-You Must Watch, Dear-

-A response to the recent sequel; no idea if I'll continue the story when it comes out on dvd, but I'd like reactions to how this fits with it from all who've seen the movie. Big Thanks and Love, Aoife-

The sun set in a blaze of color, and the air was still warm as Líadan pulled the clothespins off the sheet that was hanging on the line and dropped them into a bucket at her feet. She carefully pulled the cloth down and folded it, laying it in the basket with the others. Her eyes fixed on the basket as she thought about how much time had passed, how many times she'd folded that sheet and placed it in that basket with the others. She had kept in touch with Shane Duffy over in America for a few years, translating things over the phone every now and then. She was still the best translator he'd ever had, and he hadn't been thrilled at the prospect of getting someone else to fill the position. He'd told her that Mrs. MacNamara had finally gone to be with her husband the year after Líadan went home. Her remaining worldly possessions had been donated to local charities--which Líadan knew was what the old woman would have wanted--and her body buried in the plot next to the man she'd spent most of her life with. Líadan eventually hoped to go back and visit the grave site as well as her old friends at the police station. She missed Dolly's quirks and Greenly's slow wit almost as much as she missed the companionship Duffy had provided. But time seemed to move faster than she realized, and before she knew it, eight years had gone by. It was an odd feeling, being the age her brothers were when they'd gone on their mission from God. She still had nightmares from time to time, but they were always old memories; she knew the boys hadn't killed anyone in quite a while. Every so often she caught the smell of sheep manure in her nostrils even though there were no sheep farms near the place where she and her mother lived.

A few wisps of her blond hair fell out of her ponytail and over her eyes as she bent over to pick up the basket. She lifted it expertly and rested it on one hip, pushing the hair to the side of her face and heading for the side door of the house. "Ma!" she called. "Laundry's in." When she didn't get a response, she knew the older woman must have gone to bed already. Setting the basket on the kitchen table, she opened the refrigerator and reached inside for the bottle of juice that was on the top shelf. Suddenly, a sharp pain stabbed her in the left shoulder. She knew that pain all too well. It wasn't an old injury; it was a new one, a gun shot wound. But she hadn't been shot.

She set the juice bottle on the table just as her legs buckled beneath her. Another shot to each of her thighs just above her knees were almost unbearable. Something had happened . . . In her mind, she saw her brothers, much more haggard looking than their 35 years should have made them. The two dark-haired men were laying in hospital beds. They sat up and moved to the window, which looked out on a prison yard. How could they be in prison?! For years now, they'd been in hiding. She got the occasional nondescript letter from Murphy, telling her nothing about where they were or what they were doing, but it told her that they were alive and still loved her. And that was all she needed to know. Had the law finally found them? She didn't think it was possible. If they hadn't found anything after eight years, why would it be now? They hadn't killed anyone in quite some time. If they had, she would have known about it, would have seen it. As the vision and pain let up, the phone began to ring. She shook her head and pulled herself to her feet to answer it.

"'Ello?"

"Lee, 's 'at you?" The voice on the other line was gravelly, tired sounding. Though she hadn't heard it in at least three years, she knew immediately who it was.

"Shane?"

"Yeah, Sweetheaht, it's me."

"How've ya been?"

"Well, 'til now, just fine."

"Whatcha mean 'til now?'" Her brow furrow in confusion and worry.

"Somethin's happened." She knew that already, but she held her tongue. "I'm afraid you might be in fah a shitstoahm heah soon."

"How dya mean?"

"Someone just killed a priest--two shawts through the head--and left 'im with pennies in 'is eyes."

Her mind raced. She knew exactly whose style of ritualistic killing that was. But they never killed men of the cloth; it was a part of their unwritten code of honor. Someone had to be trying to set them up. "No, Shane, et couldn't be them," she insisted.

"No, I know it wasn't them, Love. But it was done just like theiah's. Which means someone's cawllin' 'em out." He paused a second as though hesitant to continue. "But I know what they'ah capable of, and if they get word of it, you know they'ah gonna come. I'm just worried you might get caught in a crossfiah from across the ocean wheah none of us can help ya through it." No matter how old she got, he still saw himself as her guardian, and probably would until the day he died. And he knew that she saw what they saw, felt everything they felt as it happened. But he also didn't know she'd just seen what was probably the end of it. They would live, and that was enough.

"Ah, don't ya worry 'bout me, Shane; I've got people here ta look after me. Ya remember Brady from the 'Faerie Queen?' Well, turns out he really couldn't lev without me 'n' followed me out here. We've been married two years now."

"Congratulations, Sweetheaht."

"Wa'n't much of a ceremony weth neither of our families there, just m' ma and Uncle Sibeal."

"I'm glad you've got someone." She could hear the genuine happiness in his voice accompanied by a touch of sadness. Maybe he felt like her getting married would make it impossible for her to come visit him, or that it would mean she would forget about him.

"Ef ya don't mind, I'd like ta come see ya guys again soon."

"We'd love ta have ya, Lee."

"'Ey, Shane, dya know when m' brothers get out of prison?"

"What ah ya tawlkin' about, Sweetheaht; no one's heahd from the boys since that day in the couahtroom."

"Ya mean they haven't been shot at all recently?"

"Nawt that I know of. What would make ya think that?" Líadan pulled out one of the chairs and lowered herself onto it. What is going on? She'd never seen something before it happened before. At least, not when it came to her brothers. It was always during or after the fact. "Lee?" Shane's voice came through the phone. "Lee, ah ya okay?"

"I'm fine, Shane," she finally managed. "I'll have ta call ya back, alright?"

"Alright, Sweetheaht, you take cahe now. We awll love ya.

"Love you too, Shane." She hung up the phone and sat staring into the distance trying to figure things out. Why would she have felt their wounds if they hadn't yet received them? She took a deep breath and jumped as someone knocked on the door, inadvertently squeaking. Her hand flew to her mouth to quell her surprise. Standing quickly, she moved to the kitchen door and opened it. She gasped again when she saw who it was. Her knees went weak, and she nearly collapsed into Murphy's arms.

He held her tightly, closing his eyes and breathing in the scent of his no longer little, but still baby, sister. The sun-dried linen wafted into his nostrils, sending a wave of calm over him. He hadn't been sure if this was a good idea, but before he and Conner got on that boat to go back to America, he'd wanted to see her one more time. "God, look at ya." He pulled back and cradled her face in his hands. "Ya know how absolutely gorgeous ya are?" He ran his thumb down the scar on the right side of her face, indicating that it was a part of her beauty, the fact that she was able to carry it with such grace and still be breathtaking.

Tears welled up in her eyes as she looked back at him. God above, he looked so much older than he should. He was in excellent physical condition, but he looked tired, careworn. "Come inside," she breathed, opening the door wider. He stepped over the threshold and looked around the kitchen. Was it really so long ago that they sat together here as children eating family meals? The food she and Conner used to throw at each other, the stories, the nursed wounds, all of it was a lifetime away. From somewhere down the hall, a baby started crying. Murphy raised an eyebrow in surprise.

"Who's that then?"

"Wait here," she smiled. Líadan disappeared around the corner and emerged with a sleepy-eyed, dark haired little boy on each hip. One of them was obviously who had making the ruckus, tears still streaming down his face. "I hope ya don't mind, we turned Conner's 'n yer room inta a nurs'ry." He lifted the one who hadn't been crying. "Noah Conner," she explained as he looked at her expectantly. She shifted the other one to her shoulder to comfort him, lightly patting his back. "And Brannon Murphy Sullivan." She gently swayed, rocking the fussy child. After he went quiet, she looked at her brother solemnly. "You two are goin' out again aren't ya?"

He patted the back of the young one that he held and nodded. "We can't let this one go, A Chroí."

"I thought so," she replied. "Help me put them back down." She tipped her head toward the living room and turned to walk to the hallway. He followed her silently. The child laid his head on Murphy's shoulder and gripped his shirt as though he wouldn't let the man go. Though he couldn't yet speak or even comprehend who this man was, he knew he didn't want him to leave. Murphy followed his sister back to the room he'd shared with his twin brother for eighteen years. The girls' room had been appropriately changed to accommodate Líadan and her new husband. He was glad they were here. These boys would grow up in a house full of love and memories, plus there was someone to watch over their mother. As Líadan laid Brannon back in his crib, she gently ran a finger down the side of his face. "He's a fighter," she whispered.

"Just like 'is ma," Murphy replied at the same volume.

"And the uncle who shares 'is name," she countered. She lifted Noah from her brother's arms and placed him in his own bed.

"So which one 'as first?"

"Not tellin'," she smiled. He smiled back and shook his head. She was too much like her mother.

"He takin' care 'a ya?" he asked, meaning the boys' father.

"I can take care 'a m'self," she shot back. "But aye."

"Good." Silently, the two headed back out into the kitchen, both instinctively avoiding the boards in the floor that were prone to creaking. She walked him out onto the porch, and he caught her up in his arms one more time. She buried her face in his neck, just like she used to when she was little. "Is aoibhinn liom thu, a chroí," he whispered.

"I love you too," she returned. "Give Da and Conner my love when ya see 'em."

He let her go and headed down the stairs of the porch. "You take care, Love. I know ya'll be watchin'." She nodded and watched her big brother walk down to the car at the end of the driveway. The engine started right away, and the vehicle took him away from her one more time. She swallowed hard and bit her bottom lip against the tears. She already knew their fate; she only hoped they would survive in the iron pen that would become their home.

Translations:

"A Chroí" = Irish term of endearment, "My Heart"

"Is aoibhinn liom thu, a chroí" = Irish, "I love you, my heart"