Disclaimer – The Mediator belongs to Meg Cabot. This one-shot idea belongs to XxGraysonGirlxX.

Rating – T

Summary – Jesse POV. One-shot request by XxGraysonGirlxX. Missing scene from end of Twilight. A little nervous about going to dinner with Suze's family, Jesse's soon plunged into the drama and chaos of a family meal. Making him feel for the first time in too long, part of a family.

A/N – As the summary suggests, this idea was given and requested to me by XxGraysonGirlxX and boy was it a challenge to write! I only went and deleted the first copy of this, as in permanently deleted. Lol! But I really hope you like it, hun! *Fingers crossed* This is your one-shot. Reviews are forever love!!!

Dinner At The Ackerman's

I hadn't been lying when I told Susannah that when it came between meeting her mother and step-father and an eternity in hellfire, I would choose the hellfire.

Because finding myself sitting in Father Dominic's car that I had on loan from him for another night, I couldn't help but feel as nervous and uncomfortable as I had the night before when I had met them officially for the first time and escorted Susannah to her high school dance. The two saving Graces to this night being that I don't have to wear a monkey suit and Susannah will again be there to lighten the blow. But last night had only been for a short time. This night was to be for a few hours and with each of Susannah's brothers in attendance. Even more reason to feel as though I will be under a microscope.

Dinner with the Ackerman's . . . Something I have witnessed many times before; but never actively or physically taken part in.

I ran my hand through my hair again, aware that I had most probably made it look scruffy, disorganised and hopefully appear with an air of youth. I know Susannah's mother was a little surprised by my age. But considering I have been walking the Earth, alive and dead for a hundred and seventy years, I didn't think it be necessary to be too concerned over that matter. I hope over time, Mrs. Ackerman will come to be comfortable with our relationship. Although, I thought absently, I'm sure she would have been quick to not allow Susannah to go to her school dance with me if she wasn't happy about our relationship. It was worth my few minutes stalling to appreciate that fact.

Reaching across to the seat beside me, I picked up the bouquet of flowers I picked up earlier on in the day and critiqued them. They were more a peace-offering to Mrs. Ackerman, than for Susannah. She is more than aware of my nerves and wants her mother to like me as much as I want it. This felt the best place to start.

"Let me guess," Susannah suddenly said, appearing on the passenger side door, leaning in the open window and gazing at the flowers in my hand. "You brought them to sweeten my mom. Aww, Jesse, you're so sweet!" She grinned, exaggerating her enthusiasm. Popping open the door she slid onto the vacant seat and turned to look at me. "It's a good call though; she's a sucker for flowers. I know I already said this last night, but there's no need to be nervous. Mom and Andy have been singing your praises all day. You'll do fine." She reached across to take my hand, interlacing our fingers together and squeezing them reassuringly. "Have I ever lied to you? About something non-ghost related I mean." She amended when I gave her a pointed look.

Relaxing my hold on the flowers and taking in a deep breath I can appreciate in a whole new way, now; I returned Susannah's smile.

"You're right, querida," I replied, letting go of her hand to slide my fingers into her hair. "I'm looking forward to this. As long as you are there, then what do I have to worry about?" I didn't give her a chance to reply with a sarcastic retort or quip; I silenced her with a kiss instead. I was glad she had slipped into the car when she had; I doubted we would have a chance to say hello properly once we were in the house. But it was with great reluctance and loss of breath that I pulled away. Stroking my thumb across her cheek before I pulled away completely, pushing aside the loss of her in my arms.

Sighing with an air of contentment, Susannah gazed up at me longingly. "I guess we should go in then, huh?"

Chuckling, I leaned forward to kiss the end of her nose. "I think that would be wise, yes." Knowing she wouldn't move until I did, I climbed out of the car and walked around to her side to hold her door open for her. I locked the car when she climbed out and once again took her hand in mine and walked up the drive-way to the porch. Words weren't exchanged between us as we walked through the door, because we were too shocked by the scene between Susannah's two brothers to say anything. I didn't have time to be nervous then. It was hard to when I was thrown straight into a wholesome family environment, complete with banter and brotherly bullying.

I lowered my arm with the flowers and stood watching David jumping up and down for something in Bradley's hand; tauntingly holding it out of his reach.

"Brad! Give it back!" David irritably said, jumping to try and reach what looked to be a magazine, just out of his reach. David has grown in height the last few months; but he is still not tall or big enough to go up against Brad unfortunately. I suspect it is just what the bullying brother needs. To be put back in his place by the person he would least suspect. That person being David. "You're being childish, now."

"No, you're been a geek," Brad simply replied, bringing his arm down and walking around the couch to read the magazine with a sneer. "You need to get your head out of this junk and into some sun, man. You're starting to look like a ghost with bright red hair. Like that Drop Dead Fred, dude. But with bigger ears." He laughed, flicking David's ear to prove his point.

"I'd rather choose to have superior intelligence than have my life shortened by the risk of skin cancer from being out in the sun too much," David stood tall, his arms crossed over his chest, giving off an air that he usually does before he launches into a long diatribe of something. I find it endearing that he likes to embellish on certain facts to do with any topic that comes up. He is just in need of a good sounding board that he has lacked. "Due to statistics showing the increase in global warming, the chances of being diagnosed with – "

Brad sighed long and loud enough to cut his younger brother off. "Dave, Dave, Dave . . . You're never gonna laid, dude." He said matter-of-factly.

I raised my eyebrows and felt Susannah stiffen at the mocking to Brad's tone as he said it. David for his part blushed a furious red that was almost as bright as his hair and swelled with indignation. "There is far more to life than just having sexual intercourse in the back of the Land Rover, Brad." He spat back.

"Oh, ewww!" Susannah hissed quickly under her breath; a visible shudder rocking through her. "I'm never getting in, or driving that car again!"

Brad shrugged and grinned, not denying the fact. I felt my own disgust at his lack of respect for himself and tried to dampen down my desire to step in for David and show Brad his place. Ever since his reaction to Spike I have not held him in the highest regard. "If you say so. But, this is why you haven't got a girlfriend yet," He carried on, blatantly enjoying baiting his younger brother. "You throw all this shit around about facts and statistics, when, no-one cares! You just bore us to tears."

Finally, David emerged from his shell with that last, hurtful retort and stood up to his brother. "Why would I want to lower myself to the standards and lack of respect you obviously have when it comes to your sexual liaisons with Debbie Mancuso in the - Ow! Dad!" David broke off, wincing and trying to escape the head-lock Brad had locked him in to keep him quiet.

Slowly stepping down into the room, Susannah shook her head and threw Brad a withering glare. But she was stopped from saying anything when her step-father stalked out of the kitchen, a fork in his hand, waving it at the two boys. "Alright, that's enough you two! This is supposed to be Suze's night. Jesse will be here any minute and you're not exactly . . . making . . . a good impression," He sighed when he saw us out the corner of his eye. "Hello Jesse, nice to see you again. Sorry you had to be witness to that." He waved, gesturing towards David who had just been sent sprawling to the floor after Brad shoved him away.

Before anyone else could do it, I stepped forward and helped David up to his feet with an offer of my hand. He took it with a grateful smile and blushed as he righted his clothes. "It's not a problem, Mr. Ackerman. I was just admiring how David was winning." I replied, shaking Susannah's step-fathers offered hand before he went back to the kitchen with his excuse of checking on dinner. I suspected he was as nervous as I was feeling. That or he didn't want to be witness to the next part.

Brad snorted and drew himself up tall trying to look imposing and threatening towards me. I raised my scarred brow and challenged him with a silent look. 'Are you sure you want to do that?' it said. He may be built like a wrestler, but I have no qualms that I wouldn't be able to defend myself should a show of brute force break out between us. Glowering with annoyance, he narrowed his eyes and dropped his physical high and mighty pose, making Susannah snort and laugh openly at him.

"Who are you?" He sneered, his disdain for me increasing without much effort.

Stepping forward to make her presence more felt, Susannah answered for me through clenched teeth. "This is Jesse. You met him last night, remember?"

"Jesse . . . Ohhh, yeah . . ." He drawled with a twist of his mouth. Unfortunately, Brad isn't as dumb as he looks and I soon saw the light of recognition dawn in his eyes. "So you're the guy Suze's been sneak - Hey! What the hell!" He suddenly bellowed, staggering forward under the weight of David who had leaped on his back and abruptly fell off just as Brad was to ask if I was the man Susannah had been 'sneaking' into her room at night. It would have caused a lot of problems if he had have finished, considering he wasn't lowering his voice. But David's quick escape was unexpected.

"Sorry, just wanted to see if I could tackle you or not . . ." David cringed under the glare of his brother.

With a swiftness Brad was surprised by, Susannah imparted herself to stand between David and Brad. "Lay a hand on him, Brad and I'll tell Debbie some of your little secrets. You'll soon be saying buh-bye to make-out sessions in the Land Rover. And don't think I don't have some dirt, because you know I do." She grinned with contempt and smugness. She waited for him to look between David and herself, the obvious strain on his face under whether or not to call her bluff was amusing. He was darkening to an interesting sort of purple shade.

I would have called it plum.

"Whatever," He spun on his foot and started stalking towards the den. "But don't think this is over!"

"Nice come-back!" Susannah shouted out after him, laughing. When she turned back to me she was grinning in triumph. "That'll never get old. Come on, you can get the meet and greet of my mom out of the way before the chaos begins. You okay, David?" She checked as we walked through the room. He nodded vigorously; fingering the magazine he had managed to recover and stared between us. "You sure? You look a bit spaced out. He didn't hurt you did he? I'll go and kick his ass if he has."

"No, I'm fine! Thanks for your help." He carried on smiling. As if snapped out of a trance, he quickly went back to his seat in an arm-chair and carried on reading.

"Strange kid," Susannah murmured under her breath with affection before tugging me along the rest of the way to the kitchen. "Mom, Jesse's here," She announced with a flourish as we stepped into the warm room making my stomach growl with how delicious it smelled. My mouth watered at the thought of the dinner I have no doubt Andy put his all into to prepare and turned my attention to Susannah's mother striding towards me with a confidence and grace I saw in Susannah the night before. A trait I had up until this moment, not noticed before. She took my offered flowers I presented to her with a smile.

"Oh, they're lovely, Jesse! Thank you," She smiled warmly. Susannah winked at me when her mother turned her back and tightened her hand on mine.

"You're welcome, Mrs. Ackerman. It was the least I could do for inviting me to share dinner with you all tonight." I replied, loosening my tongue at last.

"Well," She clucked, arranging the flowers in a vase before turning back to us and ushering us out of the room. "It was more Andy's idea, but I'm more than happy to get to know Susie's boyfriend. She hasn't mentioned you before now. As I'm sure you can well understand I'm more than curious of the boy she's managed to keep secret from me. We didn't really have the chance to talk last night did we? I'm sure I have a few tales I can tell you over dessert." She smiled wickedly. Susannah only just managed to stifle a groan when she caught the glint in her mother's eye. "Have a seat, dinner's almost ready. Is Jake home yet?"

"No, he should be any minute. He had to change a shift with someone at work so he could make it back in time," David answered, stepping up to the table and sitting down beside me where I was sitting beside Susannah. Placing me in the middle, it would give me the full-view of Brad and Jake's table manners in front of me.

Brad slouched into the room a second later, throwing himself in to a chair rather than seating himself. Helen threw him the same look Susannah had done earlier and he at least straightened up under her scrutiny. I turned to look at Susannah when she squeezed my knee beneath the table, her eyes asking me if I was okay. Uncaring that I was sitting with her family – I raised my hand and moved a piece of her hair out of her eyes and tucked it back behind her. She blushed lightly but didn't break my stare. Not until we heard a fake retching sound from across the table. All eyes moving to her brother.

"What's the matter, Brad? Jealous Debbie doesn't do that to you? I'm sure if you ask nicely she would." Susannah grinned mockingly, ignoring her mother's pointed look.

"Screw you." He shot back across the dinner table with another sneer that seems to be a permanent fixture with him.

"If you want another week added on to your grounding to extend it to two, I suggest you watch your tongue, Brad," Andy interrupted his son before he could saying anything scathing to Susannah. Brad looked as though he was going to object, but just slouched in his seat in the end, knowing when he was defeated. I suspected he was just biding his time though. "Where's Jake?" He asked setting steaming hot dishes and pots of food down in the centre of the table after his second trip from the kitchen.

"Sorry I'm late!" Jake called out after the sound of the front door slammed. He walked down into view and dropped into the chair beside Brad with the same air his brother had. Susannah's step-father visibly relaxed noticing us all sitting and waiting together. "Hey man, was'sup." He nodded across to me when he got himself comfortable and tore his eyes away from the food on offer. "Let's eat, I'm starving."

"Wait!" Mr Ackerman called before hands could descend on the food. "I just want to welcome Jesse here with us tonight. I hope you enjoy your dinner." He nodded to me. "Okay; go."

The last word had barely left his mouth before chaos erupted around the table. I was sitting beside Susannah who was leaning back in her seat, watching the mad rush of hands, growls and muttered threats being passed between all three brothers as they clamoured in to get what food they could; piling their plates high before sitting back to literally, dig in. Once it didn't look as though their hands were going to get broken from trying to reach anything, Susannah and her mother both picked up their plates and started to delicately fill them with whatever was left. When Susannah noticed I hadn't picked mine up and was staring wide-eyed at the sudden noise and rush, she pressed her lips together doing a poor job of hiding her humor from me and leaned in to me to whisper in my ear.

"You better start helping yourself before the food's completely gone. They're gannets!" She said, picking up my plate to start filling it for me. Once I snapped out of my shock, I took it from her so she could finish filling hers and finally got to try the fine tasting cuisine Andy had prepared for us. Although the manners of Brad and Jake opposite me were threatening to turn my appetite off, I concentrated down on my plate, allowing the relative silence to relax me somewhat. Until it was broken with an innocent question.

"So Jesse, how did you and Suze meet?" Andy asked me just as I was swallowing down a mouthful of food. I choked with the question, all eyes turning on me this time. Some knowing and sneering - namely Brad. Others openly curious. But Susannah dropped her fork to her plate with a clatter and rubbed my back before passing me a glass of water. "Something I said?" Mr. Ackerman asked slightly amused and slightly concerned.

Shaking my head, I answered the same time Susannah did.

"We met at The Coffee Clutch."; "We met at the beach." As soon as we realized our slip-up, we turned to each other, both trying to say without words what the right answer was, but neither forth-coming. We would have been ignorant to the silence around the table if it hadn't have been so unnerving and a little stifling. We had yet to come up with an appropriate cover story of questions pitched to us such as this, because we hadn't thought of needing one. I was kicking myself for my lack of foresight now.

"Well I say the beach and Jesse says The Coffee Clutch because that was when he first asked me out," Susannah smiled cheerfully, nudging me with her elbow to nod along and agree to whatever tale she was spinning. All the while, she was dropping small pieces of food into her lap where Max's head was resting, waiting for scraps off her plate he can only get from Susannah's. "So . . . a bit of both, we guess."

"I thought you were going out with Paul Slater," Brad piped up with more than enough vicious intent in his eyes to know he was goading her deliberately. "I heard there was this on again, off again thing between you. Everyone knows about it, it's all around school. Oops, my bad, Jesse didn't know did he?" Grinning he shoved a fork-full of food in his mouth, gloating with his eyes.

Placing my own fork down, I levelled my stare with Brads. "Actually I did know about Paul Slater and his pursuit of Susannah," I answered, silencing everyone again. I was aware Susannah's parents and remaining too brothers were watching the banter and repertoire with keen eyes, but carried on anyway. "Susannah and I don't keep secrets from each other. She assured me nothing had happened and I'm inclined to believe her. Besides," I smiled to my love, raising her hand to kiss the back of her knuckles in a display of affection I wouldn't normally have done. "Paul Slater isn't a gentleman. Susannah deserves better than him."

"Damn right, she does," Jake surprised us all by saying. When he noticed our attention was on him, he elaborated. "What? I saw the way he was gunnin' for you, Suze. I didn't like it. I am your big brother, if I don't look out for you, who will? Other than Jesse." The small smile in my direction told me I had gained Jake's approval and once again felt Susannah's hand squeeze my knee. I suspected that if I looked over at her, I would have seen a wealth of emotion in her eyes at his admission.

But I thought it best to leave that for her.

"Just how long have you two been together?" Mrs. Ackerman asked; sounding a little shocked as she followed the banter around the table.

Susannah cleared her throat and shrugged. Her cryptic answer meaning more to us that no-one else would be able to understand. When she said, "A while." she meant from the moment she travelled up to the shadowland to find me. If I had of said it, I would have meant, since the day I was born. I just hadn't known it. Her answer seemed enough for her mother and she nodded, going back to her food.

"So what courses are you studying at College, Jesse?" Mr. Ackerman pursued, doing his fatherly bit by asking all the right questions.

Throwing Susannah a side-glance, I answered as truthfully as I could. "I'm not attending College at the moment. I'm working at the Historical Society Museum until I can decide what I want to do. Eventually I would like to go to medical school and become a doctor; but at the moment I'm just enjoying my new life in Carmel. I'll probably start College in the spring. I'm not in any rush." This was partly true. I was still getting to grips with being alive again. Also there's the dilemma of having to take my S.A.T's. But I'm not concerned about those. I know everything will fall into place if and when it chooses too.

Satisfied with my answer, Mr. Ackerman reached out to re-fill his plate and discussions split and went to different topics. David asked me questions, but ones that were easy to answer and were more of an academic nature. Helen talked with Susannah and Jake, Brad and Andy were enthralled in a discussion that seemed to revolve around Brad's grounding. Max stayed faithfully by Susannah's side throughout the whole meal, but watched me over her lap anyway. It was a relaxed family setting that put me at ease and left me with a distant pang for my own family somewhere in the past, doing this exact same thing. But I didn't dwell on it for long. I had decided not long after I woke in the hospital that I wouldn't allow myself to rest on regrets. Not with so much opportunity before me. That was my old life; this is my new one I plan to embrace wholly.

When dinner appeared to be finished, where I was subjected to watching Brad stuff more than enough food into his mouth so many times, it had made me take smaller portions; I helped Susannah to clear the table. Mr and Mrs. Ackerman tried to have me sit; but I was ready for a chance to catch my breath and have a few minutes alone with Susannah. The first thing I did was pull her into my arms and soak in the feel of her warm soft body moulded to mine. Her silky hair beneath my lips and her light laughter in my ear. I could have stayed there, if it hadn't have been for Brad waltzing in to get a drink of orange juice, straight from the carton.

His table manners turned my stomach.

"Two words, Brad," Susannah said when I let her go and she turned to face her brother. "Creepy, crawlies." I had to duck my head to hide my amusement at the flash of disgust and revulsion, accompanied by a green pallor to his skin, when Susannah slowly let her words sink in with him. He muttered an explanative under his breath and left the room as quickly as possible. "I knew that would get rid of him. So, how you coping? Ready to ditch me and my crazy family yet?" She half joked, half seriously asked.

"Definitely not," I smiled reassuringly, stroking my hand through her hair. "Ask me after, Christmas," I teased, receiving a light punch to my arm for my efforts to lighten her mood. It worked, but I still felt she needed a little more convincing. "If you hadn't heard, you have me for life now, querida. Or is it till the end of time . . ." I pondered, tilting my head to add to the effect. She hit me again and I laughed, joining in with hers.

"I get your point, but a girl had to ask." She shrugged, her patented, 'no big deal' attitude back in place.

"Come on, your family will be wondering where we disappeared too. Besides, I want to hear some of the things little Susannah used to get up to," I drawled, preceding her out of the room. She groaned and dropped her head; but didn't fight it. This peaked my interest even more. I would have thought she would have been too embarrassed. Although once compared to some of the things I've seen Susannah do in the past year she has been in Carmel, nothing could shock me about her antics as a child. And I told her as much as I slithered past her to my seat.

"Mom and dad were getting suspicious," David whispered to me when I sat back down beside him. "But I stalled them for you."

Chuckling at yet another escape from him, I patted him shoulder. "Thank you, David." I sincerely responded. "We appreciate that." He swelled from my praise, reminding me that his older brothers, with the rare exception of Jake, never really give him the attention he deserves. So I vowed to make more of an effort to befriend him when I am around. Thanking Andy for the slice of cake and cream he passed to me, I turned my attention to the other end of the table and to Susannah's mother. "Do you have any tales of Susannah as a child? I would enjoy hearing some of them." I started, ignoring Susannah kicking me beneath the table. So she had believed I was joking before!

"Oh this should be good," Brad muttered not too quietly, stuffing his face with cake already.

Mrs. Ackerman passed Susannah a questioning look, but soon settled her gaze on me.

"Well, I don't really have anything embarrassing to tell you," She started, seeming to think about it. "I'm going to presume you already know she's a bit of klutz. I've lost count how many times she's had a trip to the emergency room with a broken bone because she's fell down the stairs or something equally as clumsy. She even tried to turn amateur detective a few months ago that landed her in hospital . . ." She trailed off laughing, caught up in the memories but cringing at the glare Susannah was sending her. I reached out to take Susannah's hand resting on the table and she relaxed marginally under my touch.

"Suze was a normal child really," She continued. I knew she was fine-lining it for me. Susannah has told me before just how much trouble she has been in, in the past. Of her mother's worries and concerns for her. But neither Susannah nor I said anything different. To Susannah's mother, she was trying to paint a perfect picture of her daughter, unaware I already have one. "She's had her moments any child has, like eating glue in elementary school –"

"That explains a lot," Brad muttered around his mouthful of cake, interrupting his step-mother and spraying crumbs onto his plate at the same time.

Leaning forward in her seat, Susannah pinned him with a disbelieving look. "She said I ate the glue, not sniffed it, dumbass."

"What's the difference? You're still a freak. Still Queen of the Night People – OW!" Brad exclaimed, his mocking laughter interrupted by his flinching scowl.

"Oops, my bad; I guess my foot slipped." Susannah smiled without warmth, sitting back in her chair to cross her arms defiantly.


"Jeez, you sound like a pansy, Brad. Shut up." Jake supplied, eating his dessert and otherwise ignoring everything that was being said.

Taking in a deep breath, Mr. Ackerman stood up from the table demanding attention. "Brad, stop baiting, Suze. Suze, stop kicking Brad. Jake, don't call your brother a pansy and Jesse," He said, making me raise my eyebrows expecting a reprimand too. "I'm sorry about this. I was hoping for a nice, peaceful dinner, but that never seems feasible in this household. I hope you won't hold it against us." He said as he sat back down in his chair, pointedly looking at David who was about to speak.

Unable to stop my chuckle, I shrugged easily. "It's perfect fine, Mr. Ackerman. Susannah prepared me for what to expect tonight."

"Oh!" He exclaimed, raising his eyebrows in surprise. "Yeah, that would make sense. Well good, I'm glad we've not scared you off then."

"Only the Queen of the Night People is gonna do that," Brad muttered again. This time, no-one chastised Susannah for kicking him. They all just turned a blind eye to it. "I don't have to take this kind of abuse. I'm outta 'ere." Throwing his scrunched up napkin on the table, he pushed himself away from the table and strode across the living room. Seconds after we heard him stomping up the stairs and slam of his bedroom door, very loud music could be heard thumping through the floor. Mr. Ackerman dropped his head into his hands and sighed wearily.

I felt Susannah's hand shaking under mine and turned to look at her bewildered. But when I found her silently laughing, her mother trying to give her a reproachful look, she just got worse. "I'll get started on the dishes," David said into the silence, picking up all the dessert plates and taking them into the kitchen.

"I'll think I'll help David with the washing up." Mrs. Ackerman intoned, striding after him.

"Me too," Susannah's step-father followed her.

"I've got finals to study for. See ya around, man." Jake nodded, getting up from the table and loping out of the room. This left just Susannah and me behind.

We both turned to look at each other and back to the empty seats. "I doubt I would have cleared the room any quicker if I was a ghost." I said quietly, sitting back in my seat. That seemed to have been enough for Susannah. The barrier between her amusements had been shattered and she fell across the table laughing so hard tears were slipping down her cheeks. Grinning at her smiling and laughing without abandon and so easily, I just indulged myself with watching her. I wiped her tears away when she finally managed to sober up enough to look at me without laughing again. "Feel better for that?" I asked kindly.

"Oh yeah. I needed that," She sighed. "Come on, I need some air. We can hang out in the backyard and pretend we're not being spied on from the windows," She took my hand as she stood up and led me through the kitchen, telling her parents where we were going before leading me through the sliding doors and out into the fresh crisp night. When I finally sat down on the lounger, stretching my legs out with Susannah resting between them, her back to my chest, I tipped my head back and stared up at the stars I could see. "Thanks you for coming tonight, Jesse. I know it seemed a disaster, but mom and Andy really like you."

"I really like them. It was interesting to spend time with your family after watching them for so long," I replied, tightening my arms around her to block out the cold. Trying to give her my body heat to warm her. "I could probably tell you some-things about your brothers they would never want told. Especially Brad. But I think I'll hold that in reserve for now. Just in-case."

The silence lapsed between us comfortably, but for the sounds of an owl and crickets. I stared up at the old boarding house with its new renovations and new life being brought to it. Tipping my chin down, I kissed Susannah's hair and closed my eyes to the vision of it in its former glory, knowing that not too far from where we laid, my real body had been dug up after a century and a half of being kept secret. It was a surreal thought and one that made me reflexively pull Susannah closer to me. My lips resting at her ear to whisper to her.

"I know I haven't said this yet, but . . . Thank you for going back for me, querida."

She turned to stare up at me, blinking in the darkness to try and see me properly. In the end she just smiled and kissed me before resting back to where she was before. "Don't thank me just yet. You might be regretting it if you have to come to any more of these Sunday dinners and watch Brad try to humiliate me in front of you again." She laughed, moving to make herself more comfortable, her hands interlocking with mine where they lay on her flat stomach.

"I'll never regret saying it, Susannah. Not if I get to witness these amusing family moments you have." I chuckled resting my head-back to look up at the stars.

I would never regret it if I get the chance to feel part of a family again after far too long.

But . . . something told me, Susannah already knew that.