Not long ago, there was a time when Jade would've protested just about anything that put her in the dependence of a man, or another person in general. She was a very independent woman indeed.

Uncle Pey'j didn't necessarily count, as he was her uncle, and he was also more of a friend that you could go to and complain and he'd sit and complain as well, instead of someone to go to when she needed someone's shoulder to cry on. If that sort of case ever arose, there was a very trusty old pillow sitting on her bed that looked lonely and, in effect, quite friendly. It also didn't protest when its case was soaked thoroughly with tears.

As a working woman of sorts, Jade was entirely used to relying on her own talents and abilities to get her through the day and beyond. If an injustice presented itself in her presence, she'd even do her best to conquer the evil and try to be home to the lighthouse before dark so she could prepare dinner for those that depended on her.

There was something special about being depended upon that really strengthens the heart and drives you forward, through the hard times, and through the molasses-thick tears that sometimes want to come spilling out of your eyes when you know you really don't have the time to cry. Embarrassing moments like those are for behind closed doors, tucked safely between a warm blanket and a familiar lumpy pillow that knows you better than any coworker or sometimes, even friends.

Jade loved being depended upon. It gave her purpose. It gave her the courage to fight for the little family she'd come to know. That family included her very favorite swine uncle and misfit children whose parents were missing. That very same family had taken her in and accepted her for who she was, loved to have her around.

So of course, Jade understood the desire to be depended upon. She just never really came to light with the fact that hey, somebody might want to have her depend upon them for once. She just didn't know if she could handle having someone to look out for her all the time; what if they got themselves hurt trying to protect her when she knew she could have done just fine on her own? It was far too much of a hassle.

And it was a hassle that brought her here today. After the...incident...and the lighthouse had been repaired, Double H moved into the lighthouse. He had also helped with the reconstruction, and had thus proven himself useful to have around. Pey'j for one was happy to have a better alpha male present so that he could slack in such alpha male duties, and the kids loved hearing Double H's heroic tales of adventure as they huddled around the fire, shadows playing across their faces as they listened intently.

After the kids had been tucked into their beds one night shortly after the reconstruction, Jade sat with her face in her palm, staring into the slightly smoldering fire, the flames reflected in her unfocused emerald eyes. Double H sat beside her, still moving almost mechanically, obviously more comfortable in his armor than in plain clothes.

"What's up, Double H?" Jade asked lazily, not moving from her position, the fire's glow too enchanting to tear her eyes from. Double H glanced at her with a half-smile.

"Hub, Miss Jade, just Hub is fine now," he replied, that natural heroic inflection still evident in his voice even after a day's hard work is done.

"If I have to call you Hub, then you have to stop calling me 'miss'," she said, finally shifting her gaze to the muscular man sitting beside her, bathed in the orange glow, his shadow behind him on the wall a dancing monster shaped of darkness.

Hub was silent for a while, sitting in the comfortable silence until the distant chiming of a clock somewhere in the lighthouse stole his attention. He glanced back at the woman beside him, utterly still except for the flickering shadows from the fire.

"Are you still unable to sleep?" His voice was quiet as he asked. Ever since somehow reviving half of the Hillyan citizens with a strange magic she hadn't even known she had, the mere thought of it had been plaguing her thoughts and forced her awake at night. Normally, she'd have brushed it off with the fact that strange things happen every day, and she was not an exception, but what if something had been taken for the life she restored? What if someone else was suffering for the good deed she'd committed? It strung her in a state of unrest, and it was evident in the dark circles underneath her eyes and the lethargic way she rolled her eyes to meet his gaze.

"I'm still worried, you know that," she said, reaching up slowly to rub at her eyes; the warmth of the room had begun to dry them out. Hub felt his heart go out to the girl.

"Let me hold you, it might help you sleep," he said, voice still carefully quiet, his eyes never leaving her face. She closed her eyes for a few moments and when she opened them, she hoped that he wouldn't see the disdain that she tried to hide; fatigue had weakened her shields, however, and Hub saw clearly how she felt about that particular notion. "Why do you not let anyone get close to you, Jade?"

"I don't want to talk about this, Hub," she said, leaning on the wall for support, forehead against the cool plaster.

"Miss Jade, it hurts to see you so...alone all the time."

Jade looked at him this time. Really looked at him. Hub was handsome, in a plain, forgettable sort of way. He wasn't the kind of guy that if you saw him on the street, you'd go home and dream about him and wish you'd see him again some day, as if he was some sort of magazine-cover movie star. He was muscular, but not overly muscular in the way that bodybuilders get, it was just the muscles of an obviously hard-working man. Hub was also a very caring individual. He truly cared for those around him, and would gladly give his life for even an innocent stranger, if such need arose. He was the kind of guy that needed people depending on him, not for the security, but just because that's who he was. He was a natural hero.

"I don't want to have to depend on you, Hub, I don't think I could live with myself if you ever got hurt because of me. I've had enough people get hurt because of me lately, and I'm at the end of my rope." The fatigue put a weight in her voice that even Jade wanted to flinch at.

"You don't have to give up your strength and your freedom if you give your heart to someone, because that's just an extra burden. When you give your heart to someone, the only thing you need to do is be yourself. You already know we work well as a team, and that will never change. And Carlson and Peeters, page 604, states clearly that the best partner is the kind that'll have your back no matter what, and I know I could trust you with my life, and I'd never want to take your strength from you..." By the time he realized he was babbling, Hub had spilled his heart into a jumble of thoughts that even he couldn't remember if it had all made sense the way it had in his head.

The look on Jade's face made his heart pound, made a red heat rise up his neck, ears, and face.

"You really mean that?" She said quietly, her eyes never leaving his face, as if wanting to judge his reaction.

With a nervous gulp, Hub nodded.

It was as if a great tension drained out of her and she slumped slightly, before she crawled the few feet between them and laid her head against his chest.

As tired as she was, Jade found it quite easy indeed to let herself fall asleep to the sound of Hub's heartbeat against her ear. They'd have each other's backs, just like old times. They'd dress each other's wounds again, physical and emotional, share boxes of K-Bups while they dozed in the hovercraft between missions...Maybe love wouldn't be so hard after all.