How It All Began.

Detective Antonio Cavanaugh looked at his desk phone as it rang.  "Ca...."  He sighed and nodded, then hung up.  He walked into his boss's office and closed the door, coming out without his badge, and promising he would mail back his gun in a few days.  It was against protocol but his boss knew who he was.  What he was.  He took the few things from his desk that he wanted to keep, trusting his partner to mail them to him later, and headed for his car.  He had a meeting to go to.  One he didn't want to go to, but one he had to go to.  On the way he stopped at a payphone, an anonymous, untraceable object scattered around the city of New York, and called his former partner.  "Don, need to see you.  No not today.  Tomorrow.  In public but in the open.  Yes, it's important.  You know I don't come to you with this stuff unless it is.  Please?" he asked quietly. "That's fine.  Thank you."  He hung up and continued on to his lawyer's office.  There was paperwork he needed by their mid- afternoon meeting tomorrow.


Don Flack, one of the better detectives in the city of New York, waited impatiently for his former partner.  He finally saw him walking up, with a young girl clinging to his hand, and wondered what was so wrong that he had to bring his elder daughter with him.  "Okay, you needed me.  I'm here.  Why?" he asked, looking at the little girl.

"My father died."

Don frowned at him.  "You're full of it."

Antonio shook his head.  "He died of a stroke late the night before last.  I got told yesterday afternoon. And I need a major favor."  He looked at his daughter.  "Can you sit on that bench and wait for me?"

"No."  She looked at the other guy, someone she vaguely remembered, then at her father.  "What's wrong with grandfather?"

"He died," her father said, squatting down at her level.  "Unfortunately he had a thing in his head that snapped.  Now, I've got to go do what he used to do.  The problem is," he said, straightening out her shirt, "there's bad men around what he used to do.  And I want you to be far, far away from the bad guys.  Understand me?"

"Can I bite 'em?"  Don laughed at that and nodded. "Good.  See, then there's no problem and I can help you."

"No, princess, not this time."  He gave her a little nudge.  "Go sit."  She sighed and stomped off that way, a very indignant ten-year-old.  Antonio stood up, looking at his former partner.  "I know you hate me.  I don't have a choice.  She is getting what I didn't."

"And you want me to do what?"

"Be her uncle."  He pulled something out of his pocket and handed it to him.  "That's papers to watch over her, change her name to the one I used instead of her mother's.  That's the deed on the house, which is about seven up from yours, and the information file on the nanny I hired for the girls.  That's also the information on their trust funds and the lawyer's numbers so you can get in contact with me if you have to because they're sick."  He moved closer.  "I don't have a choice, Don.  It's this or they'll kill us all.  I want my girls to grow up and be normal girls.  Far, far away from this shit.  I don't want them on the estate.  I don't want them near the farm.  I don't want them anywhere near mine or my wife's former families.  I want them safe and protected.  You're the most upright guy I know.  You can make sure Catherine and Mirin are protected and good in that way.  You can make sure that they don't grow up and marry thugs, and if they want to become cops, they can, and that they'll be good," he said quietly.  "Just like you are your son."

"So you're giving me your daughters?"

"If you want to think of it that way.  They'll have their own nanny, who is to take orders from you and your wife.  I've already told her that. She knows how to contact me more directly if something serious happens, like someone comes for them.  All I'm asking is that you become the favorite uncle.  They'll be safer there once you file the name change forms."  He glanced at his daughter, who was sneaking closer, then at his former partner.  "It's a huge favor, but it's their lives, Don.  You can't let them follow me.  Please."

Don considered it, looking at the little girl.  "You're how old?"


"What grade does that make you?"

"Seventh, I'm smart."  She stared him down, then her father.  "What the fuck is going on?"

"I can now beat you for your mouth, young lady," Don warned. She kicked him in the leg, hard.

"So?  Father?" she growled.

He smiled at her.  "Honey, you know grandfather was a bad man.  That's why the one time I had to hide you at the estate you stayed in the guest house and weren't supposed to see him.  You remember that, right?"

"Yes, that was right before someone against mom shot her," she said frankly, moving closer. "So?"

"He died, Catherine.  He was a very bad man and he died.  And if I don't take his place, there's going to be a war because my father held some very bad people in his pockets.  If I don't go, there's every chance you and your sister will be shot, just like your mother," he said honestly.

"Ease off, Tony," Don warned.  "Catherine, he wants you to stay out of that life, to be a cop like he was if you want, and if not to marry someone decent and move somewhere nice and have a good family.  He wants you far away from that."

"And if I don't care?  Who's going to be there to watch out for Daddy?  After all, it's not like he can cook."

"I'll have someone there to protect me, but I've got to send you girls to somewhere safer to protect you," her father said, making her look at him.  "No matter how much you hate it.  I have to so you're not shot."

She swallowed.  "For how long?"

"Possibly for good," he admitted.  "I doubt it'll be anytime soon."  He turned her to face Don. "This is Don Flack.  He used ta be my partner on the force.  You remember, he has a son, Junior?"

"Yeah I kinda remember them from some picnics and stuff," she said, frowning at him.  "Why you?"

"Because he knows I have nothing to do with that life, I can protect you, and I've got kids so I've got an idea what to do with kids who're mouthy and bound for trouble."

"I don't know what the stupid nun told you...." she started. Her father covered her mouth.

"One of the nuns at her school has told her repeatedly that women are the source of all evil in the world."

She got free and glared at him.  "Last year, one girl started to bleed during class.  She beat the girl for it.  No matter that the health teacher said it's normal, one of the other teachers had to come and take the ruler from her before she beat the girl to death!  I'm not staying with that group of bitches!"

"You, quit swearing or you're gonna be paddled," he warned, staring her down.  She crossed her arms and tapped a foot, staring back.

Don burst out laughing.  "She is every bit like your wife, Tony."  He looked at her.  "Doing this means you can change schools.  You'll be up the street from my house with a woman taking care of you but I'm going to be looking out for you and stuff."  He made her look at him.  "The other part of this is that he's going to have your name changed from your mother's to the one he used on the job.  Think you can handle that, Catherine?"

She nodded.  "My real one's hard to spell.  Is this one easier?"


"Not much," she said dryly, glaring at her father.  "Can't I be a Smith or something?"

"You don't look like a Smith or something," he said dryly.  "You can marry a Smith or a Jones when you get older."

"Fine."  She looked at Don again, her eyes digging into his blue ones.  "Why you?" she asked quietly.  "Plenty of cops are good and straight and have kids.  So why you specifically?"

"Because partners trust each other," he told her.  "Your father's a good cop and having me watch you means that all the fuckheads who go off on him because he's doing what he has to won't do it near you or Mirin."  She nodded, accepting that, still staring him down.  "Plus, I think he wants you to help my Donny.  He could use the help.  He's more a jock than a nerd."

She snorted and rolled her eyes.  "Fine.  But if I see one shred of pink shit in this new house, I will piss on it."  She glared at her father, who nodded and held up a hand.  "Who's this new almost-mother?"

"Karyn.  You'll like her.  She's nice."

"I doubt it.  I don't like other women.  I don't play well with girls either.  Wrong daughter for that, daddy."

"You are so like your mother," Don sighed, smiling down at her.

"I wouldn't know.  I was only six when she died on me."

"You were...there?" he asked hesitantly.

"She died while I was trying and praying to God to close the wound," she said honestly.  She looked at her father.  "You can get them now?"

"I can."

"Good.  Then we're even.  I'll hold this up to Mirin and help her, you get the fuckwads who did this."

He nodded. "Agreed.  In return, you come anywhere near the estate or the job that I'm going to have to do and I will sell you into marriage in the Middle East."  She nodded and shrugged.  "Good."

"You know I'm gonna be a cop like you are."

"I know," he said with a faint smile.  "Don there can show you what you need to do."

"Really?"  She looked at him.  "What can I do when I'm good in science and math?"

"Crime scene stuff," he told her, looking at her father.  "Mirin?"

"Is six, she's already at the house, Don.  Thank you."

"You owe me."

"More than my soul," he agreed.  He looked at his daughter.  "I'll call when I can, princess."  He stroked down her hair.  "You be good for Don and his wife.  Listen to Karyn if she's being reasonable and if not, ask Don what reasonable is.  Got me here?"  She nodded, her chin lifting some.  "Good girl.  Watch out for Mirin.  She's gentler than you."  He kissed her then walked off.

She looked at Don.  "I'm sorry he saddled you with us."

"I'm not.  He's right, I'm the best way for you to stay outta that life.  There's no way it'll come near you with me around.  Everyone in that life knows me and fears me."

"Good."  She moved closer.  "So, does that mean I'm supposed to ask you about the stupid dance coming up?"

He nodded.  "We'll see if your new school has one.  Donny's in a good Catholic school and you can go to the Junior High attached to it.  Come on, let's go to my place and then we'll drop in and talk to Mirin, once I've told the wife and kids."

"You have more than Donny?  Who was really little the last time I saw him."

"He was probably about four and if I remember right he stuck a popsicle in your hair," he told her.  "Something sticky that had to be washed out repeatedly."

She looked up at him. "I remember that.  So, is he a nice boy?  Can I play with him?"

"He's about two years younger'n you," he offered.  "If you can play nicely and delicately.  Not swearing or anything," he offered.  "He's already got a mouth on him and I'd like to keep him from swearing if possible, Catherine.  Or do you prefer Cat or Kate?"

"Catherine.  It's the name of mommy's mom."

He patted her on the back of the head.  "Then it's a special name."  He let her into his car then got around to drive.  "Don't worry if my wife yells, she does it a lot."

"Okay.  So do I.  Can I yell back?"

"Only if she's being unfair or insulting you unfairly."

"Okay."   She buckled up and watched the scenery as they went to his place.  He paused down the block and pointed.  "That's mine?"

"That's yours.  The white one beside you is Mrs. Figaro.  She's a widow and really mean, but she needs someone to look out for her now and then.  I wouldn't suggest swearing near her either.  That's my son, the idiot, riding his bike toward us.  If he hits the car, he won't be sitting later.  We'll introduce you to the neighbors this weekend, okay?"  She nodded and he drove on, parking in the driveway.  "Donny!" he yelled as he got out.  "Get in here! Quit playing chicken with the cars!"  She giggled as she got out, following him inside. "Mary, you're gonna wanna sit!" he called as he walked in.

"Why?"  She came to the doorway of the kitchen and looked at Catherine, then at her husband.  "Mistress?" she asked hopefully.  "As in past tense and dead?"

"Tony's oldest.  His father died."  She slumped and nodded.  "He wants the girls far from his new life.  So they're living up the street and we're being given favorite uncle and aunt status."

"And I was told not to swear and not to teach your son any," Catherine assured her with a bright grin.  She stepped forward, holding out a hand.  "I'm Catherine, I'm the older one.  Mirin is delicate and will cry, I'll yell back."

"Good!" she assured her, walking her into the kitchen.  "Donny, get cleaned up and come eat!"

"Ma!" he complained.

"Now!" his father yelled.  "It's important."

"Can't I not clean then?"  His father gave him a look and he went to clean up.  He was eight, he had to try.  He came out and found a girl in his chair, then looked at his father.  "Are we adopting some foreign kid that you keep saying is starving?"

"I'm not usually that hungry," she said, looking at him.  "The last time I saw you, you were barely potty trained and you babbled at my mother."

He blinked and frowned at her, then looked at his father, then at her.  "Some picnic thing, right?"  She nodded.  "So what happened?"

"My dad had to become a bad guy and gave me and my sister to your parents."

"Oh, okay.  I've already got one sister, two more can't be any worse."

"Mirin and your sister are about the same age," his father told him, smiling at his son.  "Sit."  He sat in the seat that wasn't his.  "Now, we're gonna talk, and then we're gonna go down and talk to her sister and their nanny.  That way the older kids have a clue and we can handle it when Mirin needs stuff.  Right, son?"  He stared him down.

"Sure.  Can you help me in school stuff?"

"Okay.  I'm good in science.  What grade are you in?"

"Third.  You?"


"You're not that much older'n me," he complained.

"I skipped twice," she said smugly.  "I'm good in math and science stuff.  But my last school had nuns that needed hit back."

Don nodded.  "We've only got one of those and she's over the first grade.  Fortunately I escaped."

Catherine smiled.  "That's about how I feel since your dad said I get to switch."

"Where were you going?" Don's wife asked.

"St. Ephinieous."

She shuddered. "Yes, you're transferring."  She looked at her husband, finishing dishing out food then sitting down and saying grace.  She looked at Catherine.  "You don't say grace?"

"I don't believe.  He didn't answer when I needed him to save my mother.  Why in the hell does he need me?  I'm respectful of others who enjoy their faith."

She nodded.  "Thank you for that."  She looked at her son.  "If you start swearing like that, your mouth will be soaped.  Hers will next time."

"Yes, ma," he said, starting to eat.  He looked at the girl next to him, then at his father.  "So, what's going on?"

"Her grandfather just died and her father was a Palmentero."  His wife moaned.

"I go, well I guess usta go by, my mom's name of Mastracano."  That got another moan.

"He's already filed papers so she can change her name to what he used on the force, Cavanaugh."

"Is that wise?" she asked gently.  "They can associate her with him."

"It is, it's the only link she'll have and we can't make her deny knowledge of her father's time in."  He looked at Catherine.  "There are cops and will be cops who will say your father's dirty because of his family.  You are not to listen to them, young lady.  Your father was a very good cop and he gave his borrowed name every bit of respect it deserved.  If you decide you want to be an officer, you will do the same thing."  She nodded and ate a bite of food.  "Good."

"Girls are cops?" Donny asked.

"Yes, son," his father sighed.  "There are some, a few, female officers.  Women do occasionally work outside the home.  Some women, like your mother, like being wives and mothers."

"I'm never having babies, the nuns said it hurts and it's punishment on us for being girls."

"Some nuns would, they've never been there," Mary assured her. "I like being a mother."

"My mom did too."  She ate another bite and looked at her.  "Mirin is gentle, very sweet, and still a princess.  She's gone as a fairy princess each and every year for halloween."  Mary and Don Sr. both nodded at that.  "I wouldn't try to upset her about that this year.  She still throws fits."  That got a smile from Mary.  "She's smart though.  I taught her how to read a few years back."

"Good," Mary agreed happily enough.  "So, she's living where?"

"Next to the crank," Donny told her. "I saw people moving in girly stuff earlier."

"I already warned my father there had better not be pink in my room," Catherine assured him.  "'Cause if there is, the fit will know no end.  You'll be able to hear it from this house."

Don laughed and clapped her on the back.  "You're as strong as my son is," he assured her.  "You two will become good friends I'm sure."  Mary looked at him.  "She's not the girliest of girls, Mary."

"Thankfully or I'd be puking," Donny said before taking another bite.  "Where's Steph?"

"In her room, she's grounded," his mother told him. "You wouldn't happen to know anything about her homework being done in French, would you?"

"No," he snorted.  "We all know I'm not the brains of this family.  Did you ask her buddy Manuela?  She speaks French."  He looked at Catherine.  "She went to some fancy kiddie preschool and learned it there.  She's totally a stuck-up snob."

"Then she and Mirin will have a few fights and Mirin will turn her into her minion," Catherine said dryly.  "Or worse."  Don gave her a strong glare so she didn't finish that thought.  "Sorry."  She ate another bite. "You cook better'n I do," she praised.  "It's good."  She ate another bite.

"You cooked?" Mary asked her.

"I had to, daddy can't.   He burns toast."  That got a small laugh from Donny.  "He does.  He tries so hard, but he assured me someone there would protect him and cook for him."

"He'll have plenty of people to protect him and cook for him," Don assured her gently.  "Now, what do we tell Mirin?"

"The truth," Catherine told him.  "Or else she'll get revenge some day.  She's the sorta girl to do that."  Donny snickered at that and ate another bite.  She looked at him. "Can you teach me how to play baseball?"

"Girls play softball."

"Bite me, I can play baseball.  I'm faster, stronger, and bigger than you are, I just hit like Mirin.  Daddy said mommy did too."  He nodded, accepting that and it was a good thing in his mind.  "Cool.  Then maybe we can finish learning how to take apart an engine?  Daddy was showing me on our car."

"What was he doing to the old heap now?" Don sighed, shaking his head and eating some of the casserole.

"Taking apart the engine to clean it and show me how," she told him, eating another bite.  "This is really good.  I'm not past simple stuff most of the time.  Though I do a pretty good chicken in the oven."  Mary smiled at that.  "Can you make cookies?  Mommy showed me and I never quite got it right. The last time I tried I nearly poisoned Mirin."

"If you want, Catherine.  We'll do that this weekend."  She smiled at her.  "Do you always go by Catherine?"  She nodded, looking very serious.  "That's fine, dear.  Just be careful of Donny.  Sometimes his common sense lags behind his feet and shadow."

"I won't let him get hurt."

"Good girl."  She looked at her husband.  "So we're going over there after dinner?"  He nodded, scraping his plate and holding it out.  She dished up more and looked at him.  "Who is raising them?"

"Some woman named Karyn that my father assured me was nice," Catherine said blandly.  "It shouldn't take me more than a week to make her cry and run off sobbing for daddy.  That way we get someone realistic."

Donny grinned at her.  "The nuns are gonna love you."

She blew a kiss and smirked.  "Anything's better than my last ones."  He laughed and nudged her with his shoulder.  The adults smiled at them since they were getting along, sure that it would be all right for now.  By the time they were done, a few ground rules had been set.  Catherine would have to reign in her mouth around Mary and Don Sr., and not teach Donny how to swear at all, but if Karyn let her she could do it there.  Mary was sure she'd have to work on the young lady to make sure she became a young lady but her husband saw the planning look on her face and shook his head.  She'd have to be more subtle she supposed.  They walked down there, Catherine boldly walking in since it was her house.  "Mirin!" she yelled.

"Kitchen," she called back, smiling at them.  "This is Karyn.  Did you know daddy had to go away on assignment?"

"Something like that," Catherine said, sitting down next to her.  "Mirin, fork down.  I don't need stabbed."

"She's doing just fine with her table manners," the older woman at the stove said, glaring at her. "You could use such lessons."

"You, shut your hole," Catherine shot back, making her gasp.  She glared at her.  "My father said we are to stay away from his new social circles.  He doesn't care what we do with our lives but it is not to go back to his new life."  Mirin let out a small sob.  She looked at her again.  "You know what happened ta ma, right?"  Her sister nodded.  "Well, the bad guys are coming and daddy sent us here ta protect us.  This is Don and Mary and their son Donny.  They've got a daughter about your age named Stephanie.  Don and Mary are gonna be watchin' over Karyn's shoulder, make sure we grow up straight and like mommy would've wanted."


"He told me this, Mirin," she said, making her kid sister look at her.  "He's on assignment ta get the guys who hurt mom.  It's really dangerous and that's why we're not gonna see him that often and that's why we've got Don and Mary.  Don's a cop and Mary's always at home.  Okay?"  Mirin sniffled and nodded.  "He promised ta me that he was gonna get the guys who hurt mom."  Mirin stiffened and nodded, that thread of steel that Catherine showed earlier showing up now.  "So we're gonna be changing our name.  It'll be a bit easier ta spell," she offered with a small grin.  "Not much, but some.  Dad'll see us when he can.  Until then, we're being watched over by Don and Mary.  Got me here?"

Mirin nodded, looking every bit like the Big Girl she was.  "Okay, Catty."

"Don't call me that," she whined.

"Sorry."  She gave her a shy grin.  "Can I still be a princess?"

"Yup, but you'll never be a debutante.  So hope for a cop princess."

"Okay," she agreed, smiling at Karyn now.  "Is that what daddy told you?"

"He told me I was to watch over you and make sure you became good young women."

"I doubt he told you to make me into a deb," Catherine said dryly. "Or her.  Don's here ta make sure we don't marry thugs and go to daddy's new life.  Period.  End of sentence.  Get it straight now or ask for someone smarter."  They locked eyes.  "Secondly, don't try to make me into some girly little puking girl.  You won't win.  I will fight you tooth and nail and I will destroy you if you try.  I have nuns, I can do it to you."  She looked at Mary.  "You either."

She smiled at her and kissed her on the forehead.  "I would never turn such a tomboy into a girly girl.  My Stephanie and Mirin will be more than happy to wear the pretty dresses and jewelry."

"Good!  I like that."  She looked at Karyn.  "Thirdly.  Pink sucks.  Badly.  I puke on the sight of pink.  Mirin can have it in her room.  I can decorate my own."

"I had your room painted light rose, as is appropriate for a young lady of your age."

"Then I'm sleeping on the couch," she shot back "Or you can have it since you're stuck in Disney."  Donny chuckled and she grinned at him.  "Really. Mirin, did my posters come?"

"Yup.  They're in your closet.  She wouldn't let me hang them up."

Catherine muttered something and glared at her.  "My room is my room.  You stay the fuck outta it."  Mary swatted her.  "Hey, my house," she reminded her.  "That was the rule."  Mirin and Donny both laughed at that.  "Okay, fairy cop princess, let's look at your shit, then we'll go see how much paint I need in mine."  She nodded and led the way up there, showing everyone her room.  Mary and she bonded over the cute little butterfly pillows.  She shuddered and headed to the room at the end of the hall. "Is this one mine?"

"No, that's Karyn's."

"She can sleep in the pink room."  She walked and looked around, then shuddered.  "Oh, god, this is worse.  Don!"  He came jogging in and she pointed at the pictures of bodies.  "Eww, right?  Back me up here?  Please?"

"That is wrong," he agreed, going to talk to her.  "Find your room, Catherine."

She nodded and went to find her room, and started to retch on sight.  "Mirin, come take whatever you want of this shit."  Her sister squealed and came over to take all the decorations and the cutesy stuff far away from her.  Mary even helped, giving her a pat on the head. "I need paint.  I need paint badly."

"We'll get you some tomorrow," Mary assured her.  "I'm sure you can sleep on the couch tonight, dear."

"Thanks."  She walked over to her closet, finding her posters still tied together and in a large garbage can.  She pulled them out to look them over.  Whoever had taken them down had done it very nicely, almost nothing had ripped corners.  She noticed Donny and nodded him in.  "Come help me fight the nausea."

"What's nausea?"

"That's what you feel like when you're gonna puke."

He nodded.  "I've been there a few times," he assured her, coming in to look at her posters. "You've got a Harley poster?" he said in awe, unrolling it to look at it.  "Wow.  That's so cool!"

"Isn't it though?" she said, smiling happily.

"Young ladies do not..." Karyn started.

Catherine pulled her dart gun and shot one at her. "Shut up, bitch.  Out of my room."  The woman looked stunned, backing out.  "Now!  Further!"  She turned and ran.  "Thank you!"  She took the poster back and carefully rolled it.  "Give it two days, a week is too long for her."  The phone beside her bed rang and she reached over to answer it.  "Yes?"   She smirked.  "Father, she painted my damn room pink, she hid my posters in a garbage can and she wants to make me some deb.  Remove her before I kill her."  She hung up and growled, seething now.  "Hell, I'd be a better mother than that thing."

Someone pounded on the door and Mary went down to answer it, smiling at the harsh woman standing there. "Mrs. Figaroa, hello.  Did you meet the young ladies living here yet?"

"No, but I did hear screaming."  She walked in and looked at the young woman coming down the stairs.  "Are you the one breaking the silence of this neighborhood?"

"No, that's my sister.  The nanny painted her room pink and made it cutesy."  She looked her over, then in her face. "How many cats do you have?  And can I pet them on occasion?  I really do like kitties."  She smiled and came closer.  "I'm Mirin.  I'm six.  I'm the good daughter."  She smiled sweetly.

"We'll see about that."

"The other one is ten, very smart, she's skipped two grades, and she's a tomboy," Don said as he came out.  "Dear, Karyn's leaving.  The other one will be in tomorrow morning before breakfast."

"I can handle it," Catherine called. "I did at home."

"She did," Mirin agreed happily, smiling at him. "Can I meet your daughter?"

"Of course.  You can come over and play with her tomorrow, when she's not grounded," Mary promised, patting her on the head. "You're such a good girl."  She smiled at the cranky neighbor.  "Catherine's father was an officer but an unfortunately family matter has called him away for what could be a very long time.  Therefore he set the girls up here and put them under our control.  So if you do have a problem or see them getting into trouble, feel free to call me, Mrs. Figaroa.  You know I'm at home."

She nodded primly. "I shall.  The older one is how old?"

"Ten."  Catherine came down the stairs.  "And I'm in seventh grade.  I'm Catherine, I'm sure Mirin introduced herself.  She's never met a stranger she couldn't hug into submission."  She looked at her.  "We don't mind cats.  We like furry things.  They're neat ta cuddle and pet.  So if they come over, we'll take good care of 'em, don't worry about that.  And I'll try ta keep the yelling down once the bitch who painted my room pink and refused ta hang my Mustang and Harley posters is gone."  She smiled sweetly, making the old woman snort.  "Deal?"

"Fine.  I shall be watching for more aberrant behavior, young lady."

"That would depend on someone defining normal behavior for tomboys, now wouldn't it?" she countered smugly.  "It's not like I'm going to be the girly girl Mirin is.  She'll have the boyfriends and I'll race cars with 'em."

"You don't plan on marrying?"

"Not without a set of handcuffs, a gag, and a shotgun."

"For you or your young man?"

"For me.  I don't need a man.  Men are nice as buddies and ta hang with.  Even when I'm older, and yes, I do know what older women do with men in generalized terms, I still don't need one.  I've got more respect for my brain than ta play brainless ta hitch a man to me and have multiple babies for my career.  I wanna be a cop.  I can't do that with babies.  Mirin will give me nieces and nephews."

Mary hugged her.  "I understand and we'll help you when you need it, dear.  Don can help you on your goals and I'll help you with girl issues.  All right?"

She smiled at her.  "I think it's great that your goal was to have babies," she assured her.  "Just don't push it on me."

Mary shook her head.  "Not everyone should be a mother.  I have a very long wait before Donny settles down and gives me any.  I might be eighty by then."  Donny nodded at her.  "So you two will get along very well."

Don Sr. nodded at that.  "They're a lot alike."  And maybe she would help his son settle down some day....

Karyn stormed past them with her suitcase.  Catherine slammed the door behind her with a muttered curse, one which made Mary glare at her.  "Sorry," she muttered.

"Do not say such things in polite company and I am always counted as being polite company, as is your sister."

"Yes, ma'am," she sighed, looking at Donny, then at Don.  "I need paint.  Can we get paint tonight so I don't have ta sleep on the lumpy couch?  Even the nanny's room is pink."

He shuddered again.  "That's fine, dear.  We'll see if we can find you paint tonight."  He led her out to the car with his son, who liked to paint.  He had helped him do the kitchen by fingerpainting on it a few years back.


Late that night, Don Sr. looked at his wife.  "Those two are going to be very tight," he said quietly.  "Maybe she'll calm Donny down and make him like girls."

"You can't push.  She's not ready for that yet.  For now, let them be friends.  If it's meant to be, he'll go to her.  There'll be plenty of opportunity while they're in the same school."

"She's in Junior High."

"Still, we're moving her to his school, right?"  He nodded at that.  "Do you need me to take them?"

"No, I can.  The Monsignor would appreciate it more if I did.  Have you heard from their father?"

"I got a registered letter today with their bank account information for their trusts.  I was planning on taking the girls shopping since they have almost no clothes and they'll need uniforms."

"That's fine.  I'm sure it'll be fine.  If she's really good in math and science, she could do that crime scene stuff if she wants to be a cop.  It's not really being a cop but you're still part of the department.  Better than a meter maid."

"Perhaps," she agreed dryly.  "Maybe she'll be a detective.  There are some you know and she is strong enough."

"More than," he agreed dryly.  "So, can I start suggesting to Donny in a few years that he look at her as a girlfriend?"

"In a few years," she sighed, putting up her book and turning off her bedside light.  He smiled and turned off his, then snuggled closer.  "At least they came to us and not someone else.  No one else could put up with Catherine when she's that angry."

"She has every right to be angry," he reminded her gently.  "The same as you would be.  She's had a tough life and this isn't going to make it easier."  He patted her on the arm.  "We'll do what we can."  She nodded and snuggled against his chest, getting comfortable.  "Night, dear."

"Night, Don."

He smiled and dreamed of his son accepting his gold shield with his wife, who was properly tamed by his own, beside him and their two kids at his feet.


Catherine looked at the Monsignor the next afternoon, looking very smart in her other uniform.  "As you can see, I skipped third and then fifth grades, sir."

"I can."  He looked at her.  "We don't really encourage that here."

"In girls or just overall?" she countered.

He raised an eyebrow.  "Overall.  I've had many very smart young woman."

"Okay," she said, leaning closer.  "Let's get this straight now.  I'm at the end of my politeness quota for the day.  I believe in going straight.  I've also heard that your school happens to like to hold women back and make them wanna be wives.  I wanna be a cop.  Like my father was.  Like Don is.  I'm good in math and science.  Don likes your school and that's fine with me.  I can learn anywhere.  I'm not some girly little girl.  I hate skirts.  Yours are *way* too short, and I could care less about dances, dating, makeup, hairstyles, or puberty.  All I care about is 'can I take this apart and put it back together again', 'will this help me become a cop', and 'will this make my father proud'.  Got me here?"

"You're very blunt."

"Yes, I am.  I'm liking myself this way.  My father liked me this way.  At least you know I probably won't lie to ya, and if I do, I doubt you'll catch me.  I learned off mom."

"Your mother was....?"

"A Mastracano.  Daddy changed his name ta hers ta get away from his dad and he's recently died so he had ta go back."

The Monsignor nodded at that.  "I taught one of your mother's cousins once.  If you can lie anything like her, you're right, I'll never catch you," he said dryly.  "You're sure you want to be a cop?"  She nodded.  "Why?"

"Because my father was a damn good one before his father died and he had ta go back to save us."

"I see."  He nodded slowly.  "Then I think we can help you here, Catherine.  You do go by Catherine?"

"It's my grandmother's name."

"Very well.  I'll make sure of that.  You want to stay in the seventh grade?  You'll be a bit ahead in most things.  Also, we take languages here.  I suggest you go with something that could help you.  Italian is offered, as is Latin.  Actually, Latin is mandatory for sixth graders."

She shrugged.  "How's Spanish?  It seems to be needed on the force.  Dad had to call for it many times."

He nodded. "That is also an option."  He smiled at her.  "In return, you will have to do a few things.  One of them is control your accent.  You sound like you're from Brooklyn.  Some of the students here will make fun of you for that."

"Can I kick their ass if they try?"

He smirked and shook his head.  "We don't encourage fighting, young lady."

"Neither do I, but I will defend myself if I'm attacked."

"Good.  So, control that accent problem of yours, all right?"  She nodded at that.  "Also, I want you to see the therapist."  He held up a hand when she opened her mouth.  "You're going through a very tough transition and while I think your guardians are doing the best they can, I can see that you still have some issues with what's going on.  I think it would be for the best if you got them out of the way. Our school therapist is very good at what he does.  He's very nice and very old.  He's seen and heard everything.  He's helped students who've had much rougher lives.  Even ones who've seen their parents die."

"My mother died in my arms," she said quietly.  "I'm the steel in the family's backbone."

"Then he can make sure you don't rust and you don't snap from the strain of taking care of your sister."  She nodded, accepting that.  "Thirdly.  We do have an academic olympics program here.  It starts in the high school.  Should you stay here, I'd like you to consider trying out.  So far your grades have been very good in everything but history."

"The nun was a fruitcake who went off on why all of the horrors of the world were the fault of women.  She's lucky I didn't hit her a few times."

"I've met her," he admitted.  "We fired her a few years back.  There is only one teacher that you might not like and she's over your sister's year.  If there is a problem, you will bring it to me directly, or to your Uncle Don.  Understood?"  She nodded.  "Good.  Now, are you a practicing Catholic?"


"If I may ask?" he offered.

"He didn't answer when I prayed him ta help me make mom live," she said bitterly.  "Why in the fuck do I want a God who does that.  I'm respectful enough when it's called for."

He nodded.  "There is a mandatory theology class in your year and next year.  I will expect that respect.  The teacher does realize that not everyone is Catholic in this institution and he does allow you to have free will on that matter, but you may end up writing rote papers."

"Less thinking I've got to do."

He nodded.  "Good.  I'm glad we came to that understanding.  Are there any questions you want to ask?"

"Can I wear pants?  Skirts are for girls."

He smiled.  "It is the dress code."

"Yay.  They're so damn short I can feel my underwear on the chair."

He smiled at that.  "I can allow you to break dress code enough to wear something longer.  That will make you look more girly however."

"I'd still rather wear pants."

"Unfortunately that is not an option we're allowing at this time.  Even on dress down days."

She sighed and nodded.  "How long?"

"Knee length?"

"Fine," she complained.  "I'm going into the seventh grade?"  He nodded.  "Can I see them today?"

"I can agree to that.  Are you starting Monday?  That gives you a few days."

"Sure."  She stood up and shook his hand.  "Thank you for helping me come to this easy agreement."

He smiled.  "Just let us try to guide you now and then, and remember, the teachers are here to help you."

"Yeah, yeah, and then they want us to marry young and have babies since birth control isn't allowed," she noted dryly.  "I'm not looking forward to that part."  He laughed and pushed the button on his phone, letting his secretary know to let Don in.  "Okay, I'm good.  Mirin is going into the first or second grade?"

"First.  That's her age range, even though she is a bit ahead.  If we see she's getting bored easily we'll think about switching her up," he assured her.  He smiled at Don. "We've come to an agreement.  We won't force her into things like 'child care' classes and the like and she'll see the school's therapist over this issue to help some of her anger issues.  She will be in the seventh grade and she's allowed to wear her skirts as long as she wants them to be. Mirin will be in the first grade.  Does that suit you, Don?"

"It does.  What about confirmation?"

"I'll stand there and clap when Don has his?" she offered.  "I'm not."

Don looked at her. "You sure? Your father is."

"I'm not my father.  I can't believe in a God that doesn't help in situations like that or lets little kids get beaten ta death by their parents."

"That's fine.  We still attend...."

"And I can still be drug and daydream," she assured him, cutting him off.  "Just like I did when dad did it."

"Fine," he agreed, looking at the monsignor.  "You've told her what to expect?"

"I have. She did have a point that the skirts are a bit short for her legs.  We'll be fine, Don.  She'll flourish here and hopefully won't get into many fights with the more marriage- minded girls in her year."  He nodded at that.  "Catherine, we do have a winter dance and it is formal.  That means you will have to wear something dressy."

"Is it mandatory?"

He nodded. "Yes."


He smiled. "You can sit and bring a book.  Others have.  We've had two or three girls who brought homework."

"That's fine. Any other restrictions?"

"It should be white."

"Yay, a mock wedding dress for practice," she said bitterly, rolling her eyes.  "Do I have to bring a date?"

"No, and you could conceivably bring Donny Jr. if you wanted," he relented.

"He's not old enough for that yet," Don assured him.  He looked at his new, oldest daughter.  "We good on that?"

"We're fine on that.  He'd be as bored as I will be.  Can I puke on the worst of the lot and get out early?"

"Puke on someone else who wants to escape.  Many girls consider this the third most important event in their social lives," the Monsignor said gently, but with a smile.  "Next year she'll be eligible for academic olympics, Don.  Try to see if she'll fit in.  Please.  We could use some new blood and the boys might like a change of thought pattern from their own."

Don nodded. "She's certainly that.  Did you need to see Mirin as well?"

"No, we have their transcripts.  I'll stick her and Stephanie together if you don't mind?"  He shook his head. "Good.  Then we'll do that and Catherine will find her place.  Do ignore the older girls, Catherine."

"I usually do unless they like rip things apart with me."  She shrugged. "Monday at what time?"


"Hair rules?"

"Up if long enough.  Yours isn't quite I don't think.  Push it back at least."  She nodded at that.  "Mirin's?"

"She's a fairy princess.  Always has been, probably always will be," she noted dryly.  "And I will protect her."  That got a nod.  "Good.  Then we're done and I can put on pants again?"  He nodded, smiling at that.  "Thank you, Monsignor."

"You're welcome.  The both of you, and welcome to our parish, Catherine."  She nodded and left, Don behind her.  He sent her chart and a copy of the interview to their therapist.  The kindly old priest would help her a lot.


Catherine walked into the house.  "Mirin!" she called.

"You yell like there's an emergency."

"We're going uniform shopping."  Her sister squealed and ran down the stairs.  "The flake back yet?"

"She's grocery shopping."  She left a note then followed her sister out so Mary could take them shopping.  "Can we take the train?"

"No, we'll drive this time," she said gently.  She smiled at them.  "Can you handle a skirt, Catherine?"

"If I must, as long as it's not as short as the one I wore today."

"That's fine.  Anything else we'll need?"

"Shoes.  All I have are sneakers and boots.  Plus something for my hair or a trim."

"I think you should grow it out."  Catherine gave her an odd look.  "Most young ladies like their hair a bit longer."

"Yay.  It gets in my face, I hate that.  He said to at least try to push it back."

"We'll see what we can do about it," Mary promised, driving off with them.  "How is the new nanny, girls?"

"She made french toast for breakfast, which was nice," Catherine noted dryly.  "I haven't seen her since."

"She went grocery shopping.  Said something about sprouts and disco balls," Mirin noted, leaning on the back of the seat to watch where they were going.  "What do I wear?"

"White shirt, cardigan, skirt, knee socks, shoes, the usual," Catherine told her.  "You and Stephanie are in the same class.  I'm in seventh grade.  You're to tell the teacher when you get bored, dear.  I got you a bit ahead at the moment."  Mirin nodded at that.  "He said I could wear my skirts as long as I wanted."

"Good.  I don't think that skirt this morning was very proper."

"That's how they had us at the last place.  Also, I'm taking a language.  Can I have a dictionary?"

"Yes, dear.  What are you taking?"

"Spanish probably.  I was warned that we're having a formal."

"I forgot about that," Mary said happily.  "We'll see if they have any dresses in yet since it's not quite halloween.  Mirin, dear, your sister said you go as a fairy. Did you want to do that this year?"  She nodded, beaming at her.  "Okay, do you have a style of costume?"

"I want wings and a cop's uniform," she said.  "That way I can be a fairy cop."

"Okay," Mary decided, smiling at her.

"Can I wear a leather jacket and ride a bike?" Catherine asked.

"No," Mary told her.  "Go as something else, dear."

"A hockey player?"

"Can you?"  Catherine wobbled on that, then shrugged.  "A bit?"

"I'm trying ta learn."

"Good.  We'll see what the school can teach you about sports."

"I forgot to ask."

"That's fine, dear."  She pulled into the store she took her children too.  "Now, Catherine, the woman in here will go on and on about you being pretty enough to marry.  Ignore her.  She's like that with every girl.  Even the ones who don't plan on marrying or having babies."  She sighed and nodded.  "Thank you, dear."  She smiled at her.  "Do you have something for church?"

"Yeah, and I can daydream through it," she assured her.  Mary sighed and nodded, shaking her head as she got out.  "Sorry."

"No, I understand, dear.  I can only hope to change your mind some year."  She got Mirin out and walked her inside, Catherine following.  "They're starting school with Don and Stephanie," she said happily. "Catherine is in the seventh grade and Mirin is in first."

"Seventh?  You don't look that old."

"I'm not, I'm that smart," she assured her dryly, staring at her.   "And they still won't let me wear pants."  The woman tittered as she led them back to find them clothes.  "Um, longer, please," she told her.  "Mirin and me both.  Our mom would've crapped bricks if she had seen mine for the old school."  Mirin looked at her and nodded.  "Not my choice," she noted dryly.

"St. Eppy's?" the woman asked.  Catherine shuddered and nodded.  "I understand.  We've got some wonderful ones that're knee length.  Would that be all right?"

"Better than not," she agreed.  "Can we not make me look like a girly girl?"

"I can try."  She got her a uniform to fit her, smiling at her burgeoning body.  "Now, when you finish hitting puberty you'll need to start having your shirts fitted as well."


"Sorry, but it does happen to all of us."


"I know, dear.  It's not a delightful process to become a young woman."

"I don't even wanna think about it.  Not for at least another few years."  That got another titter and the woman nodded, pinning her skirt at her knees.  "I look like an old lady in this."

"That's better than being cute," Mary offered.  "Also, since she's in the seventh grade, the winter dance," she reminded the woman.

"We have some *darling* numbers," she assured her happily, then looked at Catherine.  "I even have one that'll make you look cute but untouchable."

"Leather?" she asked hopefully.

"Well, no, but velvet."

"Furry is nice.  Mary, can we have a dog?"

"Please?" Mirin begged.  "I'll be good and walk it!"  She bounced around a bit, begging and making whining noises.

"Mirin, headache inducing," Catherine complained.  "Please quit.  Give her and Don time ta talk."

"Yes, Catherine," she sighed, going back to the begging eyes.  "I love you," she whispered, hugging her.

"We'll see what Don and your new nanny say," she promised, patting her on the back.  "A dog might do your sister good too."

"Give me something ta jog with," Catherine agreed.  "Dad said I needed to be in better shape."  She looked at herself once the seamstress was done, nodding a bit.  "Okay, I look like I'm smart instead of pretty.  I can accept that.  Got any suggestions about the hair?"

"Trim it, dear, it could use it."  She ran a hand through it. "You have split ends."  She looked at Mary.

"They have a trust.  We're overseeing it for them."  That got a smile and the woman nodded.  "You think?"

"I know," she assured her.  "Maybe a perm as well?"


The matrons laughed at that and decided to let Catherine have her own way with her hair.  Even if she did end up looking like one of those terribly butch young women who went to Sarah Lawrence.


Catherine spent her first weekend with Donny at his house, helping him and his dad change the oil and brakes on their car.  "What's this part do?" she asked, pointing at a line.

"That is for power steering," Don told her.

Donny looked at her.  "You really wanna learn about cars?"

"Yeah.  I like cars."  She smiled at him.  "Knitting and sewing is Mirin.  Sports, dirt, and grime are my thing."  Donny laughed at that.  "Speaking of, Uncle Donny, can I have a bike?"

"We'll see."

"Thank you.  Mirin wants a dog."

"I heard.  Your nanny is apparently scared."

"Even of little yappy dogs?"

"Yup."  He looked at her. "What did you do to her?"

"I told her the crystals were humming funny.  She didn't like that."  She shrugged.  "I appreciate her because she hates pink and is willing to humor Mirin into letting her become whoever she wants to be, but she's a flake."

"She is," Donny agreed with a chuckle.  He heard a cough and looked back.  "Sorry, ma'am."

"Not an issue. I know not everyone was a child of the Sixties as I was," she said dryly, looking at her charge.  "Then again, flake is a bit strong, isn't it?"

"Perhaps," she said with a smirk, winking at her.  "Then again, maybe when I'm older I'll understand that free love stuff you were going on about the other day more."

"You'd better not," Don said firmly.  He looked at the nanny.  "We want them to be good girls."

"Of course.  At least until they're old enough to make that decision for themselves," she agreed happily.  She smiled. "I made brownies.  Mirin said I should get with Mary to help you learn how to make cookies, Catherine?"

"My mom tried."

"That's fine.  I don't want to replace your mother."  She hugged her.  "Come get a brownie soon, while they're warm.  I want to help you grow up and be a good woman, not be your mother."  Catherine smiled at that and nodded. "Good.  Donny, you can have a brownie too."

"Yes, ma'am."

"Hilary, please," she ordered.  He looked at his father.  "I insist, Don.  I'm not old enough to be a ma'am and I'm not a southern Miss either."

"Fine, he can call you by your given name," he agreed.  "Go get brownies, kids.  Wash first."  They nodded, running down the street to do that.  He looked back at her.  "She wants a bike."

"Probably a motorcycle," she agreed happily.  "When she's sixteen she can have a car.  Her father said so."  She went to make sure they were clean and not spreading grime to the brownies.  It was good that they had an understanding between them.


Age Fourteen:


Don looked at his daughter.  "Catherine," he said, closing the door on the study.  "We need to talk about girl and boy things."

"You think I'm trying to hit on your son?"

"No, but I think some of guys are encouraging him to hit on you."

"I heard.  I told him I'd pretend if he needed it but nothing was going to happen."

"I had hopes," he sighed.  "Then again you are a bit more...wild than I feel comfortable with Donny being."  She smirked at that and nodded, making 'go on' motions.  "That doesn't bother you?"

"No.  Because you know that Donny makes his own decisions, the same as I do, and that if he comes to me about that stuff I'll give him the truth."

"I know.  Which is why I'm going to quit encouraging him to date you, for now, and encourage him to start doing the things his body is calling out for him to try, and his friends are pushing him to try, with you.  You are older, you are exposed to more adult things in your grade.  You can watch his back."

"I've always got Donny's back."

"Good."  He smiled at her.  "Then you don't have to report to me unless there's a problem.  Like he's liking things a bit too much.  Or if there's a problem and he likes to ...."

"Like boys?" she suggested.

"Yes, that would be a problem I should be told about."

"And you know I won't.  That'd be his thing and I'd help him and protect him."

He looked at her.  "You and I both know that boys who like boys, the same as girls who like girls, in the police department have a very bad and short career."

"I know.  Which is why I'd have his back.  Even though he does like girls.  He has this staring problem with breasts actually."  He smiled at that.  "You said if."

"Good point."  He looked at her. "I know you've had a beer or two.  I know that Hilary has given you pot.  Which I don't agree with.  But I'm also realistic about teenagers today."

"So I've got his back and I'll make sure he's cool with whatever happens and let him know all the risks and stuff," she agreed.  He nodded, smiling at her.  "Anything else?"  He shook his head.  "Then can I ask you to threaten the boy who keeps trying to feel my thigh up in Physics?"

"Of course.  What's his name?"

"Hammerman.  His dad's a cop in the second."

He snorted. "I know of him.  I'll have a talk with him tomorrow.  You sure you don't like the boy?"

"Only as punching bag.  He's a bit on the 'ooooh, you'll make a good mommy to little cop babies, and of course no woman should have a badge' train."

He nodded.  "I disagree with that.  Did you talk to the guy I sat you with?"  She nodded. "Did you like what he does?"

"I do and he hated the fact that girls might invade his lab and give the cases PMS cooties."  Don laughed at that so she shrugged.  "Basically that's what his problem was.  He did tell me what I'd need to do."

"Good.  Can you?"

"Yes.  He even told me which colleges to go to."

"Excellent," he said happily.  "I sent your last report card to your father. He was very happy."

"I figured he was."   She grinned at him.  "He does realize this means I'm going to be in college at sixteen?"

"Yes, and you're commuting," he assured her.  "You're much too young to live in the dorms."

"Can I take a year off and veg and stuff?  Maybe go Vo-tech for a year?  Learn the engine stuff?  Or maybe that new computer stuff?"

He considered it. "I'll think about it," he assured her.  "For now, go get Donny away from the stupid Black Sabbath album he's wearing out."

"Yes, dad."  She left, going up there to pounce on her buddy.  He was hiding under his pillow so she really did get to pounce him, making him yell.

"What the fuck is wrong with you!" he demanded, giving her a shove.  "Brat!"

She grinned and kicked the door shut.  "I just got told I am to be your mentor when you feel like trying something out."  He sat up, staring hard at her, his blue eyes drilling into her green ones.  She smirked and nodded.  "Yeah.  Your dad's taking a different track on the 'she'd make a nice wife for you' train and I'm allowed to guide you and protect you while you're having teenage angst.  And I'm thinking about taking a year off before college and doing a year of Vo-tech instead."  She sat on his bed, looking at him.  "Up to you, Don."

He grinned.  "Think Hilary would let you sneak me a beer?"

"I've got six under my bed but they're warm," she offered.  He smirked at that.  "It's not like she cares."   She grinned at him and swung her legs.  "So....."

"This weekend?  Maybe go to that teen club in the city if mom doesn't ground me for you shutting the door.  Again."

She laughed.  "She's at the store and your dad wants us together *that* badly that he's overruled her twice now."

"Point," he agreed happily. "You're not hoping, right?"

She grimaced and shook her head.  "Who would I rebuild my car's engine with if we started to date, Don?"

"We could still do that stuff."

"How many couples at the school have you seen doing normal stuff?"

"Point," he decided, nodding.  He was hoping not to turn into one of the brainless patrol of couples at school.  "So, this weekend that club?  Maybe another club?  Since you seem to be able to get in?"  His mother opened the door.  "Dad said for her to watch me in case I went wild."

"I can agree with that," Mary said dryly.

"Ma, he's like my little brother.  I'd never sleep with him," she pointed out dryly.  "I saw him naked that one time he nearly drowned and laughed, remember?"  She smiled at that and let the door close again, walking off happier.

"Are you ever going to apologize for that?" he asked.

"No.  You were shrunken funny thanks to the icy water.  You looked like you were a baby again."  He kicked her, making her giggle.  "Sorry but true."

He stuck his tongue out.  "Fine.  What about college?"

"Your dad said I'd have to commute."

"Well, you are only fourteen."

"Yeah, and?" she snorted.   "I could have a lot of fun in the dorms."

"I think that's what he's trying to stop," he pointed out dryly. "That and non-Flack grandbabies."

"Probably true," she agreed with a smirk.  "That's why I thought about taking a year and doing the Vo-tech thing.  I'm pretty good with engines so I thought about that.  Or maybe the new computer stuff that's coming out."  He nodded, accepting that.  "I don't know yet.  The guidance counselor is pushing me to find a boyfriend before it's too late.  I told him your dad had plans for my womb already and he looked much happier and suggested knitting as a major.  I went behind his back to talk to the college and they were a lot more cheerful about it but warned that not many women are in the science programs at this time.  I pointed out I was a bigger dick than any man there had and it got a few shocked looks but some understanding as well."  He laughed at that.  "So when you come, you'll have a tutor."

"Good. I could use a tutor.  I could use a tutor now.  Can we go over the biology homework again?  I've got that stupid test Tuesday."

She nodded. "Sure.  Bring it on, Don."  He smirked at her.  "Not that way, mini-perv."

"Hey, I'm not mini anything, thank you, and not a perv.  I like girls."

"Yeah, you stare at their breasts," she joked back.  "That alone made your dad very happy with you.   He suggested I should tell him if you started leaning the other way."

"Okay," he said, his eyes wide. "Why does he think I would?"

"He wanted me to tell him if you started getting too involved or going too funny.  I suggested that as an option and you should've seen his face.  He looked so pitiful," she shared, hugging him.  "Then I assured him you liked breasts enough to stare so it's going to be a happy night in their bedroom."

"Can I come stay with you tonight?"

"If they don't care I don't care. I'm good with it even."  He grinned and went to talk to his father, who just smiled, patted him on the back, and reminded him that he was not to sleep in her bed unless they were married.  She snuck him into the house, knowing Hilary was out tonight.  "Hey, Mirin, go camp with Steph.  I've got to go over biology with Don."

"Ewwww."  She got up and huffed off, hating the science stuff her sister did. It had *parts* and *parts* were icky!

She grinned at him and led him up to her room, letting him have his first beer and going over the notes with him again.  Snake biology wasn't that hard or strange, but they did have some odd parts and big, long words that he hated to spell.


Don came out of his biology test, giving her a long stare.  "I passed."

"Good.  By how much of a margin?"

"I have no clue but I'm pretty sure I passed."  She grinned and nudged him in the ribs, making him wince. "Don't do that.  I'm still nauseous from the beer," he said quietly, walking off with her to their next class.  Since she was taking a remedial Latin class - mostly because the new headmaster demanded it of all graduates - they had it together.  There were a few other upper years in the class so she wasn't exactly the strange one, but she wasn't that much older than some of them.  She was just the only junior.  He took his seat and she sat next to him, giving the nun teaching their mock-attentive look.

"Today," she announced once the bell had run and the door was shut. "We will be going over anatomy and their proper designations.  Again."  She glared at the upperclassmen.  "I do not know why some of you are so stupid that you can't get it."

"Because for some of us Latin is a dead language that's better of left dead," Catherine noted dryly.  The teacher glared at her.  "Can you honestly tell me that Latin will come in handy in anything but my biology classes in college?"

"Well, it can help you when you're unfamiliar with a word."

"That's what dictionaries are for."

"True" she said dryly.  "It can help you spell it properly and you will need it for the SAT test."

"Latin itself or words?"

"Words.  There is an english portion."

"I'm aware of that.  I scored high enough on the PSAT that I don't need to take the real one.  Columbia will accept it."  She looked stunned so Catherine shrugged.  "Sue me, I'm brilliant," she noted dryly.  "And for that matter, can you please explain the origin of why some of the biology terms make no sense!" she demanded.  "The genus names and things?  Not exactly what I would associate."

"That was an arbitrary decision."

"Made by a committee of men?" she suggested dryly.

"Indeed.  In Europe.  Any other issues?"

"Can I take French instead?"

"No.  The headmaster said you couldn't five times."

"Pity.  Guess that means I get to keep annoying you with my bad pronunciation."

"Indeed."   She looked at the rest of the class. "Open your texts to page sixty and begin reading to yourselves."  She walked out, going to complain to the headmaster about that issue.  That was a good enough reason to not make it mandatory in her book.


 Catherine walked into the headmaster's office later that day. "You wished to see me?"

"Why can you not be a good little girl?" he demanded.

"Because your standard of good is skewed toward sluts who sleep with the football team to get pregnant and therefore get married young and have multiple babies?"  He looked stunned.  "Pity, but yay.  Not my thing.  I have a brighter future than children, thank you."  She stared him down.  "The same as Latin isn't exactly going to help me."

"Your SAT test...."

"Columbia accepted my PSAT's in lieu of them.  Scoring a 1458 on them was very well done according to Columbia."  He looked horrified.  "There's a reason why I'm fourteen and in the junior year," she noted blandly.  "Try that good girl shit with my sister while you're trying.  She's not going to be one of your slutty little whores either."

"You will do penance!" he shouted.

"Hmm, I would but I'm not Catholic."  He sat back, moving away from her.  "Now then.  I've got a meeting today with Columbia.  So therefore I'm going to skip my study hall.  Did you need an excuse?  Or should I stop at the diocese and talk to them about your little pep talk to the girls' gym class in my sister's year?"  He went pale.  "If I were you, I would leave now."  She moved closer.  "If one of you so much as lays a hand on my sister, I will see this school in desiccated ruins and your tenure as a teacher the same."  He swallowed. "Are we crystal clear why you will leave Stephanie Flack and my sister alone?"  He nodded.  "Good."  She smiled sweetly.  "Then may Don Flack Jr. escort me?  I know he wanted to talk to Columbia about their pre-law enforcement offerings."  He nodded, waving a hand.  "Was there anything else you wanted to speak of?"

"No," he said, his lips pressed tightly together.  "Just go."  She nodded and curtseyed, then left, going back to gym.  He made a note in her file and sent it to the nun who ran over all the little girls like her.


Catherine reported to the nun the next period, looking at her.  "He threatened to expose my little sister to sex.  Did you want me to not complain?"

"Subtlety, dear."

"Fuck subtlety, his encouraging talk to the girls' gym class was all about how they should pick their men young and capture them, vaguely instructing them to whore around with someone until they get pregnant and then use that to capture them.  Also, two of the girls in my sister's class have went to the diocese to report him and another teacher for touching them."  The nun sighed and nodded.  "Now, I'm not going to put up with that.  If he does that near my sister, I'm going to beat the shit out of him."

"I agree," she said, smiling at her.  "You are everything I could have hoped for you, Catherine.  Your scores are excellent.  Even though he does call you defiant and crabby."

"He can't think of better words?" she asked dryly.

"Apparently not," she agreed dryly.  "Therefore, let's just hang on.  Now, the prom is mandatory as well.  That is next year.  Do you have any complaints to make so far?"

"Yes.  Why is something like that mandatory?"

"Because it is an important social event in a young person's life.  It's the trial wedding really."

"Yay, and I'm not getting married anytime soon."

"I know, dear, but you're in the minority and the parents like this tradition."

"So I can come dateless and bring a book?"

"You really should ask someone to go with you.  That way you can be bored together.  Unlike your seventh year Winter Ball, where you puked on two of us nuns to get us free of that horrid event."

She shrugged.  "Not like I'm dating."

"You could bring Mr. Flack."

"I could and I could listen to his father get *really* hopeful too."

"Point," she agreed.  "Should I talk with his father?  Perhaps point out that children can come later instead of right after graduation?"

"Go for it.  It hasn't worked yet," she noted dryly. "I'll see what I can do about surviving prom shit.  Mirin's the one you'll want on all those committees.  Start on her now."

"I shall, dear.  Now, I have a form for you and Mr. Flack to go to Columbia today?"

"He wanted to get some information and I'm making final choices.  I'm thinking about taking a year off due to my age and they weren't sure it wasn't such a bad idea so I was going to see what they thought of my current ideas."

"Which are?"

"A year of Vo-tech at the moment."

"How about some traveling?"


"Fine," she offered with a smile.  "What about a year off, just lazing around the house?"

"With Hilary?  I'd be getting high nearly every day with the way she's hitting the pot.  By the way, I'm taking Don, Steph, and Mirin's hand on that matter. Leave it to me."

"Of course, dear. I expected you to.  Any other issues we should discuss?"

"Yeah, I'm not sure I'm a real girl.  I still haven't started yet."

"That has been known to be as late as sixteen.  Did you ever learn anything about your mother from the cousin you found?"

"No.  She took one look at me, burst out crying, and slammed the door in my face.  Her husband came out and I said I only wanted to ask some questions about mom and things.  He said she's trying to forget she has a family and to please leave her alone."

"Ah.  That's fine.  Should I maybe call Mary and have her bring you to someone to discuss this issue?"

"Might not be a bad idea," she decided.  "Just not today."

"No, no, not today."  She smiled at her.  "We'll see what we can figure out.  Again, it could just be slow starting."

"I've had breasts now for three years."

"True.  It should've probably started by now.  Oh, well, what will be is."  Catherine nodded.  "You're going after lunch or just the last period?"

"Don needs to keep his grades up. His dad's nagging."

"That's fine.  I'll let you go last period.  Do have a good night before going home."

She nodded and went back to class with her slip for the history teacher. "Been a long day," she excused.

"What now?"

"I'm insolent and I protested my sister being told to sleep with someone and get intentionally pregnant," she told him.

"Ah.  Good!  I like that about you, Catherine."

"Quit sucking up, Father. I'm going into science," she sighed.  He laughed and handed her the test they were all taking. "Thank you."  She got to work on it, barely finishing before the bell rang.  She handed it back and walked out, going to find Don.  "You know how you wanted to see Columbia and talk about their pre-law enforcement stuff?"  He grimaced but nodded.  "We're going during study hall."

"I love you!"

"That's good because Sister Margaret just suggested I take you to the prom next year since it's mandatory and I'm going to be bored shitless."

"Don't tell my dad," he whined.

"I've already warned her about that," she assured him dryly, patting him on the head.  "Class, dear."  He nodded and ran, she went to lunch. A few of the girls gave her odd looks. "I just got told prom is mandatory," she said, looking at them.  The girls all nodded, giving her 'of course it is' looks.  "Can one of you please advise Mirin on how she's dressing me so I can be stuck and bored that night?  It's not like I give a damn."  That got some nods and they made notes on what to tell her.  "Also, Mirin *loves* that party planning shit.  Get her on board to help you guys when you're gone."  That got some more chatter and it would only make her sister more popular, which she adored.  She put her head back down and took a nap.  Helping Donny cram for tests was hard work.

"Did Mr. Flack keep you up all last night?" one girl teased.

"He had a biology test today," she said, looking at her.  "Don's like my brother.  Really."  That got some more laughs.  "I promise, nothing scandalous there."

"Maybe there should be.  He likes girls and you are one most of the time," another girl noted.

"Yay," she said flatly.  "The day I fall into bed with Don Flack Jr. is the day hell freezes over and no evil headmaster is the cause.  He's like my little brother, it'd be incest!"

"Fine," they sighed.  "Who're you taking?"

"Me.  It's not like I'm dating or anything."

"So take him.  That way, when it's his turn, he knows what to expect.  Plus, you can go with him to the Winter Ball since this is his year for it."  She moaned and sank down again.
"It'll be all right," another soothed, patting her on the back.  "If you can't do it, find him someone!"

"That's a good idea," she said, smiling at them.  "Mirin could go.  They'd have fun plus she'd learn what she needs in her year."  That got some nods.  She smiled and wrote her sister a note, handing it to the door guard to give to her sister.  It was common among siblings in the school that were grades apart.


Mirin walked up to Don in the halls before his last period, smiling and bouncing.  "Don, Catherine had an idea."

"Okay," he said cautiously.  Those could be dangerous, explosive, or get him into trouble with his father.  "What idea?"

"You know the Winter Ball is mandatory in your year, right?  And I was kinda hoping you'd take me because I want to be on the planning committees for those things and to do that I need to know what to expect and stuff."

He blushed a bit, then shook his head. "I'm kinda hoping to take Marcy," he noted quietly.  "Sorry, Mirin.  I know Todd doesn't have anyone.  You could ask him and he's a nice guy."

"With grabby hands."

"So wear something he can't get under," he noted.  "Or have Catherine remind him that she'll break his hands."

She nodded.  "I can do that.  Just let it be known, okay?  Please?  I do very well at planning stuff and I like planning parties.  Speaking of which, your mom wants to know what we're doing for Catherine's sixteenth."

"Not giving her food poisoning," Catherine said as she moved closer. "You've finally asked someone?"

"Not yet," he offered, grimacing at her.  "Why do you think I don't tell you these things?"

"So I can't lock you and her in a closet together."

He nodded. "Yeah, that's mostly the reason.  Sorry, Mirin."

"That's okay, but let it be known that I want to go for that reason."

"Sure."  She smiled and hurried off.  He looked at his best friend.  "You're just strange."

"Hell, Don, I've got the prom next year and it's mandatory too," she said bitterly.  "And it's been strongly suggested that I can't get out of this one by puking on the nuns."  She moved closer.  "Sister Margaret suggested you as well and I pointed out the fallacy of that argument but she said it'd be better than nothing.  I think I'd rather have a book."

"Yeah.  So you're letting Mirin dress you for this one?"  He grabbed his jacket and backpack, letting her grab hers.  Somehow they ended up near each other for home room this year.  She nodded, groaning a bit.  "It won't be that bad."

"Yes it will."  She put on her jacket and looked at him.  "Come on, let's go."

"Did dad agree or will he throw a fit?"

"I called and told him you were going with me to look at the pre-law enforcement offerings and as an escort for me.  Since he believes I'm going to jump the first college guy I see."  She grimaced and put on her backpack, following him to the office.  "We're signing out.  Sister Margaret already agreed."

"Did Mr. Flack?" the secretary said patiently.

"Yeah, I called him.  He said he'd say it was okay."  She sighed and looked at the desk, then nodded and signed them out.  "Thank you.  Have us going to Columbia after eating something edible."

"Mom made me lunch," he said dryly, smirking as he followed her out to her car.  "You could've made lunch."

"I was up all night with you studying," she reminded him. "I barely made it and that's only because Hilary banged into my door on the way back from her morning douche."

"Why is she doing that?"

"To make sure she doesn't get pregnant with the guy of the moment."

"Does my dad have *any* idea what goes on at your house?"

"Probably not," she noted dryly. "It's probably a good idea too."

"Probably," he agreed dryly.  "So, is she sober and straight today?"

"Nope.  She was smoking when I left."  She got in and started the engine, revving it a little to warm it up while he got in and buckled up.  "Your dad made me get the most make-out available car.  I wonder if he thought about that beforehand."

"Yup, and he hinted strongly that night when he came in to see me after dinner."

"Ah.  No wonder.  Think I could get away with changing it for a motorcycle next year?"

"Nope. He'd complain sex on a bike isn't as easy."  She laughed and checked around, then backed out and headed for Columbia first, and then a decent snack.


Catherine opened her final grades when they came, laughing out loud at them.  "Don?" she called, heading for his house.  He came out frowning.  She handed them to him.  "I saw my final grades in three of my classes.  I didn't flunk anything."

"I'm calling the church," he sighed, going to do that.  His son's grades had been fairly lower than he expected as well.  "Have you been helping him in biology?"

"Of course," she agreed, sitting on the other side of his desk while he called.

"Father, this is Don Flack.  Yes, I am.  No, I have Catherine here but I was wondering about Donny's grades as well."

She took the phone.  "Father, I saw three of my final grades, from the teachers themselves.  I know very well what I passed and what I might not have.  Yes, and I'm getting a lawyer this afternoon since you're trying to play games with me," she said dryly.  "That's fine.  My next stop is the Cardinal's office.  Along with the physical reports I got from the teachers themselves."  She hung up and dialed a number from memory.  "Sister Mary Hendric?  It's Catherine Cavanaugh, again."  She grimaced. "Yeah.  Well, somehow I flunked every single class, even though I have three physical, written out statements that I passed three of my classes with an A?"  She nodded. "Please.  No, he's mad because I pointed out I knew about his little speech to my sister's year about being a slut and getting pregnant being a good thing and how two girls had to come forward with allegations.  Yeah, well, I'm not easily cowed, dear.  Let him try.  I'll be there an extra year to kick his ass if he does."  She smiled sweetly.

"Thank you, dear.  Of course I can.  When's a good time?  And of course, Mr. Flack can come if he's not busy.  I can't guarantee that but if he's not busy I can bring him.  Also, he wanted his son's grades checked into.  Don got B's on his last six biology tests."  Don Sr. held up the grades.  "And his final grade is a D.  Yeah, shocking to me too.  Gee, I'm on the math olympics squad for the city, Sister.  I think I can average and add."  She smiled.  "I didn't think you were. But I think someone's going to be bending over backwards to leave me and my family alone.  Thank you, that would be wonderful.  Thank you, Sister.  Of course.  You have a better day."  She hung up. "I'm due there in two hours.  I need to go change."  She took the both report cards with her, grabbing the final reports form Don's room, since he was napping like the dead, and then hers and Mirin's as well.  Mirin's grades were sharply lower than they should have been as well.  Then she found the other report cards, going back to Don's house once she had changed to gather his.  Then she drove to the local diocese office. Because someone was going to pay for fucking with her this time. She walked in and nodded politely at the sister.  "Sister.  Unfortunately he had to go to work this afternoon."

"At your age, we do encourage parents to be present."

"I'm a Junior.  I think I can speak for myself," she noted dryly.

"You are?  You're put in as being in ninth grade."

Catherine handed over the forms, including what her report cards said.  "Unless he claims he got me mixed up with someone else, which I doubt, he's fucking with me and I won't have it," she said calmly.  The nun nodded and took the forms into the priest over the local schools.  Catherine sat down and composed herself, letting her anger wash over her and dissipate if it wanted to.

"Miss Cavanaugh?" an elderly priest said as he came out.  She stood up.  "No parents, dear?"

"I'm more than capable of speaking on my own behalf and that of my family and friends who're being persecuted."

"Dear, at your age...."

"I'm a Junior.  My PSAT score was 1458.  Get over it, father.  I'm here, you're dealing with me."  He nodded and let her into his office.  She sat down and stared at him.  "As you can see from the reports written by the teachers themselves, our grades do not conform to the problematic ones we were mailed."

"How are you a junior at your age?"

"What age do you think I am?" she smarted off.

"Um, twelve?"

"Try just about fifteen and I skipped two years.  I'll be sixteen when I graduate."  He nodded, accepting that.  "I'm sorry, father, if you don't like this situation, I can't say as I do either.  Especially since I'm the one being fucked with due to that man having told my sister to intentionally get pregnant and trap a man at her age."  He looked at that report card, then at her, mouth opening.  "I also noted that I knew of two girls, personally, who came here to file charges against him and another teacher for inappropriate sexual conduct."

"How do you know anything about sexual conduct?"

"I'm very well read," she noted dryly.  "My mother encouraged me in my education when she was alive.  I'm living up to her expectations for me."  He nodded at that.  "You have in front of you enough proof that I can sue the school.  Do you really want it to come down to that?"

"Dear, you're not being rational."

"Fuck you, old man," she noted, shocking him horribly.  She stood up.  "My father was a cop and a Catholic.  My mother was Catholic.  My guardians are Catholic.  That doesn't mean I won't destroy this whole parish and that school over my grades and my reputation. I got branded as 'difficult' way back when for a reason.  Now, you can do the right thing or the wrong thing here.  What does your god tell you to do?"

"To suspend you since you're clearly not one of us."

"Hmm.  Yes, and the school rules do not prohibit non Catholics from attending."  He looked stunned at that.  "Anything else?  After all, I can easily go to the local Math and Science school of excellence and be on *their* academic olympic team.  They've offered to me repeatedly.  My sister can find a better school as well.  One where older, male priests don't tell sixth graders to have sex and get pregnant."

"So you say."

"So I heard.  Being a TA in gym is rather like that," she said smartly.  He blanched and she looked behind her. "Cardinal."

"Miss Cavanaugh?"  She nodded at that.  "What is the issue here?"

She took the papers he tried to hold down, glaring at him, telling him very clearly she was more than happy to hit him, and handed them to the Cardinal.  "That.  That and the headmaster at my school.  I was witness to him telling my sixth grade sister and my guardian's sixth grade daughter to, very bluntly, screw around and get pregnant early on to trap a husband. As you can see, our grades have mysteriously been changed and my whole year changed, because I confronted him on this matter.  That and how I knew that two girls had come to you, personally knew they had come to you, about their little problems of conception with the male staff."  He looked horrified and she stood her ground. "I'm not some little annoyance to go away and I will not be fucked with.  I want that man taken out of that school and away from those girls before he hurts another one.  Like my sister or Stephanie Flack.  I want my grades investigated, along with both Flack children and my sister's.  And I'm more than willing to sue this entire building and my school to get it. I may be fourteen, but I'm not some dumb bitch from the 'hood or the barrio.  There is nothing you can threaten me with to make me shut up this time."

"Your father...."

"My father is a Mastracano."  He flinched at that.  "My father left the PD to go take over his father's job to keep myself and my sister safe."  She moved closer.  "Where in the hell were you and your priests when he had to do that?  Or when your priests almost refused to give my mother her last rights for being shot by someone?  Just because of her name.  Yes, my name was changed.  I have agreed to stay out of my father's and mother's family businesses.  I have a lot of plans to work in this city as a member of the police department. You fucking with me only makes me more determined to clean up the trash that gets in my way, like that headmaster. After all, my PSAT score of 1458 proves I'm not stupid.  As does my inclusion on the city's academic team."

He nodded.  "Will you withhold the suit should we fix this problem and remove him?"

"As long as it's fixed justly and correctly and he is removed and sent away from all students, along with the other one, yes.  I would."

"Would you carry a lower profile?" the Cardinal asked.

She laughed.  "No.  You can drop me off the school's team if you want.  See if I give a damn when you can't win."  He looked stunned. "I'm junior anyway.  I can easily hand it over to the kid I've been grooming to take my place, Cardinal.  It just gives me more time to go fix engines and stuff.  You have no hold over me that you can use."

"We can refuse to release your records," he said calmly.

"And then I will definitely sue you, quickly, loudly, and in the press."  He shuddered at that.  "Your church failed my natal family repeatedly.  I really do wish you would step up this time and act like the men of god you claim to be.  Because no true man of god would put up with this shit in his command."

He nodded.  "You have a point.  Such wrongdoings are against the faith.  I will look into your grades personally."

"Thank you."

"You will not press a suit?"

"Unless I'm forced to."

He nodded.  "Very well then."  He left and she followed, heading out to her car.  He looked at his secretary.  "I want Sister Margaret's files on that girl now."

"Sire, she's refusing to release them. She doesn't want them contaminated.  She has released them to the girl's guardian, Detective Don Flack Sr.  He has already called and said that the girl is probably in a bad mood.  That she was serious about suing us, and that she will go to the press about it.  Plus he's also filed a complaint about that lecture and later ones given to his daughter by that Headmaster."

"Fine.  Get me the true grade reports."  She handed them over.  "From what source?"

"Father Kincaid, Cardinal.  The school's therapist.  He's led a few of them here to protest the headmaster and others."

"You don't like him?"

"No, Cardinal, I don't.  He exudes slime and dirties that school.  As does that other teacher.  As does the science teacher, but he was never stupid enough to go near that girl. Men like that should not be in the priesthood.  That is my opinion and I got it directly from Rome."

He nodded. "Pull their files for me."  She handed them over.  "You're supporting this girl?"

"Yes.  Because I think God has plans for her.  Such strength speaking for the city's less fortunate residents when bad things happen can only bring peace and health to the city."

He nodded, going into his office.  He needed a new secretary as well but this level of problems was not allowed in the open.  The full grades were open to him and he did see where the tampering started and Father Kincaid's report on when she faced him down.  He called the old man, who had mentored him in his youth.  "Father Kincaid?" he asked quietly.  "Tell me of this girl?"


Catherine was shoved by Don Sr. a few days later and her report card handed over.  "Fixed or do I have to call a lawyer?"

"Fixed. Did you threaten the Cardinal?"

"Probably," she admitted, sitting up and pushing back her hair.  "We all know I don't like the man or his stance on many things."  She looked at her grades, then at him.  "Were Don and Steph's right?"  He nodded. "Mirin's?"

"Hers as well.  The whole year's got reevaluated.  You four weren't the only ones."  He stared down at her.  "That was dangerous. You're playing in leagues you don't understand."

She snorted and looked at him. "Really?  You so sure of that?"  He nodded.  "Absolutely positive?"  He nodded again.  She got up and found something on her dresser, handing it over.  "I wouldn't be."

He read it then glared at her.  "That is...."

"I know.  I was approached and I turned them down.  I don't want to go to mafia princess school.  I've been dealing with them for the last two years.  And I've told father each and every time, Don."  She sat on her bed again, then grimaced and looked at the bed. "Oh, wonderful."  She covered her lap and looked at him with a sigh. "Another step on the road to adulthood crossed."  He grimaced at that, moving further away.  "Don't even, your wife has one and some day soon so will your real daughter."  She frowned at him.  "I'm quite well aware of that level of playing.  I'm also aware that the headmaster there can get me into Harvard if I want to go.  He'd be doing my father a favor to do so.  The same as we *both* know I'm good enough to get there on my own.  Yes, I will fight for what's legitimately mine. I earned those grades by a hell of a lot of hard work.  I don't give a damn who doesn't like the fact that I'm female and I'm smart.  Be they cardinal, priest, sinner, or cop, I'm going to fight for who I am and what I've earned.  This time, others got punished because I noted some problems.  Excuse me for noting that he was touching students and two girls had to go to the Cardinal over their little conception problems.  It surely wasn't immaculate."  He blushed at that.  "And that's the right response, that and horrified.  He wasn't.  He knew I'd be there, I'm pretty damn sure of it, Don."

"He did.  He could've tried to have us excommunicated."

"He could've tried and you could've sued them and found a church that wanted you there just because you're a nice and great guy.  If they did that, that proves that they're wrong.  I'm sorry if I pissed you off.  Tough, but I'm sorry."

"You didn't," he assured her, reaching over to stroke over her hair.  "At least it was fixed and done quietly, dear.  Now, get up and fix that and shower."  He stood up and left her with that report, going to call her father with his new bit of news.  He had to know.  It was pushing her more toward the life she wasn't supposed to go to.

She got up and stripped the bed, putting everything, including her clothes in the wash, before going up to take a shower.  She found the pads in there and sighed, putting one on when she was done.  Then she went to find something to take the blood out of a mattress.


Year Eighteen.


Don lay on Catherine's couch, one arm over his eyes.  "What am I going to do?"

"Well, first, do we have a name?"

"Nope.  'Cause you'll go beat the shit out of her."

"Probably true," she admitted, leaning on the back of the couch.  She moved his arm and looked at him. "She has to go to the doctor's and take a test.  Not a home test, because they can fail, but a real pregnancy test, Don.  Otherwise she's following in the old Headmaster's footsteps."

"Point," he sighed, sitting up.  She gave him the comfort he needed with a hug.  "Can you come with us?"

"Sure.  I'll even drive.  If she is, you can even hide here when you tell your dad."  He grinned at that so she messed up his hair.  "Come on, Don.  Let's go get the pop star wannabe."

He nodded and got up, following her down to her car.  It was a nicer car than she had when she was fifteen, smaller too.  Her old one had been a boat, this one was more compact and fuel efficient.  "Can I take this on a date after I dump her if it's false?"

"We'll see."  He grinned and got in to drive.  He just barely had his license and she was the only one he knew who would let him drive their car.   "So, do I have to wait?"

He sighed and put the car into reverse, backing out.  "It's Marcy."

"The girl from your seventh year?"  He nodded.  "Did you actually make it all the way to home base with her?"

"Have I ever mentioned how creepy it is when you use guy's metaphors for sex?" he asked.

"Don't answer a question with a question.  Your mother would swat you."

"Well, if she knew about this trip, I'd be dead."

"Dear, even if she is, what makes you so sure it's *yours*?"  He glared at her.  "Just saying."

"Point but it sucks."  He took off, heading for his girlfriend's house.  "I should call first, warn her."

"Nope.  We're dragging her to the campus' doctor for the test."  He nodded, letting it go at that.  They'd be discreet and then he'd know for sure.   In these matters, he trusted her to run his life and make his decisions for him.  "I'm pretty sure it's not, Don.  You told me yourself that your 'going all the way' wasn't what you thought it'd be because you never got inside her.  Yes, it can happen, but it's pretty rare."

"Yeah I know," he sighed.   "I'm scared shitless, Kate.  What if she is?  I'm only sixteen!"

"Then we'll figure it out, Don.   If we have to, you two can stay with me until you go to the Academy and graduate, then start earning money. I can dip into my trust and get a bigger spot."

"You said you don't want to use that money."

"And I don't, but it's better than letting you live on the streets with her.  Now, later on, we're going to have a long talk about *safe* sex, Don."

"I know.  I should've listened the last time and I didn't quite get it.  My own stupidity."

"Yup, sure was.  Thank God it wasn't with Mirin.  Imagine your dad going insane with that?  She'd have told him if she even suspected."

"Why do you still thank God when you don't believe in him?"

"There's gotta be some sort of higher power and I figure if it doesn't like it, I'll be hit with something nasty.  I figure whatever it is likes the nice thoughts coming from me for a change."  He grinned at that and turned the corner carefully.  "Don, dear, I love you, but you're going twenty under the speed limit and we're going to get a ticket for going too slow."  He smirked at her and sped up.  "Thank you. I knew there was a reason why I rebuilt the engine on this thing with your help."

"Yeah, yeah, all wind and snot."  He found his girlfriend's house, not something he usually did in the daylight, and parked, going to get her.  "Backseat?" he suggested hopefully.

"Fine."  She shifted back to the back seat and got comfortable.  He came out with Marcy after a bit of shouting and put her into the car.  "Marcy."

"I should've known you'd be close by," she sneered.  "Where are you taking me?"

"The campus's health center.  To get a full blown test to know for sure."  Marcy opened her mouth.  "He's gotta have official paperwork to give to his father and to get you a medical card, girl.  I don't care if you don't like it."  She sighed and nodded.  "Then if it is true, and he gets kicked out, you're more than welcome to visit him at my spare room."

"Those home tests...."

"Are full of inaccurate reports.  Don't you read the Times?"  She grumbled but settled down.  "Don, back to my place and two more blocks.  On campus, on the edge."  He nodded, heading that way.  She leaned forward.  "Marcy, if you're going to stick with Don,  you'd better be aware that Don and I are best friends.  There is nothing that I will not do for Don.  The same as he probably would for me."

"You know I would, Kate," he reminded her.

"I know, but there's some things a girl's got to do on her own," she noted dryly.  He nodded, accepting that.  She looked at the girl in question again.  "You'd better be damn glad he brought this to me first and not to his father.  I doubt you'd like to be the wife of a kid working fast food after school to make ends meet until he can go to college and then the Academy.  It's very boring being so poor and the first few years of being a cop aren't that well paid either."  She looked back at her.  "Telling you the truth, Marcy."

"Don's family has money."

"Detective make about 26 grand right now," Don told her.  "First year cops make about seven hundred a month after taxes I think."  Marcy looked horrified.  "Yeah.  That's the truth, Marcy.  Catherine's looking forward to that too."

"But...  The car and...."

"I saved up forever for that car," he told her.  "And then Kate helped me fix it up.  She's got money and I bum off her now and then, but no, I don't have money."  He pulled up in front of the building that said 'campus health center' and parked, looking at her.  "Now, we're going to have the test done.  Then we're gonna talk."  She nodded, getting out.

Catherine got out and hauled her inside, smiling at the student working the desk.  "This is my little brother and his girlfriend," she said, producing her ID.  "She thinks she's pregnant and he's in a panic.  Can we have the test run here since I'm a student?  I can pay for it."

The girl nodded and signed them in.  "You can, I'll slip you in.  He's cute," she said with a grin and a wink at Don.  "Let's hope it's negative."  She got them into the waiting area and Catherine filled out the forms in her name, getting another wink and a grin from the student worker.  They were walked back and the nurse gave them a funny look. "I'm the big sister and hand holder of the potential father," she admitted.  That got a nod and Marcy was taken into an exam room.  She came out twenty minutes later ashen and crying.  "Well?"

"I'm not," she said, looking at Don.  "The nurse said those home tests are really wrong.  Oh, God, Stacey told her folks."

"Then they're probably smart enough to drag her to the doctor's," Catherine assured her, leading her back to the car.  "Does that father know?"

"She doesn't know whose it is.  She's going to be grounded for life!"

"Sweetie, we know that having sex like that is dangerous, right?" Catherine noted.  The girl looked confused so she marched her back in there.  "She goes to Catholic school.  She has *no* idea what safe sex is."  The girl nodded and handed her a few pamphlets and some condoms.  "Thank you."  She walked her back out and took her back to her place, having the *long* talk with her, like she had Don last year.  Marcy went home blushing but safer and more prepared.  Don took her home then came back.  "You good?" she asked when he sat down on her couch with a beer.

"We broke up, her idea."  He took a drink and looked at her. "I'm so stupid sometimes."

"No, honey, you're not.  Trust me, you're not.  Sometimes life happens to the best of us.  In this case, you."  She kissed him on the forehead, getting a small smile.  "Now, you watch your daddy call and yell at me for taking a pregnancy test."  He laughed and finished his beer, laying down again.  "What's on for tonight?"

"Please get me drunk."

"Sure.  Anything else?"

"Anything illicit I should worry about heading home after taking?"

"Yeah, a few things," she admitted, breaking into her cookie jar.  Cookies never lasted long enough to go into the jar in her house but it was pretty and decorative.  She handed over the baggie of stuff she had.  "Let me call Mirin first so she can warn your mother."

"Please."  He popped one little square of paper into his mouth and sucked on it, relaxing and going limp as the pretty colors started.  "Oh, nicer."

She grinned and called her sister.  "I can hear him raging, put him on."  She listened.  "Not me, dad."  He bellowed.  "What did you hear?"  She snickered.  "No, some girl tried to trap Don into it and I drug her ass down there for the test.  We put it under my name so it'd be covered.  Yeah, no, he's presently drunk on my couch in relief.  No, he doesn't think he went that far with her, Dad, but you know how those things happen.  No,  home test.  She's totally freaked out and I gave her the long speech on safe sex.  Um, not a good idea.  Remember the last time he got drunk and puked in your car, dad?" she asked fondly.  "Oh, let him stay.  I don't have a class tomorrow.  Yeah, I'm planning on celebrating in relief too.  Okay?"  She smirked.  "Good!  That makes me a happy big sister.  No, you don't wanna know, Mirin.  Thanks."  She hung up and walked over, slapping Don on the cheek a few times. "Play drunk," she instructed.  He nodded and hummed, smiling at her.  She went for the bottle of vodka.  It was a good day done.  When Don started to come down, she gave him a shot and put him into her bed, closing the door in case he went back up again.  Acid was funny in his system sometimes.  She was about halfway to totally plowed when someone pounded on the door.  She got up and wobbled over there, blinking at him. "Hi, dad."  She let him inside before he shoved her this time. "Don's in bed."

"Which girl was it?" he asked her.

She looked at him.  "She wasn't playing.  She had one of those faulty home tests, dad.  That's why I drug her ass down there."  He glared.  "His girlfriend if you must know.  She's quite relieved and I gave her the long anti-sex speech this time."  She went back to her drink, handing him the bottle.  "Want some?"

"You are in such trouble," he warned.

"Dad, I'm being the responsible one.  That's why I put Don to bed."

"And where are you sleeping!" he demanded.

"The couch. Guests always get the better bed."  He snorted and stared her down.  "Hey, blame Ma, she told me so!"  She finished that drink and leaned back.  "Don's fine.  That's why I drug her ass down there.  Then we came back here after she broke up with him, and we got drunk.  As he's only sixteen it takes less to light him."

He made an unhappy sound and went back to check on his son, finding him giggling.  He came back and gave her a very telling look.  "Just beer, Catherine?"

She snorted and looked at him.  "Wasn't the rule I don't nark unless it's a problem?"  She took her bottle back and poured herself another drink. "After a scare like that, you deserve to get drunk.  I'm sure you did if Ma thought there was a baby number three on the way."  He made another unhappy sound.  "Uh-huh.  How many pints was it for you?"

"More than he's had by his breath."  He walked around to tip her face up, taking her current drink.  "Where's your stash?"

"What stash?" she asked.

"The drugs, Catherine.  We knew you had a few trials in there with them and Hilary admitted all when she got clean."

"I haven't even tried half the stuff Hilary did."  He glared.  "Seriously.  Don's only had a few hits of pot and a few moments with blotter."

"Uh-huh."  He smirked at her.  Then he sniffed her drink.  "Straight vodka?"

"I'm a bit more experienced that you like to think, Dad."  She took it back and gulped it, then put the glass aside, standing up.  "Are you going to arrest me?  You don't have probable cause to search my apartment.  Yes, your son is drunk, that means you can search for beer, not drugs.  Him being drunk *might* stretch to searching for illegal substances if you were so inclined, but doing that would mean admitting to the judge how you knew, which would include admitting that you knew Hilary had a dime baggie a day habit with two kids in the house.  It would also mean ruining your son's future career and mine.  Trust me, neither of us have a habit.  Your son can't afford one and doesn't want one.  And while I can, I don't need one.  I've got too much damn homework to do.  Now, he deserves the night drunk tonight after that scare today."

"He does," he agreed calmly.  "I'd be drunk too.  Why he's giggling about mushrooms....."

"I plead the fifth."

"Something dangerous?"

"No.  Nothing habit forming.  Just the occasional escape that he'll be giving up by the last semester of college, the same way I will."  He made another unhappy sound and nodded at that, leaving it there.  "Are we done?"

"You're done.  Take a nap."  He looked toward the bedroom, then at her.  "You know I don't care if you and Don experiment.  I don't care if he's your first, you're his first, whatever.  I don't want him doing anything that could ruin his life."

"And I'm not letting him.  The one time he wanted to try cocaine, we split the line."  He relaxed and nodded.  "He hated it.  I'm the bouncy one were his exact words.  He said he felt like he should have put on my clothes."  That got a small grin.  "Okay?"

"China white?" he asked calmly.

"One trial.  We both hated it.  We woke up looking at each other but we both hated it.  I wasn't too happy with the dead frog taste in my mouth either."  That got another half-grin.  "We've got it, dad.  Really.  You wanted me to watch his back.  You told him last year to get it out of his system with me so it could be erased as a juvie record if he got picked up and that way I'd have his back.  Which I still do."

"Fine.  What's your stash hold?"

"A few hits of blotter, a few sleeping pills, and a few nerve pills.  Why?"

"May I?"

"No.  Do I look that dumb?"

"With your hair in pigtails," he offered, smirking at her.  "Seriously, kid. There's been some stuff that's been cut wrong right around this campus."

"And I've got a source within the chemistry department," she told him.  He blinked at that.  "So, yeah, I'm not getting shit off the street.  Hell, I'm tutoring the druggie whore daughters of doctors.  If I want and need it, I can get it.  I'm not and that should say something."

"It does.  You've got your head on straight," he agreed happily.  "Don's fine?"  She nodded.  "You haven't checked on him."

"Blotter makes him giggly and the beer he drank makes it last longer.  For some reason he roller coasters and he'll be down about six hours after he dropped."

"Okay.  Then I'll trust you and he's to stop it at least a semester before college ends."  He noticed his son walking out.  "Son."

"Dad."  He looked at him.  "Don't blame her."

"I'm not.  I'm making sure your judgement is still sound.  Both of yours."  Donny shrugged so he grimaced.  "This is how often?"

"Every once in a while."

"Fine.  The girl?"

"She decided she didn't want to take that chance."

"Even better.  Do I know her?"

"I plead the fifth."

"Fine.  You going to come home tonight?"

"Hell no.  You get to tell mom.  I'm not that stupid.  Thank you though."

"Are you down?"

Don smirked and shook his head.  "Not yet.  Like she said, I roller coaster.  In a few minutes I'll be giggling and funny again.  You caught me in a weak moment, dad."

"Fine, son.  I won't say anything.  You do not get busted for buying drugs.  Vice is very strong around here."

"Again, not buying off the street and I doubt they're working the daughters of doctors."

"No, probably not," he admitted with a small sigh.  "Don, make sure she gets to bed.  She's had the better half of a fifth."

"Wouldn't be the first time, dad."  He waved at the door.  "We're going to go back to stress relief and thanking God it wasn't a baby."

"Do I even know half the shit you've done?"

Don shook his head. "No, and you didn't want to."

"Fine.  Anything criminal I'll have to admit to under oath?"

"Not if you don't know about it," she countered.

"I'll let you get back to your celebration.  At least your grades are staying high and you're not like Hilary."

"No, dad, I haven't slept with half the fifth fleet," Don assured him dryly.  "Can you go?  I doubt you want to see me start to giggle in a few minutes."  He nodded and walked out, leaving his poor boy there.  Don leaned against the wall, letting out the laughs.  "Oh, God, if he only knew."

She looked at him and nodded.  "Ya think?  Think the Vice cop that caught us in the club reported it to him?"  Don nodded. "Yeah, me too.  Vodka?"

"Eww.  Beer."  He got another one and went back to bed.  Being high was always more fun when he was horizontal.

She grinned and laid down where she was.  She might climb in with him later but they never made it past kissing when they were this way.


The next morning, Don blinked at his bedmate.  "Morning."

"Morning," she mumbled, cuddling closer.  "Did you get messy?"

He looked under the sheet, then at her.  "Nah, nothing happened again."  He pulled her against his body, just holding her.  He loved her, more than enough to do stuff with her, but she needed someone better than him.  Especially for her first time.  He was a lot more experienced than she was and he didn't want to break that for her.  He guessed that's why he always held back.  "It's Tuesday, right?"

"Yup, you're skipping your Chemistry exam and so am I.  Which is probably a good idea since yours is going to be raided for the drug source I had.  I told him I mentored the daughter of doctors, and he knows who's in your class."

"Good point."  He nuzzled her cheek gently, then kissed her on the ear.  "Are we ever going to go further than this?"

"I don't know."  She pulled back to look at him.  "Is that what you want?"

"I think that's more your call since it'd be your first time."  She shrugged and cuddled in again.  "Hangover?"

"A bit.  You?"

"Fuzzy tongue."  He solved his by kissing her, getting more than enough spit back in his mouth.  "Thank you."  He grinned and nuzzled her again.  "Anything I can do for the hangover?"

"Yeah, stop whoever's stomping this way."

"Fuck."  He hopped up, knowing she had more sensitive hearing.  "Um, jar?"

"Bathroom.  Where it usually is."  He nodded and went in there to flush it.  He could hear multiple feet now.  Two flushes and the entire thing, baggie and all, was gone.  He went to answer the door, giving the cops standing there a bleary look.  "Yes?"

"Are you the owner of this apartment?"

"No, she's in bed.  I'm just a guest.  Why?"  It gave him deniability, which his father would appreciate.

"Can we talk to her?" the other cop asked.

Catherine came out, handing Don his shirt.  "What?" she asked, totally cranky now.

"Miss Cavanaugh?" the first cop asked.  She nodded, making 'go on' motions with a hand.  "We have a warrant to search your apartment for drugs."

She waved a hand. "Come on in.  I've got tylenol, two prescriptions for antibiotics, one for acne and one for something else, and two sleeping pills around here somewhere."  They gave her a long look.  "Yes, I'm Antonio Cavanaugh's eldest daughter.  Sue me.  I need the sleeping pills sometimes because you assholes decided not to back him up when his wife was shot."

"Kate," Don said quietly.  "Not their fault.  They might not have even been in that precinct."

She pointed at the second guy.  "He was.  He's the one who pried me off her."  The cop backed away at her glare.  "Feel good to get an innocent woman shot?  I hope like hell when I join you're still there so I can repay it.  Unless IA gets you first."  He backed out of the apartment and she slammed the door, glaring at the other one.  "Search, man, please."

"Fine.  You're how old?"


He glared at her.  "Again, your age?"

"Old enough to be able to buy legally.  Thank you.  Want my license?"  He nodded so she got it and handed it over.  "There you go.  Any other petty little games you wanna play?" she asked coldly.

"Miss Cavanaugh, you were named as someone who bought some illegal narcotics off a student at St. Moore's academy."

"Once upon a time I did try it.  Yes.  That's not been recently."

"I see.  How long ago?"

"Depends, what did she say I bought?  I was there until two years ago and I used to have a need for sleeping pills thanks to your partner and the others like him who *refused* to back my father up and got my mother shot in front of me.  I took sleeping pills on and off for the last ten years."

"I see.  Can you not get them prescribed?"

"They won't give me what I want and the ones they give me turn me into a zombie, because you know a girl doesn't need an education."

"Oh."  He nodded. "She noted you had bought a small vial of cocaine off her."

"Over a year ago.  And bought is a little strong, dear.  She offered me anything I wanted for getting her past biology the second go-round."

"Oh."  He nodded and made note of that.  "How many other times has she offered you drugs?"

"Depends, which of my classmates are you talking about?" Don asked.  The officer gave him an odd look.  "Catherine's eighteen.  I'm sixteen.  I had a bad day yesterday.  My girl thought she might be knocked up. I came to cry on her shoulder."

"That's reasonable, Flack."  He looked at him. "Yeah, I know who you are."

"Do I care?" he asked.  "This has nothing to do with my father."

"Fine.  Her sleeping pill habit?"

"I knew about it. It kills the nightmares better than anything but having someone hold her while she sleeps.  Let's face it, if his precinct hadn't turned on him for being born into a family not of his choosing, then she wouldn't have them.  She would still be at home with her mother."  That got a silent nod.  "Yes, she takes maybe six doses a month. They're fairly mild.  About half a valium if I remember right the one time I needed it after a set of really stressful finals that I couldn't sleep after.  They're teenager strength."

"Thank you.  She mentioned coke and a bit of heroin."

"I never got that off her," Catherine assured him dryly.  "The one time it was offered to me, I didn't take it.  I don't know who cuts that shit and I don't need the white out.  I don't need to be a zombie."

"Fine.  Thank you for your honesty.  Is your stash presently gone?"

"My sleeping pills?  Like I said, you might find two around here.  Then again, my old nanny used to smoke pot too and I found one of her old joints the other day in the back of an old suitcase I moved with."  He looked at her.  She shrugged.  "Ask his dad.  Hilary used a lot of pot and other things."

"Fine.  You two together?"

"Best friends," Don told him.  "That's why I came to her when I had the scare."

The officer nodded.  "All right.  Any others we should talk to?"  He stared her down.

"I'm going to be a very good CSI some day," she told him.  "I'm not a Vice cop and I don't ask those questions of my friends unless it starts to impact my life. For that matter, I'm a Chemistry and Biology double major at the moment."  He looked stunned.  "I'll be in the Academy next year, late next year but next year.  Until I get my badge, I don't ask that question.  Not even of my sister, not even of Don, not even of the kids I tutor.  Unless I find it impacting their lives greatly."

"I understand.  Thank you for your honesty.  How are your grades?"

She smiled and pointed at something on the wall.  "There's seven of them in there.  I've been here since I was sixteen and took some advanced courses in high school," she said proudly.  "Seven times on the Dean's List."  He smiled at that.  "So, yes, I'm going to take over the CSI department some day."

"I look forward to it.  We could use some reality some days."  He looked at her.  "Are you holding a grudge against those officers?"

"I can still back them up, if I have to.  Being what I want to be that's going to be rare.  Don'll have to back them up.  They'll have to come when I call.  And if they don't, well, then I'll deal with them properly at that time."  He nodded, leaving it there and letting himself out.  She glared at the doorway.  "They know better than to send anyone of those people near me.  Your father told them years ago I still was ready to explode over that."

"They probably didn't think about it," he offered, pulling her closer.  "Have I told you lately how proud I am of your grades?"

"No, and I could use hearing it again. But hey, good reason to miss my Chem exam."  He smiled and nodded, leading her back to bed so they could cuddle.  "Did I bite you again?" she asked, pointing at the marks on his shoulder.
"Probably, you usually do."  He kissed her gently then covered them up and got comfortable.  He knew she still needed a nap.   It was the way she was.  He stole another kiss with a grin and got pinched on the stomach for it.  "Hey!"

"Behave.  I might think you're making a pass."

"If I made one, you'd know," he assured her.  She snorted and snuggled against his chest again, getting comfortable enough to sleep off the hangover.

Year Twenty And A Few Months.


Don walked into his childhood home, looking at his father.  "You called?" he asked patiently.

"It's done with, she's free," he said, stopping his son before he could go up the stairs.  "Before you go up there, there's some things you need to know," he said quietly.

"Dad, I sat in the courtroom," he noted dryly.  "Just in case."  He got free and headed upstairs to his room.  That's where she'd be.  She was a bit predictable.  He stood in the doorway.  "Jesus," he said quietly, staring at her.  "Hearing it in a courtroom is different than seeing it in person."  He walked in and closed the door, then jammed it shut and laid down next to her and the baby.  "You gonna introduce me?"

She looked back at him, then down at the baby nursing.  "This is Gwen.  How did you know?" she asked quietly.

"I sat in the courtroom just in case something happened."  He stroked her stomach, looking over her shoulder at the little, sucking body.  "You're cute, Gwen.  Am I the Godfather?  I know I'm an uncle."

She snorted.  "It's not like I had her baptized."

"We can fix that tomorrow," he assured her, reaching over to stroke the little foot.  The baby pulled off and blinked at him.  "Hi, Gwen.  I'm your Uncle Don.  I'm gonna be about as close as you'll get to a daddy for a while.  Or am I assuming that she's the shitbag's?"

"No, she's his," she said, flipping over with the baby to hold her between them.  "Don, she's not....."

He squeezed her lips shut with a small smirk.  "You knew when you walked her through that front door my mother was going to have her baptized within a week.  So, am I a godfather or not?"

"The only one."

"Good."  He grinned at her for capitulating so easily.  "Thank you."  He felt a nuzzle and looked down at her.  "You can't eat off me. I don't have the right equipment.  Here, let's eat some more off mom."  He helped her turn over and watched as she was put on the other side.  "That's amazing," he told her, catching her eye and grinning.  "I've never seen that before."

"That's probably a good thing," she agreed dryly.  He kissed her on the forehead.  "Don?"

"Shh, I'm here again.  Not like I left before.  By the way, I nearly flunked biology shadowing you around to make sure you were fine when you got out of the hospital.  I'll need you to help me get what I missed."  She nodded, resting her head against his shoulder. "Now, when are we going home?  Or are you two staying in here with me tonight?"

"Can we stay?  My apartment's out of water.  They're changing out the building's hot water heater."

"Sure."  He looked down at her.  "She can't sleep with us, but sure."  She shook her head and pointed at his desk.  "What's that?"

"Playpens are a *wonderful* invention."

"Good.  I can take that.  Will she get up every few hours?"

"No, she's sleeping through the night."  She looked down at the delicate belch. "Feel better?"  The baby latched back on.  "Okay, you're still hungry."  Someone tapped gently on the door.  "Hold on, I'm nursing."  He got up and unblocked the door while she got herself covered and the baby and her sitting up, burping her.  "Okay."  He opened the door, showing his mother.  "Hi, Ma.  Good news, I start back in my *actual* job next week.  Now if only I had water it'd be nice."

She came in and took the baby to look at.  "You're adorable!  What's your name?"


"Her full name?"

"Gwen Rachel Cavanaugh-Richards."

"Awwww, that's so cute."  Don took her to hold, looking at her.  "Get used to us, kid.  We're not gonna go away anytime soon."

"True. What priest did her baptism?"

"Ma," she started with a sigh.

"Ours?" Don suggested, grinning at her.  "I get to be the godfather."

"You should be!  With her life, you may be the only father she'll know."  She smiled at her.  "I'll call Father Ryan right now.  Oooh, that means we can use your sister's christening gown," she said happily, pinching her son on the cheek and hurrying off to do that.

"Told you so," he offered, looking at her. "Did dad see her yet?"

"He drove us over.  Straight from Internal Affairs."  She got up and took her daughter back.  "No spoiling the daughter."

"Shut up, Kate," he said, taking her back and heading downstairs to watch tv with his dad.  "We're up."   He sat down and got comfortable, letting her settle into his lap.  "That's a tv, Gwen. You'll like those."  The baby stared at him so he stared back, grinning at her.  "Hi.  Confused?"  She made a small cooing noise and he beamed.  "Good girl."

"They all do that, son."

"Not like I have any," he shot back.

"Thank God."  He looked up and crossed himself, then watched his son deal with his first child.  "She should probably be changed soon."

"As soon as she needs it," Catherine said as she came in. "Disposable diapers are wonderful."  She sat down next to Don, looking at her daughter.  "Can I have you back?"

"No.  She's comfy."  Don beamed at her.  "So, any idea how you're doing it while you're working?"

"We're watching her," his mother called.  "At least until she starts to walk."

His father looked toward the kitchen, then at the young kids.  "What she said," he noted dryly.  Catherine laughed at that.  "Not like we mind, Catherine.  Are you staying in that new apartment?"  She nodded.  "Okay.  If that's what you want."

"For now."  She took her child back and put her against her shoulder, burping her gently.  Once she got one, Don stole the baby back and went back to watching tv.  "She's my kid.  I should know, she hurt like hell coming out."

"Next time, call," he told her, staring at her for a moment.  "I'd have been there."  He watched the news again.  "Oooh, look, it's grandpa," he said, pointing at the tv.  "Good job, dad, and on camera."

"Thanks, son.  I ache now, but thanks."  He smirked at the kids, shaking his head.  "So, are you two getting together now?"

"No," she said patiently. "I'm only tutoring him, dad."

"Uh-huh.  Son, fair warning, don't use the milk in the bottles in your coffee.  It tastes funny."

"Formula smells too," she shot back.  "Hence me breastfeeding."   He blushed at that.  "So, yes, knocking is a *good* idea," she assured him.

"Did my idiot son walk in on that earlier?" he demanded.

"Nothing I haven't seen before," Don muttered.  His father glared at him.  "Dad, we got drunk and fell into the same bed a few times and nothing happened.  I just saw her naked."  His mother came to the doorway.  "What?  We were royally drunk, Ma.  Last time she made Dean's List."  Which meant he had been seventeen and she had been nineteen.  "Nothing happened.  I swear.  I can sleep next to her for months and nothing will happen."

"If you're sleeping naked next to her, something should be happening, son, unless you're one of those boys like the Greenfields have?"

He shook his head.  "No, Ma, I'm not funny that way," he assured her patiently.  "It's just that I don't feel that way about her.  Probably ever won't."

"Fine," she complained, coming over to look at the baby.  "You're very good at that.  Hopefully I won't have to answer any panicked calls in the middle of the night when you have some of your own.  When you finally get around to dating and bed a girl."  She walked back into the kitchen.

"Never told her?" Don asked his father quietly.

"I'm not stupid, son, and that couch is lumpy.  Plus, you're still here.  You wouldn't be if I had."  He sipped his drink.  "The baby asleep?"

"For now," Catherine said happily.  "I should go put up the playpen in Don's room."

"Are you staying in there?" his mother called.

"She can, Ma, that way we can help the baby," Don called back.  "I promise to be good and nothing will happen."

She snorted.  "It had better not or the baby won't be the only one seeing a priest in two days."  She came to the doorway again.  "I can have Don drag the crib down, Catherine."

"I brought her playpen for tonight.  She likes to sleep in it.  I put a fuzzy cover in the bottom."  That got a smile.  "She's like me, she likes her soft and fuzzy things.  Which is why I'll never marry Donny, he's got no chest hair."  His mother laughed and patted her on the head, then took the baby into the kitchen with her.  Don pinched her and she grinned.  "You don't."

"Neither did your last guy," he said blandly.  "I get to kill him, right?  When and if he makes it out?"  She nodded.  "Good."  He put an arm around her and let her rest against his side.  "Why is Chem so hard?"

"It's the intricate details of everything.  You like big, gross, heavy things and chemistry is like atoms, it's mostly unseeable."

"Ah.  Okay.  I guess that makes sense."  He kissed her on the top of the head.  "When do you think you'll have water?"

"They're saying tomorrow."

"Means this weekend," Don Sr. offered dryly.  She nodded. "You can stay in Donny's room.  He's got a room at the college this semester.  Not sure I like that," he told his son, staring him down.

"It'd break Ma's heart if I never dated, dad," he noted patiently.  "After all, I can't bring home girls on the first date, she scares 'em off when she wants grandkids."

"She can count Gwen until you have some," Catherine soothed, patting him on the wrist.

"Of course I am," his mother yelled. The baby let out a sniffle and then a wail. "I'm sorry."

Catherine got up and got her daughter, bringing her back.  "You, quit.  That's Grandma."  The baby settled in once she was cuddled against Don again.  "What? You like him more than me?" she complained.

"I'm comforting.  That's the same thing you feel whenever I nap next to you because of your nightmares," he reminded her, taking the baby back.  "Hey, mini-munchkin."


"She's got some growing to do to be a real munchkin."

Don Sr. snickered, shaking his head.  "At least she'll have two parents.  Kinda."  He and his son locked eyes. His son nodded that he'd be there for the baby and his sister.


Don opened Catherine's front door, leaning in. "Nightmares?" he asked as he walked in and shut the door.  She nodded from her huddled spot on the couch with the baby.  "Come on."  He hauled her up and walked her into the bedroom, laying down once the baby was back in her bed. He pulled her closer, stroking her back. "Sleep, Kate.  I'm here.  The nightmares are gone since I'm a scary guy."

"Only when I do your hair," she muttered against his chest.  She scratched her nipple.  "I need to pump."


"No, milk," she said, pinching him on the tit.  "Since I can't be here to feed her all the time, I'm pumping and making her bottles for the day."  She looked up at him.  "I need to get up and do that."  He kissed her on the forehead.  "You don't mind?"

"Something I've never seen.  Figure I could learn something about it now," he said patiently.  "Go ahead, I'll be right here."  She nodded and got up, going to find the pump.  She headed into the living room and he sighed, getting up and carrying her back to the bed.  "Just do it, Kate.  It's not like I haven't seen yours before."  He snuck a kiss and laid back down, noticing she was blushing.  "Didn't women do this for centuries?"  She nodded and sighed, undoing her top and sticking the pump in place.  She worked it slowly, wincing a bit.  He stroked her back and she relaxed, letting it happen as it would.  He sat up, leaning on her shoulder, watching it happen.  "Feel like a cow?" he asked quietly.  She blushed and nodded, glancing at him.  He reached down to wipe up a drop, licking it off his finger.  "That's not half bad."

She poked him.  "That's for the baby."

"She'll have a lot of it."  He wiped up another drip.  "You need a better seal."

"It hurts."

"You're squeezing too hard."  He took over, using gentler, more even strokes and she leaned against his chest, making him grin.  "Better?" she nodded.  "Good."  He put her hand back on it and let her do what he had.  "I feel like I'm some farmer."  He snuck a kiss to her ear, then just held her while she worked the pump.  "How are you doing this at work?"

"The bathroom and a cooler in my locker with ice."

"There's no fridge in the break room?"

"Well, yeah, but I don't want someone to think it's regular milk and put it in their coffee."

"Oh, I don't know, it'd taste okay," he offered, grinning at her when she hit him with her elbow. "How's your head?"

"Fine, Don. I'm all healed."

"Good.  I get to kill him, right?"

"Yup, you get to kill him. I'll tie him down."

"Good."   When she got done, he let her go, watching her make bottles.  "That's all she drinks?"

"She's working her way up.  Trust me, she's not starving."

"As long as you're sure."  He pulled her back into the bed, cuddling her closer again.  They fell asleep with him holding her, keeping all her nightmares at bay for another night.  That's why it didn't surprise him when he woke up in the morning tasting her again.  He pulled off with a small slurp.  "That's going to be a problem."  She blinked at him.  "How long was I doing that?"

"About ten minutes.  But I'm not full anymore. Thank you."


"Don't be.  We've been that close before."  She stroked through his hair.  "You need a trim."

"If you turn into my mother, I'm never speaking to you again."

"I'd never do that.  You know me better than that."

"Yeah, but motherhood does strange things to people."

"You mean like sucking in your sleep, Don?"

"Yeah.  Kinda," he offered, smiling at her.  "Don't blame me, you taste good."  He licked her clean then kissed her.  "Sorry."

"Not an issue. Just don't steal all her food."

"I'd never do that to my kid."  He pulled her into his arms.  "What're you doing today while I struggle through gym and Calc?"

"Taking her for her first checkup and first shots.  Then doing some minor clothes shopping and hoping to avoid my father some more."

"Fat chance," he noted dryly, stroking her back.  "Did someone tell him?"

"Your dad.  Needless to say, mine wasn't a happy person by any definition."  Don smirked at her.  "Oh, he's been stalking us around the city since the undercover ended.  He followed us back to the house and I caught sight of his assistant on the way here."

"So we take her picture and hand it to him.  That should get him off your back."

"Knowing my dad, he wants to coo and hug her."

Don looked into her eyes.  "Then take her to the garage he works on his old clunker at," he said patiently.  "It's not like you can be blamed for showing your father his only grandchild."  She nodded.  "You can?"

"Internal Affairs said I should not go anywhere near him for a bit."

Don picked up the phone, dialing the number he had in the hospital when he had been called the first time she had been hit by the shitbag ex-husband she had married.  "Hey, it's Don Flack Jr.  Is her dad in?  No, because Internal Affairs is still watching her.  Yeah, them.  Well, they're not exactly *paranoid*," he noted dryly. "Thank you."  He listened to the voice on the other end.  "She said she's not allowed to do that for a while."  He got clearer instructions.  "Sure.  Thank you, sir."  He hung up.  "We're going to Coney Island tonight."  She opened her mouth.  "Don't start."  She nodded and let him handle it.  This time.  He grinned at her.  "Fun house, eight pm."  She nodded, making a mental note.  "I'm to go with you."  He kissed her gently then got out of the bed, glancing at his watch. "I'm about to be counted absent for gym."  He went back to the phone and called the gym.  "Coach, I'm helping a friend who just had a baby.  No, nightmares.  Yeah, remember Cavanaugh?  Her.  No, little girl.  Gwen.  Thanks, coach."  He hung up.  "I'm excused.  He said he wants a picture too.  So we have to get a camera."  She looked at him, eyebrow already arched.  He grinned.  "What?"


"Why?  It's so much less fun," he complained.  She snorted and nodded so he went to shower. "I've got an hour and a half before Calc," he called once he came out.  "Want breakfast?"

"Please."  She got up and went to clean herself up.  Don was a messy eater and she had milk trails all down her chest and stomach.


Don looked up at the older man joining him in the fun house.  "They called her and warned her not to get anywhere near you.  That the defense attorneys for the cops she just busted would call her motives into question.  So instead you get me."

"That's fine, Don."  He sat next to him, looking at the little baby.  "May I?"  Don handed her over.  "Thank you. You're very gentle with her," he said quietly.

"I'm her Godfather.  She's being baptized tomorrow.  The family's church."  That got a nod and a slight smile.  "But you still can't come."

"No, but I can send someone with a video camera," he noted dryly.  Don handed over a card.  "Who're these people?"

"The people Ma arranged ta tape it."  He looked at him.  "Kate's like my big sister, so I'm about as close as she's getting to a father at this point in time.  Now, if Kate finds a nice guy, I'll just be Uncle Donny."

Her father smiled at him.  "I've noticed and you came out with your coffee laced from one of the baby's bottles."  He handed him an envelope.  "For the baby.  For her college and stuff."  He looked at her.  "Gwen, you are my only grandchild and I adore you.  I'll be there when you need me and will watch over you when I can, baby girl," he said quietly.  She blinked at him, then yawned.  "Yes, you nap."  He gently handed her back. "You keep my baby girl safe, Flack.  Catherine is precious to me.  She was always my girl.  Mirin took after her mother, Catherine was always mine."

"She's starting her CSI job Monday," he offered quietly.

"Good.  She's good at it.  By the way, the old apartment?  She left a few hits of blotter."  He patted him on the back.  "It was cleaned up after the idiot got drug off.  Your father made me promise to leave him alone in prison."  He stood up, looking at him. "I don't care if you two are just having casual sex, if you're dating, or what.  Just treat her well because she's precious.  Anything less than that and not even your father will save you."

"I'd never hurt my women."

"Good.  She knows about your other stuff, right?"

"Who do you think introduced me to it?" he asked dryly.  "She always went with me until this stupid ass assignment."  That got a nod.  "I didn't like it from the start.  It'll make it harder on her."

"It will, but I've already let the greater majority of people know that she's not like her old man."

"From what I hear, she's exactly like you, sir.  You were a decent cop and so's she."  That got a smile.  "I've got her back once I'm there.  No questions asked.  The same as she did with Steph a few months back."  That got a nod.  "Worry more about this one looking like her dad."

"Not an issue.  Catherine looked almost the same way, only she wasn't a blonde."  He smiled and walked out. "Give her that."

"Of course."  He waited until he was alone then looked at the shadows where she had been waiting, handing over the envelope when she and his father came out.

"What other stuff?" his father asked dryly.

"Oh, some club stuff in the bathrooms," he noted dryly, smirking at his old man.  "Do you really want details, dad?  Or about my thing about being bitten?"

"No," he said, walking off shaking his head.  There were things man was not meant to know about his own son.

Catherine leaned over and bit him on the neck, making him yelp.  "You need paddled," she said, taking her daughter back.  "Come on, pumpkin. Let's go to bed.  Let Uncle Donny sleep too."

"I could use it.  For some reason I got the icy feet of death all last night," he said, following her out to her car.  She gave him a look.  "Not like I'm going out to Yonkers tonight," he complained.  "You're closer to campus anyway.  Even if I don't have my books."  He got in to drive, watching how she hitched the baby in.  "That's complicated.  You'll have ta show me that."

"Sure."  She got into the front and kissed him on the cheek.  "Thank you, Donny."

"Welcome, Kate.  Think we can talk Ma into sitting this weekend ta go out?"

"No.  She already said she's only babysitting for work stuff."

"That's fine.  I'll ask around to see if we can find a decent sitter."  He grinned at her.  "You need ta relax again."  He started the car and headed off for her apartment.


Year Almost Twenty-Two.


Don walked up to where his best friend was waiting on them.   Since she was working in another borough, and he still lived at home at the moment, they always met on top of her building.  The babysitter still had the baby, not that it would've bothered him but he had to talk to her.  He walked up behind her, pulling her into his arms to hug.  "Can I complain about your taste in men?" he asked quietly.

"Gilliam's a really nice guy," she said, turning around to look at him.

"Yeah, for a jewel thief."  She opened her mouth and he grinned.  "Anytime I don't meet the guy by your fifth date, I start to worry, especially after Richards."  She nodded, accepting that.  "So I did a little checking."  He handed over the folder he had been carrying.  "He's only suspected, but after four or five, I'm pretty sure he'd actually doing it and he's smarter than the present system.  You can't get ten heists that you're suspected in without doing the deed."  She slumped and looked at him, looking miserable.  "Now, that said," he offered, more gently, pulling her closer to hold again.  "I can't fault you since he's cute.  He's smart, which matches you too.  But he's gonna get you looked at funny, Kate."  She nodded, snuggling into his shoulder.  That's when he knew something was wrong.  "Um, Kate?  Are you sick?"

"Not yet," she complained.

He pushed her back to stare at her.  "Excuse me, you're what?"

"I've been dizzy for the last few days so I went back to the doc to make sure it wasn't a relapse of my head.  I've still got to call to make sure," she sighed, silently asking for a hug.  He pulled her close again, just holding her for now.  "I'm so bad at this stuff.  I'm never dating again."

"Let me start setting you up with nice guys," he promised, looking up and praying for patience, and the hopes that the other women in his life would have better taste.  "At least he's pretty."  And his breast milk habit would undoubtedly come back.  Damn her for leaving bottles in the fridge long after Gwen was weaned.  It had taken him months to get over that taste.

"He was very pretty."  She looked up at him.  "You wanna make the call with me?"

"Yeah, I think I'd better."  He pulled her tighter and kissed her on the forehead.  "We need to scream a bit."

"We do," she agreed, sounding like she was laughing.

Don called the dispatch office.  "It's Flack and Cavanaugh.  If someone reports screaming here, it's us.  We're at her place.  Thanks."  He hung up and they both let out screams of frustration, her at being pregnant again, him at her bad choice in men.  He let out a second one and she poked him, then curled up back in his arms.  He walked her back downstairs to her place, sitting down with her while she called the doctor's.  Her shiny, special, really expensive cellphone rang so he answered it.  "Flack."  He listened to the amused voice on the other end.  "Hi, Drema.  No, we're good now.  No, the urge ta hit someone still is around but it's not her fault."  She hung up and curled up against his side nodding.  "Can you connect me with my Watch Commander, Richards?  No, technically I'm on lunch."

"I'm already done for the day," she mumbled into his chest.

He looked down.  "How did you manage that?"

"First call at six-thirty," she complained, flipping over so her head was in his lap.  "I looked at my boss a few hours ago and told him I was going home since I had been there before dawn, it was now dark, and I hadn't gotten to eat yet.  He called me a primadonna and I pointed out how many hours I've done this week."

"Eh," he agreed, nodding.  "Good girl.  I hate that guy.  Hey, Richards, it's Flack.  Yeah, well, can I have off my last hour.  No, a situation has just erupted in technicolor."  She moaned and he looked down at her.  "What?"

"We've got to tell your father and mine."

"Easy enough.  Richards, no, I'm with Catherine.  No, she's having a guy problem.  No, not that one.  He's still in jail and I'll be hunting his ass across all seven continents on this planet and the nearest eight or ten planets when he gets out for what he did ta her.  No, you know the background check I was doing?  Well, it's on her guy.  Yeah, just told her and she promptly nearly puked on me."  She grimaced at that, shuddering a bit.  "Hey, morning sickness is fun," he reminded her.  "Last time you puked on dad.  And Mirin."  He grinned at the spluttering going on. "Yeah, she is.  She got dizzy so she found out early this time."  She poked him and he smiled down at her.  "Yeah, that's probably why the patrol officer was joking about her falling off the motorcycle."

"I didn't fall," she complained loudly.  "Just nearly."

"See, she's pouting and needs me.  Sure, please, spread this around.  It's not like I wanna tell my dad.  He'll look so hopeful that it's mine."  He grinned and hung up.  "Done."  He grinned down at her, stroking through her hair.  "I get ta be here for this one, right?"  She nodded, smiling back.  "Good.  Now, where's my first daughter?"


"Hmm.  Should I go pick her up while you break up with him?"

"Do I have to?"

"Depends, do you like being down at Internal Affairs for weeks on end?" he asked back.


"No, that's what got you into this mess," he teased. "Birth control?"

"The doctor said he didn't want me on the pill with what happened to my head.  Not yet anyway.  I'm having my tubes tied."

"Good!" he agreed, nodding.  "Good idea."  She snorted and flipped so she could hug him again.  "I know, Kate.  From now on, I'll let you pick my girlfriends and I can pick yours.  God knows we don't do good enough on our own."

"What happened to your last one?"

"Ma took one look at her and called her a slut.  That's about all that one wrote."  He grimaced.  "Not that she was wrong.  That's why I was dating her."

She gave him another squeeze.  "It'll be okay."  She looked up at him.  "I've got to go over there, huh?"

"Well, the classy broads break up in person, but you could do it over the phone or by letter.  Not gonna matter much to me. You know I'll support you no matter what, Kate."

"Yeah, I know.  But he was *nice* and good in bed, and stuff."

"Really?" he asked, grinning down at her. "You gonna start sharing tips now?  That way I can better please my girls?"

"Wouldn't that have to come from the source?"

"Probably," he agreed.  "But it's been a while since I played, dear."  He stroked through her hair, then picked up the phone, calling the sitter. "Hey, Shelly, it's Don.  No, we're at home and she's crashed on the couch.  Can you walk the mini-munchkin home?"  He grinned.  "Thanks."  He hung up.  "See, there, no having to move.  So, how far?"

"No morning sickness. The doctor thinks I'm really early."

"Good!  That's a good thing.  So the hard question becomes......"  She shook her head and burrowed into his stomach, getting comfortable there. "And I support that choice," he agreed quietly, going back to stroking her.  "You know this means you gotta move again."  She nodded and sighed into his bellybutton, making him grin.  "House?  Near dad?"

"No way in hell I'm letting your father and mother lecture me night and day about my bad taste in men."

"Only Ma would and it'd only be on the weekends."

"No thanks.  Close enough to visit but not near the old neighborhood."

"Yeah, I can't argue with that, it's going downhill."  He saw a paper and reached over, grabbing it when she grabbed onto his belt to keep from falling down to an indecent level.  "Not like I mind, Kate.  We've been naked and cuddled before."

"Not for many years."

"True.   Not since you went to the academy.  I still don't mind."  He flipped to the classifieds, looking over the housing costs.  "Damn, it's expensive to live in New York."

She nodded, getting comfortable again.  "Can I be cuddled tonight?"

"Sure.  You know that."   He turned the page.  "Well, the farther out you live the better it is," he offered.  "Dad's area of the city is looking at ninety grand just for a small thing like we had."  He found one.  "Here, this area.  It's not a bad part of the city but it's not that expensive and it's not near the airports either."  She looked then nodded.  "So, we look there?"

"You're helping me look for a house?"

"I figure I should.  I'm gonna be there pretty often for you and the kids."  She smiled at that.  "Even if you get married, your husband's gonna have ta put up with me being there constantly.  He'll even have ta put up with cuddles."

She shivered then poked him again.  "That's a dirty thought."

"Yeah, well, what can I say?" he teased. "I inspire dirty thoughts 'cause I'm so hot."  She giggled and hugged him.  Someone knocked on the door.  "S'open!" he called.  The babysitter opened it and the baby walked in.  "There's my baby," he said happily.  "Hi, Gwen!"

She smiled at him. "Pooo!  Poooo!"

"No, I don't see a honey pot," he told her, picking her up to sit next to them.  "How did your day go?"

"Dadadadadada," she squealed, hugging him, smiling up at him.  "Choo choo?"

"No way I'm giving you chocolate when you're already this bouncy," he assured her, stroking down her hair.  "How you're a blonde I don't know."  He looked at the sitter.  "She good today?"

"She was very good today.  Took her naps, helped me read, colored on the refrigerator and the cabinets.  Normal baby stuff."

Catherine got up with a moan and found her purse, going to pay the woman.  "Thanks.  Hopefully the normal time tomorrow and no early bodies."

"That's fine, you know I'm up by then.  Have a good night, Gwen.  Are you all right, Catherine?"

"Dizzy," she said bitterly.  "Too many long hours."  That got a nod.  "Thank you."  Her babysitter smiled and left.  "So, you colored on the cabinets?"  Gwen beamed as she came back to snuggle in on her daughter's other side, but her daughter took the opportunity to steal the better lap spot on the daddy.

"See, that's what I need, more girls who want to sit in my lap," he said with a grin for her.  "Maybe I'll take you to the park this weekend and you can show them I need cuddles."  Gwen hugged him, then smiled. "Yes, you give good cuddles."


"Yup, that's me."  He looked at her. "When are you gonna tell him and are you gonna tell him about number two in there?"

"I don't know."  She pressed against his side, closing her eyes.  "For right now, this is all I'm thinking about.  I'll think about boyfriends later."

"Sure."  He checked the clock.  By now, his commander had called his father since he had given him oblique permission.  His dad worked in Queens at the moment, so they probably had another hour before he got there, unless he had been out on a call on this side of Queens, so at the earliest maybe thirty minutes.  "Dinner?"


Gwen giggled.  "Choo choo?"

"No, no chocolate for dinner.  Chocolate is for dessert."

"Go get the cereal, Gwen, you can nibble cereal."  The baby wiggled down and headed that way, happier than hell to have her mommy be like this.  She drug out the box of cereal she liked and drug it back with her, then climbed back up on her daddy to share spit-laden handfuls with him.

"I didn't know they made chocolate cereal.  Shows I don't go grocery shopping enough."  He picked another piece out of her hand, making her grin and eat the rest with a lot of crunching.  "Can we hype her up on this the next time my Ma babysits?"

"Sure," she agreed happily.  "She'll curse both of us, but I don't care."  She stole a few pieces for herself.  "Am I cooking tonight?"

"Don't expect me to.  Remember, I caused the fire in the Home Ec classroom that got my class out for the day for smoke inhalation."

"One of these days you'll have to learn, Don.  Otherwise you'll end up starving before you find a wife."

"Hell, you know what dad'll say.  Just marry you since they're my kids anyway."  He looked at Gwen. "You are gonna be a good big sister," he assured her, taking another piece of cereal from her hand.  The door was pounded on.  "What?" he called.  His father walked in and slammed the door.

"Pa!" Gwen squealed, getting down, making Don catch the cereal before it spilled, and running over to hug him around the leg.  "Pa!"

"Hi, Gwen," he said, smiling down at her.  She bounced a bit so he picked her up.  "What are you eating?"  Don held up the box, then ate another bite.  "That had better not be dinner for you or your mother."

"We were deciding on dinner soon," Catherine said, looking at him.  "Don't even say it."

"Then it's true?"

"Yup, I'm going to start puking in a few months."  She closed her eyes and went back to her cuddling. "And I have crappy taste in men."

"It happens," Don reminded her.  "It's not like I have good taste in women."

"You two *could* fix that for each other," he reminded them, again.

"Dad, it's odd just kissing her.  Sleeping with her sexually would be even weirder."  His father rolled his eyes and they looked at the young woman next to him.  "She's still gonna break up with him."


"He's suspected in at least ten jewel robberies," Don said with a smirk.  "I did a background when I realized I hadn't met him in the six months they were dating."

"That shows wisdom, son.  Good instincts."  She flipped them both off, making her daughter laugh.  "So, what're we doing about this?"

"You get at least another grandchild and we're getting a house," she mumbled, closing her eyes.  "And I'm taking a nap.  I've had a bad day.  A long, bad day."

"First body at six-thirty," Don told his father.

"That's the only bad thing about the crime scene stuff.  You work strange and long hours."  He looked at Gwen.  "Did you have fun today?"


"Ah, I liked Winnie myself when I was your age."  He kissed her on the forehead.  "Make your father buy you real food tonight, Gwen."  He let her down and she toddled back, climbing back to take her rightful lap spot.  Don Sr. smiled at the family.  "Don, if you wanted, it's all there for you."

"Dad, she's like my sister."

"You can't tell me you two didn't try it a few times."

"Actually, we only snuggled together and kissed a few times," he admitted dryly.  "Usually while drunk.  She was still pure when she married."  And he was still pissed about her calling from Vegas after the fact.  Especially when she complained it hadn't been very good sex for her first time.

"Not enough dating and too much studying in college," she agreed dryly. Then she yawned. "Not that I have time for it now with my Masters."

"You're going for your Masters?" Don asked, looking down at her.  "What happened to telling me these things?"

"I did, but you were falling asleep."

"Oh.  Okay."  He shrugged.  "Need help?"  She snorted.  "I can carry your books."

She grinned at him, then shook her head.  "No thanks."  She closed her eyes again.  "I'm gonna nap.  You and Gwen eat dinner sometime soon."

"Sure."  He let her fall asleep against his side, then looked at his father again.  "You tell Ma."

"Fat chance," he muttered, shaking his head. There were some moments when he wasn't that brave. This was one of them. "Want us to take her tonight?"

"I don't know.  Gwen, you wanna stay with Grandpa and Grandma tonight?"  She squealed and ran over to hug him again.  "You need a bag of stuff?"

"She's got clothes at the house.  You need anything?"

"Nah, I've got stuff here and I'm off tomorrow.  What do you think of Barton?"

"Good housing prices and a pretty safe neighborhood, plus it's not totally on the other side of the city from us," he noted dryly, staring at his son.  Who smirked and shrugged. "It's a good place to raise her hellions.  Let's hope they're not as bad as you two."  He looked at Gwen, then at Don.  "Carseat?"

"Her car."  He tossed over the keys.  "Drop 'em in the box, I'll have to go down to get dinner anyway."  He nodded at that and took the baby with him.  Don laid down and she snuggled in on top of his chest, just getting comfortable on top of him.  "Why didn't we ever make a real try?" he asked quietly. Maybe it was time to think about that.  It's not like he didn't love her and he wasn't turned on by her. If he hadn't been so insecure when they were younger, she probably wouldn't have made it out of college without him having tasted her every which way he could.  Plus, she put up with his bad days.  So maybe he'd think about them making a go of it soon.


Don Sr. knocked on the babysitter's door, smiling at her.  "Hi.  Did she leave Gwen's bag here last time?"  The young woman walked over to the table and grabbed it, bringing it back to him. "Thank you.   You might not have to worry about her tomorrow, I'm taking her tonight."

"That's fine.  How's her mother?  She looked really tired."

"She's having another one," he admitted with a small smile. "I expect a lot of naps."  She nodded, accepting that.  "She'll see you in a few days."  He walked off, taking the bag out to the car.  He loved his granddaughter, she was smart and cute.  She was making faces at the guy trying to break into his car to steal it.  He coughed and flashed his badge.  "Notice my granddaughter."  The guy took off running and he left it there.  Someone else would get him tomorrow.  He was in a mellow mood.  Even if his instincts were telling him to watch the nanny.  And hey, he'd get to call Tony and *gloat*.


Don picked up the baby, smiling at his mother. "Ma, he stole her," he complained.

"You know where she's been."

"Point, Ma, but still.  Her Ma's mostly back home at the moment."  She gave him an odd look. "Breakup sex.  One last night before you go stuff.  Which is kinda neat in it's own way, but still."  He shrugged and lifted the baby higher.  "Come on mini-munchkin. Time to see Shelly."  He waved at his mother. "I'll be back later, Ma."

"Of course you will.  I'll cook."  She smiled at her son as he walked off with her granddaughter.  Now if only they'd get together.....

Don got her into the car and into the city without too much of a problem.  He knew all the back routes so he could avoid the majority of the traffic.  He pulled up in front of Shelly's, parking and getting out, walking around to get the baby.  "Upstairs."  She giggled so he carried her up, tapping politely on the door.  "Hey, Shelly," he called, opening it.  He saw her bent over the table and heard the sniff. "You're doing what?" he asked, slamming the door.

"It's not a habit or anything, just a long night!"

"Right before you get the baby?" he demanded. "You knew she was coming, I called."

She snorted and looked at him.  "You can't tell me you haven't had to."

"Yeah, but I'm not doing it on duty and I sure as hell don't do it around Gwen!"  He walked out, slamming the door behind him.  And then he took her to work with him, walking up to the detectives' squad with her.  They all grinned at him so he glared and stopped at a desk.  "I just found her sitter taking her morning bump of coke."

"Fuck, Flack.  Okay.  Um, where's her mom?"

"Not a clue yet.  I came right here."  He wrote down the address, then handed it over.  "Here.  Have fun with that.  Before her mother does."  That got a small shudder, Catherine had a temper and being pregnant was probably going to make it worse.  He carried her back down while the Detective went to arrest her, going to talk to his watch commander.  "Hey, boss?" he asked, leaning in the doorway.  "You got two?"

"Sure.  She's a cute appendage, but you can't go on patrol with her, Flack."

"Yeah, well, I just caught her babysitter snorting."

"Aw, shit," he said, picking up the phone.  "She's already out on a call.  Let me call her supe."

"Let's not and say I can do it later.  Can I go out to give her back to my Ma or can she stay until hers gets back?"

"That's a decent idea.  You sure you don't wanna call her immediately?"

"No, I told the detectives upstairs first.  I want Shelly in a cell before Catherine hears."

"Not a bad idea," he decided.  "Fine. I can have you on desk sergeant duty, even though you haven't earned it yet."  Don nodded.  "She good to sit and play?"

"More like sit and babble.   She'll stay under the desk, just in case."  That got a nod.  "Thanks, Richards."

"Not a problem.  How is she gonna deal with the new one?"

"Well, first, she's getting a house."  That got a grin.  "And I have the feeling her trust is going to pay for a housekeeper and nanny."  That got a brighter grin.  "She needs one, that way someone'll cook at the house more often."  He stood up and took her out there, nodding at the current guy behind it.  "I'm filling in until her Ma can come back."

"Where is her mother?" the senior desk sergeant asked as she got put down. "You look familiar."

"She should.  That's Cavanaugh's daughter."

"Ooooooh.  I heard the detective was going out to arrest her babysitter."

"Yeah, I caught the sitter taking her morning bump."

"Oh, crap," he muttered, shaking his head.  "She's on a call out towards Queens and it's gonna be a while."

"That's fine.  Ma's dragging dad for an appointment later or else she'd be back with them already."  He did call out there.  "Hey, Ma, tell Dad Shelly's being arrested for her coke habit.  Nah, I got her.  Yeah, when you're done if Kate isn't back yet. Thanks."  He hung up.  "If they're done before Mom, they'll come pick her up.  Gwen, you stay back here today," he ordered.  She scowled but went back to the little area under the desk.  "Thank you.  We have way too much scum around here for you to get dirty on."  The senior sergeant snickered and nodded at that, watching as a few were walked past them by other officers.

"What's the matter, Flack, she too hard on you last night?" one of them called.

"Yuck it up," he called back.  "I'm dealing with Cavanaugh's temper today."  That got a silent room and they all walked off, leaving him to it.  He smirked at the sergeant. "Stops that shit," he said quietly.

"She's going to throw a fit."

"You can take a break then," he promised.

"You're a nice guy, Flack, and you'll go far."  He clapped him on the back, watching as the CSI van pulled in.  "Looks like your girl."

"Ooooh, and she's not happy with the way she's parking."  She came in carrying boxes.  "Come back when you're done hefting."

"I could use some help," she offered.

"Yeah, well, I've got Gwen."  She put them down and turned to stare at him. "I found Shelly snorting."

"Fuck," she growled, moving closer.  "Gwen?"  He pointed under the desk.  "Give me ten to put this down in the labs. I'll come back and she can stay in the breakroom since it's right next to where I'll be."

"Ma said she'll drop by after she drags dad to the doctors."

"Good.  I can accept that and I'm finding a new one tonight.  And a house."  She picked up the boxes with a moan and carried them to the elevator, letting the guy standing there push it for her.

"Being a pack mule for the department?"

"Not like my boss can lift a thing."  She got on, then rode up a floor and got off, heading to the lab she needed.  "Is the desk clear?" she asked the person in there.

"Nope.  Not in the least.  What is that?"

"Trace and crap at the scene."  She put it in the corner and looked at her.  "My daughter's here."

"You can't have her in the lab."

"I won't, she'll be eating cereal in the break room."  That got a nod so Catherine went to tell the senior field CSIs, who were basically in charge since their boss was an idiot.  "Hey."  The old guy looked at her.  "Don found my sitter taking her morning bump of coke."

"I heard.  You want her in the break room?"

"Yeah, I'd rather not have her learn how to be scary from a perp yet."  That got a smile.  "Can you run interference?"

"Not an issue at the moment.  The Borough Chief is in with him."  She grimaced.  "Yeah, about him taking your cases."

"I didn't complain!"

"No, the DA did when he had to keep calling you even though your name wasn't on the paperwork.  The head DA got pissed and called.  So, I hear you're expecting again?"

"Again?" a snide voice said from behind them.  "I thought you weren't Catholic," their boss finished.

She looked at him. "If you must know, my doctor didn't want me on the pill thanks to the head injury.  He wasn't sure the additional hormones wouldn't slow my healing down.  But thank you for being so concerned, boss."  She looked at the Chief.  "I submitted all my paperwork properly, with my name on it."

"I noticed that."  He smiled at her.  "You're not the one in trouble.  He is.  And what's this I hear about a second one?"  She nodded. "The lucky father is....."

"An issue.  Don did a background," she said dryly.  "Feeling a bit paranoid after the last one you got me in with."  He nodded, accepting his part in that problem.  "He's a suspect in a few jewelry heists, but never more than questioned.  So we've already broken up and Don's stepping up to be the daddy again, like he is with Gwen.  We've decided we're taking nominations from decent folks who have good relationships."  That got a smile.  "Also, Don told me my sitter was arrested.  She here yet so I can yell?"

"Yes, and you can't go near her, or it could jeopardize the case," the Chief reminded her.  "Who has Gwen?"

"Don does, he's on the desk.  I was going to put her in the break room with PBS and some cereal."

"That's fine, or you could have the rest of this week off to find a new sitter."

"I don't have that much leave time."

"You do if I say you do, Cavanaugh."

"I don't want favors."

"And I'm not offering one," he assured her.  "You've already pulled too much overtime this week.  By the way, I need papers from your doctor about when you'll need leave, just like last time."  She nodded at that.  "Anything else you want to complain about?"

"I'm going back for my Masters at night."

"Good!  In five years, you're going to run this lab, Cavanaugh.  I fully expect it of you.  Now, get your daughter and go home before she's tainted by some of the scum around here, and take Flack house shopping with you."  She gave him a long look.  "It's still not a favor.  I want you fully protected."

"In other words, the Feds are coming and he's being brought back locally to be talked to?"  That got a nod.  "Understood, sir.  Don wants me to look out in Barton."

"That's fine with me, dear.  Go for it."

She looked at the senior CSI.  "I left a bag in the truck because I haven't gotten to go back yet.  The others are in the Trace lab in the corner in marked boxes."

"Okay.  I can take over."  She nodded and walked off.  "It's that serious?"

"Her former husband, you remember that case?" the Chief asked grimly.  He nodded.  "The Feds are going to offer him a more lenient deal if he testifies against some of the others that he had contact with outside the department. They wanted her far away from anything that might be going on.  That way there's no hint of impropriety and there's no chance of her being hurt again.  Because they do know what happened and they do know Flack Jr. will kill him if he sees him outside of Attica.  Therefore they both get a week off, with pay, to stay far away from this mess."

"She's good, Chief.  She's very good.  She's got a way of getting liquids and samples to talk to her."

"Good!  Do her evaluation would you?  I think there's going to be an opening in the lab."   He glared at the current boss. "Isn't that right?"

"I did just give my two weeks," he ground out.

"Thank you."  He walked off, going to tell Richards what was going on so he could call Flack Sr. and warn him.

Catherine bounced back up to the desk, smiling at him.  "We have the week off."

"Why?" Don asked, looking at her while filling out the forms on someone.

"Because my ex is being brought back into the city by the Feds.  They want him to spill names."

Don snapped the pencil he was working with.  "Excuse me?" he asked calmly.  She nodded.  "So why do *we* have the week off?"  She picked up the pencil pieces and held them up for his inspection. "Won't deny it," he offered dryly.  "So, any orders?"

"Find a house and a nanny."

"Okay."  He looked down, not seeing Gwen.  "Um, Kate?"

"Gwen!" she called.  Her baby cooed from the booking line so she went to find her.  "Don, how did she get past you?"

"Sorry, lost in the commotion," he complained. "I don't do it usually."  He picked up the diaper bag and saluted his sergeant.  "Going now, boss."

"Have fun with that.  Where is she looking?"

"Barton."  He wrote down an address and handed it over. "Realtor?"

"One of the older guys is retiring. He's got a good neighborhood and is near a park."

"Thanks, Steve."  He headed after her, helping he pry the baby off the biker.  "You can't ride a Harley until you're sixteen, the same as your mother couldn't."  The biker laughed.

"I couldn't. His dad threw a fit," she complained.  She finally got the baby free and looked at her.  "Say thank you and bye bye."

"Bye!" she called, smiling and waving as she was carried out.

"Your car or mine, Don?"

"I've got the car seat but you've got the smoother ride.  I need an overhaul."

"I can do that this weekend."

"Thanks, babe."

She elbowed him in the side.  "Welcome, brat."  He grinned at her and went to get the carseat.  Once they were in the car she grinned.  "I had to wait on the elevator.  My boss is retiring."

"Wonderful!" he agreed happily.  "It stunk how he stole your cases."

"I got told it's because the DA had to keep calling me to testify."

"Yeah, I'd guess that'd piss 'em off bigtime."  He got comfortable once Gwen was settled and finished wiggling and they took off.  "Here, Steve gave me this."  She took it and put it into her shirt pocket. "Are we using a realtor?"

"Yup, because I'm sure as hell not calling my father and asking him to find me one."

He laughed.  "No, not a good idea, princess."

"Wrong sister for that."

"You think Mirin will follow us?"

"The uniforms aren't pink."

"Most aren't unless you're a waitress."

"True."  She shrugged.  "I don't know yet.  I know she doesn't want to follow me.  How about Steph?"

"She wants to be a secretary or something.  She wants to be Ma some day."

"But that's a nice thing if that's what you want."

"Yeah," he agreed. Her cellphone rang, the one with the special numbers.  He only handed that one over.  He didn't want to know.

"Yes, dear?" she asked as she drove, pulling over as soon as she could.  "Hi, dad."  She leaned on the steering wheel with a sigh.  "Sorry.  Not my intention to get pregnant.  No you may not buy me a house.  Think, dad, why would Internal Affairs not like that?" she asked dryly. "I'll let you recommend a good housekeeper and nanny.  No, Shelly got arrested today because Don caught her snorting coke when he dropped Gwen off.   She was good while she lasted, but no thanks."  She smirked at Don.  "Daddy said thank you."  He shrugged and nodded a bit.  She went back to leaning on the steering wheel.  "No, dad.  Father!" she snapped.  "No.  I mean no.  I can use the rest of my trust to buy a house!"  She sighed and her head thumped on the upper rim.  "No, I won't accept it.  Dad, it's not like I don't have the money," she complained. "Remember, it was invested wisely so I didn't suffer yet.  I do not have cash flow problems."  She looked at Don. "Help me, here."

He took the phone. "Hey, pops.  No, she has a good amount.  I don't know, the last statement had about six numbers.  You think she can buy a house and hire a housekeeper for that?  Yeah, so, let's not get her career tanked over this, okay?"  He nodded. "Thanks."  He handed it back, shaking his head.  He liked her father, he was a nice guy the few times he had talked to him, mostly because he needed told something about his daughter, but they couldn't allow their careers to be tanked that way.  The problem with her ex-husband and her undercover ferreting out the dirty cops had shown that their careers were connected too closely to not go down together. His father would probably go down with them if either of them ever fell off the straight and narrow.

"Yes, daddy, I'm fine," she said after listening for a few moments. "I promise, I'm fine.  No, I didn't know that. How did you know that?  Will it effect the baby?"  She nodded.  "Okay.  No, I'll mention it to the doctor.  No, he's already said he wants visitation and I'm not sure so far.  We'll figure that out after I get some good advice from a higher source.  Thank you.  No, you can't do more than suggest someone, dad.  You know that.  Fine.  Thank you, dear."  She hung up and groaned, shaking her head.  "My nanny will be the daughter of a cop who fell off the path but not too strongly.  He's already got someone in mind.  So we need to find a house that's got enough room for a housekeeper too."  She looked at him.  "You can move in too, Don.  That way you're not living with your parents anymore."

"Thanks."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "So, Barton?"

"Barton," she agreed, heading that way.  "Do I want a mortgage?"

"It might look better if you did," he offered.

"True.   Thanks."

"Not an issue."  He stroked her arm.  "We'll find somewhere nice, Kate.  Just relax."  She nodded and they drove on, heading to the suburbs.


Don walked into his mother's house later that night, smiling at her. "We found her a house, a nanny was already suggested, and she's already put down a bid for it.  It's a nice little place, five bedrooms. Fairly new, just built in the late seventies."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "It's a half hour away so you can visit but you're out of nagging and spoon distance."  That got a laugh from his father. "Dad, she wanted some opinions on stuff."

"Like?" he asked, putting down his paper.

"Visitation for the biological father."

"Who is?"

"Lyle Gilliam Horvats," he said, handing over the background he had done.  His father looked at it and moaned.  "I hadn't met him in the six months they'd been dating so I did one just in case.  Good thing, huh?"

"Very, son.  Good instincts.  No, he can't have them."

"He just wants visitation, seeing 'em now and then."

"Them?" he asked.

"He likes Gwen and Gwen likes him, dad.  We had a talk by phone earlier about this stuff."

"Ah.  Well.  I'd say it'd be iffy but she can't legally stop him unless he's unfit or unless he's a criminal.  I would suggest he doesn't take them out of the state. The same as I would suggest that they'd quickly get in the way of his lifestyle."

"Okay, that's one down.  Second, he's got a small genetic problem that *may* impact the future baby.  He's got an extra sex chromosome."

"A what?" his mother asked.

"Remember when Kate was mumbling about x's and y's a few years back?"

"Yeah," she agreed, handing him a plate of food.

"Well, guys have an XY, that's what makes them boys insteada girls, who have an XX.  He's got XYY.  Which means that he's got an extra one.  It's not known to harm anything but her doc said that if the baby is a girl and ends up with the extra Y, then it could cause some confusion and things.  He wanted her warned and she said to warn you now in case the baby came out with both or something.  She's not sure how it'll impact until they do the belly button needle thingy."  His mother shuddered.  "Yeah, basically."  He ate a bite of food and looked at his father.  "She's only about three months along so we're looking at things going bad later on.  Right now, we're looking at bad things happening when she gets morning sickness and we're to stay out of the city until the Feds get done with her Ex and he's back in Attica."

"Why do the Feds have him?" his mother asked coldly.

"To get him to name names and turn evidence," Don Sr. offered quietly. "That's why Don and Catherine have the week off."

"With pay," he agreed dryly.  "S'nice, Ma, thanks."  He ate another bite. "But we did find a house and she's promised I can camp in the spare room for now, that way I can date and not bring everyone home."

"You're going to date girls while living under her roof?" his mother demanded. "That doesn't show very much respect!"

"Ma, she's still like my sister.  I never got past second base with her because it felt weird."  He ate another bite, looking at his father.  "There were a few questions about things like what the sisters are doing for a career."

"Mirin's going to school for computers," Don Sr. told him.  "Stephanie's going for pre-law at the moment.  I'm not sure if she'll go past paralegal or not.  Either way it's a good field."  He smiled at his wife when she sat down.  "Are you stealing the baby agin this week?"

"Maybe tomorrow or the day they move in."

Don grinned at her.  "She was gonna come beg that day."  He ate another bite.  "Dad, you okay?"

"They think I have an ulcer."

"Gee, dad, wonder why?" he noted dryly, staring at him.  "Catherine's boss was made to put in his two weeks today."  His father choked and looked at him.  "From what the senior CSI there told her, the DAs were getting pissed that her cases didn't have her name on them and they had to keep calling her out of the blue.  The Borough Chief was in today, he's the one who gave us the week off with pay."

"That's good though, right? That means she'll start getting credit for her work and she can move up?" his mother prompted.

"It does, Ma, and she wants to take her masters after hours.  That'll help her too."  He smiled at his dad.  "It'll give her something to do during her morning sickness."  Sr. laughed at that, making his son grin.  "So she'll hopefully be heading for a promotion soon."

"I hope you two make detective about the same time," his mother offered.

"Ma, she's got years on me," he pointed out gently.  "It'd be wrong to hold her back that way."

"It would be but the reality is that women don't get promoted as fast," Don Sr. noted dryly.  "Even if they do deserve it."

Jr. sighed.   "I know, dad, but it still sucks."

"Yeah, well, that's life, son.  You get used ta it or you work to change the system."

"In her case, if she tried it'd be a bad thing, right?" he prompted.

"Depends on when it happens."

"Good point."  He nodded and dug back in, getting up to get seconds.  "Dad, Ma?  Need anything since I'm up?"  They smiled and his father handed over his plate.  "There ya go."  He sat back down.  "I'm moving into one of her spare rooms," he told his mother.  "She'll need the help with the kids and most of the girls I date will know she's like my sister.  Besides, it's time I was closer to being in my own place, Ma.  It'll make it easier to date some nice woman and settle down, like you keep nagging me ta do."  She smiled at that. "So, we good on that?"  She nodded.  "Thank you.  Dad, you see any issues?"

"You two are already very close.  Can she stand to watch you date?"

"Yeah, she has in the past."

"Fine.  Maybe this'll bring you two closer since you're going to be helping her with the children."

"Maybe," he agreed dryly.  His father never gave up.  It's what made him a great detective, but a lousy nag at times.


Catherine looked over as the second housekeeper came out to bring her the fussy one.  The first had lasted all of a week before suddenly leaving to go grocery shopping and never coming back.  When she got up the next morning this one was there making breakfast.  "Hi, Gwen.  What's wrong?"

"Daddy?" she sniffled.

"He's on a date, dear."  She kissed her on the forehead.  "Here, talk to your sister."  Gwen grinned and got down to talk to her stomach.  She looked at the housekeeper. "Did she leave a mess?"

"Not really. Nothing a vacuum didn't cure, Catherine.  How often do you get early calls?"

"That depends on the bad guys.  I've had weeks when I slept at the office and I've had weeks when I got in my nine hours a day pretty easily.  I wish I had a standard schedule sometimes but it doesn't often happen."

"I understand.  Are there any dietary things she won't eat?"

"No.  Not yet.  You'd have to ask Don about his."  She shrugged. "We're close but not quite that close."  Don came in, slamming the door.  "Not go well?"

"Nope."  He walked over and kissed her on the forehead, patting Gwen on the head as well. "How was your night?"

"Decent enough.  Quiet.  Night shift is wonderful.  They all came in."  He smiled at that.  "Gwen?"  She looked up and smiled at Don then went back to talking to her stomach.  "She was just crying for you."

"Yeah, but I've been replaced by a sister.  When are we going in for the ultrasound thingy?"

"Tomorrow afternoon, after your shift.  Crime willing on my end."  He gave her a look.  "I told the new boss. He agreed it was necessary, especially since we're facing a possible genetic quirk."

"I still wanna know how Gwen's blonde."

"My grandmother was a rare Italian blonde," she offered with a small smile.  "My mother used ta tell me about her hair."

He grinned at her.  "Want a backrub?"

"You are the right hand of God," she moaned.  "Hey, Gwen, Don wants to rub my back.  Think you can help with supper?"  She beamed at Don and hugged him, then walked the housekeeper off to fix her good food.  Catherine let herself be helped up and up to her room, which was upstairs.  She wasn't ashamed when she took off her shirt and pants, laying down and wiggling to get comfortable in the soft mattress.

He grinned and found the oil, coming back to strip down to his boxers.  His clothes didn't need to get greasy at the moment.  He got to work on her back, making her moan and twitch, rolling under his hands. "Good?"

"Very good," she moaned.  "God, if you weren't my brother, I'd marry you just for this."  He laughed and leaned up to get her shoulders.  She felt something start to grow and looked back at him, noticing his shrug.  It wasn't the first time that had been pressed against her.  "Don?"

"Shh.  Let me finish your back and do your arms and hands."  He got back to work pampering and spoiling her.  He liked to spoil her. It was good practice.  When he got done with her right hand, she wiggled until she flipped over, looking up at him.  "We should talk, huh?"

"Yeah, I think we should," she admitted.  He nodded and laid down next to her, stroking over her stomach.  "Don, are you thinking....."

"I don't know. Maybe?"  He shrugged and kissed her again, making her moan.  "I seem to know what buttons to push."  He pulled her closer, they had done this dozens of times when they were younger.  It never got much past this point, but maybe.  He heard Gwen squeal and grinned.  "We have one very loud daughter."

"She's a New Yorker, what do you expect?"  He chuckled and kissed her again, and one of her hands came up to play in his hair.  She leaned in for the next kiss, wiggling closer. They were still in her comfort zone of what had gone on before, even when his hands started to stroke other places.


Don woke up and looked at her, smiling gently.  "Morning."  She smiled and he kissed her.  "You good?"

"I'm surprisingly good," she admitted, kissing him back.  "So, are we dating?"

"Up to you.  You know that."  He stroked her cheek gently, then stole a really quick kiss.  "It's time to shower."  She groaned and got up, heading for her bathroom while he went for his.

While he was working on his hair, he considered it.  He was in his bathroom instead of hers.   He wasn't trying to soap her back and sneak in a few extra touches.  He wasn't going for the good, soapy grope of her breasts.  That told him all he needed to know.  He just hoped she wasn't too freaked out by it.  When he got done and dressed, he headed back up there, looking at her.  "Kate?"

"Fuck buddies?"

"Is good for me," he agreed happily, grinning at her. "You realized it in the shower too?"

"Yeah, I didn't have any extra helping hands."  She smiled and stole a very chaste kiss.  "When and if we need. And trust me, need will come in about two months if you're not seeing anyone."  He grinned at that and hugged her.  "Come on, you're rumpling me and we've got to go in."

"Sure."  He walked her down the stairs.  "Jackie, we're heading to work!" he called.

"Yes, Don.  I've got Gwen."

He grinned and walked her out to her car, then got into his own.  They were going to the same spot but she'd need hers during the day.  Fortunately Jackie had a carseat in the house for Gwen.


Don walked into his parents house late that night, sitting down at the table and putting a hand on his mother's arm.  "No, don't.  You'll wanna sit."

"Something wrong?"

"They moved her appointment up to lunch today so they could run the tests today."  His father dropped his fork and leaned on the table to look at him.  "First, one of the babies does have the genetic thing and it's looking like it's XXY.  So we're not sure what to call that one."

"That one?" his father asked.

"Twins.  The other's a full girl."

His mother squealed and hugged him.  "Oh, I'm so happy!"

"Settle down, Mary. Let the boy talk.  Will this cause any problems?"

"Only if the baby doesn't come out with any or both sexes present," he told him.  "So far, we won't know that until it's born.  The doctor's thinks it'll be more female due to the way it's sequenced but they're not sure yet. This was only the preliminary test, the other stuff is coming over the next two weeks.  So far he said she's healthy and doing okay.  Which is all I can really ask for at this moment.  She's already told her boss it's twins and nothing else.  We're keeping the genetic thing to ourselves until they're born."

"That's fine, I understand completely, son," he agreed happily. "Did you tell your CO?"

"I did, and he squealed like a little girl."  He grinned at his dad. "So she's off telling the biological dad, and I'm telling you two so you two can tell Mirin.  That way I'm not pounced."  That got a laugh.  "She told her dad about all of it earlier and he's drinking himself stupid tonight."

"I would too if they were my true grandchildren," his father said.

"Dad, drop it.  It'd get weird between us."

"How do you know unless you try?"

"Who says we haven't and we're comfy with the way we are?" he countered.  His father sighed.  "She's like my big sister and my best friend, dad.  Between us it's just that.  Sometimes some need and some cuddling, but nothing more than that."

"Fine, son. Break an old man's heart," he complained.

"Dad, you guilt trip more than the Rabbi working with the PD."

"That's cruel, son," he shot back.

Don smirked.  "I'm heading out for a beer at Sullivan's.  You coming?"

"Yes, I am."  He looked at his wife, who sighed and put his plate into the refrigerator.  "I promise we won't be out that late, Mary."

"You'd better not be."  She patted her son on the cheek.  "Tell her I said congratulations and I'll see her this weekend when we pick up Gwen."

He nodded and kissed her on the cheek, then walked out with his father.  "Dad, did you know she can't go into any of the cop bars in the city?" Don asked as he slid into the passenger's seat.

"I did.  The day her old man had to quit, they banned her and Mirin.  Even if they become decorated veterans, they won't be allowed.  It's an older unwritten rule," he complained.  "She can't drink right now anyway."

"Point but that's a part of the bonding stuff."

"So she takes them out to a better bar with better swill."  He snorted and started the car, backing out.  "How is she taking it?"

"Pretty good.  I'm pretty sure she'll end up back in his bed tonight, just for comfort."  His father gave him a sideways look.  "Yes, dad, we tried it, and then the next morning we retreated to our own bathrooms.  That told us all we needed to know.  It'll never be more than comfort between us."

"Fine.  Break my heart."

"Dad, guilt doesn't become you."

He snorted and drove on, heading for a celebratory beer.

To Part 2