By Angelfirenze

Disclaimer: Jason Richman and the rest of Remainder Men, Mandeville Television, ABC Studios, etc., own Fitch, et al. Joss and Mutant Enemy own Kate, et al. The Departed. Dir. Martin Scorsese." Warner Bros.: 2006, Film. Bayside. "The Walking Wounded.". Victory, 2007.

Summary: Damon raised his eyebrows, but otherwise said nothing before something occurred to him. "Your dad's missed you and your mom a lot. This whole thing made him real angry for a long time. I guess I know why now."

Bobby nodded, "Made me angry, too, like I said. Mom just tried to get on with things. What a lie. After Dad left, I remember she cried for a long, long time."

Notes: Ciontacht is the Irish for 'guilt', which became fitting as hell for this chapter.

Notes, cont'd.: I rewatched 'Blackout' and Damon and Lauren's son's name is actually given as 'Martin' during his christening. I've decided 'Sean' is his middle name and the one he'll go by for the most part, with 'Martin' only being used as a formality.

Notes, three: Something that bothers me immensely is when Willow/Tara shippers seem to pretend Oz never existed and that he and Willow never had a deep bond of any kind. I love Tara, but Oz meant just as much to her and to ignore that is rather akin to retconning, in my humble opinion. Bigger point, though - Willow and Oz are now a part of this story. Glee.

Notes, four: I have no idea why The Iron Giant popped into my head during this chapter, but since they used authentic comics (for the most part) in that heartbreaking-damned-movie, I'll just go with it.

Notes, five: Let it be known, I usually ship Fitch/Sanchez. I do not ordinarily ship Fitch/Linda. This story, however, is writing itself. Either way, wow, these two are a mess.

Timeline: 1.17, Motor City Blues/1.18, Blackout; post-ANGEL: After the Fall. All of The Departed has now happened, including the last moments.

Spoilers: The entire canons for both Detroit 1-8-7 and ANGEL, though only up to 'Immortality for Dummies' because that's all I've read up to so far. I'm working on getting 'Crown Prince Syndrome' (possibly aka 'Connorland', which hee.). The entirety of The Departed.

Rating: M for language and for allusions toward adult situations.

Part VII: Ciontacht

Linda tried not to cry as she watched Mark (if that was even his name) being led into a portal to Rome, Italy, that had appeared after her ex-husband had made a call to a number she didn't know, what with not having had the same debriefing or even upbringing that he had (suffered?), nor the connections that remained to this day.

She expected that at least one Watcher-in-training and/or spellcaster of some sort was directly involved in her former fiance's arrest (the ring he'd given her burned around her finger, she was tempted to throw it at him - anywhere, but it would have to wait for Lou's trash can), but it still bothered her on a fundamental level, given her position in the Manhattan District Attorney's office, that she would not see him brought to justice for the deceit and other questionable activities he had performed while under the guise of wanting to become a member of her already strained and fractured family.

And she had sowanted it, for herself, for Bobby. For Lou, if it meant he could move on...

She knew, logically, that even in a mundane case, she would have been excluded on the grounds of lack of objectivity, but this was somehow different. This was much more personal.

Maybe because you've slept with him? Maybe because you'd been hoping he could fill the hole Lou left in yours and Bobby's life and seeing that go up in smoke -

Linda gave her head a shake, swiping at her eyes and forcing the thought away. She wouldn't cave, not right now. Certainly not in front of Lou's partner, whom she barely knew, even though he was Lou's best friend - which Lou had even asserted himself - and Bobby's godfather. She couldn't cave, not in front of him, not because of him.

Lou was watching her, not the bright aquamarine glow of the portal Mark was being manhandled into by two ICW guards she, of course, didn't know, and now wasn't even certain weren't corrupt. Lou had said it himself, her senses were terribly dulled from next to no use and she hadn't even been able to suss out the muffled conversation Lou had had on the aforementioned cell phone he'd taken it upon himself to 'borrow' from Mark in order to make the trans-Atlantic call for this to have happened.

So she was surprised, not once but twice - once when suddenly there was a knock at the door and suddenly she heard Boston accents clear as day on the other side, only recognizing one for herself. She'd only met Lou's cousin Madolyn at their wedding, but her impression of the other woman had been favorable, if limited by time. She'd never met this Staff Sergeant Sean Dignam, but she instantly noted Lou's response to his arrival as his entire body tensed before he forced himself to relax, growling and rolling his eyes in exasperation.

"Lou, does - does SSgt. Dignam know about...about our - your world?" she asked from where they sat perched with Bobby on one of Lou's couches while the Washingtons were on the other and in Lou's chair. It had been Lou's command that had overriden the protocol to wipe their memories and his threat of using magick to hurt them terribly if they didn't obey him and leave the other (side of Lou and Bobby's) family's minds intact. Both the elder Washingtons' gazes were glued inexorably to the huge blue circle that was closing before their eyes, with Mark and the overseers of his captivity gone and, instead, a pair of short, slender redheads in their place.

Lou shrugged, "He might know whatever Faith Lehane's told him, but I wouldn't know. I haven't seen him since he was ten." With that, the conversation was brought to a halt as he stood and gently prompted Linda and Bobby to follow him as Willow Rosenberg and Daniel Osbourne were gently buffeted by the closing of the portal they'd just stepped out of.

Both bore signs of clearly having lived in Tibet for quite some time, particularly Osbourne who, while already having a reputation for untold patience, seemed absolutely serene even given the circumstances he had to know he was walking into.

Rosenberg was rather less so than Osbourne, but still quite calm, particularly compared to the occupants of the room. When Lou reached her, she raised her hand and murmured something, an aura of white light coming to envelop Lou before fading.

"Generally, people still say 'hello' when they meet someone," Lou griped in a slightly irritated voice, prompting Damon to snort uncontrollably before clamping his hand over his own mouth and nose.

"I'm sorry, Detecive Fitch, but I had to make sure Mr. Folie hadn't placed some sort of gease or something on you without your knowledge. Your family will have to be checked, too, you know - they haven't been safe for more than four years, from what I was able to gather."

"Willow," was all Osbourne said and, instantly, Rosenberg's eyes widened and she realized what she had done.

"Oh, my Goddess," she whispered, her own hand coming to her mouth, as well, this time in horror, as she stared at the - while unharmed -detective, realizing she had violated their rights on several levels before even introducing herself. "I'm so sorry."

Fitch took a breath and pinched his nose before looking back at her. "It's what you're here in the city for. To remember that magick isn't yours to play with, right?"

Willow could barely bring herself to nod, all traces of serenity having been wiped from her as her eyes began to darken slightly. Osbourne took her hand and counted backward from ten while still gesturing silently at Lou's door. "I'll take care of this, you've got to answer your door," he promised, turning toward a now deathly pale and slightly veined Willow (luckily, her hair was still red), leaning his forehead against hers and beginning to chant in Tibetan with Rosenberg eventually joining in even as Lou forced himself to ignore them both and answer his door.

Before Dignam could open his fat mouth, Lou held up his hand, "In there's my six-month-old godson in here, my thirteen-year-old son, and if you say anything like you or Faith are known for, you'll answer to me, Dignam," he ground out before Dignam had a chance to so much as cuss once.

Dignam rolled his eyes, but closed his half-open mouth and simply stepped aside, revealing Kate and Madolyn, the latter of whom, had fresh tears streaming down her face. Without another word, Lou enveloped her in a hug, kissing the top of her head as she finally broke down and began to cry.

Gently shunting her through his doorway and maneuvering her toward where Linda and Bobby sat, Linda immediately rising to hug Madolyn in turn, followed by Bobby, which prompted a tearful chuckle out of Madolyn. "Hey, you," she said very softly, her voice choked, before she looked back at Linda. "Long time no see," she tried to say as loudly as she could before Linda smiled in an equally mournful way and kissed her cheek.

"You were wearing taffeta, if I recall."

"Louie made me promise to be one of your bridesmaids if you'd let me, I couldn't let him down. Spent a lotta time in New York that year, I remember. Lotsa frequent flyer miles - scored me a trip to the Bahamas eventually. Maybe I should finally use it."

"The Bahamas is better than sub zero temperature, we know that," Linda continued to banter and Madolyn gave her a watery smile in appreciation.

Linda turned toward the Washingtons, who both stood, Sean in Lauren's arms, as she said, "Lou's got - well, his partner Damon and Damon's wife, Lauren and this is - God, I'm acting like I didn't just meet any of you four hours ago. I'll let Bobby do the honors, they're his godparents."

Bobby walked forward and hugged Maddie before nuzzling his face in her belly. "It's alright," he whispered before stepping back to see fresh tears coursing down his dad's cousin's face.

"This is my Uncle Damon and my Aunt Lauren and my godbrother, Martin Sean Washington, Sean but not Dignam. This is my dad and Aunt Kate's cousin, Madolyn Madden, though I'm not sure anybody in our family calls her her first name."

"Nope, nevah," Madolyn assured, running a hand through Bobby's hair, "I'm Maddie, it's nice to meet you both. I haven't seen this one since he was five and his dad brought him down to the rest of us. He's gotten so big!"

"It's nice to meet you, too," Damon returned, smiling and shaking her hand. "It's nice to meet Fitch's family. For his to meet mine."

Madolyn smiled again, looking down at Sean, who had now just awoken and was clamoring for a meal. "Oh, well, we'll let this one eat. He's good and hungry. But, ah, Madolyn Madden, psychologist with the Massachusetts State Police Intelligence Unit. I've known Louie, Katie, and Seanie there since we were all kids. Louie was oldest obviously."

"I told ya, don't call me 'Seanie' anymore," Dignam griped, but all Madolyn did was make a face at him, which Bobby laughed at before asking, "Isn't it against some kinda protocol for you to see SSgt Dignam, I mean, if you all knew each other from Ye Olden Days?"

"No, you did not!" Maddie shot back, smiling for the first time in weeks, before grabbing Bobby in a hug and kissing his hair again. "You need a haircut and I think I'm just the girl to do it."

Bobby pretended to struggle, but covered his head protectively, "No! No! Dad!"

"You walked right inna that one," Fitch countered, still conferring with Dignam by the door. "You get what's comin' to ya. 'Ye Olden Days'..."

"Am I right?" Dignam agreed, pretending to sneer at Bobby and making a scissors gesture with his right index and middle finger. A smiling Lauren excused herself to Bobby's room, Damon carrying the baby bag with him, and everyone else got back to business.

"I'd love to kick that little sh - "

"Eh!" Fitch cut him off loudly, pointing his thumb back at Bobby. "Just because the baby's gone don't mean ya can start with your usual crap in my house. I don't let Bobby talk to your mealy-mouth for a reason! We're over Folie, awright? He's in ICW custody, that's the end of it right now. Rosenberg and Osbourne hafta get settled with Bobby and the city, itself, and Maddie and Katie'll finish gettin' settled here over at their hotel - if that's where they're stayin', Katie refuses to tell me for some stupid reason."

"Where are you guys stayin'?" Bobby asked from his place under Maddie's arm. "I mean, I know Aunt Kate's stayin' in some hotel right now, but Dad said that's not forever, and now you're here, Cousin Maddie. Where ya stayin? Where's Mom stayin'?"

"Greektown Casino," Dignam bit out and Fitch full-out elbowed him in the stomach, causing him to groan heavily and fall to the floor.

"Faccia de merde," Fitch muttered as softly as he could, but Linda still frowned, knowing what he'd said.

"Lodovico, please!" she pleaded, sighing sharply. "You're gettin' on Dignam's case, but callin' 'im that in front of Bobby?"

"I'm not Sean!" Bobby griped, but he knew his mother would pay him no mind. Sighing heavily, himself, Bobby threw himself back onto the couch before getting an idea. "Miss Rosenberg can teach me a spell to put all my clothes away for me!"

"Ha!" his father answered, glancing over and seeing both Osbourne and a much-recovered Rosenberg smiling in amusement. "Nah, that's just lazy. Go put your own clothes up as soon as Sean's done eatin'."

Dignam breathed out forcefully before shoving himself to his feet. "I wish I could bring you in on charges, Fitchie," to which Fitch faked a tearful expression. "Awww, is the poor SIU sergeant gotta widdle brusie? Don't mess with me, Diggie, or you'll pay fer it."

"Will you two shut up?" Kate cut in finally, throwing her hands up from her place in Lou's chair. "I will not listen to this crap for six months!"

"He's not stayin' here for six months!" Fitch asserted, glaring at his little sister. "He's takin' his - he's goin' right back to Southie - no, Roberto, we are not going!"

Bobby's mouth clicked shut and he glared mutinously but otherwise said nothing.

"Don't worry," said Willow, finally willing and able to talk. She walked over and pulled her own laptop out of her bag, bringing it to Bobby and his attention. "I'll keep you plenty busy. Now, let's see what you can do and tomorrow morning, Oz'll start you on meditation exercises - and before you ask, your dad learned them when he was a kid, too, if for different reasons. And call me Willow - please! Oz is Oz, too."

"Does my dad have a file in the ICW?" Bobby inquired and Willow raised an eyebrow, "Now wouldn't you like to know. C'mon, let's get started. I want to see you isolate a bug I've inserted into a dummy email account, then trace where it came from and where it's going. If you can do that by tomorrow, we'll see where you're at, and no, you're not allowed to skip meals or sleep. This is a daytime only exercise and the point isn't to time you on how fast you can do it, but to see if you can stop working when you're supposed to. It's about discipline, like I'm sure your dad told you."

"But won't it tear into your hard drive while I'm not workin' on it?" Bobby was appalled that Willow would just leave a virus on her computer overnight while knowing about it.

"I've written it so that it only activates while the computer is powered up. The second you shut down, hibernate, or sleep, it does the same thing."

Bobby was impressed, "Wow."

Willow grinned and pulled out a lapdesk, giving it to Bobby, who put the laptop on his legs and immediately got to work. Within moments, the only thing heard from him was a series of clicks blending together.

"Why're we lettin' 'im off for that?" Dignam inquired, staring at Bobby hacking away at Willow's accounts and hard drive.

"Because he's got immunity from the ICW," Linda finally cut in, eager to get Dignam out of her son's business. "Unless you feel like tangling with your baby cousin, Miss Rosenberg and Mr. Osbourne say nothin' of - not the least of which - Buffy Summers and Rupert Giles."

Dignam put both his hands up and then began zipping his coat back up. "Alright, I'm out of this - "

Every adult in the room glared at him and Dignam finally amended himself. "Popsicle stand, happy?"

The only answer from Fitch was a wave toward the door while he finally hugged his cousin and kissed the top of her head.

"I guess that means 'get gone'." Kate smirked and Dignam checked around before giving her the finger and whispering, "Shut up,Baibin."

Kate smacked his face with the back of her hand and pointed at the door again. "I swear, I will find a way to blow you up, bastardo."

"Katie!" Lou snapped, but she merely raised an eyebrow at him, calling him out on the very same thing.

Shaking his head to clear it and laughing, with that, Dignam was gone.

...Go to church 'cause you need a good cleansing of body, mind, and soul...

Damon watched Bobby meticulously set up his computer, letting programs load as he put his clothes back away in his dresser and closet.

After that, he removed his usual black suit and tie, ducking into his new adjoining bathroom to change while his godfather waited.

"I didn't know your family was that religious," Damon told him as he knotted his tie in the mirror the way Dad had showed him so long ago. "You go to church every day?"

Bobby shook his head, shrugging, "Not every day. Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays for as long as I can remember - usually the full liturgy. Sometimes we don't stay long, just a sacrament if something bad is happening, but it's a rule that we don't go more than three days without Confessing. I guess it's just been a long tradition. I don't think too much about it. Aunt Kate gave me my grandpa's prayer card and my dad gave me my grandma's. I've never seen them before now."

"Your dad has said stuff about bein' Catholic, I guess I just never took him this seriously. We're not, uh, well, I guess mine and Lauren's families are kind of lapsed. At least in comparison to yours. Before your dad went to go take care of Stram, he stood in the lieutenant's office for a long time with his eyes shut, in the corner - I could see him through the glass - and then he blessed himself. I wasn't sure what he was sayin', but he was praying something."

Bobby frowned, not liking to think about the probabilities, "He probably was. If he hadn't been pressed for time, he woulda gone to Mass and had his Last Rites requested, probably. He's fast and strong, but so are werewolves like Oz and...Stram and whoever he ran with. He coulda died, I was so happy to see him because I didn't expect him to come back."

Damon nodded, "I could...I could tell. You know a lot about this stuff," he said, rather uncomfortable now. "You're only thirteen, was it really necessary?"

Bobby finished knotting his tie and turned to stare at his godfather, "My father's the son of a Vampire Slayer, my mother's an un-Called Potential, a werewolf was after me since I was three, you tell me."

Damon blew out a breath, "You're just - you're a kid. You shouldn't be talking like this. You sound like a grown man already."

Bobby raised an eyebrow, "Thanks for the compliment, I think. My dad showed me those letters from my grandpa, but he said there's one I can't see until I'm eighteen." Bobby sighed in exasperation. "His name was Captain Trevor Lockley - he worked with the NYPD like my dad did before he moved here and the LAPD when he moved there with Aunt Kate. He wrote in Irish sometimes, but I'm not so good at reading it. There's only eighteen letters in the Irish alphabet and most of them are consonants. You blend certain letters together to make one sound.

"It's derived from Latin, so yeah, but switching back and forth from English and Irish is hard for me. I haven't spoken it, really, since I was little and I've never spoken German. I speak Italian a lot more, that and Spanish - I learned that at school along with Japanese and my best friend speaks Chinese and is teaching it to me through email, especially now. Willow says the ICW might pick me up for languages, as well, but my mom and dad are iffy about it. They want me to focus on school here."

Damon couldn't help but be impressed, "Damn, kid, you're only in eighth grade?"

Bobby shrugged, "They wanted to move me up, but Mom wanted me to have a normal childhood or something. But then she goes and makes me sit for Stuyvesant. She insisted that was still normal.

"Anyway, it doesn't matter. We discussed it at breakfast before you guys came over and Dad says if I make it into AP at any school I go to here, he'll let me take the classes. Part of the reason I used to get in trouble, aside from being mad all the time, was because I was so bored. But Mom wanted me to be as normal as I could. I think that was a waste. I got all A's without tryin'. It was my behavior grades I always got bad ones on for a long time."

Damon raised his eyebrows, but otherwise said nothing before something occurred to him. "Your dad's missed you and your mom a lot. This whole thing made him real angry for a long time. I guess I know why now."

Bobby nodded, "Made me angry, too, like I said. Mom just tried to get on with things. What a lie. After Dad left, I remember she cried for a long, long time."

Damon now stood in disbelief, "But you were only three..."

Bobby shot him an irritated 'so what?' look and told him, "Eidetic memory. They tested me when I was in first grade because everything everyone was doin' was borin' the crap outta me. I'm smart, whatever. Point is, I remember when my dad left and I've always remembered the tricycle he gave me before he did.

"I used to dream about him a lot. When he visited or called, things would get better for a while. I'd think, maybe he's gonna come home soon, but then he wouldn't. I wanted to hate him, but I never could. I just made me sad. Besides, I think he was the one who hated enough for all three of us. He told me there are things in this world, especially his world that he didn't want me near - well, it's my world, too, damn it.

"They both don't like thinking about that. It scares them, that I'll get hurt. Well, I'm already hurt and I'm gonna get hurt some more, so I want them to stop hidin' everything from me.

"Right before he left, they had a real bad argument. Dad punched a hole in the wall and shouted somethin' in a language I don't know. Mom came into my room crying and told me not to expect to see Daddy anymore. I think he fixed the hole with magick because the only reason I knew it was there was because his scent's never left the house and that spot always glowed dark red whenever I thought of him. I think it was a spell."

Damon was outright staring now and Bobby's face closed in anger, snarling, "So I have a f-screwed up family life, not everybody's can be as picture perfect as yours, ya know!"

With that, Bobby snatched the unfinished tie from around his neck and turned to stomp out of the room. Damon reached forward to stop him and Bobby's hand clamped around his wrist, tightening until the older man gasped in pain.

Realizing what he was doing, Bobby's eyes widened in horror as he snatched his hand back and threw himself backward onto his bed, raking his hands through his hair, gripping it as he leaned forward and starting to cry just as his father had done while remembering his grandfather's death.

It was all like a mirror, but he couldn't stop, not even when Uncle Damon sat down beside him and took a bunch of deep breaths before slowly putting his arm around Bobby's shoulders. Bobby froze for a second, but then forced himself to relax.

Uncle Damon was whispering something at him now, but he couldn't understand any of it even though he could hear both their hearts pounding. Eventually, he felt Uncle Damon's chin on top of his head, but this time he didn't falter or flinch, instead turning to grip his godfather's suit jacket and holding on for dear life.

Daddy was all he could think.

Damon frowned hard and ventured kissing the top of Bobby's head. When his godson didn't half-kill him, he calmed and simply sat with him, Fitch's words echoing in his head.

Nothing is more important than what I'm askin' you to do.

So he held on and ignored the throbbing in his wrist, wondering if he was being as good a godfather as Fitch was to Sean because now, of all times, he understood Fitch's hesitation and guilt ten-fold.

...And I love you to death...I don't think I like you anymore...

Linda watched Lou stomp away, unable to take listening to what Bobby was telling Damon in his bedroom as he prepared for evening Mass. Her own eyes burned, but a decade had passed and she was long past tears. She knew Lou felt incredibly guilty for what he felt was his role in the dissolution of their family.

Hell, she'd only exacerbated it ("...Draw me a picture, make me understand...") and before she knew it, she was getting up to follow him, some distant part of her glad Trinchen had vounteered to take Lauren and Sean home and everyone else to their chosen destinations, even Dignam. Lou had given her a detailed book on Detroit that she'd apparently read from cover to cover within the past day or so. That and she'd never stopped being a cop.

Linda would have to put away her resentment and somehow thank her sister-in-law - former sister-in-law, God - one day. But for now, she managed to dodge Lou's slamming bedroom door and found herself in a space so full of his scent, full of him and who he was, that for a moment she felt lightheaded and had to collect herself.

The room was immaculate, save his unmade bed, and she remembered him once telling her that bedbugs and such found unmade beds inhospitable so he never made his so as not to invite any. But she was getting distracted.

Lou threw himself into the armchair he had sitting before the writing desk she remembered so well as his dark eyes stared up at her, the irridescence back in such force that it was as though she were looking at a wolf in the middle of the night.

"'Just be his dad', huh? That's all you were askin' me to do? Look what the fuck I've already done!"

Linda covered her mouth with both hands as tears finally began to gather in them. She clenched her eyes shut before forcing them open and staring down at this man...whom she loved.

"Right. Look what you've done, destroying the monster who almost killed our son. Giving him a chance at a long life."

"He's a Slayer," Lou snapped and Linda found herself standing in front of him before she knew it, her hand recoiling from having slapped him across the face.

Lou slowly turned to look back up at her, his eyes hooded with further anger, but Linda stood firm.

"Lodovico, shut the hell up." Linda ran her hand through her hair. "This selective memory shit is getting old. You're a Slayer, too, and you've lived even longer than Buffy Summers. You act like everything in your life, in the world, goes wrong because you're in it. Will you wake the fuck up already - the nightmare is over."

"And over and over and over in my mind," Lou whispered, staring down now at his hands. He could still smell gunpowder on them, he was certain of it.

Linda sighed and knelt down before him, placing her chin on his knee as she wrapped her arms around his waist. Lou froze for a moment before following her lead and sliding out of the chair onto the floor, allowing Linda to place her head on his belly as he leaned back again, stroking her hair.

They hadn't done this in so long.

"You aren't Superman, Lou," Linda whispered, gripping his waist more tightly and listening to his frustrated sigh.

"No, more like Atomo the Metal Menace."

Linda rolled her eyes, then, "Didn't I just tell you, you aren't a bad guy?"

"You've spent much longer telling me that one can never be sure."

Linda gazed up at him in irritation and astonishment, "Right, that's what you cling to. Damn it, Lou!"

"I almost got an innocent man to admit to a murder he never committed, you think I'm proud of that shit? I can't save anybody, Lin! My only gift is death! Stram is dead!"

Linda bent back away from him now, altogether, "Because he was evil! Stram made his choices! He could have left us well enough alone - instead he fixated on you and picked your partners off every chance he got - and you saved Bobby and Damon and his family! You risked your career to do so!"

Lou leveled her with an even gaze, "The career I hide behind and use as an excuse?" he asked sadly and Linda silently swore vehemently, reaching down again to run her hand through his hair, "I shouldn't have said that, alright?"

But he only shook his head, "No, no, you were right to say it. Ten years of watchin' Bobby go through Hell, just tryin' to be there for 'im because my absentee ass - "

Now Linda was furious, "Louis. Shut. The. Fuck. Up." Linda was back on her feet now, glaring as hard at him as she could, having moved so fast she was lightheaded again. "Honestly, you know what's been the hardest part of all this? Knowin' that every single second you've been here, away from Bobby - away from me, you've been here hatin' yourself, never thinkin' you were doin' anything right by us and I admit - I didn't help. I was angry, I - "

Linda brushed her hair away from her face again. "Part of the reason I tried everything with - with him- was because I wanted to try to fill the void you left in me."

Lou started to interrupt, but Linda put her hand up. "Let me finish. You said you hoped I could move on, that even if we weren't each other's mates, like I'm yours, that I could at least be happy with someone else, but - Lou - there's no replacing you, either. I hoped you could be happy with this Ariana, but will you even try?"

Fitch looked down, fidgeting with his hands, "I...I invited her to dinner before you came back. We had to go out on a call. hasn't worked out. The closest we've come is dinner one time with Katie, Damon, and Lauren. That's it. And once before that at American Coney Island that Bobby set up. He didn't tell me she was coming."

Linda gave him a soft smile, "Well, that's a step. How many Coney Islands are there here, anyway?"

Lou raised an eyebrow at her. "I don't know, a buncha different ones. You're still happy, even though you say I'm your mate just as much as you're mine."

Linda only smiled further, "What is it they say about acceptable happiness?"

"Well, what about you?"

"I can try again. For now, can't I just enjoy the time I do have with the love of my life and the father of our child?"

Lou started to say something bitter, but Linda held her hand up this time, "I don't want to hear it. Just...just be quiet."

All Lou could do was stare at Linda, then, and - now frustrated beyond her wits - she grapped him by the lapels of his own black suit and pulled him up away from his armchair, sealing her mouth over his. Lou flinched at first but found himself melting into the kiss, reaching up to pull Linda's blouse out of her skirt and run his hands over the particularly sensitive trail along her spine.

Sure enough, she moaned into his mouth, urging him onward even as he suddenly broke away.

"Partner and Bobby are in his room - they're not deaf..." But he was gasping, his face pale even as he panted breathlessly.

"You know more magick than anyone in this apartment," Linda reminded him. "I've never let Bobby try it."

"Lin...this...this isn't right, you just - "

"Is that what you think you are, a pity or rebound fuck?" Linda couldn't help but be astounded.

"No," Lou forced out, shoving his hands through his hair again. "I just...I don't want there to be hurt feelings in the morning and I've already got..."

"You think God won't forgive you for making love to the mother of your child?" Linda asked, honestly intrigued, and Lou's eyes widened.

"Do not bring God into this! We don't even know what this is, and - and you're right - what about San - Ariana? I haven't forgotten about her!"

"I'm not asking you to, Lou. You said she was with that guy, Stone, her own partner - and he was killed in front of her - she's not going to get over that in three weeks or a month, and...Bobby got you started, but it's still going to take time. And it's going to take time for me to get over - him. But my point is that if there's anyone there will never be getting over, it's you. That's all.

"Not to be arrogant, but you already said as much about me. We can still move on. It...just doesn't have to be right this moment. We've been in stasis for ten years, Lou. This could be closing a book once and for all. Maybe we can finally allow ourselves to be happy after this - or...well, who knows? That's not the point."

Lou snorted, "The point is fuck you."

Linda gritted her teeth, "I forgot how - except that you're not. This is why you stay away from Sean Dignam, he turns you into a caveman."

"Hey, you're the one in the middle of telling me to take your hair and drag you back to the cave." Lou pointed out and Linda rolled her eyes.

"We're already in your damned cave, as you can see."

But Lou wasn't finished, "People don't stop bein' mad at people just like that." He snapped his fingers. "A week ago, you didn't even wanna talk to me."

"Lou, shut up!" Linda finally ended the argument, reaching up to start kissing around his mouth and listen to him moan in turn. Pulling his jacket off and untucking his shirt, she got to work on his belt, ignoring his increasingly feeble objections.

Finally, he was quiet altogether, the way she so blissfully remembered, and Linda couldn't help but chuckle as she lay atop him, tracing the outline of his left clavicle.

"That's more like it," Linda said with definite satisfaction.

"I forgot your ego was the size of Alaska." Lou actually sounded something approaching happy.

Linda moaned happily, but pretended to threaten, "I have direct access to your stake, I would shut up if I were you."

"Shut up or 'schtup'?"

"That's Yiddish and we're Catholic, shut up."

"A fine thing to say on the way to Mass."

"We - oh, crap, we have fifteen minutes to get to your church and I have a feeling you're still tetchy about abusing your siren."

Lou shook his head, "I don't even have one in my car. You know that."

Linda started shooing him toward the door, "The Land Rover and Driver Without a Clue. Lou, let's go!"

Lou shot her an incredulous stare while slowly sitting up, "Says the one who initiated all this!" But he began to get dressed once more regardless.

Neither of them spoke again until they both burst out into Lou's living room to find Bobby with his hands clamped firmly over his ears, his eyes shut tight, humming 'The Star-Spangled Banner' as loudly as he could. Washington, on the other hand, just stood there blinking in utter astonishment.

Finally, Bobby got up the nerve to peek at his parents, only to breathe a sigh of relief once he saw they were both fully clothed and once again almost perfectly dressed for Mass.

"Bless me, Father, for I have done a...questionable thing," he muttered, glaring at them both as his mother ran her hand once more over her hair and his father opted to ignore them altogether in favor of getting the door open.

"You both better spend a good long time in the confessional," Washington couldn't help but admonish, laughing as he watched Bobby clap his hands back over his ears and start humming loudly again.

"Why didn't you just bring your .mp3 player and that huge pair of headphones?" he asked his godson, who threw his mother an incredibly dirty look, only to be smacked upside the head by Fitch, who had stretched back from the doorway to do so.

"Because he's not allowed to bring anything distracting to Mass, so he doesn't even tempt himself," Linda explained, hopping as she put her heels on, finally. "Lou, don't smack him!"

"Now, that's just cruel," Washington found himself chuckling and Fitch turned and shot him the dirtiest look he, himself, had gotten yet. Washington looked at Linda. "The headphones, not the smack...and I told you I've seen that look in his eyes a buncha times."

Fitch's voice echoed from down the hall now, "Will you shut up for once? Come on, Katie and Maddie are meetin' us there!"

"Partner, I don't think you get to talk about shuttin' up right now."

The blur of his aggravated, loudly complaining godson preceded both himself and Linda out the door, leaving Damon without an answer but laughing all the same.

...Then I will try and try again, and hope that someone understands...