggled free, walking to the sink and washing her dish before looking over at the clock. It was almost midnight and no sign of McNorris yet.

"Bout dat time." Big Dog said and she nodded. He could see that she wanted to be alone and was giving her an out with saying it was time to go to sleep. "Que descanses bien, Loca."

She smiled and hugged him goodnight. "I'm gonna try like hell. You boys get some rest, too. Been a long few days."

"True, not like we saw a murder and was shot at or nothing, but still long." Javier joked and she laughed before giving him a hug, waiving to them all and wandering up the stairs.

She shut the bedroom door behind herself and exhaled slowly.

Too muchtoo much going on in her head that she didn't want to think about

She hated this. Things used to be simple, she remembered simple. She'd spent years perfecting the monotony of her daily life. Fix cars, go home, hang with the boys, get drunk, pass out, wake up and do it all over again. Go to the occasional bar and start a fist fight with whatever asshole decided to overstep his boundaries…it was a good life. An emotionless, predictable, blissful life.

Now here she was, feeling...what the hell? Lonely? Oh Christ, what was wrong with her?

Her eyes wandered to that box beside the TV for the twentieth time that day.


She averted her eyes from it, rationalizing putting it off another few days…

But she needed to do it. Hell – most of her wanted to do it…the problem was she didn't know what effect it was going to have on her.

Emotions were high enough as it was; could she really face Esteridge right then?


A pain sliced through to her heart with the mere thought of his name and she stuck out her chin, trying to be strong despite the agony.

Screw it. Has to be done eventually or I'll never forgive myself…she thought bitterly.

Once everything was in place, the tape rewound to the beginning and making that crucial sound advising her that it was go time she found herself standing there, remote in hand, trembling fingers hovering over the play button and praying for the courage to do this.

It was going to hurt.

She knew that. It was inescapable.

But was she willing to allow herself to run from emotional anguish like always? To block out the memory of a good man she had fallen so hopelessly for just to save herself some tears?


God this was a bad time though. She ran her hand over her face roughly; she was already so confused about the whole McNorris dilemma…

But if she didn't get it done she'd be forced to do it later, and she knew from past experience that the longer you ignored something that would hurt the worse it became once it was unleashed.

"Fuck…" She said in frustration and pressed play, backing up to the bed and sitting down, not trusting her own legs for fear they would give out once she saw him.

The exact moment he stepped onto the screen she felt her stomach drop and knew this wasn't going to be pretty.

And she was right.

For the following hour she was struggling to see the screen through uncontrollable tears…

Tears for the loss of his life and what could have been…

Tears that here she was, all over again, letting a man get close to her heart – a position from which he would easily be able to crush her with anything from infidelity to harsh words…

Tears that she'd felt that way about leaving Esteridge behind as well, and how that had turned out…

She fell asleep at some point, wondering idly through her muffled sobs if a visit to a shrink was so totally out of the question after all.