Chapter Four: Connections
Jim’s head was spinning. His daughter was a mother and his son was terrified that he was going to make him leave both her and the Council grounds. Harley chucked a toy at his head with a squeal and laughed when it bounced off his forehead, startling him into paying attention to the room again.
She toddled over, hands raised as she babbled, “G’mpy, G’mpy, G’mpy.”
He lifted her up and he was a little amazed, just looking at her. Faith had firmly refused to bring any of the kids off of Council grounds, afraid they’d be targeted. She likely wasn’t wrong but this was the first time he’d gotten anything more than pictures.
Zane was laughing at him from the couch, his smile hidden in Hallie’s dark curls. It’d taken him 20 minutes to talk Faith into leaving him alone with the three of them, reassuring her that no, he wouldn’t lose one or allow any harm to come to them while she took Blair to the Council library. He was used to having to prove himself to her in subtle ways, but he’d never seen her quite so protective of anyone.
“I think we should talk, but if I upset you before your sister gets back, she’ll never leave me alone with any of you again,” he said, settling Harley on his hip and smiling down at her when she laid her head on his shoulder.
Zane shrugged. “You’ve promised not to take me away unless I want to go. I don’t think anything else you have to say will bother me.”
Jim pursed his lips, then said, “I want to be sure. You know I was in the military…”
Zane nodded. “It’s where they got the samples of DNA.”
Jim’s heart was in his throat as he said, “If I’d have known about you or about Faith, nothing could’ve kept me away. I want you to know that.”
Zane was doing a little rock where he sat, Hallie falling asleep against his chest. He wasn’t looking Jim in the eye. “I know.”
“I don’t think you do,” Jim said and Zane looked at him, startled. “But you will. Trust takes time and I’m willing to work on it. Are you?”
Zane took a while to answer and when he did, it was quietly. “I like having a big family. I always had my unit and they’re my brothers and sisters and that’ll never change. But I never had anyone to do the parenting stuff. And I like
having that. And I want you to be good at it. And Faith thinks you’re a good guy and she wants you to be family. So I’ll try.”
“Good,” Jim said hoarsely, and cleared his throat. He patted Harley’s back to get her to go back to sleep.
Zane pointed a stern finger. “But I’m not leaving the Council grounds for love or money, so you’ll have to come here.”
Jim smirked. “I’m pretty sure Sandburg wants to move into the library, so you can bet that we’ll be here plenty.” Zane snickered. Jim sat beside him, shifting Harley easily. “So. What’re you gonna do when you get older.”
And Zane’s eyes lit. “Whatever I want to.”
And that, right there, was the third reason he’d be forever grateful to the Council. They kept his son and daughter safe, they came for him when they found out about him, and they gave them all a chance to have a future together.