I apologize for not submitting this sooner. Quit my job just as I ended the third version of this, then went through the usual fitting in pains, my boss quit and I had to again get into the fitting in pains. Real life stinks.

Guess that is why I am putting off Jim finding a new job. Just isn't that easy and never turns out like you want.

So, first, again my apologies for my tardiness. My hearty thanks to all of you who read my stories and wrote me and to those of you who just now discovered these stories. Thank goodness they released the DVD on the first season - but call me greedy - when are the DVD gods going to release the rest of the seasons? I mean - come on!!!!

So this is for you die hards - keep the faith. Let me know how you like this and I promise - I will continue writing.

Thanks to Starfox for sheltering my stories and even though I don't own these guys - I can pretend - they are mine to keep forever!!!!

Steps - Portion 6

An Exploration In Being Family

by K-Lyn


Blair sighed in utter exasperation. Of course, he only did this when he was alone in the back yard of his Grands. He sat on his stone bench which was put together by his dad and watched as his father and his grandparents 'discussed' his summer plans.

Dad wanted Blair to go to visit a cousin of his at the Coast Guard Station out on the Sound. Then the two would leave and go to Peru to visit the sights and an old friend his father was secretive about describing.

The Grands thought the cousin visit was fine but wanted to take Blair to their summer home in Florida so he could meet their friends and basically be pinched and hugged by all.

Blair picked up a stick and started doodling on the earth beneath his feet. He liked both ideas. Meeting anyone from the Ellison family would be cool. Blair's father never spoke of his own father or his brother both of which Blair knew about through his secret searches on the laptop his Grands bought for him. A cousin on the Ellison side was someone he would like to meet.

The trip to Peru was even cooler. He had so many questions to ask, places he wanted to visit, museums, libraries and so much more. It had been one thing for his father to promise to take him but here it was the actual moment the promise became a reality - well it too was totally cool.

Then there was the 'discussion' that his dad move in with the Grands. They had three floors in their home and the top one was an independent living area. Dad, however, liked the city and being nearer to 'things.'

School changes were 'discussed' and so many more things.

Blair could tell his dad didn't want to move. His dad did a lot of thinking on the balcony of his loft. Lately, because of his interviews and search for the 'right' job, his dad spent even longer hours thinking.

Blair sighed again. He loved his family but all this wouldn't be so messy if the now ten year old hadn't been unexpectedly dropped into their lives. His dad would still be a detective, maybe would have gotten married and maybe stayed at the loft, which Blair knew the man loved cause it just seemed right there.

His Grands would never have been hurt by the actions his mother and their only daughter had done to them. Naomi Sandburg, at least to the best of the Grands' knowledge, would still be alive and out there and Blair would still be a secret.

Blair knew how much it hurt the two older folks to know that their only daughter had lived a life neither approved of, had died of cancer without ever contacting them thereby ending any way to make peace amongst their family and had a son from an unknown man and given their only grandson to the care of James Ellison who had been someone their daughter met off of the street.

Another sigh escaped the now ten and a half year old. His dad and the Grands soon overlooked all of the above and were now quite close but Blair, being an intuitive child, knew all concerned still had issues to deal with.

The Grands still worked hard to hide the hurt they felt whenever Blair told them about his memories of Naomi. They were still hurt cause they were never asked to be there for his mother especially near the end.

His dad still seemed a bit worried whenever Blair was away from him too long. It was like his dad thought the Grands were still considering fighting for their grandson's custody.

Both sides tried hard to hide these insecurities and more. Blair still didn't know why Naomi ran away from home, would never know who his mother had him with and the boy was still uncertain when to tell the Grands about his past with Naomi. They were memories he couldn't help but want to share.

At his home at the loft, Blair tried hard to keep things clean in his room, he never asked for much and hoped that the Grands noticed that the loft was spacious enough for a growing boy, Blair had the freedom to speak about Naomi with his dad but was careful never to compare his time with her as being better than his time now. His dad worried too much. Then there was the fact that Blair made sure to never ask about his dad's side of the family but never asking just made it something he couldn't stop thinking about. Hence his computer searches on the family and the snippets of info he learned about the Ellisons.

So with all the careful planning and calculated thought of a boy his age, Blair followed some simple rules:

1. Never look unhappy cause it hurts those around you and makes them think it's cause they were doing something wrong.

2. Never talk about Naomi unless it's in a 'I miss her but am happy' kind of way. Except for dad, he talks about her and smiles. With dad some memories are enjoyed.

3. Never ever tell either the Grands or Dad that one was preferred over the other. Blair secretly liked being with his dad more cause it was cool to be one of the guys and learn guy things and because his dad knew Naomi just before, even though Blair also loved the stories and being with a part of Naomi he never knew when visiting the Grands as well.

4. Keep things light. Never talk about being an only child, being adopted, being picked on at school cause he was adopted - Dad worried cause he was a single parent and doesn't want to get things wrong and the Grands would start wondering if it would be better for Blair to be schooled closer to their home.

5. Never ever ask dad about his family or the Grands about the reasons behind Naomi's running away. These topics upset them, sometimes made Grandma cry when she remembered that time and Dad got angry and started to slam things and didn't speak for long times.

6. Think about Naomi or the Ellisons at night. In the dark it's safer.

Blair shrugged as he thought about the list. Being careful was difficult but he wanted his adults to be happy. He looked away from those on the porch discussing his future. "There is one more." He frowned and then smiled. The number one rule, the most important thing to remember was never look the adults in the eye when thinking about things from the list. The Grands occasionally read his mind but his dad; the man could just tell. It was like his eyes had mouths that spoke to adults and gave away the secrets in the head behind them. It was weird but that was the best way to describe the easy way his father just knew what he was thinking. If his dad was wrong, he didn't let up on trying to figure Blair's thoughts. Eventually he'd ask so often that he would force it out of the boy.

Blair decided that one day he'd figure how to get a poker face. His godfather Simon said it was the best defense when being secretive. Of course he was speaking about poker but Blair figured with a poker face he could hide things, not lies but thoughts and worries and people would think things were fine and they'd be happy.

He looked at the ground and sighed. He really missed his mom. She had a way for making things go away. She called it deflecting and had once promised to teach her secret to Blair but that was when she had thought she'd be around when he got older. Blair was good at deflecting but better at keeping to his rules.

He stood up and wandered to the furthest part of the yard. He looked out at the forest beyond and closed his eyes.

Naomi smiled. "Here man is small, here the world and nature are the rulers. It gives you perspective. Reminds you that you aren't the most important thing on this earth so make the best of who you are. Never forget what is important Blair. Respect life and yourself."

Blair looked up at the sky that shined through the trees. "When I get older I want to find a way to make more trees grow. Faster and stronger. Make the world as pretty as this is."

Naomi smiled. "I can't wait to see what you accomplish but for now let's enjoy being."

Blair leaned against his mom and smiled. This was a moment he promised to never forget. He felt happy, safe, and so sure of who he would be. So sure Naomi would always be proud of him.

Blair shook his head and wiped away a tear. That was before his mom died. Before he learned that adults not only kept secrets, sometimes they lie.

Blair saw his father shaking his head and the Grands waving their hands. The 'discussion' continued.


Jim watched the boy from his vantage point. He listened to what the Sandburgs said but his mind was on the child. "He hides things. I don't want him to be like that. Naomi raised him to be more vocal and I don't want to change that about him."

Ben sighed and nodded. Elise shook her head. "He always talks to me. He never hides things."

Ben smiled and kissed his wife. "See him without the blinders on Elise. Our grandson has been putting on quite a show. Much like his mother did near the end."

Elise looked worriedly at the child. "What does my grandchild have to hide?"

Jim sighed. "I know he blames himself for my leaving the department. I tried talking to him. That the decision was mine but nothing really gets through to the kid."

Ben looked over at the child who had wandered to the furthest end of the large garden. "Your reasons for seeing your cousin will help him. He has so many questions."

Jim looked at the older man and sighed. "I know and I am sorry. It's just so hard and my father's recent visit doesn't make things any easier. I am trying to be the type of father Naomi wanted for the child, struggling not to be the father my parent was and I just don't want him exposed to my family history. I don't want to hurt him."


Jim looked at the older woman in surprise. "I'm sorry. What?"

Elise looked at her husband and smiled. She then looked at Jim. "That boy has dealt with things no regular child has had to face. When he first met us... so shy and quiet. I, we, knew the boy loved you, James. You were a stranger to us and someone whose true motives regarding that child were a mystery. When you were asked to let him go, I saw the pain in your eyes. Still Blair came to live with us, no judgments, no tears and no anger. He has never hated the fact that we weren't there for Naomi. He forgives freely and accepts a person so easily. James, we Sandburgs are a hearty bunch. Blair is proof that this will never change and nothing in your past history could destroy those of us in your future. You must trust the child as he trusts you."

Jim nodded and kissed the woman on the cheek. Elise giggled and Ben sighed. "Sir, I must ask that you refrain from kissing my wife. Get your own."

Jim laughed at the older man who spoke with a smile on his face. "Ben, the good ones have already been taken."

Ben sighed. "We can wait to do the Floridian vacation. Take the child to meet you side of his family and remember we are here if you need us."

Jim smiled at the two elders and smiled. "And very glad to know that."


Blair saw his grandfather coming towards him and smiled brightly. "So? You guys decide what I am doing this vacation?"

Ben smiled and motioned for the boy to join him on the stone bench. "Well, we have decided that it is important for you to meet James' part of the family. We can do Florida next time."

Blair nodded. "You are alright with that? I know you really wanted me to meet ..."

"This is more important. So let's get you going. You and your dad have a lot to pack."

Blair smiled brightly at the idea of meeting a member of his dad's family and followed his Grand back to the house. Soon his smile was replaced by a frown when he saw his grandmother's face. "Hi Grand."

Elise patted the space beside her on the porch swing and waited till Ben and James went in side. Elise pulled her grandson beside her and sighed. "Life is never perfect and neither are any of us. Remember no matter what, we love you."

"I love you too grandma. Are you okay?"

Elise leaned over and laid her head on the boy while hugging him close. "For a long time I thought I would never have a chance to watch my daughter grow. I thought I had failed her." She kissed the curl covered head and smiled. "You have changed that. Of course I am okay."

Blair smiled and looked out into the garden. "I'll miss you."

Elise nodded. "I will miss you too but when you get back you and I have a date to see some museums."

Blair smiled. "Cool."


Jim smiled at his exuberant son. It had taken quite a bit of 'talk' and 'listening' but the Grands and James decided this trip was something that was needed.

"This is like so totally cool. These things can do flips. They use them in air shows."

The pilot of the small bi-plane smiled at the boy. Capt. Jess Biderman loved enthusiastic fliers. "Son this baby can do things that would curl - uh - straighten the hair on your head."

"Can we do one flip?"

The pilot shook his head. "Never with passengers. The weight throws the engines off."

Blair pouted and then just as quickly smiled. "Can we wiggle the wings?"

Biderman nodded. "If your dad says yes - fine."

Jim smiled and nodded. "Whenever you think it's safe to do so."

Blair whooped in anticipation causing his dad to laugh. "Chief, grab your bags, it's time."

Blair snagged his backpack and his duffle and struggled to keep up with his dad and the Pilot of the plane that was to take he and his father to Storm Island. Jim slowed a bit and resituated his duffle. "Need a hand?"

Blair shook his head and smiled. "Nah, but thanks." Blair sighed as he was now able to keep up the pace with his dad and smiled with anticipation of his first Ellison outing. He felt a bit nervous as well but this was his first adventure with his new dad and he wanted to focus on the experience.

They got into the plane and strapped in. Jim watched as the pilot ran a check before departing and soon the small bi-plane was moving steadily down the runway.

The pilot blew into the overhead speakers and then spoke to his passengers. "Good morning gents. Capt. Biderman here. We will be arriving at Storm Island in two hours. Skies are clear and we will have a very smooth trip. Please refrain from taking off your seatbelts while the sign above is red. At this time I ask that there is no smoking. Sit back and enjoy the ride gentlemen, I will have you safely on the water near Storm Island in no time."

As the plane began to lift. Blair placed his hand into that of his father and held on tightly. Jim placed his arm around the boy and smiled. "We'll be alright."

Blair, whose eyes were widened by a mixture of fear and anticipation, looked up at his father with complete trust in his eyes. "No matter what - we are together. Right?"

Jim nodded.

The plane dipped and lurched forward. Then it leveled out and soon things inside the transport vehicle calmed. Blair let out a huge sigh and smiled. "That was intense."

Jim ruffled the hair on the head of the child and then leaned back a bit. The sound of the engines, the noise from the air being forced into the cabin and the feeling of weightlessness combined and left him feeling slightly disoriented.

Blair sat beside the distraught man, unaware of his dilemma. He was captivated by the moment unfolding before him. Suddenly, the light 'dinged' and Blair smiled as he unbuckled himself and got situated more comfortably in his seat. He looked over at his dad and frowned. His father had a vacant look on his face and he hadn't taken off his seatbelt nor moved an inch. Blair knelt sideways on the seat, unfastened his dad's seatbelt and took his dad's face into his hands. "Dad? Can you hear me?"

Blair leaned in even closer and spoke into his father's ear. "Dad? Picture a nice green woodsy area. Nothing but trees and you and me." Blair smiled when his dad slowly closed his eyes. "The sounds around you slowly fading. Like, uh, oh, like the sounds on the IPod. The bars are going from 7 to 2. You there?"

Jim nodded and slowly opened his eyes. "How did you know what to do?"

Blair shrugged. "You held my hand when I was nervous during take-off; I talked you away from the noise. Same dif. Right? Anyway, you alright now?"

Jim nodded in surprise. Blair sat down and smiled. "Sides it's loud in here." He pulled his duffle and handed his dad some ginseng gum. "Try it. It'll distract your mind from the sound and it's good too."

Jim frowned and sniffed the gum. Though it was very aromatic, he wasn't someone who ate perfumed foods.

Blair popped his stick of gum in his mouth and looked at his father who studied the gum as though it were alive and made of acid. "Dad, come on. If you don't like it, you can always spit it back into the wrapper."

Jim sighed. His son was the most persistent person he had ever known, well, aside from Naomi. Being indulgent he tried the gum. Minutes later, he was pleasantly surprised by the sweet taste and enjoyed the aroma that spread throughout the cabin.

Blair smiled at the happy expression on his father's face. "Told you. Grand took me to the health store and she told me Naomi loved the stuff. Figured that was good enough for me." He scooted forward and offered a stick of the gum to the pilot who took and enjoyed the flavor.

Blair returned to his seat and opened a book he had pulled out of his duffle and handed his father a copy of Jack London's 'Classics'. The two were soon lost in worlds of their own.

Jim smiled at his son. The kid had traveled quite a bit while he had lived with Naomi and, though Jim didn't approve to some of what the child had been exposed to, Blair had learned quite a few things that were too adult and too dangerous. The boy knew how to hitch a ride (a danger James worked hard to express to the child), speak five languages fairly well and knew how to pack his own bag right down to the clean underwear and a pocket knife that seemed to have a gadget for every situation (an asset James approved of). The one thing that Blair hadn't learned to tolerate was being in one place for long. Sitting, standing, even in rest, Blair fidgeted until his small body gave up hope for external stimulation.

Slowly the book on the boy's lap slipped onto the floor and Blair was fast asleep against his dad.

Jim smiled at the expected capitulation and pulled the boy closer. He placed his book beside his son's feet on the floor and leaned back. "The kid's right. This gum is really good."

During the rest of the flight the two passengers relaxed and let the pilot do the flying.


"We will be arriving at Storm Island in twenty minutes. It is at this time that I ask for you to fasten your seat belts."

Blair opened his eyes and yawned. "Sheesh, I wasn't even tired."

Jim nodded patronizingly and smirked at the boy.

Blair rolled his eyes and fastened his seat belt.

The pilot voice came on again. "It has been requested that the plane wave its wings. Please look out the window and watch."

The plane tilted left, then right then left and then leveled.

Blair giggled and clapped. "Thanks captain."

"You are most welcome. We are preparing for our descent. I thank you for riding Biderman's Flying Taxi and will be here for you in one week for your safe return flight. Should you need me to come any sooner or later, take a card - which are conveniently located near the windows and reach me at the number near the bottom." He paused and smiled. "Descent beginning now. Please relax and enjoy the rest of your ride."

The plane dipped and this time Jim was ready. He had his left arm around his son and his right one held the boy's right hand. They both smiled at each other and then held on.


The plane landed without incident and Jim exited the craft followed by Blair, who was also avidly talking to the captain about the man's choice in careers. The boy was always so curious about people and their lives. "Wow, so you were a lawyer and then became a transport pilot that is so cool."

The captain laughed. "Son, life is like a blank sheet of paper. You can't erase what you've done but there is always room to add more. Do better."

Jim allowed his son to continue talking with the man since no one had arrived to pick the two up and take them to where they'd be staying. He walked to the end of the dock and looked out at the vast body water in front of him. Miles and miles of endless blue water that moved as though the sea floor was breathing. The movement forced the man to sway with it, slowly he felt alone, lost and the land beneath him threatened to disappear.

The unsteady feeling ebbed slowly away as Jim felt a small hand wrapped around his larger one. Slowly his focus shifted away from the water and towards the deep blue eyes of his ten year old son. "Dad?"

"Uh, yeah."

"You alright?"

Jim blinked and then nodded. "Yeah, thanks kiddo."

Blair looked away and back towards the dock. "No one's here."

Jim looked and nodded.

"You sure your cousin wants to meet me? Maybe we should let Captain Biderman know we may have to leave. You know, just in case?"

Jim looked down at the boy, who continued to hold his hand tightly, and smiled. "Chief, Ruck really wants to meet you. Now I explained to you that he works here remember?"

Blair nodded.

"He's probably on call so we just head up to the station and wait for him there."

Blair frowned and Jim squatted down to be closer to his son's level of eyesight. "You are part of my life, young man. My family. No matter what - nothing will change that. Sides, Ruck is someone I trust."

Blair looked at his father and shrugged as he spoke. "It's just the first time ... and I don't want to be a disappointment."

Jim sighed and pulled the boy closer "You are my son. You are never a disappointment."

Blair smiled and Jim mirrored the expression. "So? We alright now Chief?"

Blair nodded. "We're good."

The two watched the plane safely depart and then they headed towards the main building located in the distance and up some winding stairs. Blair looked around at the area as he followed his dad and then at the buildings nearby. One could see water in the distance from all angles like being in a cup that floated on the sea but the land within was green and lush - beautiful, even with the oncoming storm clouds, the place was like a piece of paradise. "This is a really small island but it's pretty. Kinda reminds me of a place Naomi and I stayed at in Hawaii."

"The coast guard uses it to look out for lost travelers or as a base for holding sea traveling criminals until they get transported."

"You mean there's a jail on this island?"

"Why? You planning to commit a crime?"

Blair giggled. "Well, you never know. I am young and I have to keep my options open."

The two finally reached the top of the stairs and entered the main building through a glass door. Inside was what looked like the command center for communications, radio and radar system humming with activity and Blair watched as a man who was as tall as his father but broader in build, yelled into a mike while pacing. "Look, the storm is predicted to strike in four hours. I really think it's best for you to hold off ... "

A voice from the radio cut him off and he immediately returned the favor. "No. You listen, I will not authorize the passage of a ship your size with passengers who should not be put into this kind of situation. I will call for reinforcements if I ..."

The man nodded. "Two days. Out."

The man then made another call while Jim took his son's bags and placed them on the floor beside a chair. Blair stayed beside his father and waited quietly. Jim sighed at the visibly nervous child and hoped this would be a good first vacation for the both of them. The older man hated seeing the boy react so apprehensively.

Soon the six-foot something, blond haired man finished his conversation, turned around and smiled broadly at his visitors. "Jim! God, it has been a while. How the hell are you?"

Jim smiled and moved to shake hands with the man. "At the moment I am glad I'm not the guy you were just talking to."

The other man laughed and then paused. "So, is this the newest member of the Ellison clan?"

Jim nodded and tugged his son forward. "This is Blair Sandburg Ellison."


Blair answered the most often asked question with ease. "Middle name."

The tall man laughed and held out his hand. "Ruck Ellison, built like a truck and someday I will tell you what else. Welcome to the family and to Storm Island."

Blair shook the hand and smiled. "Are you the only one here?"

Jim silently let out a sigh of relief. This was the child he knew. Curious, friendly and (heaven help him) talkative.

Ruck nodded. "No one but me at the moment. My partner is out on a run for supplies and some personal family visits. So it's just the three of us on good ole Storm Island."

Blair looked at his dad and then at the desks. "You have a TV? There is a game on today ... "

Ruck chuckled. "Cus? I can call you cousin, right Blair?"

Blair smiled broadly and nodded. "Sure. I-I'd like that."

"Okay. Cus? Here there is no television, no computer or computer games and no phones. All you see here is official office machinery which is used to monitor lost boaters, and such."

Blair shrugged. "No big. I'm covered. Brought 5 books, a couple magazines and my IPod."

Ruck looked at Jim with a startled expression and Jim smiled. "He loves to keep active."

"Well, I think the boy needs to learn that this time around the Ellison men are swapping stories and getting to know each other."

Blair lifted an eyebrow. "Stories?"

Jim smiled. "Yes, Chief. When I was about your age, Ruck and I hung out at summer camp and he went to school with me and my brother, Steven, for a couple of years. His dad moved them away later but, he can tell you a few things bout the Ellison boys and some things about the family too."

Blair was stunned. His dad never spoke of his brother and now he was inviting 'talk' about the Ellisons. He looked at his dad in complete surprise.

Jim saw his son's face and smiled sadly. "I've worked so hard to forget my past that it's harder still to remember it. So, I thought I would enlist my one and only favorite cousin and we could answer some of your questions and tell some Ellison family stories. I don't want you to ever feel like I'm hiding things from you or that I am hiding you from my family."

Blair hugged he dad and smiled. "Thanks."

Ruck cleared his throat and smiled. "So why don't I prepare some lunch and we can get started."

Blair nodded.

Ruck walked over to the kitchen area and paused. "Of course I want to hear about you as well, young man."

"Sure." Blair wondered what was to know about him, he was ten and ordinary, but he was also willing to share anything Ruck asked about.


Lunch had been quite an event. Jim watched as his son slowly relaxed around Ruck. The two new cousins went into the kitchen and what started out as a simple turkey on rye turned into a roasted turkey with fresh toasted wheat bread (Ruck with the assistance of his new cousin), side salad with a mixture of fruit and nuts (courtesy of Blair) and some punch with some fruit on top. Then there was dessert - hot apple pie (Jim's contribution).

Jim leaned back on the couch and was soon joined by his son and cousin. "Lord, I don't think I have eaten that much since I first ate at the Sandburgs."

Blair giggled. "Yeah, cause Naomi wasn't into heavy foods. Remember when she made you that bean sprout and tofu sandwich."

Ruck chuckled. "Bet Jim here spat the thing up."

Blair smiled and shook his head. "He was trying really hard to be polite and Naomi was trying hard to be open to the idea of him being a pig - ah, I mean a cop and all. He chewed the first bite for like a whole fifteen minutes and then swallowed. It was like watching a cow chew on a bad batch of hay. Disturbing and painful."

Jim sighed. "Sounds about right. The darn thing tasted like grass mixed with bird waste."

Ruck laughed out loud. "Blair, your father is not the most open-minded person when it comes to eating. Tends to eat off of the caveman menu and is too stubborn to change. Once, when we were at camp ...."

Jim was about to protest but smiled. His son was hearing about his past and it was time to be silent.

Hours later, as predicted the storm outside the station began to pound the building with heavy wind and rain. Ruck prepared to head over to the building that maintained the radio power and housed the lighthouse in order to complete his daily check on things. Blair asked to join him and Jim allowed it even though he had some reservations he trusted Ruck.

Donning a large raincoat that now had the sleeves rolled up and the hood shortened by clips, the boy smiled up at his dad. Jim bent down and snapped the top button on the raincoat closed and spoke softly. "Be good."

Blair smiled and whispered. "Dad he is so cool and he likes me."

Ruck heard the last part and chuckled. "Kid, no one in their right mind could not like you. Now let's hit the trail. Storm will get worse before morning." He paused. "Jim, I'll be monitoring the radio but if I get cut off and someone calls in, tell them I'll be back in 40."

Jim nodded. "With what we ate for lunch, I think I am gonna start a light dinner, in case the power goes on saver mode. Brought along Blair's DVD player. We can watch a movie if you gents like."

Blair smiled brightly. "Ruck we got Silverado and Tombstone - they're his favorite."

"Well sign me on team. See you in 40 Jim."


It took awhile to reach the power station due to the rain and Ruck's diminutive observer who seemed up to the task of following his pace. Still he kept his eye on the tyke.

To get to the building that housed the lighthouse, amongst other things, you had to go down some stairs and around the building a bit before going up another set of stairs to reach the lighthouse. Blair figured it was how Ruck maintained his muscular build and agility cause this was hard work.

As Ruck entered the building, he flicked on the lights located by the door. "Feel free to wander around. You can see the lighthouse down that corridor and to your left. He then turned to check over the lines leading to the power, made sure the generator was connected and prepared to operate, should the time arise. Ruck checked off things on some paper clipped to each area and went on to adjust the dials that regulated the lighthouse operations.

Blair busied himself by wandering around the large empty building but remained quiet and pensive. The area where the lighthouse beamed its light off to the sea was impressive. Blair smiled at the strange way he felt up there. From here the water looked like chips of ice. The edges were white and hard looking. The boy could see nothing for miles and thought that this would be a great place to get away from the jerks at school when they picked on him for being adopted or because he was short.

After a while he turned away from the sight. His mind wondering what the Grands were doing, how Simon, Joan and Daryl were, if Megan was having a good time in Australia, and how people decided to use places like this for things like this.

Slowly he wondered about Jim and Ruck and their fathers.

Ruck watched the child, who wandered back into the front area, with undisguised curiosity. "So how about you tell me how cousin Jim met you."

Blair shrugged. "I saw him in the park near the apartment Naomi found in Cascade. He just seemed a bit lonely and kinda out of place. So I struck up a conversation with him and the rest as they say is the here and now."

Ruck smiled at the unexpected brevity of the story and then studied the boy a bit more before speaking again. "Come on kid ask the question you have been dying to ask. Jim isn't here and I can tell that whatever it is, it's bothering you."

Blair shrugged and wondered if he would ever figure out how people could just read his mind. "Does his dad know about me? Does he hate him because of me? Does he hate me cause I'm," Blair shrugged and put his hands into the pocket of his jacket. "well, I'm not his real son? Does his brother know about me?"

Ruck sighed and sat back in the chair. The kid had asked some whoppers. "Well, those are some very serious questions and I did ask." Ruck considered the answers carefully before replying. "Let me see, his dad, Uncle William, is a bit of a hardcase. I have heard the man say things to Jim and his brother that no father who truly loved his sons would ever say. Words that hurt and never leave ones memory. Jim had always said that some day he would move away and never see the man. Said he didn't deserve to be treated like he was and when he could he would never allow someone to hurt him again. So eventually, your dad did exactly that."

Ruck punched a few buttons and stood. "Don't know if he knows about you or if Jim's brother knows. Things for the Ellison brothers fell apart awhile back and so did relations with their dad. All three went their separate ways. Uncle William was disappointed cause his sons didn't choose better careers and reputations, Jim wanting desperately to be the man he wanted to be without being criticized and Steven was trying hard to become someone he hasn't yet figured out how to be."

Ruck stretched and looked at the strangely silent boy. "Nothing Jim or Steven will ever do will be good enough for their father; he sees the world in a way most of us don't. Likes to have his hand in everything." He sighed and shook his head. "He hates me as well, you know? Son of his elder brother who should have become something like a financier and instead chose to become some recluse who lives off of the government." Ruck chuckled. "Least my mom and dad are proud of me. That matters, he doesn't. Jim and his brother weren't so lucky."

Blair nodded. "Where is Mrs. Ellison?"

Ruck shrugged. "That, my dear boy, is known only to William and as far as I am aware, he never told his sons what truly happened. So, we may never know."

Blair looked back out the window and frowned. It was getting so dark and the water now looked like it rose higher around the island. Giving off the feeling that there was nothing else on the world but what existed here in this building. Almost like any minute now, they would be swept away. Suddenly Blair's heart raced and he felt anxious to return to his dad's side. "Something is wrong."


Blair pulled his hood back up and re-buttoned his rain jacket. "I gotta get back. Now."

Ruck frowned at the sudden change in the child's attitude. "Just got two more things to look at."

Blair shook his head. "I have to go. Now."

Ruck checked the computer and noticed the boy reaching for the door out of the building. "Blair. You wait for me, cuz."

Blair hesitated. Desperate not to disobey Ruck but knowing he had to get back. "Please Ruck. Now."

Ruck frowned at the boy's voice and nodded. "I guess I can always come back."


Jim prepared a roast and started the oven to cook it. Then he took some peeled potatoes and placed them into a pot of water. Ruck may be in need of supplies but food here on Storm Island was ample.

The radio outside the kitchen unexpectedly clicked on but the mayday coming through was faint and faded way quickly. Jim waited for the voice to return but nothing happened. He then walked to the window with the binoculars that were situated on the desk nearby but the damn things were of no help. Rain was pelting the glass and made blurry patterns that obstructed a clear view. Jim went to step outside hoping to return before he got soaked and squinted his eyes as he gazed into the quickly darkening area before him. "Nothing but water."

He tried to look closer and suddenly felt as though he was being propelled forward. Soon he was out to sea, or so it seemed. Water all around. Alone. In the distance he saw a boat slowly sinking. He heard the call for assistance as clearly as if he were on the sinking vessel as well. The coordinates were clearly stated several times. His vision shifted and again he saw nothing but sea and encroaching darkness. Nothing to touch or hold and even if there were something, he couldn't move. No control. Nothing. Alone and lost.

Jim's body became tense and rigid. His breathing slowed. He was lost in a world of swaying and varied shades of blue while being pelted by wet cold. He was alone and adrift with a wall of water surrounding him.


Blair raced ahead of Ruck who had given up pleading with the boy to slow down in fear of seeing the boy slip down the wet stairs. They were one staircase away from the main building and the man winced as the child slid down two steps but quickly bounced up and continued upwards.

Blair paused at the top of the stairs and then spotted his father outside leaning against the railing that lined the walkway, without rainwear and standing very still. Ruck reacted quicker and passed the boy. He instructed Blair to wait while he checked his cousin out.

Ruck suddenly recalled times back at summer camp when he, Steven and Jim would be out playing. Times when his cousin suddenly froze and seemed to be lost in some sort of fugue state that neither he nor his other cousin Steven knew how to breach. Ruck had hoped his cousin had grown out of this but it seemed that life had not been so kind. "Jim. Hey. Wake up." He reached out and pinched the man, since that was how he woke him up in the past and was promptly scolded.

"Don't do that. Geez, he is in trouble, not asleep. Step aside."

Ruck looked down in astonishment at the ten year old who gazed up with complete authority shining within large blue eyes. "Ruck, please step aside - now."

Ruck did as he was ordered and watched as the young boy took charge.

"You don't hurt him. You help him..." Blair took hold of one of his father's hands holding the binoculars and pried them open. Absently he handed the binoculars to Ruck who wordlessly accepted them. Then the boy took the hand and placed it on his neck. "Dad? Come back. Let go of whatever you're focused on and come back. Come on dad."

Ruck waited and then sighed. "Blair, he's not responding. We need to get him inside."

Blair paused. "Go inside and get him a blanket. We wait, here, until he's ready."


Blair sighed. "Please Ruck. Now."

Blair continued talking and waiting. While Ruck, who now bundled his cousin in a space blanket, watched in surprised fascination. Suddenly, the ten year old looked wiser than his true age and his presence commanded that Ruck do as he bid without question.


The world around him swayed to and fro and he felt as though he would soon disappear into the vast nothing around him. It was getting darker and soon he would become one with the dark cold emptiness. Then, from somewhere in the distance, he saw a tiny golden light swoop beside him. It hovered on the edge of his vision and it took a while for Jim to realize that he could look into the light with ease if he turned his focus away from the darkness.

The light buzzed comfortingly and held warmth that seemed to travel up Jim's right hand. The older man latched on to the bright light and frowned in concentration. The buzzing was accompanied with tremors. A constant beating.

"Dad? You back now?"

Jim looked down at the face he held in his right hand and sighed. "Yeah. Where did you ...?"

Ruck stepped closer as Jim spoke and sighed. "Well I'll be damned. You okay Jim?"


Blair seemed to weaken suddenly. He swayed a bit and was quickly pulled off of his feet and up into his father's arms. "Hey. You alright?"

Blair nodded but put his head on his father's shoulders. "Sorta tired right now."

Ruck watched as Jim took his son into the room he had set up for the two of them and then left them alone. Dinner needed to be checked. He would ask Jim about the episode later.


"You're wet."

Jim smiled. "And you need a nap."

Blair shook his head but lay still as his father removed his sneakers, raincoat and sweater. "He was pinching you. Ruck really needs to learn how to take care of you guys." He yawned and mumbled. "You're too focused and you need to learn how to pull back. Pain is too harsh, Ruck should know better."

The child immediately fell asleep and left the older man to deal with hundreds of questions.

'How did he know what to do? How did he know that I was focused? He's so young - so smart this just doesn't make sense. Where did he get his knowledge?'

Blair turned in his bed and moaned. Jim smiled and kissed him on the forehead. He carefully tucked the child in and then turned the light dimmer down a bit. "Thanks Chief."

Jim grabbed a towel and changed into some warm and drier clothing before he exited the bedroom, closing the door behind him, and joined his cousin.


Ruck was seated at the desk and frowned. "I noted the coordinates you wrote down Jim. There was something on the radar and then it disappeared."

"God. I am so sorry. I-I heard what sounded like a mayday. Tried you on the radio but didn't get through. I went out for a better look .... "

"Yeah, got the recording you made of the call but it's a bit staticky. Still I called it in to headquarters." Ruck sighed. "Earlier I had some know-it-all saying they were going to travel through the storm, asshole had better not be the one in trouble."

Just then the radio clicked on. "Storm Island this is Chopper 6. Spotted debris fifteen miles off of your shores. Winds high and dangerous. Planting a marker and will issue a rescue ship in 4 hours. Repeat. Rescue ship will be sent in 4 hours. Cursory search indicates no survivors but the weather is preventing a close look. Over."

Ruck responded and ended the signal. "Always some damn idiot who thinks they are tougher than the sea. Sea always wins."

Jim nodded. "I heard voices on that ship Ruck. There were survivors."

Ruck narrowed his eyes a bit. "Remember the time we lost the badges that the Camp Counselors made for the other team."

Jim sighed with resignation. "We didn't lose them, we stole them and then had to find them. Ruck, this doesn't happen all of the time and..."

Ruck nodded and relayed the message that there appeared to be passengers and a closer inspection was warranted.

Jim waited for his cousin to hang up the phone and wandered back to the window that faced the direction where the accident occurred. The call ended and the room was quiet. "Thanks Ruck."

Ruck sighed and came to stand beside the other. "You were never wrong back then. I just hoped this would have been a kid thing and you would have grown out of it."

Jim shook his head. "I told you, it doesn't happen much anymore."

Ruck held up his hand to forestall any further comment. "He knew. Jim, the kid knew. I don't know how but that child knew you were in trouble. Rushed me over here, fell once on the steps but never slowed." Ruck shook his head. "Pinched your arm like I did back in camp and the smart ass yelled at me for doing it." He looked at the impassive face of his cousin and shook his head. "So how often does it happen?"


"That why you quit the force?"

"No. I did it for personal reasons."

"Often enough that Blair has had to see you through these episodes a few times?"

"He has never done what he did tonight - this was new. To tell you the absolute truth, I don't know how he did - what he did out there."

Ruck looked out at the storm and shrugged. "Why adopt the kid? Jim, he is cute as all hell but why give up a career - your life just to raise someone else's kid?"

"He is my son. What I have given up was nothing and not his fault. What I got is more than a man who becomes a father could dream of."

Ruck chuckled at the serious tone coming from his cousin and shook his head. "Glad to hear it. Cause I got to tell you, Jim, I like that boy. He'll make a wonderful addition to our family."

Jim sighed and smiled. "Thanks Ruck. It means a lot to me that you like him. He thinks I won't introduce him to family cause I'm ashamed of him and I wanted him to meet someone who isn't so damned ..."

"Speaking of which, I spoke with mom and she spoke with William. I swear Jim, he hasn't changed one iota. Still arrogant as all hell and as demanding as ever. Always tries to make her feel like she isn't a true Ellison. Thankfully mom got over that years ago."

Jim gazed out of the window and crossed his arms over his chest. "Came to Blair's grandparents home a few weeks back. Offered them money, insulted them, their way of life and did his best to have them reject me as the boy's father. They ignored him, said he had a lot to learn." Jim shook his head and looked down. "I was so angry at him for doing that. For saying things that ..."

Ruck nodded. "Seems like I am going to have to meet these Sandburgs. Sound like good people." He tilted his head and looked at the man gazing out the window. He decided to change the subject. "Tell me about Naomi."

Jim smiled and shrugged. "She was like no one you or I were told about. Beautiful, stubborn, wise, naïve, wonderful soul, aggravating as all hell, loving mother, selfish child, brave and extremely forward."

"You two never... "

Jim smiled and looked away. "She was older, not well and I'd already lived through one mistake. I loved her enough to not want to ruin what we already shared."


"You ever find something so perfect and wonderful that you'd do anything to protect it?"

Ruck smiled as he looked off to the left and nodded. "Yeah. Yes, I have."

"He found me. Me. Now, I am not 'father' material, at least I didn't think so. Then I meet him. So small, facing his mother's death alone and facing being placed into an institution as though it were something the average kid went through. Always a smile on his face and always with so much bravery. He never whined or ran from the pain, and believe me he went through some tough situations." Jim sighed and sat on the couch and was soon joined by Ruck. "He and I watched his mother slowly let go of the life God gave her. It was difficult for me. I had only just met the lady and to see the vitality slowly drain away. It was hard." Jim paused and looked at his hands. He shook his head and sighed. "She gave me her son, Ruck. It hurt her so very much to let go of life, to let go of his life and she gave him to me." He paused again. "Blair faced her death and for a long while he seemed to hold it all in. No crying just this tightly held quiet."

Jim shrugged. "When he finally let go, I swear it was like watching someone suffer from a terrible pain and me not able to do anything to make it better. He hurt so deeply and, well it hurt me to watch him suffer." Jim paused. "The kid knows so much because of the way his life has gone. He knows hospital procedures, medication names and how to spell them, knows what they're for and why you take them. He knows all sorts of strange modern hoo-doo and whatsits that I can't even begin to describe. He's only ten, Ruck, and the boy can hold a conversation with a doctor that would be the envy of any intern."

"So that's how he knew what to do for you."

Jim shrugged, not prepared to address that particular issue. "He is unlike any kid you will ever meet and I am honestly not being biased." Jim smiled at the chuckle he heard from beside him and shrugged. "Fast balls like you wouldn't believe, writes short stories on the internet and gets emails from all over about them, tutors kids his age cause he wants everyone to understand the world around them, cooks - under supervision of course, and god knows what else. He's got a high school education and the body of a ten year old child. Every day I discover something new about him and worry that he will burn out except he never does and God I hope he never does."

Ruck smiled. "You really do love the boy."

It was hard to admit things like this but he knew it was important and nodded. "He is my son." He looked away for a moment and shrugged. "I quit the force cause I want to get to know this wonderful life I now have as a parent and he's got it in his head that I'm quitting cause he's too much for me to handle. Says I need to sleep around, find the right woman and have kids of my own."

"What? And you don't want that?"

Jim smirked and shook his head. "Slept, got married, got divorced, looked around for a bit and quite frankly never ever considered wanting kids."

"And now?"

Jim shrugged. "I want this. I want my son."

"You don't want to end up being like William."

"That too."

Ruck smiled and shook his head.


"You - a dad at your age. Blair's right. Most of us are out there searching for the perfect woman and you go and get yourself a kid."

Jim simply smiled.

Ruck stood and walked into the kitchen. "You and I have never quite fit into the Ellison way of life. My parents - well, they wanted a financier and got a charged up life guard. My dad thought I would come to my senses, realize my foolishness and move on. Thought this was all a faze."

"How is Uncle Gerald?"

Ruck shrugged. "Still not talking to your dad. Said something about a hostile takeover and what not. Still hopes that I will make a huge career move and wonders where it all went wrong. Didn't tell him I was going to see you, he'd only use this visit as some way to irk your dad."

Jim sighed and then stood. He paused to look at Ruck and both men grinned and spoke at the same time. "Parents."

Ruck shook his head. "Still showing us how not to behave."

Jim decided that Blair needed to eat something before it got too late. He was halfway down the hall leading to the sleeping area when he suddenly took off running and arrived just in time to prevent his child from falling out of bed.

"Dad? Wha?"

Jim grinned at the mussed up acrobat in his arms. "Chief, you took one too many turns."

Blair grinned and then grew serious. "You alright?"

Jim hoisted the boy back on the bed and nodded. "Let's go eat. Dinner is ready."

Blair yawned. "Tired. Eat tomorrow."

Jim stood and again hoisted the boy up into his arms. "No. Eat then sleep." He paused, then placed the boy back on the bed.


"Let me see your knees."

"I'm fine."

Jim tilted his head and Blair sighed as he unbuttoned and then lowered his jeans. "See, just a scrape."

Jim inspected the slightly swollen right kneecap. "We'll put some ice on that." He paused. "Let me see your hands."

Blair held them out and Jim noted that both palms were scraped a bit but not badly. He clasped the miniature hands in his larger ones and smiled. "Next time you slow down."

Blair kissed his dad on the forehead and then redressed. Jim scooped the child up again and was promptly scolded.

"I can walk dad. Really, I'm ten you know?"

Jim placed his son on his feet and the boy stumbled. The patient father held his son's arm and then the two slowly went to join Ruck in the kitchen.


The next morning Blair woke before his father, quickly dressed and snuck out of the room. Ruck was up and making coffee and heating some biscuits. "Hi Ruck."

"Hey little man. Sleep well?"

Blair nodded and sat at the table. "Guess it's gonna rain all day."

Ruck smiled at the depressed tone and nodded. "I like my weather wet, cool and unpredictable."

"No way man. Wet and cold are not my thing." Blair walked to the window and looked out just as the radio signaled an incoming call.

"This is Chopper One to Storm Island. Over."

"Come in Chopper One this is Storm Island. Over."

"Located four survivors from a yacht. The vessel is completely destroyed - had enough sense to wear safety gear and have a dingy. No one dead. Good work. Over."

Ruck looked at Blair smiling and responded. "Thanks - will pass it along to my cousin. He spotted the thing. Over."

"Tell him, if he needs a job, we can suit him up. Out."

Ruck wrote down the time and outcome on the manifest while Blair looked back out to sea.

Ruck stopped writing and looked at the boy. "Come on cuz. Share."

Blair looked over at the man and smiled. "Nothing. So how about some eggs to go with those biscuits?"

Ruck nodded but didn't move. "You know, Jim came from a home that would make a toy store owner envious. He had it all. Hell, we both did and were lucky in that way. William, Gerald and Trent Ellison were raised to provide for their families. Unfortunately, William had no idea that he would soon be a single parent and no idea how to raise his children alone. Never gave them hugs, never went to outings unless it was for an office function that forced him to bring them and never truly knew them."

Blair moved away from the window and stood beside Ruck. "Doesn't he love them?"

Ruck shrugged. "It took a very long time for me to realize that to someone like my dad, Gerald Ellison, and uncle William money and a roof over your head equaled love. It is wrong to expect more and selfish for a child not to continue in life just at they did."

Blair looked away and then back. "He is just so good at being a cop. His place is there - helping others. I don't want to take that from him."

Ruck placed an arm around the child and smiled at the warmth that seemed to travel from the boy and straight to his soul. Jim was right, this kid was special. "Blair, a man does very few things for the first time. Meeting the right woman, finding the right job, finding the perfect place to eat a hamburger ..."

Blair rolled his eyes and smiled.

"Being a father is very-very important. You mess up and hearts can be broken; lives messed up. He is making the right choice for him. Jim is young and in time, if he decides to, he can always return to the department. The job will always be there but Blair, the boy, will have grown and become a man. Getting to watch that happen, to help you become someone wonderful and to be there for you is something neither of us had. Don't ask him to stop wanting to enjoy the one thing he has been denied."

Blair nodded. "Kay."

"Sides, I got a friend in Cascade with a job that might be perfect for him."

Blair nodded and smiled. "Naomi would have liked you Ruck. You're good people."

Ruck smiled broadly. "She sounded like a real nice lady. Is she who taught you how to cook?"

The newest member of the Ellison family shared stories of his past while the older member laughed.


Jim woke hours later and stretched. He paused and listened for his son's voice and frowned. He quickly shaved and dressed. The building was empty but there was a large note on the kitchen table. "Outside with Ruck. Taking a walk. Coffee and biscuits in the oven. Boiled eggs in bowl. Love ya."

Jim pulled on his jacket and stepped outside. Hesitantly he listened for his son's voice. It was strange knowing that his senses acted so acutely but with Blair ...

"She's beautiful. Will she be alright?"

"Sure kiddo. Nature survives."

Jim headed west and found his son watching his cousin place a large pelican into a hollowed tree. "She's just a bit tired and sore from flying in the storm. She'll be safe here, there aren't any real threats to her on this island."

"So, nothing will eat her?"


Blair stepped close to speak to the bird but stayed behind Ruck. "Be safe."

Ruck stood and pulled the boy away. "Always respect wildlife kiddo. The cutest of animals fear us and sometimes they strike hard."

Blair nodded and turned. "Dad."

Jim caught the boy and he bounced into his arms. "Ruck and I have been walking around saving animals. Birds mostly but it's so cool."

Ruck shrugged and smiled. "Hey, we do what we can out here."

Jim looked at the pelican and frowned. "She is a bit off the beaten track isn't she."

Ruck smiled. "Jim this island attracts all sorts of wildlife. You would be surprised."

Blair looked up at his father strangely making the man suddenly uncomfortable. "Dad? You don't look like the kind of guy who would streak."

Jim rolled his eyes and looked at Ruck. "You told him that story?"

"He's family isn't he? The kid has got to know about you and your strange need for attention."

"Attention? Did you tell him about the time you mooned a bus full of nuns?"

"Awww, Jim you wouldn't."

The men left the area and returned to the station. Blair's giggles could be heard in the distance.


Blair wrote out a letter and sighed. He looked at the two men drinking beer and his smile widened. He now knew so much about his dad, about his dad's father and brother, about his dad's first girl, and so much more. It was going to be hard to say goodbye to Ruck. Somehow his cousin and his dad made these past few days seem great. "Dad? I'm going to the observation room in the back."

"Alright. Dinner will be ready in an hour."


The observation room was easily Blair's favorite indoor spot on the island. It was a rounded room that faced the sea and some of the island. The view was breathtaking and you felt as though you were outside without being drenched by the storm. Storm Island was the perfect name for the place.

Blair walked up to the window and smiled. His mind raced with assorted thoughts that brought up things that soon changed the smile to a frown. "I-I miss you Naomi. I wish sometimes that you were here to see things like this. Ruck could have been a boyfriend of yours. He loves life and the world around him." Blair shrugged and looked down.

He shrugged again and tears slipped from his eyes. "I'm happy but I feel wrong for feeling this way-you know? Like I should be sadder longer. You're my mom. It's not fair that you suffered so much and now you're gone and I should be missing you more. I ..."

Blair wiped his eyes and shrugged. "Your parents are nice. Jim is the best. I call him dad, you know. He likes that better than Jim and, well, it seems right. I just wish ...I keep hoping .... " He started to cry and felt as though his chest would explode.

He didn't hear anyone enter the room and barely reacted when he was turned around and held. "Shhhh. She would want you to be happy. Naomi didn't live in the past. Remember?"

Blair nodded and hugged his dad. "I just don't want her to think I'd forget her."

Jim smiled. "She was too special to forget."

"The Grands don't like talking about her cause it hurts but it hurts me if I don't talk about her. Like I'll hurt her by forgetting to think about her."

Jim sighed and moved to a nearby chair and sat his son on his lap. "Chief, sometimes people get through things differently than others. The Grands need time but I promise you that one day they will talk about Naomi with you. I know it's hard for you but give them time. Til then you can always talk to me - I love talking about your mom."

Blair laid his head on his dad's chest and nodded. "Can we visit her grave? I-I'd like to leave her something."

"Sure kiddo." Jim held the boy and waited until his son calmed a bit. "Chief, how did you know I was in trouble last night?"

Blair shrugged. "Just did."

"But how?"

Blair shrugged. "I feel worried and then I just know."

Jim thought about that for a moment. "How did you know what to do to help me?"

"Blair shrugged yet again and smiled. "You're my dad. I just know these things."

Ruck poked his head into the room. "Storm Island Restaurant party of three. Table is ready."

Blair hopped off his father's lap, tears forgotten, pain conquered, and ran to join Ruck. "I do hope they know I don't like radishes."

The two walked away leaving Jim with more questions about his son. He stood and turned to leave but paused. "Naomi? He's fine. Don't worry." He left the room never noticing the wind outside the large window and how the sea moved with it.


Blair hugged Ruck once more. "Keep the books and I promise to send you more."

Ruck kissed his new cousin on the forehead. "I will visit someday and you and I will go out to see a movie. Maybe a non-western."

Blair nodded. "Love you Ruck and thanks for the stories and for being my cousin."

Ruck watched as the boy headed towards the sea plane. "Now, you went and did it."

Jim frowned. "What?"

"Now I want one."

The two men chuckled. Jim placed his hand on his cousin's shoulder and smiled. "I'll give this Jason Day a call as soon as I get in. You take care of yourself and remember we have room for you to stay whenever you want to visit."

Ruck nodded. "You've done good with the boy, don't let anyone tell you different."

Jim nodded. "Thanks. This, all of it. Thanks."

Ruck watched the two get on the plane and waved goodbye.

Blair smiled at the large cap on his head that read Storm Islandee." He felt depressed that he wouldn't see Ruck for a while but smiled when he remembered that he would soon be seeing the Grands. Sides Ruck gave him a private e-mail address to contact him whenever.

Jim wrapped an arm around his son and smiled. His son was surer of his place in the Ellison side of the family. He had done very good.


The return home was mostly uneventful. Blair once again chatted with the pilot, then returned to his seat and shared some stories of his life with Naomi early on. Jim noted that he spoke of boyfriends but never mentioned any names. When he asked why, the child deftly changed the subject. Jim decided he would wait for a more personal atmosphere to discuss the topic.

It was on the drive back to the loft that the youngster started to run out of energy. "Dad? You glad to be back?"

"Sure. You?"

"Yeah, but I really liked Storm Island, it was so nice having an entire island to ourselves and Ruck is really cool too." Blair paused. "Maybe he can visit for Christmas."

Jim smiled. "If not, we can always take another vacation there and I know Ruck can't wait to see you again."

"He called me his pal. I like having a pal."

Jim smiled as he suddenly visualized Ruck playing little league softball with Blair and all his other pals.

Blair walked into his room and dropped his duffle on the bed.

"Chief? Better empty that bag now. I'll take your clothes down to be washed."

Blair sighed but did as his father said. Sometimes doing as the older man said saved more time.

Jim gathered up the small load of clothes. "I'll be right back."

James returned and gasped. "Blair Sandburg Ellison where are your clothes?"

Blair ran through the main room and into his small bedroom. "Just following family tradition."

Jim ran after the child wondering if some stories should have been kept secret.

"Dad? I'm a true Ellison."

Thought reconsidered and Jim smiled brightly. "Never doubted that for a second. Now, where are you shorts?"


Laughter filled the loft and those of the Ellison men.


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